Richard Haass, Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, Selected Next President of the Council on Foreign Relations

June 5, 2003

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Board of Directors Makes Leslie Gelb President Emeritus


June 5, 2003 - Ambassador Richard N. Haass, a principal foreign policy adviser to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, will become the Council’s fourteenth president in July, announced Council Chairman Peter G. Peterson today. “On behalf of the vice chairs, William McDonough and Carla Hills, and our distinguished Board of Directors, we picked one of the best policy minds in our country to take the Council to the next level of leadership in international affairs,” said Peterson.

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The Council’s Board also announced that Leslie H. Gelb, Council president since 1993, will become president emeritus for his extraordinary contributions to the Council’s life and programs. “If anyone has ever done a better job of leading and building a nonprofit institution, I would not know who that might be. The Board and, indeed, the entire membership are and should be eternally grateful to him for his remarkable legacy,” Peterson said. Gelb, set to retire on June 30, will pursue independent writing and research as a Council Board Fellow.

“It is a great honor to help lead the premier foreign policy organization, not just in the United States, but in the world,” said Haass, who— in addition to heading the policy planning staff— is the lead U.S. government official on the Northern Ireland peace process and served as U.S. coordinator for policy toward the future of Afghanistan. “This is a time when the Council has the unique opportunity and responsibility to frame the national debate,” he said.

Haass has extensive prior government experience. From 1989 to 1993, he was special assistant to President George Bush and senior director for Near East and South Asian Affairs on the staff of the National Security Council. In 1991, Haass was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal for his contributions to the development and articulation of U.S. policy during Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Previously, he served in various posts in the Departments of State (1981–85) and Defense (1979–80) and was a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate.

Prior to his current position at the State Department, Haass was vice president and director of Foreign Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution. He was also director of National Security Programs at the Council from 1995-96.

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Haass is the author or editor of nine books on American foreign policy, including The Reluctant Sheriff: The United States after the Cold War; Economic Sanctions and American Diplomacy; and Intervention: The Use of American Military Force in the Post–Cold War World. He is also the author of one book on management, The Bureaucratic Entrepreneur: How to Be Effective in Any Unruly Organization.

A Rhodes Scholar, Haass holds a B.A. from Oberlin College and both Master and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Oxford University.

Peterson noted that Gelb— during his decade-long tenure at the Council— revolutionized the Council to bring it into the 21st century. And Peterson listed these among Gelb’s main achievements:


  • Creating the Task Force program for members to make policy recommendations on major issues, such as the newly launched U.S.-Europe Task Force headed by Council members Henry A. Kissinger and Lawrence H. Summers.



  • Initiating a new mission— public outreach— through the Council’s new websites, to make the Council the go-to source for information and ideas on key international issues.



  • Revamping and reenergizing the program for a powerful network of younger members at the Council.



  • Adding a substantial number of truly national programs and influential Americans to the Council’s membership roster across the country.


Haass will assume the Council presidency on July 1, 2003.

The Council on Foreign Relations is dedicated to increasing America’s understanding of the world and contributing ideas to U.S. foreign policy. The Council accomplishes this mainly by promoting constructive debates, clarifying world issues, producing reports, and publishing Foreign Affairs, the leading journal on global issues.

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