Links Between World War I and the Iraq War

Throughout the course of history, the United States has entered a multitude of conflicts. Some necessary, yet others controversial. The United States went to war in 1917 to combat an evil force that was bullying all of mankind. Almost an entire century later, we were back at war to combat a cancer that was a threat to the existence of mankind. Nothing changed with the American policy. America was and still is a world power, and America’s job is to bring peace and stability to the world. Much criticism was placed on the Bush Administration for invading Iraq. But America went into the country for humanitarian reasons. The country was a threat to the existence of planet Earth. One century earlier, America entered World War I for humanitarian reasons. The causes and consequences of World War I are related to those of the Iraq War because each war was entered due to humanitarian reasons, both were entered in retaliation to attacks on American assets and both ended in America providing a safe and democratic environment for people to reestablish themselves in.

While war was tearing Europe apart seam by seam, America stood by watching and observing. President Wilson felt that America was not under attack from the German forces, so he therefore did not entitled to declare war on Germany. But as the war dragged on, Wilson realized the war crimes that Germany was committing. In 1914, Germany invaded Belgium, who at the time, was a neutral state. While in Belgium, Germany committed war crimes and atrocities. People were being maimed left and right in the name of war “tactics.” The German’s used schrecklichkeit, or frightfulness to get the Belgian people to comply to their demands. People were threatened and terrorised into submission, against their will and freedoms. Thousands of people died in the struggle against Germany, and Woodrow Wilson felt obligated to help the defenseless country. In 1917, the United States entered into war with Germany and its allies. Fast forward 85 years, and the United States was thrown into the same situation.

Al-Qaeda was a threat to the world after attacking the United States on 9/11. The militants that made up the radical faction were deemed as “animals who do not value freedom” by the Bush Administration. In Iraq, the United States believed that along with Al-Qaeda, Saddam Hussein was committing crimes against his own people. People were being killed and terrorised in the name of “government intervention.” President Bush, along with the world, knew that Saddam Hussein had used chemical and biological weapons against his own people. That invoked the idea that it was necessary to intervene in the ongoing situation in Iraq. And in his State of the Union address, George Bush said that the United States would enter the country of Iraq to “protect the humanitarian rights of an innocent people.” Each war was entered because of humanitarian reasons. But, both were entered due to attacks close to our homes.

Woodrow Wilson followed protocol set out by George Washington that told us not to get involved with World War I. For three years, the United States remained neutral in the conflict. But as the war dragged on, Germany’s intentions were uncovered due to the discovery of the Zimmerman note. The note, which was sent to Mexico, was seen as a declaration of war on the United States, and it also said that Germany would restart its assault on American boats/shipments in the Atlantic. For Wilson, this was the last straw. He felt that there was a need for the United States to retaliate in response to the attacks on American assets. Germany had been conducting unrestricted submarine warfare on the United States’ ships in the Atlantic, and as a result, American lives were being lost. Soon following the Zimmerman note, America officially entered the war in 1917. Fast forward to 2001, the United States was attacked on home soil by a terrorist organization. On that September day in lower Manhattan, 2,996 lives were lost. People were shocked that the United States was attacked. The Bush Administration soon found out about those responsible for the attacks of 9/11, and just a few years later, the Administration authorized the invasion of Iraq. Both World War I and the Iraq War were in retaliation of attacks on American assets. Both were necessary and vital to our country at the time, yet they both happened to have much different consequences.

The United States helped stabilize Europe after World War I. Over 14 million people had died in the conflict, and countries had been shattered. Europe was falling apart, due to previously said consequences, as well as a flu virus that killed 25 million people. Once all the fighting ceased in 1918, President Wilson moved quickly to establish a peaceful and prosperous Europe. He drew out his “14 Points,” that would help rebuild after the war. He helped to establish the League of Nations, which was a version of the modern day United Nations. The League made sure that Germany paid back all of the damages that it caused, as well as demilitarize. This enough was seen as a humiliation in the eyes of the Germans. They soon realized that they were the ones to blame for the destruction caused during World War I. But as a result of seemingly giving everything up, the Germans got a new form of government established. Their previously existing monarchy was destroyed. The same story happened to unfold when the United States finished operations in Iraq. One of Bush’s goals in Iraq was to rid of Saddam Hussein, and establish a stable and effective setting for democracy. The United States was able to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein, and they were also able to set up a “working” democracy. Both the first World War and the Iraq War had severe consequences for the countries involved, yet each country received a new form of government thanks to our intervention.

In the end, the United States fought two brutal wars that, upon review, were extremely similar. Both were entered in retaliation of attacks on American assets, also due to humanitarian reasons, and create a stable and democratic government in war torn regions. From the time that Woodrow Wilson took the United States to war in 1917 to the Bush Administration’s invasion of Iraq, one thing remained the same. The United States was a world power, and no country was going to forget that. After World War I, our presence was still felt throughout Europe, as we used our resources to help rebuild. Even today, after we have left Iraq, our imprint is still there. As we see, even though times change, American policy still remains the same. Even though almost a century passed in between World War I and the Iraq War, we see that the causes as well as the consequences of each event are very similar.

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