Richard Haass: CFR President
Dr. Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, a position he has held since July 2003.
The Council on Foreign Relations is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. …
From January 2001 to June 2003, Dr. Richard Haass was director of policy planning for the Department of State, where he was a principal adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Confirmed by the U.S. Senate to hold the rank of ambassador, Dr. Haass also served as U.S. coordinator for policy toward the future of Afghanistan and U.S. envoy to the Northern Ireland peace process. For his efforts, he received the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award.
Dr. Haass has extensive additional government experience. From 1989 to 1993, he was special assistant to President George H.W. Bush and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs on the staff of the National Security Council. In 1991, Dr. Haass was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal for his contributions to the development and articulation of U.S. policy during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Previously, he served in the Departments of State (1981‑85) and Defense (1979‑80) and was a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate.
Dr. Haass also was vice president and director of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, the Sol M. Linowitz visiting professor of international studies at Hamilton College, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. A Rhodes scholar, Dr. Haass holds a BA from Oberlin College and Master and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Oxford University. He has received honorary degrees from Hamilton College, Franklin & Marshall College, Georgetown University, Oberlin College, Central College, and Miami Dade College.
Dr. Richard Haass was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1951. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.
Dr. Haass is the author of books including:
Foreign Policy Begins at Home
The Case for Putting America’s House in Order
The biggest threat to the United States comes not from abroad but from within. This is the unexpected message of Council on Foreign Relations President Richard N. Haass in Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America’s House in Order.
“Many of the foundations of this country’s power are eroding,” he warns. “The effect, however, is not limited to a deteriorating transportation system or jobs that go unfilled or overseas owing to a lack of qualified American workers. To the contrary, shortcomings here at home directly threaten America’s ability to project power and exert influence overseas, to compete in the global marketplace, to generate the resources needed to promote the full range of US interests abroad, and to set a compelling example that will influence the thinking and behavior of others.”
A rising China, climate change, terrorism, a nuclear Iran, a turbulent Middle East, and a reckless North Korea all present serious challenges. But, Haass argues, U.S. national security depends even more on the United States addressing its crumbling infrastructure, second-class schools, outdated immigration system, and burgeoning debt, something that will require controlling entitlements rather than just raising taxes and cutting discretionary spending.
Haass rejects both isolationism and the notion of American decline. But he contends the country is underperforming at home and overreaching abroad. He argues that the United States must sharply limit its role in humanitarian interventions and in wars of choice designed to remake other societies, as was tried unsuccessfully in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, it should emphasize maintaining the balance of power in Asia, advancing North American economic integration and energy self-sufficiency, and promoting collective responses to global challenges.
The world is no longer dominated by one or more superpowers. Instead, the paramount feature of international relations in the first half of the twenty-first century is nonpolarity; power has been diffused, spread among an enormous list of entities capable in their own right to exert their influence. In addition to traditional nation-states, there are many other entities active in the political sphere, whether global (UN, World Bank), regional (European Union, NATO, Arab League), commercial (JPMorgan Chase, Exxon Mobil), disruptive, or altruistic. This world is relatively forgiving, however, with no great rival directly threatening American interests.
How long this strategic respite lasts and how well the nation continues to fare on the global stage, according to Haass, will depend largely on whether the United States puts its own house in order.