This first week of April marks an important milestone, as 95 years ago, during the Presidency of Woodrow Wilson, who had entered office committed to domestic progressive reforms, he ended up becoming a war time President.
Wilson accomplished his domestic reforms, becoming the most active domestic President in American history, but later to be surpassed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.
But also, after much delay and attempt to avoid entrance into war, he felt forced to go to Congress and ask for a declaration of war against Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Turks, and in support of Great Britain, France, Italy, and Russia, in what was then called first the Great War, then the World War, and then ultimately the First World War.
America had conducted trade with all nations, had gone to war against Spain in the Spanish-American War of 1898, had intervened in Latin America under Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson, and had engaged in diplomacy with Europe and Asia, particularly under TR.
But the thought of committing troops to a continental war was beyond conception of Americans before the first week of April 1917. On April 2, Wilson delivered a war message, and four days of fierce debate began, with the final vote to go to war on April 6, by a margin of 373-50 in the House of Representatives, and 89-6 in the US Senate.
Since 1917, the United States has been engaged in SEVEN wars–World War I (1917-1918), World War II (1941-1945), Korean War (1950-1953), Vietnam War (1964-1973), Persian Gulf War (1991), Afghanistan War (2001-Present), Iraq War (2003-2011).
Additionally, this nation has been involved in military actions too numerous to list, or even to have an accurate count, including many secret interventions with special forces and intelligence agents in the CIA and other intelligence agencies, many of them secret in nature.
America has involvement in close to 160 countries in some form or manner, and we have become an imperial nation, the leader of the “free world”, first against Fascism and Nazism, then against Communism, and now against terrorism, which is an open ended commitment with no seeming end date.
This nation had a military draft in 1917-1918, in 1940-1947, and 1948-1973, but since, it has been the National Guard and the regular military forces that have borne the brunt of war. It has been easier for many in America to ignore our war involvement, since there is no longer mass participation in war. And that has affected the poor treatment of veterans who commit themselves to war, and now are surviving injuries in greater numbers, but often have mental issues not so easily addressed.
We now have very few members of Congress who have served in the military or in a war zone, and very few children of members of Congress who do the same. And now we will have a Presidential election with neither major candidate having served in the military, the
first such case since World War II.
This commemoration of our entrance into the First World War 95 years ago this week is a good time to stop and reflect and reassess what we are doing, and whether we can afford and also wish to keep spending so much blood and treasure on warfare, which is in many ways undermining our economic present and future.
We have become a security state, that is unwilling to face the reality that we cannot control the world, and think it will not harm our domestic tranquility and agenda. We are becoming a nation that can be compared to other empires that ultimately fell, including the Roman Empire, the Spanish Empire, and the British Empire.
The next President, whether Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, must get beyond the rhetoric, and seriously review the reality of what we are doing, and come to the conclusion that our national security is not helped by a constant state of war, and military spending getting out of control, and undermining our education, health care, and so many other programs and needs that will have to be pushed aside, if we do not stop the mad dash toward total, endless state of war!