Recovering Justice: Political Legitimacy Reconsidered
Democratic leaders confront a core dilemma in international relations. They favor democracies but know that the legitimacy of stable nondemocratic states is guaranteed under principles of state sovereignty and nonintervention. They therefore seem forced to either one extreme or another-to a de facto accommodation with nondemocracies that seems amoral, or to a missionary zeal for democratic change that seems perversely imperialistic. In this article we argue that these positions, the "realistic" and the "idealistic," represent a false dichotomy generated by what we term the first and second moments of legitimacy, respectively. These moments-the first resting on international stability, the second on democracy-have been in historical contest for centuries. We argue the need for a third moment-of legitimacy as justice-to surmount the limitations of these options and the false choice they present, making room for the exercise of a prudent international leadership.
Politics & Policy
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