from The Internationalist and International Institutions and Global Governance Program

Why Wendell Willkie's Vision of Internationalism Remains Essential Today

Wendell Willkie waves to the crowd on his arrival for the ceremonies attending formal notification of his nomination by the Republican party as their candidate in the 1940 U.S. presidential election. Bettmann/Getty Images

In Wendell Willkie, the United States found an unlikely champion of internationalism. 

July 22, 2019

Wendell Willkie waves to the crowd on his arrival for the ceremonies attending formal notification of his nomination by the Republican party as their candidate in the 1940 U.S. presidential election. Bettmann/Getty Images
Blog Post
Blog posts represent the views of CFR fellows and staff and not those of CFR, which takes no institutional positions.

In my weekly column for World Politics ReviewI reflect on the life and times of a World War II era presidential candidate who became one of America's leading internationalists.

Seventy-seven years ago this summer, Wendell Willkie did something remarkable. The failed Republican presidential candidate, defeated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940, embarked on a round-the-world tour that helped expand America’s horizons and propel the nation toward a policy of internationalism that shaped the postwar global order. Undertaken at FDR’s behest, Willkie’s 49-day odyssey captured the American imagination and lifted his country in thought and spirit. 

“One World,” his hopeful account of that trip, quickly became one of the best-selling nonfiction books in American history, with a print run of more than 2 million copies. Its thesis was plain: The world had “become small and completely interdependent,” he wrote. “There are no distant points in the world any longer.” The United States had no choice but to grasp the leadership that history had bestowed upon it. Fortunately, he had found in every country “a gigantic reservoir of good will towards us, the American people.” 

Nearly eight decades later, “One World” remains essential reading, as an antidote and rejoinder to the Trump administration’s cynical, nativist, protectionist, isolationist and unilateral foreign policy. 

More on:

Political History and Theory

World Order

Diplomacy and International Institutions

Global Governance

International Organizations

Read the full World Politics Review article here.

More on:

Political History and Theory

World Order

Diplomacy and International Institutions

Global Governance

International Organizations

Creative Commons
Creative Commons: Some rights reserved.
Close
This work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License.
View License Detail
Close