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America's Mission

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0691044668
ISBN-10: 069104466X
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Editorial Reviews


"[Smith's] account of the 20th century is just about as close to unputdownable as it gets in the genre of political history, and ends up advocating what seems to be an appropriate level of optimism for what remains, after all, a terrifying and chaotic world."--Washington Post

"America's Mission provides a comprehensive historical review of the record of American liberal internationalism. Tony Smith argues persuasively that liberal internationalism is not a cultural quirk of unsophisticated Americans. Rather, it has built on powerful global historical trends. The liberal internationalist streak in American foreign policy has, in turn, been responsible for shaping a liberal world order conducive to American security and economic interests."--Francis Fukuyama, New Republic

"This work, formidable in scope and scholarship, is a rousing defense of liberal Wilsonian internationalism. . . . [Smith's] historical account [of attempts to implant democracy] is accompanied by a sophisticated analysis of the perspectives on democratization of Marxists, comparativists, and realists, who hold respectively, says the author, that the United States will not, cannot, and should not promote democracy worldwide."--David C. Hendrickson, Foreign Affairs

"Smith elegantly ties explanation of the past to prescription for the future. No other contemporary political scientist . . . has connected those two dimensions to this subject so well."--Mark P. Lagon, Perspectives on Political Science

"America's Mission is a book with a mission. It's aim . . . is nothing less than to overthrow the hitherto dominant theory dealing with American foreign affairs and to put in its place a different one."--Theodore Draper, New York Review of Books

"This contentious study of US foreign policy is sure to generate new debates about the ideals and realities that inspire and legitimize US foreign policy."--Choice

From the Back Cover

"A historically sweeping, theoretically ambitious study of American attempts at promoting liberal democracy abroad, this is the most subtle and thorough examination of a "mission" that has had more than its share of successes, halts, detours, and deviations. No student of America in this world will be able to ignore it: there is simply no comparable volume."--Stanley Hoffmann, Chairman, Center for European Studies, Dillon Professor of the Civilization of France

"No one concerned with America's role in the world can afford to ignore the powerful argument and impressive scholarship of this landmark study."--Ronald Steel, University of Southern California, School of International Relations

"Breathtaking in its coverage. . . . The author combines historical narrative with political analysis in dazzling fashion, particularly on Woodrow Wilson, whose pragmatic idealism is the leitmotif of this book."--Arthur S. Link, Princeton University


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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Studies in International History and Politics
  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (July 3, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069104466X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691044668
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,363,712 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By The Spinozanator VINE VOICE on May 7, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thomas Jefferson was the first president to insist that a world composed of democratic states would best enhance America's goals. Woodrow Wilson first fully described this as a philosophy for guiding foreign affairs. Wilsonianism and liberal democratic internationalism have come to be synonomous terms. Since then, the most consistent belief of US presidents about foreign policy has been that US security is best served by the expansion of democracy worldwide. Most administrations even before Wilson believed that the democratic form of government created nations less prone to war and more co-operative in trade than any other form. By the beginning of the 1900's, we were already making efforts to create governments in our image. The difference between this and Imperialism? - after applying the miracle cure, that country would be left autonomous, without having to answer to the US or any other country except by agreements beneficial to both.

Wilsonian philosophy has been best represented by the administrations of Wilson, FDR, Truman, and Reagan; almost absent during the administrations of Johnson, Nixon, and Ford (the ultimate Realists); and present to intermediate degrees in all the others. Meanwhile, the philosophy of Realism - that the threat of war by any given nation is the ultimate currency in world affairs - has predominated in the academic US. The mixture of degrees of Realism with degrees of Wilsonianism in any given administration has frequently resulted in the US backing of authoritarian regimes - to thwart the spread of Communism. Countries represented include Japan, Germany, Russia, Philipines, multiple Latin American and Caribbean countries, Iran, Viet Nam, and a few in Africa.
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