Should liberal states promote their values abroad? Is force a legitimate tool in advancing these goals?

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Since the post-World War 1 period, Liberalism has been actively advanced by Western (or 'first-world') states as a desirable system of political theory. According to Dunne (in Baylis & Smith 2001, pp. 163), the basis for its appeal stems from the fact that Liberalism is viewed as inherently 'optimistic', making it a natural counter-theory to the Realist theories advanced by practitioners of realpolitik in the past (feudalism, dictatorships etc.). What makes Liberalism 'optimistic' in a sense is that, as an ideology, it is fundamentally anchored around the liberty of the individual, and furthermore, strives for global peace. Considering the rampant destruction and bloodshed experienced by many of the states involved in both the World Wars,…show more content…
Autocracies, it is purported, produces an atmosphere of complacency and breeds corruption due to the absence of political competition. Furthermore, the ideals of democracy, such as individual freedoms and rights, are arguably universal ideals, therefore states (and in this case the US) have a moral duty to promote democracy. Fukuyama and McFaul make strong arguments for the importance of democracy promotion, but it is not without its flaws. The world is fragmented by ethnic, linguistic and religious differences, and as such, the notion that there exists 'moral universals' is viewed as dangerous (Dunne 2001, pp. 179). Gray (1995, pp. 146) aptly articulated that "the universalizing mission of liberal values such as democracy, capitalism and secularism undermine the traditions and practices of non-Western cultures." And that may illustrate the rejection of Liberalism thus far. Democracy, when promoted by Western states, is inextricably tied in with other Western ideals such as capitalism and secularism. These ideals often do not mesh well with prevailing cultural practices, resulting in dissent and potential military conflict, results contrary to Liberalism's ultimate goal. This leads to the second rationale: national security. In 1983, Michael Doyle compiled a list of international wars between 1816 and 1980, as well as a list of liberal states, and concluded that "constitutionally secure liberal states

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