Book Discussion With Walter Russell Mead on “God and Gold”

Book Discussion With Walter Russell Mead on “God and Gold”

We are very pleased to introduce Walter Russell Mead to Opinio Juris readers to discuss his most recent book, God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World.

Walter Russell Mead is the Henry A. Kissinger senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and one of the country’s leading students of American foreign policy. 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 the best book in English on international relations in 2002.

Mr. Mead writes regularly on international affairs for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Washington Post, Financial Times, Foreign Affairs, New Yorker, Atlantic, Harper’s, and Esquire. 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.

Mr. Mead’s chief intellectual interests involve the rise and development of a liberal, capitalist world order based on the economic, social, and military power of the United States and its closest allies. He is interested in the implications of this evolving world order for American foreign policy and for American and international society.

The plan is for us to discuss Parts One and Two of the book on Tuesday, Parts Three and Four on Wednesday, and Part Five on Thursday. Mead will also offer some concluding thoughts on Friday.

Michael Lind, Whitehead Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation, will be a guest respondent. The regular contributors to Opinio Juris also will add their thoughts.

Feel free to post comments or questions in the comment section or otherwise email me your comments, reflections, and questions which I may post as additional guest posts.

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george shapiro
george shapiro

What Mead is discussing are his observations, not truisms. Since his personal observation and understanding of history is a certain way, he deduces that this is an essential element of a certain construct. This is an intellectually false viewpoint, but to his credit not necessarily one that invalidates the potential truism that he purports to promote. As those of us who have been to law school and taken standardized tests such as the LSAT understand, flawed reasoning is exhibited in such a construct. Remember: a pitcher who goes 23-4 in a season in which he played on 3 days rest every time may or may not go 23-4 on 4 days rest the next season. In essence, the exhibition of a result according to certain protocols will not necessarily yield different results according to other protocols. The idea that free trade is necessary according to the principles that Mead lays out would seem to be rather cerebrally sophomoric. But not necessarily.