The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course

In This Review

The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course

by Richard N. Haass
PublicAffairs, 2005
256 pp. $25.00
Purchase

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.