FOREIGN POLICY 1914-1920:
THE UNITED STATES AND THE GREAT WAR
(WORLD WAR I)
The great questions of the day are not
decided by speeches and majority votes
but by blood and iron.
Otto von Bismarck (1815-98)
Stranges, Chapter 9
Henretta, Chapter 21
All Quiet on the Western Front
In Europe the last decade before the outbreak of war in 1914 was a time of idealism,
revolutionary philosophy, and a large number of workers’ strikes.
GENERAL BACKGROUND TO WORLD WAR I
World unrest prior to the United States’s entry in the war
French-German crises arose in Morocco in 1905 and 1911 over mineral resources such as coal,
iron ore, lead, and zinc.
War broke out between Italy and Turkey in 1911-12.
Italy attacked and annexed Libya which
was part of the Ottoman (Turkish) empire, a decaying empire whose beginning goes back to the
War broke out in the Balkans in 1912-13 because smaller countries, such as Macedonia and
Albania, were seeking independence from the Ottoman empire.
Bulgaria in 1908, Serbia in 1882, Romania in 1881, and Greece in 1830 had gained their
independence from Turkey.
Bosnia and Herzegovina had been under Turkish control since the
fifteenth century, but from 1878 to 1908 Austrian troops occupied these two provinces and
Austria formally annexed them in October 1908.
The Serbs resented the annexation because
most of Bosnia’s population was Serbian, and so did Russia.
German threats forced Russia to
accept the annexation in March 1909.
But the crisis left much international bitterness and led the
Serbs within Bosnia to begin anti-Austrian terrorist attacks.
The immediate cause of World War I
The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand (1863-1914), heir to the Austro-Hungarian
empire (established in 1867), and his wife Sophie (1868-1914), at Sarajevo, the capital of
Bosnia, on 28 June 1914 was the immediate cause of the war. Gavrilo Princip (1894-1918), a
young Serb, was the assassin. The Archduke had gone to Bosnia, then a part of the Austro-
Hungarian empire, to observe army maneuvers.
About seven conspirators located along the route
of the archduke’s motorcade were part of the plot, which almost failed earlier that day.