For a long time the United States foreign policy interests’ scope did not extend beyond the American continent. However, by the end of the 19th – beginning of the 20th centuries the situation began to change. This was primarily due to a sharp rise of the US economy.
By the beginning of the 20th century the United States had become a powerful industrial state. Economic prosperity stimulated the growth of the great-power ambitions in American society. It was during this period that a number of theorists and politicians put forward the idea of turning the United States into a world power. this idea implied transition from foreign isolation policy to the policy of foreign expansion.
World War I gave Americans a powerful stimulus for a new foreign policy course implementation. When the war began the United States President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the country neutrality.
In spite of its neutrality however the USA till the war end satisfied the demands of belligerent states. Thus from April 24, 1914 till March 15, 1915 the American government granted to the allied countries credits in the amount of $ 9.42 billion [6. p 234]. Further on this allowed the USA to solve successfully external debts problem which to the war beginning constituted $ 7.2 billion [6. p 236]. In order to pay for American supplies the allied countries sold significant part of their investments, which allowed the Usa concentrate in their hands half of the developed countries gold reserve.
American corporations also did not miss their chance. Here are some striking examples of their activities: in 1914 – 1916Copper Mining Company increased their income almost 6 times from $ 9.2 mln to $ 51.8 mln, Bethlehem Steel Corporation – 5 times, from $ 9.7mln to $ 26.2 mln, General Motors 4 times from $7.3 mln – $ 28.8 mln [4.p 67]. In general, these results were achieved by increasing exports to European countries and raising the local production rates. Thus, according to the data of the World economy and World Policy Institute monthly production achieved during the war in the United States amounted to 300, 000 rifles, 14,000 machine guns, 769 light and heavy guns, 360 million cartridges , 2,650 army aircraft, 4,000 aircraft engines [4.p 73].
By the end of war the US industrial companies concentrated in their hands 50% of the world coal output, 70 % global oil and 60% copper production. They melted three fifth of cast iron and steel, manufactured 85% motor vehicles.
However, when the submarine warfare began have an adverse effect on the American marine transportation, the American monopolies demanded the direct interference into the military conflict in order on the one hand to protect their interests and on the other hand to secure themselves maximum benefits during the world redivision by the end of the war.
Despite monopolies pressure Wilson attempted to resolve the situation peacefully. On December 18, 1916, Wilson sent a note to the belligerent countries in which he urged them to make statements about the purpose of the war and express their ideas of the peaceful conflict settlement. On January 22, 1917 Wilson made a speech in the Senate, in which he put forward the peace slogan "without any winning party" [1.p 537]. He even managed to convince the monopolists that this decision would be most beneficial for them, because the winning party would strengthen significantly and compete with American capitalists.
All Wilson’s attempts to reconcile the parties were in vain. Having exhausted all peaceful means, the United States entered the war on April 6, 1917 on the Entente side.
At the same time, the US government tried challenge the UK in the global oceans. In September 1916, the Congress had finally approved huge at the time allocations for naval construction, which in fact was directed against the "mistress of the seas." To the remark that it might worry England Wilson said: "Let's build a fleet stronger than she, and we will do what we want» [2.p 467].
It should be noted that America from a debtor transformed into the largest international creditor and took a leading role in world trade. in 4 years its national wealth grew 2.5 times [6.p 241]. New York became an international financial center.
But despite the positive trends, the foreign economic expansion growth in the United States during World War I also had a negative impact. The US involvement in the war led to a reduction in the domestic market. To cover the increased government military expenditures taxes were increased, particularly indirect (5.7 times more than before the war) [6.p 267]. Because of the much paper money issue the inflation level rose. The prices of essential commodities doubled and those grew by 85% [6.p 314]. All this has led to the living standards drop.
In addition two years later after the end of the war in the countries participating in it "rebound effect" of national economies manifested, which also strongly affected the internal situation in the United States. By the spring of 1921 European consumers sharply reduced demand for agricultural products and raw materials imported from America. The prices on the world market reduced by 3-4 times [4.p 83]. Industrial output fell by half. from 1920 to 1922 about 52,000 commercial bankruptcies took place in the country [6.p 328]. As a result, the situation led to the hard economic crisis.
In the political vein, the First World War led to the power balance shift throughout the world. Taking the advantage of the UK, France and Russia weakening, the United States began to occupy a dominant position in the world. This was most clearly manifested by the fact that the Usa was able to impose the further world development plan within the framework of Wilson’s 14 points on the international community. According to the American historian W.Williams the purpose of these 14 points was to restructure the system of international relations in accordance with American principles, thus making possible the dominant US role in the political and economic life of the world without resorting to a major war [5.p167].
Henry Kissinger treats these events as a victory of the New World over the Old Reich: "The entry of America into the war made the total victory technically possible, but the goals corresponded to her little world order that Europe knew for centuries and for which, allegedly entered the war. America contemptuously rejected the concept of balance of power. American criteria of the international order is democracy, collective security and self-determination "[3.p154].
List of sources:
Архив полковника Хауза. Избранное в 2 томах.2004 г.752 стр.
Борьба за Тихий океан.1952 г.672 стр.
Г. Киссинджер. Дипломатия. М.1997 г.
Мировая война в цифрах ИМХиМП КА.1934 г.96 стр.
Системная история международных отношений в четырех томах. 1918 – 2000, т. 1 – т. 2.
Толмачева Р. Экономическая история.2003 г.604 стр.