Dr David Milne's forthcoming book, World Makers, is an intellectual history of American foreign policy from the Civil War to the present. It charts the rise and fall of eight individuals who devised grand strategies with a view to refashioning international affairs: Alfred Thayer Mahan, Woodrow Wilson, Charles Beard, Walter Lippmann, George Kennan, Paul Nitze, Henry Kissinger, and Paul Wolfowitz. The book closes with an epilogue on the Obama administration.
Woodrow Wilson was a Presbyterian moralist who Sigmund Freud diagnosed as having a Messiah-complex. Walter Lippmann was an intellectual protégé of William James and George Santayana, an internationally syndicated columnist who commanded the attention of leaders as diverse as Lyndon Johnson and Charles de Gaulle. George Kennan was a brilliant Princeton-educated Soviet specialist who authored the "containment" doctrine that drove the Cold War strategy pursued by nine successive US presidents. Paul Wolfowitz was the intellectual architect of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 -- an admirer of Wilson's failed attempt to "make the world safe for democracy."
Wilson's idealism was conceived in response to Mahan's hard-headed calculation of national interest. Beard's isolationism railed against the naïve hopelessness of Wilson's League of Nations and argued that domestic poverty was being ignored by the internationalist Anglophiles. Wolfowitz pilloried Kissinger for his amorality and lack of affinity for traditional American values. An admirer of the pragmatic tradition, President Barack Obama has jettisoned the expensive logic of Wolfowitz's muscular idealism. World Makers shows that American diplomacy is the most intellectually-charged in the world. The book concludes that relative economic decline and the rise of China will finally wrench the nation from its Wilsonian moorings.
To date the research for book has been funded by the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History in New York City, the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, the British Academy, and the AHRC – in the form of a £50K research fellowship. World Makers will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in the winter of 2013/2014.
Dr. Milne has published shorter articles and op-eds on intellectuals and US foreign policy for the Los Angeles Times and The Nation. His article "America's ‘Intellectual' Diplomacy," published in International Affairs, won the Arthur Miller Centre-BAAS prize as the best article published on an American Studies topic in 2011.