What war ‘s good for: Minority rights expansions in American political development

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Paradoxically, wars appear to have a positive effect on domestic politics. Yet, we often fail to see the connection because scholars tend to separate foreign and domestic policy in their analyses. Robert Saldin, however, explains how wars have helped facilitate the extension of rights to previously marginalized groups in America. Employing an historical approach, Saldin traces changes in the nation’s culture, institutions, and policies regarding citizenship, all of which are linked to foreign wars. He identifies key periods of change, or “critical junctures,” that alter expectations about citizenship and shape future directions. Just as the World Wars helped extend citizenship for women and blacks, recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have done much to change policies toward gays in the military. Saldin argues that both practical and moral considerations lead to change. His chapter makes a broader argument about how change occurs in the American political system and how major events have the capacity to stimulate political change. This research raises important questions about how international conflict may influence domestic issues regarding the role of government, taxation, privacy, and higher education.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Directions in American Politics
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781136282270
ISBN (Print)9780415535540
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013


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