LIBERAL DEMOCRACY AND
Chapter 7 analyzed a state’s moral duty to comply with international law. This chapter analyzes the state’s moral duty to enter into treaties and to take other related forms of international action in the first place. Mainstream international law scholarship contends that states, especially liberal democratic ones, should be more otherregarding. They should enter into more treaties that would benefit third-party states, give up sovereignty to justice-promoting institutions like the International Criminal Court (ICC), and, in general, act internationally on the basis of global welfare rather than state welfare.
This chapter argues that this commitment to strong state cosmopolitanism cannot easily be reconciled with mainstream international law scholarship’s equally strong commitment to liberal democracy itself as the optimal form of domestic governance (Fox and Roth 2000; Doyle 1983; Slaughter 1995; TesÓn 1998; compare Fox 1992; Franck 1992). The institutions needed to make liberal democracy work make it difficult to engage in strong cosmopolitan action. The problem is not just the absence of democratic support for cosmopolitan policies, although that is a problem. Constitutional and collective action hurdles constrain cosmopolitan action as well. Cosmopolitan argument, we argue, must be bounded by institutional and moral constraints that arise in the domestic-democratic sphere. A coherent ideal of liberal democracies’ cosmopolitan duties must accommodate these realistic limits on what liberal democracies can do.
In arguing for these points, we focus primarily on the United States, the world’s richest, most powerful, and, in some respects, most vigorous liberal democracy and also a frequent target of cosmopolitan criticism. This criticism comes in two forms. The first focuses on U.S. national