Academic journal article Military Review

Making the World Safe for Democracy: A Century of Wilsonianism & Its Totalitarian Challengers

Academic journal article Military Review

Making the World Safe for Democracy: A Century of Wilsonianism & Its Totalitarian Challengers

Article excerpt

MAKING THE WORLD SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY: A Century of Wilsonianism & its Totalitarian Challengers by Amos Perlmutter. 194 pages. University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC. 1997. $29.95.

Amos Perlmutter is no neophyte in the study of international relations and power politics. The author of nearly a dozen books about modem leadership, political organization and military strategy, Perlmutter is well qualified to examine the legacy of President Woodrow Wilson, whose noble purpose of making the world safe for democracy brought America into World War I. Unfortunately, Wilson's vision of a planet free from conflict not only proved fleeting, it actually rapidly disintegrated into another international arms buildup that led to even greater slaughter.

This well-researched and thoughtprovoking assessment of Wilson's legacy may reshape readers' perceptions of the idealistic leader. The causes for Wilson's failure lie in his inability to see that vision detached from practical realities is doomed. As Perlmutter demonstrates, Wilson's high-minded idealism was not backed by strong political and military measures that would have made it clear that the United States had the will to follow through on its president's promises. By contrast, Wilson's successors on the international scene either grasped this principle intuitively or came reluctantly to understand the necessity to exercise force in the name of freedom.

Perlmutter demonstrates how that era's three principal world leadersFranklin D. …

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