A rising China, climate change, terrorism, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, a tumultuous Middle East, and a defiant North Korea all present serious challenges for U.S. foreign policy, but could internal factors actually pose the biggest threat to the United States, its security, and its position as a global leader? In his new book, Foreign Policy Begins at Home: The Case for Putting America’s House in Order (Basic Books, 2013), Richard Haass argues that U.S. national security depends on the United States addressing significant internal issues: repairing its crumbling infrastructure, improving education, reforming its immigration policies and reducing its burgeoning debt. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, contends that these shortcomings directly threaten America’s ability to project power and exert influence overseas; to compete in the global marketplace; to generate the resources needed to promote the full range of U.S. interests abroad; and to set a compelling example that can influence the thinking and behavior of other nations.
On May 30, Foreign Policy at Brookings hosted Haass for a discussion on the challenging issues facing the United States at home and their impact on the successful pursuit of U.S. foreign and security policies abroad. Brookings Senior Fellow Robert Kagan joined the discussion. Vice President Martin Indyk, director of Foreign Policy, provided introductory remarks and moderated the conversation.