In this new recap style, Claire Noble provides key takeaways from programs.
- The status of the liberal world order created and maintained in large part by the United States following WWII was the starting point for the discussion between Jaime Metzl and Dr. Richard Haass. Jaime asked Dr. Haass if historians would look back on 2020 as the end of this world order and the beginning of what comes next. Dr. Haass was unwilling to commit to such a definitive end point. As he said, “history is not about switches, but rheostats and dials.” While he allowed that the world is on a “worrisome trajectory,” he also pointed out that nothing is inevitable and the potential exits for things to improve.
- When Dr. Haass raised the concern that the world is calling out for leadership but that the country does not have the appetite for it, Jaime expanded on that thought pointing out that even if the presidency changes hands, the electorate remains the same. To this Dr. Haass clarified that the president has enormous latitude and discretion, especially when it comes to foreign policy. But, he was careful to point out, whoever that person is must educate the population as to the rationale and importance of U.S. foreign policy.
- Jaime brought up that the pandemic revealed how interconnected the world is, but that collective effort to combat the virus was hampered by a world still organized nationally. Dr. Haass agreed with the need for collective effort, and pointed out how collective effort can often be highly effective with far fewer countries involved than one might guess. For instance, to reduce carbon emissions he suggested an agreement between the 10-15 largest emitters. He also observed that the UN was structured to be inefficient so it could not be manipulated by one strong power.
- Dr. Haass also proposed a more realistic approach to dealing with countries that do not share our values, such as China. Realistically, the U.S. will not transform China into a democracy practicing market capitalism. Instead, Dr. Haass suggests that a U.S. China policy does not begin with China, but rather, begins with Japan, South Korea, and other Asian nations. The goal would be to incentivize desired behavior.
- One concern of Dr. Haass’ was the likelihood that technology that drives productivity will eliminate existing jobs. This will be especially difficult to manage in places such as Africa where many countries have young and growing populations.
- Jaime raised the subject of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which appears early in Dr. Haass’ book. This treaty was innovative because it introduced the concepts of sovereignty and respect for other countries’ borders. Dr. Haass acknowledged that while we still want sovereignty respected, there also needs to be a recognition that there should be some constraints on what countries do within their borders if those activities impact other countries. The example he provided was Brazil burning the rain forest.