Based on Wilson's war message to Congress, do you agree that the United States had a moral and humanitarian obligation to intervene in World War I and "make the world safe for democracy"?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Woodrow Wilson outlined our reasons for going to war in very idealistic terms. He basically said it was our moral and humanitarian responsibility to make the world safer for democratic governments and to make this the last war ever. These are very difficult goals to achieve and therefore quite risky to suggest.

War is a very complicated event. There are so many different factors that motivate a country to do things that may lead to war. There are so many variables beyond our control. This makes it very hard to accomplish moral and humanitarian objectives. We can’t control what other countries want to do, either internally or externally. We can’t control whom they choose as their leader. We can’t control how they set up their government. We can’t control the actions they decide to take. Thus, setting lofty goals based on our beliefs and values may be very difficult to achieve. It is hard to impose a moral and humanitarian belief system on others, especially if they don’t share our goals and values. Thus, it was very risky for President Wilson to portray our goals for World War I in moral and humanitarian terms.

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