Publication Year



International relations, foreign policy, Europe, security, post-communism


Diplomatic History | European History | International and Area Studies | International Relations | Political Science


On Christmas day 1991, the red Soviet flag was lowered from the Kremlin for the last time. Euphoria was sweeping across Europe, and optimism that could only be described as "Wilsonian" permeated American sentiment. Indeed this optimism was warranted: communist ideology and it's inherent geopolitical challenges had been overcome contemporaneously. The objective of moral opposition to communism had long since merged with the geopolitical task of containing Soviet expansionism. The Cold War had ended, and President George Bush understandably described his hope for a new world order in classic Wilsonian terms. [...] Bush's Democratic Successor, President Bill Clinton, expressed America's goals in extremely similar terms, expounding on the theme of "enlarging democracy." [...]

This is the third time in history that America has expressed its intention to build a new world order by applying its domestic values tot he world at large. And, for the third time, America's power towers over the rest of the international arena. In 1918, Wilson had overshadowed a Paris Peace Conference at which America's allies were too dependent on it to insist on voicing their misgivings. Unfortunately the United States withdrew almost immediately from the very structures that it helped create. This isolationism thus weakened these structures and propelled America into the tragic resumption of war 20 years later. The end of World War II brought the United States again to the forefront of the international political arena. Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman seemed to be in a position to recast the entire globe to the American model. The great powers initially built a system based on Yalta, Potsdam, and the United Nations. However by 1947 it became apparent that this system would do little to curb Soviet expansionism. Thus was born one of the most successful peacetime security systems in history--centered around the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, NATO, Atlantic alliance, and U.S. leadership.

Department 1 Awarding Honors Status

International Relations