Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World

Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World

by Walter Russell Mead
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Knopf Publishing Group
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Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World

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

ISBN-13: 9780375412301
Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/01/1901
Edition description: 1ST
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.38(w) x 9.56(h) x 1.53(d)

Table of Contents

Chapter 1The American Foreign Policy Tradition3
Chapter 2The Kaleidoscope of American Foreign Policy30
Chapter 3Changing the Paradigms56
Chapter 4The Serpent and the Dove: The Hamiltonian Way99
Chapter 5The Connecticut Yankee in the Court of King Arthur: Wilsonianism and Its Mission132
Chapter 6"Vindicator Only of Her Own": The Jeffersonian Tradition174
Chapter 7Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright: The School of Andrew Jackson218
Chapter 8The Rise and Retreat of the New World Order264
Chapter 9The Future of American Foreign Policy310

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Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has been getting some well deserved press in places like Atlantic Online. It is, in my opinion, a must read for every citizen interested in the future course of our country and culture. And that's not just foreign policy either - the choices we have to make in the next few years will affect the day-to-day lives of our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. As Shakespeare pointed out 'Past is Prologue,' and the interest clusters and coalitions of past American politics continue to this day and are not likely to change anytime soon. After reading this book, one can attribute just about any new argument, no matter how concise, to a school of American thought dating back to the origins of the Republic. For example, the current debate over missile defense had similar politics to the construction in the early 1800's of the massive brick forts that sit at the entrances to most major US harbors. The book does an excellent job of providing historical structure to present and future debates. As the author points out, as world hegemon, we have some very important choices ahead. Again, EVERY educated citizen should read this book.