Wilsonianism or Wilsonian are words used to describe a certain type of ideological perspectives on foreign policy. The term comes from the ideology of American President Woodrow Wilson, and his famous Fourteen Points that he believed would help create world peace if implemented.

Common principles that are often described as "Wilsonian" includes:
*Advocacy of self-determination by ethnic groups
*Advocacy of the spread of democracy
*Anti-isolationism, in favor of intervention to help create peace and / or spread freedom

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once described the making of US foreign policy as an ongoing conflict between Wilsonians and Jacksonites; the latter being isolationist followers of the ideology of former President Andrew Jackson.


Critics of the concept of "Wilsonian Idealism" say that Wilson only wanted ethnic self-determination and democracy in European countries which were under the control of rivals of America. Elsewhere such principles were ignored. Modern critics, such as paleoconservatives, argue the principles are overly idealistic and can lead to unnecessary military interventions, putting lives at risk over abstract concepts rather than direct threats.

Alternative uses

The legacy of President Wilson in domestic interventionism is sometimes also referred to as Wilsonianism. However, it is not so common.

In the UK, the term "Wilsonian" (although rarely if ever "Wilsonism") is sometimes used to refer to the ideas associated with former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, usually relating to his time in office from 1964-70 rather than his troubled return from 1974-76. It usually suggests the idea of "classless" technocratic social democracy which inspired a lot of excitement in Britain around the time of his 1966 landslide, and is often related to his famous comment about "the white heat of technological revolution".

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Wilsonian — ☆ Wilsonian [wil sō′nē ən ] adj. of Woodrow Wilson or his political ideas, policies, etc …   English World dictionary

  • Wilsonian — adjective see Wilson IX …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Wilsonian — /wil soh nee euhn/, adj. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Woodrow Wilson. [1915 20, Amer.; WILSON + IAN] * * * …   Universalium

  • wilsonian — wil·so·ni·an …   English syllables

  • Wilsonian — Wil•so•ni•an [[t]wɪlˈsoʊ ni ən[/t]] adj. gov of, pertaining to, or characteristic of Woodrow Wilson • Etymology: 1915–20, amer …   From formal English to slang

  • Wilsonian — /wɪlˈsoʊniən/ (say wil sohneeuhn) adjective relating to or characteristic of US President Wilson, noted for his idealism …   Australian English dictionary

  • Wilsonian — adjective of or relating to or suggestive of Woodrow Wilson (Freq. 1) • Pertains to noun: ↑Wilson • Derivationally related forms: ↑Wilson …   Useful english dictionary

  • Wilsonian Armenia — refers to the boundary configuration for a proposed Armenian state drawn up by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson for the Treaty of Sèvres Dadrian Vahakn N. The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the… …   Wikipedia

  • international relations — a branch of political science dealing with the relations between nations. [1970 75] * * * Study of the relations of states with each other and with international organizations and certain subnational entities (e.g., bureaucracies and political… …   Universalium

  • Woodrow Wilson — Infobox President name=Thomas Woodrow Wilson order=28th office=President of the United States term start=March 4, 1913 term end=March 4, 1921 vicepresident=Thomas R. Marshall (1913 1921) predecessor=William Howard Taft successor=Warren G. Harding …   Wikipedia

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