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Old March 3rd, 2014, 03:36 AM   #31
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There is no doubt about the Zimmerman telegram. It was dumb clumsy and total ineffective diplomacy , Mexico even if inclined posed no threat to the US.

The Germans also sent it on US diplomatic cables, that the Wilson had allowed access to in order to encourage peace negotiations, their use to ferment a US neighbor to attack the US was a gross betrayal of trust that really really rankled Wilson. While not a bit thing from the national US interests perspective, it alienated Wilson at a personal level.
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 04:48 AM   #32

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The US shouldn't have joined. We did so because of very very clumsy German diplomacy perhaps bordering on the idiotic.
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 06:04 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by skizzerflake View Post
I've never understood what the Germans were thinking when they pestered the US to enter the war. They were doing pretty well in Europe, and could have had much of it, but Zimmerman and submarine warfare against American ships sealed their doom. Goading another country with industrial resources and a large population to enter a war on the other guy's side seems like a metaphor for grandiose idiocy.
The US was a huge supplier of weapons and other goods to the Entente which were also financed by US banks. Today nobody would call such a behaviour neutral.

The only way Germany could try to stop this flow of weapons to the Entente was by unrestricted submarine warfare but it had no chance to distinguish between ships from belligerent and neutral countries. The US had already threatened war in case of Germany declaring a war zone around the Entente in which all shipping, including neutral, would be attacked.

At the same time the US accepted the British at least bending the rules of neutrality as for example by limiting the trade between the USA and neutral European states from where goods might be re-exported to Germany.

As for the Zimmermann telegram, I've never understood why the USA was so upset about it. I mean, it wasn't a secret that the US deliberated declaring war against Germany if the unrestricted submarine warfare was resumed. The note just told the German ambassador to look for an alliance with Mexico in case that the US declared war. What the heck do you expect if you talk about declaring war? That the other side has the decency not to think about how you can be hurt?
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 12:53 PM   #34
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The Zimmermann telegram was handled badly by Germany in that they didn't understand how weak Mexico was and they should have claimed it was a fabrication when it was released. Also, they should have figured out the British had broken their code. However, it was secret diplomatic communication and they had no reason to think it would ever be made public.

The US always acts like it was attacked or forced into war. This is the case with almost every war in American history, even cases which were obviously wars of aggression. I think it is more interesting to look at the real reasons rather than the official reasons.
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 04:15 PM   #35

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Originally Posted by Lawnmowerman View Post
I thought another factor was that the Allies looked like they'd loose and as a result be unable to repay their massive war debt to the US.
Well either way the Brits and French (along with Germany) couldn't repay their war debts, which is why the United States brought about the Dawes Plan.
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 06:27 PM   #36

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Originally Posted by betgo View Post
.....The US always acts like it was attacked or forced into war. This is the case with almost every war in American history, even cases which were obviously wars of aggression. I think it is more interesting to look at the real reasons rather than the official reasons.
I don't recall that Wilson's one-man show wanted to be in the war, but even if he/they did, submarine warfare and Zimmerman made justifying it so easy. If the Germans were in trouble and didn't want the US in the war, they certainly screwed that one up.
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 07:08 PM   #37
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The US position of war debts, the interest charged and the fact they had to paid in US Dollars along with the tariffs that made US dollars hard to get made the US war debts much harder than it could have been.

But those debts were only run up AFTER the US entered the war, while they were some loans raised with US banks before US entry they are not the war debts that people are talking about which were pretty much normal commercial transactions, which the Central powers would have been just as easily able to do (within their finical resources, large British holdings in the US and general finical resources were much greater than German ones) and the US was quite willing for US companies to sell to German or other central powers, as they did with the German Merchant submarines , that fact was it was the British blockade that stopped the central powers from trading effectively with the US, the US was acting in a neutral way.
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Old March 3rd, 2014, 10:53 PM   #38
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Getting involved in that war was IMO the greatest foreign policy mistake in US history. There was no good reason for the US to get involved in a European war. Over 100,000 American boys lost their lives and what was the outcome?

Britain and France imposed terms which created conditions in Germany that made Hitler politically possible. They also got rid of the Hapsburg empire creating an enormous power vacuum in central/eastern Europe and placed many subject nationalities in countries where they would be a minority and which they had no desire to be a part of without ever bothering to ask those people what they wanted. This sowed the seeds of another world war. Yugoslavia was a mess that could only be held together by a tyrant like Tito, the ethnic Hungarian minorities in Slovakia and Romania has been a source of tension ever since and then there is the matter of the Polish Corridor through Germany and the Sudeten Germans. The Czechs and Slovaks were thrown together in one country and fortunately those tow managed to divorce peacefully unlike most of the other such situations. In short, the vindictiveness of the Britain and France created a disaster.

What would have happened had the US not gotten involved? Likely a stalemate. Yes it would have been bloody and the European countries would likely have been wrecked even worse than they were since it would have gone on but the end result would have been stalemate and the conditions that gave rise to a 2nd world war would not have been created.
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Old March 5th, 2014, 10:10 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by betgo View Post
Wilson couldn't state that it was due to the influence of foreign agents, financial interests or arms manufacturers.
Indeed. By 1917 Britain had run up an enormous tab, and if stalemated or defeated there'd be no way for powerful creditors to recover those loans. This consideration isn't as dramatic as the Luisitania sinking, or even the Zimmermann telegram, but there's no reason to doubt America's 1% then had just as much pull in Washington as it does now, and was just as willing to use any means - including war - to recover loans, and/or make a tidy profit.

Then there's the Balfour Declaration and machinations surrounding that. Murky business, for sure.
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Old March 6th, 2014, 05:44 PM   #40
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First off, unrestricted submarine warfare threatened US trade and its allies like Britain. Second, the Zimmermann Telegraph didn't help either. The US would have joined the war even if the above didn't happen because they were always supportive of Britain.
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