By Calvin Spader
Well, I judged a book by the cover. This, of course, is something we’re told not to do, and simultaneously something each and every one of us does. When I saw the cover of Tomorrow, the World: The birth of U.S. Global Supremacy I was quite intrigued. The imperial eagle, with the might of the American Military stylized underneath.
The book is by Stephen Wertheim, and published by Harvard University Press. Wertheim is well educated via Harvard and Columbia, and is involved in multiple foreign policy think tanks, one of which he co-founded. The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft purports to be in favor of a multipolar understanding of foreign policy in America, decrying the “the dangerous consequences of an unaccountable, overly militarized American foreign policy and present an alternative approach that promotes local ownership and resolution of local issues.” Given this mission the book could be construed as an official understanding of the Quincy Institute’s views of the last Century of American foreign policy.
Wertheim’s book is quite brief at only 182 pages, but delivers on its thesis. The basic question considered is why America chose to establish global supremacy in the postwar era, when it had rejected internationalism after the great war. The shards of Woodrow Wilson’s vision for a new world order are visible to our modern world, but the fact remains that Lodge and the nationalists defeated the League of Nations and the future it could have entailed. Several decades later America embraced Global Supremacy. Why?
In short, the difference was the perception of what global supremacy would look like. With the League and Wilson’s vision, it was Lodge, not Wilson, who’s vision won out. To Lodge, the Treaty of Versailles represented a break with the Monroe Doctrine and American national sovereignty. The Senate, and the Nation sided with Lodge, and Wilson died with his vision broken. Two decades later, the Nation’s elite would make the opposite choice. Except, as the book points out, it wasn’t.
Wilson’s global supremacy was a truly globalist vision, where no one nation would dominate and where peace would reign, enforced by popular opinion. It was a vision worthy of his religious convictions and of the great progressive optimism of the time, but in the end it did not win out. In Wertheim’s words, “Even if the Senate had approved the treaty unanimously, the United States would not have embarked on anything resembling the project of global supremacy that it conceived two decades later”. What won out instead was not global supremacy, but American global supremacy. Wertheim rhetorically writes “The nazi bit for lebensraum, they recognized, posed an unprecedented question for the United States: what exactly was America’s living space?”
The answer, apparently, was the world.
Wertheim correctly notes that Axis victory would not have threatened the North American homeland, a point many analysists of the Second World War hysterically refuse to admit. He brilliantly points out that what Axis victory did threaten was “liberal intercourse…And the United States from driving world history.”
When it comes down to it, this is the most salient and useful thrust of Tomorrow, the world. Many in the dissident right, armed with WWII revisionism, asked why exactly the United States did intervene, and are forced to appeal to conspiracy. But conspiracy could not have bought the silence and cooperation of U.S. elites, who barely two decades previously had rejected the League of Nations. No, the Americans supported the new global order because, in point of fact, it was the new American order.
Edwin Borchard, who in 1911 had dreams of a international court that would settle disputes betwixt nations and thereby negate the need for wars or militaries, lamented the United Nations, saying “It establishes national sovereignty in unmitigated terms.”
Wertheim could have included more backing for his thesis, but then he’s not writing for internet revisionists, and on the whole the book is extremely laudable for its refusal to sneer and finger wag at historical figures who’s significance and clear greatness makes such moralism tiresome.
The central question this book raises for me and perhaps for you, dear readers, is whether we can thus say that the Second World War was fought in American interests. Many in the dissident right have posited a theory that America is currently ruled by an Occupational Government, a theory I think has serious merit. But Wertheim’s thesis, assuming it’s historical veracity, puts the Second World War in rather a different light, and forces us to consider whether it was the Second World War that ushered in the Occupation Government, or if, perhaps, it came later. I cannot make any definite statement one way or another, but the thread is worth pursuing. More interesting, and more salient, is the question of whether we as dissidents ought to be working to undo the American
Wertheim, the Quincy Institute, and the Universities of Harvard and Columbia might, or might not have very different views of the purpose of U.S. Global Supremacy than we do. But it is a fact that Tomorrow, the World provides an excellent abstract that Americans of Nationalist sympathies can greatly profit from.