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Special Providence por Walter Russell Mead
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Special Providence (edição 2001)

por Walter Russell Mead

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"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.… (mais)
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Título:Special Providence
Autores:Walter Russell Mead
Informação:Alfred A. Knopf (2001), Hardcover
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Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World por Walter Russell Mead

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Walter Russell Mead’s book is a must-read for anyone interested in U.S. foreign policy. This book has the benefit of being clearly written, engaging, and at times even a little tongue-in-cheek. The book was so good that I read it twice. This isn’t a first impression review; it’s a second impression review.

Mead’s examines the way four traditions shaped how America conducted its foreign affairs. At the heart of his books is the revisionist perspective that democracy does not necessarily lead to an inferior foreign policy, that policy makers can learn a great deal by studying the early patterns of US foreign policy, and that there is a special kind of American diplomacy that is discernable by studying the historical record.

If the old, crusty autocrats with their chessboards and amoral calculations can be called the “auteur”-style of diplomacy; then democracies like the U.S. are closer to “studio”-system style foreign policy, doing things through consensus and meetings. If democracies can’t create the “genius” of the grand masters with their chessboard calculations, then at the very least they don’t make the disastrous mistakes that often come with the hubris of genius.

The four distinct traditions that Mead outlines are as follows: Hamiltonians, who believed that a strong alliance between national government and big business was the key to effective policy abroad and at home--and that the US should engage in a global trading system; Wilsonians, who believed that the US had a moral obligation to spread democratic and social ideals; Jeffersonians, who thought that Americans should be less concerned with promoting democracy and more worried about protecting it at home; and Jacksonians, who believed that the most important role for government should be the physical security and economic well-being of its citizens (xvii).

Mead’s examination of charges regarding the naivety of US foreign policy demonstrates how much these criticisms of the US are either contradictory or confused—much of these criticisms tend to attribute the success of US foreign policy to blind luck; but also, Mead demonstrates how much of these criticisms are dependant on a very limited continental realism. Mead does two things very well in offsetting these critiques: one, he shows how in contrast to continental realist visions of the “auteur” as the master of a foreign policy, US foreign policy was often much more like a symphony (p. 39); and two, he demonstrates how the foreign policy of the United States was often much more than just the actions of its government (i.e. missionary and business interest played a very extensive role as well). Despite the often chaotic nature of US foreign policy—Mead notes especially the Cold War as time of seeming chaos—he also shows how the country can be remarkably consistent when it comes to important policies (like containment of the Soviet Union).

Mead also builds a mini-theory of national myth. National myth must be “clearer than truth” (as Dean Acheson is quoted as saying), a distillation of the facts into a simple understanding of historical tradition that can be used to galvanize the public (p. 61). Part of the project of the book, then, is reconstituting or reclaiming a myth from the wreckage of the Cold War (which is largely associated with continental realism). Reclaiming aspects of the old mythos requires understanding the four traditions at the heart of US politics.

In terms of the Hamiltonian tradition, Mead notes how they speak the language of continental realism, usually come from upper class households, and typically have ties to Anglo-Saxon origins. This tradition is both realist and idealist (the serpent and the dove)—realist in that it often takes a mercantilist approach to economics (the US was content to free ride on the British system, exporting while failing to liberalize its markets), but idealist in that it emphasizes that trade and commerce are a superior form of competition as compared with war. Mead also notes how in this formulation, open seas and open markets are often seen as “natural” (p. 107): thus the US is not above gunboat diplomacy to open markets.

In terms of Wilsonians, Mead shows how this tradition evolved out of early missionary work. He impressively links this tradition with modern ideas of a global civil society and modern relief NGOs like World Vision and Catholic Relief Service (p. 146). Eventually, the protection of missionaries and foreign property would lead to negotiations to reduce human rights abuses (p. 148). To illustrate how much influence these missionaries had, Mead notes that one survey found that around 50 percent of the foreign culture experts during WWII were the offspring of missionaries.

In terms of Jeffersonians this group, much like Jacksonians, are much more introspective and cautious about the world affairs and the prospects of the other countries becoming more like America. This tradition emphasizes the uniqueness of American democracy and the need to preserve it domestically. At the heart of Jeffersonian concerns are the negative effects of a strong government and big business that typically flourish from large entangling alliances overseas. Unlike the Wilsonians, while Jeffersonians believe that democracy is the best form of government, they are usually pessimistic about the likeliness of preserving it (and especially of promoting it overseas). Thus by defining national interests as narrowly as possible, and by promoting foreign policy as economically as possible, they hope to preserve a healthy democracy domestically.

In terms of Jacksonians, Mead notes that this group can be defined by its vibrant folk culture, its emphasis on pulling ones own weight, and military service and institutions as a redeeming for the nation. Building on the ethnic component of the book, this group’s roots are traced to the Scotch-Irish who first fought brutal wars on the frontier between England and Scotland, and then fought the Native Americans in the frontiers. The author notes, however, how this trend has now become “crab grass” Jacksonian, with much of the values being consumed by immigrant populations now serving in the military and the expansive middle class that considers honest hard work the backbone of the country (p. 231). Looking at what Mead describes as the Jacksonian idea of a “popular hero to restore government” explain why a persona like George W. Bush would be so popular (p. 239).

Mead’s final argument is that with the end of the Cold War consensus, the US needs to re-forge an understanding of the various trends that influence foreign policy. However, Mead seems divided about the relative merits about these four trends and whether this dis-consensus is a strength or weakness of the American system.

I found very little to dislike about this book. But if I had to nitpick, I might ask the question: Has the U.S. (other than the time of Nixon and Kissinger) embraced “continental realism”?

Though Mead seems to find the balancing of these disparate groups in a democracy to have a tempering effect on national hubris, preventing the worst excesses of elite groups, he also notes that US foreign policy has been strongest in times such as the Cold War and the Monroe Doctrine when debate was relatively static within these institutions. His call toward the end of the book for “considered public judgment” (p. 324) and “debate” (p. 325) seems to be little more than a call for consensus, which actually contradicts somewhat his argument the democratic foreign policy by committee approach is superior to an “auteur” approach. ( )
  DanielClausen | Oct 12, 2014 |
In Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World, Walter Russell Mead gives his account of the history of U.S. foreign policy. Mead divides American foreign policy views into four schools, which he labels using an historic political figure who espoused those views. Those four schools are Hamiltonian, Wilsonian, Jeffersonian, and Jacksonian.

The Hamiltonian school focuses on American commercial interests. Hamiltonians believe that expanding American commerce should be the primary focus of U.S. foreign policy; this necessarily entails the development of a strong navy that can be used to protect American commercial interests on the seas and in foreign lands. Hamiltonians would avoid entangling foreign alliances for the main reason that it tends to reduce the opportunities for commercial engagement with opposing camps. But they would not shy away from fighting to protect America's primary commercial partners.

The Wilsonian school focuses on the expansion of liberal democratic institutions around the world under the theory that democracy has a pacifying effect on people, and, therefore, democracies do not fight each other. Wilsonians can be either doves or hawks, but engagement with the world is a positive good for this camp. Although, they too would avoid foreign alliances.

The Jeffersonian school focuses on the internal development and perfection of the American republic. Jeffersonians tend to be strongly anti-militarist to the point of advocating for the existence of a very small national army. Jeffersonians are, however, okay with a powerful navy. Jeffersonians are the most isolationist of the four schools; they believe that the American republic is a fragile experiment that must be protected from the corrupting influences of foreign countries. This is, by far, the least prominent school in modern America.

The Jacksonian school also focuses on the internal development and perfection of the American republic. Contrary to the Jeffersonians, though, Jacksonians believe that the United States cannot seal itself off from the corrupting influences of the world and must actively protect itself on the world stage. Jacksonians believe that the U.S. must maintain a strong military for defensive purposes, and that such defense will sometimes entail the projection of American military power to distant countries. Jacksonians typically do not like foreign alliances, but will gladly enter them if they believe that a threat to another country merely portends a threat to the United States.

As you would imagine, these descriptions given by Mead are merely simplifications of the complex foreign policy views that most American leaders and citizens have held over the years. They are, however, a good foundation upon which Mead builds his real work. Mead claims that these American foreign policy schools have had a major impact on world politics. While this is true, other than the Wilsonian school, none of these schools was really created by the United States. The real reason why American foreign policy thought has had such a major impact on world politics is not because of its intellectual draw, but because of the prevalence of American economic and military power. Again, with the exception of Wilsonianism, none of these schools is original to American foreign policy. It was American power that caused their impact on the world, not American originality in developing them. ( )
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God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America.

--Attributed to Otto Von Bismarck
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"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.

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