Christy Thornton Appointed Fellow at the Quincy Institute

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Transpartisan Foreign Policy Think Tank and Action Tank Launches in DC

Quincy Institute brings together Republicans and Democrats to make peace the norm and war the exception

WASHINGTON—In this time of rancorous partisan divide, a new foreign policy think tank plans to put to test the hypothesis that a transpartisan approach is the only way to end to endless wars and to rectify a dangerously broken U.S. foreign policy.

The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft (QI), which officially launches at a Capitol Hill reception today, will lay the foundation for a new U.S. foreign policy centered on military restraint and diplomatic engagement. The action-oriented think tank plans a program of scholarly research and engagement to reverse the historical trend by which military intervention has become the default, armed dominance an end in itself, and peacemaking the rare exception.

“In a memorable address delivered two hundred years ago, Secretary John Quincy Adams warned that for America to go abroad ‘in search of monsters to destroy’ would put at risk everything that the nation professes to stand for,” says QI’s President Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel, academic, and author who served in Vietnam and in the first Gulf War.

“Ill-advised foreign wars, Adams argued, posed a threat to liberty itself. With the passage of time, that warning has only become even more pertinent and more pressing. The misuse of U.S. military power in recent decades has done immense harm to ourselves and to others,” Bacevich adds.

“Leading with diplomacy, backed by a military response as an option of absolute last resort, should be the norm, not the exception,” says Suzanne DiMaggio, Chairman of the Quincy Institute’s Board and an expert in diplomacy with countries that have limited or no official relations with the United States. Far from constituting isolationism, this approach would allow the U.S. to be globally engaged in ways that advance the cause of peace rather than fostering violence and instability.

“Both sides of the aisle in Washington bear responsibility for embroiling our country in endless war, one administration after the next. While their respective rationales for military intervention might vary, the end result is inevitably the same and, most disturbingly, it is self-perpetuating. To advance America’s interests — at home and abroad — we must fundamentally change how we approach foreign policy,” DiMaggio adds.

QI will build on the efforts of a working coalition within the Congress that successfully pushed through a grassroots-backed bipartisan resolution earlier this year to end U.S. support for the war in Yemen.

“America must pursue a foreign policy rooted in engaged diplomacy and regional dialogue, rather than repeated military interventions. The era of endless wars has to end. I welcome the Quincy Institute into the dialogue here in Washington as we work together to construct a progressive foreign policy for our country,” says Congressman Ro Khanna, Democratic co-chair of the bipartisan War Powers Caucus, who will also speak at the launch reception this evening.

“I applaud the Quincy Institute’s mission to give voice to the millions of Americans of all backgrounds and political persuasions who feel like they have been left out of debates about our nation’s proper role in the world. Congress must reclaim its constitutional war-power authority and begin to bring home our men and women in uniform who are risking their lives in unnecessary conflicts abroad. I am confident that the Quincy Institute will be a valuable partner in what should be a common-sense, bipartisan effort,” adds Congressman Andy Biggs, the Republican co-chair of the War Powers Caucus.

Recent polls demonstrate broad disillusion with U.S. military interventions abroad, including 62 percent of Americans who say the Iraq War wasn’t worth it and 59 percent who say the same about the war in Afghanistan. Notably, in the same survey, veterans expressed nearly identical levels of reservation (Pew Research Center Survey, July 10, 2019). Likewise, the majority of Americans wants to reduce our military budget and the U.S. presence in East Asia, and they want to leave Afghanistan (Eurasia Group Foundation, November 2019).

The Quincy Institute will provide policy expertise, intellectual materials, and expert credibility across a range of foreign policy issues, creating a conceptual framework for understanding and acting upon the global challenges faced by the United States. It will turn restraint-oriented theories into detailed policy proposals and marshal expert research to support them.

The Quincy Institute will launch with four areas of focus with the intention of adding to its programming in the coming years. The first area, Ending Endless War, addresses the general conditions that keep U.S. foreign policy militarized. It will tackle the excesses of military spending, arms sales, bases, and sanctions that have become normalized in Washington.

The second area of focus, Democratizing U.S. Foreign Policy, proceeds from the premise that too much power over war and peace is concentrated in the presidency, without regard for, or accountability to, ordinary citizens and the populations affected most by U.S. actions.

The two remaining areas of focus are the Middle East and East Asia, from which QI’s first full-length reports will come early next year. Topics will include a plan for responsible withdrawal from Afghanistan as well as an approach to China that avoids another cold war and allows for cooperation on climate change.

In addition to its founding staff of 14, QI has established a group of more than 40 Non-Resident Fellows comprised of accomplished scholars, practitioners, and journalists who will advance the organization’s message and mission across the country. The organization will also launch an online publishing platform, Responsible Statecraft, featuring U.S. foreign policy news, opinion, and analysis and critiquing the ideas—and the ideologies and interests behind them—that have mired the United States in counterproductive endless wars.

QI has secured funding from both progressive and conservative foundations and philanthropists, demonstrating the wellspring of support that exists across traditional party lines for a non-militaristic foreign policy. The Open Society Foundation and the Charles Koch Foundation — two leading foundations on opposite ends of the political spectrum — both support the organization, as do the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Ploughshares Fund, ARCA Foundation, Pivotal Foundation, Colombe Peace Foundation, and Nasiri Foundation— to name a few. Transpartisan funding ensures both Quincy Institute’s independence and strengthens its ability to advance its pro-peace agenda with Democratic and Republican lawmakers and administrations.