Though American political leaders claimed high moral purpose in our entry into war in 1917, American banks did not want their deeply in debt clients to lose and without ability to repay the principal and interest. Within five years of the 1934 Johnson Act mentioned below, a bankrupt Britain was engaged in yet another war, more deeply in debt and in need of saving once again.
What should have been an armistice between exhausted European combatants in 1917, American intervention at the urging of the media, moral crusaders, banks and munitions dealers bailed out the British and French. This ensured the rise of a German nationalist who would seek retribution, and more American men buried on European soil.
Bernhard Thuersam, Circa1865
Saving the British Empire
“The First World War marked the death of many human values, and if Christianity was not numbered among the fatalities it certainly suffered injuries from which it has not recovered. Another faith shattered on the battlefield was the faith that the [British] Empire had in the Motherland.
[General Alexander] Haig had ordered too many Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians to certain death for their countrymen ever again to trust their regiments to the direct command of Whitehall.
The Australian Official History quotes one officer saying his friends were “murdered” through “the incompetence, callousness and personal vanity of those in high authority.” Of the [Battle of the] Somme, another Australian officer is quoted as saying “a raving lunatic could never imagine the horror of the last thirteen days.”
Mammon too was among the wounded. In July 1917 Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer had admitted to the Americans that Britain’s financial resources were virtually at an end. The United States began lending the British $180 million per month. By war’s end Britain’s national debt had risen from 650 million [pounds] in 1914 to 7,435 millions [pounds] of which 1,365 millions was owed to the USA.
This provided an unbearable postwar burden for the taxpayer, and in 1931 Britain defaulted on its debt. Congress responded with the Johnson Act of 1934; Britain’s purchases would now have to be paid for in cash.”
(Blood, Tears and Folly, Len Deighton, HarperCollins, 1993, pp. 129-130)