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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: G. John Ikenberry, Thomas J. Knock, Anne-Marie Slaughter & Tony Smith: The ... - page 19 / 25





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18 Introduction

provided the international order with mechanisms and channels for con- sultation and collaboration. The security of each became the security of them all. The resulting order was hierarchical—the United States was most powerful and led the order. But the rules and institutions that it pro- mulgated gave the order its liberal character.26

Implicit in this vision of liberal international order is the view that the West could serve as the foundation and starting point for a larger postwar order. The West was not fundamentally a geographical region with xed borders. Rather it was an idea—a universal organizational form that could expand outward, driven by the spread of liberal democratic government and principles of conduct. In this sense, the postwar West was seen as a sort of molecular complex that can multiply and expand outward. The most explicit and radical version of this view was perhaps Clarence Streit and his proposal for a union of the North Atlantic democracies—and in his proposal was the idea that these countries would form a “nucleus” of a wider and expanding world order.27 But the idea that a unied West could provide a stable and expandable core for postwar order was widely shared by American ofcials in the 1940s.

Finally, the postwar liberal international order went beyond the Wilso- nian vision in its more expansive embrace of universal human rights. This commitment was foreshadowed in FDR’s Four Freedoms speech and in the promises laid out in the Atlantic Charter in 1941. They were later en- shrined in the United Nations in 1945 and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1948, which launched the postwar human rights revolution. Championed by liberals such as Eleanor Roosevelt and others, this document articulated a notion of universal individual rights that deserved recognition by the whole of mankind and not simply left to sovereign governments to dene and enforce.28 A steady stream of conventions and treaties followed that together constitute an extraordinary new vision of rights, individuals, sov- ereignty, and global order.29

This human rights revolution is deeply rooted in a progressive liberal vision that emerged in the 1940s. Roosevelt and Truman were clearly so- bered by the failure of Wilson but convinced that a new global order committed to human rights, collective security, and economic advance- ment was necessary to avoid the return to war. This point is made by

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