"These are no ordinary times. It will not be business as usual in a world of disarray; as a result, it cannot be foreign policy as usual," writes Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, in his latest book, A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order—a timely examination of a world increasingly defined by disorder. In three parts, the book contemplates the history of world order from the rise of the modern state system to the end of the Cold War; accounts for the momentous shifts in the last quarter century to shed light on the current state of affairs, and outlines specific steps to tackle the many challenges ahead.
Haass argues that the fundamental elements of world order that have served the world well since World War II have largely run their course. The Middle East is unraveling. Asia is threatened by China's rise and a reckless North Korea. Europe, for decades the world's most stable region, is staggering under the weight of prolonged low economic growth, anger over immigration, and a rise in populism and nationalism. He writes that the election of Donald J. Trump and the unexpected vote for "Brexit" signal that many in modern democracies reject globalization and international involvement, including borders open to trade and immigrants as well as a willingness to maintain alliances and overseas commitments. Add to these concerns the threats of terrorism, the spread of nuclear weapons, climate change, and cybersecurity, and "it is painfully evident that the twenty-first century will prove extremely difficult to manage," says Haass.
He makes the case that the world needs a new operating system—which he calls World Order 2.0—that reflects the reality that power is widely distributed and that borders count for less. One critical element of this adjustment will be adopting a new approach to sovereignty, one that embraces its obligations and responsibilities, as well as its rights and protections. Haass also details how the United States should act toward China and Russia, as well as in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Finally, he asserts that the United States needs to define national security more broadly, addressing what are normally thought of as domestic issues—from dysfunctional politics to mounting debt—as well as coming to an agreement on the nature of the United States' relationship with the rest of the world.
"A calm, reasoned look at the world today and America's foreign policy. . . . Haass writes with brisk authority here, moving fluently between discussions of larger dynamics (like the role that astute statesmen with an understanding of the nuances of diplomacy can play in forging peace, or preventing disaster) and the specifics of tangled relationships in hot spots like Syria and Afghanistan."
—New York Times
"A must-read for the new American president and all who are concerned by the state of the world and the prospect of things getting worse. Richard Haass takes the reader galloping through the last four centuries of history to explain how we got to where we are, and then offers an insightful and strategically coherent approach to coping with and managing the challenges before us. Practical and provocative: a book that sets the policy table."
—Robert M. Gates
"In a world where power has become decentralized and respects no borders, we need an updated operating system, one that provides a new method for conducting diplomacy. In this wise and historically grounded book, Richard Haass shows what we need to do at home and in our foreign policy to make this work. It's a brilliant approach for a troubled world."
"With bracing intellectual rigor and a sure feel for the realities of politics and of culture, Richard Haass offers us an invaluable window on a world, as he puts it, in disarray. A wise and engaging voice, Haass is always worth listening to—now more than ever."
"We live in an age when trends once thought irreversible—globalization, unipolarity, even democracy—have proven no longer to be. I know of no better guide through these upheavals and toward the new strategies they require than Richard Haass's A World in Disarray. It's essential for anyone trying to understand the new pivotal moment we all inhabit."
—John Lewis Gaddis
Richard N. Haass is in his fourteenth year as president of the Council on Foreign Relations, the preeminent independent, nonpartisan organization in the United States devoted to issues of foreign policy and international relations. He has served as the senior Middle East advisor to President George H. W. Bush and as a principal advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell. He was also U.S. coordinator for policy toward the future of Afghanistan and the U.S. envoy to both the Cyprus and Northern Ireland peace talks. A recipient of the State Department's Distinguished Honor Award, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and the Tipperary International Peace Award, Dr. Haass is also the author or editor of twelve books on U.S. foreign policy and one book on management. A Rhodes scholar, he holds the Master and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Oxford University. He was born in Brooklyn and lives in New York.
New York City, January 10, at the 92nd Street Y with Peggy Noonan
Washington, DC, January 18, at Politics and Prose Bookstore
Philadelphia, January 19, at the World Affairs Council
Chicago, January 23, at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
San Francisco, January 30, at the World Affairs Council of Northern California
Dallas, February 16, with the World Affairs Council of Dallas and Fort Worth
Houston, February 16, with the World Affairs Council of Greater Houston
New York City, February 23, at the New York Historical Society