The evolution of the United States’ foreign relations between 1914 and 1945 can be described as a turbulent teenager coming into her own; a coming of age. In the early portions of the three decades, like most teenagers, the U.S. was solely focused on herself and on rare occasion looked outside her own door to see how the lives of her neighbors and family (Europe) were being impacted by events.
There is a belief that so goes Wilson, so goes the United States foreign policy. This can likely be said of any sitting President. When Wilson was elected in 1912, he adopted man of his predecessors’ foreign policy. This includes the belief that the United States should act as a police force in Latin America, or the Roosevelt Corollary of 1904, which was expanded by Taft to include pushing for total American dominance in the Latin theater (Keene, pages 487-488). Like the teenager, America intervention was only used when something directly imposed itself on the United States or businesses therein.
On June 28, 1914, Europe erupted into flames as war spread from Bosnia to every major nation on the European continent. With the many immigrants that now lived in the United States, it was impossible not to have some animosity and disagreement among the group as to who started the war. As a result of all this turmoil and disagreement, President Woodrow Wilson felt it wise to stay out of the war. President Wilson proclaimed the United States neutral. Wilson set forth the policy of preventing American businesses from loaning funds to any of the nations at war. This ban was lifted by Wilson in 1915 for fear that the U.S. would enter into a major recession if the Allies stopped buying American goods when they ran out of funds. In order to stay neutral, U.S. businesses would trade with both sides. However, it became apparent the businesses were taking sides as trade with Germany steadily decreased from 1914 to 1916 (Keene, pages 495-497).
The United States was able to stay away from war until April 2, 1917, when President Wilson went before congress to ask for a declaration of war. The sentiment within the Unites States had changed from non-intervention to direct involvement. A minor border conflict with Mexico over raids by Francisco “Pancho” Villa in 1916 led to a heightened sense of conflict with Mexico, but it also revealed Germany’s true intent for conflict with the United States. IN January of 1917, British intelligence intercepted a telegram from German foreign minister, Arthur Zimmerman that revealed the intention of Germany to help Mexico regain the territory lost to the United States in the nineteenth century. Americans were up heated and ready to join the war against Germany. President Wilson still continued to delay, however, until the Allies made it clear that they would lose the war due to German U-boats sinking so many cargo ships. Finally America joined the War (Keene, page 600). Finally the teenager opened the front door and noticed the neighborhood...