Book

PrintPrint EmailEmail ShareShare CiteCite
Style:MLAAPAChicagoClose

loading...

Special Providence

American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World

Author: Walter Russell Mead, Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy

Special Providence - special-providence
Order Book

Publisher Random House

Release Date December 2001

Price $30.00 paper

400 pages
ISBN 0375412301

Share

Overview

The United States has had a more successful foreign policy than any other great power in history. Council Senior Fellow Walter Russell Mead attributes this unprecedented success (as well as recurring problems) to a vigorous interplay among four powerful political traditions that have shaped foreign policy since the Revolution. The tension among these competing forces guides American foreign policy toward prudent action. Mead argues that the United States is successful because its strategy is rooted in Americans' concrete interests, which value trade and commerce as much as military security.

The winner of the Lionel Gelber Prize for outstanding writing on international affairs, Special Providence opens with a simple declaration: "This is a book about how and why American foreign policy works." Mead's provocative conclusion is that far from being amateurish and stumbling, American foreign policy has succeeded astonishingly well over two centuries. The United States was dealt a good hand, Mead concedes, but she has played her cards exceptionally well.

Mead attributes this success to four schools of thought, named after four American statesmen: the Hamiltonian (protection of commerce), Jeffersonian (maintenance of a democratic system), Jacksonian (populist values, military strength), and Wilsonian (moral principle). The title of Mead's book comes from a remark usually attributed to Otto von Bismarck, who is alleged to have said, "God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America."

More About This Publication

"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, the New York Times

Mead's book "is an impassioned effort to debunk the view of such American Bismarckians as Henry Kissinger, who once wrote that 'America's journey through international relations has been a triumph of faith over experience'."
—David Rieff, Los Angeles Times

Read the Foreign Affairs review by Phillip Zelikow.

More on This Topic

Article

Brazil Drops Out

Author: Walter Russell Mead
American Interest

Walter Russell Mead says that Brazil's recent involvement in the diplomatic dispute between Iran and the United States reveals the United...

Article

Goo-Goo Genocidaires

Author: Walter Russell Mead
American Interest

Walter Russell Mead argues, "The American peace and disarmament movement almost destroyed human freedom."

Article

The Carter Syndrome

Author: Walter Russell Mead
Foreign Policy

Walter Russell Mead argues that Barack Obama might yet revolutionize America's foreign policy. But if he can't reconcile his inner Thomas...

Op-Ed

Consider Lincoln

Author: Walter Russell Mead
American Interest

"Thing are going to get worse before they get better," writes Walter Russell Mead, laying out a summary of the many things that have gone...