The Rise of the American Security State
The National Security Act of 1947 and the Militarization of U.S. Foreign Policy
by M. Kent Bolton
December 2017, 221pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-4319-8
$85, £66, 74€, A117
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-4320-4
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Two administrations—a two-term Republican (George W. Bush) and a two-term Democrat (Barack Obama)—have presided over U.S. foreign policy in the post-Cold War era. What will Trump’s presidency bring?

This book examines the impact of the National Security Act of 1947, the most important foreign policy legislation that many Americans (including policymakers and academics) have never heard of.

Since September 11, 2001, the White House—under both Bush and Obama—has pushed the envelope of taking the United States to war (without declarations), interrogating prisoners of war, spying on potential threats, and acting unilaterally. Why have these trends occurred? How has the apex of foreign power shifted, causing a sea change that has fueled a continual turf war between Capitol Hill and the White House? And perhaps most critically, what is America’s role in the world now, and what should it be?

The Rise of the American Security State: The National Security Act of 1947 and the Militarization of U.S. Foreign Policy argues that the National Security Act of 1947 and the early Cold War created a bipartisan consensus among U.S. policymakers that spanned several administrations. The result of this consensus and the National Security Act was the creation of permanent institutions: the permanent Defense Department with a secretary of defense; the intelligence community, which has grown to 17 agencies; and significantly, the National Security Council inside the presidency. Collectively, these three developments have led to the militarization of U.S. foreign policy. Readers will grasp how concepts and strategies that were in their infancy during the Cold War era have persisted and continued to affect today’s U.S. foreign policy.


  • Surveys U.S. foreign policy in the Cold War and post-Cold War eras through the careful and consistent evaluation of 14 case studies
  • Examines the National Security Act of 1947 (and subsequent amendments) and its main creations that have propelled the United States into being the interventionist nation it is today
  • Makes connections between the policymakers involved in the Cold War consensus (both in the White House National Security Counsel and on Capitol Hill) in the late 1940s and those of today’s era
M. Kent Bolton is professor of political science and global studies at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM). He has taught world politics, U.S. foreign policy, and U.S. national security courses for 23 years at CSUSM. Prior to taking his position at CSUSM, Bolton taught at George Washington University (1992–1994) and Arizona State University. He has written three books that focused on various aspects of the National Security Act of 1947 as well as a textbook on world politics. He has also authored numerous articles, chapters, and op-ed pieces.

Praeger Security International

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