G. John Ikenberry, Thomas J. Knock, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Tony Smith, The Crisis of American Foreign Policy: Wilsonianism in the Twenty-first Century (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009), 168 pp., $24.95.
George C. Herring, From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008), 1056 pp., $35.00.
ONE WOULD think that the discrediting of George W. Bush's Iraq policies would be manna from heaven for liberal internationalists, particularly on the heels of the election of a new Democratic president who won, in part, on a platform repudiating those policies. After eight years of a militarized and unilateralist foreign policy that dismissed the Kyoto Protocol and held in contempt the International Court of Justice, you would think that Bush's failure would allow them to turn the ship of state around 180 degrees and implement a new foreign policy. But rather than a sense of eager anticipation, there is instead the distinct scent of panic emanating from liberal-internationalist precincts. As G. John Ikenberry, the coauthor-along with Thomas J. Knock, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Tony Smith-of a slim new volume soberly entitled The Crisis of American Foreign Policy: Wilsonianism in the Twenty-first Century, admits, "The crisis of Bush foreign policy has become a crisis of liberal internationalism."
This candid admission in a book featuring three prominent liberal internationalists (Smith is a trenchant critic of that position) not only explains the sour mood among the philosophical heirs of Woodrow Wilson, but also represents something of a puzzle if we accept their repeated protestations-perhaps too much like the queen in Hamlet-that the liberal internationalism of America's twenty-eighth president is in no way implicated in the forty-third president's Iraq debacle.