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Special Lecture by President Richard Haass of the CFR: “A World in Disarray”

Special Lecture by President Richard Haass of the CFR: “A World in Disarray”
June 20, 2017, 15:00-17:00
Conference Hall, KFAS

On June 20, Korea Foundation for Advanced Studies hosted a special lecture by Dr. Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Titled “A World in Disarray,” this lecture was an opportunity to hear Dr. Haass’s valuable insight on a wide range of global issues, including the current state of world order, international cooperation, and regional issues like North Korea. Attended by more than three hundred people, the event also included a tete-a-tete session with South Korea’s former Foreign Minister, Dr. Han Sung-joo.

Dr. Haass started with a rather bleak description of the current world order. He noted that, compared to the Cold War era, in which the U.S.-Soviet competition gave rise to a stable world with two concentrations of power, today’s world order has fallen into disarray. A number of factors, including the rise of non-state actors, the acceleration of globalization, and technology, have led to a multipolar world order, creating a world where the post-World War II institutions can no longer adequately respond to global issues. Now, things that happen within a country’s borders affect other countries but no one is willing to take actions. In addition, the actions—or, for that matter, the omissions—by the U.S., such as starting the Iraq War or failing to respond to the use of chemical weapons in Syria—have further exacerbated this disarray.

The Trump administration was also evaluated. He did not shy away from expressing his strong disagreement against the decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, but also assured that America’s contribution to climate change-related efforts will remain unchanged owing to the willingness and capacity of state governments, corporations, and individuals. The administration’s decision to consider military options in Syria was evaluated as a positive development, while he unmistakably warned that the U.S. should not abdicate its traditional role as a world leader in various international regimes and institutions.

Given such a reality, Dr. Haass argued, as he does in his recent book of the same title, that the world should, and inevitably will, move towards what he calls World Order 2.0. In World Order 2.0, sovereignty entails not only rights but also obligations. Because globalization has made borders porous, what happens inside a country is bound to affect others; therefore, all countries should be obligated to ensure that they do not put other countries in danger. In addition, between countries, different institutions would be created, even on an ad hoc basis, to respond to different issues in the most adequate manner. He added that, while incentives and penalties would have to be devised to bring this order into reality, countries will have no choice but to transition towards World Order 2.0 due to their interconnectivity.

He further suggested that countries should start becoming more vocal towards Mr. Trump’s America. As Mr. Trump’s rhetoric of “America First” apparently clashes with the traditional leadership role the U.S. has played in the global community, he argued that countries, including American allies, should strengthen the cooperation between themselves and voice their opinions—including disagreements—strongly vis-à-vis the U.S. to prevent further disarray.

In the tete-a-tete with Professor Han that followed, Dr. Haass shed light on a wide range of issue areas. First, asked what he thought was the most obvious manifestation of the disarray in the world, Dr. Haass pointed to the Middle East. He argued that, “because of globalization, there are no limits to the recruits, the dollars,” and other “fuels” to the regional wars there.

He was also asked a question on the North Korean nuclear issue. Of the three general approaches usually considered—deterrence, preemptive strike, and diplomacy—he expressed support for diplomacy. In order for diplomatic negotiations to succeed, he added, China must use its leverage vis-à-vis North Korea much more explicitly. Should China refuse to cooperate, he called for economic sanctions on the Chinese financial institutions that were helping North Korea. Moreover, whatever choice the U.S. makes about North Korea, he emphasized that the choice must be something that the regional allies—South Korea and Japan—agree with. He added that the tragic death of Mr. Otto Warmbier has been a stark reminder of the brutality of North Korea’s regime, and that it could have great impact on U.S. policy on North Korea.

The issue of THAAD was of course brought up as well. Dr. Haass very clearly argued that “THAAD is fully justified,” given the threat North Korea poses to the U.S., South Korea and a number of other countries. He could not “understand the Chinese reaction to THAAD,” because if China has issues with THAAD, it “ought to do more to rein in North Korea.”

When asked about the upcoming summit between the U.S. and South Korea, he warned against building up too much pressure. While pointing out that the word “summit” is not an appropriate descriptor of a meeting between allied leaders, he explained that both President Trump and President Moon Jae-in are new leaders that need to build rapport. Since this is only the first of the many meetings to come between the two leaders, he argued that expecting them to produce any solutions to problems was “almost setting it up for failure.

Dr. Richard Haass was a special assistant to President George H. W. Bush, and a director of policy at Department of State under President George W. Bush. He has been the president of the Council on Foreign Relations for the past fourteen years. He has also published a number of books on foreign policy, the most recent being A World in Disarray. He received his Master’s Degree and Ph.D. as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

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