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Special Providence

American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World

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eBook published by Knopf (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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About This Book
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.
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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.
Product Details
eBook (400 pages)
Published: June 20, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Knopf
ISBN: 9780307822048
Other books byWalter Russell Mead
  • Power, Terror, Peace, and War

    Power, Terror, Peace, and War
    America's Grand Strategy in a World at Risk
    International affairs expert and award-winning author of Special Providence Walter Russell Mead here offers a remarkably clear-eyed account of American foreign policy and the challenges it faces post—September 11.Starting with what America represents to the world community, Mead argues that throughout its history it has been guided by a coherent set of foreign policy objectives. He places the record of the Bush administration in the context of America’s historical relations with its allies and foes. And he takes a hard look at the international scene–from despair and decay in the Arab world to tumult in Africa and Asia–and lays out a brilliant framework for tailoring America’s grand strategy to our current and future threats. Balanced, persuasive, and eminently sensible, Power, Terror, Peace, and War is a work of extraordinary significance on the role of the United States in the world today. From the Trade Paperback edition.

    God and Gold

    God and Gold
    Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern...
    A stunningly insightful account of the global political and economic system, sustained first by Britain and now by America, that has created the modern world. The key to the two countries' predominance, Mead argues, lies in the individualistic ideology inherent in the Anglo-American religion. Over the years Britain and America's liberal democratic system has been repeatedly challeged—by Catholic Spain and Louis XIV, the Nazis, communists, and Al Qaeda—and for the most part, it has prevailed. But the current conflicts in the Middle East threaten to change that record unless we foster a deeper understanding of the conflicts between the liberal world system and its foes. From the Trade Paperback edition.

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  • Lord Bryce, a British statesman who served as Britain's ambassador to the United States from 1907 to 1913, once wrote that the role of foreign policy in American life could be described...

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