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Power, Terror, Peace, and War: America's Grand Strategy in a World at Risk Paperback – June 14, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (June 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400077036
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400077038
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #784,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Walter Russell Mead, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, offers an historical examination of U.S. foreign policy and the way it has become so complicated, divisive, and fraught with unintended consequences that it is beyond the control of any one group or ideology. Looking back at the 20th century in an attempt to identify a grand strategy for the future, he declares the years between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the attacks of September 11, 2001 to be "lost years" in which a difficult global shift began to take shape. He identifies this transition as the beginning of a shift from a "Fordian" (as in Henry Ford) system of mass production and mass consumption to a more dynamic "millennial capitalism" in which the free market is changing to benefit more people around the world, particularly those in developing countries. Mead also looks closely at how the Bush administration has reacted to the September 11 attacks and the threat of further terrorism, offering both thoughtful praise and sharp criticism in nearly equal measure. (The book is worth reading for these incisive comments alone.) In explaining the distinctions between "sharp" (military), "sticky" (economic), and "sweet" (cultural) power as tools for shaping the world, he makes clear that he believes the U.S. should be shaping the world—ideally by example and shared values, but also through military force and economic coercion when necessary. A strong "advocate of the American project," Mead remains optimistic about the future and predicts that the U.S. will be successful in spreading economic and political freedom far and wide, including regions that will offer great resistance to such changes. At times the narrative gets bogged down in potentially confusing academic terminology, but overall the book is filled with thought-provoking ideas and intriguing details about the role and limitations of U.S. influence and what it bodes for the rest of the world. --Shawn Carkonen --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Mead, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Special Providence, proposes a new strategic paradigm based on the premise that an unfettered global capitalism and a more aggressive American imperium are inevitable. Sometimes his terminology only muddles the conventional wisdom: for instance, he labels the neoconservatives' moralistic, interventionist foreign policy "Revival Wilsonianism," even though it rejects traditional Wilsonians' defining belief in binding international institutions. And he identifies Islamist militancy as "Arabian fascism," even though the movement advocates religious rather than ethnic solidarity. In other cases, Mead provides a useful framework, such as his contrast between the (Henry) "Fordist" bureaucratic welfare state of the 20th century and the new century's individualistic "millennial capitalism," whose roots he traces to a "Jacksonian" rebellion against the professional class that administered postâ€"New Deal American society. Also valuable is Mead's refinement of Joseph Nye's distinction between soft and hard power. Hard power, Mead says, ought to be further divided between "sharp" (military) and "sticky" (economic) power, while soft power comprises "sweet" (cultural) and "hegemonic" (the totality of America's agenda-setting power). These concepts help shape Mead's approach to the Bush doctrine. He supports its most controversial elements, unilateralism and pre-emptive war, but urges greater attention to the sticky, sweet and hegemonic aspects of American influence in the next stage of the war on terror. Mead's book demonstrates the value and difficulty of analyzing the "architecture of America's world policy" from such heights of abstraction before hindsight has clarified what is historically determined and what is contingent.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Walter Russell Mead is the James Clark Chase Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and Editor-at-Large of The American Interest. From 1997 to 2010, Mr. Mead was a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, serving as the Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy from 2003 until his departure. Until 2011, he was also a Brady-Johnson Distinguished Fellow in Grand Strategy at Yale, where he had taught in the Yale International Security Studies Program since 2008.

His book, Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), was widely hailed by reviewers, historians, and diplomats as an important study that will change the way Americans and others think about American foreign policy. Among several honors and prizes, Special Providence received the Lionel Gelber Award for best book in English on international relations in 2002.

Mr. Mead's most recent book, God and Gold: Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007), is a major study of 400 years of conflict between Anglophone powers and rivals ranging from absolute monarchies like Spain and France through Communist and Fascist enemies in the twentieth century to al-Qaeda today.

Mr. Mead is also the author of the "Via Meadia" blog at The-American-Interest.com, where he writes regular essays on international affairs, religion, politics, culture, education, economics, technology, literature, and the media. Mead's writings are frequently linked to and discussed by major news outlets and websites such as The New York Times, The Atlantic, the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Harper's, the Washington Post, and RealClearPolitics, as well as by foreign periodicals. He also frequently appears on national and international radio and television programs. He serves as a regular reviewer of books for Foreign Affairs and frequently appears on national and international radio and television programs. In 1997, he was a finalist for the National Magazine Award in the category of essays and criticism.

He is an honors graduate of Groton and Yale, where he received prizes for history, debate, and the translation of New Testament Greek. Mr. Mead has traveled widely in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America, and often speaks at conferences in the United States and abroad. He is a founding board member of the New America Foundation. He is a native of South Carolina and lives in Jackson Heights, New York.

Customer Reviews

Nevertheless, Mead makes some very interesting insights that make the book more than worth reading.
This book, along with John Lewis Gaddis' SURPRISE, SECURITY AND THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, will tell you what's going on in U.S. foreign policy and why.
Catherine Johnson
Comparing the two books is an object lesson to authors who believe that topicality is of primary importance to the quality of their book.
Jeffery Steele

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Izaak VanGaalen on December 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Walter Russell Mead is the Henry A Kissinger Senior Fellow on US Foreign Policy at the Council of Foreign Relations and the intellectual power that he brings to bear on the issues of foreign policy are as impressive as his job title. He marshals the disciplines of politics, economics, sociology, history and religion to produce a provocative and compelling analysis of America and its role in the world.

This important book describes what Mead calls the "American Project...to protect our own domestic security while building a peaceful world order of peaceful states linked by common values and sharing a common prosperity." This project is rooted in American history and tradition. (This work should be read in tandem with Surprise, Security, and the American Experience by John Lewis Gaddis.)

Mead identifies four schools of thought that animate our way of thinking about foreign policy. 1)Wilsonians are idealistic internationalists who believe the spread of democracy abroad will give us security at home - many of the neoconservatives are of this persuasion. Present-day Wilsonians are notable for their lack of confidence in international institutions. 2)Jeffersonians adhere to isolationism, even less of an option today than it was in the 19th century. 3)Hamiltonians are the business class that promote enterprise at home and abroad; they believe that globalization contributes to peace and security. 4)Jacksonians are described as "populist nationalists." They have the individualist's suspicion of government. And, oh yeah, they like to fight. In foreign policy that translates into overwhelming force and total victory.

The Bush administration's war on terror has been, according to Mead, a combination of Revival Wilsonianism and Jacksonianism.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Johnson on June 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book, along with John Lewis Gaddis' SURPRISE, SECURITY AND THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, will tell you what's going on in U.S. foreign policy and why.
POWER, TERROR, PEACE, AND WAR is a page-turner. I read it in two days, and am now wishing for more.
Probably the most important aspect of the book is that it explains what America is trying to build in the world, not just what America is trying to destroy. It also explains why the world is not convinced that the American project is either sound or good.
POWER, TERROR, PEACE, AND WAR contains the most balanced assessment of the Bush White House I have seen. I would not call this book an argument for American unilateralism, although it does explain why the Bush administration has acted as unilaterally as it has. And I cannot predict, after reading this book, which candidate Walter Russell Mead will vote for in 2004.
The final chapter is a tour de force, offering novel solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to U.N. reform, to Mexican immigration and to the retirement of the Baby Boomers (hint: the last two issues are linked). Amazing.
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Format: Hardcover
This is largely a justification of American foreign policy. Mead's position is that Bush made mostly the right choices even if some of the planning and execution were not the best. Along the way I think Mead does a good job of explaining why the current administration believes that preemptive wars and unilateralism are sometimes necessary. He uses a plethora of coinages, American Revivalists, Arabian Fascism, millennial capitalism, harmonic convergence, Wilsonian Revivalism, Fordism, etc., in an attempt to provide a historical context. To be honest I got a little lost among these labels and had to frequently turn to the index to look up their first use so as to keep them straight in my head.
Mead's approach is bipartisan and he strives to make it non-religious as well, although ending the book with a quote from Christ is perhaps not the best way to achieve that, nor is some seeming naivete about the double meaning of the word "revival." Indeed one gets the sense that Mead is not only cozying up to neoconservatives but to Christian fundamentalists as well. Nonetheless he also quotes the Prophet; and the label he pins on Middle Eastern terrorists, "Arabian Fascists," attempts to secularize the conflict. Of course he can use all the labels he wants (some of which are clearly euphemistic while others are attempts at political correctness and bipartisanship); regardless the conflict between the West and the terrorists in the Middle East will continue to be played out in quasi-religious terms.
In addition to labels, Mead also uses special terms to define American power. There is "sharp," "soft," "sticky," and "sweet" power.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Gary C. Marfin on June 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Don't judge a book by its size: the scope of this small book is immense and its proposals, put forward in a balanced, bi-partisan spirit, deserve serious consideration. My two complaints are: (1) As in many books in international affairs, the recommendations -- some of his best material -- are held to the very end of the show. By then, I'm afraid some of the audience may have left for home, missing a set of very interesting observations. (2) He takes President Bush to task for failing to prepare the American people for the level of effort required to stabilize Iraq. He is not alone in that criticism. But I think there were significant limits to what the Administration could have done in that area. American expectations were anchored in Desert Storm and, no matter the argument, those expectations were not to be easily budged.
Now, back to the Mead's Metternich line -- what's not wrong, is the American project. That project consists of the efforts of the U.S. to bolster its own security while building a peaceful world order of democratic states linked by their adherence to the global market (and capitalism generally). Working from the premise that the project is sound, Mr. Mead wrote this book for the purpose of improving our ability to realize the objectives of the project. In doing so, he covers a considerable amount of history, for he is keen to show how, despite our underlying success over the past century and the last decade in particular, forces below the surface and barely discernible developed like a "gathering storm" in opposition. The decline of the Fordist state, with its emphasis on productivity, but its allowance for a scope of state action, created hostility to the project among poliltical elites.
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