A Realist in Wilsonian Wool

On Friday, July 7, 2006 7:47am, Peter Liotta writes:
And, no, Wilsonian liberalism is not the same as economic liberalism. And, although it’s off topic, and will provoke debate at week’s end, I would argue that President Bush is NOT a realist; to the contrary, he invokes more than any other president since Woodrow Wilson the spirit of Wilsonian liberalism.

Ok, I’ll take the bait: first of all Andrew Ross in this week’s reading says that while Bush II uses the rhetoric of Wilsonian liberalism, its masking realist policy (Ross, pg18).Secondly, Wilsonian liberalism believes in international law, interdependence, collective security and the state having many interests (Mingst, 62-65). On the other hand, Realism believes the state’s only national interest is power and the state can act unilaterally in its own interest. (Mingst 65-70).

If that is the descriptive set, then it would seem to me that Bush II’s withdrawal from the UN Small Weapons Ban Treaty, the withdrawal from the Kyoto Accords, the US withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the threat to withdraw from the ABM Treaty (http://cns.miis.edu/pubs/reports/2abm.htm), etc…these are all ignoring international law and acting unilaterally in the perceived national interest; thus a Realist philosophy by definition.In addition, the Bush decision to go to war without UN authorization is Realist and not Wilsonian. According to Wilsonian theory, war is only justified in self-defense or international authorization. The declaration of the Bush Doctrine of Preemptive Self-Defense does not make the theory true or Wilsonian, just because he says so.

I know he might be biased but Richard Holbrook, in a Foreign Affairs article, echoes Ross’s claim that Bush’s language is Wilsonian but his actions are not.
http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20060701fareviewessay85413a/richard-holbrooke/authentically-liberal.html (Paragraph 16)

For that matter, Clinton’s war in Kosovo was not Wilsonian either. Bush may evoke the spirit of Wilsonianism, but as they say, actions speak louder than words…

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