In this chapter I provide a broad overview of liberal internationalism, a wide-ranging project that both defends and seeks to apply basic liberal principles universally. Liberal internationalism is first liberal, and then internationalist. It seeks to replicate or reproduce the essential features of the Western liberal democratic state at the international level (see Hoffmann 1998). At the domestic level, liberal internationalism links the protection of basic human rights with the necessity of constitutional limits to executive power. At the global level, it envisages a world composed of liberal democratic states, at peace with one another, integrated into a global market economy and actively participating in international governance through international organization (see Russett and Oneal 2001). The chapter begins with an elaboration of liberal values, and then provides a schematic overview of what is usually referred to as republican liberalism, commercial liberalism and regulatory or institutional liberalism. These constitute the three central pillars of the worldview. They are the means or processes through which liberal internationalism is imaginatively projected abroad. The third section examines the role of the United States as both a promoter of as well as a threat to liberal internationalism. Finally, the chapter concludes with a brief analysis of the main tensions between the processes in practice, which are then explored in more detail in the next three chapters.
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