May/June 1998 | Volume 49, Issue 3
The rejection of the Treaty of Versailles. Many have argued that if the United States had joined the League of Nations, the Second World War might never have taken place and the history of the twentieth century would have followed a different course. I very much doubt that ratification of the Versailles Treaty would have overcome the historic isolationism of the American people and produced U.S. military interventions to defend the idea of world order. Even today, after a second world war, Americans are negative about sending troops abroad to kill and die in the absence of a direct threat to U.S. vital interests.
The wartime enactment of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, better known as the GI Bill of Rights. This law and subsequent similar legislation for later wars opened the gates of opportunity to millions of veterans and contributed enormously to the release of economic and intellectual energy that carried postwar America to the summit of the world.