William Appleman Williams (1921–1990) was an influential twentieth-century historical revisionist and is regarded as a radical critic of US militarism and centralized power.
Intensely populist and critical of intellectual elitism, Williams supported a traditionally conservative return to the Articles of Confederation, with a weak central government coordinating more localist state governments. He believed this to be the best way for communities to serve their own unique interests and needs.
Williams was also critical of American foreign policy, specifically of the notion that twentieth-century American wars were fought to spread freedom and democracy. His book The Tragedy of American Diplomacy has been widely influential in this respect and is referenced in a vast number of works and discussions on the topic. He opposed the Vietnam War and argued that it was not, as many explained, an effort to share freedom and resist tyranny; rather, it was an imperialist conquest engineered to expand American power and economic interest. He said the same of the Cold War and drew many parallels between Soviet conquests and American imperialism (particularly in South America).
As the popular discourse surrounding "American values" has shifted in the twenty-first century as a result of resistance to post-9/11 militarism, conservative dismantling of social safety nets, and ongoing/active climate crisis, William Appleman Williams's criticism is an important tool to recontextualize the ideas that are often held as infallible and unchallenged bases of American policy.