When World War I began, there was a sentiment in the United States to stay out of the war. However, as events unfolded, there were risks of neutrality as well as some benefits. The risks of staying neutral meant that Germany would continue to violate our rights as a neutral nation by sinking our ships without warning. As a neutral nation, we had a right to trade with any country. When Germany used submarines and sunk our ships without searching them and warning them, they violated our rights to trade with other countries. Staying neutral could have created additional problems for us. Germany was trying to get Mexico to attack us. By staying neutral, this attack could have become a reality. Finally, if the Central Powers had been victorious in World War I, the world would have become less safe for democracies. Non-democratic governments existed in the Central Powers.
There were advantages of staying neutral. One would have been we would have saved many American lives and American property. Many American soldiers died in this conflict. Many Americans also made sacrifices at home to help with the war effort. They loaned the government money, grew their own food, and consumed less meat and wheat. There was a great deal of concern after the war that we entered the war to help our businesses make money. This led to strong demands for isolationism and neutrality in the 1920s and 1930s when events turned much more serious. Finally, by joining World War I with very idealist goals, such as making the world safe for democracy and making this the last war ever, there was a good chance we would have a difficult time accomplishing these idealistic goals of the long run.
The debate over whether we should join World War I was a serious one. There were advantages and disadvantages to getting involved in the conflict.