In the Green Room

Richard N. Haass

Richard N. Haass was born in Brooklyn, or as he put it, “a place where they used to play professional baseball before the Dodgers made that terrible decision.” Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of War of Necessity, War of Choice, entered the foreign policy field through an indirect route. Though he was engrossed by the Vietnam War debate in his high school and college years, he initially chose to study religion. “Religion took me to the Middle East to do some archaeology, and from there I decided I wanted to study the modern Middle East,” he said. “And here I am.” Read more about him below.

Q. What do you wake up to?
A. My alarm clock.

Q. What music have you listened to today?
A. It has not been a music-filled day. Six of those hours were on United Airlines, and I tried to sleep as many of those as I could.

Q. What’s your favorite word?
A. I like too many words to pick a favorite – it’s kind of like ice cream. If you’re a writer it’s very hard to have a favorite word.

Q. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A. A baseball player.

Q. What is your favorite cocktail?
A. A martini.

Q. What is your greatest extravagance?
A. Anything that takes a lot of time…. So playing 18 holes of golf would be a great extravagance.

Q. If you could take only one more journey, where would you go?
A. I’d probably spend time in Africa because it’s the part of the world I’ve spent the least amount of time in.

Q. What profession would you like to practice in your next life?
A. I’d want to be some sort of a musician.

Q. What is your favorite holiday and why?
A. The Jewish holiday of Passover. It’s a great holiday because it brings family and friends together, it’s in the home, and it’s a great tradition. You tell stories, and everything you eat has symbolism.

Q. What is your fondest childhood memory?
A. The first one that comes to mind is when I was playing catcher in Little League, tagging the guy out at home plate even though he knocked me over and I was flat on my butt. I held onto the ball and it was a great play.

Q. What is your most prized material possession?
A. My Woodstock tickets.

Q. What promise do you make to yourself that you break the most often?
A. To slow down.

Q. Who is the one person living or dead that you’d most like to meet?
A. The person who was most impressive of all the people I’ve met, and he’s alas no longer alive, is Yitzhak Rabin…. It’d be great to spend some time with Tiger Woods, then I could seriously improve my golf game and have fun in the process…. It’s great to spend time with people who are great at what they do and have fun doing it.

To read more about Haass’ lecture, click here.

*Photo by Aaron Salcido.