Thomas J. Knock: To End All Wars

Woodrow Wilson and the Quest for a New World Order

Princeton University Press, 1995

Book Description:

In his widely acclaimed To End All Wars, Thomas Knock provides an intriguing, often provocative narrative of Woodrow Wilson’s epic quest for a new world order. The account follows Wilson’s thought and diplomacy from his policy toward revolutionary Mexico, through his dramatic call for “Peace without Victory” in World War I, to the Senate’s rejection of the League of Nations. Throughout Knock explores the place of internationalism in American politics, sweeping away the old view that isolationism was the cause of Wilson’s failure and revealing the role of competing visions of internationalism – conservative and progressive.

About the Author:

Thomas J. Knock received his A.B. from Miami University, his M.A. from Boston College, and his Ph.D. from Princeton University. His articles have appeared in American Quarterly, Political Science Quarterly, Reviews in American History, and several anthologies. A native of Harrison, Ohio (near Cincinnati), he lives in Dallas, Texas and is Associate Professor of History at Southern Methodist University.

JOB’s Comment:

The full phrase, used by Wilson and others, was of course “the war to end all wars”. As was soon remarked, the war led to a peace to end all peace. Others were responsible for the terms of that peace, but Wilson was, I think, responsible for disastrously prolonging the war, and certainly for implementing and expanding decisively the new policy of American intervention in the name of international democratism. The epic tragedy of the “new world order”, having reached the post-national stage, far beyond the Wilsonian one of alleged national self-determination vs the old empires, continues to win “victories” without peace (let alone true freedom and civilization): “Perpetual war for perpetual peace”, as Charles Beard called it. But although many of them need to be understood in a different light, important facts are presented in this book. We have by now a vast and unambiguous historical experience of the problematic nature and the errors of twentieth-century “internationalism” and its underlying ideology and interests. But along with it, and properly taking it into account, we need a vision of an alternative internationalism. For this purpose, some of the discussion here of the “competing visions” of internationalism at the time of Wilson is worth considering.

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