AMANPOUR: Well, and you've written about this, reorientating America towards this new challenge, and it looks to me -- I don't know whether you agree -- that the U.S. is sort of maybe moving away from the Middle East and Iran to an extent, and moving towards Asia, the Pacific as the president has said.
HAASS: Well, makes great strategic sense, in the sense -- look, if you look at the world, where's the great concentration of wealth? Asia. Ultimately, this wealth is going to be translated into other forms of power, China, India, Korea, Japan, what have you. This is -- this is where history in the 21st century is largely going to be written. How Asia plays out will determine more than anything the character of the coming decades. But the Middle East still has the potential to wreck things, whether it's through terrorism, instability, oil, you -- or nuclear proliferation.
So the Middle East is still the fly in the ointment. We can't -- we can't ignore it. We can't move away from it, but we can avoid future Iraqs. American forces have just been home. We can't avoid future Afghanistans. That's sort of large-scale American land force investment in the Middle East. Bob Gates was right. Those days are over.
AMANPOUR: What about the other major headwind for the United States, which is this global economic crisis? We see it playing out most perilously in Europe right now.
WRIGHT: Well, one of the reasons I think the United States is engaging in what's called strategic rebalance toward Asia is because the barometer of power increasingly is defined by economics and less and less by military might, reflected in the fact that we can't actually achieve our goals in Iraq and Afghanistan militarily.
It takes a lot of political muscle. But the fact that we've ignored what's been happening in Asia with the reemerge -- or the emergence of China and South Korea as these strong economies, but the challenges is looking at Europe and can it survive.
And one of the things that's so interesting about the world in the 21st century is how we're moving to a global world through regional blocks. And a lot of what happens in Europe will influence what happens in other regions of the world. Can it unite around whether it's a financial unit or a constitutional or common political goals?
AMANPOUR: In our last 45 seconds, how perilous is what's happening in Europe right now, given it's the largest market for the U.S.?
HAASS: It is perilous, and the politics have lagged behind the economics and the finance, and that's not going to change. You're not going to see a integrated Europe in the fiscal sense that will match the monetary sense.
I've just come back from China. What was interesting in all my meetings with senior Chinese officials, the first question they had was Europe. They are worried that if Europe goes badly, China's ability to export will go down. That raises fundamental questions about China's economic model and hence political stability.
So Europe right now was the dominant issue in 2011, along with the Middle East. Probably those two issues, they're going to stay dominant in 2012.
AMANPOUR: Robin Wright, Richard Haass, thank you so much indeed for joining us. And Happy Christmas, happy holidays. And when we return, your road map for the start of election 2012, what to expect in the week ahead. That's coming up.