America should have never gotten involved in world war 1
|Voting Style:||Open||Point System:||7 Point|
|Updated:||4 months ago||Status:||Debating Period|
|Viewed:||251 times||Debate No:||97099|
Round 1: Acceptance, intro, a brief explanation of your position
Round 2: Main arguments
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: more Rebuttals/conclusion
I believe America should have never been involved in world war 1 because it lead to future wars and our problems today. In addition, it wasn't our business either.
I accept your debate.
First off, boy. It has been quite a while since I decided to invest myself on another debate for months, hopefully I am still in form and we can make this a good debate.
As per the request of the proposition I will point out that I am a enthusiastic historian in my own right, being part-german got me quite invested in learning about German history and in particular, the Great War. As for my premise as to why the US should have been involved in the war, for now you can say that my view is opposite of yours. As much as I do support it wasn't their business to begin with, I will argue on the premise that it BECAME their business as the war progressed. I will point out now that I will not deny that their involvement contributed to future issues that are prevalant today, but from the context of how the proposition has stated his premise it sounds an awful lot like it was BECAUSE of US involvement that those future issues happened in the first place, which I will argue about. My justification for that was mainly due to its inevitability, but let us save that for the debate.
One last thing, please clarify whether or not new arguments can be brought up in the final round, that isn't exactly clarified upon in the rules.
But otherwise, good luck! Hope for a great debate.
As I stated, I don't believe it was the US's business to enter world war 1. The reasons for entering the war, as stated by president Woodrow Wilson in his address to the Joint session of congress on April 2, 1917, were Germany's violation of the pledge to stop unrestricted submarine warfare, and their attempts to entice Mexico into an alliance in the event the US got involved in the war.  Germany was in a desperate situation, and wasn't purposely attacking Americans. Germany was merely trying to defend itself in the case where they sent the Zimmerman note to Mexico, if the US decided to get involved. I would argue they did no specific act of aggression to the United States and what they did had little impact on us, thus I consider the reasons president Wilson gave to be weak reasons for war.
Next, US involvement in world war 1, likely turned the tide of the war, since Germany began an offensive in spring of 1918 into Belleau Wood. It was even to the point that the entente was considering surrendering. It is here when many American troops arrived and began a counter-offensive, which would eventually push Germans out of France, leading to an end to the war.  The fact the allies won, caused the harsh terms of the treaty of Versailles, which the war reparations Germany had to pay, could be in part to blame for the hyper-inflationary period Germany had soon after the war. This along with the economic crisis that loomed lead to Germany seeking a way out and turned to the Nazi's in order to bring Germany's honor back. Thus, the US involvement in World War 1, can be blamed for World War 2.
In addition to how US involvement in world war 1 lead to world war 2, it also lead to the Cold War. If Germany had won world war 1, I would argue that Germany would have been opposed to a communist Russia. While it is true they are the ones responsible for sending Lenin back to Russia, I believe they did so primarily to get Russia out of the war. If Germany was still in its full glory, power, and wasn't weakened due to the Versailles treaty and instead had won world war 1, they would have likely supported White Russia in the Russian Civil war, and that could have made the difference for Russia to not turn to communism. If Russia didn't turn communist, we would not have had the cold war.
Finally, the fact that the land in the middle east that the Ottoman Empire had, was given as territory to France and the United Kingdom. This resulted in the UK to have a sphere of influence in the middle east, and America, being their new ally because of our involvement in world war 1, also sought to help the British regime in the middle east. Soon after world war 2, America and Britain began supporting a new regime in that area, where the Hussein family would take power.  We know, of course, how disastrous Sadam Hussein was for the middle east in recent decades. It can then be argued that the British imperialism in the middle east lead to the disasters we have in the middle east now. Had America not entered World War 1, the entente would not have been able to be in a position to demand territory from the Ottoman Empire. The Arabs in the area would not have solid justification to be angry at the west, since the west would not have put them under imperial rule. Thus, it may have remained under control of the Ottoman Empire, and many of our current problems in the middle east would not exist if we weren't involved in world war 1.
To summarize all of the above: We had no real good reason to get involved in world war 1, and the fact we did get involved, it has lead to every single future conflict we have had, including World War 2, the Cold war, and the modern mess in the middle east.
I'd like to thank my opponent for his opening arguments. I can say right now though that only some of the arguments are actually going to find clashes with the arguments I am about to bring out, as I am slightly confused by some of the others my opponent decided to choose for this debate. However, more on that later, let me introduce my side of the argument.
For this debate, I shall justify the reasons the US joined the war in the first place in round two and I will then proceed to analyze the consequences of those actions in round three, which will be rebuttal round.
Argument one - The breaking of the 'Suxxex Pledge'
We are all aware that for the most part of the Great War the United States adopted a stance of neutrality and isolated themselves from the war raging in Europe, although during the war they proceeded to trade resources into Europe due to the growing demand for goods by european nations who were badly affected. [A] Likewise, Germany was badly affected by the British blockade that began as early as 1915 in order to prevent supplies from reaching the Central powers. [B] What is the link you may ask? The United States being neutral traded with both the Allied forces and the Central powers, including Germany before the British blockade. The blockade made relations difficult between the US and Germany but still public opinion was not divided in the States yet.
This is where the Suxxex Pledge comes in. The Pledge was a promise made by Germany in 1916 to the United States stipulating that a policy will be followed regarding naval and submarine warfare where the indiscriminate sinking of non-military vessels will not be tolerated. [C] Germany, being stretched by the blockade ultimately decided to break their pledge in february 1917 in order to cripple Britain and establish peace before the US was capable of joining the war. Hence all vessels were again targetted by the German forces including neutral vessels from the United States. I need not remind the proposition of the already damaging impact the 'Sinking of the Lusitania' had in 1915 where 114 Americans were killed after it was struck by a german torpedo. [D] The United States initially tried to resolve this peacefully by having Germany abide by the Suxxex Pledge hence keeping American citizens safe, but after Germany broke the pledge it became very clear that the US had to intervene in order to protect the lives of its American citizens who were at constant danger from foreign threat. Not only because of the threat it had on American lives, but also because of the fact that the sinking of the Lusitania and the breaking of the Suxxex pledge led to much of the public opinion in the United States to shift against Germany. Even though Wildrow Wilson was re-elected on a promise to keep America isolationist, the aggressiveness of German policy as well as the constitutional obligation to protect American citizens from threat slowly began to shift public opinion from adopting a stance of neutrality to joining the Allied Forces. Hence justifying that the US had an growing and important burden to join the war. [E]
Argument two - "The Zimmerman Telegraph"
Alright then, lets back up for a bit here. It was one thing that the Germans saw that in a desperate situation they had to pull the card of resuming unrestricted submarine warfare, but it is a completely different thing if you were Wildrow Wilson in this example just finding out that the German Foreign Office decided to send an alliance request to your neighbour Mexico offering them to take back the land they lost during the Mexican-American war in exchange for financial and war support. The telegraph sent to Mexico was not only an action that was done behind the back of the United States which thanks to Britain confirmed to the US that the Germans were practically conspiring against them, it was also an action that threatened to take the US states of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona from the Americans by force. It was a direct threat on US soil and hence, a direct reason as to why the US would join the war in order to defend its own sovereignity. [F] But let us take a quick closer look at this telegraph as well :-
As it reads in the above picture, "You will inform the President of the above most secretly as soon as the outbreak of war with the United States is certain" it shows that had Mexico decided to agree with this proposition or had Britain never intercepted the telegram to begin with the United States would have had virtually no idea it was at serious risk of being invaded itself. And as such, at this point it was a justified means of retaliation by the US to join the war as their sovereignity was considerably threatened by Germany and to the extent of what they knew at the time during the war they have no idea what else Germany may have been plotting in the event that Germany were to become desperate in winning the war.
As I stated earlier, you will find that in this round I have only decided to post the reasons the United States joined the war. This is simply because it is vital to analyze firstly the causes before moving on to the consequences as to why the United States joined the war. Which I will say now that I feel the proposition has rather unfairly dismissed in his opening argument as something the Germans didn't do on 'purpose'. I have offered to elaborate on that and effectively prove that there was more to it than simply what the proposition has stated, (without offering rebuttals to his arguments which is to be saved for the next round of course) so that there is a clear clash between my reasoning why the United States should have joined the war and my opponent's reasoning for the benefit of this debate.
To quickly summarize my opening argument I will present the key facts in bullet point form below -
I now leave it to my opponent to present his rebuttals to the causes I have brought up in which I will then subsequently present my rebuttals to the consequences of the war. I will now hand over to the proposition.
Next, I'll address the Zimmerman Telegram. There is absolutely no reason for America to be concerned with that telegram. Notice how it says "We shall endeavor in spite of this to keep the United States of America neutral. In the event of this not succeeding, we make Mexico a proposal of alliance..." All of those terms of Mexico gaining its territory back is all dependent on if America decides to intervene in the war. If America remained neutral, this wouldn't be a threat whatsoever. The fact America did get involved potentially ran the risk of Mexico joining Germany in the war. Germany was only trying to protect their own interests, and wanted to make sure America didn't get involved, and America is not the only country that matters.
I have to thank my opponent for his speedy response. I will now analyze the consequences that the proposition has brought up as per my plan in round two. Surprisingly enough, there were more misconceptions and misunderstandings that the proposition made than when I initially read it. There are also some factual errors that may be partially due to the fact that the proposition did not spend enough time analyzing what he was talking about, but rather than taking it out here I will anaylze his argument line by line.
Rebuttal - Unrestricted submarine warfare, the 'Zimmerman telegram', the American economy and the 'Suxxex Pledge'
I will tie in the responses he made in round three with the arguments he made in round two so that I can cover everything the proposition has addressed. First of all, the proposition has completely sugarcoated the fact that Germany had violated the pledge, stating that they were 'merely trying to defend itself' when they decided to resume attacks on American vessels. Perhaps to some extent we all can agree that sinking the Lusitania may have been an act of instinct to prevent supplies from reaching their enemies, but Germany had REASSURED the United States that they will not continue any more atrocious acts such as what happened with the Lusitania and they went back on their promise. This in itself severed the already shaking ties between the United States and Germany and the US was in no position to continue trusting Germany any further. A pledge is a serious promise that has to be upheld, it would have been a complete mistake for Germany to believe that the United States was going to go easy with that pledge being broken in the first place.
And here is where things really got ridiculous, when the proposition stated that 'we let profit guide us' when he blames the United States continuing to trade during the period where the Suxxex pledge was enacted. It was clear the proposition took no regard to analyze the impact it had on the US economy and if he won't, I will. The United States economy benefited greatly from trade, much of their trade centered with the European powers including Britain, France and Germany before and during the period of the Great War. [A] The United States could not have completely cut off trade with a few nations and resume trading with others if it wanted to keep its neutrality during the war and it certainly could not afford to stop trade with European nations completely. It was important for the national interest of the United States which was acknowledged by President Wildrow Wilson that there were fears by American manufacterers and suppliers that a boycott would happen if it completely stopped trade during the war. Especially since they had gotten reassurance from Germany (at the time) that no more merchant vessels would be sunk, there was no reason the United States government could make to the people as to why trading would still have to be stopped. Hence, the United States cannot be put to blame for the fault Germany made and to add on to that it was essential to the US economy anyway that they had to continue trade. Hence, the proposition will have to prove to all of us as to why the United States should not have pursued their national interests in trading with Europe especially when Germany had reassured them at the time.
Addressing the points he made about the Zimmerman telegram, in addition to the fact that the proposition has spread misconceptions and incomplete information around he has also become slightly ironic. He states that 'There is absolutely no reason for America to be concerned with that telegram' when I had already pointed out in the previous round that the diplomatic relationship between Germany and the United States was already bad by this point and this telegram was never going to be taken lightly. It is easy sometimes to say from the comfort of one's own computer a hundred years after the incident happened that there was nothing that the United States should have been concerned about because we know exactly what happened in the years after that telegram was sent. But when you are living those moments at the time it is not easy to reach the same conclusion, because no one had any idea exactly what would happen in the wake of the Zimmerman telegram. And the United States government was certainly not unjust when they decided that there was a great threat that should not have been ignored simply because Germany was trying to 'protect itself' as the proposition has put it. The irony also comes when he justifies that Germany had a reason to protect itself but the United States did not have the same reason to act in defence of its own interests. So saying 'America is not the only country that matters' is ironic when he advocates that Germany is the only country that is.
Rebuttal - Consequences of the war
This is where the proposition has presented the greatest quantity of exaggerated statements and misconceptions. Most of what he said was bloated to make it seem that everything that happened after the war was almost entirely the fault of the Americans. I will agree that US involvement did contribute to what happened in the years after, but not to the extent and definetely not for as many things as the proposition clames they are. Lets take this step by step.
'It is here where American troops arrived and began a counter-offensive, which would eventually push Germans out of France, leading to an end to the war'
This happened in actuality, but it completely ignores what 'would have' happened if the Americans never got involved and instead focuses on what actually happened. Yes, the counter offensive pushed the Germans out of France, but even by the time the Germans used the Michael Offensive (Or the Spring Offensive) as a desperate means of breaking through allied lines Germany was already exhausted. The British blockade of their port was already starving Germany past their fifth year and morale was falling in Germany as well. American involvement was only really a morale boost more than a tipping point, but that is not what I am trying to argue here. The argument is that Germany was in any case streched beyond limits after four years of war, the Offensive alone lost them 239,800 men and regardless of what would have happened their economy was already in ruins and Germany was likely going to lose the war anyway. Keep in mind that it was not only American troops that got involved, but also Canadian and Australian troops as well, there were more factors than just American involvement that lead to German defeat, hence using this as a reason why the US should not have gotten involved is slightly exaggerated. [B] [C]
'The fact the the allies won, caused the harsh terms of the treaty of Versailles'
This is not even relevant to the debate, because here the proposition is now arguing that despite what justified reasons the US had for joining the war such as the breaking of the Suxxex Pledge and the Zimmerman telegram, it would have all still been blamed on the US because the allies winning the war was apparently a terrible thing.
You may as well have renamed this debate to 'Would the world have been better if Germany had won World War One?'
So the proposition wants to argue that the allies should never have won the war because of the 'harsh terms of the treaty of Versailles' but then makes no connection to how this links with the United States apart from the fact that their involvement led to allied victory. First of all, the United States was not the one who decided to impose harsh terms on Germany, on the contrary the US even went so far as to help fund Germany to repay the reperation payments. It was France that pushed for harsh terms on Germany because of the damage it suffered at the hands of the German forces in France during the Great War. [D] The United States was never the sole dictator in the factors that led up events such as the Second World War as the party was made up of the 'Big Three'. But among some of the more ridiculous things the proposition he has said, he further adds insult to injury by proceeding to blame every single future war on the United States getting involved in the First World War. As I explained before, the United States was not the sole factor that led up to these incidents and it is completely ridiculous to pin all the blame on one event. I myself can easily blame the assassination of Franz Ferdinand or even the War of Independence as an event that caused all the future conflicts the world faced as well. The argument that the proposition is trying to make the main contention in this debate is a hopeless hypothetical scenario that the world would have been a better place had Germany won the war that requires no evidence to back it up and runs on the whole 'What if' assumption and it completely ignores all the other important arguments such as whether or not the US had justified reasons to join the war in the first place which I have effectively proved, it makes you wonder why he even bothered addressing the causes in the first place if he was simply going to bring this argument up.
That is why I will spend no more space on the proposition's accusations that the US caused World War Two, the fall of the Ottoman Empire or even the Arab-Israeli war which he hinted at. Especially since it falls under the rather ridiculous premise that all these events could have been averted if Germany won the war.
Hence I conclude my response regarding the consequences of the war and my defence of the causes that led to the US getting involved and as far as I see it the proposition has a lot of things to address which I won't allow him to get away with here in the final round.
Over to you.
[A] - http://www.ushistory.org...
[B] - https://www.awm.gov.au...
[C] - http://alphahistory.com...
[D] - http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk...
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