THE WORLD—A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

June 4, 2020


THE WORLD—A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

I have just completed reading the book mentioned above.  Mr.  Richard Haass does a marvelous job in giving the reader a very quick but extremely concise history lesson, both past and present.  He is NOT judgmental or condemning but informative and simply provides history in a factual manner.

RICHARD HAASS:

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. An experienced diplomat and policymaker, Dr. Haass was director of policy planning for the Department of State from 2001 until 2003, 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. A recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award, and the Tipperary International Peace Award, he is the author or editor of fifteen books, including the best-selling A World in Disarray. 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 Central College, Colgate University, Franklin & Marshall College, Georgetown University, Hamilton College, Miami Dade College, and Oberlin College.

THE BOOK:

The World—A Brief Introduction is designed to provide readers of any age and experience with the essential background and building blocks they need to make sense of this complicated and interconnected world. Mr. Haass indicates in the very first part of the book the very real fact that our schools seem to be failing at fully preparing students in history, both past and present.   This book will empower the reader in managing the flood of daily news. Readers will become more informed, discerning citizens, better able to arrive at sound, independent judgments. While it is impossible to predict what the next crisis will be or where it will originate, those who read The World will have what they need to understand its basics and the principal choices for how to respond.

In short, this book will make readers more globally literate and put them in a position to make sense of this era. Global literacy–knowing how the world works–is a must, as what goes on outside a country matters enormously to what happens inside. Although the United States is bordered by two oceans, those oceans are not moats. And the so-called Vegas rule–what happens there stays there–does not apply in today’s world to anyone anywhere. U.S. foreign policy is uniquely American, but the world Americans seek to shape is not. Globalization can be both good and bad, but it is not something that individuals or countries can opt out of. Even if we want to ignore the world, it will not ignore us. The choice we face is how to respond.

I would like now to give you several facts from Dr. Haass’s book that will indicate the level of detail presented and some flavor for the discourse:

  • A recent survey of over eleven hundred (1100) American colleges and universities found that only seventeen percent (17%) require students to take courses in U.S. government or history, while only three percent (3%) require them to take course work in economics.
  • One survey of the top American colleges and universities showed that less than one-third required history majors to take a single course in U.S. government.
  • Approximately one-third of Americans who graduate from high school do not attend any college and only forty percent (40%) do achieve a degree.
  • During WWI, as many as two hundred thousand (200,000) British forces were killed or wounded in a single campaign.  This was the battle for the Gallipoli peninsula.
  • The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact were structured to provide communication between countries and to preclude additional strife and war in Western and East Europe.
  • No religion claims a majority of the world’s people. Nearly one-third of the world’s population is Christian (close to two point three billion).  One point eight billion people are Muslims.  Just over one billion are Hindus, nearly five hundred thousand are Buddhists and approximately fifteen million are Jewish.  More than one billion claim no religion at all.
  • The Middle-East and North Africa have fifty-three percent (53%) of the world’s oil reserves.  The Middle-East and North Africa have forty-five percent (45%) of the world’s natural gas reserves.
  • Africa has four hundred and five million people living on less than two U.S. dollars per day. South Asia, two hundred and twelve million, East Asia forth-seven million, the Americas, twenty-six million, Middle East and North Africa, fifteen million, Central Asia, five million and Europe, four million.  Less than two dollars per day.
  • The Americas leads the world in homicides with sixteen point two (16.2) per 100,000 people.  These are 2017 statistics.
  • A significant number of terrorist attacks occurred in 2017 with Iraq, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and the Philippines being the most troubled.
  • In looking at the stockpile of nuclear warheads: Russia has 4,330, the U.S. has 3,800, France has 300, the UK has 215.  There are five others with nuclear capabilities.
  • Over one percent (1%) of the world’s population has been displaced due to war, economic conditions, crime, and environmental conditions.
  • The U.S. dollar is the most widely held reserve currency.
  • In looking at the human development index considering 1.) Education, 2.) Income and 3.) Life expectancy, the United States is number thirteen on the list with Norway ranking at ninety-five point three (95.3%).
  • Over five hundred thousand (500,000) Syrians have lost their lives and a majority of the population have been made homeless as a result of the conflict in Syria.  The Syrian government has played a major role in that horrible number.

I could go on from there with many more examples from Dr. Haass’s book but you get the picture—now buy and read the book.  Dr. Haass has fifty-six pages of notes and sources he has consulted during research for this book.   He has the numbers.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: