Home / Articles / Wolfish Wilsonians: Existential Dilemmas of the Liberal Internationalists
There are limits on America’s ability to bring democracy to deeply divided societies with little or no history of democracy, and many American liberal internationalists have succumbed to intellectual and moral paralysis about America’s right and ability to spread its system in the rest of the world. The principles of law-governed freedom are in fact important and nearly eternal principles, but they are best spread by America’s setting the example as a peaceful democracy. The messianic approach to democracy-promotion adopted by the Bush administration and its liberal allies, rooted in faith in the “American creed” and an emerging “global civil society,” can only damage both American power and the cause of democratizing the world. The American approach to democratization needs instead to be governed by rigor of the intellect and generosity of spirit.