Apr 4, 2017
In an interview with associate professor of political science
Hein Goemans, the expert on conflict points out that Germany was
aware that its unrestricted submarine warfare would provoke the
U.S. into WWI.
When World War I erupted in Europe in 1914, the 28th U.S. president had pledged neutrality for the United States, in sync with prevailing American public opinion.
But while he tried to avoid war, favoring instead a negotiated collective approach to international stability, over the next three years Wilson was rapidly running out of options. Tensions heightened as Germany tried to isolate Britain and announced unrestricted attacks against all ships that entered the war zone around the British Isles in 1915.
In early April, with the toll of sunk U.S. merchant ships and civilian casualties rising, President Wilson asked Congress for “a war to end all wars” that would “make the world safe for democracy.”
And so, exactly one hundred years ago, on April 6, 1917, Congress voted to declare war on Germany, joining the bloody battle alongside its allies – then optimistically called the “Great War.”
Goemans is director of the Peter D. Watson Center for Conflict and Cooperation at the University of Rochester.