Academic journal article Parameters

War, Welfare, & Democracy: Rethinking Americas Quest for the End of History

Academic journal article Parameters

War, Welfare, & Democracy: Rethinking Americas Quest for the End of History

Article excerpt

War, Welfare, & Democracy: Rethinking Americas Quest for the End of History

By Peter J. Munson

In the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, much ink has been spilled relating servicemembers' personal experiences or discussing the misapplication of American foreign policy. Few of them do both, let alone place such events in the greater context of history. In War, Welfare, & Democracy, Peter J. Munson does both by providing the reader a deep look into the driving factors in American foreign policy, punctuated by vivid images from his personal travels. Readers will find this book both enlightening and engrossing.

The thesis of this book is that the major challenges in the world today stem from the same source--the states' struggle to manage the flows of economic activity driven by globalization and the sociopolitical modernization that comes with it. In seven quick chapters, Munson synthesizes international relations theory, history, and economics to describe how the modern international system has developed into one of stark inequality, driving the instability and conflict seen across the globe today. Wealth and power are not distributed equally, with Western states providing too many resources to their populations through welfare states and developing nations failing to provide enough.

In addition to economic disparity, Munson uses Fukuyama's "end of history" theme to suggest that America's belief in the inevitable triumph of western liberalism helps explain the last decade's foreign policy choices. Munson describes how, as a nation, we have forgotten where, and the historical context in which, these concepts originated. His comparison of the morally dubious attempts at state-building in medieval Europe to the attempt to build government in societies dominated by tribalism and corruption particularly resonates.

Quoting from Kalyvas' The Logic of Violence in Civil War, he suggests that modern insurgencies can be seen "as a process of competitive state-building. …

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