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Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America's House in Order Hardcover – April 30, 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (April 30, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465057985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465057986
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 3.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #130,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The greatest threat to national security is not a rising China or Islamic terrorists or North Korea’s nuclear power. Instead, our greatest security threat lies in divisive politics and fiscal deficits brought on by costly wars that have resulted in underinvestment in human capital. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations with foreign policy experience in four administrations, is not arguing for isolationism but for a sharper evaluation of why we go to war and what it costs us. He begins with a historical perspective on U.S. foreign policy as it has evolved from the Cold War to U.S. primacy to a new era of rising powers and emerging nations. But his primary focus is on domestic policy—the need to reverse the decline of U.S. competitiveness, stabilize the middle class, and strengthen the economy. Haass follows up his The Reluctant Sheriff (1997) and The Opportunity (2006) to make his case that a focus on economics, energy, education, immigration, and other domestic issues, including fractious politics, can strengthen the nation from within and bolster its ability to deal with any external threats. --Vanessa Bush


“Haass delivers a cogent picture of the world and supports it with sharp and precise arguments.”
Foreign Affairs

“A must read for aspiring diplomats.”
American Diplomacy

“Haass’s call for getting America’s domestic house in order should be listened to.”
New York Times Book Review

"Haass is one of Americas most astute foreign policy analysts. His previous 12 books are gems of wisdom and this one is no exception.... The slim volumen is an excellent primer about the world in which the US operates today.... Haass should be read by everyone."

“Haass persuasively shows that United States continues to be the indispensable nation.... Haass’s writing style is straightforward and uncluttered by jargon. My academic colleagues will not find reference to ‘hegemonic transition theories’ or ‘postmodernism,’ which makes the book much more accessible to a wider readership.... Whether Haass chooses to run for office one day or not, a presidential candidate would do well using his realism as a platform.”
National Interest

"Deft and wise book”
The Daily Beast

“[Haass] argues brilliantly …. [his] prescription says charity starts at home.” —

“This informative, well-written book is a necessary addition to any collection providing either experts or citizens with new and rational discussion of America’s place in the world today.”
Library Journal

“Lessons learned from the recent past and presented thoughtfully as a viable new course.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Richard Haass has long been a keen observer of the US position on the world stage, and his must-read book is no exception. Haass rightly explains that if the United States is to continue fulfilling the leadership role it has had since World War II, our country must be more restrained in what it does abroad and put its house in order at home by defusing the looming fiscal debt bomb that threatens our national security and global standing.”
James A. Baker, III.

“A concise, comprehensive guide to America’s critical policy choices at home and overseas. Richard Haass writes without a partisan agenda, but with a passion for solutions designed to restore our country’s strength and enable us to lead.”
Madeleine K. Albright

“A perceptive diagnosis and common sense prescription for what ails us as a nation. It is a practical guide for those who believe America's continued global leadership is critical in the twenty-first century, but who believe it must be anchored in restoration at home and more effective use of all the tools of American foreign policy abroad.”
Robert M. Gates

“Richard Haass is one of America’s most insightful and experienced thinkers. In Foreign Policy Begins at Home, Haass explains why our ability to wield power and influence abroad will depend on our confronting pressing challenges at home. He offers a sobering look at the domestic policies that are undermining our international competitiveness – and a thoughtful roadmap for strengthening America’s position on the global stage.”
Michael R. Bloomberg

“Richard N. Haass shows us that maintaining America's leadership in the world will require significant reforms within our own borders. Full of insight but without polemics or preachiness, it clearly demonstrates that our ability to inspire, influence, cooperate with or deter others depends upon our ability to promote shared prosperity and social progress at home.”
William Jefferson Clinton

More About the Author

Dr. Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, the preeminent independent, nonpartisan organization in the United States dedicated to the study of American foreign policy. Until 2003, Dr. Richard Haass was director of policy planning for the Department of State, where he was a principal adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell on a broad range of foreign policy concerns. Confirmed by the U.S. Senate to hold the rank of ambassador, Dr. Haass served as U.S. coordinator for policy toward the future of Afghanistan and was the U.S. envoy to the Northern Ireland peace process. He was also special assistant to President George H.W. Bush and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs on the staff of the National Security Council from 1989 to 1993. Dr. Haass is the author or editor of eleven books on American foreign policy and one book on management. He regularly writes and speaks on global issues. A Rhodes scholar, he holds a BA from Oberlin College and both master and doctor of philosophy degrees from Oxford University. He has received honorary degrees from Hamilton College, Franklin & Marshall College, Georgetown University, Oberlin College, Central College, and Miami Dade College.

Customer Reviews

The writer's style is readable, his conclusions insightful, and his facts well documented.
Dave Brown
If we can change the way we do things, we will be able to get out of this mess and set a good example for the rest of the world.
Alastair Browne
Nonetheless, I would recommend the book, as it shares Mr. Haass' vast knowledge of foreign and domestic policy.
Mike in TN

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 62 people found the following review helpful By James D. Zirin on April 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Richard Haass is a worrier, as well he should be. In this finely crafted, highly readable and brilliant analysis of where we are today in the world, the articulate Council on Foreign Relations President and former national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush, argues that America is losing its ability to influence other nations. He sees correctly that there is no nation in the world, which can replicate American leadership, not China, not Russia, not Japan, and not Europe. And without American leadersip, the world inevitably will be in an unstable, chaotic condition that no one wants. America's loss of international leverage comes from shared perceptions that our government has become all but totally dysfunctional. He warns that we are rapidly losing ground as Washington can't agree on such basic matters as budgets, immigration policy, education and how to deal with our domestic economy. The President creates a bi-partisan commission to get our fiscal house in order; it amazingly reaches agreement on what must be done; and the President dissolves and disavows the commission. The President squanders almost all of his political capital on gun control, and has little left for energy policy, environmental regulation or tax reform. The world watches as Washington wrangles and twists in the wind. And, this does little to elevate our status as leader of nations. This book will be widely read by policy makers, academicians and governmental leaders, as well it should. But it is required reading for every literate American, who is as worried as the author about America's primacy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Endy Zemenides on July 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Haass could've emphasized the urgency of getting our house in order a little more - with an analysis of global flash points. The argument for shifting attention away from the Middle East also deserved more ink (how do you do this in the short term as the region is falling apart?).

Hopefully our policymakers pay attention to the recommendations here. Our politics is the #1 reason our house is not in order.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Je'nique on June 19, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book truly touches on the fundamental points of Getting America's House in Order: infrastructure, immigration, debt reduction, education and energy independence. These are the core challenges we face in America currently and until we get these issues on the table, we cannot influence (well at least not very strongly) foreign policy abroad.
The book starts off with too much historical data than I would have liked and I had to wait until halfway through the book to get to the "case for putting America's house in order". But once Haass got to the juncture, he fully presented the ideas not only I'm sure myself, but millions of other Americans have.
He presents a strong case of why our leadership here at home, means leadership around the world. A true case of lead by example.
Wonderful book! Concise but gets the message across. A good read for anyone interested in Foreign Policy or just simply keeping up with the issues that face Americans everyday.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Worster on June 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book takes an integrated view of the key issues facing the US at this time. Addressing individual issues without understanding how they are all related continues to cause as many unintended consequences as intended ones. This inevitably leads to poor results, further politicization of the issues and yet more ill-conceived and poorly designed remedial solutions. Each major issue identified has to be addressed individually, but with a view to how they are all interrelated. This book goes a long way to identify the larger processes that tie these all together.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on May 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
For years I've thought it ridiculous that the U.S. goes around the world, criticizing seemingly everyone for everything, while our own house is such a mess. Once in awhile, the Chinese have even made that point. Nonetheless, we pontificate on and on and on, seemingly without end.

Finally, we have someone with foreign policy credentials to come out and say just that, in 'Foreign Policy Begins at Home.' Haas contends that the biggest threat to the U.S. comes not from abroad but within. He states that we have undermined our ability to lead effectively in world matters because of our own government deficits, deteriorating infrastructure, an erroneous war in Iraq, an avoidable financial crisis, a mismanaged effort in Afghanistan, prolonged low economic growth, a dysfunctional immigration system, and a stalemated government. (He should also have referenced our cancerous health care system that consumes 18% of GDP, far more than any other developed nation - Switzerland is #2 at only 12%, while competitors Japan and Taiwan are at only 8% and Singapore at 4% of GDP.) Meanwhile, we've over-reached abroad and accelerated the emergence of alternative power centers - Iran, China, and Muslim extremists through our actions and inactions, as well as weakened our position relative to others.

His prescriptions start with improving our failing education, yet also points out we already spend more/pupil on K-12 than most OECD nations. Korea, for example, spends about half U.S. per-pupil levels, while their pupils achieve considerably better. Similarly, Sweden and Finland spend 1/3 and 1/5 less, respectively, while also outperforming our pupils. Our infrastructure has become an embarrassment and just be fixed - having just driven 6,700 miles over American interstates I can certainly support that.
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