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Special Providence

American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World

By Walter Russell Mead

Routledge – 2003 – 400 pages

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  • Add to CartPaperback: $59.95
    978-0-415-93536-4
    September 5th 2002

Description

"God has a special providence for fools, drunks and the United States of America."--Otto von Bismarck

America's response to the September 11 attacks spotlighted many of the country's longstanding goals on the world stage: to protect liberty at home, to secure America's economic interests, to spread democracy in totalitarian regimes and to vanquish the enemy utterly.

One of America's leading foreign policy thinkers, Walter Russell Mead, argues that these diverse, conflicting impulses have in fact been the key to the U.S.'s success in the world. In a sweeping new synthesis, Mead uncovers four distinct historical patterns in foreign policy, each exemplified by a towering figure from our past.

Wilsonians are moral missionaries, making the world safe for democracy by creating international watchdogs like the U.N. Hamiltonians likewise support international engagement, but their goal is to open foreign markets and expand the economy. Populist Jacksonians support a strong military, one that should be used rarely, but then with overwhelming force to bring the enemy to its knees. Jeffersonians, concerned primarily with liberty at home, are suspicious of both big military and large-scale international projects.

A striking new vision of America's place in the world, Special Providence transcends stale debates about realists vs. idealists and hawks vs. doves to provide a revolutionary, nuanced, historically-grounded view of American foreign policy.

Reviews

"Ambitious…inventive…A heroic effort to comprehend the entirety of Americans' diplomatic past. This intellectually fecund, infectiously engaging book deserves a wide readership. It raises serious questions in abundance and provides often ingenious answers. A rich and substantial book that is sure to influence discussion of foreign-policy issues in the years ahead.--David M. Kennedy, The American Prospect."

"The most orignial and probably the most important book to have been written on American foreign policy in decades. --Martin Walker, United Press International."

"A remarkable accomplishment…[Mead] is a brilliant scholar, and he has produced a book of enduring value as both a work of intellectual genealogy and a stimulating re-evaluation of some of the roots of America's rise.--David Rieff, The Los Angeles Times."

"Mead is a clear and original thinker and an engaging writer, and these pages are filled with striking insights and pithy formulations.--Aaron L. Friedberg, New York Times Book Review."

"In his ambitious and important new book, Walter Russell Mead offers a provocative and highly original way of looking at American foreign policy, one that moves far beyond the conventional wisdom of "realist vs. idealists." His insights linking the grand sweep of American history to our present world situation are particularly valuable. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in America's role in our increasingly complex world.--Richard C. Holbrooke, author of To End a War."

"A fresh and well-written introduction to American foreign policy traditions.--Foreign Affairs."

"A stunning achievement. At a time of crisis, Mead's book forces the reader to rethink the central ideas that have guided American foreign policy in the past and are likely to shape its future.--James Chace, author of Acheson: The Secretary of State Who Created The American World."

"This important book-high-spirited, eloquent, and imaginative-could well change the way we about America's relatons with the world.--Ronald Steel, author of Temptations of a Superpower."

"This ingenious and provocative account of AMerican foreign policy's past is a splendid introduction to its future. --Michael Mandelbaum, author of The Dawn of Peace in Europe."

"Exceedingly interesting…a treasure trove for modern-day policy-makers seeking historical justifications for their positions.--James P. Rubin, The New Republic."

"Mead is a lively and provocative thinker, and he produces the kind of work that is increasingly uncommon among political scientist; in Speical Providence, he skillfully brings the history of American foreign affaris alive, employs anecdotes to telling effect, and shuns jargon. Most of all he is never boring.--Jacob Heilbrunn, Commentary."

"A comprehensive history of American foreign policy that challenges conventional wisdom in thought-provoking ways. --Chicago Tribune."

"A treasure trove of information put together with an engaging writing style. The challenges before us now give urgency for arriving at a consensus fitting for this new era. His book provides a remarkably clear guide to how the country responded in the past.--The Christian Science Monitor."

"Brilliant…thought-provoking…Walter Russell Mead, a prolific and engaging writer, has produced a history of American foreign policy turning upon American ideas and practices since the days of the Founders. At its core is a myth-breaking proposition that the US has been actively, and mostly successfully, involved in the world economically and diplomatically since the early days of the Republic. American isolationism, the author argues, is a myth propagated to rally public opinion for engagement in the early days of the Cold War.--The Washington Monthly."

"Full of common sense and learning, and is clear and readable to boot.--The Economist."

"Insightful…The strength of Mr. Mead's clear, jargon-free analysis is that he is so even-handed in his description of all four schools, whose members are ofter vitriolic in denouncing each other.--The Wall Street Journal."

"To understand U.S. foreign policy, it is necessary to understand the United States. Nobody understands either better than Walter Russell Mead. This book is destined to join the small list of classics that explain America to the world and to Americans themselves.--Michael E. Lind, author of Vietnam, the Necessary War."

"Essential and urgent…an unparalleled clarification of American foreign policy and the choices we face.--Denver Post."

"Few people writing on U.S. foreign policy are as brilliant and original as Walter Russell Mead. In Special Providence he shatters old diplomatic theories and historical assumptions with a creative vengeance. The result is a brave, landmark study that cannot be ignored.--Douglas Brinkley, author of Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy."

Contents

Foreward by Richard C. Leone Introduction 1. The American Foreign Policy Tradition 2. The Kaleidoscope of American Foreign Policy 3. Changing the Paradigms 4. The Serpent and the Dove: The Hamiltonian Way 5. The Connecticut Yankee in the Court of King Arthur: Wilsonianism and Its Mission 6. "Vindicator Only of Her Own": The Jeffersonian Tradition 7. Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright: The School of Andrew Jackson 8. The Rise and Retreat of the New World Order 9. The Future of American Foreign Policy

Author Bio

Walter Russell Mead is Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. A contributing editor at the Los Angeles Times, he has also written for the The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The New Yorker, Harper's and Foreign Affairs. He is the author of Mortal Splendor: The American Empire in Transition.

Name: Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World (Paperback)Routledge 
Description: By Walter Russell Mead. "God has a special providence for fools, drunks and the United States of America."--Otto von BismarckAmerica's response to the September 11 attacks spotlighted many of the country's longstanding goals on the world stage: to...
Categories: Politics & International Relations