Of late, I've been reading and reflecting a fair bit upon the long-term impact of World War One, especially the religious and geo-political implications of the Great War.
In the essay linked below, former Reagan budget director, David Stockman, offers a rather bleak assessment of the legacy of President Woodrow Wilson, focusing upon the far-reaching but unintended consequences of World War One.
In steering the USA into a European war, Stockman contends, Wilson did not make the world safe for democracy, but actually ensured the rise of National Socialism in Germany, along with the rise of Bolshevism in Russia, and the pro-war nationalists in Britain and France--thereby guaranteeing a second world war. Stockman also argues that the Great Depression is the inevitable blow-back from Wilson's risky monetary policies to finance the war.
In The Epochal Consequences of Woodrow Wilson's War, Stockman contends,
[Wilson's] unforgiveable error was to put the United States into the Great War for utterly no good reason of national interest. The European war posed not an iota of threat to the safety and security of the citizens of Lincoln NE, or Worcester MA or Sacramento CA. In that respect, Wilson’s putative defense of “freedom of the seas” and the rights of neutrals was an empty shibboleth; his call to make the world safe for democracy, a preposterous pipe dream.
Actually, his thinly veiled reason for plunging the US into the cauldron of the Great War was to obtain a seat at the peace conference table——so that he could remake the world in response to god’s calling.
But this was a world about which he was blatantly ignorant; a task for which he was temperamentally unsuited; and an utter chimera based on 14 points that were so abstractly devoid of substance as to constitute mental play dough.
Or, as his alter-ego and sycophant, Colonel House, put it: Intervention positioned Wilson to play “The noblest part that has ever come to the son of man”. America thus plunged into Europe’s carnage, and forevermore shed its century-long Republican tradition of anti-militarism and non-intervention in the quarrels of the Old World.
Needless to say, there was absolutely nothing noble that came of Wilson’s intervention. It led to a peace of vengeful victors, triumphant nationalists and avaricious imperialists—-when the war would have otherwise ended in a bedraggled peace of mutually exhausted bankrupts and discredited war parties on both sides.
By so altering the course of history, Wilson’s war bankrupted Europe and midwifed 20th century totalitarianism in Russia and Germany.
These developments, in turn, eventually led to the Great Depression, the Welfare State and Keynesian economics, World War II, the holocaust, the Cold War, the permanent Warfare State and its military-industrial complex.