A World in Disarray Summary By Richard Haass

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A World in Disarray (2017) is an insightful book which takes a look at the major changes taking place in international politics since the second World War.

It traces how central power structures have evolved from non-interventionist nation states to ones that involve stronger forms of globalization.

Richard Haass offers an exploration into the complexity of these shifts and helps to identify contemporary solutions for a more secure future.

He highlights different actors and events and examines their various impacts on international relations.

This book is a must-read for anyone looking to gain valuable insight into global affairs.

A World in Disarray

Book Name: A World in Disarray (American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order)

Author(s): Richard Haass

Rating: 4.1/5

Reading Time: 18 Minutes

Categories: Politics

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Author Bio

Richard Haas is an illustrious US diplomat and the president of the Council on Foreign Relations.

He has made major contributions to the world of diplomacy, earning him several important awards and accolades such as the Tipperary International Peace Award for his pioneering work in that field.

His experience extends over decades and at one point in time, Haas was even called upon to offer counsel during Secretary of State Colin Powell's tenure as well as President George H.


Bush's administration.

Not many people can say they've been associated with two former influential US presidents before!

Exploring the Changing Landscape of International Relations: From Cold War Stability to Global Disorder

Cold War

A World in Disarray provides an in-depth look at our current world order and what created it.

After the end of the Cold War, countries began to move away from non-interventionist foreign policies, and towards a more interventionist world order.

This meant that the number of powerful players grew rapidly, leading to a geopolitical system characterized by global disorder.

The book covers different sections and examines consequences such as atrocities that are often ignored and terrorist threats that have been used to justify questionable wars.

It further dives into which foreign policies shaped this new world order and shows why it is important for the United States—as the most dominant country—to take action in creating stability on planet Earth.

It also reveals facts such as how some unexpected wars were born out of passivity (e.g., the Syrian War), that lesser known genocides enabled international interventions being seen as a protective principle, and how there was actually more peace during the Cold War era than many people assume today.

The Cold War Era Was Characterized by a Balance of Power that Prevented Active Conflict

The relative post-war stability that we saw following World War II can primarily be attributed to balanced power and the threat of nuclear war.

The establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty – which established a coalition of North American and European nations who promised to defend each other should one be attacked – created a deterrent against any military action from outside parties.

Additionally, the implementation of the Marshall Plan by the United States provided economic support to Western European countries in order to prevent Soviet Union influence from spreading further.

Furthermore, the existence of nuclear weapons significantly reduced both major power blocs’ military ambitions as any direct altercation could lead to mass destruction.

This made leaders understand that a nuclear confrontation would have unthinkable consequences, and therefore avoidance was highly preferred.

These elements all worked together to create an atmosphere where global peace was possible for over forty years.

After WW2, Financial Interests Were Prioritized in Order to Ensure Global Stability and Peace

Global Stability

After World War Two, economic and diplomatic agreements were integral in laying the groundwork for a stable world order.

In 1944, the Bretton Woods system was established, setting the US Dollar as a global currency and making all other currencies value relative to it as well as backing paper money with gold.

Around the same time, the International Monetary Fund was created to offer loans to countries facing financial trouble.

Further, GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) encouraged global trade by reducing costs of importing and exporting goods across borders.

These different financial systems provided a layer of stability throughout the Western world which reduced armed conflict – something that was supported by diplomatic institutions such as the UN.

As one of main tasks of UN’s Security Council was to monitor world order, it had an assurance that its powers would not be misused for attacking any single country because major emerging countries (Russia, China and United States) could veto it.

Together, these economic and diplomatic agreements were major contributors to a stable post-war world order during Cold War era.

How the US Avoided War by Adopting a Non-Interventionist Approach

The United States has long been interested in maintaining good relations with China, while avoiding conflict at all costs.

So when Chinese students descended on Tiananmen Square in Beijing in 1989, President George H.W.

Bush had to make a difficult decision on how best to respond.

In the end, he chose a non-interventionist approach that made it clear the United States would not take punitive measures in response to violations of human rights by China.

This was done for both political and economic reasons – because America had (and still has) major incentives to maintain good relations with this powerful nation.

Also, by choosing not to interfere with China’s domestic policies, the United States avoided a situation where the Chinese retaliation for any such interference could have led to more repression and ultimately resulted in greater suffering for the people of China.

A similar stance was adopted towards Taiwan, also known as the Republic of China which has been constantly disputed between the two countries ever since World War Two.

Despite this dispute, no armed conflict has broken out due in large part to America’s commitment not to interfere in domestic affairs and achieve stability between both nations.

The Rwandan Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect – A Long Road to International Military Intervention

Military Intervention

The Rwandan genocide of 1994 was a horrific event that left nearly one million Tutsi dead.

What is even more distressing than the sheer loss of human life, however, is the fact that the international community failed to take any meaningful action to stop it – even though it could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives with minimal risk.

This tragedy marked a shift in international relations and forced the UN to act.

In response to the Rwandan genocide, in 2005 the UN adopted a principle known as The Responsibility To Protect (R2P).

In this doctrine, sovereign nations are tasked with protecting their citizens from war crimes and acts of genocide, and if a state fails or commits such atrocities themselves, then the international community must intervene – potentially through military force.

While this change in policy was a revolutionary step forward for humanity in terms of holding states accountable for atrocities against their own people, it has proven difficult to implement in practice.

The Syrian conflict provides us with an example; here diplomatic disagreement over who was responsible for destabilizing the country meant that effective intervention never happened and millions were displaced because of it.

And unfortunately, there are countless other instances where R2P has not been enforced properly either.

The Legitimacy of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq: A Preemptive Attack or a Preventative War?

The illegal invasion of Iraq dramatically shook world opinion of the United States.

The US government’s actions sparked fierce criticism from people across the globe and effectively ruined America’s reputation in 2003.

Though the initial deployment of troops to Iraq was in response to a Kuwaiti attack, considered legitimate under self-defense doctrine, the later invasion under George H.W Bush administration was illegitimate due to a lack of justification and evidence.

The invasion was meant to prevent a possible threat that Iraq posed due to an alleged possession of nuclear weapon arsenal.

But since this supposed stockpile could never be proven and their military aggression had never extended beyond their own region, the invasion doesn’t hold up as a justifiable preemptive attack either according to international law.

The lack of proof that countries like Iraq represented true threats ultimately cost the US greatly in terms of its global standing — while they may have acted with good intentions, it soon became evident that their decision was rash and ill-conceived which set off a wave of distrust towards the country that still haunts it today.

The Syrian War Highlights the Importance of Living up to Our Military Responsibilities

Military Responsibilities

As recent international events have shown, it is dangerously irresponsible to make a threat and then fail to back it up with action.

In the case of Syria, Obama threatened to reconsider military action in 2012 if chemical weapons were used, yet failed to follow through once they were deployed in 2013.

And when President George W.

Bush made the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, it is alarming that Obama decided to pull out troops faster than originally agreed—ultimately leading to the destabilization of the country and the rise of militant Islamic extremism.

It’s clear that, when threats are made, action needs to be taken.

Once military activity has been undertaken, it should never be abandoned casually as this can have devastating consequences for nations across the world.

The West Must Forge Strong Diplomatic Relationships with China and Russia for Global Stability

The way the world functions is changing, and it’s more important than ever for the major powers such as China, Russia, and the United States to cooperate with each other.

This means that rather than seeking to maximize their own benefit only, they must learn to find common ground as well.

This type of cooperation is essential if a new world order is to be developed that works for all involved.

It’s important that neither power seek to undermine the economies of any of the three countries, since economic prosperity is necessary for global stability and peace.

Forging stronger diplomatic bonds between China, Russia and America would do wonders for stabilizing the world order since they could agree to cooperate whenever possible while avoiding disagreements that can’t be solved.

Additionally, economic cooperation between these countries should be ensured by allowing China and Russia to expand their networks of bilateral agreements.

It will be difficult work but if we carefully manage this new arrangement of three major powers working together in harmony then it could form a strong foundation for lasting peace in our world.

Wrap Up

When it comes to summarizing A World in Disarray, the key message is clear: the global scene is changing and new tactics must be employed in order to maintain peace.

As a result of World War Two, we saw a major shift from the pre-war order and the establishment of the Cold War era.

During this period, the West was able to keep a relative level of calm through various means.

However, as we move forward into 2020 we must realize that these same tactics may no longer be sufficient in keeping global order.

It’s now up to us to take action and ensure that find more effective solutions for peace and stability on an international level.

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Arturo Miller

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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