Stephen R. Walt takes on those whom he calls ‘liberal imperialists’.
Are you a liberal imperialist? Liberal imperialists are like kinder, gentler neoconservatives: Like neocons, they believe it’s America’s responsibility to right political and humanitarian wrongs around the world, and they’re comfortable with the idea of the United States deciding who will run countries such as Libya, Syria, or Afghanistan. Unlike neocons, liberal imperialists embrace and support international institutions (like the United Nations), and they are driven more by concern for human rights than they are by blind nationalism or protecting the U.S.-Israel special relationship. Still, like the neocons, liberal imperialists are eager proponents for using American hard power, even in situations where it might easily do more harm than good. The odd-bedfellow combination of their idealism with neocons’ ideology has given us a lot of bad foreign policy over the past decade, especially the decisions to intervene militarily in Iraq or nation-build in Afghanistan, and today’s drumbeat to do the same in Syria.
He has developed a checklist for people to see if they fit the bill. It is a pretty good one. I did not self-identify with any of them except for partially with #8 where he says:
You are convinced that the desire for freedom is hard-wired into human DNA and that Western-style liberal democracy is the only legitimate form of government. Accordingly, you believe that democracy can triumph anywhere — even in deeply divided societies that have never been democratic before — if outsiders provide enough help.
I do believe that democracy can triumph anywhere and also believe that liberal democracy in which basic needs are met through socialized government institutions is the best form of it, though not the only legitimate one. I am not sure what extra clarity the ‘Western-style’ qualifier provides.