Woodrow wilson foreign policy
Woodrow wilson - foreign policy
Woodrow Wilson was a significant presence in the world during the early 1900’s. As America’s President, Wilson was extremely influential in setting tone for the rest of the nation to follow in regards to foreign policy. Whether it was total neutrality or outrage the rest of the US followed their Presidents lead.
Determined to avoid entering World War I in its early years, Wilson rigorously pursued neutrality. At first Wilson merely proclaimed neutrality, even when German U-boats (submarines) sank a US tanker. Then he tried "Peace without victory" because he realized that the only lasting peace was one in which the conquered nations were not left poverty-stricken, embittered and biding their time for revenge. Neither the Allies nor the Central powers responded. Keeping America out of the war proved to be an extremely difficult, and eventually impossible, job. Wilson's greatest problems concerned shipping. Britain had a blockade against Germany, seizing any cargoes bound for Germany. The British paid for the goods confiscated but the United States thought the interference in its sea trade was a violation of both freedom of the seas and neutral rights. The United States' problems with Britain were serious, but its troubles with Germany were worse. The Germans continued to sink ships with Americans on board. After the Sussex, a French channel streamer was sunk, killing 80 civilians, some American, Wilson declared that if these attacks did not stop "the United States would have no choice but to sever diplomatic relations"5 with Germany.
In the end not even Woodrow Wilson could keep the United States out of World War I. When the Germans declared unlimited submarine warfare, Wilson knew the United States would have to get involved. Still he hesitated, hoping for some event that would make an American declaration of war unnecessary. Instead two events occurred destroying all hopes of neutrality. The first was the Zimmerman telegram. This was a message intercepted by Britain proposing a secret alliance between Germany and Mexico. The next event that pushed the US into the war was the Russian Revolution, in which Russia withdrew from the war, this meant the Allies lost a major part of their team, and without the United States, Germany would have surely won. In April 1917 Wilson asked Congress to declare war on Germany. He appointed able men to mobilize the economy and to command the armed forces, never interfering with either. By September 1918 Germanys army was in retreat, its civilians hungry and exhausted.
Wilsons' real heart was in peace. He insisted on going to the Paris Peace conference himself, where he was greeted by European crowds cheering wildly. He and three other men, known as the Big Four, including Premier Vittorio Orlando of Italy, Prime Minister David Lloyd George of Britain, and Premier Georges Clemenceau of France drew up the Treaty of Versailles, based on Wilsons Fourteen Point address. Aspirations of world order were represented in his Fourteen Points: Open diplomacy, freedom of the seas, the removal of economic barriers among nations, reductions of armaments, the ending of imperialism, self-determination for national groups, the inclusion of Russia in the world community, and, most important to Wilson, the creation of an association of nations to assume collective responsibility for maintaining peace (the League of Nations). Wilson passionately wanted his Fourteen Points implemented, he wanted a treaty that would be fair to fallen enemy as well as to the victors. After many compromises, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, including Wilsons League of Nations. Wilson formally got approval for his League of Nations, but when he returned home with the treaty, he found resistance to him and it. A group of senators refused to accept the treaty as a package, as Wilson demanded. Frustrated, Wilson decided to appeal over the senators heads to the country. He set out on a tour that took him through 30 cities in 24 days, this grueling schedule caused him to he suffer two strokes, the second one leaving his left side paralyzed. For the next few weeks Wilson was near death, nobody was allowed to see him except for his wife who would carry messages to his bedroom and then emerge with an answer. When his mind finally cleared he was presented with Senator Lodge's proposed fourteen reservations to his fourteen points. The treaty was rejected because neither Wilson nor Lodge was willing to compromise. Although Wilson was partially paralyzed by the stroke and suffering from other disabilities, he wanted the honor of a third nomination. If he had received it, he may have ran again, so great was his devotion to the League of Nations, which was created without the participation of the United States. The League never took off without the support of the United States behind it.
Wilson’s decisions during this time were excellent and fit the criteria of a good foreign policy. When making foreign policy decisions a President must way ideas on a cost/benefit scale for the nation and do what is in the nations best interest. Clearly with the neutrality proclamation Wilson was acting in the best interest of the nation. The cost for remaining neutral was minimal while we had the benefit of not losing American lives. Wilson also was looking out for national security during his reign as President. We did not enter the war until our national security was threatened upon discovering the Zimmerman telegram. Post-War Wilson followed the third criteria for a good foreign policy: maintain control/ be a key player. By establishing his fourteen points and getting the League of Nations established Wilson made sure that the US was at the forefront of all foreign policy negotiations around the world.
When studying the World War I time period it is painfully obvious that Woodrow Wilson was one of the more prominent figures of the day. Woodrow guided the nation through a turbulent and inexperienced crisis. As a leader he followed all the criteria that make up a good foreign policy, whether it was proclaiming neutrality, entering the war at the right time, or proctoring a settlement betwixt all the nations. Wilson was a strong leader and a good President.