A precedent was set on 2 April, 1917. President Woodrow Wilson uttered his speech for a declaration of war against Germany, the only memorable phrase being “The world must be made safe for democracy.” The vote was cast, and two days later 385 congressman and 90 senators were overwhelmingly in favour of exporting democracy. Wilson had his hand forced though, due by no small measure to the unrestricted attacks on American and British civilian cruise-liners (carrying unrestricted supplies) by the German U-boats.
The United States’ entry into the war was to mark the New World meeting the Old. It was, in clichéd terms, the triumphant entrance of the U.S. in to global spectrum. The New World was no longer isolated and mystic; it played an integral role in the outcome of the First World War. This did however, set a precedent for future presidents; it marked the United States as a safeguard for and an exporter of democracy.
John Lukacs, the author of the essay titled after Wilson’s famous quote wrote that “….Most Americans had come to regard the war of 1917-18 as a mistake.” He goes on in the next paragraph to state that the public’s opinion changed rather quickly. After 11 September, 2001, public opinion was overwhelmingly in favour of foreign intervention, namely, the exporting of democracy to Iraq (though, most of the States’ recent history was devoted to cradling some of the fascistic mullahs and despots, Khomeini and Hussein being among a few of the vile goblins the U.S. supported and encouraged in 80’s). This view did not last long in public opinion polls and was never prominent in international polls, as the cost and lives spent were very quickly rising.
Had Wilson’s hand not been forced to move in to battle with Germany, it is conceivable that the United States would not be as prominent in the world market, and a precedent of ostentatious jingoism may not have been set. However, had the U.S. remained silent in this fight, it is equally as conceivable that either the Thousand Year Reich may have come to fruition, or the U.S.S.R. would have taken America’s place in the global economy.