“We Saved The World” WWI can help explain the debate and tension between Wilsonian idealism and realism.
This tension takes place when America rose to power and influence during WWI, as the U.S. transitioned from unilaterism to internationalism. Also, each theory tries to reshape America’s national interest differently. Wilsonian idealism says U.S. national interest should be based on values like democracy, self-determination, human rights, and freedom. As a result, Wilson argues that America needs to be more engaged in internationalism. On the other hand, realism says that national interests should be characterized by real politik. A viewpoint that U.S. foreign policy should pursue its interest separate from morals. Consequently, the…show more content… In WWI, Wilsonian idealism meant several things. This included de-colonization. Also, Wilson strongly believed in democratic peace theory, and he thought that the United States needed to make the world safe for democracy. Furthermore, the president clarified that the United States was entering the war on a moral high ground. For example, Woodrow Wilson mentioned the U.S. was not going to war out of national security but the U.S. had a messianic mission. There were some concerns like the Zimmerman letter that asked Mexico to attack the U.S. On the other hand, the messianic mission was “a war to end all wars” and this was war to make the world safe for democracy. His ideas, which were deeply liberal principles, were embedded into the fourteen points he had created during…show more content… Realists critique the idealist that a international body can fight and prevent aggression. For example, the failure of the League of Nations did not prevent WWII. Germany and Japan still started WWII. Realists critique the idealist on the role of the U.S. in the world. They can argue that it is not to be the “world police,” and they can argue that entangling alliances, like the League of Nations, hinders American sovereignty. Realists critique the idealist for thinking that the U.S. foreign policy is about morals and democracy. Most importantly, what is the role of the United States? What will its national interest be? The United States can engage in real politik and use force. This would re-define the character of the U.S. because values are sacrificed at the expense of real politik. That’s the tension between idealism and realism that still continues today . .