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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: G. John Ikenberry, Thomas J. Knock, Anne-Marie Slaughter & Tony Smith: The ... - page 23 / 25





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22 Introduction

genocide, to extreme poverty and humanitarian disaster.”32 In these changed circumstances, the debates are now about the terms of action and intervention in weak and failed states. This triggers new controversies over who, where, and how to act and intervene.

It is here that the claim is most convincing that the Bush administra- tion was following in the footsteps of Wilsonian and liberal international- ists. Building liberal order today must entail some systematic response to the problem of weak and failing states; globalization and the increasingly deadly technologies of violence makes this so, even if more idealist aspira- tions of democracy promotion do not. Tony Smith and Anne-Marie Slaughter both acknowledge that liberal internationalism has evolved a set of ideas about the terms and conditions of intervention in the post– Cold War era; their disagreement is about whether the Bush administra- tion was acting in accord with these liberal interventionist ideas or not, and the implications for the principles and doctrines themselves.

There is also the growing problem of American power. The United States has emerged from the 1990s as a unipolar military power. It alone has the capacity to act on a global basis to support and enforce the evolv- ing human rights and security norms. Implicit in the Wilsonian and post- war liberal vision is the notion that an “international community” exists that is the repository of global rules and norms, and it is this international community that is empowered to act on behalf of its members to uphold human rights and security norms. The United Nations is the institutional embodiment of the international community. The problem is that the in- ternational community is still divided into unequal nation states, and the United States alone has the capacity to act or stand in the way of action on behalf of the international community. This makes American power controversial, and even illegitimate, at least as it is seen in large parts of the world. In a multipolar or bipolar world, the United States is one among several great powers. But today it stands alone at the center of the global system, and the terms of authority and power within the wider global liberal order are thrown into question.

This situation is again central to the debate among the authors in this volume. Tony Smith argues that the fact of unipolarity makes Wilsonian- style multilateralism problematic, and it has given neoconservatives an

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