America's Mission

America's Mission: The United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy (Expanded Edition)

Tony Smith
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 528
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7s360
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  • Book Info
    America's Mission
    Book Description:

    America's Missionargues that the global strength and prestige of democracy today are due in large part to America's impact on international affairs. Tony Smith documents the extraordinary history of how American foreign policy has been used to try to promote democracy worldwide, an effort that enjoyed its greatest triumphs in the occupations of Japan and Germany but suffered huge setbacks in Latin America, Vietnam, and elsewhere. With new chapters and a new introduction and epilogue, this expanded edition also traces U.S. attempts to spread democracy more recently, under presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, and assesses America's role in the Arab Spring.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4202-5
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Foreword to the 2012 Edition
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Janice Nittoli

    When the first edition of this book was published, American foreign policy was experiencing one of its most triumphal moments: the recent collapse of the Soviet Union had apparently left the way clear for a new era of liberal internationalism. Not since the end of World War II nearly fifty years earlier had the nation had such an opportunity of pursue one of its major foreign policy priorities: “to make the world safe for democracy,” in woodrow Wilson’s words.

    For nearly twenty years, the first edition ofAmerica’s Missionhas been a go-to book for students who wanted to understand...

  4. Preface to the 2012 Edition
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    Tony Smith
  5. Preface
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-2)
  7. CHAPTER ONE The United States and the Global Struggle for Democracy
    (pp. 3-34)

    This book explores the origins and the consequences of the central ambition of American foreign policy during the twentieth century: in Woodrow Wilson’s words, “to make the world safe for democracy.” The book analyzes the origins of the effort to promote democracy abroad in terms of Washington’s definition of the American national security; it investigates the consequences of the policies pursued with respect to individual countries the United States has sought to reform as well as with respect to the changing character of the international system America has sought to reorder. The book thus tells a triple story, at once...

  8. Part I: Liberal Democratic Internationalism and American Foreign Policy, 1898–1921
    • CHAPTER TWO Democracy in the Philippines
      (pp. 37-59)

      Before 1898, when war with Spain broke out over Cuba, the United States had been reluctant to exercise dominion over foreign peoples. It was wary of being drawn into great power conflicts and unwilling to establish the kind of military institutions that might be a drain on its prosperity and a threat to democratic government. Without foreign entanglements, the country seemed virtually self-sufficient economically, protected from foreign attack by mighty oceans, and ill-suited to overseas conquests since only with great difficulty could non-European peoples be assimilated to American democracy.

      To be sure, the United States had dealt roughly with its...

    • CHAPTER THREE Wilson and Democracy in Latin America
      (pp. 60-83)

      The issue of how important it is for the United States to promote democracy abroad has been one of the major questions of twentieth century American foreign policy. From debates over Cuba and the Philippines in the late nineteenth century through the debates over the democratization of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union one hundred years later, Americans have argued the relevance to their own national interest of encouraging democracy for others, and the proper means for doing so where it has seemed appropriate. For this ongoing discussion, no period is more important to investigate than the presidency of...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Wilson and a World Safe for Democracy
      (pp. 84-110)

      Although American efforts to promote democracy abroad have often focused on a single country (as in the case of the Philippines or the Dominican Republic discussed in earlier chapters), the presidency of Woodrow Wilson had far more ambitious objectives. His policy toward Latin America had been regional in scope, but with the entry of the United States into war against Germany in 1917, his horizon expanded to Europe, and Wilson stepped forward with specific proposals for a global system of peace and security.

      Wilson's recommendations marked the first time that the United States had elaborated a framework for world order....

  9. Part II: Liberal Democratic Internationalism, 1933–1947
    • CHAPTER FIVE FDR and World Order: Globalizing the Monroe Doctrine
      (pp. 113-145)

      In the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, the United States gave official notice of its determination to prevent the reimposition of European rule in Latin America once popular forces secured the continent's independence from Spain. In the years 1941–7, the United States gave notice that it intended, in effect, to globalize the Monroe Doctrine in the aftermath of the Axis defeat. Peoples liberated from German, Japanese, or Italian control by Allied armies were to establish their own sovereign governments, not become dependents of new empires. West European colonies were to receive their independence in due course. Moscow was put on...

    • CHAPTER SIX Democratizing Japan and Germany
      (pp. 146-176)

      In light of the decline of communism at the end of this century, the historical meaning of World War II has begun to assume a new importance. Today we can see more clearly than before that the Second World War not only marked the defeat of fascism as a viable form of political organization; it also opened the possibility of fostering democracy in Germany and Japan. It thereby created the conditions for a liberal world order that could contain and ultimately eclipse communism's pretension to world revolution. Seen from the perspective of the 1990s, World War II thus marked the...

  10. Part III: Liberal Democratic Internationalism and the Cold War, 1947–1977
    • CHAPTER SEVEN Eisenhower and His Legacy, 1953–1977
      (pp. 179-213)

      Given the record of American accomplishment in Germany and Japan during the occupation period following World War II, it is tempting to exaggerate the power of Wilsonianism itself to protect the national interest. If America's earlier ambitions to foster democracy had not worked out terribly well for the Philippines or the Dominican Republic, perhaps these failures could be accounted for by their simple agrarian character and their Spanish heritage rather than on anything the Americans had neglected to do. Given better material, such as Germany and Japan, the project to promote democracy could be more successfully realized.

      Yet such observations...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress, 1961–1965
      (pp. 214-236)

      Of all the North American efforts to bring democracy to Latin America, none has ever been even remotely so ambitious as the Alliance for Progress. In the more than 170 years that have passed since the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, only the Kennedy administration (1961–3) proposed to interrelate explicitly the variety of problems plaguing the region—its economic poverty, social inequality, and political oppression—and to insist that all needed to be addressed simultaneously. With the full backing of the president, some of the best minds in Washington outlined the far-reaching terms of a proposal to foster both democracy...

  11. Part IV: Liberal Democratic Internationalism and the Cold War, 1977–1989
    • CHAPTER NINE Carter’s Human Rights Campaign
      (pp. 239-265)

      The promotion of human rights abroad has not always been a central concern of American foreign policy. Although Washington officially pledged to defend this cause on December 10, 1948, when the United Nations adopted its Universal Declaration of Human Rights (drafted by a committee headed by Eleanor Roosevelt), it was not until the early 1970s that congressional leaders began actively to translate this statement of purpose into legislation. And it was not until the presidency of Jimmy Carter (1977–81) that an administration seriously attempted to implement the legislation passed. In the process, the Carter administration operationalized traditional American Wilsonianism...

    • CHAPTER TEN Reagan’s Democratic Revolution
      (pp. 266-308)

      In November 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the division of Europe was ended and the cold war was history. Changes in the Soviet Union had led the way. Mikhail Gorbachev became head of that country in 1985. In short order, the impact of his reforms (most of whose consequences were unanticipated) led to the disintegration first of the Soviet empire, then of the Soviet state. Soviet control over more than 100 million people in Eastern Europe came to an end in 1989–90, as Germany reunified alongside an upsurge of democratic reconstruction in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia....

  12. PART V: Liberal Internationalism after the Cold War, 1989–2012
    • CHAPTER ELEVEN After the Cold War: Wilsonianism Resurgent?
      (pp. 311-345)

      George Bush became president at a watershed moment in twentieth-century history. Like 1918 and 1945, 1989 was a year when the old great-power order had collapsed and the United States stood preeminent in world affairs. At the conclusion of World War I, Woodrow Wilson had held forth a vision of American national security protected by a peaceful community of democratic nations, engaged in nondiscriminatory trade, and associated to resolve their conflicts in a covenant of collective security called the League of Nations. He presumed that the peace of the world depended on peace in Europe, which in turn depended on...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE From “Fortunate Vagueness” to “Democratic Globalism,” 1989–2008
      (pp. 346-362)

      American democracy promotion has never been disinterested. At times it has effectively camouflaged relatively narrow nationalist, geostrategic, economic, or ethnoreligious concerns deemed important to this country but made more palatable by a veneer of high moralism. Nonetheless, its most fundamental ambition has always been to remain true to its own statement of purpose: to defend the national security of the United States by promoting a type of government for others that, while extending the blessings of liberty abroad, would also redound to the benefit of this country by establishing a new basis for an international order. Under American auspices, the...

    • CHAPTER THIRTEEN Liberal Internationalism from George W. Bush to Barack Obama
      (pp. 363-384)

      Despite the enormous confidence during the early years of the presidency of George W. Bush that the American military could spearhead the spread of democracy and economic openness not only in Iraq but throughout “the Broader Middle East,” by 2008 any such liberal ambition was in full retreat. On the one hand, the invasion of Iraq had proved to be ruinously costly (although many argued that it was not so much the idea of the war as it was the way the occupation was executed that was at fault), while the effort to save Afghanistan from the Taliban looked fated...

  13. EPILOGUE The Irony of American Liberal Internationalism
    (pp. 385-390)

    The irony of American liberal internationalism by late 2011 was that a framework for policy that had done so much to establish America's preeminence in world affairs between 1945 and 2001 should have contributed so significantly to its decline thereafter. Following 1945, American control over West Germany and Japan had allowed it to transform these two lands politically and economically, integrating them into Washington's orbit in a manner that gave the free world a decisive advantage over its Soviet and communist rivals. If containment had been the primary track for U.S. foreign policy during the cold war, a secondary track,...

  14. APPENDIX Notes on the Study of the International Origins of Democracy
    (pp. 391-414)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 415-468)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 469-494)
  17. Index
    (pp. 495-505)