The World: A Brief Introduction by Richard Haass

Penguin Press

Review by Qamar-ul Huda, PhD

The World: A Brief Introduction is about how the global order shifted toward liberal democracy and a rules-based system for international relations. This is not an academic scholarly book, but it is written for the popular audience who wants to learn about modern trends in economics, diplomacy, geopolitics, and the factors that have shaped the global system.

Richard Haass is the president of Council of Foreign Relations (CFR) and veteran diplomat who worked in U.S. government for forty years. Haass was director of the Policy Planning Office for the Department of State, where he was a principal advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Heavily criticised for the invasion of Iraq and inconsistent policies with Afghanistan after the September 11th attacks on America, Haas would then serve as U.S. envoy to the Northern Ireland.

The book primarily covers the rise of the Western state system, the Cold War, and their impact on geopolitics. Haass examines how globalisation as a phenomenon impacted trade, finance, migration, climate change, capitalism, nationalism, and technology. The emergence of power politics and popular nationalism challenges the liberal democracy institutions. Haas points out the U.S. role in shaping liberal democracies and capital markets during and after the Cold War. In midst of these geopolitical and economic shifts, there are concerns of terrorism, cyber-attacks, insurrections, and the mismanagement of natural resources.

Haass cautions about America’s retreat in global leadership which opens the door for Chinese dominance and their influence over the global liberal democratic order. The reader who is not familiar with current trends in global affairs will learn a great deal from an American author who has immense experience in governance and diplomacy.