ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

America and Europe at War - Part One

Updated on January 5, 2011

A Reluctant Superpower?

America is increasingly criticised on the world stage for it's aggressive, almost imperialistic approach to politics.  The Middle East is currently a powder keg which could erupt at any time and the United States has a finger in a lot of pies in that region.  The world's only remaining superpower(although China may be very close), seems to many as a heavy handed battering ram whilst to others a necessary interference in order to maintain the 'status quo.'  Following the attacks on the World Trade Centre, a very American, very Republican president promised vengeance and the rest of the world held it's breath as we all exclaimed, 'the world will never be the same again.'

Against the backdrop of an aborted invasion in the early 90's by his father, George W Bush unleashed shock and awe on a third world country with little means to defend itself.  American military might devastated the already fragile country and 'W' sailed on the crest of a polls wave.  Britain and the rest of the allies proudly followed in the war against terror and the hunt for WMD.  Next on the hitlist would be Afghanistan and any other tiny, poor country completely unable to defend itself.  Meanwhile more dangerous threats like North Korea and China are dealt some serious tough talk in the public domain.

These recent American conflicts and contratemps follow Grenada and Cuba and Vietnam and Russia and Korea and countless smaller infractions across the world since 1945.  Stateside paranoia towards the evils of communism balloned in the fifties and sixties - or is that a little simplistic and perhaps unfair?  A very wise man once said, 'with great power comes great responsibility' and maybe this pertains to Uncle Sam?  Maybe the events of the late 19th and early 20th centuries changed America forever - infinitely more than any individual act of terrorism. 

A Changing World

Historians have argued for years over how the First World War started.  The truth is that this was a war many years in the making.  Let's start in 1832, a time when the military power of the world was still Britain which,at the time, had a frosty relationship with the USA.  The treaty of London was signed between the British and the Belgians which was a military alliance whereby Britain would defend the 'neutrality' of Belgium.  In 1871, the Prussian Prime Minister, Bismarck, suceeded in unifying several German states after years of political planning and a manufactured war with France in which the new German empire took vast areas of France for herself - a fact the French never forgot. 

During the next 43 years, a mesh of treaties between the French, Russians and British were signed.  At the same time, the new German state had treaties with Russia and most importantly the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Britain had an informal alliance with Japan and strong links with the countries of the Commonwealth - and of course her territories around the world.  The world's first arms race was taking place between Britain and the German Empire as both nations grew paranoid about the alliances and military power of the other.  France was still seething and waiting for revenge after the war of 1870 and was keen to get Britain involved in any conflict.  However, this was a time of British isolation and although she was part of a number of treaties, there were no plans to get involved in the dynamic situation developing on the continent.

This was a time of tremendous growth in the USA and the start of an isolationist attitude to the rest of the world's war mongering.  Of course, America was struggling to put it's own country back  together after civil war and war with the Mexicans over Texas, New Mexico and Arizona - a fact that would be used by the Germans in an attempt to keep the USA from signing any alliances with the British, French or Germans.  The American navy in particular had grown strong after disputes over trading routes with the British over many years.  US public opinion, however was very much against entering any conflict, indeed Wilson became President on an isolationist manifesto.

Europe is now smouldering with suspicion, treaties, paranoia and leaders trying to exert their power.  France had undergone a third revolution and Russia was on the brink after a brief yet unsucessful war with Japan.  Then, on th 28th June, 1914, a small Serbian group of nationalist called the Black Hand, assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne.  Three weeks then passed as blame was attributed and tensions flared.  Supported by the Germans, the Austro-Hungarians saw an opportunity to slap their neighbours down and assert their authority in the region.  They issued a formal demand of the Serbians to bring the killers to justice or face the consequences.  This had an emasculating effect on the Serbian government and she couldn't publicly capitulate and forego her sovereignty.  The Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on July 28th 1914.

The touch paper was now lit on nearly 80 years of treaty signing, conflict and border expansion.  Russia, in treaty with Serbia, began mass mobilisation of her forces.  Nervous by this, Germany declared war on Russia and by extension, Serbia on August 1st, 1914.  France, bound by treaty to Russia, found itself at war with Germany and her allies.  Germany invaded Belgium in order to base it's armies there in preparation for an invasion of France.  Germany had asked Britain through formal diplomatic channels to 'tear up' the London treaty, signed with Belgium way back in 1932.  Britain declined and on August 4th, 1914 Britain found itself, in defence of Belgium, at war with Germany and by extension it's ally, Austria-Hungary.

Of course at the time Britain had an alliance with Japan which declared war on Germany on August 23rd of 1914.  Britain also had the assistance of her colonies and former dominions including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and South Africa.  This was now truly a World War, the first one the world had ever seen and it was caused more by political alliances than any one great evil, territory expansion or indeed the assassinaton of a Prince. 

Europe in 1914

The Giant Sleeps

Woodrow Wilson publicly declares in a congressional address that the USA will remain completely impartial as war rages in Asia, Africa and Europe.  The address was given on August 19th 1914 and so began a policy that would remain in place until 1917.

The effect of the war upon the United States will depend upon what American citizens say and do.  Every man who really loves America will act and speak in the true spirit of neutrality, which is the spirit of impartiality and fairness and friendliness to all concerned.

The spirit of the nation in this critical matter will be determined largely by what individuals and society and those gathered in public meetings do and say, upon what newspapers and magazines contain, upon what ministers utter in their pulpits, and men proclaim as their opinions upon the street.

The people of the United States are drawn from many nations, and chiefly from the nations now at war.  It is natural and inevitable that there should be the utmost variety of sympathy and desire among them with regard to the issues and circumstances of the conflict.

Some will wish one nation, others another, to succeed in the momentous struggle.  It will be easy to excite passion and difficult to allay it.  Those responsible for exciting it will assume a heavy responsibility, responsibility for no less a thing than that the people of the United States, whose love of their country and whose loyalty to its government should unite them as Americans all, bound in honour and affection to think first of her and her interests, may be divided in camps of hostile opinion, hot against each other, involved in the war itself in impulse and opinion if not in action.

Such divisions amongst us would be fatal to our peace of mind and might seriously stand in the way of the proper performance of our duty as the one great nation at peace, the one people holding itself ready to play a part of impartial mediation and speak the counsels of peace and accommodation, not as a partisan, but as a friend.

I venture, therefore, my fellow countrymen, to speak a solemn word of warning to you against that deepest, most subtle, most essential breach of neutrality which may spring out of partisanship, out of passionately taking sides.

The United States must be neutral in fact, as well as in name, during these days that are to try men's souls.  We must be impartial in thought, as well as action, must put a curb upon our sentiments, as well as upon every transaction that might be construed as a preference of one party to the struggle before another.

Compilation of European Troops Heading for War

Part Two Coming Soon

Part two will explore why America eventually entered the war, in what capacity and how they effectively ended the war.  It will also examine Europe in the run up to world war 2 and the stance the Americans took.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Malcolm_Cox profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Newcastle, England

      Thanks sligobay..I must check some of yours out

    • sligobay profile image


      7 years ago from east of the equator

      Enjoyed your article which was well-written. Thank you.

    • Malcolm_Cox profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Newcastle, England

      I wouldn't worry as I've been to America many times and I know these people don't speak for the average American

    • SweetiePie profile image


      7 years ago from Southern California, USA

      They do here too, and to be honest I feel like a lot of my fellow Americans fell for their lies by re-electing the Republicans to lead the house, which were just using the Tea Party to get back in office. Oh well, I hope after a couple of years of their spending lots of money on silly and not so good things, maybe people will see through it.

    • Malcolm_Cox profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Newcastle, England

      Thanks for that Sweetie! I'll update the hub to include California. Unfortunately for you, the Tea Party and Sarah Palin get a lot of press in Europe!

    • SweetiePie profile image


      7 years ago from Southern California, USA

      There are many American liberals such as myself who would like to see an end to all these foreign wars. I believe in global cooperation through business and peaceful means, but I have never been a pro-war person. There is a loud contingency here in America that would have you believe many right wingers want more war and such, but many of us are sick of it. It is possible to be pro-America and anti-war. I never voted for Bush, either time. One thing I would like to add was the Mexican-American War also included what was then the territory of California.

    • Malcolm_Cox profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Newcastle, England

      It sure is! That's why the allies split Germany in two. It's interesting to note that what we know as Germany was only really formalised in 1870. As a sovereign nation, it's younger than America!

    • stars439 profile image


      7 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Great hub. War is a real pain. GBY.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)