This week, we asked Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, to answer eight questions for us about the "fiscal cliff," Israel, President Obama's recent cabinet nominations and more. Check out our conversation below.
1) For those not familiar with the CFR, what is the organization's primary mission?
Haass: The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. Less formally, CFR is in the business of generating and disseminating ideas, something we do through our many meetings in New York, Washington, and around the country; the research and analysis of our scholars; CFR-sponsored task forces; Foreign Affairs; and CFR.org.
2) The United States Congress came to an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff, but it was an issue that could have been resolved much sooner. A few days before the deal was reached, Sen. Chuck Schumer even called the inability to reach a deal up to that point, "embarrassing" on 'This Week." Does a situation of this sort damage the reputation of the United States on the international stage?
Haass: The short answer is yes. The obvious inability of the American political system to deal with the structural challenge of growing indebtedness dilutes the appeal of the American political and economic model and, more fundamentally, of democracy and capitalism. It makes other countries and societies less likely to follow either the lead of Washington or its example. It also leaves the United States vulnerable to the vagaries of markets and the agendas of central bankers. And it could mean that the country will not have the resources required to lead and act effectively in the world.