Woodrow Wilson made several mistakes leading up to World War I. One of the most fundamental mistakes was his stance of holding Germany to a strict accountability for all American losses including American citizens sailing on Allied ships. Wilson claimed that freedom of the seas was being impeded by the U-boat blockade of the British Isles but protested only mildly of the British blockade of the Central Powers. Wilson insisted that Americans had the right to sail on any ship they chose.
The only explanation for these differences of policy was Wilsons personal desire to sway the mass American public to be more sympathetic to the English and their war effort. Wilson had ignored George Washingtons warnings of avoiding alliances that would drag America into disputes in which it had no interest. Wilson had been a long time admirer of the British system of government. (Brummett) He had no desire to go to war against Britain with the Germans, even though the British were the first nation of the war to violate Americas freedom of the seas with their blockade of the central powers. Wilsons request for Americans to be impartial in thought as well as in action (Jones) was a thinly covered attempt to keep the United States out of the war on the German side, which millions of Americans, being German or of German descent, and Irish immigrants who hated the English, would have supported. Wilson wanted to swing the American public opinion to favor the English, so, when the Germans began unrestricted submarine warfare it was exactly what he needed to accomplish that goal.Order now
One of Wilsons reasons to enter the war in 1917 was that he wanted a seat at the peace table once the fighting was over to help guide the peace and make it a peace without victory. Mr. Wilson made this kind of peace impossible by entering the war. When America entered the conflict on the allied side the balance of power in Europe shifted to the Allies.
Involvement in a European war was in direct violation of the Monroe Doctrine, which states Our policy in regard to Europeis not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers. He feared a total German victory as much as an Allied one. A victory by the Allied Powers would leave a power vacuum in Germany that could possibly lead to a Bolshevik type revolution in Germany. Wilsons fatal mistake was made in 1916 when a German U-boat commander broke the Arabic pledge and sank the French passenger liner, The Sussex, injuring several Americans.
In a strongly worded note to Berlin, it was stated that America would sever diplomatic ties with Germany if it resumed unrestricted submarine warfare. This took the decision to enter or stay out of the war from the American people and placed it in the hands of a foreign government. At the beginning of the hostilities in Europe, America was a debtor nation of approximately three billion dollars. By 1918 America was a creditor nation with loans in excess of three billion dollars to The Allied countries for food and munitions.
Because of this, neutrality of the United States between 1914 and 1917 is heavily debated. If Wilson would have allowed America to remain neutral, we could have maintained our economy in a war time status until the European powers had worked out their own peace plan in which both sides would have been dealing from a position of strength. If the Europeans had an actual peace conference where both parties had been represented there would have been a more equal peace and there could have been a peace without victory. On January 8, 1918, Wilson presented his Fourteen Points, a statement of war aims.
It became at once a war weapon and a peace program, inspiring the peoples of the allied powers, while undermining the confidence of the Germans. Germany made its peace overture in the hope of obtaining just treatment under Wilsons proposals.These proposals failed.Without the huge reparations and loss of national pride, Germany would not have been thrown into years of chaos that ultimately allowed a little known corporal, at this time, named Adolf .