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Liberal internationalism is a foreign policy doctrine that argues that liberal states should intervene in other sovereign states in order to pursue liberal objectives. Such intervention can include both military invasion and humanitarian aid. This view is contrasted to isolationist, realist, or non-interventionist foreign policy doctrines, which would tend to oppose such intervention (less so in the case of the realists). These critics characterize it as liberal interventionism.
Liberal Internationalism emerged during the nineteenth century, notably under the auspices of British Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister Lord Palmerston and was developed in the second decade of the 20th century under U.S. President Woodrow Wilson.
The goal of liberal internationalism is to achieve global structures within the international system that are inclined towards promoting a liberal world order. To that extent, global free trade, liberal economics and liberal political systems are all encouraged. In addition, liberal internationalists are dedicated towards encouraging democracy to emerge globally. Once realized, it will result in a 'peace dividend', as liberal states have relations that are characterized by non-violence, and that relations between democracies is characterized by the democratic peace thesis.
Proponents of the realist tradition in international affairs, on the other hand, are skeptical of liberal internationalism. They argue that it is power – diplomatic clout and military force (or the threat of it) – that ultimately prevails.
Examples of liberal internationalists include British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In the US, it is often associated with the American Democratic Party; however, many neo-conservative thinkers in the United States have begun using similar arguments as liberal internationalists and, to the extent that the two ideologies have become more similar, it may show liberal internationalist thinking is spreading within the Republican Party. Others argue that neoconservatism and liberal internationalism are distinctly different foreign policy philosophies and neoconservatives may only employ rhetoric similar to a liberal internationalist but with far different goals and methods of foreign policy intervention.
See also 
- Internationalism (politics)
- Perpetual peace
- Cosmopolitan democracy
- Humanitarian intervention
- Idealism (international relations)
- Liberal hawks
- Timothy Garton Ash (2010-01-08). "Timothy Garton Ash: After 10 years Blair knows exactly what he stands for | Comment is free". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
- Washington Monthly Online. ""The Neo-Neo-Conservative" by Isaac Chotiner". Washingtonmonthly.com. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
- "International Security - Abstract". MIT Press Journals. Retrieved 2011-09-19.
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