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Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America's House in Order Hardcover – 16 May 2013


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"Haass delivers a cogent picture of the world and supports it with sharp and precise arguments." --Foreign Affairs "A must read for aspiring diplomats." --American Diplomacy "Haass's call for getting America's domestic house in order should be listened to." --New York Times Book Review "Haass is one of Americas most astute foreign policy analysts. His previous 12 books are gems of wisdom and this one is no exception... The slim volumen is an excellent primer about the world in which the US operates today... Haass should be read by everyone." -Choice "Haass persuasively shows that United States continues to be the indispensable nation... Haass's writing style is straightforward and uncluttered by jargon. My academic colleagues will not find reference to 'hegemonic transition theories' or 'postmodernism,' which makes the book much more accessible to a wider readership... Whether Haass chooses to run for office one day or not, a presidential candidate would do well using his realism as a platform." --National Interest "Deft and wise book" --The Daily Beast "[Haass] argues brilliantly ... [his] prescription says charity starts at home." --UPI.com "This informative, well-written book is a necessary addition to any collection providing either experts or citizens with new and rational discussion of America's place in the world today." --Library Journal "Lessons learned from the recent past and presented thoughtfully as a viable new course." --Kirkus Reviews "Richard Haass has long been a keen observer of the US position on the world stage, and his must-read book is no exception. Haass rightly explains that if the United States is to continue fulfilling the leadership role it has had since World War II, our country must be more restrained in what it does abroad and put its house in order at home by defusing the looming fiscal debt bomb that threatens our national security and global standing." --James A. Baker, III. "A concise, comprehensive guide to America's critical policy choices at home and overseas. Richard Haass writes without a partisan agenda, but with a passion for solutions designed to restore our country's strength and enable us to lead." --Madeleine K. Albright "A perceptive diagnosis and common sense prescription for what ails us as a nation. It is a practical guide for those who believe America's continued global leadership is critical in the twenty-first century, but who believe it must be anchored in restoration at home and more effective use of all the tools of American foreign policy abroad." --Robert M. Gates "Richard Haass is one of America's most insightful and experienced thinkers. In Foreign Policy Begins at Home, Haass explains why our ability to wield power and influence abroad will depend on our confronting pressing challenges at home. He offers a sobering look at the domestic policies that are undermining our international competitiveness -- and a thoughtful roadmap for strengthening America's position on the global stage." --Michael R. Bloomberg "Richard N. Haass shows us that maintaining America's leadership in the world will require significant reforms within our own borders. Full of insight but without polemics or preachiness, it clearly demonstrates that our ability to inspire, influence, cooperate with or deter others depends upon our ability to promote shared prosperity and social progress at home." --William Jefferson Clinton

About the Author

Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations since July 2003, was previously director of policy planning for the Department of State, where he was a principal advisor to Colin Powell. From 1989-1993, he was special assistant to President George H. W. Bush and senior director for the Near East and South Asia on the staff of the National Security Council. Haass also served in the Reagan and Carter administrations. The recipient of the State Department's Distinguished Honor Award and the Presidential Citizens Medal, he is the author or editor of twelve other books. Haass lives in New York City.

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Amazon.com: 56 reviews
52 of 62 people found the following review helpful
A Foreign Policy Gem 30 April 2013
By James D. Zirin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Richard Haass is a worrier, as well he should be. In this finely crafted, highly readable and brilliant analysis of where we are today in the world, the articulate Council on Foreign Relations President and former national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush, argues that America is losing its ability to influence other nations. He sees correctly that there is no nation in the world, which can replicate American leadership, not China, not Russia, not Japan, and not Europe. And without American leadersip, the world inevitably will be in an unstable, chaotic condition that no one wants. America's loss of international leverage comes from shared perceptions that our government has become all but totally dysfunctional. He warns that we are rapidly losing ground as Washington can't agree on such basic matters as budgets, immigration policy, education and how to deal with our domestic economy. The President creates a bi-partisan commission to get our fiscal house in order; it amazingly reaches agreement on what must be done; and the President dissolves and disavows the commission. The President squanders almost all of his political capital on gun control, and has little left for energy policy, environmental regulation or tax reform. The world watches as Washington wrangles and twists in the wind. And, this does little to elevate our status as leader of nations. This book will be widely read by policy makers, academicians and governmental leaders, as well it should. But it is required reading for every literate American, who is as worried as the author about America's primacy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Great analysis (again) by Haass 4 July 2013
By Endy Zemenides - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Haass could've emphasized the urgency of getting our house in order a little more - with an analysis of global flash points. The argument for shifting attention away from the Middle East also deserved more ink (how do you do this in the short term as the region is falling apart?).

Hopefully our policymakers pay attention to the recommendations here. Our politics is the #1 reason our house is not in order.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant and Necessary 19 Jun. 2013
By Je'nique - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book truly touches on the fundamental points of Getting America's House in Order: infrastructure, immigration, debt reduction, education and energy independence. These are the core challenges we face in America currently and until we get these issues on the table, we cannot influence (well at least not very strongly) foreign policy abroad.
The book starts off with too much historical data than I would have liked and I had to wait until halfway through the book to get to the "case for putting America's house in order". But once Haass got to the juncture, he fully presented the ideas not only I'm sure myself, but millions of other Americans have.
He presents a strong case of why our leadership here at home, means leadership around the world. A true case of lead by example.
Wonderful book! Concise but gets the message across. A good read for anyone interested in Foreign Policy or just simply keeping up with the issues that face Americans everyday.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An important review of interconnected issues 17 Jun. 2013
By Arthur Worster - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book takes an integrated view of the key issues facing the US at this time. Addressing individual issues without understanding how they are all related continues to cause as many unintended consequences as intended ones. This inevitably leads to poor results, further politicization of the issues and yet more ill-conceived and poorly designed remedial solutions. Each major issue identified has to be addressed individually, but with a view to how they are all interrelated. This book goes a long way to identify the larger processes that tie these all together.
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Good title - downhill from there 16 Jun. 2013
By Gderf - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is very informative on foreign policy, not so good on domestic. It's very inconsistent in spots. Haas's prior book 'The Opportunity' was limited to his expertise in foreign policy. That one was very informative with new paradigms in foreign, sanctions etc. This extension is no improvement Starting from the acutely perceptive title, it's downhill from there. For all his acumen on foreign affairs, Haass's analysis of domestic policy and history is seriously flawed both logically and empirically.

I. Return of History
Globalization is a reality not a choice. In 1956 we controlled the action. Now China can do to us what we did back then. Haass says that Orwell's vision of central control in '1984' has proven wrong - not so. Orwell didn't write a prediction, but what he saw happening in Britain in 1948. It took about 20 years longer to take effect in the USA, but now we have big brother in spades with invasion of privacy and many other more heinous forms primarily economic regulation and control of the economy.

Haass accurately observes that the world is turning from a bipolar political configuration. In explaining nonpolarity leading to confusion Haas invokes an thoughtless scientific metaphor. He likens nonpolarity to entropy which is always increasing. There is no thoughtful scientific metaphor that covers human behavior. In an over simplistic attempt to cover human behavior with a scientific metaphor, So far I have found attempts to simplify human behavior with scientific metaphors to be thoughtless oversimplifications. This one is no exception.

The Korean war began as war of necessity morphed into war of choice when Truman tried for a reunited Korea after repelling the original invasion.
We did not have to go to war in Iraq. Afghanistan was war of necessity that is now a war of choice. We are impoverishing ourselves with misguided foreign policy.

China transition growth will slow. It already has, but not as much as ours. He says that China cannot buy it's way to energy self sufficiency. It's an opinion that doesn't consider what they are doing in Africa and S. America. What will the USA be forced to disgorge to discharge our debt? In a post-European world he cites General Gates opinion that NATO faces military irrelevance. He studies what he calls 'wannabes' Japan, India, and Russia. I suspect that each of those governments understands their world role better than Haass.

He observes that politics has never caught up with finance. We are impoverishing ourselves with misguided foreign policy. He strangely overlooks the same phenomenon in his analysis of domestic policy.

II Restoration Abroad
G-20 is a step in the right direction but lacks authority to carry out needed programs.
GATT and WTO are also inadequate. Haass says the "international community" is an aspiration not a realty, but inconsistently cites reasons for optimism. It's not convincing. His take on climate change shows a strictly politically correct stance. Like everyone else he fears the nuclear programs of Iran and NK. He leaves open the option of a preemptive strike.

He categorizes foreign policy doctrines as:
1.promotion of democracy
2.humanitarianism
3.counter terrorism
4.integration
He explains that restoration of foreign policy is not same as isolationism.
Realistically evaluates prospects for peace in ME as poor, he cites, in particular, that the US pushing for free elections in Gaza has resulting in Hamas dominance.
He thinks that Obama has implied a policy pivot from ME focus to Asia.

III Restoration at Home
Haass attributes the 2008 financial crisis to lack of regulation. He ignores the easy money policy of the Clinton and Bush administrations that fueled the tech stock burst in 2000 and the RE burst in 2008. We (I think he means Congress.) are unable to agree on a path forward, an accurate, but hardly new or profound observation. He points out that reduction in defense spending will have minimum effect on deficit reduction. Among other wishful thinking, he wants to restore the US economy with its social and physical foundation.

He wistfully thinks that the deficit crisis will end but fails to make his case. He does cite statistics showing 6% interest on debt and 6% interest on GDP. I think that with growth rates permanently under 6% and the debt approaching 100% of GDP it shows that our national debt can never be paid. There is currently great joy in the press in observing the deficit decline to 1 trillion per year. The media doesn't observe that national debt is increasing by that amount so that it can never be paid. The next emergency will exacerbate the unperceived crisis. With luck the inevitable decline will be slow.

In citing the 2012 Tax Act, Haass cites a "slight" increase in estate tax. He ingeniously neglects the 2010 estate tax increase that was hardly slight. It won't be the last.

Energy is the best considered of Haass's domestic recommendations. He observes that
renewable energy can't replace oil and gas. The US is moving in the direction of energy self sufficiency. We are on track to become the worlds largest producer of natural gas. He doesn't weigh in on the current fracking controversy. He avoids the ethanol issue and doesn't go into economics of renewable energy, except by implication as he does give a fair hearing to oil and natural gas.

Concerning education in the USA, Haass thinks that spending correlates with results.
circular reasoning. He supports the educational lobby that measures success by money spent. He says that quality of teachers is important without consideration of the effects of unions control of evaluation and pay scales.

Infrastructure in the US is being allowed to deteriorate as programs are starved for cash.
Haass recommends more user based charges to increase funding. He doesn't consider the pork attached to each infrastructure project.

On immigration policy Haass suggests that we could become too few instead of too many. Not exactly wrong, it's a trap to neglect immigrant poverty.
The phenomenon has more to do with domestic policy, especially Social Security, than with immigration.

The section on economic growth cites skewed statistics with an average growth rate since 1950 of 3.3%. Haass fails to observe that growth before about 1965 was much higher with a permanent drop later due to payroll tax burden placed on American labor to pay for the Great Society, war on poverty and the Viet Nam war. Employment statistics show the same long term trend, with unemployment higher than previously. Recent growth rates are low and it's only wishful thinking to expect improvement. Three percent growth rate is now near a maximum expectation, not an average. Expectation of economic growth to solve our social and political excess is wishful thinking and doomed to failure.

In two contradictory political ideas Haass says we need a need a president who will build consensus, then says that a 3rd party needed. Both ideas are more wishful thinking.
In attempting to combine analysis of both foreign and domestic policy, the book bites off more than the writer can chew.
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