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Why Wilson MattersThe Origin of American Liberal Internationalism and Its Crisis Today$
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Tony Smith Jr.

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691183480

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691183480.001.0001

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Democracy Promotion through Multilateralism

Democracy Promotion through Multilateralism

(p.95) Chapter Three Democracy Promotion through Multilateralism
Why Wilson Matters

Tony Smith

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores Woodrow Wilson's ideas of fostering democracy through multilateralism in the League of Nations—the principles of which became the heart and soul of what was to become Wilsonianism. According to Wilson's vision of political responsibility, democratic people would presumably be the best members of the League for a commitment to the common good as decided by reasoned discussion and compromise was the essence of their character nationally and so could be counted on to carry over into international institutions as well. However, as Wilson quickly learned, there was no reason to think that just because states were democratic they would easily agree on how to handle essential issues. Nevertheless, the Covenant of the League of Nations affirmed in its Article 1 that only “self-governing” peoples pledged to the conditions laid out for membership might apply to join the association.

Keywords:   Woodrow Wilson, democracy, multilateralism, League of Nations, Wilsonianism, democratic people, political responsibility, self-governing peoples

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