The Wall Street Journal

The World Rejects the Wilsonian Order

Global liberals cling to the internationalist vision, but its appeal is fading everywhere.

Ravenel B. Curry III Distinguished Fellow in Strategy and Statesmanship
From L-R: Brazilian President Michel Temer, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and South Africa's President Jacob Zuma attend the BRICS Business Council and Signing ceremony at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen on September 4, 2017. Leaders of the BRICS grouping of emerging economies said September 4 they "strongly deplore" North Korea's latest nuclear test and hydrogen-bomb claim, which has overshadowed the five-nation group's annual summit. / AFP
Leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China, on September 4, 2017. (Kenzaburo Fukuhara/AFP via Getty Images)

Ninety nine years ago this month, Woodrow Wilson, crippled by strokes and humiliated by the Republican landslide of 1920, lay dying in Washington. His dream of a liberal, rules-based world order survived him, however, and the Western response to Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine demonstrates how powerful his legacy remains.

Liberal internationalists around the world believe that global institutions (like Wilson’s ill-fated League of Nations) can replace the anarchic, often deadly, power struggles between nations with a system of orderly management that brings the rule of law to a weary world. Institutions like the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, as well as agreements like the Paris climate accords, reflect efforts by diplomats and politicians in the U.S. and abroad to create the kind of world that Wilson sought.

Read the full article in the Wall Street Journal.