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Relatively Speaking The Causes of Americas Declaration of War on Germany From as early as the late nineteenth century the seeds for European conflict had already been sown While a system of alliances existed which maintained a balance of power a nationalistic fervor was running high in Austria-Hungary which was a multi-ethnic empire These two factors led to what the world would call The World War and what President Woodrow Wilson would call The War to End All Wars Although this conflict began and was fought in Europe Americans soon became entangled in this conflict also for many different reasons and were eventually pulled into war Primary reasons for Americas entrance into this war were the Germans naval policy American economic interests and President Wilsons idealism However these reasons are not equally important Wilsons idealism about international relations and neutrality was less of a contributing factor than Americas economic interests and Germanys naval policy into the conflict Germanys unrestrained submarine warfare violated standard international law and constituted an affront to America which was a neutral nation This violation was first demonstrated in the sinking of the British passenger ship the Lusitania in May 1915 which carried 128 Americans onboard Although after the incident it was discovered by the Americans that the Lusitania carried concealed munitions onboard this was not known to the general American public at the time Consequently the American public was enraged by this naval violation on a civilian passenger liner Later that same year another British passenger ship the Arabic was sunk by the Germans killing two Americans Although both of these ships were not American the American public was deeply aroused by the bloodshed and the loss of American civilians lives In response to the Lusitania affair President Wilson sent notes through diplomatic channels to the Germans stating that he would hold the Germans personally responsible for any American lives lost in the sinking
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