What is Warfare and Welfare?

There are Substacks that cover United States politics, others that deal with war and international affairs, others on economics. But Warfare and Welfare delves into the connections between these topics, and almost always through a historical lens.

Warfare and Welfare explores how U.S. foreign policy and American warfare shape our decisions and thinking on economic and racial inequality, and vice versa. I am particularly interested in the history and political economy of the so-called “military-industrial complex”—and in general, the amount of money the United States has spent on waging war since World War II—and how it determines our political and social priorities today, how the United States tackles domestic problems. I wrote a whole book about this!

I envision Warfare and Welfare as an opportunity to engage with a variety of readers, to have a conversation with people who want to rely on historical knowledge to understand our contemporary moment—and to create a better future. I also see it as a forum to test ideas I am working on for larger projects (I am writing two books now), and to write columns on topics that you most likely won’t find covered in major newspapers or magazines. Overall, I see Warfare and Welfare as a way to have a collective dialogue with readers on issues that I—and you—find important.

Who are you?

I am a historian specializing in twentieth-century United States and international history. I am currently the Interim Director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy and Lecturer in History at Yale University. If you haven’t bought and read my book (why not!), For Might and Right: Cold War Defense Spending and the Remaking of American Democracy, you can find my writing in a variety of places, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Nation, Dissent, Jacobin, American Prospect, The Baffler, POLITICO, The New Republic, Boston Review, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. I have also been a guest on several podcasts, including one of my favorites, American Prestige.

I am currently writing a book on the history of the War on Terror, and with Van Jackson, a book tentatively titled The Rivalry Peril: How Great-Power Competition Threatens Peace and Weakens Democracy, to be published by Yale University Press.

Why Subscribe?

I will publish original posts at least bi-weekly, if not more—it depends on my teaching commitments and other writing obligations. These essays will only be available on Warfare and Welfare. In addition to my regular essays, I will also be conducting interviews with scholars/friends, writing posts on books that I am currently reading, and other features that will be available soon to subscribers.

Subscribe to Warfare and Welfare

on war, politics, political economy, and connections between them.


Michael Brenes

Historian at Yale. Non-Resident Fellow at Quincy Institute. Author of For Might and Right: Cold War Defense Spending and the Remaking of American Democracy. Working on a history of the War on Terror.