Liberal Internationalism (often shortened to Liberalism
), is a belief that interdependency
of all people
and - specifically - all nations
are essential to the progress
Liberal Internationalism was based on the classical european principles of domestic Liberalism and applied simply to the anarchical international context in the aftermath of World War I. The defining Liberal Internationalist document of the age was President Wilson's 14 Points which defined the rights of the peoples and nations of the world.
This led to indifference in the elites of the democratic powers (USA, France, Britain) of the time from taking effective actions early on to thwart the rise of nationalism and fascism in Europe, leaving them impotent in the blithe belief that basicly all nations and their peoples really want is peace and goodwill, obviously war would lead to an overall lower standard of life for all involved. Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin however did not subscribe to such beliefs, and felt that international strenght depended on being stronger than others, which led them onto ambitious territory claims, itself a version of primitive imperialist realism.
Liberal Internationalism failed in preventing World War II, but we must remember this world would have been an an immensly dangerous place even if realism was dominant at the time. We must bear in mind in assessing it's failure that at the time two certifiable madman, Hitler and Stalin, who tyrannically ruled two extremist nations (and rapidly rising into superpowers) of Germany and the Soviet Union - I personally doubt any theory would have been able to prevent global war.
The advent of World War II has been seen ever since to been the most damning indictment of the failure of Liberal Internationalism, and since then Realism has been the dominant othordoxy from 1945. Not only did the economic, technological, and security centre of the Western democractic world move to the United Stated from Europe, but also did the intellectual powerhouse of international relations. American foreign policy advisors, politicians and academics all preferred to use realism as the way to combat the threat of Soviet world domination.
Liberal Internationalism was more or less defunct until the 1960s, when after harsh interpretations of the realist doctrine almost brought the USA and the USSR to the brink of World War III and global nuclear holocaust, the threat of decline in the global enviroment, international crime and terrorism, and the latter rise of globalism all required nations to start co-operating for there own benefit. Thus Liberal Internationalism suddenly had much to offer the realist doctrine, and realist academics used Liberal Internationism and realism to create a hybrid Neo-Realist position. A compromise which still views the nation state as the supreme actor but who uses international institutions such as WHO, UN, NATO, etc when self-interest makes it profitable to do so. Liberal Internationalism came up with it's own hybrid called Neo-Liberalism, which thought international co-operation was essential but needed a basis in the co-operation of sovereign states willing to participate.
These very similar doctrines are the basis for modern international law and politics, except occasionally in the USA where it's government can still afford to adopt unswerving realist opinions due to it's superpower resources, and uphold it's national self-interest in the face of united global opposition. This allows it to have opt out of International Court judgments (Nicaragua v. United States of America), treaties such as Kyoto and unilateral military actions. It could be concluded from this that no universal versions of Liberal International can ever truly foster in a world with one or more superpowers.
N.B. Author claims no moral authority or personal opinion on the actions of any states used here as examples.