Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Madness of Saint Woodrow: Or, What If the United States Had Stayed out of the Great War?

On April 2, 1917, Woodrow Wilson rose before a joint session of Congress to make the case for a declaration of war on Germany. Summoning his considerable eloquence, Wilson intoned: “the right is more precious than peace,” “make the world safe for democracy,” “a universal dominion of right by a concert of free peoples,” “America is privileged to spend her blood,” and, in a conscious echo of Martin Luther, “God helping her, she can do no other.”

But the sentence that really proclaimed a global crusade was this:
Neutrality is no longer feasible or desirable where the peace of the world is involved and the freedom of its peoples, and the menace to that peace and freedom lies in the existence of autocratic governments backed by organized force which is controlled wholly by their will, not by the will of their people.

The Truman Doctrine would be moderate by comparison.
During the Senate’s cursory two-day debate, William J. Stone (D-Mo.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, warned that to enter this war would be “the greatest national blunder in history.” George W. Norris (R-Neb.) rejected Wilson’s rhetoric as moral gloss obscuring financial interests, declaring: “We are putting the dollar sign on the American flag.”

The noted Independent from  Wisconsin, Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette,  rebutted the President’s arguments in a tearful address to his colleagues that lasted four hours. If, as Wilson said, Germany was waging a war against all of humanity, how come the United States was the only neutral nation to object? If, as Wilson said, this was a war to make the world safe for democracy, how come the British refused it to the peoples of Ireland, India, Egypt? If, as Wilson said, the United States meant to wage war on a militaristic government and not on the German people, how come more Germans supported their Kaiser than Americans had voted for Wilson in 1916?
Nevertheless, the Congress, which had bowed to the White House on issues of war and peace ever since 1812, did so again. To be sure, the Senate voted 82 to 6 in favor of war on April 4, and the House, two days later, approved the war resolution 373 to 50, but British Ambassador Cecil Spring-Rice cabled back to London his judgment that the Americans had gone to war “with the greatest reluctance.”[1]

Read the rest here.
HT: Fr. David

3 comments:

unreconstructed rebel said...

This Viet Nam veteran can't help but recall Bob Dole's wry remark about "Democrat wars".

Patrick Kelly said...

Descriptions of the phrase "Unintended Consequences" should reference USA involvement in WW1. The root of much evil in the last century.

Jon Kabel said...

Nice article, John. Thanks for posting it.