No USA participation in WWI

Discussion in 'World War I' started by gjs238, Jun 12, 2015.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    So, what would have happened had the US remained neutral?
     
  2. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    I'm also curious as to what you mean by the US remaining "neutral." The US had a fair amount of pro-Allies bias before their formal entry into the war, which was one of the reasons the Germans ultimately chose to engage in Unrestricted Submarine Warfare despite US objections; they believed American entry into the war was already a foregone conclusion by that point.
    A US that maintains a policy of strict neutrality as the Secretary of State at the time advocated is very different from a US continues to offer supplies and funds to the Entente powers, but avoids formal entry into the war.
    My personal opinion; Germany's 1918 offensive might be delayed a bit for more careful planning as ending the war will not seem as urgent as it did at the time, and Italy, which after Caporetto the Germans saw as being fairly weak, might well be the target instead of France. If the Germans manage a second Caporetto, Italy probably starts negotiating, and with two of their allies knocked out of the war France and Britain might decide to negotiate as well while they're still in a position of strength.
    Since the US is the only great power not involved in the war there's a fair chance that the US might end up hosting the peace negotiations since it would be regarded as neutral ground.
    Another interesting possibility is that a neutral US would invest in a major fleet since Wilson was pissed with Britian's Naval policies. Not to the point of going to war with Britain but with Britain's high handedness with neutral shipping and America's interpretation of 'freedom of the seas' a significant rift was in the making. The US began its 1916 expansion because of its neutrality and in order to protect its neutrality. Wikipedia puts US Naval strength at the start of World War I at 11 pre-dreadnoughts and 10 dreadnoughts, with another four being commisioned in 1916. Not a force large enough to seriously threaten the Royal Navy's supremacy, but certainly significant enough to cause problems for Britain. With some better propaganda from Germany and/or worse from Britain and with all the Irish and Germans in the US it wouldn't take much to swing US support into their favor.
    So how about the US entering the war on the side of the CP. For the US to enter the war on the CP side would probably at least require a different president (Wilson was too much of an anglophile). The best way to change the president is to change the Democratic nominee. James Beauchamp Clark seems like a natural replacement for Wilson; he initially held a majority of the votes at the Democratic convention so he's obviously a viable candidate, and he opposed US entry into World War I.
    So a different president, better German propaganda, anger at Britian's Naval policies, and pressure from the US large German and Irish population and the US enteres on the side of the CP!
    The timing of US entry matters quite a bit; if it's prior to Jutland then we likely see a weaker British force when the Germans make their naval sorite (I'd assume that Britain diverting ships to North America would make the Germans even more eager to seek battle). If the US enters after Jutland then perhaps Germany is a bit more aggressive with it's fleet once the battle damage is repaired; the naval situation is better for Germany compared to OTL. A CP US also makes Unrestricted Submarine Warfare much less of a diplomatic problem for Germany, and the loss of the US as a trade partner will make economic damage inflicted by German submarines all the more painful.
    Britain is also going to be forced to divert some ground forces to the defense of Canada; at the very least the Canadian Corps would be recalled to defend the homeland, and likely some British forces would be dispatched too. The US will take quite a while to assemble a proper army so a defensive build-up won't need to be too massive at first, but every soldier in Canada isn't on the Western Front. If the war goes on long enough for the US to get fully geared up to fight (which will probably take at least a year) the British will have to either pull large numbers of troops off of the Western front or resign themselves to losing Canada.

    Isn't speculation FUN...back to the original question: Okay, if the US stays neutral, perhaps becoming embroiled in the Mexican Civil War as nearly happened, the Central Powers are in pretty good shape--Russia is out and Italy is staggering. The Ottoman Empire is in a world of hurt with Lawrence of Arabia roaming about, but otherwise, the Central Powers seem to have the upper hand. Obviously, Germany is going to redeploy her army squarely against France, although reinforcing Austria against Italy might be more helpful, in terms of knocking the Entente out of the war. I think France will slowly be forced backwards, rather than the quick advance that was attempted. The loss of Paris would not end France's ability to fight, but it might be serious enough that the French would probably have to know that they were beaten--and even if this is not the case, the loss of Paris can only mean that the war has swung heavily against the Entente. Whether the French sue for peace or simply start to crumble, Germany is going to redeploy against Italy, and then mop up the Balkans. This would probably take until 1920--but after Paris falls, the war is winding down.
    After that the CP writes Peace Terms. The UK gets a fair deal, as does Portugal and Japan, but France and Italy can expect no more mercy than Russia received.
     
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