America's 'War to End All Wars': A Retrospective, 'Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day' Critique
One hundred years after the conclusion of the “War to End All Wars” – and on the anniversary of the attack that ended all doubts about whether America would enter into
the war that came after it – it is useful to take another look at the logic which led Woodrow Wilson to disregard traditional injunctions against European political entanglement and to conclude that a millennial moment was at hand, a moment in which it would, indeed, be possible to “make the world safe for Democracy.” What we see is that embedded in Wilson’s war aims were a set of assumptions about human nature that virtually assured that American involvement in the Great War would, in its own terms, be a failure. The conclusion that follows is both painful and ironic: the roots of World War II can be found not so much in America’s failure to join Wilson’s League of Nations as in Wilson’s efforts to create it.
Dr. Edward Rhodes is Professor of Government and International Affairs at George Mason University. His research has focused on American foreign and national security policy, looking particularly at embedded assumptions about the nature of liberal, republican democracy. From 2010 to 2013, Dr. Rhodes served as Dean of George Mason University’s School of Public Policy. Prior to joining George Mason, he was a member of the faculty of Rutgers University, serving as founding Director of the Rutgers Center for Global Security and Democracy and as Dean of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Washington duties have included time in the Pentagon on Navy staff, service to the State and Commerce Departments, and a six year appointment to the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation.
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