Each year, we lay the wreath. We hear “The Last Post.” We mouth the words “never again” like an incantation. But what does it mean? To answer this question, we have to understand what WWI was.
WWI was an explosion, a breaking point in history. In the smoldering shell hole of that great cataclysm lay the industrial-era optimism of never-ending progress. Old verities about the glory of war lay strewn around the battlefields of that “Great War” like a fallen soldier left to die in No Man’s Land, and along with it lay all the broken dreams of a world order that had been blown apart. Whether we know it or not, we here in the 21st century are still living in the crater of that explosion, the victims of a First World War that we are only now beginning to understand.
Part Two – The American Front
The election of Woodrow Wilson once again shows how power operates behind the scenes to subvert the popular vote and the will of the public. Knowing that the stuffy and politically unknown Wilson would have little chance of being elected over the more popular and affable William Howard Taft, Morgan and his banking allies bankrolled Teddy Roosevelt on a third party ticket to split the Republican vote. The strategy worked and the banker’s real choice, Woodrow Wilson, came to power with just forty-two percent of the popular vote.
With Wilson in office and Colonel House directing his actions, Morgan and his conspirators get their wish. 1913 saw the passage of both the federal income tax and the Federal Reserve Act, thus consolidating Wall Street’s control over the economy. World War One, brewing in Europe just eight months after the creation of the Federal Reserve, was to be the first full test of that power.
But difficult as it had been for the Round Table to coax the British Empire out of its “splendid isolation” from the continent and into the web of alliances that precipitated the war, it would be that much harder for their American fellow travelers to coax the United States out of its own isolationist stance.