Default contributed to the catastrophic first world war

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Sir, Andrew Mitchell tells us (Letters, July 8) that in the first world war, “the influence of General John J Pershing’s army was peripheral”, but that the US was “an enthusiastic provider of arms and a willing supplier of credit to the Allies”.

Yes, it was. But the Allies then spent the 1920s trying to convince the US to forgive the debt, which they had willingly borrowed and promised to repay in gold coin. When it wasn’t forgiven, the Allies simply defaulted in the 1930s.

As always, debt that cannot be paid will not be paid. But without adding the defaults as sequel to Mr Mitchell’s story, you cannot understand the various national contributions to the infinite catastrophe of the Great War.

Alex J Pollock, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute, Washington DC, US

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