Revisiting Wilson's 14 Points

This January 8 marks the 100th anniversary of President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points speech, a foundational moment in America's rise to define and lead a rules-based world order. Wilson has not been in fashion for some time: his political rigidity at the end of his career probably tanked Senate acceptance of the League of Nations, the culmination of the Fourteen Points; his embrace of national self-determination as a basis for nation states has limits and downside risks; and “Wilsonian Idealism” is frequently dismissed as impractical cant or cover for determined American pursuit of its national interests. Add to this Wilson's appalling record on race relations in America.

And yet, for all his flaws and for all their flaws, Wilson's Fourteen Points stand as the first draft, an early and astonishing assertion, of America's Grand Strategy for the American Century; at 100, they are worth another look.

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