News & Publications
The College Magazine - Summer 2008
Santa Fe Commencement
GREAT BOOKS FOR A GLOBAL WORLD
At the 41st Commencement on the Santa Fe campus, 89 undergraduates and 30 Graduate Institute students received their degrees. Rain was in the forecast, but Saturday's sky was clear, and the weather not unlike a brisk fall day. The Artemis String Quartet provided music for the procession and recession, and the college Commencement Choir sang pieces by Palestrina and de Cristo before and after the address to the graduating class given by Richard N. Haass.
Haass is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank and publisher dedicated to helping the public better understand the world and foreign policy. He has authored or edited 10 books on American foreign policy, the most recent of which is The Opportunity: America's Moment to Alter History's Course. Prior to serving on the Council on Foreign Relations, Haass was director of policy planning for the Department of State and a principal adviser to Secretary of State Colin Powell. He has been vice president and director of foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and a research associate at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
"We were so pleased to have someone of Richard Haass' stature and experience speak to our graduates about great books, great ideas and their link to global issues and the lives of our graduates," said Michael P. Peters, president of the Santa Fe campus, who before joining St. John's was executive vice president of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Haass began with an outline of the nonpolar nature of today's foreign relations, operating within a world that has moved from concentrated power to one of distributed power. "All of you-no matter your career path-will be affected by nonpolarity. The world is not Las Vegas: what happens there will not stay there."
He referenced Thucydides' The Peloponnesian War, with its many examples of hard-headed analysis. "Through his exploration of the politics, diplomacy, and conflicts of the great powers of his day, Thucydides provided foreign policy insights that remain relevant in our time," said Haass. He suggested five books that would add greatly to one's knowledge of foreign policy: Hedley Bull's The Anarchical Society, Henry Kissinger's A World Restored, Michael Walzer's Just and Unjust Wars, Carl von Clausewiz's On War, and George Kennan's American Diplomacy.
"Understanding of the world is essential not only for your role as competitors, but also for your duty as citizens," said Haass. "This understanding will enable you to meet your obligations to society and to live up to the credo of this wonderful institution, namely, 'to make intelligent, free choices concerning the ends and means of public life.'"
By Jenny Hannifin