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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: G. John Ikenberry, Thomas J. Knock, Anne-Marie Slaughter & Tony Smith: The ... - page 15 / 25





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14 Introduction

tradition. The liberal internationalist impulse was embodied in Wilson’s Fourteen Points address and his ambition to forge a postwar order built around law, the consent of the governed, and the organized opinion of mankind.

The “liberal imperial” impulse was on display in Wilson’s earlier inter- ventions in Mexico in 1914 and 1916. Wilson said that America’s deploy- ment of force was to help Mexico “adjust her unruly household.” Regarding Latin America, Wilson said: “We are friends of constitutional government in America; we are more than its friends, we are its champions. I am going to teach the South American republics to elect good men.” Indeed, Wilson used military force in an attempt to teach Southern republics, intervening in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicara- gua. But Wilson’s enthusiasm for these sorts of adventures did seem to wane during his presidency.21

Thus one can identify a relatively coherent set of ideas that form the core of Woodrow Wilson’s liberal vision. But there are also tensions and ambiguities. As Anne-Marie Slaughter argues in her essay, Wilson’s lib- eral imperialist impulse was evinced early in his presidential term, but by the time the United States was entering the European war his conception of international order was decidedly built around collective security and self-determination.22 The promotion of democracy did not play a promi- nent role in Wilson’s agenda to remake the world. This might be partly due to his sobering experience with military intervention in Mexico in particular, as well as a general rethinking of America’s proper role in the world. It was almost surely also due to the optimistic view Wilson had of the coming world democratic revolution.

From Wilsonianism to Liberal Internationalism

Woodrow Wilson did not have the last word on how to build a liberal in- ternational order. His vision of order was expanded and deepened in the 1940s when America again had an opportunity to shape the world system. FDR and Truman were young admirers of Wilson, and later, as leaders, they built on and modied the earlier ideas and designs. Sobered by the failure of the League of Nations and years of economic upheaval and war, the postwar liberal internationalist project was transformed. Liberal order

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