The readings from Unfinished Nation, Wilson’s Fourteen Points, and the McDougal reading.
Analyze the readings from Unfinished Nation, Wilson’s Fourteen Points, and the McDougal reading.
This response is based on the readings from Unfinished Nation, Wilson’s Fourteen Points, and the McDougal reading.
As to if there is such a thing as a “moral” or “just” war, the answer is in the affirmative. Such a war would be justified based on the objectives it seeks to achieve. It can be simply conceptualized as a war that seeks to right some ongoing wrongs in society, thereby promoting greater good in the end. Examining the events prior to the United States’ entry into WW1 following the Zimmerman telegram and the sinking of US merchant ships, it becomes clear that President Woodrow Wilson was reluctant to join the war but had to do so in the end because he believed it was a just war. His Fourth of July speech at Mount Vernon served to elevate the just or moral nature of the war, whose objective was the “destruction of every arbitrary power anywhere…that can disturb the peace of the world” (McDougall, 1997: p.138). From a Wilsonian perspective, a war can be considered “moral” or “just” if it seeks to “Right the law of the world and cast every selfish dominion down the dust” (McDougall, 1997: p.138).This understanding leads to the inference that yes, wars should be fought for the sake of humanity and a higher good. Wilson pursued peace and refrained from war but he finally went to war to promote the values he believed America stood for. They may have been his personal values, but he was the president of the United States and besides the constitutional mandate, it appeared he had the moral authority to speak and make decisions for the nation. An examination of the circumstances that prompted the US to enter the war, and Wilson’s motivation for such a decision, clearly shows that war can be a noble cause. He led his country to war not with the aim of causing havoc upon other nations but to call warring nations to order, hence enforce peace. As McDougall (1997) narrates, Wilson was “convinced that he could not bring about a just peace by mediation, he had no choice but do so by fighting” (p. 136). Clearly, he would lead his nation into war for a noble cause: just peace. In his Fourteen Points, he laid bare a peace program for the world and stated that America was willing to fight and continue fighting until contextual arrangements and covenants had been achieved. Indeed, Wilson’s objectives were truly motivated by the greater good. In the conclusion of his Fourteen Points presentation, he stated America wished the right to prevail and desired a just and stable peace, objectives that were congruent with what he believed purpose in life was.
McDougall, W.A. (1997). The American encounter with the world since 1776. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.