The World: How Worried Should You Be?

The World: How Worried Should You Be?

Don Pollard

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U.S. Foreign Policy

International Relations

from Religion and Foreign Policy Workshop

Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, discusses the current state of the world and top challenges in U.S. foreign policy, with Juju Chang, coanchor of ABC News' Nightline moderating, as part of the 2018 CFR Religion and Foreign Policy Workshop.

Learn more about CFR’s Religion and Foreign Policy Program. 

CHANG: Good evening, everyone. I’m Juju Chang. I am one of the co-anchors of ABC News’ Nightline. And I’m so thrilled to be here with you tonight. And I’m hoping that you will do the heavy lifting, because I will have a short Q&A with Richard Haass, and then we’ll open the floor to questions from you. And I just want to welcome you and thank you for traveling from all over the country to be here for the Twelfth Religion and Foreign Policy workshop which, as you know, is the highlight for the Council’s Religion and Foreign Policy Program.

After all that faith-based costuming at the Met Gala last night, I feel delighted to be here with the faith-based thought leadership and with all of you tonight. But I have to start by saying that Richard has some remarks that he would like to share with you about the program, and then we’ll dive into some Q&A. So, Richard.

HAASS: Thank you, Juju. Thank you all. Great to see so many of you back here again.

I’m going to be very brief. This is not a filibuster. (Laughter.) And for those of you, though, who don’t know who we are, the Council on Foreign Relations, we’ve been around for nearly a century. We’re independent. For example, we will not accept any financial support from any government. We are genuinely nonpartisan. We run the gamut from left to right and back again. We are something of a hybrid. We’re a think tank. We’ve got a large studies staff. We’re a publisher. We publish Foreign Affairs magazine, which is the leading journal in the field, as well as two websites. And if you don’t spend a little bit of time on or, you are denying yourselves what are, I think, objectively the leading resource about the world and this country’s relationship with the world.

We’re also increasingly an educational institution. About ten years ago we made the decision that it was important to be a source of analysis and a resource for the American government, the corporate leadership, journalists such as Juju, and others. All that was necessary, but not sufficient. And that we’re increasingly in the business of trying to see that our citizens are better informed than they are, because otherwise democracy does not thrive. And we’re aimed at students at the high school and college level. We are aimed at governors and mayors and people who work with them. We’re aimed at journalists, but not only those who are with the major networks in the major cities, but people who are working for small newspapers or websites or radio and TV stations scattered around the country. But—and yourselves. And the whole idea, again, is to be a resource. And we’re not a news organization, but we are an analysis organization. And that is what we try to do. And increasingly, that’s a bigger and bigger chunk of our time.

You are really important to us. Not just, though, for these two days. And that’s kind of my point. It’s great to have you here and we look forward to it every year. It’s one of the highlights for us, hopefully for you. We all respect and understand the role that religion plays in the world. I know it painfully well. I was the U.S. envoy to Cyprus. I was the U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland. I have mediated in the Middle East. And I’ve mediated in South Asia. The one consistent factor of all of that is my career is totally untainted by any sign of success. (Laughter.) I am determined to—or at least, likely to keep it that way. But we’d also like to think of you—and for you to think of us as a resource for you.

And when you speak to your congregants and communicate with your congregants, I think it’s really important to talk about the world and its importance to Americans—for religious reasons, yes, but for other reasons as well. For interests of humanitarian benefit, peace, prosperity, opportunity, equality, freedom. Things that we all hold dear in the world don’t just happen by themselves. In many cases, they’ve happened in large part because of the efforts either of the U.S. government or Americans operating through NGOs, charities, faith-based organizations, and the like. So we very much see you as partners in raising the salience of these issues and raising understanding of these issues.

My only other request is that if there’s ways that we can do this in more effective ways, if we, if you will can be a richer resource for you, over your shyness—I know that afflicts this crowd more than most, worried about public speaking and the like—(laughter)—and let us know. Let us know what we can do to—because, again, this is a priority for me and it is a priority for us. So, again, thank you for being here. Juju, thank you. And I’m all yours.

CHANG: I’m going to start with a little bit of housekeeping. First of all, this conversation is on the record, and will later be available on the website. CFR would like to thank the Ford Foundation for its support of this program. So that should be duly noted. They’ve put together some timely agenda items—everything from immigration to religious literacy in global affairs, to faith, poverty, social action, social justice, you name it. This is going to run the gamut.

The topic is: How worried you should be about the state of the world. So that’s a pretty broad discussion.

HAASS: I would just say it’s good you all believe in prayer. (Laughter.)

CHANG: Right. (Laughs.) And full disclosure, as a Jew by choice, I just sense so much moral authority in this room I’m intimidated to even begin this conversation. But as they say in the news business, let’s begin with some breaking news, which is the Iran deal. It happened today. And we wanted to get your insights. I know President Obama weighed in, having said previously that he would only weigh in where America’s core values are at stake. Your assessment?

HAASS: Yeah. For those of you who did not have access to a television screen, early this afternoon President Trump went out and essentially did a version of what he said he was going to do. And he announced that the United States was pulling out of what’s fondly called the JCPOA, the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, so to speak. And he attributed it mainly to what he saw as the flaws in the deal, certain shortcomings in it. And he felt that for the United States to stay within the agreement would, over time, be more dangerous than for the United States to leave. And he was very worried about—that the deal did not preclude down the road Iran amassing many of the prerequisites of a nuclear weapons program. Very worried in the meantime about all Iran was doing to promote terrorism or sow instability in the—in the Middle East. Worried about its ballistic missile programs and so forth. And towards the end, he also made an appeal to the Iranian people.

At the risk of making a long story short, I agree that there are flaws in the deal. But in particular some of the—what’s called the sunset provisions, some of the constraints which expire. I don’t think the fact that the deal doesn’t do everything is a flaw. You rarely solve all dimensions of a problem. If you’re lucky, you can make some of them less bad or better. And we had all sorts of limited or narrow agreements with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. They didn’t end geopolitical competition as we knew it, but we did place some limits or constraints on, say, the nuclear competition. So I think there’s nothing, per se, bad about narrow agreements. I think, again, the concern about what happens after these limits expire—limits on centrifuges and enriched uranium and the like, are legitimate. But I believe there are other ways to have dealt with them closer to the time these limits expired.

CHANG: I’m curious, Richard. President Obama said—called it misguided and called it a mistake, said it was going to erode America credibility. I mean, talk a bit about that.

HAASS: Sure. Yeah, I think—so beyond whatever specifics about the deal and all that, because it does bring to the fore what would have been a potential crisis in a decade or two is now going to be a crisis now, quite possibly. But I do think it reinforces the impression that the United States is no longer reliable, that when we sign agreements we don’t necessarily keep them. If you’re an ally, by definition, you’ve put your security in our hands. And this further raises questions about our dependability and predictability. And I think it’s part of a larger pattern where this administration essentially looked at the last seventy years of American foreign policy—what people like me call the liberal world order—these institutions and rules and norms, and basically said: We don’t buy it. And there’s been a pattern of withdrawal from agreements.

The phrase I use, somewhat controversially, is abdication. We have essentially abdicated our traditional role. And the president believes we’ll be better off as a disruptor. I do not share that belief. I hope I’m wrong. The good news is I’m wrong a considerable percentage of the time. But I fear in this case I will not be wrong. And I worry, both about the immediate results, both in the region as well as in the U.S.-European relations which were already stretched—but, again, I worry about the larger fabric of America’s relationship with the world. And I think this further stretches it.

CHANG: I want to move your spotlight to another area of the world, namely the Korean Peninsula. It seems as though—

HAASS: You’re just back.

CHANG: You’re right. I’m just back. It seems almost as if peace and broken out on the Korean Peninsula. And I’m just back from a reporting trip there. And spoke to a lot of North Korean defectors. And was really struck by how the faith-based organizations here in the United States have affected the conversation, the policy, really raising the voice of human rights concerns. Your thoughts on the region.

HAASS: It’s interesting. You know, we see where things are. And, quite honestly, nobody thought they would be where they are. I mean, Secretary of State Pompeo is on his way now to North Korea—I believe. Was it South Korea or North Korea, or both?

CHANG: Wheels up from South Korea, I thought.

HAASS: No, I thought he’s on his—

CHANG: Way there? Wheels up on his way there.

HAASS: On his way there.

CHANG: Yeah.

HAASS: But basically, to preplan the summit. And the fact that we are this close to having a summit, and I think it’s more likely than not we’ll have one. And think about the last six weeks. You’ve had Kim Jong-un meeting with this South Korean counterpart, meeting with President Xi of China. So lots going on.

But there’s two completely different camps or schools of thought explaining how we got here. It’s really interesting. Every once in a while, this business gets really interesting. There’s one school of thought that says it’s the pressure we put on North Korea, the rhetorical pressure, the threats of war, above all the economic pressure with the sanctions that the Security Council has endorsed and, to a significant degree, implemented. And that this has forced North Korea to the negotiating table. And people who think that say if we keep the pressure on, there’s a good chance we can get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons and its ballistic missiles. There is camp two, which basically says the only reason we are where we are is that North Korea had tested its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to a degree that it felt confident in them, thought it had sent a message about its capabilities, and was not prepared to negotiation not to give them up, but basically from a position of strength.

We can argue which one of these two schools of thought is right. we will know soon enough. But I think this has real consequences for what is likely to be achieved or not. And I just think that this summit is a massive roll of the dice because one can imagine the United States having ambitious goals, being rebuffed, and then people will say, wow, we tried diplomacy. That didn’t work. Now we got to try something else. And I can imagine also the United States—you know, when North Korea says, well, we’ll consider doing some things, but only if you put other things on the table. And some of these things could, for example, deal with the American military presence on the Korean Peninsula, or what have you. Suddenly you—this could go in lots of different directions. So I’m by nature slightly a pessimist. By the way, I recommend pessimism for everybody here. Either things turn out badly and you can say I told you so, or things turn out well in which case things turn out well. (Laughter.) So as a pessimist, I really recommend it as a default option. But I am a pessimist here. I’m a skeptic. I hope I’m wrong, again, but we’ll know soon enough.

CHANG: If history is any guide, clearly pessimism is warranted—or, at least skepticism. What about faith-based organizations and their role in not just—like, in Korea over the years, it’s been, like, responding to humanitarian crises, to famine, but also to the human rights abuses and gulags.

HAASS: I think—I think it’s totally legitimate. Indeed, look, there’s a humanitarian, by definition—to the extent one can deliver humanitarian help and it’s not stolen by governments and given to armed forces, I think it’s exactly what ought to happen. I think this question of, you know, while you’re negotiating with North Korea, good example, to what extent do we emphasize nuclear issues, security issues, or human rights issues? You know, arguably hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of North Korean people have lost their lives over the decades. And to what extent are we to put that on the agenda? We were talking about Iran a minute ago, about narrow versus broad agendas.

And I think—so, but the answer is also the government doesn’t have to do everything. I think there’s a case here there can be something of a division of labor. So I think it’s totally appropriate and valuable for certain organizations that they make this the centerpiece of their work. It doesn’t mean the State Department has to necessarily make it co-equal, say, with denuclearization or dealing with artillery shells, but I think it’s totally right, in this part of the world as well as in other parts of the world.

Particularly now. Let me make an added comment. This is an administration that’s made the decision that promotion of democracy and expression of concerns for human rights will not be a priority. Indeed, they’re barely on the agenda. I describe the administration’s foreign policy in many cases as amoral. Not immoral, but amoral. And I think that leaves an enormous space. I think it’s—I think that’s an error, even though I’m something of realist. But I think it’s got to be part of what we do in the world. So I think actually it’s created an enormous opening, opportunity, choose your word, for faith-based groups and others to become the advocates for this dimension of international relations.

CHANG: Let’s turn to a completely different topic, which is climate change. Clearly faith-based organizations in many ways are the stewards of nature’s bounty.

HAASS: Absolutely.

CHANG: And wondering—again, in those—under those frameworks of humanitarian disaster relief or climate change refugees, or just the issue of climate change and policies that might protect the planet—what do you think are effective steps forward?

HAASS: Well, again, it’s almost a similar situation, in the sense that here you have an administration that challenges the science, that has taken the United States out of the Paris climate accord, and basically is not contributing to global efforts. And the EPA is rolling back many regulations. What’s interesting is the United States will either meet or come close to meeting its climate goals at Paris. Why? Because American corporations, mayors, governors, and the rest will meet a lot of targets because they see it as either in their financial—business self-interest, or political self-interest, or moral self-interest to do so. Again, it’s another reminder that foreign policy is not—to put it a different way, the government doesn’t have a monopoly over America’s relationship with the world, the federal government. There are lots of other actors—states, cities, groups like yourselves, corporations, individuals.

Now, look, my view about climate is it’s a moral issue. Last I checked, God did create the heavens and the Earth, and we’ve got to be careful. We are stewards of them and we have to hand it off to future generations. I think there’s all sort of more immediate self-interest, from concerns about health—so the front-page stories the other day in the newspapers about the growth of all these diseases and insects that are a real threat, Lyme disease and other things. There’s economic consequences, security consequences. So I think the stakes are enormous.

And again, I think for whatever set of reasons—Juju mentioned climate refugees. It’s going to be a—it’s already a growing security and humanitarian concern. And particularly in Africa, which is one of the two parts of the world that is slated for massive population increases, the other being South Asia where, again, you have climate issues. So, yeah, I think this needs to be on the agenda. And I think that groups, you know, such as those you’re associated with in faith, need to—need to find their voice even more on this issue.

CHANG: How do faith-based organizations animate the kind of action that might be needed in the issue of, say, migration? There are populations on the move, whether it’s, you know, in Myanmar to Bangladesh, you know, leaving Syria, leaving all sorts of conflict zones or, you know—

HAASS: Right. Let’s distinguish between, on one hand, economic migrants.

CHANG: Right.

HAASS: There’s probably several hundred million people in the world who choose to move at one time or another for economic reasons. Let’s put—let’s put those aside. But right now, one out of every 100 people in the world—one out of every hundred—60-65 million, plus or minus, just below that, is either a refugee or internally displaced, is homeless. It’s an extraordinary number. And I think it’s—again, it’s a humanitarian issue, but it’s also a strategic issue. You know, look at the pressure Syria—you know, Syria—more than half the population of Syria is either homeless or refugees. Think of the pressure, not just on those people obviously, but on Syria’s neighbors—Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey. Venezuela now is hemorrhaging somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 people a month—a month! Think of the pressure that is putting on its neighbors.

So I think there’s obviously a humanitarian situation here, but there’s also a strategic situation. I think it’s made worse by the fact that we, ourselves, have essentially pulled up the drawbridge in this country. We are not playing our traditional role in taking in refugees. I think it’s extraordinarily unfortunate. I think the security arguments are dramatically, dramatically overblown. But so be it. So, again, I think there’s been ways we can help others pick up the slack and help pick up the burden. And, again, I think it’s one of those areas where the humanitarian and the strategic come together. So I think the case for doing something is enormous.

CHANG: And talk a bit about immigration policy here in the U.S. and under the same rubric.

HAASS: Yeah. I disagree profoundly. I look at the history of immigration in this country, I think it’s been one of the reasons we’ve been as successful as we are. Look at the—look at the pedigree of the people who are at the Fortune 100, 200, 500. Look at their last names. Look at how many are either immigrants or the children or grandchildren of immigrants. So immigration has been a major driver. I also think it’s part of what makes us who we are. I mean, I look around this room. And I look up on this stage. We are the—(laughter)—we are who we are. I mean, we’re one of the few societies where we can be different, we can be heterogeneous, and we can still—we can still, in a sense, be liberal, in the classic sense, as coexist peacefully, and embrace tolerance, and be economically successful, and be in a thriving democracy.

And I think the power of example is one of the most important dimensions of foreign policy. And diplomats, again, to use a phrase I used before, diplomats don’t have a monopoly on foreign policy. And the example we set is one of the most powerful tools of foreign policy that we have at our disposal. And we’re living in a world of greater illiberalism. The phrase we often use now is a democratic deficit. We see democracy receding in China, receding obviously in Russia and Turkey, dramatically so, Philippines, Eastern Europe, quite sad. A generation after Eastern Europe gets liberated, we’re now seeing several countries in Eastern Europe become far more authoritarian. And our own country. The judiciary, the media are under pressure as rarely before. So I think it’s important that—both, you know, I think, to make sure democracy is robust here as an end in itself, but also as an example. I think there’s a—there’s something for all of us to do. That’s where, again, as citizens, I do think we have a role.

CHANG: A Jew, born in Seoul, Korea, just FYI. Immigrated at the age of four.

You alluded to this idea of a growing isolationism, if not intolerance. And obviously these are religious leaders, and lay leaders, and faith-based organizations. How does—how does one leverage the moral authority to counter perhaps some of the intolerance, some of the—you know, the white nationalism that we’ve seen spill out, or the, you know, antisemitism that we’ve seen trickle out?

HAASS: Yeah. I think there’s two things that need to be pushed back on. One is what you’re just suggesting, Juju, which there is illiberalism, to use a generous word, prejudice, racism, antisemitism, sexism—go through the -isms. And we’ve seen them come out of the wood work in this country and around the world. We see it in large parts of Europe, what we thought of as the liberal societies, if you will, of the modern era. And I think they are—there’s got to be, shall we say, no tolerance for intolerance. There’s my bumper sticker. People need to delegitimize it and all that. I think, though, we also have to understand, in some cases, where it comes from—whether it’s economic insecurity, or political unease, or social anxieties. And those issues are not going to go away.

And one thing we’ve just done a big study on here is on the future of technology and its implications for work. Millions and millions of jobs in this country are going to disappear as a result of artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous vehicles, what have you. That’s only going to increase the pressures. And people are going to be looking for scapegoats. And we see it with some of the intolerance towards immigration, some of the—some of the opposition to trade and the scapegoating phenomenon. And I think that partially then we have to, one, push back against, again intolerance, and bigotry, and all the other ones.

Two, we’ve also got to educate. And I think you’re in some ways—who better to educate? If you look at the numbers of people who enter into houses of worship in this country every week, far more than enter into schools. So you’re in some ways the principal educators in this—in this country. And who better to explain the connections between what goes on out there and what happens here, in both directions—the good that we can do in the world and also, in some ways, the ill that the world can do us. And I think the case for American—obviously, it’s elective, obviously it’s got to be concerted, hopefully even in lane—but for American global involvement and, I would say leadership, I think is pretty strong.

CHANG: I wanted to ask a question about violent extremism, often in the name of if not theology than others. I mean, we’re talking obviously about Islam, but also about Buddhist monks in Myanmar. Your thoughts.

HAASS: I mean, it’s real. It’s—I don’t know what the right word is, whether it’s a perversion of religious faith, a distortion of it. I’m not quite sure what the—but in any case, it seems to me it’s wildly inconsistent with what these religions have to teach. Again, one has—I think a lot of it, it has to be delegitimized. That’s what’s so frustrating about what’s going on Myanmar, or Burma if you prefer, which is when one looks to leaders like Aung San Suu Kyi, and she disappoints. And one doesn’t see exactly the kind of person who one would have hoped would have appealed to people—almost like Jon Meacham, it’s the title of his new book—appeal to the better angels, and hope that people don’t fall prey to that. And that’s been a major disappointment.

We’ve seen, what, you know, enormous numbers of people be pushed out and lose their rights and so forth. The Middle East, obviously it’s been far more violent and far more broadly based. And I think the lesson is it doesn’t go away. This idea that you defeat or eliminate terrorism, it shows to me a colossal misunderstanding of it. This is an open-ended problem. You got to fight it in lots of ways. But one of the ways—you know, you can’t just fight it with guns. You can’t—you know, I don’t often agree with former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld, but he did have a point, which is he said you can’t win this effort, this war so to speak, by simply killing people, because there’ll always be new recruits.

So you’ve got to break into the recruiting chain. You’ve got to convince—and it’s mainly young men—that there’s better career choices, and that this is a really bad career choice. And that gets into the question of the quality of education, it gets into parenting, it gets into, again, religious leaders who either legitimize or delegitimize certain types of—certain types of behaviors.

CHANG: I want to go to you now, hear from you in the audience. There are microphones. I’ve been instructed to tell you to identify yourself and your organization. Someone will come to you—you, with your hand up—somebody will come to you with the microphone. And let’s get this party started.

HAASS: Yeah. This has been really slow up to now—(laughter)—so could we please pick it up here?

CHANG: (Laughs.) Yeah, exactly. Who has the microphone. OK, you want to start here? Just for proximity’s sake.

HAASS: We have some microphones over here too.

CHANG: Yeah, yeah.

HAASS: OK, good.

GILCHRIST: I’m Jim Gilchrist from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Seminary.

Amy Chua’s new book on political tribes suggests that the problem runs deeper, that tribalism is primal, it’s been there for a long time, it’s deeply rooted, and that a lot of the failures in American foreign policy in recent decades have been due, in part, to the failure to recognize the depth of tribalism. I wonder if you could comment on that thesis? Do you think that’s right? And to the extent that it’s right, what do you do about that?

HAASS: Well, my enthusiasm for the thesis is constrained. (Laughter.) How’s that?

CHANG: Very nice.

HAASS: Finally learning to be a diplomat. (Laughter.) The—

CHANG: It’s never too late, Richard.

HAASS: Thank you. Look, I think part of it comes from our education system, which doesn’t teach these issues for the most part. You can graduate from virtually any American college or university, even the elite schools, and if you navigate your course requirements and distribution requirements just right, you will be unexposed to these issues. That’s just a fact of—so I don’t think people appreciate the significance of either what we have done for the world, and as a result what the world has done for us. The last 70 years have been remarkably good to this country—remarkably good. This is an unprecedented stretch of history. And it didn’t just happen. Very little that’s good just happens. And so I don’t think that tribalism is somehow this unresistible force.

I understand how in times of economic and social anxiety people are more likely to move in that direction. I understand how in a global world people could feel slightly unanchored. So to me, it’s—when I—you know, whether the appeals are populist or nationalist, and the—like, I don’t think it’s inevitable. And I think it’s important to push back. But I take it seriously. And I think, quite honestly, Donald Trump has tapped into it. I mean, he didn’t just get elected because he’s a talented politician, though he is. He was tapping into something broad and deep. And, by the way, one of the lessons of that is that whenever he departs from the political scene—whether it’s in three years, seven years, or whenever—one shouldn’t assume that Trumpism and these forces and this following disappears with him. It won’t. These are real.

And, what I mentioned before, if what I’m saying about technology turns out to be so, these populist forces can grow even more. So to me, it puts real pressure on system to deliver, because when people give up on, if you will, what traditional politics and economic can deliver, then they will turn to more extreme forms, including they’ll rally around, if you will, tribal loyalty. So to me, it’s—we’ve got deliver. And this means coming up with better education and training, so people can navigate this high-technology dynamic world we are moving in. It means if we don’t do something about the dysfunctionality of Washington politics, people will be totally alienated. So, again, I don’t think it’s inevitable, but I think it’s the result of conditions we have allowed to grow up and persist.

CHANG: On this side. Yes, right here.

ADBUL-GHAFUR: Salaamu alaikum, peace and blessings, on everyone here. Happy to be here. And I watch you on GPS a lot.

I wanted to ask, two weeks ago I attended the opening of the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial on Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. And sitting this group of religious leaders, I wonder what you think—there’s so much unfinished business in our country right here. And this notion of truth and reconciliation, which has global implications, you know, it’s modeled on the Holocaust Museum in Berlin and the Apartheid Museum in South Africa. And, you know, Bryan Stevenson who did it, it was such a great way of showing the definitive link between slavery, Jim Crow, and mass incarceration, and the status that we see in this country. I would be curious to hear your feedback on how faith leaders can impact and move this conversation forward substantively, because we really haven’t yet in this country.

HAASS: Again, let me make a general point, then I’ll zero in on your important question. One is, we have—societies have got to deal with their pasts. I spent an enormous amount of time in Northern Ireland, unsuccessfully for the most part, trying to get the Protestant and Catholic communities to deal with the legacy of the past and the three decades of The Troubles. And my view was that unless people came to terms with the legacy of the past, there would be—you wouldn’t have normal societies. You take Northern Ireland, you still have 90 percent of the young people going to single-tradition schools. Neighborhoods are still what we would call segregated. Indeed, the word for multi-tradition schools is integrated education, which there is a religious concept and a tradition concept rather than a racial one.

And my concern is that if young people aren’t exposed to these things, the chance that history in one form or another could repeat itself are way too real. So I am committed to learning the past. And I think the same thing applies to our society. Actually, I went—the other night I watched the Ruth Bader Ginsburg—I saw your husband there. And it was to—I was—what is the word—I guess, taken aback by how little I knew of her story. What I didn’t realize was that Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the Thurgood Marshall of gender equality in this country. She was the one who argued the half-dozen or so critical cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. So her career didn’t begin with her as a judge and then she—a justice on the court. She was an extraordinary lawyer coming out of academics—Rutgers and other places where she was.

And, in part, by the way, because she couldn’t get hired by a law firm—(laughter)—interestingly, because of—so it just showed me, again, how little—I’m supposedly fairly well education—and how little that—so I’ve learned not to take any of that for granted, which again gets me to your role as educators. I think if the last year’s taught us anything, it’s don’t assume anything. Don’t assume it, whether it’s knowledge bases, or attitudes, or values. So I think that you have got to be among the principal teachers of this society. And you’ve got a great, literally, pulpit. So I think you’ve got to use it. And I think you’ve got to use it, as they say voting in Chicago, early and often. (Laughter.)

CHANG: Let’s go to the middle of the room, just for fairness. Is there a microphone? Yeah, yeah. Right there. Perfect.

MUJAHID: I’m Malik Mujahid from Chicago.

HAASS: I’ve already offended one person. (Laughter.)

MUJAHID: Yes. I’m an imam there, and currently chair a new coalition, Interfaith Coalition to Stop Genocide in Burma. You mentioned, if I heard you right, a moral foreign policy. Probably you’re referring to the United States. Are there other country emerging with a little bit more foreign policy? And French president is the only one who called what’s happening in Myanmar or Burma a genocide. Germany took a million people who left Syria. So are there some other people in the western hemisphere who are emerging as a little bit more moral leader, as America is lost in Twitter world and U.K. in Brexit, and all of that?

HAASS: Well, I won’t get into the comparisons, but I take your point. I think the French president has in some ways emerged as close as we now have to a leader of the West. I’m not sure how much West we have anymore, but President Macron clearly has set out a vision for the EU and for Europe and has clearly taken the lead in articulating how we ought to respond to certain international crises. And I think that’s an example of somebody who senses something of a vacuum and is trying to fill it. The British are distracted by Brexit. We have a different—our president doesn’t embrace or endorse some of those more traditional postures. The German chancellor is weakened by the political process there.

The problem facing President Macron is France is a medium-sized power and there’s limits to what it can do, particularly without partners. But there’s other countries. I was just in Canada. I think Canada’s prepared to step up in certain ways. Several of the countries I mentioned, Venezuela, some of the neighbors there are stepping up. So I think there’s others who can do more, but I don’t think there’s any country that’s willing and able to put its feet in the shoes of the United States. I simply don’t think there’s a substitute there. Plus, there’s forces going in the other direction. So I worry about the quality of a world in which the United States does less of what it’s traditionally done, even if others selectively—and I don’t disagree with the example you stated—are prepared and able to do more.

CHANG: The Vatican?

HAASS: I think the Vatican is limited in part because it’s not a nation-state. I also think it’s got—it’s somewhat got its own challenges, both its own administration of its own issues. And it’s—I think it’s tricky when it comes to the Vatican trying to play a role in the political world. I think it’s always—when it gets overtly—so I think it has to—I’m not saying it shouldn’t. But I just think it—you know, Pope John II was obviously critical. But I think it has to expect then pushback when it gets involved in—it can’t expect special treatment at the same time it gets heavily involved in the political space.

CHANG: In the back, yes, with the hand up. Yep.

ANDRUS: Thank you. I’m Marc Andrus from the left coast. I’m the Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of California.

I’d like to return to climate change. I mean, we are there. We don’t have to return to it. You really helpfully brought us to the realization of the We’re Still In movement. But you didn’t mention faith bodies in the list of partners. But they are. Starting with Paris, Governor Brown, and again in Bonn, mentioned in two public speeches the importance of faith bodies in climate action. And they’ve now been listed as formal partners—along with businesses, cities, states and regions, and tribes—in achieving the We’re Still In goal, which is the U.S. commitment to the Paris agreement.

The phrase, though, is raising ambition. And I wonder if you could speak to that. the idea is that there are millions and millions of people of faith working at grassroots level, but we haven’t raised the ambition to the level of denominations and religions in many cases. So I wonder if you would speak to that. Thank you.

HAASS: OK. If I didn’t mention faith-based groups it was an oversight. I beg your forgiveness.

I think—sorry, when you used the phrase about ambition I thought you were going somewhere else, unless we’re in the same place, which is one of the problems of the Paris agreement, I mean, even if it’s fulfilled in full, it still—the world still comes up seriously short, several degrees centigrade. So I believe, you know, for the—you know, it’s interesting. The administration thinks Paris is too much. I think it’s too little. And I think we do need to set our sights higher. My guess is we also—we exaggerate the costs of going—to meeting Paris goals dramatically, and we underestimate the benefits. Look already the rate of technological innovation with solar, with wind, batteries, autonomous vehicles, green technology across the board. Meeting climate—more ambitious climate goals turns out to be an additive for the economy, not a subtractive cost.

I also think there’s an enormous market overseas for these things. So it’s interesting, China understands us. Look at their investment in solar. We ought to be doing much more ourselves. So I like the fact that—I mean, by the way, I should congratulate you from California. I just read the other day that California, if it were an independent country, now would be number five in the world in GDP. It just passed the U.K. So congratulations. This is not encouragement for you to secede. I should probably also point that out. (Laughter.) You don’t need any more encouragement to do that. But the—but what we’re seeing at state, local, various firms, faith-based groups—students. When I go to campuses, this issue galvanizes young people on campuses like few others. And it makes sense. Who has more self-interest in the future of the planet than people who are 20 years old, whose lives are essentially going to be 21st century lives? So I actually think this is an area where the politicians are lagging far behind. And I think—you know, so, yeah, my sense is raise the ambitions and raise the general level of awareness.

CHANG: Yes, right there in the center.

JOHNSTON: Doug Johnston with the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy.

HAASS: Where is that based?

JOHNSTON: Washington. Yeah. It seems to me that one of the deeper lessons out of this Iran business is the fact that if you don’t want future presidents to make these kinds of decisions, you do the hard work of making a treaty out of it and getting Senate ratification. And my question is, do you think that had the Obama administration been willing to do that hard work, would it have been possible to get ratification?

HAASS: The short answer is no. The reason that so many international agreements are not treaties, and there’s a phrase, IAOTT, international agreements other than treaties, is because it’s so hard to get the requisite vote for a treaty. So you either do things so you get simple majority votes in the two chambers of the Congress or, increasingly, we have government by the executive branch. And I think it’s unfortunate that that happens. And I think it detracts from the consistency or staying power of the United States. On the other hand, I understand that because Congress is so dysfunctional. And if we look at—certainly in the House, how it’s been gerrymandered, it’s often unrepresentative, it’s polarized. We look at the—this is now, shall we say, the Senate that the founding fathers necessarily envisioned, so—in some ways for better, in some ways for worse.

So my guess is, administrations will continue to not do important things by treaty. I think they’re more likely to do things where they need majority votes by executive—by executive agreement, where Congress endorses those. And I think that’s probably more reasonable. I think getting the higher hurdle of the treaty—I understand why the framers put them in there, because their imagination was that treaties would be singularly important. But it also makes it singularly impossible in many cases. Indeed, there’s almost an inverse relationship. You kind of have treaties on things like shrimp quotas, but you can’t get treaties on really—on important matters of life and death. And that tells you all you need to know.


MARKULY: Hi. Mark Markuly, Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry.

You’ve kind of challenged us to use our pulpits and our classrooms to kind of teach what you—what we really need to teach in order to kind of move forward progressively with values that many of us in this room share. I’d like to take a little bit different direction, thought. I’m wondering—you started out in your monologue talking about your ineffectiveness in some of the areas in which you’ve tried to craft diplomatic solutions to problems. And I’m wondering, every place you mentioned has a very complicated religious reality, culturally and societally. I’m wondering how prepared do you think the U.S. government, as our diplomatic core, in analyzing those variables—the religious ideas, the religious questions, practices that shape the emotional and social reactions people have to the way we communicate with them?

HAASS: My hunch is we’re not as prepared as we ought to be. If I could train—if I could add—it’s almost like a recipe. Take three of these and two of those, and all that. If I could add two things to the recipe of diplomatic training, one would be greater exposure to history. And the other would be greater exposure to local cultures. And when—I’ve written several books on the use of force and war. And one of the consistent themes, whether it Vietnam or Iraq, we get into trouble when we don’t understand what really makes a culture and a society tick. We really set ourselves up, I think, for failure, and particularly if our goal is to somewhat change a society, that we’re not just fighting a battlefield war but we’re fighting a war for the hearts and minds, and we want to nation build or transform, or whatever word you want to use. You do that at your peril if you don’t understand exactly what you are wading into and what is the potential to succeed, and where you’re likely to encounter resistance.

CHANG: Let’s come to this side. Yes, sir, in front. Another up front. And then we’ll go to the back.

GANDHI: My name is Homi Gandhi. And I’m president of Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America, known as FEZANA.

I just came back from Iran. And there were a couple of others also in this group who were with me. And we met quite a lot of people at cultural level, at university level. And they were questioning America’s promises, which have been given in treaties, or whatever you call it. They don’t understand the differences between a treaty and all that. How do we explain that? That’s my question. I’ll follow up with another question, but, OK.

HAASS: I’ll let you decide if follow-ups are allowed.

CHANG: (Laughs.)

HAASS: Look, I think there’s—from the Iranian point of view, there’s a degree of frustration of bad faith with the joint agreement of 2015. They believe that some of the economic benefits they were promised have not accrued to them because of American pressures against certain type of economic interaction with them. We have the concerns that the president articulated today. Look, you’ve got a—that just, to me, is a reality. You’ve got this environment or context of extraordinary mistrust. And by the way, it didn’t begin with this agreement. It does back to—you know, the Iranians having—it’s really interesting. In so many diplomatic situations, each side has its litany. So when I would deal with the Iranians, you’d hear about Mossadegh in the early ’50s, and he shah. And we would talk about the embassy and the hostages in Iran, or then in Lebanon, and terrorism acts. And this is true of almost all of these long-standing diplomatic divides. They each—I’m not—and I don’t say it to diminish either the truth of it or the significance of it, but it’s part of the hurdle here. So it doesn’t surprise me that you—that you encountered that.

GANDHI: My second question is—

CHANG: Oh, sure.

GANDHI: Just follow up. Many times I’ve been asked the questions by my community that—you talk about whether there’s a larger minorities—larger minorities of a major religion are being sent out—like in Myanmar, the Islamists. But if something happens to Zoroastrians, and no one talks about it. According to the latest report, Turkish President Erdogan lumped the Zoroastrians with the Kurdish—although many Kurdish are Zoroastrians—and started attacking Afrin and said specifically that Zoroastrians are kafir, they should be all eliminated. Why don’t Americans speak out against that particular thing? That’s my question.

HAASS: My sense is, without—in some ways I’m part of the problem—it’s—I don’t think it’s because of prejudice. I think it’s because of a lack of knowledge. It’s just not on people’s radar screens. If you took a public opinion poll, if you had Mr. Gallup in this room, and he ran around the country and made phone calls or did interviews and asked people about Zoroastrians, my hunch is you’d have a negligible percentage that was able to recognize this community. So I think it’s almost that simple.

Look, the bigger—I think—I don’t want to say it’s a bigger issue—but I think we have the—even when we’re painfully familiar—such as we’ve become familiar with the Rohingya but say with the fate of Coptic Christians and other Christians in the Middle East. And they’ve paid a—I think the threat there—or, against Jews in Europe now. So it’s—there’s an indifference, or whatever word one wants to use—but there isn’t sufficient reaction, even when communities are familiar. And I think you face the added hurdle of a community that’s not familiar to people.

CHANG: In the back, yes.

GUTOW: Can you hear me? Yes. Rabbi Steve Gutow, New York University.

Richard, I was—I was questioning not your comments about the breaking of treaties, but I was questioning whether or not this is a bigger thing in the world than—is it normal that countries break treaties like we have been doing with several treaties, and particularly today? And secondly, is the outrage of that particular problem large enough? And does that not give those of us in the religious community, for whom truth and love—but truth—is extremely important, a need to stand up together and say: We have to live up to those things we say we’ll do?

HAASS: Well, I think it—you know, others have been known to break treaties. What’s odd about this is the United States for, again, the last three-quarters of a century, has been in some ways the principal architect and builder of a world of commitments. So for the United States, after this period to suddenly turn around and go from what I would call the great preserver of order to the great disruptor is rather, shall we say, a departure, and a rather unexpected and pronounced one. So the fact that other governments or regimes historically have broken commitments doesn’t surprise, but it does surprise when we do it because, again, this has been part of the fabric of the order we’ve done so much to create and maintain. And a lot of what we have traditionally held dear is based upon people believing you will fulfill your commitments—whether it’s an alliance relationship or a trading—so you don’t act unilaterally, or you don’t just walk away. So, yeah, it’s surprising.

Again, I don’t see it as a matter of truth. I guess, you know, I see it maybe because—I see it more simply as a—more pragmatically. I mean, this is probably the difference between our worlds. But it’s a question of your word and all that. But I would just simply say if you get a reputation for breaking commitments, people might be less likely to enter into new ones with you. And they might be less likely to put a lot of value on the ones they already have with you. And in foreign policy terms, that’s dangerous. If we help set in motion a world where people don’t have value in what we pledge to do, they’ll take matters into their own hands.

And that could be a world of—where countries start appeasing powerful neighbors. It can be a world where countries do take matters into their own hands, and start developing much greater military capabilities, start using them. This could be a world that will listen less to Washington, which will be less deterred by what it is we might do. The world might become more prone to challenge us or to ignore us. So I worry that we are—it’s my criticism of the president’s America first approach. I think we are setting in motion a world of far more numerous independent centers of decision-making. And I don’t think that will be a more orderly world.

CHANG: Yes. Right here, yeah, in the middle. I made eye contact with you before and I was like, I’m going to go to him next.

VANCE: This is Anthony Vance. I’m the director of public affairs for the Baha’is of the United States. We’re located in Washington, D.C.

I wanted to pick up on a comment that Richard made about Emmanuel Macron and his leadership in the European Union, and some of the conditions that exist there, and how we, as faith-based leaders, might have a role to play in creating somewhat, if at all possible, similar conditions here in the United States, related to identity. And maybe—well, brief story. A few years ago I was in—

HAASS: Very brief, I hope.

VANCE: Very brief. I was in southern France shopping on a street. Street vendor there has some flags. And among those flags were American flags. And some of them were from different periods of American history. And she was offering me one with only about 16 stars on it. And I had to explain to her, well, you know, that was really from about the 1840s. I want something closer to the current situation. Then she said, oh, yeah, we used to have the same thing too. Our flag used to have about nine stars, and now it’s got 27. And I’m thinking to myself, the French flag doesn’t have any stars on it. And then, of course, immediately I realize, she’s talking about the flag of the European Union. Very French woman, but suddenly, shockingly, with a European identity.

And I’m wondering the extent to which—you know, we talked about tribalism earlier, this backing away from internationalism, what kind of role, you know, might faith-based leaders play in the United States—a moral role in terms of helping to establish—and if you think it would be constructive to try in the first place—to have a supranational identity, or even a global identity, to assist with the problems that exist?

HAASS: I’m something of a—I’m slightly controversial here. I don’t believe the argument is towards global identity or global citizenship and so forth. We’re citizens of countries. I want to be globally aware. I want a society that’s globally aware. I want them to understand the relationship between this country and the world, and the world and this country. What we do or don’t do could have real consequences for better and for worse. What goes on out there can have real consequences for us, for better and for worse. That seems to me—so, in that sense, what we call a global literacy, a global awareness, whatever word you want to—that seems to me to be right.

And I think faith-based—again, you’ve got the ability—you’ve got two great force multipliers at your side. One is your ability to communicate with a large number of people. And they then can absorb it and take int home, and they become hopefully better-informed citizens, parents, teaches, neighbors, and they take that. And then also you have the ability to act collectively. And you’re all essentially, in one way or another, associated with what you might call NGOs. Each one of you is part of a larger NGO of sorts. And you can make a difference through collective action, whether it’s in the country or the world. So you’ve got that multiplier effect as well.

So that seems to me—but all of that is consistent—you know, we still define citizenship in terms of national terms. But I don’t see any necessary tension between understanding that’s what citizenship is, and global awareness. I think you lose a lot of people if you start defining citizenship in a way that’s not grounded in the—in the nation-state.

CHANG: Can you pass the microphone to the gentleman sitting next to you? Do you still have it? Oh, no, you don’t. OK, well, yeah, we can take that.

HAASS: Microphones come and go.

CHANG: Oh, yeah.

PILL: Hi. Shlomo Pill at Candler School of Theology and the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University.

You talked about how religious organizations, faith-based organizations, religious groups and communities can have an impact on a variety of international issues by sort of taking ownership, speaking about these things. On the other hand, it seems to me that in many global hot spots, to some extent at least, conflicts and tensions, extremism to which we spoke to earlier as well, in part, at least, have to do with closer relationships or marriages between religious and politics, religion and law, in many states. And of course, the United States sort of has a different model of doing things in which, from very early times, we’ve had this model of separation of church and state, and non-establishment, free exercise, precisely because this creates competing power bases in society and religion then can act as a criticism to the sorts of things religion wants to criticize in state policy that it doesn’t like.

But on the other hand, this end ends up butting up against another thing which you spoke about, which as this sort of cultural sensitivity, that we should be having a n understanding of the cultures that we’re trying to deal with and change. And in many of these cultures, at least for—in recent history, religion and state, religion and politics, have been closely aligned with each other, although that hasn’t always been the cause. I’m curious if you could just speak to, a little bit, your sense about how those factors, sort of American ideas about separateness of religion and politics, could help many of these conflict zones. On the other hand, many of these conflict zones have strong emmeshed ties between religion and politics at the same time.

HAASS: OK. Look, I’m a great believer in—when it comes to the exercise of power—to the difference—you know, the separation of church and state. But that doesn’t mean that the church, in the generic sense, necessarily should not be involved in politics. You are. I mean, you’re involved in it by what you say, but also by what you don’t say. Acts of omission are every bit as important as acts of commission. And people have to bring values and religious teaching and philosophy to their everyday lives, to their decisions and actions as citizens. One of the things we do as citizens is we hold our elected representatives accountable. By what standards or yardsticks do we hold people accountable? Should we support or oppose this or that international activity? Should we support this or that program?

Well, part of—well, I don’t expect everybody to get their doctorate in international relations, thank God. (Laughter.) I didn’t mean to—sorry, I don’t mean to blaspheme here. But the—so I think the idea that you would bring religious values, teachings, philosophy, experience, and so forth, so that—because, again, most people are going to have to make decisions about things that they’re not going to be expert in. And I think you—but that’s a difference between trying to be an influence on what happens in the public space and the fusion of the political and the religious as an actor, or as one who exercises political power. And I think one gets into trouble there. And the fusion of the two can often lead to tremendous intolerance, going back to nationalism, tribalism, what have you. But that’s a profound question. So I’m going to wrestle with that one a bit more.

CHANG: We are almost out of time. So just so we don’t let him get off easily, I’m going to take three cluster questions and then we’ll let him do a lightning round. We’ll take one here, one in the back—the woman in the back, yep, waving your hand—and one here too, three. And then we’ll let you off the hook, because one of the traditions here is to end on time.

KNOTTS: Bruce Knotts. Unitarian Universalist U.N. Office. Cast your mind back seven, eight years. The NATO was up to the border of Russia, with Ukraine about ready to follow Poland and the Baltic States, and to hopefully maybe—anyway, NATO. We’re dominant in the Middle East and North Africa. We’re negotiating the TPP to keep our trading power, our dominance in—at least in trading purposes in Asia. How did we lose all of that in such a short period of time?

CHANG: That’s one question. That’s excellent. And then let’s—did you want to ask a question? Yeah, yeah. And then we’ll take you in the back.

MCGRAW: I was happy to hear you speak about how governments are not the only source of diplomacy. And you’ve spoken about faith-based organizations and also educational institutions. But you briefly mentioned business and corporate interests as well. And there’s somewhat of a move now for corporations to also take account of deep cultural values, religious differences around the world. And I was wondering if you could speak a little about what the Council on Foreign Relations is doing in relationship to that.

CHANG: Do you want to identify yourself quickly before we go to the back?

MCGRAW: Oh, yes. Barbara McGraw, Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism and director of the Interfaith Leadership Program at St. Mary’s College, California.

CHANG: Excellent. One last finale question in the back.

BREYER: Yes. Hi. Chloe Breyer, Interfaith Center of New York. Good to see you. Thank you so much.

Can you say a word about Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo’s State Department and the seven or eight other people working there now? (Laughter.) The other—Richard also wanted to know that if you were a senator, would you vote for Gina Haspel?

HAASS: OK. Thank you, Chloe. (Laughter.)

CHANG: Every group needs an agitator.

HAASS: There we go. The U.S. fall from a degree of primacy—I think it came from three things. Maybe four. Three, though, somewhat within our power, control, because other states rise. The China’s of the world rise. Capacity emerges in different hands, and so forth. But three things. One is, I think we—the 2003 Iraq War, some of what we did in Afghanistan, exhausted this country and turned it away from international involvement. People began to see more cost than benefits. And I think one of the—it’s led to the exaggeration that—which this president shares—is that we’ve paid much more than we have benefitted. So I think there’s a bit of intervention fatigue.

I think that with the 44th president, Mr. Obama, more the opposite reaction, that in some ways we underreached rather than overreached. And I think we’ve learned that that can also lead to a loss of influence and a loss of stability in the world, certainly in the Middle East, but elsewhere. And I think now we have a president, again, to use the word I’ve chosen to affix to him, has abdicated America’s role in many ways. So we’ve had these three presidents in a row who I think have not, for the most part, gotten it right. Certain things they got right, but for the most part did not.

And I think we’re paying a price for that. At the same time, there are these other forces that account for—and North Korea does a nuclear program, Iran does what it does, China does what it does, Russia nurses its grievances and does what it does. So all of this has come together. But I think your bottom line is unfortunately right, that if there were a barometer or an index of the state of the world and the degree of American influence, both will have suffered over the last decade.

On the business and corporate role, I think it’s enormous. And one of the good things we’re seeing in recent months and years is CEOs are speaking out more. I think that they’re under more pressure to do it, from consumers, from staff. And so it’s a tricky thing to—corporate social responsibility’s critical. We’re seeing corporations take the lead in things like climate, in many cases, because it makes sense if they want to sell to certain markets. We’re seeing it in retraining of workers. AT&T, Walmart, and others. We’re seeing it in diversity policies.

So I actually see corporate America, in many cases, on the vanguard. You know, we have a very large corporate program. We have about 150 corporate members. And we do all sorts of special education and so forth with them and for them. I’m always interested in constituencies that I think can punch above their weight. Corporate’s one. Journalist, media are another. Religious leaders are another, that you all have the ability to reach all sorts of people.

State Department, Chloe. I would say that, yeah, I think Mike Pompeo made it clear in his confirmation statement, the first two paragraphs were about, what? Strengthening the tools of American diplomacy. I think Rex Tillerson made a serious error in not resourcing his department enough, not fighting for it enough, and then trying to reorganize it. To reorganize the State Department right now would a little bit like calling in the electricians, the plumbers, and the carpenters to fix the operating theater while the patient is on the table. We’ve got too much to handle. And even though the State Department could be more efficient and effective than it is, now is not the moment to do it, do it wholesale.

And we need to fill the top jobs there. We still have probably over 40 countries where we’re not represented by an ambassador, including South Korea still, though we have now nominated somebody. But this is—as the Europeans would say, this is an own-goal. There’s no reason we are not up to speed. We need all the expertise we can get. This is a complicated world. And in many ways, much more complicated than the Cold War. WE need as much—we need as many talented, experienced, hands on deck as we can get.

And I actually think Mike Pompeo understands that. He brought lots of retired people back to the CIA when he took over the CIA. I wouldn’t be surprised if he reached out and found some people to bring back and bring into the State Department. And he’s got a good relationship with the president.

CHANG: You mean people who had worked in previous administrations. I wonder if that could—

HAASS: Exactly, people who—even retired FSOs. Oh, no, not this person. (Laughter.) Nice try, though. (Laughter.) And the—so I—anyhow, so I think that situation.

But on the case of the nominee to be CIA director, I don’t know her background well enough. But I think a lot of the people I respect who do say good things about her. And so therefore I am positively inclined. But I never met or worked with her during all my years in government. So I just—I just don’t have an informed position. But, again, a lot of people I respect are quite positive.

CHANG: That was a punt.

Richard, thank you so much for your insights and your perspective. (Applause.)

HAASS: Thank you all.

CHANG: Everyone here is thrilled, obviously.

Obviously encourage you to continue discussions over dinner, but first we’re going to hear from Pastor Carlyle Fielding Stewart III, spiritual leader at Empowerment Church in Detroit, Michigan, who will deliver a blessing.

STEWART: Thank you.

HAASS: Thank you.

STEWART: Let’s give everyone a hand of praise this evening. (Applause.)

Shall we bow our heads in prayer?

Lord of life and all creation, God of welcoming arms, of listening ears, and caring heart, we thank you for this day and all the ways that you have brought us together—your people—as we establish and value our common ground, drawing strength from one another, moving forward in faith and confidence in the work you have entrusted to us. We give you thanks for your wisdom and truth, your mercy and grace, your peace and justice, your compassion and love, your hope and healing, and all the ways you call your people to share these values in building and serving a better world.

Abide in us continually. Take full residency and occupancy of us, that we might share the light of love and truth, which cannot be overcome by darkness in any form. Order our steps. Director our destiny. Increase our awareness of your presence. Fill us with your spirit. That we may continue to do all the good we can, by all the means we can, and all the ways we can, and all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, as long as ever we can. Amen.


CHANG: Enjoy the conference.

HAASS: Thank you.



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