Why the USA and the USSR entered as WWI Alliesby Rit Nosotro
Explain the different reasons why the USSR and the USA entered WWI as allies.
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The immediate cause of World War I was the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria by a Serbian nationalist on June 28th 1914. Relations had been strained between Austria and Serbia, and the Austrian government saw this as an opportunity to force the problem to a head. The Austrians delivered an ultimatum to the Serbian government and the Serbians complied with the ultimatum, except for several small revisions. The Austrians saw this as an affront, and declared war on Serbia. Russia had agreed by treaty to defend Serbia in any case of serious threat, and declared war on Austria. The Austrians knew they could not challenge Russia alone, and asked Germany for aid. Germany declared war with Russia on August 1, 1914, and two days later declared war on France as well. Britain entered the war on August 4th, after Germany invaded Belgium, whom Britain had promised to protect in the treaty of London in 1839. The Ottoman Empire entered the war in November on the side of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Bulgaria (who joined in 1915), and these countries collectively became known as the Central Powers. In May 1915, Italy joined on the side of the Allied Powers: Britain, France, Belgium, Serbia, The Russian Empire, and – eventually – the United States.
The assassination of the Archduke does not fully explain the almost eager willingness of Europe to go to war. Instead, the history of Europe had created a politically-charged climate, which allowed a dispute between Austria and Serbia to grow into a full-blown World War. For example, the French Revolution had a huge impact on the fate of Europe. It demonstrated to people that they could govern themselves without a king, and it warned the royal families of other European countries that people no longer wanted to be ruled. This feeling was aided by the conquests achieved by Napoleon, because along with the movement of his armies went the ideas of revolution. These ideas called into question the monarchies that had ruled the countries of Europe.
Even after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, the idea of government without monarchy created change. This brought about the Congress of Vienna in 1815. During this Congress, the idea of restoring Europe to a pre-Napoleonic state was advocated. It was intended that a monarchy would continue to rule, but there would be a balance of power. This Congress also created the Concert of Europe, which was an agreement that all countries in the congress would provide military aid to ensure that monarchies maintained their ruling status. From this time forward, there were many small internal conflicts all over Europe, with groups who wanted change clashing with those who wanted to maintain the status quo. All of these small conflicts made for a very volatile situation in Europe, so that when Serbia and Austria began a war, their allies were willing to fight.
However, from this volatile period and horrific war came several alliances which were bent on preserving the freedom of Europe. The countries in these alliances ultimately formed the Allied Powers. The first of these was Russia. Russia entered into World War I because they were bound to do so by a treaty. Due to a long-standing relationship with Serbia, Russia was expected to offer any and all aid to it ally during the coming war. Russia did come to Serbia’s aid, and fought as its ally until 1917. At that point, Tsar Nicholas II abdicated his throne due to protests against his reign. A central government was created to rule in his stead, but this government was overthrown by Vladimir Lenin and the Bolshevik party in December. Russia then entered into negotiations with Germany, and in March of 1918, signed a peace treaty with Germany, and ceded large amounts of territory to the Central Powers. Along with the treaty, Russia also ceased all hostilities towards the Central Powers, and pulled itself out of the war.
The United States found itself under no obligation to enter into World War I, and for years did not enter into the conflict due to isolationist sentiments within the country: Americans did not believe they should become involved in Europe’s war. There were, however, two deciding factors that forced the United States into the war. The first was unrestricted submarine warfare. This was practiced by the Germans, and constituted attacking merchant ships without warning, which was contrary to maritime law. The greatest blow came when the passenger liner Lusitania was sunk, killing 128 American passengers. The United States sent a protest to Germany, and the Germans ceased this form of warfare, fearing the Americans would enter on the side of the Allies. However, the Germans soon returned to unrestricted submarine warfare, prompting America to break political ties with Germany. The final, deciding factor in the United States’ entry into the war was the Zimmerman telegram. This was a secret message sent to Mexico by Germany, trying to provoke an America/Mexico war to keep America busy while the war continued in Europe. Finally seeing that America had to fight to defend itself, and to defend those countries not able to resist Germany and its allies, President Woodrow Wilson declared war against Germany on April 6th, 1917, and entered America into one of the bloodiest wars in history.
While there was great opposition in America to entering the war, the situation made it very clean that the fate not only of America, but also of the people of a large portion of the world, was at stake. For this reason, America went to war to ensure the freedom and protection of its citizens and those of its allies. Russia entered into World War I to defend an ally, and fought for years to protect and defend its allies. However, before the war was over, the ruler abdicated his throne, and power was seized by a political party seemingly unconcerned with its allies. When the Bolshevik party seized control, it immediately pushed for a peace agreement with Germany and left the fate of the free world to others. Nonetheless, it was in good hands.
First World War
Encyclopedia Britannica Ready Reference 2003
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