Richard N. Haass

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Richard N. Haass
Haass in 2014
President of the Council on Foreign Relations
In office
July 16, 2003 – June 30, 2023
Preceded byLeslie H. Gelb
Succeeded byMike Froman
United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland
In office
February 6, 2001 – July 12, 2003
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byGeorge Mitchell
Succeeded byMitchell Reiss
Director of Policy Planning
In office
February 6, 2001 – July 12, 2003
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byMorton Halperin
Succeeded byMitchell Reiss
Personal details
Richard Nathan Haass

(1951-07-28) July 28, 1951 (age 72)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (Before 2020)
Independent (2020–present)[1]
SpouseSusan Mercandetti (1990–present)

Richard Nathan Haass (born July 28, 1951) is an American diplomat. He was president of the Council on Foreign Relations from July 2003 to June 2023, prior to which he was director of policy planning for the United States Department of State and a close advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell in the George W. Bush administration. In October 2022, Haass announced he would be departing from his position at CFR in June 2023.[3] He was succeeded by former U.S. trade representative Michael Froman.[4]

The Senate approved Haass as a candidate for the position of ambassador and he has been U.S. coordinator for the future of Afghanistan. He succeeded George J. Mitchell as the United States special envoy for Northern Ireland to help the peace process in Northern Ireland, for which he received the State Department's Distinguished Service Award.

At the end of 2003, Mitchell Reiss succeeded him as special envoy. In late 2013, Haass returned to Northern Ireland to chair inter-party talks aimed at addressing some of the unresolved issues from the peace process such as parades, flags, and "the past" (now known as "the Troubles").[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Haass was born to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, the son of Marcella (née Rosenthal) and Irving B. Haass.[6][7] Haass graduated from Roslyn High School in 1969.[8] His father was a securities analyst and partner at investment management firm David J. Greene & Co.[7] He completed a bachelor's degree at Oberlin College in 1973, and was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, where he completed a master's degree and doctoral degree in 1978.[9]


Haass served at the Department of Defense from 1979 to 1980, and at the Department of State from 1981 to 1985. From 1989 to 1993, he was special assistant to President George H. W. Bush and National Security Council senior director for Near East and South Asian Affairs. In 1991, Haass received the Presidential Citizens Medal for helping to develop and explain U.S. policy during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

Richard Haass worked for Secretary of State Colin Powell in the Bush administration and was director of policy planning at the State Department from 2001 to 2003 during the lead-up to the Iraq war. Haass has said he was 60 percent against the Iraq war.[10]

Haass's other postings include vice president and director of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, the Sol M. Linowitz Visiting Professor of International Studies at Hamilton College, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, and a research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.[11]

Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, Haass advised several members of both the Republican Party and Democratic Party on issues regarding foreign policy, but did not publicly endorse a candidate due to the Council on Foreign Relations' non-partisan stance.[12]

In September 2013, Haass returned to Northern Ireland, with Professor Meghan O'Sullivan, to chair all party talks on flags, parades and the legacy of The Troubles, after violence flared over the removal of the union flag at Belfast City Hall. The talks broke down on December 31, 2013.[5]

Haass is a member of the Inter-American Dialogue.

Foreign policy views[edit]

In a May 2015 interview with BBC's HARDtalk, speaking as President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Haass predicted a new era in world history, in part due to the muting of U.S. dominance by the more diffuse power wielded by states and non-state entities as a result of the proliferation of nuclear arms and cyberterrorism, and several policy failures, which may bring about an "era of disorder" in the absence of any clear superpower.[13]

On October 4, 2017, Haass called for U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to resign.[14]

In December 2021, Haass criticized the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan as “America-first unilateralism in practice," indicating that Biden “did so in a Trumpian way, consulting minimally with others and leaving NATO allies to scramble.”[15]

In April 2023 former U.S. officials including Richard Haas, Charles Kupchan, Thomas Graham, and Mary Beth Long, among others, were reported to have conducted unofficial meetings with Russian diplomat Lavrov.[16] In an extensive article published by the Council on Foreign Relations' Foreign Affairs, Haass and Kupchan detailed what they termed as a "a plan for getting from the battlefield to the negotiating table." These interactions were allegedly centered on adjusting U.S. policy with the intent of facilitating Russia's acquisition of Ukrainian territory, an action that is purportedly in violation of U.S. law. The engagement of former U.S. officials in informal dialogues with Russians has led to a schism among American diplomats, foreign policy academics, and national security experts. Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Obama, voiced concern that conversations about potential resolutions without involvement of Ukrainian representatives, could undermine the stance of the Biden administration insisting that Ukraine’s future can't be decided in backrooms: “If you’re having Track Two negotiations about how to end the war, Ukrainians have to be there,” said McFaul.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Haass lives in New York City with his wife, Susan Mercandetti;[18] they have two children.


Haass is the author or editor of thirteen books on American foreign policy and one book on management.

Books authored:

Books edited

Book contributions


Haass has appeared as himself on dozens of TV shows and documentaries since 1996.[20] He has served as consultant on NBC News and hosted the online international affairs forum of the New York Times.[21]

Following the publication of A World in Disarray in 2017, the book was adapted into a feature-length documentary by VICE for release the same year on July 21.[note 1] Through interviews with Haass and other policymakers academics associated with the Council, the film explores the themes and concepts laid out in the book: the disorder in today’s international landscape, how it arose, and how it plays out in Syria, Ukraine, the South China Sea, and North Korea.[22] In addition to providing commentary throughout the film, Haass served as a consulting producer.[23][24]

Explanatory notes[edit]

  1. ^ The full-length documentary film VICE Special Report: A World in Disarray is available for viewing on the official Council on Foreign Relations website via YouTube.


  1. ^ @richardhaass (February 10, 2021). "I changed my registration to "no party affiliation" after 40 years. I worked for Reagan & Bush 41 & 43. But today's Rep Party no longer embraces the policies & principles that led me to join it. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, I didn't leave the Republican Party; the Party left me. / In response: I made this change some 6 months ago when I concluded Trumpism was less an aberration for the Rep party than its new abnormal. I didnt announce it b/c I considered the change to be a mostly private matter, but am doing so now given the enormity of recent events" (Tweet). Retrieved April 21, 2021 – via Twitter.
  2. ^ "令和5年秋の外国人叙勲 受章者名簿" (PDF). Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Retrieved November 3, 2023.
  3. ^ Crowley, Michael, "Richard Haass to step down as Council on Foreign Relations chief", New York Times, October 19, 2022. Retrieved 2023-02-06.
  4. ^ "Council on Foreign Relations Announces Michael Froman Will Serve as New President". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2023-07-02.
  5. ^ a b "Haass Talks". BBC News. January 7, 2014. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  6. ^ Haass, Richard N. (1997). The Reluctant Sheriff: The United States After the Cold War. Council on Foreign Relations Press. ISBN 9780876091982. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  7. ^ a b "Paid Notice: Deaths HAASS, IRVING B." The New York Times. 1999-11-09. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  8. ^ "Richard Haass, Roslyn H.S. Graduate and president of Council on Foreign Relations, releases book". The Island Now. 29 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Richard Haass, Assistant to President, Weds Ms. Mercandetti, TV Producer". The New York Times. 1990-11-18. Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  10. ^ "Richard Haass: 'I Did Not Believe In The Iraq War'".
  11. ^ "Richard N. Haass biography". council on foreign Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  12. ^ "Richard N. Haass - Council on Foreign Relations". Archived from the original on 2011-01-26. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
  13. ^ Montague, Sarah (4 May 2015). "President of the Council on Foreign Relations - Dr Richard Haass". BBC. Archived from the original on 23 May 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
  14. ^ Manchester, Julia (October 4, 2017). "Council on Foreign Relations president calls for Tillerson to resign". The Hill.
  15. ^ Haass, Richard (2021-12-03). "The Age of America First". ISSN 0015-7120. Retrieved 2022-01-25.
  16. ^ "Former U.S. officials have held secret Ukraine talks with Russians". NBC News. 2023-07-06. Retrieved 2023-07-07.
  17. ^ "Former U.S. officials have held secret Ukraine talks with Russians". NBC News. 2023-07-06. Retrieved 2023-07-07.
  18. ^ Published: November 18, 1990 (1990-11-18). "Richard Haass, Assistant to President, Weds Ms. Mercandetti, TV Producer - New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-01-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  19. ^ Gordon, David. "The Open Conspiracy". Review of The Reluctant Sheriff: The United States After the Cold War, by Richard Haass. The Mises Review, Vol. 4, No. 2 Summer 1998. Archived from the original.
  20. ^ "Richard Haass". IMDb.
  21. ^ "International Affairs Scholar Richard Haass Named to Direct Brookings Foreign Policy Studies Program" (News Release). Brookings Institution, July 1, 1996. Archived from the original.
  22. ^ Haass, Richard N. "VICE Special Report: A World in Disarray" (Teaching Notes). Council on Foreign Relations, November 1, 2017.
  23. ^ "VICE Special Report: A World in Disarray". IMDb.
  24. ^ "Ash Carter and Richard Haass Discuss VICE: A World in Disarray" (YouTube). JuJu Chang presides at the Harold Pratt House in New York. Council on Foreign Relations, July 25, 2017.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by Director of Policy Planning
Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland
Succeeded by