Thursday, 6 April 2017

Uncle Sam and the Kaiser

A few weeks ago I discussed the beggining of the Russian Revolution. Today I would just like to make a small discussion on a moment one hundred years ago, which brought the largest nation yet uncommitted in the Great War to the battlefields of Europe. Today, the United States entered World War I and declared war on the German Empire.

The reasons for the United States entering the war are varied, but they largely stem from the policy of the German High Command deciding to implement unrestricted submarine warfare despite the objections of neutral nations.

Needless to say, the German Empire continued with this policy anyways despite the strident objections of others. Most prominently the United States.

The United States had been objecting to German practice in the war at sea since the sinking of the Lusitania, killing over 100 Americans in 1915, which prompted public outrage against the German Empire. These pressures prompted Germany to temporarily suspend their policy of unrestricted warfare in 1916.

However, by 1917, the Germans were getting desperate. Hunger stalked the land, and they were tearing out Germany's innards (literally, church bells and sewage pipes) in order to arm and equip their soldiers. The war was dragging on and millions were dead or wounded. So in the end they gambled they could knock the Entente out of the war before the United States (whose military was small) could intervene in any decisive manner.

This would lead to the events of the Micheal Offensive, where the German's attempted to deliver the knockout blow to the Entente.

Before that though, Germany made many, almost cartoonish, attempts to distract the US. Most infamous was the Zimmerman telegram, which offered Mexico its lost territory in the American south west in exchange for arms and financial support from Germany. Of course, Mexico declined. What made matters worse, is that when charged with the sending of this telegram the Germans did not deny it, but proudly took ownership of it! Leading to the suspension of diplomatic relations.

At which point a collision between these two powers became almost inevitable.

One might ask themselves what could have happened had the US not entered the war? Would the Entente have been unable to force Germany to the negotiating table? Would Germany have been able to knock the Entente out of the war and eek out a last minute victory? What sort of world would that have been?

Ultimately we will never know, but we should all be thankful for the outcome we have. What's more, we should all remember the sacrifices of the men who fought and died to bring peace to Europe.