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Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use for details see: www. OSO version 0. University Press Scholarship Online. Sign in. Not registered? Sign up. British Academy Scholarship Online. Publications Pages Publications Pages. Search my Subject Specializations: Select Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Liberal World Orders. Thus, Kant, arguably the greatest of the liberal internationalist, makes a fairly water-tight case for the use of illiberal means including force, coercion and intervention to bring about change in the international system and in doing so marks a fundamental departure from classical international law with its unqualified commitment to state sovereignty 9.
While intervention in the domestic affairs of such a representative states violates the individual rights of its citizens, a state which is not representative does not enjoy the same rights of non-intervention An unjust enemy is one that refuses to adopt republicanism and in doing so threatens the pacific federation. Kant, therefore, promotes the idea that a gradual expansion of the foedus pacificum is necessary for the establishment of perpetual peace. Proponents of the democratic peace have seen this Kantian logic as the philosophical justification for active democracy promotion in the international system.
Beate Jahn argues that while the issue of consent is never really discussed by democratic peace theorists, it is a central concern for not only liberal thought in general but also the democratic peace thesis in particular. Given that liberal institutions derive their legitimacy from consent, presumably the absence of consent denies non-liberal states of this very legitimacy.
Logically, Jahn argues, this implies that citizens of non-liberal states would consent to liberal institutions, and yet they do not. In short, despite the presence of key tensions, by viewing the existence of non-liberal states as a threat to perpetual peace and the sustainable longevity of the pacific union, Kantian liberalism potentially provides the philosophical justification for the use of illiberal means of intervention, hegemony, coercive regime change and democracy promotion, thus illuminating the deeply illiberal roots of liberalism Indeed it is in this dichotomy that J.
Thus, Mill deploys the language of civilisation, savagery and barbarism to outline his view of the world and the stages in the development of history and to essentially justify imperialism and the colonial enterprise Mill therefore constructs the relationship between civilised nations as necessarily governed by laws of equality where aggressive wars and intervention is non-existent and unnecessary. However, these ideas of equality and relations based in liberal principles only applied amongst civilised nations In sharp contrast, relations between civilised nations and barbarian people are necessarily hierarchical.
His construction of different stages of history as a development from savagery to civilisation reflects both this philosophy and focus. However, Mill warns, progress from one stage to the next is by no means automatic. As such, it becomes the responsibility of civilised peoples to compel the savage and barbarian nations to change and move towards progress. As this can only be achieved through force, despotism becomes the most appropriate form of rule for savages, barbarians and semi-barbarous peoples Jahn b , p.
Taken together, the impact and influence exerted by the philosophies and worldviews of Kant and Mill upon US politicians, domestic and foreign policy should not be underestimated Having traced some of the historical philosophical influences on contemporary US foreign policy, I now turn to understanding the place of the GWoT in the broader trajectory of American behaviour in the international system.
Here it is clear that the United States has been preoccupied with establishing international peace and stability through the promotion of liberal democracy, through the use military force if necessary, at least since the twentieth century There is little doubt that US foreign policy has been shaped by its belief in the significance of not only adhering to liberal democratic values but also a perceived obligation to spreading these values and norms internationally. In this regard, the GWoT may be viewed as but an extension of what in essence has been a historical US practice of democratisation conducted to ensure both its national security and perceived survival in what is a hierarchical and dangerous international system There were various efforts in the 20 th century to spread the values of liberalism by exporting democracy to countries that had hitherto been ruled by dictators and authoritarian regimes.
A large number of these efforts were promoted by the United States and backed by the use of U. In fact, the 20 th century began with the United States engaging in three separate military interventions aimed at bringing democracy to the former Spanish colonies of the Philippines, Cuba and Puerto Rico Kurth ; More significantly, not all of these interventions were conducted without sustaining significant losses.
For instance, the U. This paternalistic trend of democracy promotion was further strengthened by President Woodrow Wilson who first sent the U.
James Kurth identifies four theatres where the United States has used military conquest and occupation to bring about political democratization. Together, these add up to more than a dozen cases in which the United States has used military occupation to bring about political democratization. They provide useful precedents and lessons for the [ In other words, the use of military force by the United States for the cause of democracy promotion is not a new phenomenon and, at least empirically, one can argue that it has been a benchmark of American foreign policy in the 20 th century.
It is however worth noting that that the United States has had distinctly different approaches to fostering democracy in Europe vs. At the same time, as mentioned above this was by no means a temporary or passing phase of US foreign policy. By the end of the Cold War, US armed interventions had evolved quite significantly, at least in material terms. By this period, the use of force could be relatively controlled thanks to the advent of precision technologies Freedman b. Freedman argues that the direct result of this technological evolution was that there were fewer Western and civilian casualties than before.
He argues rather eloquently, that these interventions of the s had less to do with Western interests than with Western sensibilities in the face of tremendous violence and human suffering. Although they tended to be conducted in the most part, rather reluctantly and somewhat tentatively and they produced somewhat mixed results - in humanitarian terms they most certainly made a difference. However, the key difficulty lay in creating stable political conditions in the wake of armed intervention that would allow Western forces to withdraw.
I would argue that the same case might be made for the interventions in Latin America and to some extent also in Vietnam. Furthermore, these were wars fought for justice with little, if any, regard for context idem , p. This meant that not only were the methods offensive, in that the war was taken into enemy territory; they were also less restrained than the interventions of the s. Bush as quoted in Kaplan , p. What was different here however was that this was now an imperative, framed as essential for the survival of the nation.
The United States, in launching the GWoT, was ostensibly defending its right to survival against illiberal regimes and ideologies that challenged its political, social and economic principles. As Desch argues then, what makes the GWoT so dangerous and impels the United States towards the use of illiberal tactics is not so much the physical threat that transnational terrorism or Al Qaeda pose to the homeland, but rather the existential threat they pose to the American way of life. Interventionist liberals and interventionist neoconservatives: old bedfellows.
Monten argues that the exemplarism tradition of US liberalism believes that democracy and liberal values can be spread by example while the tradition of vindicationism believes that a more activist foreign policy is necessary to accomplish this Monten Put another way, Monten essentially categorises the US liberal tradition as leaning either towards military interventionism or non-interventionism. He also rightly asserts that while both these approaches have coexisted in American political history, there have certainly been times when one has been more prevalent than the other Pitts , p.
Based on such a categorisation, there seems to be more than just a passing resemblance between the neo-conservatives and the Wilsonian or interventionist liberals as regards their beliefs about intervention and democratisation. This is a good basis to comprehend not only the somewhat startling similarity between George W. Bush and Woodrow Wilson but also the deeply illiberal policies adopted by both during their respective presidencies. Many scholars have remarked upon this similarity between George W. Bush and the neoconservatives and the liberal traditions of the United States as exemplified by Wilsonianism.
Indeed, many of the views that are associated with the neoconservatives today echo those of Woodrow Wilson who believed that American power could and should be used to promote justice and democracy internationally and that by reshaping the world, America would secure its political and security interests. In truth, they are more alike than they admit in their ideological ambitions and their moral justifications [ At the same time, the transformative impulse for neo-conservatism also relies upon a sincere belief in US capabilities to affect liberal change abroad, which is in turn based upon an urgent acknowledgement of both its remarkable post-Cold War military primacy as well as its unrivalled position of power in the unipolar international system.
In other words, the GWoT represents a culmination of the historical neoconservative call for using force to check the emergence of potential challengers to US predominance. It is worth noting that in the post-Cold War period, the neoconservatives viewed traditional balance of power strategies as both unnecessary and unsuitable for what they argued were radically different circumstances. It was widely acknowledged, and not solely by the neoconservatives, that ongoing system-level changes meant that the United States could not expect to remain the sole superpower in the world forever.
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Bush and Bill Clinton argued that it was imperative that the United States take advantage of its position to both preserve and extend its hegemony in the international system. Thus, inherent in exceptionalism is not only a clear notion of what it means to be American but also the rights, responsibilities and threats that come with being the United States. More crucially, the promotion of democracy and liberal change in the international system, as explained above, has been a central component of American political identity.
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To underscore once more, this hypersecuritisation was rooted very particularly in a liberal view of the world — i. Steel , p. In short, the interplay between unipolarity and universalist aspects of American exceptionalism enabled the United States to both claim special rights and privileges in pursuit of its national security Buzan a , pp. The themes of the neoconservative GWoT discourse - in defence of liberal values and freedoms:.
In examining the communications produced during the Bush administrations, especially his annual State of the Union addresses, the philosophical and political influences of Kant, Mill as well as Wilson are amply evident. Moreover, it is also clear how this discourse deliberately a framed Al Qaeda as an existential threat to liberal values and freedoms and as such the Western way of life, and b positioned the United States as a defender of these values in the international system.
Certain key themes emerge in the securitisation rhetoric and can be located in almost all the documents studied. Upon closer examination these themes clearly constitute a step-by-step construction of a case for waging a defensive liberal war, that encompassed not only preventive military action and intervention but also had at its core the clear aim of democratising what were seen as backward and barbaric and societies, for the sake of US national security. In other words, what we see is in these communications is the systematic construction of the case, couched in Kantian, Millean and Wilsonian language, for armed intervention in first Afghanistan and then Iraq.
Theme I: The presence of imminent danger from illiberal regimes and ideologies. At the same time, the idea that traditional mechanisms of engagement are useless against this new, innovative and frighteningly irrational and destructive enemy is also clear in this discourse.
In other words, countries and groups identified as enemies in the GWoT are framed by the discourse, as peoples with whom alliance or negotiation is impossible because, as Mill argues, alliances require reciprocity that barbarians, given that they cannot be relied on to observe rules, are incapable of. Now, shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase a single tank. They seek to impose a heartless system of totalitarian control throughout the Middle East and arm themselves with weapons of mass murder.
Their aim is to seize power in Iraq and use it as a safe haven to launch attacks against America and the world. Lacking the military strength to challenge us directly, the terrorists have chosen the weapon of fear.
When they murder children at a school in Beslan or blow up commuters in London or behead a bound captive, the terrorists hope these horrors will break our will, allowing the violent to inherit the Earth. Furthermore, repeated references are made to states that either collude with radical Islamists by proving safe havens, financial and military support or turn a blind eye to these radical groups while simultaneously representing a threat in their own right to the safety and wellbeing of the United States and its citizens.
The discourse also references the Kantian idea that these are repressive, non-representative states, essentially controlled by regimes that violate citizen rights and reject the basic principles of democracy. What is key to note here is the coalescing of multiple different threats into one large threat, which the United States ignores at its own peril.
The message is clear: the United States must not shirk its liberal responsibilities but instead, once again, fight for the freedoms, values and way of life of all civilised peoples. In short, it must take military action to secure not only national and international security but also human security. These regimes could use such weapons for blackmail, terror, and mass murder. They could also give or sell those weapons to terrorist allies, who would use them without the least hesitation.
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This threat is new. Throughout the 20th century, small groups of men seized control of great nations, built armies and arsenals, and set out to dominate the weak and intimidate the world. In each case, their ambitions of cruelty and murder had no limit. Theme II: U. The idea projected here is that of establishing a system of security that cannot be breached. More significantly, once again it is about highlighting the particularly responsibility of the US hegemon to secure national security, not by retreating within its own borders but by looking outward and guaranteeing its foreign policy interests in the international system.
If we were to leave these vicious attackers alone, they would not leave us alone.
Beyond Liberal Internationalism | Dissent Magazine
They would simply move the battlefield to our own shores. There is no peace in retreat, and there is no honor in retreat. By allowing radical Islam to work its will, by leaving an assaulted world to fend for itself, we would signal to all that we no longer believe in our own ideals or even in our own courage. The neoconservative assumption that becomes evident in this discourse is that in the process of protecting its own citizens and acting in its own interests the United States also serves the interests of the international system.
Its pursuit of national interests after World War II led to a more prosperous and democratic world. In other words, not only is the US pursuit of its national interests legitimate, it is also virtuous Monten , p. This connection between national and international security as well as the link between security and liberal values is repeatedly emphasised. Bush as quoted in Desch , p. Clearly evident in this logic is not only an assertion of the concept of the United States as an agent of historical transformation and liberal change in the international system but also democracy promotion as central to US political identity and sense of national purpose.
Further woven into this sense of responsibility towards US citizens is the theme of sacrifice for the honour and protection of the nation state. Also clearly underscored in this discourse is the incredible spectrum of risks confronting the American nation — from biological and chemical weapon attacks to more conventional terrorism. Theme III: U. A historic sense of leadership comes through very clearly in the discourse of the GWoT that consistently underscores that this leadership role entails that the United States help maintain security for its allies and friends.
We are the nation that saved liberty in Europe and liberated death camps and helped raise up democracies and faced down an evil empire. This notion that the United States was acting on behalf of not only national but also international interests is, as highlighted above, repeatedly alluded to in the discourse.
However, the discourse does not stop at making the connection between national and international security and between security and liberal values. Instead it develops this idea into a full-fledged national responsibility to defend the reputation and credibility of international allies and organisations, with the use of military force if necessary. That is the reason [to invade] [ But the idea of defending credibility did not apply to international allies alone - the same ideals held true for the United States as well. Thus, credibility was the very foundation upon which the spread of liberal values rested.
The logic was that the US discourse of promoting its political values in the international system had to be backed by a willing and demonstrable use of its material power to implement this liberal change when necessary. In other words, the US had to have the will to put its money where its mouth was.
This was more than evident in the manner that the WMD-related concessions by Libya were construed as the outcome of a post-Iraq renewal of US credibility in the international system. Bush as quoted in Monten , p. America will take the side of brave men and women who advocate these values around the world, including the Islamic world, because we have a greater objective than eliminating threats and containing resentment. Constant references are made to this union of like-minded states and allies — words used here are coalition, allies and these are presented as upholding liberal values — respecting individual rights and freedoms — as opposed to the barbaric, brutal and oppressive regimes that they are opposing.
Clearly Millean language is used as alliances are framed as being composed of like-minded, i. America is working with Russia and China and India, in ways we have never before, to achieve peace and prosperity. In every region, free markets and free trade and free societies are proving their power to lift lives.
Therefore, the overall tone is hegemonic but not necessarily imperialistic.
Terrorists who once occupied Afghanistan now occupy cells at Guantanamo Bay. And terrorist leaders who urged followers to sacrifice their lives are running for their own. America and Afghanistan are now allies against terror. Theme IV: U. The sense that the United States would use military might for the benefit of the common man and for the democratic cause is repeated again and again in the discourse. If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you.
As our coalition takes away their power, we will deliver the food and medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free. In a free Iraq, there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbors, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. This logic essentially builds upon the ideas mentioned previously, i. Also clearly evident in this discourse is the fact that the promotion of democracy was seen as significantly more important for US policy than stability.
Desch rightly points out that had the neoconservatives been interested in no more than a pro-US regime in Baghdad they would have been content to replace Saddam Hussein with a more amenable dictator rather than pushing for a democratically elected government, especially given both the commitment and turmoil that the later entailed. Thus instability was seen as part and parcel of the long march towards freedom and democracy. Bush and other key members of his administrations. I also highlighted that the tendency to adopt illiberal means to achieve ostensibly liberal ends is not a uniquely neoconservative trait.
Instead it can be clearly located in American foreign policy since at least the beginning of the 20 th century. It was upon this logic that the interventions and projects of democracy promotion in Afghanistan and Iraq were predicated. These elements of the discourse and practice of the GWoT were demonstrated through a thematic analysis of key statements made by President Bush and other key personnel in his administration. This in turn was predicated upon the deeply held political belief that in securing its national interests the United States would, as before, also be enhancing international security.
There is no doubt that implicit in democracy promotion was a strategic some would argue even imperialistic imperative, however there was also a historically rooted, normative sense of rightness and superiority evident in the discourse. Hence, the various aims under the GWoT — from controlling WMDs and protecting the American homeland to neutralising so-called rogue regimes and restricting the geographical reach of Al Qaeda to defeating it in the battle of arms and ideas - all depended upon the successful projection of US power, in the service of democracy promotion, in the international system.
This is because it was through the establishment of democratic institutions and the protection of liberal freedoms and values that all these aims could be achieved. The fact the United States was willing to use what were essentially illiberal means to achieve what were liberal ends reflects the deep paradox inherent in liberalism. Indeed one could argue that it is at the very intersection of strategic imperatives and self-perception that the shift to illiberalism occurred under the GWoT. In other words, it was in the process of attempting to guarantee both its own national security while simultaneously also fulfilling its role as hegemon, that it moved inexorably towards the adoption of illiberal policies.
Internally these policies and practices were epitomised in the implementation and re-ratification of the PATRIOT act and progressively more significant restrictions on civil liberties in the name of national security. Externally, these il-liberal practices were best seen in the flouting of established international norms governing the laws of war and the progressive erosion of human rights via policies of extraordinary rendition, incarceration and torture.
Thus, one can argue that, the excesses of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo were made possible because of the paradox inherent in liberalism — where illiberal means became acceptable in order to achieve liberal ends. But it was the deeply rooted liberal tradition within in the United States that pushed it towards viewing the threat from Al Qaeda in an alarmist, existential light and thus towards adopting what was an illiberal, unrestrained policy response. There is also a robust debate on whether or not Immanuel Kant can be categorised as a liberal philosopher, although in this paper I have deliberately chosen to view him as a liberal thinker.
See also Williams , p. Waltz, categorise him as a non-interventionist liberal. See Doyle b ; See also Waltz I would like to thank my anonymous reviewer for bringing this critical point to my attention. Among others, see for instance Jahn a , Mehta , Passavant , and Souffrant However, given that tracing the philosophical evolution of US foreign policy is not the key purpose of this essay only Kant and Mill are addressed as being arguably the most relevant for its purposes. For a rich, complex picture that depicts various traditions in US foreign policy — Jacksonian, Jeffersonian, Hamiltonian, Wilsonian etc.
More on this later. Caverley , do not equate neo-conservatism with liberalism. Instead pointing to its distinctly illiberal elements, including the very un-Kantian trait of unilateralism, they argue it is more akin to a hegemonic form of neo-classical realism, among others using raw power to impose a form of government conducive to American interests. Again, I would like to thank my anonymous reviewer for pointing this out. Of course, another key difference between the liberals and the neoconservatives is their perspective on the role of international institutions in foreign policy.
Thus, many liberals believe that foreign policy is best conducted multilaterally through international institutions while neoconservatives tend to be clearly more unilateralist Desch