Despite the overwhelming opposition on the left to the war in Iraq, many prominent liberals supported the war on humanitarian grounds. They argued that the war would rid the world of a brutal dictator and liberate the Iraqi people from totalitarian oppression, paving the way for a democratic transformation of the country.
In A Pact with the Devil Tony Smith deftly traces this undeniable drift in mainstream liberal thinking toward a more militant posture in world affairs with respect to human rights and democracy promotion. Beginning with the Wilsonian quest to ‘make the world safe for democracy’ right up to the present day liberal support for regime change, Smith isolates leading strands of liberal internationalist thinking in order to see how the ‘liberal hawks’ constructed them into a case for American and liberal imperialism in the Middle East. The result is a reflection on an important aspect of the intellectual history of American foreign policy; establishing how a sophisticated group of thinkers came to fashion their recommendations to Washington and working to see what role liberalism may still play in deliberations in the country on its role in world events now that the failure of these ambitions in Iraq seems clear.
"With rare courage and devastating insight Tony Smith analyzes how militant liberals—seeking to use American military power to further democratic values—allied themselves with conservative nationalists in a ‘crusade’ of war and aggression that betrayed their own principles. A Pact with the Devil is the ‘J’accuse’ of the Iraq war, and war liberals no less than war conservatives are its target."
-Ronald Steel, Professor of International Relations, University of Southern California
"In the course of this provocative polemic, Smith attacks practically everybody who writes about foreign policy in the United States today. A Pact with the Devil might well end up being one of the most talked-about and controversial books of the year."
-David Fromkin, Professor of International Relations, Boston University
"A compelling exposé—and biting indictment—of the ideological excesses that have led U.S. foreign policy so woefully off course. Smith spares neither liberals nor conservatives as he explores the intellectual origins of America’s imperial turn."
-Charles A. Kupchan, Georgetown University and Council on Foreign Relations, author of The End of the American Era
"This is a deeply disturbing and important book. A probing examination of the Bush Doctrine that shows that its roots lie not in a fringe neoconservative movement, but in liberal political thought that is central to much American thought and history. Smith convincingly argues that liberalism’s optimism, faith in democracy, and expectation of progress have combined with fear of terrorism and America’s excessive power to yield utopian policies that undermine our values at home and abroad."
-Robert Jervis, Adlai E. Stevenson Professor of International Politics, Columbia University
"A Pact with the Devil is a fascinating, learned, and deeply troubling book. It is now obvious that the neoconservatives and their foolish ideas have done enormous damage to America’s international position, but Smith shows that liberal internationalists—whose ranks include many prominent Democrats—also bear considerable blame for the fiasco in Iraq and other failures of recent U.S. foreign policy. This impassioned and insightful work demonstrates why America’s liberal ideals must always be tempered by realism, and by a clear appreciation of what U.S. power can and cannot do."
-Stephen M. Walt, Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
"There is no one better qualified than Tony Smith to trace the intellectual origins of the Bush Doctrine. With his characteristic verve and clarity, Smith shows just how influential liberal internationalist thinking in the 1990s, with its triumphalist overtones, has been in providing the intellectual capital for the Bush Administration’s quest to spread democracy by force of arms. This is a penetrating book."
-Robert J. Art, Christian A. Herter Professor of International Relations, Brandeis University
"It will be hard for anyone to say after reading this book, that the mission was just, we simply did not do it right."
-Lloyd Gardner, Rutgers University
Introduction 1. The Bush Doctrine and the Bid for World Supremacy 2. The Intellectual Origins of the Bush Doctrine 3. Liberal Democratic Internationalism: Its Pre-Classical, Classic, and Hegemonic Stages 4. Liberal Imperialism I: Democratic Peace Theory 5. Liberal Imperialism II: Democracy as a Universal Value 6. Liberal Imperialism III: Militarizing Humanitarianism 7. Liberal Fundamentalist Jihadism