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Julian H.

Was World War I in the US' national interest?

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Here is the introduction paragraph of what is to be my 5-page U.S. History II research paper (I'll post the rest once it's done). I've tried to document every logical step I took, because sometimes I make assertions that I think are self-evident, when they're really only evident to Objectivists. Critiques are welcome.

A Selfless War

The United State’s entry into World War I was not in the national interest, because it did not protect American freedom from foreign threats. Since a nation is made up of individual people, ‘the national interest’ simply refers to what benefits a country’s citizens. What constitutes a ‘benefit’ is not as ambiguous as one might initially think either. Since citizens are human beings and humans are living things, a benefit can be defined as something that promotes human survival. Unlike animals, however, men can not survive by instinct and must think on their own behalf. Thus, political freedom—the freedom to think and to act on ideas without the threat of physical force—is a necessary precondition for human existence. With that said, the threat to American interests did not emanate from the “war of kings against kings" in Europe, but from the contemporary rise of communism, an absolutist ideology clearly inimical to freedom. For WWI to have been in the United State’s national interest, it should have bypassed Europe, and eliminated the emerging Soviet Union, the world’s first communist state, preventing World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War.

Edited by Julian H.

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Here is the introduction paragraph of what is to be my 5-page U.S. History II research paper (I'll post the rest once it's done). I've tried to document every logical step I took, because sometimes I make assertions that I think are self-evident, when they're really only evident to Objectivists. Critiques are welcome.

A Selfless War

The United State’s entry into World War I was not in the national interest, because it did not protect American freedom from foreign threats. Since a nation is made up of individual people, ‘the national interest’ simply refers to what benefits a country’s citizens. What constitutes a ‘benefit’ is not as ambiguous as one might initially think either. Since citizens are human beings and humans are living things, a benefit can be defined as something that promotes human survival. Unlike animals, however, men can not survive by instinct and must think on their own behalf. Thus, political freedom—the freedom to think and to act on ideas without the threat of physical force—is a necessary precondition for human existence. With that said, the threat to American interests did not emanate from the “war of kings against kings" in Europe, but from the contemporary rise of communism, an absolutist ideology clearly inimical to freedom. For WWI to have been in the United State’s national interest, it should have bypassed Europe, and eliminated the emerging Soviet Union, the world’s first communist state, preventing World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War.

New Zealand should never of got involved with the war either. However, at the time our defence forces were under British command so they had to get involved. (Although some time between World Wars I and II the NZ government took command of our defence forces.)

Speaking of World War II, defeating the emerging Soviet Union wouldn't of prevented it. There would still of been other agressors, such as Germany, Italy, and Japan, so you might want to consider editing that introduction.

Also, I don't see how defeating the emerging Soviet Union would of prevented the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Can you explain your reasoning for that?

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The United State’s entry into World War I was not in the national interest, because it did not protect American freedom from foreign threats.

I suggest you look up Zimerman's Note.

With that said, the threat to American interests did not emanate from the “war of kings against kings" in Europe, but from the contemporary rise of communism, an absolutist ideology clearly inimical to freedom.

That is so, but it is also hindsight. Nothing wrong with hindsight if your aim is to repeat past mistakes, but it is unfair to criticize other people for what they could not have foreseen. Remember Russia was embroiling itself in a multilateral civil war at the time. Besides, I think the US did send troops to Russia post WWI along with some other allied countries. They didn't do much good in any event.

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Speaking of World War II, defeating the emerging Soviet Union wouldn't of prevented it. There would still of been other agressors, such as Germany, Italy, and Japan, so you might want to consider editing that introduction.

I plan on addressing this in the body of the paper. My position is that if the United States had not gotten involved in World War I as it did, the Allied Powers would not have been able to get away with the Versailles Treaty. We haven't gotten to World War II in class yet, but I figure that the absense of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia would have kept the Italians out. Japan would probably still be in it, but it would not be a world war.

Also, I don't see how defeating the emerging Soviet Union would of prevented the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Can you explain your reasoning for that?

It was the Soviet Union that spread communist ideas throughout Asia. Just as America is an inspiration for freedom fighters, Soviet Russia was an inspiration for communist revolutionaries. The Soviets also aided Korea and Vietnam militarily.

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I plan on addressing this in the body of the paper. My position is that if the United States had not gotten involved in World War I as it did, the Allied Powers would not have been able to get away with the Versailles Treaty. We haven't gotten to World War II in class yet, but I figure that the absense of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia would have kept the Italians out. Japan would probably still be in it, but it would not be a world war.

I don't know anything about the treaty except that it existed, so it will be interesting to read what you say about it and what the effect of its nonexistance would of been. Actually, until now I didn't even know its name.

It was the Soviet Union that spread communist ideas throughout Asia. Just as America is an inspiration for freedom fighters, Soviet Russia was an inspiration for communist revolutionaries. The Soviets also aided Korea and Vietnam militarily.

I didn't know that. I will have to wait to read your full version (I assume you will cite your sources).

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I plan on addressing this in the body of the paper. My position is that if the United States had not gotten involved in World War I as it did, the Allied Powers would not have been able to get away with the Versailles Treaty. We haven't gotten to World War II in class yet, but I figure that the absense of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia would have kept the Italians out. Japan would probably still be in it, but it would not be a world war.

The US was not alone at Versailles, France and the UK were there as well and since those countries had lost significantly more than the US I doubt that they would have been swayed from seeking their excessive restitution on Germany.

Don't forget, as D'kian said you are looking at this through hindsight. The question is, was it in the US's self interest at the time? Hindsight, after all is the only reason we know that Versailles would gave rise to Hitler and the Nazi's.

My .02

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Sorry, that should be the Zimmermann Telegram.

Look up also submarine warfare in the Atlantic Ocean during WWI.

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I think your thesis is too scattered and too ambitious. If you want to prove that the entry into world war I was not in US interests, then do that. If you want to prove that the Soviets should have been attacked preemptively, then do that. But both at once in a 5 page paper? I just don't see it. At most, you'd end up with a journalism piece that doesn't really have the room to prove anything; just to assert a bunch of things.

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Rewrote it...

The National Interest

The United States’ entry into World War I was not in the national interest, because it did not protect American freedom from foreign threats. Specifically, Germany had not been a threat to American freedom. The Germans were justified in using unrestricted submarine warfare, and only after the United States had officially cut off all relations with the Germans did the Zimmerman telegram materialize. Although Britain and France were more liberal than the Central Powers, their readiness to have a “friendly understanding” with Russia, a country without even a separation of church and state, demonstrates that they were incompetent defenders of liberty who did not deserve our support. The only dire threat to American freedom was the 1917 October Revolution, in which communists had captured the Russian capitol of St. Petersburg. From the publication of The Communist Manifesto in 1848 to the founding of Communist International in 1919, communism was clearly a threat to our liberty. Bolshevik propaganda from the Russian Civil War period best puts it into perspective: “Long Live World October [revolution]! The workers conquered power in Russia and will conquer the entire world!”

Edited by Julian H.

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Why was unrestricted submarine warfare justified for Germany?

Who was the agressor in this war?

What were the Entente and Alliance fighting for?

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Why was unrestricted submarine warfare justified for Germany?

Who was the agressor in this war?

What were the Entente and Alliance fighting for?

I will try my best to answer this in the paper.

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The Treaty of Versailles has a really bad reputation, which is completely unwarranted. If there is a fundamental historical cause to World War II, it is the failure to enforce the Treaty of Versailles.

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The Treaty of Versailles has a really bad reputation, which is completely unwarranted. If there is a fundamental historical cause to World War II, it is the failure to enforce the Treaty of Versailles.

Are you going to subsantiate that or leave it unsubsatiated like you did on the tax thread.

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If there is a fundamental historical cause to World War II, it is the failure to enforce the Treaty of Versailles.

I disagree that it is the fundamental cause, although it certainly is a proximate cause. The fundamental cause was the German philosophy at the time.

But, yeah, if it were actually enforced then that would have certainly set the Nazis back a bit. At the time of Chamberlain, they were a lot of bark and not a whole lot of bite.

Edited by Inspector

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Are you going to subsantiate that or leave it unsubsatiated like you did on the tax thread.

The treaty involved basicaly three things:

- Surrender of sovereignty over certain territories to other states.

- Compensation caused by the war damages which they caused without legitimate cause.

- Disarmament to stop them from starting a new war to challenge the terms of the treaty or repeat the last.

The most often stated problem is "reparations". Yet these reparation payments did not end with WW2, and in fact Germany still pays them (last I checked anyway), and was paying even when it was divided between east and west. Last I heard, that didn't trigger a third war. Neither did the fact that half of it's territory was under soviet occupation, or the fact that it's military defense was effectively transfered to the United States. Germany thrived in the 20s and by the time the war started, Germany was again a leading industrial power. They had the money to build a war machine capable of conquering most of Europe for god's sake! The use of war reparations is ancient, and the germans imposed them on France previously. The germans pillaged France, they pillaged Belgium. To say "alright, now we have driven you back to Germany, you can keep your plunder" is like saying "Fine, you have my TV, just get out of my house". You could claim the treaty was not particularly just, due to the collective guilt assigned to the germans, but that didn't lead to the war. The germans could have just said "We won't pay", which they did by the way.

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The treaty involved basicaly three things:

- Surrender of sovereignty over certain territories to other states.

- Compensation caused by the war damages which they caused without legitimate cause.

- Disarmament to stop them from starting a new war to challenge the terms of the treaty or repeat the last.

The most often stated problem is "reparations". Yet these reparation payments did not end with WW2, and in fact Germany still pays them (last I checked anyway), and was paying even when it was divided between east and west. Last I heard, that didn't trigger a third war. Neither did the fact that half of it's territory was under soviet occupation, or the fact that it's military defense was effectively transfered to the United States. Germany thrived in the 20s and by the time the war started, Germany was again a leading industrial power. They had the money to build a war machine capable of conquering most of Europe for god's sake! The use of war reparations is ancient, and the germans imposed them on France previously. The germans pillaged France, they pillaged Belgium. To say "alright, now we have driven you back to Germany, you can keep your plunder" is like saying "Fine, you have my TV, just get out of my house". You could claim the treaty was not particularly just, due to the collective guilt assigned to the germans, but that didn't lead to the war. The germans could have just said "We won't pay", which they did by the way.

You've failed to subsantiate your claim. As Inspector said, the fundamental cause was Germany's philosophy.

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You've failed to subsantiate your claim. As Inspector said, the fundamental cause was Germany's philosophy.

Oh, you meant the other claim.

It is true that their philosophy lead them to act the way they did, however, that only takes into account the actions of one side. Germany could have been stopped BEFORE it built up it's war machine. Instead, it was appeased. This appeasement emboldened Hitler and the german people to take bolder and bolder actions because they realized they could get away with it. It's like a guy who is climbing up the window to get in your house. If you deal with him before he gets in, his desire to rape your wife won't change the fact that he is outside, possibly dead already.

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Oh, you meant the other claim.

It is true that their philosophy lead them to act the way they did, however, that only takes into account the actions of one side. Germany could have been stopped BEFORE it built up it's war machine. Instead, it was appeased. This appeasement emboldened Hitler and the german people to take bolder and bolder actions because they realized they could get away with it. It's like a guy who is climbing up the window to get in your house. If you deal with him before he gets in, his desire to rape your wife won't change the fact that he is outside, possibly dead already.

It is true that the appeasement was a factor, but it was more a reply to the main cause, ie, germany's philosophy, than a main cause itself.

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Oh, you meant the other claim.

Yeah, like I said you can't really call it the sole fundamental cause. If I were to sum the fundamental cause of WWII, I would say Germany's dominant philosophy, plus the appeasement of the West. That's cutting to the heart a bit more than saying that the fundamental cause was failure to enforce the treaty. I mean, I see where you're going there and you have a point, it's just I'd amend it thusly.

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Yeah, like I said you can't really call it the sole fundamental cause. If I were to sum the fundamental cause of WWII, I would say Germany's dominant philosophy, plus the appeasement of the West. That's cutting to the heart a bit more than saying that the fundamental cause was failure to enforce the treaty. I mean, I see where you're going there and you have a point, it's just I'd amend it thusly.

I agree.

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Rewrote it...

The National Interest

The United States’ entry into World War I was not in the national interest, because it did not protect American freedom from foreign threats. Specifically, Germany had not been a threat to American freedom. The Germans were justified in using unrestricted submarine warfare, and only after the United States had officially cut off all relations with the Germans did the Zimmerman telegram materialize. Although Britain and France were more liberal than the Central Powers, their readiness to have a “friendly understanding” with Russia, a country without even a separation of church and state, demonstrates that they were incompetent defenders of liberty who did not deserve our support. The only dire threat to American freedom was the 1917 October Revolution, in which communists had captured the Russian capitol of St. Petersburg. From the publication of The Communist Manifesto in 1848 to the founding of Communist International in 1919, communism was clearly a threat to our liberty. Bolshevik propaganda from the Russian Civil War period best puts it into perspective: “Long Live World October [revolution]! The workers conquered power in Russia and will conquer the entire world!”

I think your thesis is flawed. To begin with, there was little chance, until the advent of the ICBM, that the Soviet Union could have caused serious harm to the U.S. in a military invasion. They would have either had to move troops via ship and invade via the California coast, or marched through the arctic and invade through Canada and Alaska. The first option would have put them at odds with what was at the time the most powerful Naval force on the planet, the U.S. Pacific fleet. The other would have involved Red Army troops marching through British territory, which would have sparked a global war, quicker than anything. So, until the Rosenburgs betrayed us, the Soviets were not a threat, unless we were dumb enough to fight them on their own terms (The Korean War).

Second, the fear of Communism's spread, the domino theory, was flawed and made up by paranoid statists wishing to retain some of FDR's vast war-power via fear. If you notice, Communism made very little headway in Europe outside of states which were essentially under direct Soviet military control. Its because the resilient economies of central and West Europe, juxtapositioned against the impoverished and miserable Eastern European Bloc countries gave a very definite lie to the Communist claims of economic superiority. Communism only really made headway in the poor and backwaters of Asia, and that probably because those people had been under the yoke of mercantile imperialism that any alternative looked utopian. Essentially, Communism only appealed to the beaten and the ignorant. So it had little appeal here. Although, other similar ideologies have sprung up here on there own, but the fact is that the hatred of the U.S.S.R. was so great that any blatant Moscow backed philosophy withered and died here.

So, in reality, for the most part, the Soviets were little real threat to the U.S., until the atomic age that is. Although, they may have been less of a problem if we didn't have a national policy of constantly trying to drive them to commit an act of Nuclear Holocaust, and then backing down before it was too late. (see: brinksmanship)

Third and finally, you are ignorant of one vital fact: We DID attack the Soviet Union at birth. Look up Lies My Teacher Told Me. It is written by a sociologist and explicitly reveals that Wilson ordered military intervention and invasion of Russia on the side of the White Army. Hence why the Soviets were utterly convinced we were out to get them (we were). We did attack the Soviet Union at birth, but the fractured and self-destructive nature of the White Army versus the small, but dedicated Red Army lead to the eventual victory of the Bolsheviks. My copy of the book was stolen, so I am not sure of the eventual fate of our troops, but I believe they retreated after suffering severe causalities.

While I agree that we gained nothing by joining the Allies and that WWI had no moral cause, asserting that we SHOULD have attacked the Soviet Union, for the sake of our future selves, is not the right answer either. In fact, going on that premise, we should have entered the War far earlier and defeated Germany before the Czar stepped down, opening the way for Lenin and the Bolsheviks. I recommend you do some more research into this topic.

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