The world has become a much more dangerous place after World War One.
The war introduced the first fighter planes and tanks, and the use of poisonous gases on the battlefield. It also brought about a new type of warfare that would come to be known as terrorism. Terrorism is an act of violence or intimidation against a specific target by an individual or group of people for ideological or political reasons.
Despite being prevalent throughout history, it became its own distinct phenomenon only with World War One. In the decades that followed, many leaders tried to deal with this growing threat, but few were successful until Woodrow Wilson came along.
Woodrow Wilson was the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921.
He led his country through extremely challenging times during his presidency: World War One, a flu pandemic, and four major financial crises. But he’s best known for his handling of terrorism in America and around the world during his time in office.
Let’s take a closer look at how Wilson dealt with terrorism during his time as president…
Wilson and the Rise of Terrorism
The world had never seen anything like World War One before.
And the war transformed wartime into a new type of conflict: terrorism.
The conflict pitted people of different nationalities, religions, and ideologies against each other. It also introduced the use of new weapons and tactics, including the use of airplanes, submarines, and poison gas. In many ways, the war was a clash of competing ideologies, as well as an economic war for resources and markets.
As such, it provided a perfect breeding ground for the rise of terrorism.
Wilson and the Influenza Pandemic
The war brought other terrifying new threats, including the flu pandemic. The 1918 flu pandemic was one of the deadliest pandemics in human history. It killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, including 5 million people in the United States alone.
The pandemic sickened millions and killed many more, especially in Europe where it was widespread and widespread. But even in the United States, where public health was better, the disease killed hundreds of thousands of people.
The pandemic was one of the first examples of modern terrorism. It was also one of the first times in which a government proved to be completely ineffective in dealing with it.
Wilson and the Stock Market Crash
The country also experienced a devastating economic collapse during the war. The federal government was forced to finance the war effort and, as a result, increase taxes, which in turn led to higher inflation.
This, in turn, caused investors to lose faith in the financial markets. On Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the stock market crashed. The crash had a particularly significant impact on people’s lives.
Many small investors had their savings wiped out by the loss, and the specter of economic collapse hung heavily over the nation. It was this collapse of confidence in the financial system and the government that led to the rise of political extremism in America.
It also paved the way for future financial crises, which could only be stopped by another major war.
Wilson and the Rise of Arab Nationalism
The war also helped fuel the rise of Arab nationalism. This was particularly true in the Middle East and North Africa, where rekindled competition between the European powers led to the creation of new and powerful states. This competition would continue to shape the region’s politics for decades, especially when they became Cold War rivals.
Arab nationalism would create a new focus for anti-Western extremism, as well as a new enemy for American leaders to try to deal with. Many of these leaders had become radicalized by the war and the rise of nationalism. They became more hostile to the West and especially to America, which they saw as an imperialist power.
They also started to organize themselves into groups that could plan and carry out violence against Western countries.
Wilson’s Legacy in Fighting Terrorism
Wilson was the first US president to deal with terrorism.
He took several steps to combat the rise of terrorism around the world and to protect America against it. – Wilson added the title “Secretary of State” to the job title of “Secretary of War” to create a new cabinet position focused solely on diplomacy.
Wilson also established the Office of Naval Intelligence to assist in countering the threat of subversion and espionage by foreign powers.
Wilson appointed a special envoy to the Middle East, Colonel William Standley, who was charged with finding and arresting any foreign agents attempting to foment rebellion against the US. – Wilson also created the US Bureau of Investigation (now known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation or FBI) to counter domestic threats against the US.
What You Can Learn From Woodrow Wilson’s Experience
During his presidency, Wilson faced several serious challenges, including the growing threat of terrorism. Wilson was able to better prepare the country for those challenges than any president before him, in part by establishing the foundations for effective counterterrorism measures.
These included the creation of the Department of State, the Office of Naval Intelligence, and the FBI. That preparedness would pay off during World War Two when America was able to effectively combat the threat of terrorism.
The world has become a much more dangerous place since Wilson’s presidency, but Wilson was the first president to deal with terrorism.
Wilson’s practical approach to terrorism—combined with his strong commitment to nationalism—allowed him to confront that threat head-on and protect the country against it.
Wilson’s experience provides an important lesson for any leader facing similar challenges: when it comes to protecting the country, there’s no substitute for practicality.