Walter Russell Mead

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For the English Test cricketer, see Walter Mead (cricketer).
Walter Russell Mead
Walter Russell Mead - Chatham House 2012.jpg
Mead at Chatham House in 2012
Born June 12, 1952
Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.
Education Groton School
Yale University
Occupation Academic

Walter Russell Mead (born June 12, 1952) is an American academic. He is the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and previously taught American foreign policy at Yale University. He is also the Editor-at-Large of The American Interest magazine and a non-resident Distinguished Scholar at the Hudson Institute.

Early life[edit]

He was born on June 12, 1952 in Columbia, South Carolina. His father, Loren Mead, is an Episcopal priest in Washington, D.C., who grew up in the South. He was educated at the Groton School, a private boarding school. He then graduated from Yale University, where he received his B.A. in English Literature.[1]


Mead is the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and Humanities at Bard College and previously taught American foreign policy at Yale University. He is also the Editor-at-Large of The American Interest. In 2014, he joined the Hudson Institute as a Distinguished Scholar in American Strategy and Statesmanship.[2][3] He served as the Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations until 2010.[4] He is a co-founder of the New America Foundation, a think tank that has been described as "radical centrist" [clarification needed] in orientation.[5]

In 2003, he argued that an Iraq war was preferable to continuing UN sanctions against Iraq, because "Each year of containment is a new Gulf War",[6] and that "The existence of al Qaeda, and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are part of the price the United States has paid to contain Saddam Hussein."[6]


Mead oversees an influential daily blog, "Via Meadia", on the website of the journal American Interest. Via media is a Latin phrase meaning "the middle road" and is a philosophical maxim for life which advocates moderation in all thoughts and actions. In frequent posts throughout the day, he and Via Meadia's staff write about two primary areas. One is America's foreign policy and how well it is working in various situations throughout the world. The other is America's domestic state of affair, particularly the decline of what he terms the Blue Social Model of governing following World War II.[citation needed]

Additionally, he regularly writes for several journals, magazines and newspapers such as Foreign Affairs,[7] The New Yorker,[8] The Washington Post,[6] and The Wall Street Journal.[9] He is currently on the staff of Foreign Affairs as a book reviewer and on the editorial board of The American Interest.[10][11]


In 2001, Mead published Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How it Changed the World. It won the Lionel Gelber Award for the best book in English on International Relations in 2002. The Italian translation won the Premio Acqui Storia, an annual award for the most important historical book published. Special Providence,[12] which stemmed from an article originally published in the Winter 1999/2000 issue of The National Interest, "The Jacksonian Tradition," [13] describes the four main guiding philosophies that have influenced the formation of American foreign policy in history: the Hamiltonians, the Wilsonians, the Jeffersonians and the Jacksonians. The New Left Review praised the book as a 'robust celebration of Jacksonianism as it historically was... an admiring portrait of a tough, xenophobic folk community, ruthless to outsiders or deserters, rigid in its codes of honour and violence.'[14]

Not all critics praised the book, however. "Despite the hype surrounding the book, it ultimately challenges little," geographer Joseph Nevis wrote. "To the contrary, it reinforces the tired notion of U.S. exceptionalism. Thus, he [Mead] paints U.S. deployment of violence as inherently less brutal than that of Washington's enemies. In doing so, he sometimes grossly understates the human devastation wrought by the United States."[15]

In June 2005, he published Power, Terror, Peace and War: America's Grand Strategy in a World at Risk. The New York Times Book Review called him one of the "country's liveliest thinkers about America's role in the world." The book attempts to elaborate on Joseph Nye's "soft power" concept, adding the ideas of "sharp" power, "sticky" power, and "sweet" power, which together work towards "hegemonic power" and "harmonic convergence."[citation needed][clarification needed]

In October 2007, he published God and Gold: Britain, America, and the Making of the Modern World about the Anglo-American tradition of world power. The Economist,[16] The Financial Times[17] and The Washington Post[18] all listed God and Gold as one of the best non-fiction books of its year.


  1. ^ Catholic Education Resource Centre,
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Walter Russell Mead - Council on Foreign Relations (Archived)". Archived from the original on 2008-07-31. Retrieved 2010-12-08. 
  5. ^ Morin, Richard; Deane, Claudia (December 10, 2001). "Big Thinker. Ted Halstead's New America Foundation Has It All: Money, Brains and Buzz". The Washington Post, Style section, p. 1.
  6. ^ a b c "Deadlier Than WarRelations". Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  7. ^ "God's Country?". Foreign Affairs. 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  8. ^ Mead, Walter Russell (2009-01-07). "Mutually Assured Stupidity". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  9. ^ "Why We're in the Gulf". Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on February 29, 2008. Retrieved 2010-05-25. 
  10. ^ "Walter Russell Mead". Foreign Affairs. 
  11. ^ "The American Interest Masthead". The American Interest. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 
  12. ^ Nevins, Joseph (December 2003). "Imperialism Book Reviews". Z Magazine. Retrieved October 28, 2014. 
  13. ^ Mead, Walter Russell (December 1, 1999). "The Jacksonian Tradition". The National Interest. New York City (58, Winter 1999/2000). ISSN 0884-9382. OCLC 12532731. Archived from the original on May 5, 2009. Retrieved March 31, 2011. 
  14. ^ Mertes, Tom (November–December 2008). "Whitewashing Jackson". New Left Review. New Left Review. II (42). 
  15. ^ "'Special Providence': review by Joseph Nevins". Retrieved 2010-12-22. 
  16. ^ "Books of the Year 2007". The Economist. 2007-12-06. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  17. ^ "The Best Books of 2007". Retrieved 2010-07-25. 
  18. ^ "Best Books of 2008". Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-07-25. 

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