Richard Haass: The Opportunity to Define an Era
Richard Haass, the former director of Policy Planning in the U. S. State Department, and now president of the Council on Foreign Relations, proposes a realistic yet optimistic foreign policy to turn the dangers of today into a new and promising era of cooperation, without abandoning vital American policies. With some changes of emphasis, he argues, present hazards offer an opportunity to define a more realistic, integrated balance not only of power but also of the forces of order and the forces of disorder. The Opportunity, a deeply informed and levelheaded assessment of the raging firestorms in a globalized world community, evaluates the political, military, and economic forces that define the current Zeitgeist, and proposes ways to harness them in a more stabilized order. In sum, Haass supports the Bush Doctrine, but suggests less trust in transplanting democracy and more trust in multilateral efforts to promote international security and comity. The burden of his argument, however, rests on a variation of American goals and policies.
The Opportunity, moreover, provides a guidebook for alert non-specialists subjected to a cacophony of sound bites and distracting partisan yipping. Haass examines geopolitical circumstances, issues, historical backgrounds, economic pressures, and evolving major power relations lucidly and convincingly. If his policies have a pedigree, they would descend from George Kennan and Henry Kissinger, with an overlay of Colin Powell.
After appraising the potential for greater international integration promoted by adjusted American power and persuasion, Haass closes Opportunity with the chapter "The Necessity," a warning that catastrophic scenarios may follow foreign policy failures. He reminds readers what they know or suspect since 9/11 and since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989: that America is vulnerable; that Iran and North Korea and al Qaeda, wheth...