Liberal Imperialism

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Philippe Lemoine:

"The concrete form idealism takes depends on what the values of the state are, but since in the West liberalism broadly construed is now unchallenged, Western idealists want foreign policy to reflect and promote liberal values such as democracy, individual rights, free markets, etc. and think engagement with regimes that don’t embrace those values should be avoided as much as possible. Realists on the other hand, while they believe in the same values, don’t think that it has any obvious implication for foreign policy and in particular they don’t think it should prevent liberal democracies from cooperating with non-liberal regimes if that improves their country’s security and economic well-being. Of course, as I have characterized them, realism and idealism are ideal types. In practice, any Western leader in the recent past has combined elements of both traditions, but different leaders occupy different positions on the spectrum. What I call liberal imperialists are people who are very close to the ideal type of the idealist about foreign policy in liberal democracies. They assume that non-liberal regimes have hostile intentions toward democratic states, believe that we should aggressively contain them and if possible seek to transform them, because as long as they are non-liberal they will remain a threat and any weakness in dealing with them will encourage aggression on their part."