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President Wilson and the Decision for War

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The causes of Americas entry into the First World War have been debated by scholars for more than 75 years. The so called Revisionist school denied that the government had been genuinely neutral and asserted that war had been forced upon Germany by America. British propaganda, economic ties, and pro-allied sentiments were the key Factors causing war. Studies since 1945 point to the factors of public opinion and Germanys unrestricted submarine warfare as the causes for Americas entry into the war. A study of President Wilsons decision making within the bureaucratic political context of his day provides another viewpoint. Evidence suggests that domestic political pressures, not national security reasons, forced President Wilson to request a declaration of war on Germany in April 1917. This paper will begin with an investigation of the organizations and key players involved in decision making, and then examine key decisions leading to Americas entry into the First World War. Decision Making Channels and Key Players A small staff to support the President, a weak State Department, and a Congress inclined to let the chief executive run foreign policy matters decision making during Wilsons presidency. No elaborate apparatus existed for thinking about foreign affairs, collecting intelligence, presenting options, or planning strategy. Foreign policy decision making relied on Congress for legislative support and a link to public opinion, advice from a small group of advisors, and the personal skills of the President.

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  • Administration and Management
  • Military Intelligence
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

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