World Order

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  • Technology and Innovation
    Academic Webinar: Big Tech and Global Order
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    Margaret O’Mara, Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Chair of American history and professor at the University of Washington, leads the conversation on big tech and global order.   CASA: Welcome to today’s session of the Winter/Spring 2023 CFR Academic Webinar Series. I’m Maria Casa, director of the National Program and Outreach at CFR. Thank you all for joining us. Today’s discussion is on the record, and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/Academic, if you would like to share it with your colleagues or classmates. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We are delighted to have Margaret O’Mara with us to discuss big tech and global order. Dr. O’Mara is the Scott and Dorothy Bullitt Chair of American history and professor at the University of Washington. She writes and teaches about the growth of the high-tech economy, the history of American politics, and the connections between the two. Dr. O’Mara is an Organization of American Historians distinguished lecturer and has received the University of Washington Distinguished Teaching Award for Innovation with Technology. Previously, she served as a fellow with the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education. From 1993 to 1997, Dr. O’Mara served in the Clinton administration as an economic and social policy aide in the White House and in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She is the author of several books and an editor of the Politics and Society in Modern America series at Princeton University Press. Welcome, Margaret. Thank you very much for speaking with us today. O’MARA: Thank you so much, Maria, and thank you all for being here today. I’m setting my supercomputer on my wrist timer so I—to time my talk to you, and which is very apropos and it’s really—it’s great to be here. I have a few slides I wanted to share as I talk through, and I thought that since we had some really interesting meaty present tense readings from Foreign Affairs as background for this conversation as well as the recent review essay that I wrote last year, I thought I would set the scene a little more with a little more history and how we got to now and thinking in broad terms about how the technology industry relates to geopolitics and the global order as this very distinctive set of very powerful companies now. So I will share accordingly, and, Maria, I hope that this is showing up on your screen as it should. So I knew I—today I needed to, of course, talk—open with something in the news, this—the current—the ongoing questions around what has—what was in the sky and what is being shot down in addition to a Chinese spy balloon, which is really kind of getting to a question that’s at the center of all of my work. I write at the intersection of economic history and political history and I do that because I’m interested in questions of power. Who has power? What do they value? This is the kind of the question of the U.S.-China—the operative question of the U.S.-China rivalry and the—and concern about China, what are the values, what are the—and Chinese technology and Chinese technology companies, particularly consumer-facing ones. And this is also an operative question about the extraordinary concentration of wealth and power in a few large platform companies that are based on the West Coast of the United States—(laughs)—a couple in my town of Seattle where I am right now talking to you, and others in Silicon Valley. It’s very interesting when one does a Google image search to find a publicly available image and puts in Silicon Valley the images that come up are either the title cards of the HBO television comedy, which I was tempted to add, but the—really, the iconic shot of the valley as place is the Apple headquarters—the Spaceship, as it’s called in Cupertino—that opened a few years ago in the middle of suburbia. And this is—you know, the questions of concentrated power in the Q&A among the background readings, you know, this was noted by several of the experts consulted about what is the threat of big tech geopolitically and concentrated power, whether that’s good, bad, if that’s an advantage geopolitically or not. It was something that many of those folks brought up as did the other readings as well. And this question of power—who has power and taking power—has been an animating question of the modern technology industry and there’s an irony in this that if you think about the ideological granddaddy of Apple itself is the Whole Earth Catalog, which I—and this is—I quote from this in the opening to my review essay that was part of the background readings and I just thought I would pop this up in full for us to think about. This is Stewart Brand. This is the first issue of the Whole Earth Catalog. The full issue is digitized at the Internet Archive as are so many other wonderful artifacts and primary source materials about this world, and this is right here on the—you know, you turn—open the cover and here is the purpose: “We are as gods and might as well get used to it. So far, remotely done power and glory as via government, big business, formal education, and church has succeeded to the point where gross obscure actual gains. In response to this dilemma and to these gains a realm of intimate personal power is developing—power of the individual to conduct his own education, find his own inspiration, shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested. Tools that aid this process are sought and promoted by the Whole Earth Catalog.” The audience of the Whole Earth Catalog was not a bunch of techies, per se. It was back to the landers, people who were going and founding communes and the catalog was—you know, which was more a piece of art than it was an actual shopping guide, had all sorts of things from books by Buckminster Fuller to camp stoves and to the occasional Hewlett Packard scientific calculator, making this kind of statement that these tools could actually be used for empowerment of the individual because, of course, the world of 1968 is one in which computers and AI are in the hands of the establishment. We see this playing out in multiple scales including Hollywood films like Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which, of course, follows, what, four years earlier Dr. Strangelove, which was also a satiric commentary on concentrated power of the military industrial complex, and computers were, indeed, things that were used by large government agencies, by the Pentagon, by Fortune 50 companies. And so the countercultural computer or personal computer movement is very much about individual power and taking this away from the global order, so to speak. This is the taking—using these tools as a way to connect people at the individual level, put a computer on every desk, connect everyone via computer networks to one another, and that is how the future will be changed. That is how the inequities of the world would be remedied. The notion of ultimate connectivity as a positive good was not something that originated with Facebook but, indeed, has much, much deeper origins and that’s worth thinking about as we consider where we are in 2023 and where things are going from there. It’s also worth thinking about the way in which global—the global order and particularly national security and government spending has played a role—an instrumental role—in the growth of the technology industry as it is. Take, for example, the original venture-backed startup, Fairchild Semiconductor, which is legendary as really starting the silicon semiconductor industry in the valley. It is the—it puts the silicon in the valley, and the eight co-founders known as the Traitorous Eight because they all quit en masse their previous job at Shockley Semiconductor working for William Shockley, the co-inventor of the transistor, and they went off and did something that one does not—did not do in 1957 very often, which was start your own company. This was something that you did if you were weird and you couldn’t work for people. That’s what one old timer told me, reflecting back on this moment. But they, indeed, started their own company, found outside financing and in this group contains Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore, the two co-founders of Intel, as well as Gene Kleiner, co-founder of Kleiner Perkins, the venture capital firm. This is really the—you know, the original—where it all began, and yes, this is a story of free-market entrepreneurialism but it also is a story of the national security state. This is a—Fairchild is founded at a moment when most of the business in the Santa Clara Valley of California, later known as Silicon Valley, was defense related. This is where the jobs were. This is the business they were doing, by and large. There was not a significant commercial market for their products. A month after they’re incorporated—in September ’57 is when Fairchild incorporates itself. October 1957 Sputnik goes into orbit. The consequent wave of space spending is really what is the literal rocket ship that gets Silicon Valley’s chip business going. The integrated circuits made by Fairchild and other chip makers in the valley go into the Apollo guidance system. NASA is buying these chips at a time that there is not a commercial market for them and that enables these companies to scale up production to create a commodity that can be delivered to the enterprise. And so by the time you get to the 1970s you are not talking about defense contractors in any way. These are companies that are putting their chips in cars and in other—all sorts of one time mechanical equipment is becoming transistorized. And Intel is Intel, still one of the most important and consequential—globally consequential tech companies around at the center of the action in the CHIPS Act of last year, not to mention others. But this longer history and this intertwining with the military industrial complex and with broader geopolitics—because, of course, the space program and the Apollo program was a Cold War effort. It was about beating the Soviets to the moon, not just doing it because we could. But that really kind of dissipates and fades from collective memory in the Valley and beyond with the rise of these entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, young, new-time CEOs that are presenting a very, very different face of business and really being consciously apolitical, presenting themselves as something so far apart from Washington, D.C. And this notion of tech, big or little, being something separate from government and governance is perpetuated by leaders of both parties, not just Ronald Reagan but also by Democrats of a younger generation that in the early 1980s there was a brief moment in which lawmakers like Tim Wirth and Gary Hart were referred to as Atari Democrats because they were so bullish on high-tech industries as the United States’ economic future. And the way in which politicians and lawmakers from the 1980s forward talked about tech was very much in the same key as that of people like Steve Jobs, which is that this is a revolutionary—the tools have been taken from the establishment, and this is something that is apart from politics, that transcends the old global order and is a new one. And, in fact, in the speech in May 1988 in Moscow at the end of his presidency Ronald Reagan delivers a—you know, really frames the post-Cold War future as one in which the microchip is the revolutionary instrument of freedom: “Standing here before a mural of your revolution”—and a very large bust of Lenin—“I talk about a very different revolution that is taking place right now. Its effects are peaceful but they will fundamentally alter our world, and it is—the tiny silicon chip is the agent of that, no bigger than a fingerprint.” This is really remarkable, if we sit back and take a deep breath and think about it, and particularly thinking about what happens after that. What happens after that are decades in which, again, leaders of both parties in the United States and world leaders elsewhere are framing the internet and understanding the internet as this tool for freedom and liberation, a tool that will advance democracy. Bill Clinton, towards the end of his presidency, famously kind of said, effectively, that I’m not worried about China because the internet is going to bring—you know, internet is going to make it very hard to have anything but democracy. And this notion of a post-Cold War and beyond the end of history and tech and big tech being central to that that, in fact, aided the rise of big tech. That was a rationale for a light regulatory hand in the United States, allowing these companies to grow and flourish and so big, indeed, they have become. But I want to end on a note just thinking about the—you know, why this history is important, why this connective tissue between past and present actually does matter. It isn’t just that, oh, this is nice to know. This is useful. Lawrence Preston Gise was the second—sorry, the first deputy administrator of DARPA in 1958, created in the wake of the Sputnik—post-Sputnik panic, originally called ARPA, now DARPA. He later ran the entire Western Division of the Atomic Energy Commission—Los Alamos, Livermore, et cetera. Longtime government public servant. In his retirement he retired to his farm in west Texas and his young grandson came and lived with him every summer. And his grandson throughout his life has talked about how—what a profound influence his grandfather was on him, showing him how to be a self-sufficient rancher, how to wrangle cattle and to build a barbed wire fence. But the grandson—you know, what the grandson didn’t mention that much because it wasn’t really relevant to his personal experience was who his grandfather was and what he had done. But when that grandson, Jeff Bezos—a few years ago when there was—when Google employees were writing their open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai saying, we are not in the defense business. We are—we don’t like the fact that you are doing work with the Pentagon, and pressuring Google successfully and other companies to get out of doing work with the Pentagon, Bezos reflected, no, I think we’re—I think this is our patriotic duty to do work—do this kind of work. And as I listened to him say that on a stage in an interview I thought, ah, that’s his grandfather talking because this little boy, of course, was Jeff Bezos, the grandfather of Lawrence Preston Gise, and those—that connective tissue—familial connective tissue as well as corporate and political connective tissue, I think, is very relevant to what we have before us today. So I’ll leave it there. Thanks. CASA: Thank you, Margaret, for that very interesting introduction. Let’s open up to questions. (Gives queuing instructions.) While our participants are gathering their thoughts would you start us off by providing a few examples of emerging technologies that are affecting higher education? O’MARA: Yeah. Well, we’ve had a very interesting last three years in which the debate over online learning versus in-person learning very quickly was not necessarily resolved. We did this mass real-time experiment, and I think it made—put into sharp relief the way in which different technologies are shaping the way that higher education institutions are working and this question of who’s controlling the—who controls the platforms and how we mediate what learning we do. Even though I now teach in person again almost everything that I do in terms of assignments and communication is through electronic learning management systems. The one we use at UW is Canvas. But, of course, there are these broader questions—ethical questions and substantive questions—about how our AI-enabled technologies including, notably, the star of the moment, ChatGPT, going to change the way in which—it’s mostly been around how are students going to cheat more effectively. But I think it also has these bigger questions about how you learn and where knowledge, where the human—where the human is necessary. My take on it is, aside from the kind of feeling pretty confident in my having such arcane prompts for my midterm essay questions and research projects that ChatGPT, I think, would have a very hard time doing a good job with it but although I’m looking forward to many a form letter being filled by that technology in the future, I think that there is a—you know, this has a history, too. The concern about the robot overlords is a very deep one. It extends from—you know, predates the digital age, and the anxiety about whether computers are becoming too powerful. Of course, this question of artificial intelligence or augmented intelligence kind of is the computer augmenting what a human can do rather than replacing what a human can do or pretending to have the nuance and the complexity that a human might be able to convey. I think there’s, you know, these bigger questions and I’m sure—I imagine there are going to be some other questions about AI. Really, you know, this is a—I think this is a very good learning moment, quite frankly, to think more—you know, one of the things I teach about a lot is kind of the information that is on the internet and who’s created it and how it is architected and how it is findable and how those platforms have been developed over time. And what ChatGPT and other AIs like them are doing is they’re scraping this extraordinary bounteous ocean of information and it is as good as the—it’s as good as its source, right. So whatever you’re able to do with it you have—your source materials are going to determine it. So if there is bias in the sources, if there is inaccuracy in the sources, there is—that will be replicated. It cannot be—you know, I think what it is is it’s a really good rough draft, first draft, for then someone with tacit knowledge and understanding to come into, and I like to think of digital tools as ones that reveal where things that only people can do that cannot be replicated, that this—where human knowledge cannot be, where a machine still—even though a machine is informed by things that humans do and now does it at remarkable speed and scale it still is—there is—we are able to identify where humanity makes a difference. And then my one last caution is I do—you know, the one thing you can’t do with these new—any of these new technologies is do them well really fast, and the rush to it is a little anxiety inducing. CASA: Thank you. Our first question is from Michael Leong from the—he’s a graduate student at the University of Arizona. Michael, would you like to unmute and ask your question? Q: Yeah. Hi, Dr. O’Mara. Hi, Ms. Casa. Sorry for any background noise. I just had a, like, general question about your thoughts on the role big tech plays in geopolitics. Specifically, we’ve seen with SpaceX and Starlink especially with what’s going on in Ukraine and how much support that has been provided to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and potentially holding that over—(inaudible)—forces. So, basically, do we expect to see private companies having more leverage over geopolitical events? And how can we go forward with that? O’MARA: Yeah. That’s a really—that’s a really great question. And you know, I think that there’s—it’s interesting because the way—there’s always been public-private partnerships in American state building and American geopolitics, and that’s something—it’s worth kind of just noting that. Like, from the very beginning the United States has used private entities as instruments of policy, as parastatal entities, whether it be through, you know, land grants and transcontinental railroad building in the nineteenth century all the way through to Starlink and Ukraine because, of course, the Pentagon is involved, too—you know, that SpaceX is in a very—is a significant government contractor as ones before it. I think that where there’s a really interesting departure from the norm is that what we’ve seen, particularly in the last, you know, the last forty years but in this sort of post-Cold War moment has been and particularly in the last ten to fifteen years a real push by the Pentagon to go to commercial enterprises for technology and kind of a different model of contracting and, I should say, more broadly, national security agencies. And this is something, you know, a real—including the push under—when Ash Carter was in charge of DOD to really go to Silicon Valley and say, you guys have the best technology and a lot of it is commercial, and we need to update our systems and our software and do this. But I think that the SpaceX partnership is one piece of that. But there has been a real—you know, as the government has, perhaps, not gotten smaller but done less than it used to do and there’s been more privatization, there have been—there’s been a vacuum left that private companies have stepped into and I think Ian Bremmer’s piece was really—made some really important points in this regard that there are things that these platform companies are doing that the state used to do or states used to do and that does give them an inordinate amount of power. You know, and these companies are structurally—often a lot of the control over these companies is in the hands of very, very few, including an inordinate unusual amount of founder power, and Silicon Valley, although there’s plenty of political opinionating coming out of there now, which is really a departure from the norm, this kind of partisan statements of such—you know, declarations of the—of recent years are something that really didn’t—you didn’t see very much before. These are not folks who are—you know, their expertise lies in other domains. So that’s where my concern—some concern lies where you have these parastatal actors that are becoming, effectively, states and head of states then and they are not, indeed, speaking for—you know, they’re not sovereign powers in the same way and they are speaking for themselves and speaking from their own knowledge base rather than a broader sense of—you know, they’re not speaking for the public. That’s not their job. CASA: Our next question is from Michael Raisinghani from Texas Woman’s University. Michael, if you could unmute. Q: Thank you, Ms. Casa and Dr. O’Mara. A very insightful discussion. Thank you for that. I just thought maybe if you could maybe offer some clarity around the generative AI, whether it’s ChatGPT or Wordtune or any of this in terms of the future. If you look, let’s say, five, ten years ahead, if that’s not too long, what would your thoughts be in this OpenAI playground? O’MARA: Mmm hmm. Well, with the first—with the caveat that the first rule of history is that you can’t predict the future—(laughs)—and (it’s true ?); we are historians, we like to look backwards rather than forwards—I will then wade into the waters of prediction, or at least what I think the implications are. I mean, one thing about ChatGPT as a product, for example, which has been really—I mean, what a—kudos for a sort of fabulous rollout and marketing and all of a sudden kind of jumping into our public consciousness and being able to release what they did in part because it wasn’t a research arm of a very large company where things are more being kept closer because they might be used for that company’s purposes. Google, for example, kind of, you know, has very in short order followed on with the reveal of what they have but they kind of were beaten to the punch by OpenAI because OpenAI wasn’t—you know, it was a different sort of company, a different sort of enterprise. You know, a lot of it are things that are already out there in the world. If we’ve, you know, made an airline reservation and had a back and forth with a chatbot, like, that’s—that’s an example of some of that that’s already out in the world. If you’re working on a Google doc and doing what absolutely drives me bonkers, which is that Google’s kind of completing my sentences for me, but that predictive text, those—you know, many things that we are—that consumers are already interacting with and that enterprises are using are components of this and this is just kind of bringing it together. I think that we should be very cautious about the potential of and the accuracy of and the revolutionary nature of ChatGPT or any of these whether it be Bard or Ernie or, you know, name your perspective chatbot. It is what it is. Again, it’s coming from the—it’s got the source material it has, it’s working with, which is not—you know, this is not human intelligence. This is kind of compilation and doing it very rapidly and remarkably and in a way that presents with, you know, literacy. So I’m not—you know, does very cool stuff. But where the future goes, I mean, clearly, look, these company—the big platform companies have a lot of money and they have a great deal of motivation and need to be there for the next big thing and, you know, if we dial back eighteen months ago there were many in tech who were saying crypto and Web3 was the next big thing and that did not—has not played out as some might have hoped. But there is a real desire for, you know, not being left behind. Again, this is where my worry is for the next five years. If this is driven by market pressures to kind of be the—have the best search, have the best—embed this technology in your products at scale that is going to come with a lot of hazards. It is going to replicate the algorithmic bias, the problems with—extant problems with the internet. I worry when I see Google saying publicly, we are going to move quickly on this and it may not be perfect but we’re going to move quickly when Google itself has been grappling with and called out on its kind of looking the other way with some of the real ethical dilemmas and the exclusions and biases that are inherent in some of the incredibly powerful LLMs—the models that they are creating. So that’s my concern. This is a genie that is—you know, letting this genie out of the bottle and letting it become a mass consumer product, and if—you know, OpenAI, to its credit, if you go to ChatGPT’s website it has a lot of disclaimers first about this is not the full story, effectively, and in the Microsoft rollout of their embedding the technology in Bing last week Microsoft leaders, as well as Sam Altman of OpenAI, were kind of—their talking points were very careful to say this is not everything. But it does present—it’s very alluring and I think we’re going to see it in a lot more places. Is it going to change everything? I think everyone’s waiting for, like, another internet to change everything and I don’t know if—I don’t know. The jury’s out. I don’t know. CASA: Thank you. Our next question is a written one. It comes from Denis Fred Simon, clinical professor of global business and technology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He asked, technology developments have brought to the surface the evolving tension between the drive for security with the desire for privacy. The U.S. represents one model while China represents another model. How do societies resolve this tension and is there some preferred equilibrium point? O’MARA: That is a—that’s the billion-dollar question and it’s—I think it’s a relevant one that goes way back. (Laughs.) I mean, there are many moments in the kind of evolution of all of these technologies where the question of who should know what and what’s allowable. If we go back to 1994 and the controversy over the Clipper chip, which was NSA wanting to build a backdoor into commercially available software, and that was something that the industry squashed because it would, among other things, have made it very difficult for a company like Microsoft to sell their products in China or other places if you had a—knew that the U.S. national security agencies were going to have a window into it. And, of course, that all comes roaring back in 2013 with Snowden’s revelations that, indeed, the NSA was using social media platforms and other commercial platforms—consumer-facing platforms—to gather data on individuals. You know, what is the perfect balance? I mean, this is—I wish I had this nice answer. (Laughs.) I would probably have a really nice second career consulting and advising. But I think there is a—what is clear is that part of what has enabled the American technology industry to do what it has done and to generate companies that have produced, whether you think the transformations on balance are good or bad, transformative products, right. So everything we’re using to facilitate this conversation that all of us are having right now is coming from that font. And democratic capitalism was really critical to that and having a free—mostly free flow of information and not having large-scale censorship. I mean, the postscript to the Clipper chip—you know, Clipper chip controversy is two years later the Telecom Act of 1996, which was, on the one hand, designed to ensure the economic growth of what were then very small industries in the internet sector and not—and prevent the telecoms from ruling it all but also were—you know, this was a kind of making a call about, OK, in terms when it comes to the speech on the internet we are going to let the companies regulate that and not be penalized for private—when private companies decide that they want to take someone down, which is really what Section 230 is. It’s not about free speech in a constitutional sense. It’s about the right of a company to censor or to moderate content. It’s often the opposite of the way that it’s kind of understood or interpreted or spun in some ways. But it is clear that the institutions of—that encourage free movement of people and capital have been—are pretty critical in fueling innovation writ large or the development and the deployment and scaling of new technologies, particularly digital technologies. But I think you can see that playing out in other things, too. So that has been, I think, a real tension and a real—there’s a market dimension to this, not just in terms of an ethical dimension or political dimension that there does need to be some kind of unfettered ability of people to build companies and to grow them in certain ways. But it’s a fine balance. I mean, this sort of, like, when does regulation—when does it—when do you need to have the state come in and in what dimension and which state. And this goes back to that core question of like, OK, the powerful entities, what are their values? What are they fighting for? Who are they fighting for? I don’t know. I’m not giving you a terribly good answer because I think it’s a really central question to which many have grappled for that answer for a very long time. CASA: Thank you. Our next question comes from Ahmuan Williams, a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma. Ahmuan? Q: Thank you. Hi. I’m wondering about ChatGPT, about the regulation side of that. It seems like it’s Microsoft that has kind of invested itself into ChatGPT. Microsoft had before gotten the Pentagon contract just a few years back. So it’s kind of a two-part question. So, first of all, how does that—what does that say about government’s interest in artificial intelligence and what can be done? I know the Council of Foreign Relations also reported that the Council of Europe is actually planning an AI convention to figure out how, you know, a framework of some type of AI convention in terms of treaties will work out. But what should we be worried about when it comes to government and the use of AI in political advertisements and campaigns, about, basically, them flooding opinions with, you know, one candidate’s ideas and, therefore, them being able to win because they’re manipulating our opinions? So what would you say would be kind of a regulation scheme that might come out of these type—new flourishing AI devices? O’MARA: Mmm hmm. Mmm hmm. That’s a good question. I think there’s sort of different layers to it. I mean, I see that, you know, the Pentagon contract—the JEDI contract—being awarded to Microsoft, much to Amazon’s distress—(laughs)—and litigious distress, is a kind of a separate stream from its decision to invest 10 billion (dollars) in OpenAI. I think that’s a commercial decision. I think that’s a recognition that Microsoft research was not producing the—you know, Microsoft didn’t have something in house that was comparable. Microsoft saw an opportunity to at last do a—you know, knock Google off of its dominant pedestal in search and make Bing the kind of long—kind of a punch line—no longer a punch line but actually something that was a product that people would actively seek out and not just use because it was preinstalled on their Microsoft devices. That is—so I see that as a market decision kind of separate from. The bigger AI question, the question of AI frameworks, yes, and this, again, has a longer history and, you know, I kind of liken AI to the Pacific Ocean. It’s an enormous category that contains multitudes. Like, it’s—you know, we can—oftentimes when we talk about AI or the AI that we see and we experience, it’s machine learning. And part of why we have such extraordinary advances in machine learning in the last decade has—because of the harvesting of individual data on these platforms that we as individuals use, whether it be Google or Meta or others, that that has just put so much out there that now these companies can create something that—you know, that the state of the art has accelerated vastly. Government often is playing catch up, not just in tech but just in business regulation, generally. The other—you know, another example of this in the United States cases with the—in the late nineteenth century, early twentieth century, with what were then new high-tech tech-driven industries of railroads and oil and steel that grew to enormous size and then government regulators played catch up and created the institutions that to this day are the regulators like the FTC created in 1913. Like, you know, that’s—of that vintage. So, I think that it depends on—when it comes to—the question about electoral politics, which I think is less about government entities—this is about entities, people and organizations that want to be in charge of government or governments—that is, you know, AI—new technologies of all kinds that incorporate ever more sophisticated kind of, essentially, disinformation, that—information that presents as real and it is not. The increased volume of that and the scale of that and the sophistication of that and the undetectability of it does create a real challenge to free and fair elections and also to preventing, in the American context, international and foreign intervention in and manipulation of elections but true in every context. That is, you know, getting good information before voters and allowing bad actors to exploit existing prejudices or misassumptions. That is an existing problem that probably will be accelerated by it. I think there’s—there’s a strong case to be made, at least in the U.S. context, for much stronger regulation of campaign advertising that extends to the internet in a much more stricter form. In that domain there’s—I think we have pretty good evidence that that has not been—you know, having that back end has made the existing restrictions on other types of campaign speech and other media kind of made them moot because you can just go on a social platform and do other things. So there’s—you know, this is—I think the other thing that compromises this is the rapidly changing nature of the technology and the digital—and the global reach of these digital technologies that extends any other product made—you know, any other kind of product. It just is borderless that—in a kind of overwhelming way. That doesn’t mean government should give up. But I think there’s a sort of supranational level of frameworks, and then there are all sorts of subnational kind of domain-specific frameworks that could occur to do something as a countervailing force or at least slow the role of developers and companies in moving forward in these products. CASA: Thank you. Our next question is a written one. It comes from Prashant Hosur, assistant professor of humanities and social sciences at Clarkson University. He asks, how do you—or she. I’m sorry. I’m not sure. How do you think big tech is likely to affect conventional wisdom around issues of great power rivalry and power transitions? O’MARA: Hmm. I don’t—well, I think there are a—these are always—these definitions are always being redefined and who the great powers are and what gives them power is always being reshuffled and—but, of course, markets and economic resources and wealth and—are implicated in this for millennia. I think that tech companies do have this—American tech companies and the tech platforms, which I should preface this by saying, you know, none of the companies we’re talking about now are going to rule forever. Maybe that just goes without—it’s worth just note, you know, this is—we will have the rise and fall. Every firm will be a dinosaur. Detroit was the most innovative city in the world a hundred and ten years ago. There’s still a lot of innovation and great stuff coming out of Detroit, but if you—if I queried anyone here and said, what’s the capital of innovation I don’t know if you would say Detroit. But back in the heyday of the American auto industry it was, and I think it’s a good reminder. We aren’t always going to be talking about this place in northern California and north Seattle in this way. But what we have right now are these companies that their products, unlike the products of Henry Ford or General Motors, are ones that are—go across borders with—you know, the same product goes across borders seamlessly and effortlessly, unlike an automobile where a—to sell in a certain country you have to meet that country’s fuel standards and, you know, safety standards, et cetera, et cetera. You have a different model for a different market. Instead, here, you know, a Facebook goes where it goes, Google goes where it goes, YouTube goes where it goes, and that has been kind of extraordinary in terms of internationalizing politics, political trends. I think what we’ve seen globally is very—you know, the role of the internet in that has been extraordinary, both for good and for ill, in the last fifteen years. And then the kind of—the immense—the great deal of power that they have in the many different domains and, again, Ian Bremmer also observed this kind of the—all the different things they do and that is something that is different from twenty-five years ago where you now have companies that are based on the West Coast of the United States with products designed by a small group of people from a kind of narrow, homogenous band of experience who are doing things like transforming taxis and hotels and, I mean, you name it, kind of going everywhere in a way that in the day of the—you know, the first Macintosh, which was like this cool thing on your desk, that was—yes, it was a transformative product. It was a big deal and Silicon Valley was—became a household word and a phrase in the 1980s and the dot.com era, too. That was—you know, everyone’s getting online with their AOL discs they got in the mail. But what’s happened in the twenty-first century is at a scale and—a global scale and an influence across many different domains, and politics, this very deliberate kind of we are a platform for politics that has really reshaped the global order in ways that are quite profound. This is not to say that everything has to do with big tech is at the root of everything. But let’s put it in context and let’s, you know—and also recognize that these are not companies that were designed to do this stuff. They’ve been wildly successful what they set out to do and they have a high-growth tech-driven model that is designed to move fast and, yes, indeed, it breaks things and that has—you know, that has been—they are driven by quarterly earnings. They are driven by other things, as they should be. They are for-profit companies, many of them publicly traded. But the—but because, I think, in part they have been presenting themselves as, you know, we’re change the world, we’re not evil, we’re something different, we’re a kinder, gentler capitalism, there has been so much hope hung on them as the answer for a lot of things, and that is not—kind of giving states and state power something of the past to get its act together that instead states need to step up. CASA: Our next question is from Alex Grigor. He’s a PhD candidate from University of Cambridge. Alex? Q: Hello. Yes. Thank you. Can you hear me? O’MARA: Yes. CASA: Yes. Q: Yeah. Hi. Thank you, Ms. O’Mara. Very insightful and, in fact, a lot of these questions are very good as well. So they’ve touched upon a lot of what I was going to ask and so I’ll narrow it down slightly. My research is looking at cyber warfare and sort of international conflict particularly between the U.S. and China but beyond, and I was wondering—you started with the sort of military industrial complex and industry sort of breaking away from that. Do you see attempts, perhaps, because of China and the—that the technology industry and the military are so closely entwined that there’s an attempt by the U.S. and, indeed, other countries. You see increase in defense spending in Japan and Germany. But it seems to be specifically focused, according to my research, on the technologies that are coming out of that, looking to reengage that sort of relationship. They might get that a little bit by regulation. Perhaps the current downsizing of technology companies is an opportunity for governments to finally be able to recruit some good computer scientists that they haven’t been able to—(laughs)—(inaudible). Perhaps it’s ASML and semiconductor sort of things. Do you see that as part of the tension a conscious attempt at moving towards reintegrating a lot of these technologies back into government? O’MARA: Yeah. I think we’re at a really interesting moment. I mean, one thing that’s—you know, that’s important to note about the U.S. defense industry is it never went away from the tech sector. It just kind of went underground. Lockheed, the major defense contractor, now Lockheed Martin, was the biggest numerical employer in the valley through the end of the Cold War through the end of the 1980s. So well into the commercial PC era and—but very—you know, kind of most of what was going on there was top secret stuff. So no one was on the cover of Forbes magazine trumpeting what they’ve done. And there has been—but there has been a real renewed push, particularly with the kind of—to get made in Silicon Valley or, you know, made in the commercial sector software being deployed for military use and national security use and, of course, this is very—completely bound up in the questions of cyber warfare and these existing commercial networks, and commercial platforms and products are ones that are being used and deployed by state actors and nonstate actors as tools for cyber terrorism and cyber warfare. So, yes, I think it’s just going to get tighter and closer and the great—you know, the stark reality of American politics, particularly in the twentieth and into the twenty-first centuries, is the one place that the U.S. is willing to spend lots of money in the discretionary budget is on defense and the one place where kind of it creates a rationale for this unfettered—largely, unfettered spending or spending with kind of a willingness to spend a lot of money on things that don’t have an immediately measurable or commercializable outcome is in national security writ large. That’s why the U.S. spent so much money on the space program and created this incredible opportunity for these young companies making chips that only—making this device that only—only they were making the things that the space program needed, and this willingness to fail and the willingness to waste money, quite frankly. And so now we’re entering into this sort of fresh—this interesting—you know, the geopolitical competition with China between the U.S. has this two dimensions in a way and the very—my kind of blunt way of thinking about it it’s kind of like the Soviet Union and Japan all wrapped up in one, Japan meaning the competition in the 1980s with Japan, which stimulated a great deal of energy among—led by Silicon Valley chip makers for the U.S. to do something to help them compete and one of those outcomes was SEMATECH, the consortium to develop advanced semiconductor technology, whose funding—it was important but its funding was a fraction of the wave of money that just was authorized through last year’s legislation, the CHIPS Act as well as Inflation Reduction Act and others. So I’m seeing, you know, this kind of turn to hardware and military hardware and that a lot of the commercial—the government subsidized or incentivized commercial development of green technology and advanced semiconductor, particularly in military but other semiconductor technology and bringing semiconductor manufacturing home to the United States, that is—even those dimensions that are nonmilitary, that are civilian, it’s kind of like the Apollo program. That was a civilian program but it was done for these broader geopolitical goals to advance the economic strength and, hence, the broader geopolitical strength of the United States against a competitor that was seen as quite dangerous. So that’s my way of saying you’re right, that this is where this is all going and so I think that’s why this sort of having a healthy sense of this long-term relationship is healthy. It’s healthy for the private sector to recognize the government’s always been there. So it isn’t though you had some innovative secret that the government is going to take away by being involved. And to also think about what are the broader goals that—you know, who is benefiting from them and what is the purpose and recognize often that, you know, many of the advanced technologies we have in the United States are thanks to U.S. military funding for R&D back in the day. CASA: Our next question is written. It’s from Damian Odunze, who is an assistant professor at Delta State University. Regarding cybersecurity, do you think tech companies should take greater responsibility since they develop the hardware and software packages? Can the government mandate them, for instance, to have inbuilt security systems? O’MARA: Hmm. Yeah. I think—look, with great power comes great responsibility is a useful reminder for the people at the top of these companies that for—that are so remarkably powerful at the moment and because their platforms are so ubiquitous. There are—you see, for example, Microsoft has really—is a—I think what they’ve done in terms of partnering with the White House and its occupants and being—kind of acting as a NSA first alert system of sorts and kind of being open about that I think that’s been good for them from a public relations perspective, and also—but I think it also reflects this acknowledgement of that responsibility and that it also is bad for their business if these systems are exploited. Yeah, I think that, again, regulation is something that—you know, it’s like saying Voldemort in Silicon Valley. Like, some people are, like, oh, regulation, you know. But there’s really—there can be a really generative and important role that regulation can play, and the current industry has grown up in such a lightly-regulated fashion you just kind of get used to having all that freedom, and when it comes to cybersecurity and to these issues of national security importance and sort of global importance and importance to the users of the products and the companies that make them there’s, I think, a mutual interest in having some sort of rules of the road and that—and I think any company that’s operating at a certain scale is—understands that it’s in their market interest to be—you know, not to be a renegade, that they are working with. But I think having—you know, there can be a willingness to work with but they’re—having a knowledge and an understanding and a respect for your government partners, your state partners, whether they be U.S. or non-U.S. or supranational is really critically important and sometimes tech folks are a little too, like, oh, politics, they don’t know what they’re doing, you know. We know better. And I think there needs to be a little more mutual exchange of information and some more—yes, some more technical people being able to be successfully recruited into government would probably be a help, too, so there’s—on both sides of the table you have technically savvy people who really understand the inner workings of how this stuff is made and don’t have simplistic answers of like, oh, we’ll just take all the China-made technology out of it. You’re, like, well, there’s—like, it’s kind of deep in the system. You know, so having technologists in the conversation at all points is important. CASA: Thank you. I think we have time for one more question. We’ll take that from Louis Esparza, assistant professor at California State University in Los Angeles. Q: Hi. Thank you for your very interesting talk. So I’m coming at this from the social movements literature and I’m coming into this conversation because I’m interested in the censorship and influence of big tech that you seem to be, you know, more literate in. So my question is do you think that this—the recent trends with big tech and collaboration with federal agencies is a rupture with the origin story of the 1960s that you talked about in your talk or do you think it’s a continuity of it? O’MARA: Yeah. That’s a great way to put it. The answer is, is it both? Well, it’s something of a rupture. I mean, look, this—you know, you have this—you have an industry that grows up as intensely—you know, that those that are writing and reading the Whole Earth Catalog in 1968 the military industrial complex is all around them. It is paying for their education sort of effectively or paying for the facilities where they’re going to college at Berkeley or Stanford or name your research university—University of Washington. It is the available jobs to them. It is paying for the computers that they learn to code on and that they’re doing their work on. It is everywhere and it is—and when you are kind of rebelling against that establishment, when you see that establishment is waging war in Vietnam as being a power—not a power for good but a power for evil or for a malevolent—a government you don’t trust whose power, whose motivations you don’t trust, then you—you know, you want to really push back against that and that is very much what the personal computer movement that then becomes an industry is. That’s why all those people who were sitting around in the 1970s in Xerox Palo Alto Research Center—Xerox Park—just spitballing ideas, they just did not want to have anything to do with military technology. So that’s still there, and then that—and that ethos also suffused other actors in, you know, American government and culture in the 1980s forward, the sort of anti-government sentiment, and the concerns about concentrated power continue to animate all of this. And the great irony is that has enabled the growth of these private companies to the power of states. (Laughs.) So it’s kind of both of those things are happening and I think, in some ways, wanting to completely revolutionize the whole system was something that was not quite possible to do, although many—it is extraordinary how much it has done. CASA: Margaret, thank you very much for this fascinating discussion and to all of you for your questions and comments. I hope you will follow Margaret on Twitter at @margaretomara. Our next Academic Webinar will take place on Wednesday, March 1, at 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Chris Li, director of research of the Asia Pacific Initiative and fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, will lead a conversation on U.S. strategy in East Asia. In the meantime, I encourage you to learn about CFR’s paid internships for students and fellowships for professors at CFR.org/Careers. Follow at @CFR_Academic on Twitter and visit CFR.org, ForeignAffairs.com, and ThinkGlobalHealth.org for research and analysis on global issues. Thank you again for joining us today. We look forward to you tuning in for our webinar on March 1. Bye. (END)  
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    Richard N. Haass, president of CFR and author of The World: A Brief Introduction, leads a post-election conversation on the United States’ global role and discusses the events and ideas that have shaped today's world. FASKIANOS: Good afternoon to you all. Welcome to CFR's Fall 2020 Academic Webinar series. I'm Irina Faskianos, vice president of the National Program and Outreach at CFR. Today's webinar is on the record and the video and transcript will be available on our website, CFR.org/academic. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We're delighted to have Dr. Richard Haass with us today. Dr. Haass is in his eighteenth year as president of the Council on Foreign Relations. He has served as a senior Middle East advisor to President George H.W. Bush, the State Department's director of policy planning under Secretary of State Colin Powell, and in various positions in the Defense and State Departments during the Carter and Reagan administrations. He also was U.S. coordinator for policy toward the future of Afghanistan and the U.S. envoy to both the Cyprus and the Northern Ireland peace talks. He's a recipient of the State Department's Distinguished Honor Award, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and Tipperary International Peace Award. He is the author or editor of fourteen books on U.S. foreign policy and one book on management. His latest book is The World: A Brief Introduction published by Penguin Press. Richard, it's great to have you with us today. I would love to begin with your book, The World: A Brief Introduction, and have you talk a little bit about why you wrote it, and then pivot to the ForeignAffairs.com piece that you just authored, “Repairing the World: The Imperative—and Limits—of a Post-Trump Foreign Policy.” We're obviously a week after the U.S. presidential election, and we would love to hear your take on the challenges facing the incoming Biden administration. HAASS: Well, thank you, Irina. For the record, even though this is my eighteenth year as president, this must be your 180th year in your capacity. So just want to set the record straight for anybody on this and by the way, welcome everybody, thank you for taking the hour to be with us. Irina asked me a question that I could speak at length about but I will show uncharacteristic discipline and not filibuster and keep it short, because I'd much prefer to save as much time as we can for your comments or questions. So two issues. One, why did I write this book and to talk about the agenda, the inbox, that will greet the forty-sixth president of the United States. First, the book. I wrote this book, A World: A Brief Introduction, because I think there's an enormous gap between, on one hand, the objective importance of the world in our lives, and on the other hand, the degree to which most people in this country, but also other countries—but I'll focus on America—appreciate that. And there's a gap between the objective importance of the world and to the degree to which people understand it or place a priority on understanding it. We actually saw that pretty dramatically during the recent campaign. If you look at the debates, the town halls and the like, foreign policy barely figured. And I've only seen one exit poll asking people why they voted the way they did, why they voted for this or that candidate. Virtually nobody, which kind of in the other category, 1 percent or less, voted because of foreign policy and international issues. And what's so surprising about that is here we are living with COVID-19 and what is so fundamental about it, it began in Wuhan, China, and got on the conveyor belt, if you will, of globalization. And here it is. Well, we just mark the nineteenth anniversary of 9/11. And what was that? That was a group of terrorists who trained in remote parts of remote Afghanistan, got on airplanes and killed three thousand people in a day here. Or any of you who live in or spend time on, say, the West Coast have been through the fires over the last few months. And these have dramatically worsened, the conditions made the forest far more susceptible and vulnerable to these fires because of climate change that essentially happens and comes from everywhere. We've just had an election—what was one of the features of it? Foreign interference. Oh, how? Through the internet, which is a largely unregulated, unpoliced domain. So in all these various ways the world matters. Yet people, again, don't seem to really understand it, don't place a priority on it. Many of you are college students. While these courses are about international relations and foreign policy are taught on most American campuses, very few actually require it as a condition of graduation. If you decide to take it because you're interested in it, or it's your major, it's one thing, but that places you in a minority. And so most young people graduate from college without a grounding in the world that will so fundamentally shape their lives. Most high schools don't even offer it. People of my generation, when we went to college, it wasn't required. So again, most didn't study it. If we did study it—two things. One, we've forgotten it. I have trouble remembering what I had for breakfast, much less what I studied fifty years ago. But second of all, that was a very different world. When I went to college in the late 1960s and early 1970s, that was essentially midway in the Cold War. Well, the Cold War ended thirty years ago. Interestingly enough, I think it was yesterday, that was the, what, thirty-first anniversary of the taking down of the Berlin Wall, the symbolic end to the Cold War. The Soviet Union doesn't exist any longer. So either we’ve forgotten it, or if we did remember it, a lot of it may not be relevant. If you watch the news, most of the news programs don't really cover the world with any frequency or depth. There's a lot of information on the internet. That's the good news. There's also a lot of misinformation on the internet. And that's the bad news. And the problem is the internet doesn't come with Post-its—it doesn't say read this, ignore that. So for any number of reasons, I think there's a gap between what informed citizens should know about the world and what they do. Or young people trying to make informed career decisions—should I go into the government? Should I become an academic? Should I become a journalist or a businessman or woman? Should I go work for some NGO? Investors? Businesspeople? The world matters in all sorts of ways. And what I tried to do was write essentially a short book that doesn't assume background in the history of the regions of the world or the issues that shape the world, and in three hundred pages try to give people what I think is a foundation. It's not everything you need to know, but I think it's the beginnings of what I believe people need to know. So that's what the book is, Irina. So now let me, I kind of feel like I'm steering the car, let me now grab the wheel. So what about the world that Mr. Biden will inherit? As I'm fond of pointing out when you run for president, you can choose just about anything you want. You can choose your running mate. In this case, Mr. Biden chose Senator Kamala Harris. You can choose what the platform says. The Democrats have an extensive platform; the Republicans actually chose not to have a platform this time around. If you win, you can choose what you say in your inaugural speech. If you win, you can decide who becomes secretary of state or secretary of defense. The only thing you can't choose if you win, is what's in your inbox—that's chosen for you. And that's when you walk into the Oval Office on that first day after the inaugural event, that's what greets you or slaps you in the face. This is a really demanding one, for a couple of reasons. One is the domestic setting. The new president will take office against the backdrop of a pandemic that is, by that point could be claiming as many as two thousand lives a day. We could have 150,000-200,000 new infections a day. Hospital capacity could be completely at its limit. So you have the public health aspects of it, but you also have all the economic consequences of it. It's unlikely that any medical development, whether vaccines, therapeutics, or anything else will either be available, or if it is available, whether it would be available of a scale that would make an appreciable dent in any of that come January or even February or later. You will have unemployment much higher than it was, say, a year ago. You'll have all sorts of people depending upon whether there's various relief legislation, living on the edge maybe unable to meet their next mortgage payment or their rent. We've obviously got tremendous political divisions. A poll I saw this morning showed seven out of ten Republicans do not believe the—well seven out of ten people who voted for Mr. Trump, which is roughly seventy million people, do not believe that the election was legitimate, which then raises questions about whether they would come to see Mr. Biden when he becomes president as legitimate. So you've got a country that's truly divided politically. You've got a social media and cable and talk radio, all of which will in some ways both feed and reflect those divisions. We got racial divisions in this country and massive wealth inequality. It’s a long list. So the domestic dimension of the inbox is daunting. And then internationally, you've got two groups of challenges. You've got, if you will, the familiar stuff—great-power rivalry, China, Russia, what have you. That's the stuff of history. And then now in this era, we also have all sorts of global challenges. I've already mentioned several: infectious disease, climate change, an unregulated internet. You've got proliferation, you've got terrorism, and so forth. So in all these areas, there's a real gap between the nature of the challenge and whatever collective response is out there, be it the institutions or rules, what have you. So what this adds up to is this incredibly demanding international agenda against the backdrop of a really demanding domestic situation. So there's no one crisis other than COVID, which is a big enough crisis. It's not like there's a massive hot war, like the presidents who got elected during major wars, be it Korea or Vietnam or Iraq. So it's nothing that acute in the traditional geopolitical sense, but if you add up everything I've mentioned, and I believe beginning with the pandemic, I think it's an extraordinarily difficult situation. And one of the questions for Mr. Biden, that's what I wrote about in this Foreign Affairs piece, is how does he choose his priorities? If he has to deal with the domestic challenges beginning with COVID, how does he deal with that yet still focus sufficiently on his international challenges? The world never says to the United States or any country, okay, go sort your problems out and when you're good and ready, we'll be happy to have you back. History doesn't work that way. So the question is, how much time does Mr. Biden allocate to international subjects? What international subjects? What's essentially his agenda, all the while he's trying to get COVID-19 under control. And that's what I was writing about, basically think through how he might think through that question. FASKIANOS: Great, thank you very much for that overview. And we're going to go now right to questions to all of you, because we do want to hear from you and everything's fair game—well almost everything. So if you want to ask a question, please click on the “participants” icon at the bottom of your screen and raise your hand there or you can also type your answer, sorry, your question in the Q&A box. And our good colleagues— HAASS: I think, Irina, I think people can also type their answer. And then we could turn this into Jeopardy! in honor of Alex Trebek and we could— FASKIANOS: That's a great idea. I just want to thank you, Jim Harrington, for your comments. "Richard," he says, "thank you not just for the book, but also the excellent support and materials directed toward teaching foreign affairs." HAASS: Thank you. That's the kind of feedback I love. FASKIANOS: Right. So now there are lots of hands raised, and I'm going to go first to Mojubaolu Okome. And please remember to unmute yourself, and— HAASS: Let us know what school you go to and what your major is or anything else we need to know. Q: Okay, well, my name is Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome. I teach political science at Brooklyn College. HAASS: Brooklyn College? My father was a graduate of Brooklyn College. Q: I hope you have given big money. Well, you know, one of the puzzles for me is that the U.S. is the most powerful country in the world. If the world really matters, what accounts for the profound level of insularity about world affairs and also diplomatic history in this country, you know? HAASS: (Laughs.) Well, it's a question I ask myself an awful lot. And, again, it's in part what led me to write this book. But let me say a couple things because I think it's a profoundly important question and there's not an obvious answer. But when you look at the full sweep of American history, nearly two and a half centuries now, the preponderance of that time we have not made the world a priority. In some ways, the last seventy to seventy-five years since the end of World War II are the exception. Or if you take World War II, basically from 1941 through the present, these, what eighty years, where the United States has been heavily involved in the world, that's pretty much it other than a couple of years during World War I. But the preponderance of time, the principle American foreign policy tradition is isolationism. It’s minimal involvement with the world. Why is that? Well, I think at the time of our founding, there was great suspicion about the Old World, the whole idea was to get away from it. You look at George Washington's speech, and he talked about early on about avoidance of entangling alliances. There was a continent to ultimately subdue and then populate. There were domestic challenges, not the least of which was a civil war. There was all the advantages of this very fertile, mineral rich continent so there was a sense of self sufficiency. Threats in the world seemed pretty distant until the arrival of modern weaponry and then means of travel. So in some ways, it's understandable, this is the whole idea of the New World was to get away from the Old and the oceans were, kind of, what seemed to be moats offering this new country considerable protection. The country had enough on its hands dealing with itself and its economic development, of, again, westward expansion, a civil war, Reconstruction, domestic challenges. And I think what really changed it more than anything else was World War II and the arrival of the modern state and its ability to go to war on a grand scale and the attack the United States suffered at Pearl Harbor. And what it brought home is that in the modern age, the oceans were no longer moats—that the United States no longer had the luxury of isolationism, that the world would find us one way or another even if we didn't want it to. And even with that, it's been a struggle after World War II. There were still once again isolationists. They were ultimately beaten back. But I think what we're seeing in recent years with the end of the Cold War, with the sense that the United States overstretched, overreached in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, we're seeing this resurgence of what George McGovern, a democratic political candidate, what, nearly fifty years ago, talked about of coming home. And what I said about this domestic inbox, for a lot of people, the United States needs to focus on itself. And my whole argument is, yes, we need to deal with our domestic challenges, but again, we don't have the luxury of trying to deal with them in isolation, but a lot of Americans don't appreciate that. We don't teach it in our schools, which again, I think reinforces the sense that the world doesn't matter. But look, as you would expect, as I expect you hear in my voice, I am the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. The subject you raise is the source of more than a little frustration to me. So I get up early in the morning, and I talk about the world on morning television. And I talk about it at times during the day and I write more articles and books then it's probably healthy for me, and it's probably more than any reader wants to read. And I dedicated a big chunk of what we do with the Council on Foreign Relations now to trying to teach young people and educate them about the world, but it's just, I mean, I think you raised a really great point. I don't have a better answer than the one I gave, but my view is whatever the reason, I think it's truly, truly unfortunate. It's not in our interest. You've made the career decision to push back by your teaching. I've made the career decision to push back by my writing and my speaking and so forth. And I think it's not going to be an effort that's ever going to be won once and for all. My hunch is it's a constant effort with every generation, with every class of students, and so forth to make the case. Thank you for raising that. FASKIANOS: Great, thank you. I'm going to go next to Babak Salimitari, who has raised his hand and also written the question. Babak is an undergraduate student at the University of California, Irvine and he says, "How will U.S. relations change with Iran in the Biden administration." HAASS: My last job in government, which I left now, what, seventeen to eighteen years ago, was I was the head of the policy planning staff. And I used to say, I'm in charge of policy planning but not policy predicting. So my crystal ball is no better than yours. I would think this will be one of the difficult issues for this administration, because they're coming into office and you've got an Iran that is truly repressive against its own people at home, violates human rights on a large scale. In the region, they support all sorts of, what I would call, “imperial efforts,” using groups like Hezbollah, using terrorism, using their own forces to basically be quite dominant in parts of the region. They've got a nuclear program that has increasingly operated outside the limits established by the 2015 agreement that Iran was one of the parties to, which the United States was a party to originally but has subsequently, under the Trump administration, left. So the question is going to be what do you do about all these different facets of Iranian policy—the domestic, the regional, the nuclear and missile? Do you deal with all of them? Do you just deal initially with the nuclear and missile in kind of segregation? One other thing I should say is the administration will inherit a policy from the Trump administration. I mentioned one part, which was to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear accord. You have a strengthening of Iran’s neighbors, for example, the recent decision to provide F-35 fighter bombers to a country like the United Arab Emirates. The United States still has some forces in the region, including in Iraq, I think, five thousand or so, if my memory serves me right. And all sorts of sanctions—indeed, between now and the end of January, when Mr. Biden takes over, I expect there'll be a whole new set of sanctions introduced against Iran. So I think one of the big decisions for the administration is going to be what do they do? What do they add? What do they subtract? In particular do they enter the 2015 agreement? If so, under what conditions? In order for us to reenter it, what would Iran have to do? And even if we were to reenter it, it's not a solution because the nuclear dimensions of that agreement begin to expire in five years. And the question then is, we'd be no more comfortable with Iran developing nuclear capabilities in five years or ten years than we are now. It's one of the reasons that people like me had, shall we call it, limited enthusiasm for this agreement. And the question is, so what will this administration do? So I think one of their big early decisions is going to be what to do about the Iran agreement. And unlike some other aspects of foreign policy, where there could be a degree of overlap with the Congress and with the Republicans, this one is potentially not. So I think this could be substantively difficult, diplomatically challenging, and politically quite controversial. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I'm going to go to a raised hand to Mohammed Arshad, who's an undergrad student at the University of Bridgeport. So please accept— HAASS: As in Connecticut? Q: Yes, I'm an undergraduate student. I study international political economy and diplomacy from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut. And first of all, I'd like to thank CFR and especially the International Institutions and Global Governance Program, which has helped me immensely throughout my undergraduate studies. And it is just a great program, I'm even seeking an internship there next semester. So over to my question. My question is that, as Biden won, a lot of, let's say, the Global South or developing countries, they were not enthusiastic or overtly happy like one would expect. So my question is, does U.S. foreign policy change with an administration or is it crafted by establishment that is not dependent on a blue government or a red government, but just based on U.S. interests? Or does it really change with a new incumbent president? Thanks. HAASS: Well, it's an interesting question. And obviously, there's always elements of continuity, and there's always elements of change. So it's not either/or. Any administration that takes over inherits all sorts of policies, arrangements, commitments—you never start with a blank slate. So, and there's often a lot of continuity. I think what's different about the Trump administration is that they probably introduced greater change than any other administration in the modern era. By the modern era, I'm beginning with the first of the post-World War II presidents, Harry Truman, back in 1945-1946. So there was more change than usual this time. So I would think Mr. Biden will also introduce change. In some cases, he'll go back to what existed before Mr. Trump. He will selectively, probably perpetuate a few things that Mr. Trump did. And he will probably innovate, yet again, in some other areas. In my experience, I've been involved in any number of transitions in both directions. I've been involved with transitions to a new president, working for the person coming in. And I've been involved in transitions for the president, either who lost or was retiring and helping the new team. By the way, it's more fun being involved for the president coming in than it is the one going out, but that's a digression. But I think in this case, you'll probably have more change than usual, reflecting the fact that Mr. Trump represented more of a change than usual. And in the previous transitions, change always came but it tended to be at least modest at the beginning or gradual, and even at the end, was rarely fundamental. I think, again, Mr. Trump represented more of a departure than usual. So my guess is Mr. Biden will represent more of a departure seen against the backdrop of Mr. Trump, probably less of a departure seen against the backdrop of Mr. Trump's predecessors. Now, one other thing you talked about the career bureaucrats. Every president gets the opportunity to appoint approximately four thousand people. And these are four thousand political appointees, and they're scattered around the executive branch—people at the White House, might be a couple of hundred at the Pentagon, or a couple of hundred at the State Department or Treasury. That's the political layer at the top of the U.S. government—the cabinet, the subcabinet, and others. And these people have tremendous influence. They have considerable authority. At the same time, if they're smart, they ask and they depend on, in many ways, the career bureaucrats because they understand the history, they're experts, and there's a kind of a working relationship between careerists and political appointees. In this administration, Mr. Trump's, it was a much more hostile relationship than I've ever seen. And political appointees tended often not to listen, or even to meet with the careerists. A lot of them were fired along the way. But again, I would think in a Biden administration, you're more likely to have a more cooperative relationship between career professionals and the political appointees. FASKIANOS: Thank you, we have several questions in the Q&A box about America's global decline, Richard. How it's intensifying, how do you strike the right balance between doing too much and too little abroad? And if U.S. relative power is in decline, how strongly do international laws need to be defended, revisited, or adjusted for this new era that we're in? HAASS: Let's just sort of be clear about our terms. The United States is not in a position to determine its relative power, because relative power is a function of our absolute power and the absolute power of everybody else. So if the United States increases, say, the economy grows by 2 percent or our military by some measure gets 3 percent stronger, those are absolute gains. If it turns out though that the economies of others grow by 3 percent or 4 percent, so even by that measure we'll be stronger economically, but our relative economic position will have suffered or even if our military improves by, again, some abstract measure of 3 percent, but other militaries improve by some abstract measure of 5 percent, again, you could say our relative power has gone down even though our absolute power has gone up. So again, all we can control is our absolute power. That's the reality of international relations. Others will make decisions themselves about what they want to do, what their resources allow them to do. And one way to think about international relations is the effort to translate power into influence, power is capability, influences is something very different. It's the ability to persuade or force, depending on the circumstance, others to do what it is you would like them to do. And that's a very different thing and power can be one of the mechanisms by which that happens, but there's also diplomacy, other ways to persuade people to do things. Indeed, one way to think about what you try to do in diplomacy is to try to get others to see their self-interest in ways that you would define your self-interest and to try to get the two closer. And that's part of the process of consultation or negotiation. I think what's difficult about the world we live in, and I write about it a little bit in the book, is the United States, for all of its extraordinary power, economically, what, we're still about a fifth or a quarter of the world's economy, we still have the world's most capable military, we have lots of other resources from extraordinary universities to great laboratories, great companies, and so forth. The United States has extraordinary assets or advantages but so too do a lot of other countries. We hear about China a lot, Japan, Europe, other countries may have energy resources or minerals. You also have all sorts of actors out there who aren't even countries who matter. If you're thinking about who matters most in cyber, you might have some of the Silicon Valley companies—the Alphabets, the Googles, the Facebooks, the Twitters, the Microsofts, what have you. If you're thinking about global health, the single most important entity might not be the World Health Organization, or might be, but it's also the Gates Foundation. So there's lots of other pieces on the chessboard, not all of them are nation states. But I think what's interesting about this period of history, there's a lot of power of different types, a lot of capabilities in a lot of different hands. So it's a world of what you might call "distributed power." I once used the phrase, "nonpolarity." Normally, we think of a couple of principal poles, like during the Cold War was bipolarity—two poles. Or some other periods of history we've used the phrase multipolarity, and classically, that meant three, four, five or six centers of power. The reason I use the phrase “nonpolarity” is there's so many centers of meaningful power—countries, terrorist groups, companies, media organizations, foundations, even wealthy individuals in some cases. So this is a world where you've got more power in more hands than arguably at any of the time in human history. So for all of our strengths, the United States, we've got to navigate and operate in this world where there's a lot of others who can bring capacity to bear. And even if we have the most power overall, think about it, you can't bring all the power you have to bear in every situation. I mean, it's as if, it's like one of those games and you've got like a card game, you've got a stack of chips, the United States has the biggest stack of chips than anybody else. But if there's fifty or a hundred squares on the board, we've got to decide how to allocate the chips. So we may allocate two or three of our pile of chips to this or that square, well, someone else, if that's the only square they're playing on, they may have four chips. So even if we're the strongest power overall, we're not necessarily the strongest power on a certain issue, on a certain part of the world. Well, for us, something may be pretty important but for somebody else, it may be the only thing that really matters. So they may have far more tenacity, for more will and commitment than we have. Or we may not agree. There might be political divisions in our country, whether socially or in Congress or what have you. So this ability to how you measure power, I introduced the phrase in the book, "available power." So it's not simply the power you have on a piece of paper if you're adding it up, but it's the power that's available given all the commitments you have on the political realities that may say, yes, you've got a stack of chips this high, that's ten feet high, but for this particular challenge you can only actually spare one chip because of everything else you're committed to and all the political considerations. So, I mean, it's a complicated question, is what I'm trying to say, about how you measure power and simply the static measures. You've got this many tanks, and this many planes, and this many missiles or this many dollars, that's all true, but that's only the beginning of the conversation. It's not the end of it. FASKIANOS: Great, I'm going to go to Jillian Burns in the Q&A box. She thanks us for all that we are doing to help educators. Her students at GWU enjoy Model Diplomacy. That's good to hear. Her priority, one of her priorities, in her U.S. foreign policy class is developing strategic planning skills. [Burns writes], "Can you talk about a recent example when you think the U.S. did an excellent job research embedding policy options through the interagency process and then track the effectiveness of its decisions after the fact. And any advice you have, Richard, for future foreign policy makers on how to become good strategists?" HAASS: Well, let me start with the latter and then I'll come back to the former. Look, this question of how to become good—strategy, it's not like if you want to become a good chef and you can go to cookbooks. I'm not sure there's a strategist cookbook or recipes for how to be good. I think, to me, the single most useful thing to look at is history. It's not that situations repeat themselves, but to use the old cliche, it rhymes. And I think that one can learn from history what other people did in certain situations. And then one can think about what's analogous, what's similar, what's dissimilar to the situation you find yourselves in and thinking about things. So I'm a great believer in reading history, reading biography to get a sense of how others have thought—I mean, there's books about strategy, including a book called On Strategy. Any number of books of strategy, but I find history and biography, in some ways, the best way to go—a really useful book in this regard, was written by two former colleagues of mine. I used to teach with them at the Kennedy School—Richard Neustadt and Ernie May—called Thinking in Time, about the uses of history for decision-makers. Also several books by Alexander George. And what all these books have in common is their attempt to take things that seem distant, whether history or whatever, and then apply them to current situations. But if you think about some of the great strategy documents in American foreign policy histories, I'm hard pressed to think or say, let's just take the ones that emerged at the beginning of the Cold War and right after World War II. The containment doctrine written by George Kennan, NSC 68, and so forth. These were really important documents. But they were infused with a history, knowledge of Russian history, of communism, what the Soviet Union represented and people understood the need to prioritize and think about the relationship between resource and purpose. People have read a lot about how other people have dealt with, how empires have been successful and not so successful, had dealt with their challenges. So for me, I can't think of anything better than to, again, think of, again, get heavily involved with history, to some extent, biography. I do think also case study teaching can be useful to think about. Where I think we've done really poorly in some ways, this gets me to the first half, is think about where the United States was thirty-odd years ago, we came out of the Cold War, we won it on terms that were wildly favorable. The Soviet Union lost, it unraveled. A lot of the countries that were part of the Soviet external Empire, the Eastern European countries, became independent. Many became democratic initially. You then had the Soviet Union, itself, dissolve. Some of those countries became democratic. Coming back to the previous question, the United States enjoyed a situation of real relative power advantage. And one of the questions would be, well, how did we do with that? How did we do with that situation? How did strategy makers do and I would say, not so hot. And just sort of, say, looking back on it thirty years later, we don't have all that much to show, I would argue, for the tremendous advantages we had coming out of the Cold War. So it's an interesting exercise to say, well, what should the United States have done? What should we have maybe not done that we did? And what should we have done that we didn’t? So almost a reverse strategy exercise. Did we have options and opportunities that we did not avail ourselves and did we make mistakes and what it was we did? For example, a lot of people would say things, some would say NATO enlargement was a mistake. Some would say, well, many would say the Iraq War was a mistake or elements of the Afghan War were a mistake. So, I think, one could go back and sort of ask those questions. I feel pretty good about how something I was involved in how we did after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the summer of 1990, and how we put together a strategy for dealing with that—the various elements of it, the military, the diplomatic, the economic, and all that. But if you're talking about grand strategy, which is less how you deal, I mean, one could think of strategy at almost various levels. And there's a strategy for dealing with China now, we need that, or a strategy for dealing with Russia. The new administration will come up with their strategies for dealing with all this or climate change or global health or North Korea. So there's this strategy at that level, the specific level. And then I think there's kind of a grander strategy, how to think about America's role in the world or how to think about how strategy really matches objectives and means. When you think about what is it we're trying to bring about and what are we going to do to try to bring it about. And that's what strategy is, it's not simply the articulation of ends. But again, it's the integration of ends and means. In my experience there is not too many good examples of it, certainly at the grand level. The last time I think there was a great success at the grand level was after World War II. And thinking about both the narrow effort against communism and the broader effort to build institutions to help the world recover from World War II. I think that was the last great strategic moment for the United States, and then you have the next forty years of implementation. I don't think we had an equivalent, really creative strategic moment, after the end of the Cold War. And we are where we are now. And I think one of the questions that I've been grappling with in my articles and books over the years is what would be a strategic approach to this era. And I put out some ideas about how we have to, in some ways, rethink sovereignty. We have to deal with the traditional problems of strategy, dealing with a rising China or a cranky Russia. We've got to deal with narrowing the gap between global challenges and global policies and responses. But I also think part of the goal has to be to come up with a slightly different relationship, or a bit different way to think about sovereignty. And despite, in addition to the rights of sovereignty, I also think in a global world, we have to start thinking about the obligations of sovereignty. And I would argue that that would be a strategic approach for the United States. But we're a long ways away from that. But I think it's a great exercise for anyone, whether they're working at a think tank, like the Council, or they're a student or in a class to basically say, you got a new administration, okay, so if Mr. Biden and his team, once they're together, what should be—I mean, you can look at all the different challenges and pieces, China, Russia, but if you took a step back and said, what should be the grand strategy of the United States now? What should be the common approach? How do we explain it to ourselves and to the American people? How do we explain it to our allies? How do we explain it to the world? What's the mechanism, the measure, or the matrix by which we determine our priorities? What are our ends and then how do we match our means to those ends? That to me is what strategy is all about. It's been a while since we've had anything like that. FASKIANOS: Thank you. I’m going to go next to Derek Suthammanont. He's at Texas Tech. Q: Hello. I'm Derek Suthammanont, I'm a senior in international economics at Texas Tech, even though I'm here in DC because I'm studying remotely. So, it seems like a lot the issues that you mention in A World in Disarray is that domestic issues affect trust and foreign issues or institutions. So with a Biden administration, how do you propose we rebuild trust in those foreign institutions and basically distinguish them from our own domestic issues and people who muddle the two together? HAASS: Well, the best way I know to build trust in foreign institutions is to show that they can deliver. Trust in something like—interrupt me if I haven't understood your question—but trust in something like the World Health Organization right now is significantly reduced because it didn't perform as it could and should have when the virus broke out in late 2019, early 2020. So one question is, well, how do we restore the, well not restore, how do we create a World Health Organization or some other vehicle that merits our trust? You've got an opportunity, potentially, with the various efforts to produce and distribute, allocate, so forth, a vaccine. That might be a mechanism by which we can earn some trust. If you can make progress in dealing with climate change, whether it's through Paris or some other vehicles, that would build trust. If the UN or some other vehicle could deal with this or that conflict or a North Korea or an Iranian nuclear challenge. Basically, I think, institutions and countries and individuals earn trust when they earn it. When they don't demonstrate their added value or utility, they tend to bleed trust. I think it's probably that straightforward, but maybe I missed your—I think it is also a little bit of suspicion in this country about these international institutions that somehow the deck is stacked against us or obviously we don't control them. At most, we influence them. In lots of cases there's resentment over burden sharing. I think some of the effort is also on us. It's not simply how the institutional arrangement part, we’ve got to explain the costs and benefits. I grow weary of some of the conversations about alliances. I think that people harp way too time and what they see is the shortfalls and ignore what I would see as many of the benefits that accrue to us. But that to me is a challenge of education and public explanation. I don't think we do a very good job of making the case for our foreign policy, of explaining indirectly to where I began the hour about why the world matters and why what we do is good, not just for the world, but is good for ourselves. I don't think we're very good at connecting the dots and creating a something of a lobby or at least a part of the population that's ready to support us in the world. Because they see it as something that is fully consistent with our own self-interest. I don't think we're very good at explaining it. The last president I thought who was really, really, really good at it, before my time, was FDR during World War II and his ability to using the so-called "fireside chats," the radio talks, to almost turn the Oval Office into a classroom and explain to the American people why certain things were—he kind of took them to places they didn't know they were ready to go. And I think we need more of that in foreign policy. I think we need to use the Oval Office and senior people in the administration need to devote more of their time, not simply talking to experts and their foreign counterparts, but talking to this country to make the case for why it is what they're doing is in the country's interest and deserves the country's support. FASKIANOS: Thank you. There's several questions on China in the box about whether the Biden administration will be taking a different strategy with China. Is there a future for non-China alliances like the Quad [Quadrilateral Security Dialogue]? And is there a possibility that there would be a U.S.–China cooperation on climate change? HAASS: Look, I think actually there'll be more continuity than many people realize in U.S.–China relations. In many areas of foreign policy, there's big gaps between the Republicans and Democrats than more, say, between the Trump administration and what's likely to be a Biden administration. I actually think on China, the consensus in this country was changing towards China quite a few years ago. And the Trump administration was a part of that and a reflection of it at one in the same time. And I think the big reason is that the China that we now have is one that people are much more worried about. This is a China that is perceived widely as much more repressive at home and people point to the treatment of the Uighur minority, of what happened in Hong Kong. This is a China that has not played, if you will, the economic game, has not adopted trade practices that were our expectation and understanding when, for example, they became members in the World Trade Organization nearly two decades ago. There's been a lot of theft of intellectual property, just to name one thing. This is a China that's not just built up its military but is becoming far more assertive in places like the South China Sea, militarizing it even when they gave us a pledge they would not militarize it. This is a China that's beginning to act in a more intimidating way towards, say, Taiwan, obviously towards India. We've seen skirmishes along the border. So I think the biggest change is in China. This is a somewhat different China under the current leadership under Xi Jinping. And I think we're seeing a pretty broad American reaction to it. That said, I still think it, how do I put it, it's in our interest to limit our differences with China if possible, to see that these differences don't spill over into confrontation. That's the last thing we would want. We also want to conduct our relationship with China, if possible, that we push back where we have to over human rights or over trade or over strategic differences. But it's done in a way, if possible, that it does not rule out the possibility of a cooperation where it's in our interest to cooperate, be it on, you asked about climate change, that would be an area, or reining in North Korea's nuclear missile programs, or maybe doing something on Afghanistan, China borders on Afghanistan. So I think the conceptual challenge with China is how do we push back where we must? How do we avoid pushing where it's simply not smart? For example, I thought the current administration went way too far in essentially calling for an end to the role of the Communist Party. That's going to be for China to work out, the role of the Communist Party. And we don't want to, again, preclude the possibility of cooperation where it's in our interest to cooperate. It's going to be complicated and just describing it, it's complicated. So diplomacy is easier when it's one directional, when it's black and white, but it rarely is and in the case of China, it's a rainbow. And we're going to have to figure out how is it we compete in certain areas, we even, to some extent, confront in others, yet we maybe cooperate in still others. That's going to place a real premium on statecraft, on foreign policy, diplomacy, call it what you will. I think we're likely to be much more successful if we enlist allies and partners in Asia, Europe, India, and others in the process. So it's not just China against the United States, but it's China against many others. And again, I think, if we focus on shaping Chinese foreign policy, if that's the principal focus of our foreign policy, I think we've got a decent chance of succeeding if, again, we enlist others in the effort. And I think in some areas, like the economic, what'll end up is we will have areas where we continue to do business with China, but in some areas, we won't be able to. Some areas in advanced technology, that could be used either for economic competition or has military purposes, we're going to have to basically go our separate ways. And the challenge will be, again, how do we how do we divide things? How do we promote economic involvement in many areas but still have exceptions in others? So again, it's not going to be a one directional or one-dimensional relationship. But this will be critical and as goes this relationship, so will go a lot of the next few decades. So I do think it's the single most important bilateral relationship we have. The quality of this relationship has deteriorated in recent years. I think that's more on China than on us. But again, if possible, it's still in our interest to try to help steer this relationship in different directions. But that's also up to China. That's also up to Xi Jinping. We'll just have to see if they are prepared to do that as well. FASKIANOS: There's so many questions. I'm sorry that we're just not going to be able to get to them all. But I'm going to try to— HAASS: Can we blame that on you? Should we blame that on the moderator? FASKIANOS: (Laughs.) Yes, we can blame it on me. I want to sort of come back to where we began with two questions: one for the professors and one for the students. So Katrinka Somdahl-Sands says, "How do you see The World is different from your text, A World in Disarray? What kind of courses do you see each book fitting best?" And then if you could talk a little bit, Richard, about, I mean, we've seen the hollowing out of the State Department over the past four years, which may be off-putting to some thinking about pursuing a Foreign Service officer career. What would you say to students thinking about pursuing a career in the Foreign Service? HAASS: I’ll take the latter one first. Don't give up on it. I think you'll see a major commitment to reviving diplomacy as an instrument of national security and to reviving, and I also hope modernizing, the Foreign Service. The Foreign Service had issues long before the Trump administration, not nearly enough training, and so forth. I think there's questions about what the role of a Foreign Service officer should be, what an embassy should be in the age given the technologies we have, and so forth. So what I'm hoping is that it's revived, that diplomacy is once again at the front table, that Foreign Service officers are involved in quality, non-Foreign Service officers are appointed to senior jobs in the State Department and National Security Council and so forth. I think this will happen, so don't give up on this. And I think there's so many ways to have a—whether it's a career Foreign Service job, career intelligence, military, or you can be an academic or others who go in either for a long time or short time—you can be a political appointee. So I really, really hope that people don't give up on this as a career. I can say, speaking personally, it's been extraordinarily interesting and satisfying. And there's few things better, if anything, than being involved in government when it's good and working on things that really do affect the lives and welfare and security of your country, of other people in this country and around the world. It really is purposeful. And when it's good, it literally doesn't get any better. When it's not always good, but like any job, even as Irina would confess, working for me at the Council on Foreign Relations, it has its off days. And I think it's been particularly tough, unfortunately so, the last few years where the expertise of career professionals was often not respected. But I do think this is something of an aberration. Again, I've worked for four presidents, Democrats and Republicans alike, and this is different. So my feeling is, I think, with a Biden administration, it'll go back more to the tradition where more talented people have a chance to contribute to policy. So I would hope that people would consider it for a career. And there's lots of different ways, again, to do it. Lots of different bureaucracies or departments to work in and you can think of it as a stint, as something you might just do for a couple of years or it could be something to do as a career. If you're not sure, try it. And then you might say, great, I'm glad I had that experience now I'm going to leave and go take over Amazon from Jeff Bezos or go do something else. So I just think, but I would hope that, particularly students of international relations, at some point, you will also be, even if you decide to become an academic, you will be a better academic if you spent at least one tour inside the government. It's always good to see how the sausage is being made if you're going to write about it. Asked about the books, look, A World in Disarray, now the world's in greater disarray. I'm not sure what disarray squared is. But I think it's there. I think there's a chance for there to be something of a correction. And I think you'll see a revitalization of alliances, the United States getting back into some institutions, but, it's a big but, reducing the disarray significantly will be managing the U.S.–China relationship and the U.S.–Russia relationship, basically great-power issues. What I've been talking about a lot today, narrowing this gap between global challenges and global responses is critical. And we'll only be able to do all that if we get, among other things, COVID under control here at home. So I would simply say if there were a measure of disarray, there's more disarray now than it was four or five years ago when I wrote the book. The good news is though it's not anarchy, it's not chaos. It's just disarray. It's almost like in caps. If we were going to tweet about it, now we probably put it in caps. It's stronger, but disarray is less a switch than it's a dial. And I think there's an opportunity, a possibility of dialing it down to some extent. But just there's enormous structural challenges out there related to globalization and great-power competition that have to be dealt with if the disarray is going to be meaningfully reduced. Both Disarray and The World are meant for courses on international relations. They're also meant for things like freshman seminars, for nonspecialists. I mean, they’re meant for things that only could be the one thing a nonspecialist reads. It couldn't be part of an introductory course. Neither are, per se, foreign policy books, but both have elements of foreign policy in them. I mean, they're both biased against isolationism. They're both biased against unilateralism. They both discuss foreign policy. So they can be used either as a backdrop to a foreign policy course or as kind of the bones of an international—particularly The World is meant for the bones of an international relations course. Indeed, Irina can get it to you, the teachers. We've done a syllabus based on The World and an entire course based upon using The World and using Foreign Affairs and then primary source of publicly available documents. It'd be the least expensive course ever taught on an American campus, I think. And the whole idea is, again, to make it accessible either as a basic international relations course or something as part of a larger curriculum dealing with IR and foreign policy combined. How's that Irina? FASKIANOS: That was fantastic. Thank you, Richard. Obviously, I would not have been at the Council so long if I had off days with Richard. It has been a pleasure to work for him and with him as we have really mounted this education initiative and try to provide resources for all of you and your students. As Richard said, you can follow him on Twitter @RichardHaass. You can visit his book page at CFR.org/book/world. The syllabus is there, we can send you a free exam copy. And to all of you students, please go to CFR.org regularly for coverage of the latest issues. We also have ThinkGlobalHealth.org and ForeignAffairs.com. Richard has overseen Model Diplomacy, a national security course, a National Security Council simulation, as well as World101, which is an online fundamentals of foreign policy. So we hope that you'll go to all those resources and take advantage of them. So Dr. Haass, thank you very much for your commitment. HAASS: Thank you all. Stay up stay healthy and safe out there everyone and have a wonderful Thanksgiving, which is coming up soon. Despite everything, still much to be thankful for. FASKIANOS: Agreed. Thank you all. Stay safe. (END)
  • China
    Pushing Back Against Beijing, With Aaron L. Friedberg
    Podcast
    Aaron L. Friedberg, professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss how the United States should respond to China’s growing strength and ambition. Read Friedberg’s article "An Answer to Aggression: How to Push Back Against Beijing" on ForeignAffairs.com.