978-1-4000-7703-8 / 9781400077038

Power, Terror, Peace, and War: America's Grand Strategy in a World at Risk





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About the book:

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 worldideally 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

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