by Peter Baker
recovered through ArchiveToday Website
Richard N. Haass said the United States
has become the most profound
source of instability throughout the world.
Karsten Moran for The New York Times
is the chief White House correspondent
and interviewed Richard Haass
at offices in Washington and New York.
the most serious threat to global security
is the United States...
He has had no shortage of options over the years:
But as he steps down after two decades running America's most storied private organization focused on international affairs, Mr. Haass has come to a disturbing conclusion.
That was never a thought this global strategist would have entertained until recently.
But in his mind, the unraveling of the American political system means that for the first time in his life the internal threat has surpassed the external threat.
Instead of being the most reliable anchor in a volatile world, Mr. Haass said, the United States has become the most profound source of instability and an uncertain exemplar of democracy.
Mr. Haass is stepping down
as the president of the Council on Foreign Relations.
The challenges at home have prompted a man who has spent his entire career as a policymaker and student of world affairs to turn his attention inward.
Mr. Haass recently published a book called "The Bill of Obligations - The Ten Habits of Good Citizens," outlining ways Americans can help heal their own society, like,
...all admittedly bromides and yet somehow often elusive these days.
In addition to consultant work, he wants to spend much of the next chapter of his life promoting the teaching of civics.
By dint of position as well as temperament, Mr. Haass, 71, is a member in good standing of the establishment that has fallen into disfavor in the era of Donald J. Trump, a voice of the largely bipartisan "realist" consensus that for better or worse defined America's place in the world for most of the three-quarters of a century since World War II.
It is a clubby world, of course, one that invariably leads to charges of elitist groupthink or even conspiracy theories.
For his final appearance as president of the council this past week, Mr. Haass interviewed Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken onstage and online, the 27th secretary of state to appear before the council.
A veteran of four administrations, one Democrat and three Republican, Mr. Haass has nonetheless,
Mr. Haass, right,
served as director of policy planning
at the State Department under President
Crowley/The New York Times
From the set at Rockefeller Plaza in New York, Mr. Haass would head most mornings about 20 blocks north to the council's Upper East Side headquarters.
His relatively modest-sized fourth-floor office looked exactly like what you would imagine that the cluttered office of the president of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) would look like, crammed with literally thousands of books, dozens of globes, stacks of paper, honorary degrees from various universities and photographs with family members, presidents and colleagues from past administrations.
It will be hard to imagine the council without him.
The longest-serving president in the century-old organization's history, he takes pride in preserving its place in the firmament while increasing and diversifying its membership, opening an expanded Washington office, focusing on education and maintaining a bipartisan approach, albeit not one that embraces America First Trumpism.
Born in Brooklyn and raised on Long Island, Mr. Haass studied at Oberlin College, where he made a documentary on the student response to the Kent State shootings.
After graduating in 1973, he became a Rhodes scholar. He worked for Senator Claiborne Pell, Democrat of Rhode Island, on Capitol Hill, where he met a young senator named Joe Biden in 1974.
Mr. Haass went on to serve in the Pentagon under President Jimmy Carter, the State Department under President Ronald Reagan and the National Security Council under President George H.W. Bush.
Under President George W. Bush, he served as director of policy planning at the State Department but ultimately left in 2003, disenchanted with the Iraq war, which he later called "a poor choice poorly implemented."
As a young man, Mr. Haass opposed the Vietnam War and thought of himself as liberal but then became inspired by the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the rise of Margaret Thatcher and the Reagan-Bush vision of American leadership abroad and restrained government at home.
For more than 40 years, he was a Republican, although he sometimes voted for Democrats.
served as National Security Council
under President George H.W. Bush.
Over the past century, America has experienced other periods of division and discord:
The assassinations and riots and war of 1968 often come to mind as a singularly miserable year in the life of the nation.
But Mr. Haass sees this moment as even worse.
Mr. Haass, who agreed to meet with Mr. Trump in 2015 to advise him on foreign affairs, just as he would any presidential candidate, admitted that he misjudged the bombastic real estate developer.
The question is whether America has changed for the long run.
is a veteran of four administrations,
one Democrat and three Republican.
Karsten Moran for The New York Times
After exploring other countries for most of the past half-century, Mr. Haass is ready to explore his own.
Putting his foreign
policy hat aside for now, he said he wants to expand the message
from his book and help refocus the country on the core values
embodied in the Declaration of Independence as the 250th anniversary
of the document approaches three years from now.