"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.
"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."