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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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Reviving Liberal Internationalism

Reviving Liberal Internationalism

(p.276) Conclusion Reviving Liberal Internationalism
Why Wilson Matters

Tony Smith

Princeton University Press

This concluding chapter argues that from early 2002 until today, American foreign policy has been premised on convictions that are both utopian and imperialist in a fashion quite foreign to the liberal internationalist tradition as it existed prior to 1990s. With its confidence in the ease of a transition from authoritarian to democratic order, its insistence on a “just war” doctrine that overthrew the Westphalian system of states by legitimizing the armed intervention of democracies against autocratic states, and its redefinition of American exceptionalism from a defense of the democratic world to a world-order project that knew no limits, neo-Wilsonianism sabotaged the very tradition from which it had emerged. The question, then, is whether the liberal internationalist tradition can be resuscitated in such a way that it contributes positively to world affairs.

Keywords:   American foreign policy, liberal internationalist tradition, democratic order, just war doctrine, American exceptionalism, democratic world, neo-Wilsonianism

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