war but “what” is responsible—“what” in the sense of ideas and ideologi- cal impulses. Did Bush foreign policy—and the Iraq war in particular— grow out of the Wilsonian tradition or was it actually an aberration or even the antithesis of this tradition? This is another way of asking if liber- als share the blame for the Iraq war. After all, many liberals did in fact support the invasion. Was the Iraq war an outgrowth—at least indirectly— of an evolved Wilsonian worldview that is widely shared across the politi- cal spectrum in America, or was American foreign policy hijacked by a group of ideological outliers who hid behind Wilsonian ideas but were ultimately wielding a very different vision of America and the world?1
The essays in this book debate these questions.2 Tony Smith argues that the Bush administration and the neoconservative architects of the Iraq war were the natural heirs to the Wilsonian tradition. Wilson and post- 1945 liberal internationalists blazed a trail that Bush followed. In this view, it is America’s commitment to promote democracy worldwide—a sort of liberal imperial ambition—that is at the core of Wilsonianism, and it was the animating vision behind the Bush Doctrine. Thomas Knock and Anne-Marie Slaughter disagree, each arguing that the Wilsonian vision was not directly concerned with the spread of democracy but rather with the building of a cooperative and rule-based international order—an idea that the Bush administration actively resisted. Knock emphasizes the centrality of the League of Nations itself—the embodiment of conict resolution and the collective security idea—to Wilson’s own conception of enlightened international order. Slaughter emphasizes the inherent multilateralism of the Wilsonian vision. For Tony Smith, the Bush admin- istration’s foreign policy was a natural extension of the ideas that liberal internationalists have developed over the decades, including in the 1990s by the Clinton administration. For Knock and Slaughter, the Wilsonian tradition and postwar liberal internationalism are about building rules and institutions that advance collective security and cooperation among democracies.
This debate is joined on ve key questions. One question is about the actual character and logic of the Bush foreign policy “project.” Was it really about the spread of freedom and democracy—a goal to be pursued when necessary by the force of arms? Or was it about something else, a sort of neoimperial effort to assert American global rule in which