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American Power and Philanthropic Warfare: From the War to End All Wars to the Democratic Peace

Parmar, I. (2014). American Power and Philanthropic Warfare: From the War to End All Wars to the Democratic Peace. Global Society, 28(1), pp. 54-69. doi: 10.1080/13600826.2013.848187


This article examines paradoxical and counter-intuitive linkages between the rise of American power, increasingly influential philanthropic foundations, and war, providing concrete evidence of “how power works”. In particular, the article shows the close inter-relations and complementarity between “soft” and “hard” power, between elite private foundations and the American state. Considering philanthropic foundations and war together shows the complex means and forms American power took in its rise to globalism, and indeed does today, in an era of “humanitarian” interventionism and the “democratic peace”. It is somewhat paradoxical that philanthropic foundations, uniformly committed to peace and peaceful means, not to mention the prosperity that they argue peace promotes, should also be strongly and consistently supportive in practice of military interventions and outright warfare to promote their objects. The major American foundations are committed to a strategy of waging war for “democracy” as the basis of global peace. The two inter-related case studies presented in this article furnish historical evidence of the role of foundations in bolstering the American state's rationalisations and activities in favour of war, during World War I and after the Cold War. The article shows how a relatively vaguely formulated idea in the early twentieth century, about a link between democracy, international trade and peace, and a consequent link between autocracy and war, and the inability of the two kinds of system to co-exist, became, after the Cold War's end and with strong foundation backing, a social-scientifically legitimated core of US military and civilian power strategies.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Global Society on 27 Jan 2014, available online:
Subjects: E History America > E151 United States (General)
J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
SWORD Depositor:
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