Our Business: The Buildup to American Involvement in WWI

WWI was the outgrowth and ultimate expression of European nationalism and imperialism1. Once the spark had been lit, competing empires in a patchwork of alliances made sure that the majority of the globe would be on the battlelines, as colonial forces worldwide sought to interrupt their opponents’ colonial activities. It was not the first war to exist in multiple theatres– England and Spain had clashed over control of colonial possessions in the 16th century, and one of the factors leading to the American Revolution was resentment at having been forced to host the North American theatre of the Seven Years’ War2. It was not even the first war to ignore the “rules of warfare” that had been established in the 15th century as a veneer of civility to compensate for the terrifying carnage caused by gunpowder– the Continental Army during the Revolution flouted convention at every turn, frequently the reason they were able to prevail at all against the much larger and better equipped British and Loyalist forces.3 The First World War was called the Great War because it combined multiple theatres on a scope never before seen, and used weapons and tactics that seemingly had no precedent, shocking the human conscience and signalling the end of the European imperialism that had led to it.
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Open Letter to the American People by a Theoretical New York Delegate to the Continental Congress On Why He Will Sign This Treasonous Document

July 2, 1776
Philadelphia

The majority of men who make far-reaching decisions do not realize it at the time. Their decisions are made quickly in the moment, weighing the little information they have against the much they do not, and what suffering there is tends to come about after the decision has borne ill-effect. Some men, however, are in position to see the further-reaching results both good and ill of their decisions before making them, and thus they must struggle to decide, carefully weighing good against ill and deliberating if the good that must occur is worth the ill that must accomplish it. In this manner, I and my colleagues in the Continental Congress seem to be both blessed and cursed, with full realization that our decisions in these times will have dramatic and lasting impact upon our lives and the lives of all within the colonies, and perhaps elsewhere as well. With the weight of such knowledge, our decision becomes even more difficult, since it may be beyond the scope of our own lifetimes that the true nature of our decision becomes apparent. What we pass on to future generations is only our best intentions, and the decisions that come out of them. Having read the document being described as a Declaration of Independence, I have decided that I will indeed sign my name to it. I have thought long and deliberated much on the subject, and I have come to see the good of a new country’s foundation as being worth the ill of war and separation from the British Empire. Continue reading

On the Morality of Truman’s Decision to Bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The first successful atomic bomb test took place at Los Alamos, New Mexico on July 16th, 1945.1 It was the culmination of three years’ worth of research and development for the international group of scientists working with Canadian uranium2 on the Manhattan Project, and was to change the route of international diplomacy in a way that no one could have anticipated at the time. Continue reading