The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course / Edition 1

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In this dramatic new perspective on international affairs, Richard N. Haass, one of the country's most brilliant analysts and able foreign policy practitioners, argues that it is hard to overstate the significance of there being no major power conflict in the world. America's great military, economic, and political power discourages traditional challenges; no ideological fault line divides the world into warring blocs. India, China, Japan, Russia, and Europe all seek a prolonged period of stability that would support economic growth.

The opportunity thus exists for unprecedented cooperation among the major powers. This is good, because they share vulnerabilities. Globalization, which promotes trade and investment and eases travel and communication, also facilitates the spread of viruses (human and computer alike), weapons, terrorists, greenhouse gases, and drugs. And the United States, for all its strength, cannot defeat these threats alone.

But opportunity is not inevitability. The question is whether the United States will be able to integrate other countries into global efforts against terrorism, the spread of nuclear weapons, genocide, and protectionist policies that jeopardize global economic prosperity. This compelling book explains why it must and how it can.

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Editorial Reviews

Jocob Heilbrunn
Just as the neoconservatives spent years churning out manifestoes to make their case for a more assertive foreign policy, so the realists have now become the embattled minority of the Republican Party. As this intellectual conflict takes shape and grows, Haass's pithy book will undoubtedly become one of the debate's more significant volumes.
— The New York Times
The New York Times 9/13/05
"Brims with excruciatingly sensible suggestions for making sure that large and powerful nations get along with one another."
St. Louis Dispatch July 24 2005
"Haass' easily understood book is an excellent place to begin... to understand the basic issues in American foreign policy."
The Washington Times 8/14/05
"Mr. Haass has made a significant contribution to the debate concerning United States foreign policy."
Foreign Affairs
Coming at a time when terrorism and the troubled Iraqi adventure have forced foreign policy thinkers to reexamine their positions, this book is a helpful guide in the search for a new grand strategic synthesis. In his elegant case for a grand strategy of pragmatic internationalism, Haass argues that the United States should seize today's historic opportunity to build a cooperative order of great powers, organized around institutions and partnerships that focus on attacking specific problems: genocide, failed states, pandemic disease, climate change. The United States' unprecedented power and the current accord among major states make the present moment unique, in Haass' view, opening the way for a new Congress of Vienna, where great powers agree on the "rules of the road" and work together to keep the peace. But there is nothing inevitable about this peace — the leading countries will need to compromise and exercise some strategic restraint to achieve it. Haass' disagreement with the Bush administration, accordingly, is not over the importance of maintaining U.S. primacy; it is over Bush's failure to use that primacy to integrate new states and lay down new global rules or to build a new global consensus on what the terms of sovereignty should be in a world where sovereignty can no longer be considered absolute.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781586484538
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Prior to becoming President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard N.Haass was a principal adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Haass also served as U.S. coordinator for policy toward the future of Afghanistan and was the lead U.S. government official in support of the Northern Ireland peace process. He previously served in Jimmy Carter's Pentagon, in Ronald Reagan's State Department, and in George H. W. Bush's White House.

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 The opportunity to define an era 1
Ch. 2 A little less sovereignty 33
Ch. 3 Taking on terrorism 51
Ch. 4 Nukes on the loose 77
Ch. 5 Economic integration 115
Ch. 6 The other major powers 137
Ch. 7 Integration and the lessons of Iraq 169
Ch. 8 The necessity 195
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2006

    Opportunity: Short-Term Gains, Long-Term Losses

    Richard Haass defines the opportunity to alter history¿s course as building and maintaining good relations with the other major powers, i.e., the European Union, Japan, India, China, and Russia. Haass believes that promoting democracy should not be the cornerstone of American foreign policy. He clearly states that the principal business of a ¿realist¿ American foreign policy should be foreign policy, not the domestic policy of others. Haass adds that this approach is essential to get the cooperation of both Russia and China to meet such a challenge as the proliferation of WMDs. Haass hopes that the major powers will increasingly cooperate to meet the pressing regional and global challenges of the day. However, hope is not the same as a sound foreign policy. As Haass recognizes himself at the end of the epilogue, the outlook for his ¿realist¿ foreign policy is worsening. Readers should just take a look at Iran and North Korea if they need any further convincing on this subject. The ¿realist¿ foreign policy that Haass espouses has shown its limits repeatedly. Think for instance about the splendid achievements of the appeasers of Nazi Germany before the outbreak of WWII that resulted into the death of over 50 million people. Another example that comes to mind is the cold war waged against the former Soviet Union and its lackeys. The cold war was won not through détente, but through confrontation as leaders such as President Ronald Regan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher understood very well. The Jackson-Vanik Amendment reflected this combative approach. Access to the U.S. market should be restricted for some products and services that come from countries which are accomplices in the sinister designs of rogue states and their terrorist minions. Economic realism resonates well with (non-democratic) (mercantilist) states.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2005

    Must read for international relations poli sci people

    The Opportunity was a great book written with great clarity about current issues regarding American foreign policy. the theme of the book, which is integration, is powerfully and pragmatically presented

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