American foreign policy since World War II has actively sought to reshape both domestic and international orders 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, policymakers still face dramatic challenges. In War, Welfare & Democracy, Peter J. Munson argues that the foreign policy 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.
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Washington'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 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 world's leading welfare states face a crisis of aging populations, shrinking revenues, and spiraling costs in their attempts to provide services and social security for their citizens, compounding this inflexibility.
By addressing the inequality of wealth, security, and stability brought on by dramatic economic change and modernization, Munson describes how the United States can lead in reforming the welfare state paradigm and adjust its antiquated policies to best manage the transformation we all must face.