The Four Schoolmasters

Walter Russell Mead's new book deploys the ideas and heirs of Hamilton, Wilson, Jefferson and Jackson to illuminate the future of U.S. foreign policy.

Issue: Winter 2001-2002

Walter Russell Mead, Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001,), 345 pp., $30.

THE BRITISH statesman Lord Bryce once remarked that describing American foreign policy was like describing the snakes of Ireland. "There are no snakes in Ireland", he added.

It's an old anecdote but an apt one for Walter Russell Mead, who rebuts Bryce from the outset of his new book, Special Providence. Mead discovers lots of snakes in Ireland--four species, in fact. One species that predominated for decades bore protective coloration, which was why Bryce missed it. But it and the other three have long been active, often aggressive, and very successful in defending and expanding their territory.

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