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When Was America’s Military Considered as “Less than Nothing?”

Before the U.S. entered World War I, Germany’s military leaders agreed that “as a military or naval factor the United States might be considered as less than nothing.”

James W. Gerard, the U.S. ambassador to Germany in 1914, believed that Germany’s military leaders intensely disliked America because, among other reasons, the United States was exporting munitions to countries like Britain:

The military, of course, absolutely despised America and claimed that America could do no more harm than it was doing then to Germany; and that possibly the war preparations of America might cut down the amount of the munitions available for export to the enemies of the [German] Empire.

What do you think explains Germany’s attitude toward America’s military in the early part of World War I?

Before reading this quote, had you ever heard America’s military described as “less than nothing?” Explain your answer.

Do you think military leaders, on both sides of a conflict, tend to be over-confident before war begins? If so, why do you think this occurs?


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