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Richard Haass the quintessential establishmentarian diplomat

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Richard Haass the quintessential establishmentarian diplomat

Richard Haass the quintessential establishmentarian diplomat
April 29
17:17 2019

Richard Haas is an old school diplomat who has been the president of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) since 2003.  The New York-based (and that may be part of the problem) CFR calls him “a prominent voice in American diplomacy.  Before that, he was director of Policy Planning for the State Department. He is also one of those frequent contributors on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”  That should already give you a pretty good hint as to his political viewpoint – especially vis-à-vis President Trump.

Haass is highly praised as one of the intellectual giants of diplomacy – at least by those on the left.  He has the looks and the sartorial demeanor that wins fawning praise from “Morning Joe” co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski whenever he appears as one of their preferred talking heads.

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There is no doubt that he is an unfailing representative of the old school of diplomatic style and substance.  Outside of being a bit arrogant and condescending – common traits among the ilk – he has the central casting look of a diplomat.  It is the substance of his thinking that is the problem.

Haass has been a leader within the pin-striped pants community during the greatest series of diplomatic failures in American history – and there has been a consistency in policy that has produced them.  Haass diplomatic skill goes no further than to make past failed policies the bases of future actions.

Haass’ policy goes something like this.  America can only be a good world neighbor by limiting the use of our strengths – military and economic.  In short, the Haass’ (and other’s in his establishmentarian diplomatic bubble) approach is to crank America down to a level playing field with all allies and a less belligerent posture with our adversaries.

In the Haas school of diplomacy, military engagement is never an option regardless of the provocation.  And if war is to ensue, it must be carried out in a limited fashion.  It is this thinking that resulted in President Obama’s oxymoron policy of “leading from behind” in the Middle East – specifically with Syria.  That is as nonsensical as believing in “strength through weakness.”

The Haas approach is the reason that the brutal American-hating Bashar al Assad has regained control of Syria and now functions as a client state for both Iran and Russia – and resulted in the largest and most tragic human migration since World War II.

It is ironic that the Haass policies against war may have led to the longest war in American history by preventing decisive victory over the Taliban in Afghanistan.  The policy of “limited engagement” appears to lead to unlimited conflict.

It was the misguided timidity of the Haas diplomatic establishment that had us pulling out of Iraq and that had declared the incubating ISIS to be a junior varsity-level threat.  That misjudgment led to some of the grisliest mass murders since Stalin in Russia – and the establishment of a multi-nation, well-funded, highly-armed Califate that continued to grow until President Trump changed the rules-of-engagement in defiance of Haas & Co. policies.

Haas has been part of the diplomatic establishment that talked tough to the Kim family  – declaring that a nuclear North Korea was “unacceptable” even as three-generations of dictators continued to move toward the nuclearization young Kim Jong-un enjoys today.

The Haass approach to diplomacy is to accept each new advance by adversaries as the new international status quo.  This was reflected in the old communist containment policy that enabled Russia to occupy East Europe and gain a Western Hemisphere foothold in Cuba.  It resulted in the Russian-influenced fall of Venezuela under the regime of former anti-American President Hugo Chávez.

Haas has now even abandoned the tough talk, declaring that the United States and the world must accept the reality of a nuclear North Korea.  The Haass approach to North Korea is like that of Syria – take military intervention off the table and engage in endless jaw-boning to convince these rogue nations to be kinder and gentler members of the world of nations.  That is exactly the policy that produced the results we have today.

In a recent appearance, Haas criticized the Trump administration for having no objective regarding Iran – although that claim is highly questionable.  But what is the Haass version of an objective?  We should focus our effort on reducing Iran’s meddling throughout the Middle East – in places like Yemen and Syria.  Well duh!  The question is, does he have a serious objective?

What Haass does not offer is the all important “how.”  He seems to think that we can maintain some level of civility with Tehran and Pyongyang while pushing back on their outreach efforts through negotiation.  For a supposedly intelligent and experienced diplomat, that sounds like a stupid policy –that has failed in the past and is likely to fail in the future – especially considering that there are virtually no examples where that policy has succeeded.

In some sense, Haass reminds me of Obama’s oft claim that Americans need not worry because we have the most powerful military in the world.  And then he tells the world that we will not use it to maximum advantage.  It is off the table for future confrontations and has been held back during the years of conflict we see around the world today.  The fact that we are engaged in the longest war in American history in Afghanistan against a militant force that fights with machine guns on the back of open-bed pick-up trucks should be enough to discredit the Haass version of diplomacy.

He admits that America is fading – his word – as a world leader.  What he fails to appreciate is that it is his establishment diplomatic approach that is the problem.  As General Maxwell Taylor noted, “no one will heed an uncertain trumpet.”

Haass may be a favorite of those in the New York left-wing political, diplomatic and media bubble, but his policies and recommendations are exactly what America does NOT need.

So, there ‘tis.

About Author

Larry Horist

Larry Horist

Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and politics. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, as well as the White House. He has testified as an expert witness before legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress, and lectured at major colleges and universities. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at lph@thomasandjoyce.com.

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  1. Mark K
    Mark K April 30, 18:50

    The guy’s an idiot.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Lee
    Lee April 30, 20:49

    Is this guy in an appointed govt position or is it a civil service job. If it’s a position Trump can replace he should do so now. Unbelievable.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Marc
    Marc April 30, 21:42

    Komrad Haass (pronounced Ass) is an excellent example of a peaceful nincompoop that will eventually cause a larger war in the future.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Phil in TX
    Phil in TX April 30, 21:50

    Amen, brother! I would bet that Haass was partially responsible for the diplomacy used in Vietnam, at least before Henry got involved. Nixon’s bombing campaigns had the NV government on the verge of surrendering before diplomats pulled the rug out from under them.

    Phil in TX

    Reply to this comment
    • Brendan Sexton
      Brendan Sexton May 14, 18:30

      There is no way to prove or disprove your belief about the effectiveness of bombing NV, but it seems very unlikely. As we know from many previous campaigns of mass bombing (London, Berlin, Cambodia, Stalingrad), these kind of mass bombings tend harden the opposition’s resolve. Maybe after many YEARS of such bombing this would change, but there is no evidence for believing this.

      Reply to this comment
  5. dick
    dick May 01, 01:43

    I did not know that Joe Scarborough (BIMBO) and Mika (BIMBET) were still on the air. I can’t remember the last time I listened to MSNBC. Its no wonder that their viewership is dropping as much as it has. I assumed that these two clowns were spending all their time at home playing hide the weenie

    Reply to this comment
  6. Brendan Sexton
    Brendan Sexton May 14, 18:37

    Pretty interesting critique of Haas and his diplomacy. The only puzzle I was stumped by in reading this is your description of him as a favorite of the left ..”one of the intellectual giants of diplomacy.” I think the old school diplomats like Haas and the Council of Foreign Relations are reviled by the lefties that I know, at least as much as they are by the right. They played the centrist tune so miserably that everyone on all sides hates them–most definitely including Haas.

    Reply to this comment
    • Larry Horist
      Larry Horist May 14, 19:22

      You may be correct in terms of the past. In view of Haass’ consistent criticism of Trump foreign policy, however, I think he may not be so disdained by the left. He certainly gets high praise from left-wing media.

      Reply to this comment

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