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Evaluating Woodrow Wilson’s Strengths and Weaknesses as a Wartime President

Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States who is known for his major role in World War I, where the country went into war against Germany. The president had a significant role in the war, after declaring that the United States would not remain Neutral in the World war and that the country had to send its army to fight against the Germany army. The president’s decisions, mostly on war, made him get known for both his strengths and weaknesses in his approach to war since he had a significant role to play in the history of the United States and its involvement and ideologies in the World War.

A major strength of Woodrow Wilson was the fact that he was bold to make tough decisions to protect his country and the nation’s allies. He portrayed leadership by making a very tough decision of choosing not to remain neutral. In his first years, president Woodrow had tried to avoid getting involved in the World conflict but later realized that remaining neutral would not be the best decision for his country given that Germany had started the war (Cooper Jr, 2018). The main reason why he made the decision, was since he wanted the war to be one that would stop all the wars. He was known for taking a peace stand, but in this case, he decide to proclaim war on Germany, where he took thousands of troupes to Europe, after getting permission from Congress. Many Americans at first believed that Wilson kept them out of war, wherein his first term, he completely refused to participate in the war. However, the amounting pressure for the country to join the war came when he was in his second term. Wilson tried to dispense a peace protocol to Great Britain where by offering munitions and money, but his request was denied. This, as a result, led him to ask Congress to declare war, meaning that had made efforts that would ensure that the country was not a part of the war (Freud & Bullitt, 2018). Another reason why he had to declare war was the fact that Germany completely ignored the neutrality of the United States and went ahead to sunk American ships. Nearly a year after the war was over, Americans were seen to be heroes, courtesy of the country’s president’s actions.

Wilson could be seen as a diplomatic team player who listened to his junior members. An example is before World War I when he recognized him as not being an effective war president. Wilson, interestingly, had no prior experience in war actions but proved to be a talented and competent leader of wartime (Knock, 2019). He therefore decided to have a cordial agreement, with his generals and admirals. He used to ask for advice from them, and also had to consult Congress before making the tough choice of participating in the war. He made efforts to get American economics headed towards the direction of war (Cohen, 2018). After the war was done, Woodrow ensured to transform world policy through democracy and the creation of new international institutions.   He hence delegated military decisions to soldiers with experience and professionalism. He also undertook economic mobilization by giving the task to also experts who could help the United States win the war. Through delegation of critical tasks, Wilson ensured that there was careful planning, which led to the strengthening of the armed forces who emerged victorious at the end of the war (Freud & Bullitt, 2018). His careful and calculated move for World War was recognized even later in World War II, where came to be regarded as a prophet who was wrongly unheeded. His fight for the creation of the League of Nations and adopting the “Fourteen points” which would have helped in ending world wars were also his vision which was ignored but could have helped end any other future wars.

Another strength displayed by Wilson was the proposal for “fourteen points”. This was the basis for the peace treaty at Versailles, which ended up leading to the creation of the League of Nations, which would ensure that the entire world had peace (Ponder, 2018). This is a clear manifestation of his peace-loving nature which is a major strength for any leader. However, as much as this was adopted by Europe, congress failed to approve the United States joining it. Despite the rejection, Wilson toured the entire country with an effort of increasing public support for the league. This as a result led him to get awarded the Nobel peace prize for his effort of ensuring world peace. Woodrow proved to be a leader who has traditional authority, legal authority, and also a unique personality and charisma. Being a charismatic leader meant that Wilson was able to have high ethical and moral standards, which is a characteristic needed for many leaders. He had the talent of convincing people of the truth of his words (Nye Jr, 2019).

Despite opposition from people who were against his choice for war, the President was able to clearly express his opinions. He had the mastery of convincing people of his rightfulness and could force them to agree with his point of view, through his knowledge of making addresses to people. He had an internal political strategy that entered into history as the new democracy or new freedom (Cooper Jr, 2018). He was also a progressive political leader, who supported radical changes in the political system of the country. This is since he saw the government as a social arbiter, where he sought to ensure that all the citizens were treated with justice and freedom. He was also a fighter of democracy, where he believed that a lack of democracy would be no effective and a strong government.

However, Woodrow had several shortcomings, more so concerning matters of war. First, he is seen as a propagandist who used the media, to convince the citizens to support the war. The president used Press conferences and public relations to constantly spread propaganda about the enemy nations. This was intended to ensure that the persons opposed to the war changed their perception about war and also make sure that the citizens were confident with his war ideologies (Cooper Jr, 2018). This hence portrays him as a wartime propagandist, where anti-Germany messages were made, making many Americans support the president and his stand on the war. It also made them hate Germany, making citizens fail to have empathy for innocent citizens who would suffer from the war.

A weakness portrayed by Wilson was his idealism, which was seen to be leading him astray. It was his desire of promoting the benefits of democracy that led him to undertake various military decisions such as invasions and occupations. Wilson also supported segregation against the African Americans, where he never stopped the waves of anti-black violence and race riots during his tenure, particularly in the years after the war was over.

Another weakness of the president is that he could have easily avoided the war. This is mainly during the period of neutrality before America officially joined the war. This could have been by restricting Americans to travel into the war zone. He remained stubborn and insisted that Germany needed to adhere to the international rule, where the submarines need to respect lives and property of neutrals (Freud & Bullitt, 2018). He also rejected the use of the threat of an arms embargo, as a way of modifying the Britons to modify their restrictions on American Trade. This hence greatly frustrated the Germans, resulting to an increased risk of war with the United States. This is a clear case, of why his idealism carried substantial costs of engaging in war. According to Critics of the president, he went to war intending to partly resist the spread of communism in the country and also to ensure that the US economy easily penetrated the world markets. This could mean that he had a hidden motive before going to the war, a factor that could see him be dishonest. He also failed to include Russia in the post-war peace conference, where some critics see such a decision as evidence of the president being hostile towards communism. It would also be a way of making the world adopt American Capitalism, as opposed to other ways of governance which he was greatly opposed to. His actions, according to some historians is seen in the context of palmer raids and his treatment of socialists at home, which eventually led to the Cold war.


It is manifest that Woodrow Wilson is one of the most famous American Presidents, who was in charge of the country in the era of World War. He has both strengths and weaknesses, which he sued in making decisions that involved the United States going to war with Germany. Some of his established strengths include the fact that he was a peacemaker mad a diplomatic leader who was initially opposed to war until Germany failed to back off and force the country to have no choice but fight back. He was also a convincing leader, who convinced Congress of the need for the country to get involved in the world war. After the war, the president also [proved to be a peacemaker, where he had a strategy to form the League of Nations, and have policies that would end the war. Despite the failure to have most of the strategies adopted by the nation, he still showed his efforts and his concerns about a peaceful world. Nevertheless, some of his weaknesses include being a propagandist, who used the media to sell propaganda about Germany to convince citizens to adopt his ideologies. Many leaders in the current era, need to learn many lessons, more so based on his strength, and how he overcame the war.

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Evaluating Woodrow Wilson’s Strengths and Weaknesses as a Wartime President . (2022, June 22). Essay Writing . Retrieved March 31, 2023, from https://www.essay-writing.com/samples/evaluating-woodrow-wilsons-strengths-and-weakness/
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