Foreign Policy Initiative

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The Foreign Policy Initiative is a think tank with influential neoconservative leadership, concerned with the stresses on the United States and its allies from "rising and resurgent powers, including China and Russia. They come from other autocracies that violate the rights of their citizens. They come from rogue states that work with each other in ways inimical to our interests and principles, and that sponsor terrorism and pursue weapons of mass destruction. They come from Al Qaeda and its affiliates who continue to plot attacks against the United States and our allies. They come from failed states that serve as havens for terrorists and criminals and spread instability to their neighbors."[1]

Since there are active conflicts across the world, the Initiative warns that it is impossible to return to pre-9-11 Attacks normalcy. Neither isolationism, nor, in the other direction, strategic overreach a feasible alternative. Its objectives are:

  • continued U.S. engagement, using all the mechanisms of grand strategy, "in the world and rejection of policies that would lead us down the path to isolationism;
  • "robust support for America’s democratic allies and opposition to rogue regimes that threaten American interests";
  • supporting the human rights of those oppressed by their governments, and U.S. leadership in working to spread political and economic freedom;
  • a strong military with the defense budget needed to ensure that America is ready to confront the threats of the 21st century;
  • international economic engagement as a key element of U.S. foreign policy in this time of great economic dislocation.

Activities and publications

In an effort to "educate leaders and policymakers about how to meet the global challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) conducts briefings for candidates of both political parties, as well as sitting members of Congress and their staff of both political parties."[2] The briefing book used for these sessions is available on the FPI website, largely composed of reprints of articles by staff, and general ideological allies, in conservative and neoconservative publications, as well as mainstream journals such as Newsweek and the Washington Post.[3]

FPI publishes an Overnight Brief news summary distributed by email.

It applauded President Barack Obama's June 2010 foreign policy actions:[4]

  • Appointing David Petraeus to the Afghanistan command
  • UN Security Council resolution on Iran
  • Relations with Japan
  • Building a free trade agreement with South Korea
  • Agreement that Georgia remains the principal sore spot between the U.S. and Russia


The group is bipartisan and neoconservative. Its first public event, in March 2009, "Afghanistan: Planning For Success," had a "heavy representation of Iraq war advocates." Arguing that the original neoconservative push for the Iraq War differed from the subsequent counterinsurgency approach in the Iraq War Surge, Spencer Ackerman suggested FPI ask itself, "why the counterinsurgents went to work for the (Democratic-aligned-but-they-don’t-like-when-I-write-that) Center for a New American Security instead of the American Enterprise Institute and other hotbeds of neoconservatism after the neocons went all-out promoting the surge."[5]

FPI, in July 2009, released an open-letter to President Barack Obama asking him to promote human rights at the summit with President Dmitry Medvedev. Neoconservative signatories included Max Boot, Jeffrey Gedmin, Carl Gershman, Max Kampelman, Bruce Jackson, Clifford May, Danielle Pletka, Randy Scheunemann, Gary Schmitt, Peter Wehner, and R. James Woolsey. Also signing were people more identified with civil liberties and human rights, such as Larry Cox of (Amnesty International-USA), Morton Halperin and Stephen Rickard (Open Society Institute). This reflected some of the original bipartisan neoconservative model, according to Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service, who suggested FPI is "trying to reconstruct the neo-con/liberal coalition that pressed the Clinton administration to intervene in the Balkans during the late 1990’s."[6]

The group was highly complementary of President Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Writing for the Thinkprogress blog of the liberal Center for American Progress, Matt Duss described Keep America Safe, a group founded by Liz Cheney, as linked to FPI, an "attempt to reboot and rebrand the neoconservative Project for the New American Century (PNAC)."[7] He suggested this group will "essentially function as the street-fighting arm of the more 'serious', policy-oriented FPI."


  1. About Us, Foreign Policy Initiative
  2. FPI Releases Foreign Policy 2010, Foreign Policy Initiative
  3. Foreign Policy 2010, Foreign Policy Initiative
  4. "Obama's 5 foreign-policy victories", Washington Post, 29 June 2010
  5. Spencer Ackerman (26 March 2009), "The Next New Neoconservative Think Tank Will Totally Redeem Every Neoconservative Idea", Washington Independent
  6. Jim Lobe (1 July 2009), PNAC Revisited, LobeLog, Inter Press Service
  7. Matt Duss (14 October 2009), The Foreign Policy Keep America Project For A Safe New American Century Initiative, Center for American Progress