World War I


Among the wars that have played a major role in international relations is World War I.


The main factors that led to this conflict include nationalism, imperialism, and militarism. Nationalism is a form of patriotism, as being patriotic is being loyal to one’s country. Nationalist considers the values of their country to be very important, thus placing their country’s interest above those of other countries. A system in which one or more colonies are controlled and exploited by powerful nation is known as the imperialism. Militarism is a philosophy that places great importance on military power. Being one of the wars shaping the history of various countries, World War I was characterized by many causes, and the US played an important role in ending the war.

In the early 20th century, nationalism was very common in Europe and was one of the causes of World War I. Moreover, there was a belief in cultural, economic, and military supremacy of Europe among the citizens of Great Power nations. Nationalist gave nations inflated confidence in their military strength. Such states felt that they were fair, righteous, and with no blame (Coffman, 2014). Nationalist reports also convinced many citizens that their nations were threatened by rivals, while it also assured them of a victory in case a war erupted. Germany relied on nationalist sentiments in order to strengthen as well as gain support from the public. German nationalism was one responsible for binding together the 26 German-speaking states that had come together to form the new nation (Hochschild, 2011). Nationalism in Germany was backed by its militarism. The strength of military forces is what defined the nation.

In Eastern Europe, there was a Slavic group of nationalist movement, which had a very big impact on the war outbreak. Pan-Slavism is where Slavic people of Eastern Europe had strong beliefs that they should have their own nation. Serbia is where Slavic nationalism was strongest. Pan-Slavism opposed control as well as influence of Austro-Hungarians Empire in the region (Alpha history, 2017). The Serbs joined nationalist groups, such as the Black Hand, in a bid to free Balkans from the Austria-Hungary. By doing this, their aim was to form a greater Serbia. The Pan-Slavism nationalism is one that led to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which directly resulted in the outbreak of World War I.

Great Britain was the most powerful and dominant imperial power prior to World War I. The British Empire occupied a very large area of the globe. Some of the controlled areas included Australia, Caribbean islands, as well as Burma, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and parts of Africa among others. Some of these colonies were acquired easily, while others took time and effort, whereby there was blood shed as in the case of South Africa (Alpha History, 2017). Other imperial powers included France, Italy, German, as well as Spain and Portugal among others.

Imperialism played a big role in the outbreak of the war. For example, there was scramble by the European superpowers in order to acquire colonial possessions. Much of this mainly occurred in Africa during the scramble for Africa between countries, such as Germany, Britain, and France. Scramble for empire resulted in rivalry among these nations, as it is evident in the case of the two Moroccan crises precipitated by the German Kaiser. The rivalry between France and Germany over Morocco brought the countries to a brink of war. Another factor that led to European tension is imperial instability, for example, in the case of the Ottoman Empire (Coffman, 2014). As the empire declined, other European imperial powers clashed, thus creating rivalry and tension owing to its territory.

Prior the World War I, most European empires were dominated by military leaders who ensured an increase in defense as well as in arm spending. Militarism led to arms race. Military power was a measure of imperial strength. Powerful states had strong military in order to protect their interest as well as support the policies. During the imperialism, Germany needed to develop military, such as the navy, in order to compete with Britain and France for colonies. It successfully built an army, thus becoming very powerful. It made both France and Britain fearful. Thus, they responded by building their own army in order to out-pace the Germans. After Britain produced HMS Dreadnought, Germany countered sea dominance of Britain by investing in battleships and submarine. The two empires did this in order to see who would be the strongest (Hochschild, 2011). The arm race then spread to the rest of the continent, hence resulting in huge arsenals. The nations were established a system of complex alliances. ‘’The Central Alliance’’ was made up of Germany, Italy, and Austria, while the other alliance was ‘’The Allied Powers’’ composing of Britain, France, and Russia. As they pledged to defend each other in case they were attacked, the European superpowers were ready to war.

Why America First Remained Neutral between1914-1917

America adopted neutrality policy in order to focus on its internal issues. The country had various issue to solve, such as regulating corporations, promoting human rights, as well as solving the problem of unemployment. Woodrow Wilson introduced the neutrality policy in order to protect the US citizens. By adoption of this policy, the president wanted to ensure that there were no effects of the war on their country and economy. It is through the neutrality policy that principles of impartiality together with friendliness and fairness were upheld (Armstrong Wells, 1990). Due to the large ethnicity group in the country, Woodrow Wilson felt that his country’s involvement would most likely lead to divisions among the citizens. Many communities in America had roots in England, France, as well as in Germany. Conflicts in the country would jeopardize peace as well as the stability. Woodrow Wilson was a president who loved peace; thus, he did not want to involve his country in war.

Events that Drew the United States into World War I

After a long period in which president Woodrow Wilson ensured that America was not involved in World War I, their entry came in April 1914. The president and public’s opinion was neutrality. The sentiment for neutrality was very strong, especially among the Scandinavian-Americans and the Irish and German Americans. Women together with the church leaders also wanted a neutral America. However, there were various reasons that led to United States entry into the war. For instance, one should mention German U-boat warfare in which Germany sank all ships, neutral or not, that entered British waters without warning. Most of the ships in the British waters were owned or licensed by Americans, thus attacking these ships was considered an act by Germany against the United States. The sinking of the Lusitania, a British ocean liner, by the German U-boat in which 148 Americans died was one of the reasons that triggered the America to enter the war (Alpha History, 2014).

The Zimmerman telegrams were sent to Mexico by Germany were aimed at asking them to enter the war against the United States. In the telegram, Germans promised Mexico that they would provide military as well as financial support so that Mexico could attack the United States. In exchange, the Mexicans would be free to annex all of its territories that were lost during the Mexican-American war, including New Mexico, Texas, and Arizona. The Zimmermann telegram was intercepted and decoded by the British intelligence and then sent it to the Americans. The telegram inflamed American public opinion against Germany. President Woodrow Wilson requested the Congress to declare war against Germany, and a resolution was passed by the Senate together with the House of Representatives. As a result, the Americans declared war against Germany. With the signing of the resolution by the president, America fought with allies against Germany. The war then ended on 11 November 1918.

America's Contribution to the War

America made significant contribution to the war, and it helped end this war. The decision to help other countries was made and supported by the military. After the Russians’ decision to left the war, Germans took that chance to move to the Eastern front. However, the Americans had a better chance in the war owing to their prior decision to remain neutral. After the entrance of the American troops to the bloody trenches, the war ended by November 1918 (Hochschild, 2011). Contributions of the Americans are not only measured by their confinement to the battlefield but also the economy of the country. The US government engaged in positive propaganda to raise enough food and money for the war, and this helped in ending it. The Americans also planted enough crops, and they put immense effort to fuel their effort in ending the war.

Events that Led to the Defeat of the Treaty of Versailles

One of the events that led to defeat of Treaty of Versailles was the US effort to impose economic embargo to sever diplomatic relations. According to lodge, League of Nations was a super-national government that could determine its own affairs. Some people, however, viewed it as an entangling alliance, which the US avoided due to George Washington's Farewell Address. Another event that contributed to the defeat was the increase in ethnic groups in the US. The Germans, Italian-Americans, as well as Irish all supported the defeat of the treaty, leading to a united voice by the various ethnic groups in the US (Armstrong Wells, 1990). It led to the US decision to join the war since they listened to the voice of the various treaties. Moreover, Woodrow Wilson had a personal problem with lodge, causing him to ask the democrats to vote out the treaty. Wilson’s decision mattered due to the strength of the opposition and discontent of the people who were not involved in the treaty. As a result, the role if Americans in 1920s and 1930s was affected since it contributed to isolation of American diplomacy.


World War I began in 1914. Nationalism, imperialism, and militarism played a major role in the emergence of the war. Great power nation of Europe felt superior in terms of culture, economy, and military supremacy. Germany used nationalism in order to strengthen and gain public support. In Eastern Europe, Slavic people believed that it was their right to have their own nation. The Pan-Slavism nationalism led to Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassination, which directly led to the outbreak of World War I. The emergence of arms race in Europe also had impact on the war. A nation in Europe was defined mainly by its military strength. Imperialism led to creation of conflicts and tension among European nations, especially during the scramble for empires. However, America remained neutral during the war. Moreover, there were many ethnicity groups in the U.S.; thus, involvement would most likely lead to divisions among the citizens, as America had roots in England, France, and Germany. However, America later joined the war. Zimmerman telegram to Mexico by Germans requesting them to attack the United States as well as sinking of the Lusitania by the German U-boat in which 148 Americans died were the reasons that triggered the America to enter the war. The war then ended on 11 November 1918.

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