Richard Haass, head of the Council on Foreign Relations, is under active consideration for the key No.2 job in the US State Department under President Trump.

A former peace envoy to Northern Ireland under George W, Bush, he is widely respected and seen as the most effective peace envoy other than George Mitchell. Haass succeeded Mitchell as the United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland to help the peace process, for which he received the State Department's Distinguished Service Award.

He was succeeded by Mitchell Reiss as special envoy at the end of 2003, but in late 2013, Haass returned to Northern Ireland to chair the important inter-party talks aimed at addressing a range of unresolved issues from the peace process such as parades, flags and "the past".

If he were chosen as deputy at the State Department it would be viewed as a very positive development in Ireland.

As Trump entered his candidacy in 2015, Haass helped to brief Trump on foreign affairs. He was most recently seen meeting with the President-elect at Trump Tower last week. As Politico notes, it was the day before Trump met Exxon Mobile CEO Rex Tillerson, whom he went on to nominate for Secretary of State.

Of Haass, Trump one told MSNBC’s Morning Joe program “I like him a lot. I have a few people that I really like and respect.”

Haass has been critical of Trump’s criticisms and dismissal of NATO, saying in an interview with the New York Observer (a newspaper owned by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner) “Even if he doesn’t win, it sent a message that what people thought was unthinkable was now thinkable. My hunch is he raised these things because if he were to win it would give him leverage in getting allies to ante up more. Trump is very focused on calculating what he sees as the direct costs: “We spend this much on defense what have you.” But he’s not calculating the benefits.”

Other names being considered for the State Department deputy position include former United Nations ambassador John Bolton and Elliott Abrams, Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy under George W. Bush.

Richard N. Haass, former Peace Envoy to Northern Ireland. Wikimedia Commons