Many Americans concluded that
America’s involvement in the First World War was a huge mistake, many were
pleased when the Senate had rejected the Treaty of Versailles and the
involvement in the League of Nations. Furthermore, America had fallen into
isolation in result with the First World War and despite the hit of the great
depression, America had emerged into a superpower after the victory in the Second
World War.

President Wilson’s proposal of
‘Peace without Victory’ had positives and negatives. Wilson believed that the
Treaty of Versailles would influence the world of the good that America does,
and show the ideas of liberal democracy and capitalism. Wilson, in addition, had
put forward the idea of self-determination, which had given the people of the
world a right to choose their own futures and type of government, this policy
would have addressed any problems that were seen before any war. Despite this,
the policy may cause problems in the future for certain countries such as
Poland, in which they were consistent with self-determination. The Polish state
was weakened without having access to the sea, they would only be given access
to the sea if their territory was taken from Germany, this may cause problems
too arise in the future as many Germans were under Polish rule.

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The Treaty of Versailles was
much harsher on Germany and their allies; however, Wilson didn’t seem to be
bothered with this. This also did not go well with any Germans living in
America as they also believed the treaty was too harsh on Germany, their
opinion was effectively in with the idea of a ‘salad bowl’, they hated the
treaty as it opposed to their own home country. Wilson’s own argument was that
his new concept of the League of Nations would be able to tackle any issues
that may arise, and the League would be able to make any changes to the treaty in
the future if necessary. The Senate initially was not against Wilson’s settlement,
although they did advise that he make a few changes to the treaty, Wilson was
adamant, and he rejected to make any changes. One of the terms of the treaty
was that Germany had to accept responsibility for the loss and damage of the
war and was subjected to pay reparations to the allies. Furthermore, this
condition would have been quite difficult for Germany as they were already in
debt and had many other restrictions put on them, such as the limited military.
According to British historian R. Henig, ‘The Treaty represented an uneasy
compromise between Wilson’s idealism, French security requirements, and British
pragmatism’, quite clearly none of the victors had gotten the peace they had
wanted. (Kelly, N. and Lacey, G. 2001, Modern World History, Oxford:
Heinemann). This ultimately was one of the reasons for the Treaty’s failure.

Article 10 of the League essentially
required members of the nation to commit troops if any wars broke out, this
caused the Senate to oppose as they believed they have no reason to join a war
that they have no interest in. The Senate were subject to their own fears that
a membership to the League would reduce the sovereignty of the US and its own
control over their foreign policies and military actions, which is a violation
of the Monroe Doctrine. In addition, losing their own men and economy in a war
that had nothing to do with them is what the Senate wanted to avoid, especially
after the First World War, in which they had over 116,000 casualties.

Despite all of Wilson’s
campaigning the League of Nations was voted down by Congress. In that case, President
Warren Harding assured the American citizens that his policy would be of
‘Normalcy’, this will avoid excessive government intervention at home and low
priority to international affairs. (Rowe, C. 2008, USA, 1890 – 1945,
Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes). Furthermore, Harding believed that America’s part
in the world was of economic, not political. Moreover, America had struggled to
step back from foreign affairs, with the country introducing new policies.
Immigration laws were brought in, in hopes of keeping ‘America’ American’, but
the laws caused an uproar, such as cutting out Asian applicants which were
considered racist and in view of this caused relations with Japan to worsen.

Furthermore, by 1929, America
was the hit by the Great Depression, this caused America’s economy to plummet,
this additionally caused problems for Europe as their own economy was weakened
by the war itself, which caused problems for Germany and her allies, as they
had to pay war reparations. However, to protect their domestic production in the
US they then rose their tariffs to protect their goods, but the high tariffs
made it hard for European economies to grow and this worsened during the 1930s.
Even though the Congress rejected joining the League they themselves could not
retreat fully from world affairs when it came economically. In addition, the US
appeared as the strongest economy in the world after the First World War, which
was the opposite of Europe who had debts to pay off.

By 1935-37 the neutrality laws
had been passed in America, this stopped arms being sold to belligerents and
restrictions to American ships from entering war zones and Americans from
travelling on belligerent ships. However, In the same year, Japan had invaded
China, which America refused to acknowledge Japans actions.  Furthermore, in 1938 the Munich Agreement had
been signed by France, Italy, Germany and Britain, to prohibit Hitler from
using his military in the future in the exchange with the land he had taken.
However, by 1939 Britain and France had officially declared war on Germany,
this was the result of Hitler invading Poland. On the other hand, in America,
the neutrality act had ended when the US had started supplying arms and
ammunition to the allied powers. Because of Japan’s aggressive campaigning in
the Pacific, America had put a stop to the transportation of oil and scrap
shipments to Japan, this caused the previous hostility to arise causing war to
be inevitable.

As follows in 1941, the
Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, this was said to have been a long-planned
attack, as Japan had destroyed nearly 20 American ships and more than 300
planes. The purpose was to destroy the Pacific Fleet, which the Japanese had
failed to do. Despite the failure, America had still lost 2,400 people, this
attack was labelled the worst attack by a foreign power. On the contrary, Japan
was suffering economically, and they would have rather attacked America then go
through the humiliation of withdrawing from China. Therefore, elucidating the
impression that there were certain cultural differences, where the Japanese
believe in honour over death. This is also where they understood that they
would not emerge victorious if they had attacked America, but they had no other
options as America has stopped supplying oil and they assumed America would be
there to prevent them from acquiring oil from the Middle East, which would
hinder their war activities in China useless. The attack on Pearl Harbour had
bought the citizens of the US together to seek revenge from Japan, this brought
a complete end to America’s isolation and by the next day, President Franklin
D. Roosevelt had asked Congress to declare war on Japan. This ultimately marked
America’s entry into World War Two.

The impact of World War Two in
America was quite significant as the country had developed as a war economy by contributing
to the war with their money, ammunition, and in addition to playing a crucial
role in international affairs. The contributions made were one of the reasons
for the victory of the war, the size of America’s economy and the assistance of
the men and women that served in the war. Many Americans had feared that after
World War Two the country would fall back into depression but that ceased to
exist as the great depression that had hit America was finally over and the
country was on the rise with full employability. Furthermore, the American
economy had provided social welfare to those hurt by the depression, in
addition, Roosevelt was committed to America, to protect and expand what was
said to be the economic superpower of the world; the American empire. The
technology that was involved in the war was developed greatly, this resulted in
major breakthroughs on the atomic bomb; which ultimately had caused Japan to
surrender and effectively end the Second World War.

However, Europe was
struggling, the European powers were bankrupt, and many cities had been
destroyed, with many people killed. The devastation of Europe left a huge power
vacuum, as the European empire was crumbling, and America had the power to step
in to take over. Despite this accomplishment, America still had fears over the
international commitments, however, they had fought in a war in which they had
gained the power to shape a new order in their own image. Furthermore, the
media had given the American citizens an understanding of what the countries
position is, however, there were a few who persisted the ideas of isolation.
America had grown from isolation to accepting their role in the world.

In conclusion, America’s position and relationship in the world had
completely changed. The country had gone from wanting complete isolation from
European affairs to becoming one of the world’s strongest and richest economy. They
had grown to understand that their economy was one of the reasons of victory
for the allied powers. Many things had changed in the country itself with women
put to work and the segregation in the military had ended. It was concluded
that by 1945 America was the superpower with a new world order on the way to
grow.