War, Welfare & Democracy


War, Welfare & Democracy

Rethinking America's Quest for the End of History

Peter J. Munson

240 pages


January 2013


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eBook (PDF)
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November 2011


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About the Book

American foreign policy since World War II has actively sought to reshape both domestic and international orders, hoping to hasten the coming of the “end of history” in a peaceful democratic utopia. While the end of the Cold War heightened optimism that this goal was near, American foreign policymakers still face dramatic challenges. In War, Welfare & Democracy, Peter Munson argues that the problems we face today stem from common roots—the modern state system’s struggle to cope with the pressures of market development and sociopolitical modernization. America’s policies seek to treat challenges as varied as insurgency, organized crime, fiscal crises, immigration pressures, authoritarianism, and violations of human rights with a schizophrenic mix of realpolitik and idealism. The ideologies that inform this policy outlook were born during the Great Depression and two world wars and honed during the early years of the Cold War. Although the world has long since changed, American policy has failed to adjust. The crisis of the world’s leading welfare states compounds this inflexibility. By addressing the inequality of wealth, security, and stability brought on by dramatic economic change and modernization, Munson describes how America can lead in reforming the welfare state paradigm and adjust its antiquated policies to best manage the transformation we must face.

Author Bio

Peter J. Munson is a Senior Vice President for Preventive Services and Global Crisis Management at Citigroup. He previously served as a Marine officer, retiring in 2013. He deployed on numerous operational and combat tours in the Middle East and holds a master of arts in national security affairs with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies from the Naval Postgraduate School. He is a contributor to numerous journals and blogs and served as the Editor of the Small Wars Journal. Proficient in Arabic, he lived in Muscat, Oman, for a year and traveled the Middle East extensively. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, he currently resides in Tampa, Florida with his family.


"War, Welfare, and Democracy is a well-researched and authoritative look at what drives us as a nation and how we arrived at where we are today."—Nathan K. Finney, US Army War College Quarterly

"In this savagely critical yet astonishingly insightful book, Peter Munson lays bare the folly of what passes for sophisticated thinking in Washington. Better still, he offers a sound, reasoned basis for an altogether different approach—one with fewer wars and greater attention to putting America’s own house in order."—Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War

"An outstanding indictment of the protracted and repeated political folly and grand strategic incompetence that has imperiled U.S. ability to function effectively as a prudent hegemonic power, Munson's powerfully persuasive study is an uncomfortable, but essential, read for Americans."—Colin S. Gray, author of National Security Dilemmas

"With experience as a military professional and the eye of a strategist, Peter Munson provides a wise, elegantly written assessment of the choices the United States faces today in its security policy. Advocating neither isolation nor appeasement, he makes a strong case for retrenchment from ‘micromanagement of world affairs’ and a return to an exemplary role. All Americans concerned with their nation’s future should read it."—Steven Metz, author of Iraq and the Evolution of American Strategy

"U.S. Marine and scholar Peter Munson has written a superb book about the severe limitations of military force to achieve what he rightly characterizes as 'utopian' outcomes. This is not an easy, feel-good read. War, Welfare & Democracy is a hard-hitting, rigorously researched call-to-action by a man who has served on the front lines."—Rye Barcott, author of It Happened on the Way to War

"Peter Munson has a sharp mind and a keen eye for military affairs. His work develops a series of critical arguments designed to focus our limited resources in smart ways to cope with real security challenges today and in the future. His bottom line is straightforward: we should get our own house in order as the precondition for the emergence of any sound national security strategy."—Col. Douglas MacGregor, USA (Ret.), author of Warrior’s Rage: The Great Tank Battle of 73 Easting and executive vice president of Burke-Macgregor Group

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