Special Providence by Walter Russell Mead
American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World

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From one of our leading experts on foreign policy, a full-scale reinterpretation of America’s dealings—from its earliest days—with the rest of the world.

It is Walter Russell Mead’s thesis that the United States, by any standard, has had a more successful foreign policy than any of the other great powers that we have faced—and faced down. Beginning as an isolated string of settlements at the edge of the known world, this country—in two centuries—drove the French and the Spanish out of North America; forced Britain, then the world’s greatest empire, to respect American interests; dominated coalitions that defeated German and Japanese bids for world power; replaced the tottering British Empire with a more flexible and dynamic global system built on American power; triumphed in the Cold War; and exported its language, culture, currency, and political values throughout the world.

Yet despite, and often because of, this success, both Americans and foreigners over the decades have routinely considered American foreign policy to be amateurish and blundering, a political backwater and an intellectual wasteland.

Now, in this provocative study, Mead revisits our history to counter these appraisals. He attributes this unprecedented success (as well as recurring problems) to the interplay of four schools of thought, each with deep roots in domestic politics and each characterized by a central focus or concern, that have shaped our foreign policy debates since the American Revolution—the Hamiltonian: the protection of commerce; the Jef-
fersonian: the maintenance of our democratic system; the Jacksonian: populist values and military might; and the Wilsonian: moral principle. And he delineates the ways in which they have continually, and for the most part beneficially, informed the intellectual and political bases of our success as a world power. These four schools, says Mead, are as vital today as they were two hundred years ago, and they can and should guide the nation through the challenges ahead.

Special Providence is a brilliant analysis, certain to influence the way America thinks about its national past, its future, and the rest of the world.

About Walter Russell Mead

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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 and a senior contributing editor of Worth magazine, he has also written for 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. He lives in Jackson Heights, New York.
Published June 20, 2012 by Knopf. 400 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, History. Non-fiction

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Jeffersonians (whom, near the end, Mead aligns himself with) see the American democracy as fragile and tend to “Speak softly, and carry the smallest possible stick.” Jacksonians, the most bellicose and pragmatic of the four, are the hawks in the American aviary, animated by a deep sense of honor ...

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The New York Times

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Walter Russell Mead argues that the secret of U.S. foreign policy may lie in having no single set approach.

Nov 25 2001 | Read Full Review of Special Providence: American ...

Publishers Weekly

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America is perceived as not having a foreign policy tradition, contends Mead (Mortal Splendor: The American Empire in Transition), a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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