Monday, October 27, 2008

The World That Awaits

Newsweek, October 25, 2008

TO: The president-elect
RE: Foreign policy
FROM: Richard N. Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations

There are only two and a half months—76 days, to be precise— between Election Day and your Inauguration, and you will need every one of them to get ready for the world you will inherit. This is not the world you've been discussing on the trail for the last year or more: campaigning and governing could hardly be more different. The former is necessarily done in bold strokes and, to be honest, often approaches caricature. All candidates resist specifying priorities or trade-offs lest they forfeit precious support. You won, but at a price, as some of the things you said were better left unsaid. Even more important, the campaign did not prepare the public for the hard times to come.


This is a sobering moment in American history. You begin with a good deal of popular support, but mandates must be replenished. I suggest you think of the Oval Office as a classroom, and explain to the American people what we need to accomplish and what it will require. Some 21st-century version of the fireside chat is called for. My reading of things is that the American people are ready to be leveled with. Once the campaign is over, let the leveling begin.

My dear American readers: there is not much to add. Go to vote, next week, and vote for change. Believe in the power of the 21st century, believe in leadership, and believe in a great American nation which is able to revitalize her role as a cultural, economic, scientific and moral leader. The last President has been successful in destroying the rest of the world's confidence in America's strength. He has helped creating a world which is more unsafe, more corrupt, more unethical, more anti-human rights than it was before.

I don't think that China or India can be moral world leaders in the near future. Europe is strong in advocating basic human values but we have failed to lead in science and global economy. Our voice is strong in Europe but weak outside our borders. Dubai might be the laboratory for the 21st century in terms of new urban culture. There might be other local centers of excellence, but there is still only one global power.

We need America. And we need a young charismatic American leader giving us faith in democracy, human rights and global collaboration.

You have the choice for change.

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