How did the United States appoint itself as the world's supreme military power? Stephen Wertheim delves into the archives of the U.S. foreign policy elite to trace armed dominance to its origin in World War II. He shows how officials and intellectuals suddenly chose to embrace perpetual dominance--at the price of perpetual war.
In writing the history of the country’s decision to embrace a militarist vision of world order—and to do so, counterintuitively, through the creation of the United Nations—Wertheim provides an importantly revisionist account of U.S. foreign policy in the 1940s, one that helps us think anew about internationalism today ... Simply by telling the story in its proper order, Wertheim offers a bracing corrective to standard accounts of the rise of the United Nations regime ... The contemporary stakes of Wertheim’s work are plainly apparent ... a reminder of just how strange it is that Americans have come to see military supremacy as a form of selfless altruism, as a gift to the world ... The history of ideas can clarify the genealogy of contemporary foreign policy assumptions and help us imagine alternatives, but it is also important to think about how to make those alternatives politically effective...Wertheim’s book offers less guidance in this regard.
... unique in its near-exclusive focus on domestic U.S. history ... Wertheim’s book contributes to the effort to transform U.S. foreign policy by giving pro-restraint Americans a usable past. Though Tomorrow, the World is not a polemic, its implications are invigorating.
... no historian before Mr. Wertheim has shown in such detail how a small, networked bunch of Ivy League-elite public intellectuals and strategists ould step in and use the shock of France’s fall to articulate their visions of the path forward for the American Republic from their posts at such organizations as the Council on Foreign Relations, the Yale Institute for International Studies and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. Acting as the State Department’s virtual 'think tank' for the country’s future, the CFR and the many planning sub-groups it spawned stepped forward to convince important senators, the broader Congress, the American newspapers and the public at large that their nation should now assume the many burdens of global leadership ... a study in American foreign-policy thinking, not in the actual wielding and making of American power. This is intellectual history, in the broadest sense of that term .. Mr. Wertheim’s book has added another piece—a welcome and important one—to the story of the establishment of the unrivalled U.S. global influence as World War II unfolded. It explains, better than any previous work, why and how all those interwar reservations about America’s stepping to the center of the world stage were suppressed, and why the many different strands of strategic thought, realism and internationalism, came to agree that 'America as No. 1' was a jolly good thing, and that the rest of the world needed—and indeed was going to get—U.S. global leadership ... instructive reading indeed.