The fatal flaw of Wilsonianism, with its endemic and epidemic political righteousness, its insistence upon trying all governments and other institutions by the hopeless criteria of Fourteen Points or Four Freedoms, or some equally Jacobinist nonsense, is that it can only erode, weaken, or destroy existing structures. It cannot, by its nature, build new ones–not durable ones, at least; only pseudo-structures like the League of Nations (which would have been no better had Wilson had his way with Henry Cabot Lodge) or the United Nations. The real work of building or rebuilding is invariably left to those who detest freedom and who do not shrink from the uses of force, repression, persecution, and terror. Could one find a better illustration of that right now than either Cambodia or South Vietnam?
That’s Robert Nisbet, from a 1975 Commentary symposium, “America Now: A Failure of Nerve?“