Did World War I make the world safe for democracy?

Expert Answers
saintfester eNotes educator| Certified Educator

U.S. intervention in the war became deeply unpopular following the signing of the armistice. This became very obvious with the Senate’s rejection of the Versailles Treaty and Wilson’s League of Nations idea. Congress took this a step further by passing laws aimed at preserving U.S. neutrality in the future. Polls taken right before the outbreak of World War II showed that a majority of Americans still viewed intervention as a mistake. This did change once France had fallen to Germany in 1940. So as far as global democracy is concerned, the Senate’s rejected of the treaty did not make the world safer for democracy.

In the years following the war, many began to question why we had gone to war in the first place. Wilson’s insistance that it was our moral duty as a nation began to be scrutinized. One school of thought was that bankers, who held more than $3 million in Allied war debt, were worried they would not get paid if the Central powers won, and used their moneyed interest to force the U.S. into the war. If this is true, than the war did not make the world safer for democracy, just safer for banks and those holding bank receipts.

And of course the fact that Germany was saddled with all the war debt meant that the rise of fascism was insured, and that certainly didn’t make the world safer for democracy.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Unfortunately, World War I did not make the world safe for democracy, as Woodrow Wilson had promised when deciding to get the United States involved in the war. The League of Nations, supported by Wilson, was intended to avoid future wars through engagement in collective security measures and disarmament. In addition, nations were supposed to use negotiation instead of war to resolve disputes.

Though Wilson wanted the United States to sign on to the League of Nations covenant, there was too much domestic opposition for him to do so. As a result, the United States never became a signatory to the League of Nations, and other nations began to see the League as not entirely credible. The Soviet Union signed the covenant only briefly. Despite other agreements such as the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, which outlawed war as a means of solving disputes, nations (including Germany under Hitler) started to rearm in the 1930s. World War II was in part the result of the failure of the League of Nations following World War I.

jjrafferty | Student

World War I in no sense made the world "safer" for democracy. The implications that the Treaty of Versailles had on politics around the world were concretely negative.

The Allies imposed the insurmountable war debt on a indigent Germany that was economically devastated. The Weimar Republic was a very weak, reluctant, conservative government that failed to materialize jobs or any form of repayment of the war reparations. Germany essentially borrowed money from other Entente powers to pay back the United States. While this is no excuse nor justification for fascism to come to life, in hindsight, an alt-right dictator coming to life was nothing less than predictable. 

As set in agenda by Wilson's Fourteen Points, Italy and the slavic nations were dealt with on the basis of "self-determination." Leaving the enclave of ethnic nations to determine their own boundaries and lines of sovereignty was a recipe for political disaster. U.S. Congress was adamant on taking a policy of isolationism and staying out of Europe's affairs. This alongside the high inflation and unemployment rates all across the continent made Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco's stairways to fascism facile in nature. While the term was later coined to describe the conversion of third-world countries to communism in the Cold War era, the term "domino effect" can definitely be used to describe the phenomena of democratic breakdown and rise of fascism in Europe. 

The attitude of isolationism and concurrent "blame game" that the Allies played after World War I exacerbated the fall of Europe to fascism and instability. 

Not to mention Russia's involvement in WW1 widened the cracks that led to the fall of the czar and the eventual birth of the original Communist superpower- the Soviet Union.