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Tomorrow, the World

The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy

Stephen Wertheim

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Harvard Uni.Press Academi
27 October 2020
A new history explains how and why, as it prepared to enter World War II, the United States decided to lead the postwar world. For most of its history, the United States avoided making political and military commitments that would entangle it in European-style power politics. Then, suddenly, it conceived a new role for itself as the world's armed superpower?and never looked back. In Tomorrow, the World, Stephen Wertheim traces America's transformation to the crucible of World War II, especially in the months prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. As the Nazis conquered France, the architects of the nation's new foreign policy came to believe that the United States ought to achieve primacy in international affairs forevermore. Scholars have struggled to explain the decision to pursue global supremacy. Some deny that American elites made a willing choice, casting the United States as a reluctant power that sloughed off ?isolationism? only after all potential competitors lay in ruins. Others contend that the United States had always coveted global dominance and realized its ambition at the first opportunity. Both views are wrong. As late as 1940, the small coterie of officials and experts who composed the U.S. foreign policy class either wanted British preeminence in global affairs to continue or hoped that no power would dominate. The war, however, swept away their assumptions, leading them to conclude that the United States should extend its form of law and order across the globe and back it at gunpoint. Wertheim argues that no one favored ?isolationism??a term introduced by advocates of armed supremacy in order to turn their own cause into the definition of a new ?internationalism.? We now live, Wertheim warns, in the world that these men created. A sophisticated and impassioned narrative that questions the wisdom of U.S. supremacy, Tomorrow, the World reveals the intellectual path that brought us to today's global entanglements and endless wars.
By:   Stephen Wertheim
Imprint:   Harvard Uni.Press Academi
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 156mm, 
ISBN:   9780674248663
ISBN 10:   067424866X
Pages:   272
Publication Date:   27 October 2020
Audience:   Professional and scholarly ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Stephen Wertheim is Deputy Director of Research and Policy at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and Research Scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, New York Review of Books, New York Times, and Washington Post.

Reviews for Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy

Excellent...An important contribution to the history of U.S. foreign policy, and it is also relevant to contemporary debates about the proper U.S. role in the world. -- Daniel Larson * American Conservative * Wertheim...details the thinking behind America's pursuit of global dominance from the 1940s to the present day in this impeccably researched debut history...This fine-grained account sheds new light on an era and a worldview too often obscured by gauzy patriotism. * Publishers Weekly * How did the idea of American military supremacy come to be understood as essential and inevitable? In this important and beautifully crafted revisionist history, Stephen Wertheim shows the way a foreign policy consensus in favor of American predominance was forged as Hitler ransacked Europe. It became an assumed necessity after World War II, and later fueled military build-up and ongoing armed conflict. By revealing the contingent path of American global militarism, Wertheim makes an urgent and overdue reassessment possible. -- Mary L. Dudziak, author of <i>War Time</i> Americans now believe global leadership is their birthright; this splendid book uncovers the origins of that conviction. Wertheim's detailed analysis of strategic planning before and during World War II shows that the pursuit of global primacy was a conscious choice, made by a foreign policy elite that equated 'internationalism' with the active creation of a world order based on U.S. military preponderance. Myths about the seductive dangers of 'isolationism' helped marginalize alternative perspectives, leaving armed dominance and military interventionism as the default settings for U.S. foreign policy. A carefully researched and beautifully written account, Tomorrow, the World sheds new light on a critical period in U.S. history and reminds us that internationalism can take many different forms. -- Stephen M. Walt, author of <i>The Hell of Good Intentions</i> How did the United States acquire the will to lead the world? How did primacy come to be the natural posture of America's policy elite? In this groundbreaking new history, Stephen Wertheim overturns our existing understanding of the emergence of American global dominance. A work of brilliantly original historical scholarship that will transform the way we think about the past, the present, and the future. -- Adam Tooze, author of <i>Crashed</i> Stephen Wertheim isn't only a great historian of American foreign policy. He uses history to offer a critique of American foreign policy that Americans desperately need now. -- Peter Beinart, author of <i>The Icarus Syndrome</i> 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...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. -- Sam Lebovic * Boston Review * The only recent book to explore U.S. elites' decision to become the world's primary power in the early 1940s-a profoundly important choice that has affected the lives of billions of people throughout the globe...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...Wertheim opens space for Americans to reexamine their own history and ask themselves whether primacy has ever really met their interests. -- Daniel Bessner * New Republic * You really ought to read it...It is a tour de force...While Wertheim is not the first to expose isolationism as a carefully constructed myth, he does so with devastating effect. Most of all, he helps his readers understand that 'so long as the phantom of isolationism is held to be the most grievous sin, all is permitted.' -- Andrew J. Bacevich * The Nation *


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