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America's MissionThe United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy$
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Tony Smith

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691154923

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691154923.001.0001

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From “Fortunate Vagueness” to “Democratic Globalism,” 1989–2008

From “Fortunate Vagueness” to “Democratic Globalism,” 1989–2008

Chapter:
(p.346) Chapter Twelve From “Fortunate Vagueness” to “Democratic Globalism,” 1989–2008
Source:
America's Mission
Author(s):

Tony Smith

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691154923.003.0012

This chapter examines the United States' liberal democratic internationalism during the period 1989–2008, with particular emphasis on the evolution of American democracy promotion from what Reinhold Niebuhr called its “fortunate vagueness” to a hard ideology. It begins with a discussion of the neo-Wilsonian ideology that appeared in the “long decade” of the 1990s—a way of thinking characterized by both voluntarism and a pseudoscientific certitude that was absent in liberalism of the earlier periods. In particular, it considers the emergence of a “hard liberal internationalist ideology” that was comparable to Marxism–Leninism. It also explores the rise of democratic globalism as progressive imperialism, focusing on democratic peace theory and democratic transition theory. The chapter argues that American democracy promotion had become a pretext for “just war,” as evidenced by the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Keywords:   war, liberal democratic internationalism, democracy, neo-Wilsonian ideology, liberalism, hard liberal internationalist ideology, democratic globalism, progressive imperialism, democratic peace theory, democratic transition theory

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