Tony Smith

Contact Info:
Tufts University
Dept. of Political Science
Packard Hall
Medford, MA 02155

Office: 617.627.3467
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Cornelia M. Jackson Professor of Political Science

International & Comparative Politics

Ph.D., Harvard University, 1971

For some years now, I have been working on the thinking behind human rights and democracy promotion in U.S. foreign policy. In 2012, Princeton University Press published an expanded version of my book America's Mission: The United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy, which added to two other books I had brought out on the subject in 2007 and 2009, plus a number of journal articles. (You can find book citations on our scholarship listings.) I have offered courses relevant to this topic for some time now and am encouraged by student interest in the material we cover together, works that can take us back to the American Revolution, but which usually start with Woodrow Wilson's presidency (1913-1921) with special emphasis on the period since the end of the Cold War and the thinking behind the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 (which carries us through the "Arab Spring" and its repercussions on American thinking today).

I have also published books on ethnic groups and American foreign policy, on British, American, and French imperialism, and on communist theories of state legitimacy in the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba. (Again, you can find these titles on our faculty scholarship page.) Although I am no longer doing formal courses on these issues, students with interests in these areas have worked with me in the past, and still today, with independent studies or senior honors theses. Please take a look at my publications and contact me should you like the idea of doing independent work in these subject areas.

My current research explores the origins of American thinking about democracy promotion abroad in the 17th and 18th centuries, and the impact this had on Woodrow Wilson and through him (with important variations, to be sure) on American presidents still today.

I ask students to write papers, not to take exams, because I think this is the best way of learning. If you feel challenged in courses that emphasize writing, not to worry--I look forward to helping you improve your skills and thereby your understanding of material. Feel free to drop by Packard 208 (office hours are listed each semester) or to email me at Contact by phone is more difficult.

I did my undergraduate work at the University of Texas, received a Masters from the Fletcher School, and a doctorate in government from Harvard University. I am currently a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Senior Fellow at Harvard's Center for European Studies. I have been at Tufts since time immemorial and find it a great institution for work in the social sciences.

Recent Publications

  • Why Wilson Matters Now: The Origins of American Liberal Internationalism and Its Crisis Today, manuscript completed May 2015, under review at Princeton University Press
  • "Convergence and Divergence Yesterday and Today in Diaspora-National Government Relations," in Josh Dewin ed., Diaspora Lobbies and the US Government, Social Science Research Council and NY University Press, 2014
  • "Democracy as a 'Deviation,'" keynote address in Mounir Guirat and Mounir Triki, Deviation(s), University of Sfax Tunisia, Laboratoruy on Approaches to Discourse, 2014
  • "La promotion de la democratie pendant le premier mandat du president Obama (Democracy Promotion during the First Administration of President Barack Obama), in Isabelle Vagnoux, ed, Obama et le monde, University of Aix-Marseille, 2013
  • American Democracy Promotion from Wilson to Obama," in Michael Cox, ed., American Presidents and Democracy Promotion, Routledge, 2013
  • an expanded edition of America's Mission: The United States and the Worldwide Struggle for Democracy, Princeton University Press, appeared in late 2012

Current Research

Professor Smith is currently working on the origins of American thinking about democracy promotion abroad in the 17th through the 19th centuries and the impact this had on Woodrow Wilson (president from 1913-1921) and on American presidents still today.