In This Review

A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order
A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order
By Richard Haass
Penguin Press, 2017, 352 pp

In this world-weary tour d’horizon, Haass paints a bleak portrait of a failing global order. The American-led system of alliances has become unstable as power has shifted away from the West, transnational dangers have proliferated, and regional orders have crumbled in Europe, the Middle East, and East Asia. And Haass detects an even deeper crisis: the breakdown of the four-centuries-old Westphalian system built around sovereign states. Since the seventeenth century, global order has rested on states, great powers, and the balance of power. But those old building blocks are now giving way as states lose influence and power diffuses to nonstate actors. Looking into the future, Haass sees a world where no one is in control even as nuclear proliferation, migrant flows, collapsing states, and dysfunctional democracies generate a growing spiral of chaos. To ward off disaster, he calls for “World Order 2.0,” a new “operating system” that would update the traditional norms regarding sovereignty and great-power accommodation. Haass wants states to focus not only on their rights as sovereigns but also on their obligations. Doing so, he avers, would produce less interventionism than Wilsonian liberals might wish for but more collective organization than realists would expect. The precise architecture of Haass’ new world order is a bit elusive, but his call for a more pragmatic, inclusive multilateralism represents sensible guidance for the difficult road ahead.