A World Class mind with a star studded resume speaks

Richard Haass is the President of The Council on Foreign Relations – a nonpartisan organization whose main goal is to teach people to become globally literate. Haass correctly says that you are not going to learn about the world by watching Fox or MSNBC. That is where he comes in with books, speeches, TV appearances, etc.

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Here is a short biography of Richard Haass:

Haass served at the Department of Defense from 1979 to 1980, and at the Department of State from 1981 to 1985. From 1989 to 1993, he was Special Assistant to United States President George H. W. Bush and National Security Council Senior Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs. In 1991, Haass received the Presidential Citizens Medal for helping to develop and explain U.S. policy during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

Haass’s other postings include 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 Kennedy School of Government, and a research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.[7]

Throughout the 2008 Presidential campaign, Haass advised several members of both the Republican Party and Democratic Party on issues regarding foreign policy, but did not publicly endorse a candidate due to the Council on Foreign Relations’ non-partisan stance.”


Richard Haass recently gave a commencement talk at George Washington University followed by a Q and A session. Here are his thoughts on the world:

Haass started by noting that if you’re not worried, you’re not paying attention. For 70 years the world has had an extraordinary run – an aberration from hundreds of years of violent struggle. The question now is whether that run is over or whether we are going through a temporary aberration?

1 – Climate change. The earth is cooking at a dangerous rate even with the participation of the USA in the Paris accords

2 – Cyber is a weapon of mass destruction that can bring down a country’s financial systems, power grid etc. Cyber is the Wild West. There are cheap costs of entry, no Sheriffs, no rules and all guns. We don’t know who has done what and what remedies to apply. There is no one person who understands all of cyber. Unlike nuclear weapons we have no experts to turn to.

3 – There is no global or international community. The institutions of the past 70 years are aging badly.

4 – Great power rivalries like China and Russia are rising.

5 – Medium regional powers like Iran & North Korea are a problem. Trump oversold the “success” of the North Korea talks to USA.

6 – Weak States are just as big a problem. Terrorists, Criminals and refugees migrate to neighbors. Venezuela is an example where a diaspora is fleeing to its neighbors. Syria, Iraq and their neighbors led to a mass migration to Europe which could not be absorbed. This led to chaos and Brexit.

7 – The US has abdicated its role as world leader. Disorder is the natural way of things. The USA is able but unwilling to keep the order. We are rich and can afford to be the peace keeper.

8 – We are setting in motion what is probably a period of darkness and chaos. We should stick with what worked.

9 – John McCain was a role model. Strong democratic values represent the best of America. The world is now seeing that we are not reliable or dependable. When nations see that they can’t rely on the USA, more power will be distributed or smaller countries will come under the sphere of influence of bad but powerful neighbors like Russia, China, or Iran.

10 – Trump has a radical foreign policy. An aberration from the continuity of all Presidents since Truman. Conditionalizing our participation in NATO, getting out of TPP and the Paris Climate Accords, Imposing Tariffs on our allies and using National Security as an excuse. The list is endless.

11 – Trump is a one of the most consequential President’s in American history. Haass is concerned that the consequences are heavily negative. He believes Trump is a disaster.

12 – Turkey is not an ally. It is a member of NATO in name only. We have to get tough on them but tariffs just give Erdogan an excuse to blame us. We should have left Erdogan to screw up his country all by himself. No sale of our advanced war planes. Just wait him out until he is ousted.

13 – We must speak truth to power. We need a society that the world wants to emulate.

14 – Sleeper issues are Taiwan and the potential nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan.

15 – Climate refugees such as caused by the drought in South Africa can cause wars. As the world heats up, more people will flee around the globe. Many African climate migrants fled to Europe.

16 – Non communicable diseases such as caused by drugs and diabetes are more of a problem than infectious diseases.

17 – National Debt is exploding. “It is not a problem until it is.” It will become a problem and when it does it will put us in economic jeopardy.



Here is Richard Haass’ full GWU commencement speech and interview: Video courtesy c-span.org.

It is clear that much of Richard Haass’ thoughts overlap with those of Ian Bremmer: Every Nation for Itself in a G-Zero World. Right now the financial markets are ignoring the sea changes going on in the world. I cannot tell you when things will change, but the global warning signs are there. The alarm bells are close to ringing in the global house of cards. Investors should be forewarned about the financial risks inherent in this new world in disarray.