Clarify the two differing positions (pro and con) toward World War I.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

If we narrow this question down to the United States, we can put forward the general arguments used to support and to oppose America's entry into the war. First of all, let's look at the arguments in favor of American involvement.

  • American trade and commerce was being severely interrupted by German submarine activity in the Atlantic. The only way that the Germans would desist from such activity was if the Americans entered the war on the Allied side. In entering the war, the Wilson Administration would be protecting the national economic interest.
  • The world needed to be made safe for democracy. This was certainly the high-flown argument advanced by President Wilson. He framed World War I as a conflict fought for the preservation of democracy. And it was only the United States that had the military might able to make this happen.

Now let's briefly look at the arguments against America's involvement in the war:

  • This wasn't America's war; it was a European war, and the Europeans should've been left to sort it out themselves. There was no need or necessity for the United States to lose so much blood and treasure over a far-away squabble which had nothing to do with the country.
  • Socialists argued that this was a war between the crowned heads of Europe. As such, working men, who'd form the vast majority of those enlisted to serve in the war, would be risking their necks over a squabble which had nothing to do with them. War was a tool of oppression in the hands of the ruling class, and the only appropriate response of the working classes was to resist.
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team