Woodrow Wilson: From Grand Vision to Tough Reality

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Woodrow Wilson diplomatically pushed for an international order centered on the concept of a politically plural world where national self-determination was imperative. Wilsonian Idealism developed from a traditional American belief in a new world order of self-government, enlightened diplomacy, and peace based on a symbiotic global economy. Woodrow Wilson’s new global order was a direct policy offshoot of the Monroe Doctrine, Hay’s Open Door, and Roosevelt’s Corollary policies. While Wilson’s commitment to a politically plural world was traditional for U.S. foreign policymakers, the Wilsonian democratization of political plurality was unique. Moreover, Wilson advocated for “collective security” via a multilateral organization to oversee the global peacekeeping process. Thus, Wilson’s grand vision would become a defining contribution to American foreign policy convention. Subsequently, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and several U.S. policymakers would also claim to support decolonization, democracy, and intervention abroad. Woodrow Wilson’s grand vision fundamentally amended U.S. foreign policy aims transforming the United States into a principal authority in global politics and finance.

Democratic government, national self-determination, and free trade are important elements of Wilsonian internationalism. Wilson believed promoting global democratic self-determination through United States foreign policy was a priority. Wilson based his agenda on entrenched concepts of American interests, ideologies, and institutions. American’s belief in liberty, democracy, and open markets are traceable to the revolutionary generations objection to British mercantilism. Since the American Revolution, many United States foreign po...

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...r all people everywhere."

Wilson suffered from poor ideology depth perception, and his abilities to perceive the social, political, and economic difficulties inherit to his grand vision were faulty. Nonetheless, Wilson’s internationalist grand vision would become the harbinger of future United States foreign policies and the League of Nations would be the paradigm of what became the United Nations. Thought the Wilsonian liberal internationalist vision was not entirely new, well planned, and resulted in unintended consequences, Wilsonian internationalism was not a complete failure. Conversely, Wilson’s grand vision has been ever more prominent in United States foreign policy and successful at promoting global human rights and collective security. Woodrow Wilson’s grand vision fostered a new era of United States diplomatic power.

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