Terry Jeffrey

The eventual election of a terrorist group to run the Palestinian legislature presumably was not what Woodrow Wilson had in mind when he brought the United States into World War I, telling Congress it was an opportunity to establish "a universal dominion of right" based on democracy and self-determination for all peoples.

 Yet last week's exercise of Palestinian self-determination resulted not only in a triumph for the terror group Hamas, but in an opportunity for Hamas to remind the world that its charter calls for destroying Israel, one of America's best friends in the world and still the sole Western-style democracy in the Middle East.

 As reported by The Washington Times this week, Mohammed Nazzal, a Hamas leader, told Al Arabiya TV, "The Americans and the European Union are dreaming if they think they can force us to change our positions."

 But Hamas' victory should force Republicans here to ask themselves: Do they really want to become the party of Wilson's foreign policy?

 Wilson, after all, was a big-government Democrat, a Utopian who believed intellectual elites could remake and improve everything they touched, including quite literally, the world.

 When Wilson ran for president in 1912, as Kendrick A. Clements notes in "Woodrow Wilson: World Statesman," he vowed to "lift our diplomacy to the levels of what the best minds have planned for mankind." But it wasn't until after he had been narrowly re-elected in 1916 on the slogan, "He kept us out of war," that Wilson demonstrated what he meant.

 In 1917, when Germany announced it would attack neutral shipping in the seas surrounding Britain, Wilson could have made a compelling argument for war based on self-defense. Germany was claiming the right to kill innocent American civilians on the high seas.

 But when Wilson asked Congress to declare war, he framed that war not as an inherently limited act of self-defense against a known aggressor, but as an open-ended crusade to reshape the entire globe into self-determining democracies. He argued that that would end war forever. We would fight, Wilson said, "for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free."

Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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