|Emperor Charles I of Austria-Hungary|
The actual declaration of war was a much more procedural affair than the dramatic declaration of war on Germany and not all that many people seemed to notice, perhaps not even in Austria-Hungary which was near to collapse in any event. Oddly enough, the bill, proposed by Democrat Congressman Henry Flood, was approved by a larger majority than had approved the declaration of war on Germany! The bill passed with only one vote of opposition in the House of Representatives (cast by an anti-war socialist) and unanimously in the Senate. Republican Congresswoman and anti-war icon Jeanette Rankin (who would later cast the only opposition vote for the bill declaring war on Japan after Pearl Harbor) had voted against declaring war on Germany but voted in favor of declaring war on Austria-Hungary. Her explanation, that the declaration of war on Austria-Hungary was a mere formality and meant little given that war had already been declared against Germany, does not quite make sense given that her "no" vote to the war against Germany was itself largely symbolic, both chambers being overwhelmingly in favor of war after the revelation that the Germans had attempted to persuade Mexico to attack the United States. If a symbolic act of defiance was appropriate for the declaration of war against Germany, why not Austria-Hungary?
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These, of course, were simply clumsy efforts to justify an action being taken done, as Wilson himself said, in order to make the prosecution of the war against Germany easier. It was inevitable with the declaration of war on Germany given that both sides had forces serving alongside their allies on every front. There were Austrians supporting the Germans on the Western-front, there were Germans supporting the Austrians on the Italian front, there were even Germans and Austrians both supporting the Turks in the Middle East. The American Expeditionary Force would easily avoid the small Imperial-Royal detachment on the western front but in Italy the two sides were bound to clash and after the major German commitment to the Italian front for the Battle of Caporetto, which ended only the previous month, that was something the U.S. military leadership was very concerned about. It would, effectively, be impossible to fight the Germans without fighting the Austro-Hungarians as well. The United States did not, however, go to war against Bulgaria or the Ottoman Empire which, by December 1917, had lost Jerusalem and was crumbling fast.