In America’s Mission, Tony Smith contends that the “central ambition of American foreign policy” since the Spanish-American war has been centered on promoting democracy, or in President Woodrow Wilson’s formulation, “making the world safe for democracy.”[1] Challenging this narrative, Arman Grigoryan argues in “Selective Wilsonianism,” that this ‘Kantian narrative’ that originates in liberal theory does little to explain glaring differences in Western support for various democratic movements in the post-Soviet space. Further, he argues that the overall history of U.S. democracy promotion shows American interest in it to be largely instrumental instead of based on ideological commitments.  Grigoryan argues that this Kantian narrative of the West relentlessly supporting democracy across the world is more a story that believers in liberal theory tell themselves rather than one which is based in reality.[2] Instead, he convincingly argues that the U.S. has shown significant variation when and how it promotes democracy across time, using democracy promotion instrumentally to achieve its national goals.

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