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Photo: “UN General Assembly“, by Patrick Gruban, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Hue modified from the original

Ikenberry, G. John. A World Safe for Democracy: Liberal Internationalism and the Crises of Global Order. Yale University Press, 2020.


For two hundred years, the grand project of liberal internationalism has been to build a world order that is open, loosely rules-based, and oriented toward progressive ideas. Today this project is in crisis, threatened from the outside by illiberal challengers and from the inside by nationalist-populist movements. This timely book offers the first full account of liberal internationalism’s long journey from its nineteenth-century roots to today’s fractured political moment. Creating an international “space” for liberal democracy, preserving rights and protections within and between countries, and balancing conflicting values such as liberty and equality, openness and social solidarity, and sovereignty and interdependence—these are the guiding aims that have propelled liberal internationalism through the upheavals of the past two centuries. G. John Ikenberry argues that in a twenty-first century marked by rising economic and security interdependence, liberal internationalism—reformed and reimagined—remains the most viable project to protect liberal democracy.

Table of Contents

  • Cracks in the Liberal World Order
  • Liberal Democracy and International Relations
  • The Nineteenth Century Origins of Internationalism
  • Wilsonian Internationalism
  • Rooseveltian Internationalism
  • The Rise of Liberal Hegemony
  • Liberalism and Empire
  • The Crisis of the Post Cold War Liberal Order
  • Mastering Modernity

The Illiberalism Studies Program studies the different faces of illiberal politics and thought in today’s world, taking into account the diversity of their cultural context, their intellectual genealogy, the sociology of their popular support, and their implications on the international scene.