Twice before in this century a victorious America struggled to balance its wartime commitment to global democracy with competing postwar national interests. Woodrow Wilson’s 1918 rhetoric about selfdetermination and collective security soon yielded to such domestic priorities as Great War debt repayment and demobilization. That experiment in “realist” disengagement proved disastrous for the nation and the world. After World War II, the Truman team, seasoned by the experience of Wilsonian overstretch and reactionary isolationism, altered FDR’s vision of a decolonized, U.N.-managed world in order to rebuild Western Europe and contain Soviet power. The second course, as costly and calculating as it was, ultimately succeeded because it posited a framework of ordered liberty that transcended mere national goals.