The Importance of an Educated Citizenry

Dr. Richard Haass offers perspective on a world in disarray.
Thacher students recently had the opportunity to hear from one of the nation’s leading experts on foreign policy. Dr. Richard N. Haass has served as president of the Council on Foreign Relations for the last 15 years. Prior to that, he worked at the highest levels of U.S. government, including serving as assistant secretary of state under Colin Powell and becoming the most senior member of the Bush administration to advise against invading Iraq in 2003.

After being introduced to the audience by Thacher senior Chris Robinson, Dr. Haass promised to discuss “where we are, how we got there, what it means to you, and what you ought to do about it.” In fulfilling his promise, he covered much of the same ground he explores in his most recent book, A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order (2017).

Today’s word, he said, is an “increasingly messy place,” destabilized by disease, failed states, environmental threats, instability and war. “Globalism has outpaced our ability to cope with it,” he said, and borders count for less and less.... Nothing stays local for long anymore.” Increasingly connected in a world with “no moats, no walls, no gated communities,” our common humanity means we are also bound together ethically.

What did he suggest in the face of these challenges and uncertainty? Dr. Haass advised his audience to learn about the world, and keep learning. “You,” he told the students, “will live a 21st century life. My only pitch today is that it will be a great investment in the quality of that life if you learn about this world, which you are going to have a chance to affect, and which is also going be in a position to affect you.”

Following his prepared remarks was a lengthy question and answer period that allowed Dr. Haass and students to dig into a variety of pressing international issues.

The Thacher School is grateful to Chris's parents, Stephanie and Mark Robinson, for bringing Dr. Haass to campus and making possible this illuminating lecture.

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