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A World in Disarray
Cover of A World in Disarray
A World in Disarray
American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order
Borrow Borrow Borrow
"A valuable primer on foreign policy: a primer that concerned citizens of all political persuasions—not to mention the president and his advisers—could benefit from reading." —The New York Times
An examination of a world increasingly defined by disorder and a United States unable to shape the world in its image, from the president of the Council on Foreign Relations

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. The rules, policies, and institutions that have guided the world since World War II have largely run their course. Respect for sovereignty alone cannot uphold order in an age defined by global challenges from terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons to climate change and cyberspace. Meanwhile, great power rivalry is returning. Weak states pose problems just as confounding as strong ones. The United States remains the world's strongest country, but American foreign policy has at times made matters worse, both by what the U.S. has done and by what it has failed to do. The Middle East is in chaos, Asia is threatened by China's rise and a reckless North Korea, and Europe, for decades the world's most stable region, is now anything but. As Richard Haass explains, the election of Donald Trump and the unexpected vote for "Brexit" signals that many in modern democracies reject important aspects of globalization, including borders open to trade and immigrants.
In A World in Disarray, Haass argues for an updated global operating system—call it world order 2.0—that reflects the reality that power is widely distributed and that borders count for less. One critical element of this adjustment will be adopting a new approach to sovereignty, one that embraces its obligations and responsibilities as well as its rights and protections. Haass also details how the U.S. should act towards China and Russia, as well as in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. He suggests, too, what the country should do to address its dysfunctional politics, mounting debt, and the lack of agreement on the nature of its relationship with the world.
A World in Disarray is a wise examination, one rich in history, of the current world, along with how we got here and what needs doing. Haass shows that the world cannot have stability or prosperity without the United States, but that the United States cannot be a force for global stability and prosperity without its politicians and citizens reaching a new understanding.
"A valuable primer on foreign policy: a primer that concerned citizens of all political persuasions—not to mention the president and his advisers—could benefit from reading." —The New York Times
An examination of a world increasingly defined by disorder and a United States unable to shape the world in its image, from the president of the Council on Foreign Relations

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. The rules, policies, and institutions that have guided the world since World War II have largely run their course. Respect for sovereignty alone cannot uphold order in an age defined by global challenges from terrorism and the spread of nuclear weapons to climate change and cyberspace. Meanwhile, great power rivalry is returning. Weak states pose problems just as confounding as strong ones. The United States remains the world's strongest country, but American foreign policy has at times made matters worse, both by what the U.S. has done and by what it has failed to do. The Middle East is in chaos, Asia is threatened by China's rise and a reckless North Korea, and Europe, for decades the world's most stable region, is now anything but. As Richard Haass explains, the election of Donald Trump and the unexpected vote for "Brexit" signals that many in modern democracies reject important aspects of globalization, including borders open to trade and immigrants.
In A World in Disarray, Haass argues for an updated global operating system—call it world order 2.0—that reflects the reality that power is widely distributed and that borders count for less. One critical element of this adjustment will be adopting a new approach to sovereignty, one that embraces its obligations and responsibilities as well as its rights and protections. Haass also details how the U.S. should act towards China and Russia, as well as in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. He suggests, too, what the country should do to address its dysfunctional politics, mounting debt, and the lack of agreement on the nature of its relationship with the world.
A World in Disarray is a wise examination, one rich in history, of the current world, along with how we got here and what needs doing. Haass shows that the world cannot have stability or prosperity without the United States, but that the United States cannot be a force for global stability and prosperity without its politicians and citizens reaching a new understanding.
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  • From the book 1. 

    From War Through World War

    It is tempting to begin this book with answers to the questions of what is wrong with the world, why, and what to do about it, if for no other reason than there is no shortage of material to consider. But it is better, and in fact necessary, to take a step back, first to understand how we arrived where we are and, second, to discern what about this world is genuinely new and different.

    The best place to begin is with the concept of world order. For many reasons, the concept, from its modern inception nearly four centuries ago to the present, is central to this book. "Order" is one of those terms that is used a great deal, but like a lot of popular terms, it is used differently by different people and can obscure as much as illuminate. It is best used and understood in a neutral, descriptive way, as a reflection of the nature of international relations at any moment. It is a measure of the world's condition. It includes and reflects arrangements that promote peace and prosperity and freedom as well as developments that do not. In short, "order" is not the same as "orderly"; to the contrary, the term "order" implicitly also reflects the degree of disorder that inevitably exists. One can have world orders that are anything but stable or desirable.

    The term is experiencing something of a revival. World Order is, among other things, the title of a recent book by Henry Kissinger.1 Kissinger, the preeminent foreign policy practitioner of the second half of the twentieth century, is also one of the most influential writers not just on this subject but on many aspects of diplomatic history and international relations. And for these and related reasons I will come back to him more than once in the course of this book. I want to begin, though, with another academic, an Australian, Hedley Bull.

    I came to know Hedley when I was a graduate student at Oxford in the mid-1970s. We became friends, and his thinking and writing came to have a major influence on me. Bull wrote in 1977 what I find to be the most important contemporary book in the field of international relations, The Anarchical Society. Its subtitle, appropriately enough, is A Study of Order in World Politics.2

    Bull writes about international systems and international society. It is a distinction with a difference. An international system is simply what exists at the international level absent any policy decisions, in that countries and other entities along with various forces interact with and affect one another. There is little or nothing in the way of choice or regulation or principles or rules. An international society, by contrast, is something both different from and very much more than a system. What distinguishes a system from a society is that the latter reflects a degree of buy-in on the part of participants, including an acceptance on their part of limits on either what is sought or discouraged, how it is to be sought or discouraged, or both. It is rules-based. These rules (or limits) are accepted by the members of the society for the simple reason that they determine it is their best (or least bad) course of ­action given the choices that are realistically available. Such rules as there are can be enshrined in formal legal ­agreements or honored tacitly and informally.

    In the international sphere, the notion of "society" as described by Bull has specific meaning. First, the principal "citizens" of this society are states, a word used interchangeably here and elsewhere in these and other pages with both "nation-states" and "countries." Second, a founding principle of this society is that states...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 3, 2016
    This foreign policy overview from Haass (Foreign Policy Begins at Home), president of the Council on Foreign Relations, will draw notice, but little surprise, from policymakers and the international community. Haass maintains that the world that followed WWII has run its course; great-power rivalries are returning, and Europe is newly unstable. With Brexit, which starts Haass’s study, the globalism and limited national sovereignty he has long endorsed seem to be in decline. The first half of the book surveys the world of the early 21st century, which Haass regards as one where borders count for less. The second lays out a nebulous, glibly labeled “World Order 2.0,” followed by rapid-fire policy prescriptions. Haass lists many topics of topical interest, though a few paragraphs apiece on climate change, cyberspace, and other widely publicized concerns are not enough. Informed but derivative, Haass’s self-declared centrism tends toward platitudes; he even invokes Goldilocks as “the ultimate centrist.” He sidesteps rising nationalism and religious conflicts but is thoughtful about U.S. economic policies, warning convincingly of entitlement and debt burdens corroding the dollar. Haass’s sensible policy prescriptions will not disturb prevailing consensus in the international community, nor are they meant to. His volume adds up to well-crafted conventional wisdom from the foreign-policy establishment. Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency.

  • Kirkus

    October 15, 2016
    A public policy insider mines the nuances of states' sovereignty and legitimacy in an increasingly unstable world.Divided into three parts, delineating something of a past, present, and future approach, this systematic work by Council on Foreign Relations president Haass (Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America's House in Order, 2013, etc.) finds that the bland optimism maintained throughout the Cold War due to the grip of atomic deterrence has been unloosed by new structural and economic forces. For nations big or small, good or bad, these forces increasingly involve internal breakdowns requiring humanitarian intervention and occasionally lead to terrorism. In the first part, the author reaches back to the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) to show how the sovereignty of states was first acknowledged and respected; that order was "based on a balance of power involving independent states that do not interfere with one another's 'internal business.' " Subsequently, the Congress of Vienna helped to determine the sovereignty of states in the 19th century. While the world wars saw the breakdown of the Westphalian order--in the case of World War I, it was accidental and unintended, a "failure of deterrence and of diplomacy"--the era since 1945 has been transformational, with the former villains Germany and Japan now models of "regime change." Moving from the Cold War to the present sense of disorder, rife with regional disputes, Haass sees Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the American response as the beginning of troubling new developments (although the author applauds U.S. activism). The push back against Iraq and other trouble spots, where internal brutality prompted international intervention on humanitarian grounds, drove the adoption of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine by the United Nations in 2005. The author concludes his knowledgeable but overlong narrative with some predictions for the future--e.g., "mounting debt will hasten the demise of the dollar as the world's reserve currency." A highly learned but sometimes-ponderous survey that will appeal to policy wonks. For most readers, a long-form essay would have sufficed.

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2017

    After reviewing the origins of the modern state system and the post-World War II world order, Republican foreign policy stalwart Haass (president, Council on Foreign Relations; Foreign Policy Begins at Home) lays out what foreign policies the United States should pursue. Haass describes how "disarray" has replaced the former Great Power World Order. In this environment of disorder, he analyzes how both nations and nonstate actors will continue to challenge the United States for the remainder of the 21st century. Most importantly, Haass contends, wide acceptance that nations have "sovereign obligations" must balance respect for sovereign rights. Nations have a responsibility to the rest of the world in their internal and external behavior because the world is so closely interconnected. In Haass's view, this duty applies to the United States, where the excessive national debt and political dysfunction, for example, so affects the rest of the world. Interestingly, Haass supports free trade, NATO, and immigration reform--concepts that have lost popular and political support in recent times. VERDICT This book will appeal to readers interested in contemporary U.S. foreign policy and the perspective of the main-line Republican foreign policy establishment. [See Prepub Alert, 8/1/16.]--Mark Jones, Mercantile Lib., Cincinnati

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order
Richard Haass
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