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The Struggle for Neutrality in Wwi

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Leading up to 1917, the United States wished to remain neutral in World War I. The States did not have any personal vendetta with either of the sides, and the supplying of arms to the warring nations provided a massive boost to the country’s economy. But it was inevitable that the global superpower would eventually be dragged into the conflict. The United States’ entry into World War I was largely the result of German policy after 1917, but was also influenced by Woodrow Wilson’s decisions regarding neutrality.

Germany was the primary cause of the US entering the war. The war declaration even bore the trademark “Made in Germany.” Perhaps the most important factor in German aggression was the submarine, or the U-Boat. Without the constant threat of attack while at sea, the United States would likely have been able to maintain its neutrality. U-Boats dominated the seas because no country had a way to reliably combat them - they could torpedo battleships without being seen. One of the main issues that Americans had with these submarines were that the Germans were sinking unarmed passenger and merchant ships. Despite international warfare rules that stated a vessel of war must reveal itself before eliminating a civilian ship, they Germans did not reveal themselves, as the submarines were fragile and vulnerable to gunfire. The largest incident was the sinking of the passenger ship Lusitania, which resulted in the deaths of 128 Americans. Wilson attempted to resolve this issue diplomatically, and insisted on compensation and a declaration from Germany promising not to sink passenger liners. Germany complied with a secret order to its captains ordering them to spare passenger ships, but then sank the British ship Arabic. After this, Germany made it known publicly that it would not attack unarmed ships. But seven months later, the French passenger ship Sussex was torpedoed, and again Germany gave assurances that it would not happen again. The most important policy decision occurred in January of 1917, when Germany announced that its submarines would attempt to sink all enemy ships, regardless of weaponry. This forced Wilson to break diplomatic relations, which led to war after Germany carried through on its promise to sink enemy merchant ships. Another act by Germany was the Zimmerman telegram - a note urging Mexico to reclaim its lost territory from the US - which understandably angered the US. So, directly, these German policies were responsible for the United States’ entry into the war.

However, Germany was only forced to play its hand due to unalterable grievances with Britain. With its people

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