In the spring of 1917, Woodrow Wilson was struggling with the question of whether the United States of America should enter World War I. This was an extremely difficult political decision. After all, it had only been weeks earlier, in late 1916, that Wilson had been reelected as U.S. President based on a campaign that promoted a policy of neutrality towards foreign affairs and was built around the slogans “He kept us out of the war” and “America First.” Nevertheless, Wilson ultimately decided to ask Congress to declare war against Germany, embarking on an activist foreign policy style that is often labeled ‘Wilsonianism,’ and that has been upheld by most U.S. presidents ever since. Particularly from the mid-twentieth century on, the U.S. has been a dominant driving force in creating a multilateral institutional network for global cooperation, including such key international organizations as the League of Nations, NATO, and the UN. Needless to say, these efforts were not motivated only by abstract moral principle but by the practical lessons drawn from two devastating world wars: U.S. policymakers concluded that national interests could no longer be effectively pursued in isolation from what was happening on the global stage, and that “the United States, by dint of its unequaled power, was uniquely and indispensably suited to creating a broader global order that would protect American interests and values in an interdependent world” (Brands, “American Internationalism”).
"Between Globalism and America First: The Ambiguous Resonance of Individualist Values in Current U.S. Foreign Policy,"
The Journal of International Relations, Peace Studies, and Development: Vol. 5
, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarworks.arcadia.edu/agsjournal/vol5/iss1/3