Summary of How a World Order Ends

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World orders are rarely stable, nor are periods of relative peace a matter of coincidence, argues Richard Haass, one of America’s most insightful foreign policy thinkers. In his essay, Haass draws upon lessons from 19th century Europe to argue for a revised international order that is more inclusive and better able to deal with the challenges of the 21st century. His analysis of the state of the world today is sobering, yet anyone concerned about where the world is heading can take solace in his conclusion that it’s not too late to steer the world away from chaos.

About the Author

Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations and served as a director of policy planning for the US State Department under President George W. Bush.



Following the Napoleonic Wars, the Continent’s dominant powers came together at the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15 to establish a system to help spare Europe another broad conflict. The new order, known as the Concert of Europe, was based on a set of mutually agreed-on rules – including respect for national sovereignty – as well as a rough military balance between the dominant powers. On the surface, the Concert of Europe was able to maintain peace until the onset of World War I. But the first symptoms of the system’s demise appeared 60 years earlier with the eruption of the Crimean War. As the 19th century progressed...

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