Mead, Walter Russell 1952-
MEAD, Walter Russell 1952-
PERSONAL: Born June 12, 1952, in Columbia, SC. Education: Yale University, B.A., 1976.
ADDRESSES: Offıce—Council on Foreign Relations, Harold Pratt House, 58 East 68th St., New York, NY 10021.
CAREER: Author, editor, and foreign policy fellow. Worked various jobs, including editing a labor union newspaper; Cumomo Commission on Competitiveness and Trade, New York, NY, chief writer, 1987-88; Harper's, New York, NY, contributing editor, 1986-91; Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA, contributing editor, 1991; Worth, New York, NY, contributing editor, 1993-96, senior contributing editor, 1996; World Policy Institute, New School University, New York, NY, president's fellow, 1994-97; senior fellow in U.S. foreign policy for the Council on Foreign Relations; 1997—.
MEMBER: New American Foundation (member of board of directors).
AWARDS, HONORS: Lionel Gelber Prize, 2002, for Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World; New York University Olive Branch award, 1993.
Mortal Splendor: The American Empire in Transition, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1987.
Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World, Knopf (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor, with Sherle R. Schwenninger) The Bridge to a Global Middle Class: Development, Trade, and International Finance, Kluwer Academic Publishers (Boston, MA), 2003.
Power, Terror, Peace, and War: America's Grand Strategy in a World at Risk, Knopf (New York, NY), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals, including Esquire, Worth, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, and New Yorker.
SIDELIGHTS: Walter Russell Mead, a senior fellow for the Council on Foreign Relations, is an expert on U.S. foreign policy. He was born in South Carolina, but due to his father's position as an Episcopal minister, he moved frequently throughout the South as he was growing up. At age thirteen, he won a scholarship to attend a college preparatory school in Massachusetts and later attended Yale University, where he studied literature. His early interests in foreign policy stemmed from growing up during the Vietnam era, but that same exposure caused him to turn away from the subject during his youth. Only after several years of working temporary jobs and in low-end positions did he return to politics and policy. Mead has since become an expert on foreign relations and international political economy.
In Mortal Splendor: The American Empire in Transition, Mead examines contemporary American political and economic mythologies, addressing the development of society and the nation's psyche. Washington Monthly contributor Michael D. Mosettig called the book "maddeningly uneven," and noted that it is "far longer on analysis than prescription." However, Ronald Steel, in a review for New Republic, called the book "an inquiry of considerable originality and daring that cuts across the usual categories. For [Mead] empire is both a condition and a metaphor, and the way in which he plays one against the other is what gives this book its special strength." Steel went on to call the book "sometimes exasperating, usually irreverent, and almost continually thought-provoking," and concluded that "even if one cannot quite share Mead's indignation about the evils of our empire, his intensity of feeling gives this book a special thrust . . . a study of culture and history as well as of economics, Mortal Splendor is that rarest of things, a work of political imagination."
Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World is based on Mead's belief that in order to understand current foreign policy one must understand its foundations. The book addresses four ways of examining foreign policy that, he states, date back to the nation's founding fathers. American Prospect contributor David M. Kennedy observed that "Mead makes a heroic effort to comprehend the entirety of Americans diplomatic past in a complex structure composed of four 'schools' of foreign policy. The interplay among these schools, he claims, is what makes American foreign policy both distinctive and successful." Kennedy went on to note that the author "never clearly explains the precise dynamics of the relationships among his schools that supposedly have generated that 'unique style.' He relies instead on the metaphor of a kaleidoscope, in which his various schools perpetually reassemble themselves in random patterns." However, James P. Rubin, in New Republic, commented that "Mead's framework for the analysis of foreign policy strikes me as at least conceptually adequate. The schools that he portrays do represent the competing currents that a policy-maker in Washington faces today. His framework is certainly more precise than the old categories of hawk and dove, left and right, internationalist and isolationist, unilateralist and multilateralist." National Review critic Arnold Beichman called Mead's book a "highly readable history and analysis of American foreign policy" that "offers an answer to a question that was never more pertinent: How has the United States, 'with a notoriously erratic and undisciplined foreign policy process, [implemented] foreign policies that have consistently advanced the country toward greater power and wealth than any other power in the history of the world'?" He pointed out, however, that because the volume was printed shortly after the events of September 11, 2001,it became obsolete almost instantly, something a reader should take into account. A contributor to the Economist found the book to be "a highly intelligent analysis of America's foreign policy, which is full of common sense and learning, and is clear and readable to boot."
Power, Terror, Peace, and War: America's Grand Strategy in a World at Risk looks at American foreign policy in the light of the many changes occurring during the last decades of the twentieth century, from the loss of the Soviet Union as a rival superpower to the war in Iraq. Mead examines how familiar policy strategies have become less effective due to an altered world economy and proposes what steps might be taken to improve policy in the future. A contributor to Publishers Weekly remarked that the work "demonstrates the value and difficult 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." Harvey Sicherman, reviewing Power, Terror, Peace, and War for National Interest, stated that "Mead writes brilliantly about the French pratfalls on the eve of the Iraq War, and Franco-German relations," and went on to conclude that, "overall, Mead's book is an interesting try."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Prospect, March 25, 2002, David M. Kennedy, review of Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World, pp. 34-36.
Atlantic Monthly, January, 2002, James Fallows, "Councils of War: Every American War Has Changed Our Society in Ways That Were Not Anticipated," p. 23.
Booklist, November 15, 2001, Mary Carroll, review of Special Providence, p. 528; May 15, 2004, Brendan Driscoll, review of Power, Terror, Peace, and War: America's Grand Strategy in a World at Risk,
Economist, November 17, 2001, "Four Threads, One Mighty Rope," review of Special Providence.
Journal of American History, June, 1988, James Oliver Robertson, review of Mortal Splendor: The American Empire in Transition, p. 322.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2001, review of Special Providence, p. 1341; March 1, 2004, review of Power Terror, Peace, and War, p. 212.
Library Journal, November 1, 2001, James R. Holmes, review of Special Providence, p. 110.
National Interest, winter, 2001, H. W. Brands, "The Four Schoolmasters," review of Special Providence, p. 143; summer, 2004, Harvey Sicherman, "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?," review of Power, Terror, Peace, and War, p. 163.
National Review, January 28, 2002, Arnold Beichman, "Providence Abroad," p. 56.
New Republic, January 4, 1998, Ronald Steel, review of Mortal Splendor, p. 32; March 18, 2002, James
P. Rubin, "Santayana Syndrome," review of Special Providence, p. 29.
Publishers Weekly, October 22, 2001, review of Special Providence, p. 63; April 5, 2004, review of Power, Terror, Peace, and War, p. 57.
Washington Monthly, June, 1987, Michael D. Mosettig, review of Mortal Splendor, p. 60.
Wilson Quarterly, winter, 2002, Jonathan Rosenberg, review of Special Providence, p. 122.
Council on Foreign Relations Web site,http://www.cfr.org/ (November 12, 2004), "Walter Russell Mead."
Foreign Affairs Online,http://www.foreignaffairs.org/ (November 12, 2004), "Walter Russell Mead."
Globalist Web site,http://www.theglobalist.com/ (November 12, 2004), "Walter Russell Mead."
U.S. Embassy Distinguished American Speakers Web site, http://www.usembassy-israel.org/ (November 12, 2004), "Walter Russell Mead."*