How did it come to be that liberal internationalism (or “Wilsonianism”), which did so much to establish American preeminence in world affairs between 1945 and 2001, contributed so decisively to the recent decline of American power? The answer lies in an analysis of the antecedents of changes in liberal internationalist thinking that later found expression in the 1990s, ideas that led to a set of presumptions that justified the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and that underpinned the Wall Street meltdown of 2008. 

Tony Smith is the Cornelia M. Jackson Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, a senior fellow at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. His books include The French Stake in Algeria (1978); The Pattern of Imperialism (1981), and A Pact with the Devil: Washington's Bid for World Supremacy and the Betrayal of the American Promise (2007).

Woodrow Wilson Center, 6th Floor Moynihan Room
Ronald Reagan Building, Federal Triangle Metro Stop
Reservations requested because of limited seating: or 202-691-4166


  • Tony Smith

    Public Policy Scholar
  • Christian F. Ostermann

    Director, History and Public Policy Program; Global Europe; Cold War International History Project; North Korea Documentation Project; Nuclear Proliferation International History Project