A World in Disarray

American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order

CFR President Richard N. Haass argues for an updated global operating system to address challenges from terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons to climate change and cyberspace.

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

Read an excerpt of A World in Disarray.

In a new afterword to the paperback edition, Richard Haass looks at developments over the past year (2017) and argues the world is in greater disarray than it was a year ago, in no small part because of the foreign policy of the Trump administration.

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"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.

Educators: Access Teaching Notes for A World in Disarray.

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Reviews and Endorsements

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.

Walter Isaacson

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 tonow more than ever.

Jon Meacham

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

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