Mankind experienced the First World War from 1914 to 1918. The war started and ended in the then most developed continent, Europe, but it was extended to Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific, the Europeans' colonial interests. One might consider that the war was caused and triggered by the conflict between the European imperial powers (empires) and then national leaders' ambitions. The incidence of the assassination of Archduke Frantz Ferdinand, heir of the Austro-Hungarian throne, by a Serb was the triggering event of WW I in Europe, but the evolvement of the Central Power formed by Germany, Austria-Hungary, Ottoman and Bulgaria and the Allies led by Britain, France and Russia were political developments orchestrated by ambitious political leaders at the time. The U.S. declared neutrality right from the start (August 4, 1914) and did not enter the war till 1917. The U.S. banks were happy to loan money to Britain and France to buy ammunitions, materials and food supplies from America. The U.S. was benefitting from the war. Not until April 6, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson finally managed to get the U.S. Congress to declare war against Germany, over a year-long struggle with divided American public opinions: Principally the Anglophile Americans supporting the British for war versus Irish, German, and Scandinavian Americans advocating neutrality. Hindsight we realized that the U.S. benefitted from the Monroe doctrine by restraining aggressive colonial expansion (the British and French did) and late involvement in the war. In contrast, Japan, so motivated by its ambitious desire to become an empire to rule Asia, declared war on Germany on August 23, 1914, with no justification. Later (8/27 – 11/7/ 1914), Japan joining Britain seized the Tsingdao port in China, a concession China granted to Germany after its defeat from the infamous Western invasion of China. That was how WW I extended to Asia Pacific. On 9/29-30/1914, Japan occupied the Marshall Islands. Wilson made no effort to prepare for land war except for the expansion of the U.S. Navy. Wilson's war plan was forced by Germany's decision to use submarines to attack any vessels approaching the British waters (providing supplies needed), an obvious threat to American commerce ships. In addition, the U.S. was informed by British intellegence that a German telegram (known as the Zimmerman Telegram) sent to Mexico was decoded revealing a secret plan to urge Mexico to wage a war against the U.S. to recover the territory Mexico lost in the American-Mexico war. This not only infuriated the American citizens but also threatened their interests. Hence, Wilson asked the Congress for 'a war to end all wars'. In WW I, the U.S. was a victor who benefitted from both early neutrality and late involvement.
Apparently, mankind did not learn enough from WW I. President Woodrow Wilson could not even get the peace 'Treaty of Versailles' ratified, and his League of Nations idea seemed to be hitting walls. The U.S. returned to its isolationist foreign policy which dominated through the great depression into the 1930's. Then we had WW II started on different continents at different times. The starting date of WW II in Europe was inconsistently deignated as 9/1/1939 when Germany invaded Poland. Considering the entire world war (beyond Europe), one must trace back to 9/18/1931 (The Mukden incident) when Japan used it as an excuse to invade China's Manchuria. Later Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy invaded and annexed Ethiopia (10/25-11/1/1936) and on 11/25/1936, Germany and Japan signed the anti-Comintern pact against the Soviet Union and the International Communists. Japan was emboldened by its industrialization copying the West to initiate its invasion plan to conquer China. On 7/7/1937, Marco Polo Incidence broke out, then advanced to Nanjing city on 12/13/1937 and launched a massacre lasting 6 weeks killing over 300,000 people for punishing Nanjing's resistance to its invasion. Although the U.S., Britain, the Soviet Union, and even Germany were sympathetic to China, China was fighting alone and furiously with its inferior military equipment against the well-equipped Japanese army, crushing Japan's dream of conquering China in six months. On 9/27/1940, Japan joined Germany and Italy signing a tripartite formalizing the AXIS alliance. Later, on 12/7/1941 Japan bombed Pearl Harbor forcing the U.S. to declare war on Japan. Then Germany declared war against the U.S. three days later bringing the U.S. officially into WW-II. China formally joined the Allies in the same month. Hence WW-II had two major theaters strategically integrated in the military sense, the Sino-Japanese war was the Asia theater tying up the bulk of the Japanese imperial army and airforce throughout the later part of WW-II. The U.S. while neutral, was reaping benefits by selling supplies (oil, wood, etc.) to Europe and Japan (Japan imports 90% of its oil needs). When Japan was making advances in Indochina, the U.S. was under pressure to join the British and Dutch to cut off oil supply to Japan. Japan feeling threatened by the oil embargo and sensing an inevitable war with the U.S. chose to strike Pearl Harbor to destroy the U.S. navy. But the attack was not a complete success, the battleships destroyed were obsolete ones and the lost planes were replaceable. The human casualty was stirring up a huge anti-Japan anger in the U.S. continent. The result was making the U.S. joined the Allies and won the victory of WW-II in both European and Asian theaters without having any battle on its home turf. This stimulated the U.S. economy, brought it out of the great depression (1929 -1941), and advanced its post WW-II prosperity, a very beneficial outcome for the U.S. from WW-II.
The two world wars enriched the U.S. making it the world's largest economy and the strongest nation on Earth. Being the superpower, the U.S. led the West to fight the Soviet Union and the spread of communism with a Cold War strategy. The U.S. won the Cold War and the Soviet Union collapsed, but unfortunately the U.S. had become a hegemonic superpower adopting a self-centered foreign policy while the world desired a harmonious and stable environment suitable for steady economic development. Many countries not involved in post-WW-II wars enjoyed a steady and healthy economic growth. Notably, China was the one that emerged from a weak and poor country to a quickly advancing modern nation. As China developed and gained influence in the world, the U.S. felt threatened. The U.S. has chosen a hegemony policy against any nation that is rising, hence China has become its target along with Russia. It is using all means to suppress China's growth and development by sanctioning trade, investment, and technology exports as well as urging its allies to target China. Many political observers have pointed out that the current international tension is very much like the world situation before WW I and II. Any small event may trigger WW III. However, this time it is different for the U.S. since it is no longer a neutral party rather it is the principal instigator of conflicts that had led or might lead to wars. The collapse of the Soviet Union (and NATO expansion), the Middle East turmoil (numerous wars), the Russia-Ukraine war, the unrest in Africa, and now the new tension in Asia Pacific where Taiwan is used to agitate China creating war tension in Asia Pacific. However, this time around, the U.S. cannot be reaping benefits as a bystander. If WW-III broke out, the U.S, would be directly and immediately impacted. The weapons have been advanced to a cross-continental level even extraterrestrial and nuclear threat perforated in and across oceans. Any escalation of war would surely bring the fighting to the U.S. soil and worse, nuclear weapons would be used to revenge the U.S.as the trouble-maker not the peace-maker of WW III. As a citizen, one must question the current U.S. foreign policy makers, why the U.S. is leading the world to WW III?
Histories are our teachers, current events are our alarms, and conscience and wisdom are our solutions! Americans must pause and stop our self-centered, hatred-motivated and hypocritical foreign policies and seek genuine peaceful collaboration!