President of the Council on Foreign Relations reveals policy influence on ‘Talking Foreign Affairs’

Adil Cader of ‘Talking Foreign Affairs’ (right) with Council on Foreign Relations President, Dr. Richard Haass.

‘Talking Foreign Affairs’ with Adil Cader, which seeks to educate young people on key international issues, concluded an interview with Richard Haass, Veteran Diplomat and President of the Council on Foreign Relations.

The two discuss think-tank diplomacy and the work that CFR does in educating the wider public. Starting the interview, the host Adil Cader, asks about the role that think-tanks play in contributing to foreign policy. Acknowledging the importance of the question, Dr. Haass responded, “Think-tanks can essentially be generators of ideas, analyses in ways that are policy-relevant.” He added that it is unfortunate that increasingly, universities have opted out of a policy-relevant enterprise and focused more on a quantitative and theoretical methodology. This has, however, “opened up a space for people to focus on the real world and do analysis to offer prescriptions on what should be done.”

On Adil’s question on whether more interest is building on the domestic aspects of politics as opposed to foreign policy, Dr. Haass answered in the context of the United States. “We’re actually seeing more on the domestic side because in this country, foreign policy does not neatly divide along partisan lines.” This is, he continued, healthy in the sense that it holds out the possibility of a consensus and continuity in significant policy decisions. Dr. Richard Haass further talked about the foundations of American Foreign Policy and whether the Trump administration brought about a 4-year departure or will be accepted as the new normal, making a candid comparison with the new administration. He then reflected upon various levels of diplomacy,

Towards the end, Dr. Haass talked about the Council of Foreign Relations, which he described as a think-tank that looks at “issues of global governance”, essentially observing the rules and institutions in the world that are meant to deal with the global challenges. He also elaborated on how think-tanks can institutionalize multi-track diplomacy by bringing in experts from around the world to have conversations and write papers. All of these experts have influence within their governments and societies. These people can potentially influence policy decisions or pitch-in ideas for domestic policy decisions that may help with issues of global importance.

“There’s a real hunger in this world of so much misinformation. Everything can be found online, but there are no gatekeepers.”

Richard Haass

Richard Haass is a veteran diplomat and current president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Amongst his previous senior US Government roles, he has served as Northern Ireland Peace Envoy and Director of Policy Planning for the State Department.

‘Talking Foreign Affairs’ seeks to educate young people on key international issues and analyse key themes of foreign policy and current global affairs. Their offerings include hosting panels, addressing conferences, carrying out research and publishing. 

Adil Cader specialises in Australian Foreign Policy and Global Diplomacy. He is a Pacific Forum Young Leader and Board Member of the Australia-Pacific Youth Dialogue, and is actively involved with diplomacy education.