Selective Wilsonianism: Material Interests and the West's Support for Democracy
Are democracies relentless proselytizers for democracy in the international arena? Political elites in the United States and liberal international scholars answer this question with an emphatic yes. Indeed, some have argued that it is the highest priority in the foreign policies of democratic states. Professor Grigoryan disputes this conventional wisdom in his recent article published in the journal International Security. The paper conducts a comparative analysis of Western democracies’ responses to two recent mass movements in Ukraine and Armenia, demonstrating that one of them received support while the other did not, because the one that received support - the Ukrainian movement - had a geopolitical agenda in line with that of the West, while the other - the movement in Armenia - did not. The article also contains an examination of the overall U.S. and West European record of support for democracy or opposition to it throughout the 20th century and in the post-Cold War period. That examination reveals that support for democracy has always dovetailed with material interests and never diverged from them. These interests, moreover, have not always been state interests, but the interests of parochial groups. Democratic publics, therefore, should treat policies justified on the grounds of supporting democracy with more caution and skepticism.