April 6, 2017, was the 100 year anniversary of the United States’ declaration of war against Germany and its allies during World War I. Dr. John Tierney, along with three other panelists, discussed the significance of the United States’ involvement in World War I as well as the long-lasting effects that continue to affect our present day and beyond.
Dr. Tierney began the discussion stating that April 6, 1917, was the single most important day in the history of American foreign policy, especially in regards to Germany. Dr. Tierney argued further that WWI causally brought about WWII.
Professor Neiberg began his discussion by agreeing with Dr. Tierney, expressing that World War I, as a whole, was the single most important event in world history. He focused on the domestic situation that led to the eventual involvement of the United States, more specifically, the brief economic improvement in the United States. American businesses could gain from the chaos in Europe for a short period of time. Professor Neiberg’s final point was that Americans were mobilizing for war months prior to Woodrow Wilson going to Congress to request an official declaration of war.
In contrast to Professor Michael Neiberg, Dr. Maurer focused on the international scene that led to the United States’ intervention. At the time, Britain was the superpower but had begun its demise and there were nations on the rise to take Britain’s place on top: America and Germany. The Royal British Navy, the key to the British Empire’s success, was starting to fall short in the Maritime Commons with new inventions such as the German submarine.
Mr. Edward Lengel brought the panel to the present day, discussing the lasting effects of WWI and why World War I is an important and defining moment in global history. World War I, as previously mentioned had an impact on American foreign policy as well as how America perceived itself. Films and novels from the time display the underlying impacts of the war. Divisions between Europe and America were prevalent in the wars that followed. The key to recognizing WWI’s significance is understanding the lack of uniformity in narrative for troops returning from the front.
The key takeaway of the panel discussion was that the effects of World War I are long lasting and prevalent in today’s current state of affairs. There are a number of things to learn from World War I due to its great impact on the globe that stretches beyond the nations that were directly involved. Due to America’s rising status that placed them on the top at the conclusion of the war, American foreign policy was forever shaped on April 6, 1917.
This event was co-sponosred by the FPI Center for Military and Diplomatic History.