, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and foreign policy advisor to four U.S. presidents, has written a primer on international relations in his new book The World: A Brief Introduction
(Penguin, 2020). In this book Dr. Haass argues that there is no “Vegas rule” for events in the world: the effects of what happens far away do not remain far away. Dr. Haass provides a guide, easily digestible for the novice and the expert, to the history of international relations from the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 through today. He avoids being mired in scholarly debates to make a clear, concise presentation on the influential problems confronting the contemporary international scene, including climate change, international finance, terrorism, migration, and – quite relevant for today’s world – global health.
Dr. Haass explains the tensions arising from the need for stability and the hopes for true peace among nations. He discusses the factors that help produce stability, such as strong alliances and the credible threat of military force as a deterrent. He also discusses the uncertainties and dangers posed by today’s multipolar world, where nations seek to influence (and sometimes coerce) their neighbors and risk broader global conflicts. Although realistic about the dangers presented by internationals relations today, Dr. Haass remains optimistic that dedicated individuals can shape outcomes between nations for the better and that particular conflicts are not inevitable.
Ian J. Drake is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University. His scholarly interests include American legal and constitutional history and political theory.