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No doubt that the belligerents would call upon "morally upright" America to mediate the peace settlement. This assumption was the backbone of his theory of neutrality, national policy between 1914 and 1917. Wilsonian neutrality meant that America could intervene militarily in Europe to keep the sides evenly matched. Then, the war would degenerate into one of steady attrition and stalemate. Finally, Wilson would end the bloodshed by dictating a lasting and pure peace.

In his August 19, 1914 message to the Senate, Wilson voiced his belief that America should stand "ready to play a part of impartial mediation and speak the counsels of peace."[10] Yet, Wilson\'s desire to remain impartial was molded by the coming events. In 1914, the British navy imposed a strict blockade against neutral shipping to the continent, specifically the Central powers. American vessels were seized, but England paid for lost cargo. Wilson raised a hue and cry, but took no actual counter-measures. Instead, he wished to preserve a rough equality between the German land forces and the British naval powers so that neither could claim victory.

By 1915, America was linked economically to the Allies. When British shipping firms asked for loans, Wilson did not refuse, for he wished to maintain British superiority on the high seas. Therefore, when Germany pioneered the use of the submarine, the President objected. The introduction of the U-boat would tip the scales in favor of Germany, which would violate Wilsonian neutrality and betray his plans for a liberal world order. Hence, the United States shifted from a policy of isolation to one of non-belligerent intervention.

On December 18, 1916,[11] Wilson sent notes to the belligerents asking them for an explicit exposure of war aims. Germany refused to return a direct answer, and her evasion suggested looming imperialist motives. Even the Allies declared that they intended to extract a painfully large amount of reparations from the Central Powers and exterminate German power in Europe.

In December 1916, the German Foreign Office urged a peace conference of belligerents only.




Bibliography:

Develin, Patrick Too Proud to Fight New York: Oxford University Press, 1975


Hoover, Herbert The Ordeal of Woodrow Wilson New York: McGraw Hill Book Company