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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President Wilson, as was his wont, presented the case for war in stridently moralistic terms. For better or worse, he had a clear vision for how he wanted the world to look: a world of independent nation-states bonded together by the solvent of democracy. In that sense, it was absolutely...

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President Wilson, as was his wont, presented the case for war in stridently moralistic terms. For better or worse, he had a clear vision for how he wanted the world to look: a world of independent nation-states bonded together by the solvent of democracy. In that sense, it was absolutely necessary for the United States to get involved in World War I. Only America had the wealth, power, and diplomatic influence necessary to build the kind of world Wilson envisaged.

Foreign policy often veers wildly between self-interest and high ideals, and this was one moment in history in which the latter prevailed. Of course, it would be naive to pretend that self-interest wasn't a factor in America's entry into the war; business interests were especially concerned at the damage that German submarine warfare was doing to American trade. But there can be no doubting the sincerity of Wilson's moral convictions or the tenacity with which he held them. The United States' entry into World War One may not have been sufficient to make the world safe for democracy, but in my opinion it was a necessary first step.

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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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