Book Reviews

Tomorrow, the World

As France fell to Nazi Germany, America's elites glanced nervously eastward and began to envision the U.S. as the new defender of global order.

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As France fell to Nazi Germany, America's elites glanced nervously eastward and began to envision the U.S. as the new defender of global order. As historian Stephen Wertheim explains in Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy, this gave rise to a distinctly American internationalism.

Fearing a Nazi-controlled Europe, a group of State Department officials and influential foreign policy intellectuals began to imagine a "quarter sphere" trade and defense bloc, with the U.S. protecting North America and much of South America. But as an opening for a new hegemon became apparent, officials expanded their vision, imagining a postwar order in which the U.S. defended practically the entire world. The specifics changed over time, but America's leading role did not. Wertheim, a co-founder of the Quincy Institute who also has a post at Columbia University, argues that it was the conscious choices of this small group, not uncontrollable global forces, that transformed the U.S. from remote observer to active protector.

After Germany lost, the idea persisted. In the wake of the war, decision makers regarded military restraint not as a virtue but as a recipe for chaos. Intervention was seen as inevitable, and isolationism became a dirty word. Politicians debated particular engagements, but they rarely questioned America's role as global cop.

That remains true with President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken holding the reins. Both men proclaim the necessity of American leadership—and American primacy—even as foreign civilians fall victim to global power struggles, American soldiers die abroad, and trillions of taxpayer dollars fund questionable campaigns. But as Wertheim reminds us, foreign policy elites chose to take on this role, and they can choose to leave it behind.

NEXT: Let Me Tell You What I Mean

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  1. Nice book review. Concise and doesn’t even try to get in the way of whatever the author is trying to say.

    Aren’t too many real history books dealing with the specifics that occurred when the US transitioned from being an important part of the sideline to being or wanna-being the boss on the field.

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  3. Not since the U.S. Army Air Force and the RAF last visited Dresden have two such fearsome bombs exploded at the same time as ABC’s Rebel and Home Economics, and there aren’t even any Nazis around to blame it on……………..MORE DETAIL.

  4. As France fell to Nazi Germany, America’s elites glanced nervously eastward and began to envision the U.S. as the new defender of global order………………MORE DETAIL.

  5. Biden has completely embraced the state departments’ failed policies of the last 40 years.
    Trump had an agreement to end the forever war in Afghanistan by May of this year.
    Biden has already abrogated that agreement.
    We can expect American troops to stay in Syria for the entire Biden/Harris administrations.
    Trump ignored the state department and tried his hardest to end the war in Afghanistan and remove our troops from Syria.
    The deep state fought him tooth and nail, going as far as lying to him about the numbers of troops in Syria.
    We can look forward to America continuing to act as the worlds policeman whether or not this has the any benefit for America itself

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