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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: G. John Ikenberry, Thomas J. Knock, Anne-Marie Slaughter & Tony Smith: The ... - page 5 / 25





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4 Introduction

interventionist than the original Wilsonian vision—cleared the way and set the stage for the Bush security doctrine.

Fourth, does liberal internationalism have within it the principled and institutional safeguards to prevent liberal imperialism? There are few ob- servers today who do not think moments arise when the international community—or, if necessary, the Western democracies—should inter- vene in troubled countries to prevent genocide, alleviate humanitarian crises, and thwart transnational terrorists. There is also a good deal of sup- port across the political spectrum for international assistance in support of struggling democracies. But how do these Western democracies distin- guish between enlightened and legitimate interventions and liberal impe- rialism? Tony Smith argues that the contemporary “neoliberal” incarna- tion of liberal internationalism is a slippery slope for American policy makers, built on optimistic assumptions about democracy promotion and peace, that leads inevitably to imperialist adventures. There is much to be admired in the Wilsonian tradition, Smith asserts, but the problem is that it cannot contain its own excesses. In contrast, Thomas Knock and Anne- Marie Slaughter argue that Woodrow Wilson’s original conception of lib- eral international order—in which member nations would consult, coop- erate, and constrain one another through a sort of “international common counsel”—provides the corrective mechanisms to prevent abuses.

Finally, how relevant is the Wilsonian tradition for the twenty-rst cen- tury? What the essays agree on is that liberal internationalism is in crisis today—or at least it stands at an intellectual and political juncture—and the direction of American foreign policy after Bush hangs in the balance. Whether Smith is correct or Knock and Slaughter are correct, all agree that the Iraq war has put in jeopardy America’s long commitment to some form of liberal internationalism or another. At one level, the crisis of liberal internationalism is political—endangered by a domestic and global back- lash against the Iraq war and the perceived dangers and failures of Bush administration foreign policy. Bush, at least to some extent, has wrapped himself in Wilsonian clothing and so—even if he has not appropriated the full set of liberal internationalist ideas and even if his embrace of these ideas, such as they are, is only cynical—the liberal internationalist agenda is in trouble. By association, the crisis of Bush foreign policy has become a crisis of liberal internationalism. Thus the political question is

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