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Wilsonianism or Wilsonian are words used to describe a certain type of ideological perspectives on foreign policy. The term comes from the ideology of United States President Woodrow Wilson and his famous Fourteen Points that he believed would help create world peace if implemented.

Common principles that are often described as "Wilsonian" include:

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once described the making of American foreign policy as an ongoing conflict between Wilsonians and Jacksonites, the latter being isolationist followers of the ideology of former President Andrew Jackson.

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Effects in Post WWI Europe

Wilsonism after the end of World War I lead in some way to the formation of the League of Nations, as well as territorial changes such as the formation of new nations like Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia. These nations were made possible by decreasing the size of Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary.

Criticism

Critics of the concept of "Wilsonian idealism" say that Wilson only wanted ethnic self-determination and democracy in European countries which were under the control of rivals of America. Elsewhere such principles were ignored. Modern critics such as paleoconservatives argue the principles are overly idealistic and can lead to unnecessary military interventions, putting lives at risk over abstract concepts rather than direct threats.

Wilsonism post-Wilson

Wilsonist ideals can be seen throughout the Cold War and even in current society. Preventing the spread of Communism was the aim of the United States during the Cold War with an emphasis on setting up democracy in Communist nations. The United States actions in the Middle East are distinctly Wilsonist. They support the ideals of Wilsonism, aiming to set up liberal democracies over islamic regimes. The stated aim of the United States in the Middle East is the spread of freedom, through intervention politics.

Alternative uses

The legacy of President Wilson in domestic interventionism is sometimes also referred to as Wilsonianism.

In the United Kingdom, the term "Wilsonian" or, rarely, "Wilsonism," is sometimes used to refer to the ideas associated with former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, usually relating to his time in office from 1964-70 rather than his troubled return from 1974-76. It usually suggests the idea of "classless" technocratic social democracy, which inspired much of excitement in Great Britain around the time of his landslide victory in the 1966 general election and is often related to his famous comment about "the white heat of technological revolution."

See also

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