America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” — John Quincy Adams
The foreign policy of the United States has become detached from any defensible conception of U.S. interests and from a decent respect for the rights and dignity of humankind. Political leaders have increasingly deployed the military in a costly, counterproductive, and indiscriminate manner, normalizing war and treating armed dominance as an end in itself.
Moreover, much of the foreign policy community in Washington has succumbed to intellectual lethargy and dysfunction. It suppresses or avoids serious debate and fails to hold policymakers and commentators accountable for disastrous policies. It has forfeited the confidence of the American public. The result is a foreign policy that undermines American interests and tramples on American values while sacrificing the stores of influence that the United States had earned.
The Quincy Institute is an action-oriented think tank that will lay the foundation for a new foreign policy centered on diplomatic engagement and military restraint. The current moment presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring together like-minded progressives and conservatives and set U.S. foreign policy on a sensible and humane footing.
Our country’s current circumstances demand it.
We expose the dangerous consequences of an unaccountable, overly militarized foreign policy and present an alternative approach that promotes local ownership and resolution of local issues.
We connect and mobilize a network of policy experts and academics who are dedicated to a vision of American foreign policy based on military restraint rather than domination. We help increase and amplify their output, and give them a voice in Washington, including through our publishing platform Responsible Statecraft.
We develop compelling messaging and communications strategies on national security debates taking place in Washington and around the country to challenge excessive militarization and military spending and to educate the public.
We serve as a resource for allies in Congress, grassroots organizations, and emerging leaders in Washington and across the country who share our vision, values, and sense of purpose.
The Quincy Institute promotes ideas that move U.S. foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace.
A world where peace is the norm and war the exception.
The Quincy Institute stands for responsible statecraft, defined as follows:
Responsible statecraft serves the public interest.
The foreign policy of the United States exists to secure the safety and well-being of the American people while respecting the rights and dignity of all.
Foreign policy should therefore derive from serious consideration of the public interest, accounting for the diversity of American society. It should not be driven by the preferences of a narrow elite in Washington. American foreign policy should change as American society and the world change.
Responsible statecraft engages the world.
The United States should engage with the world, and the essence of engagement is peaceful cooperation among peoples.
For this reason, the United States must cherish peace and pursue it through the vigorous practice of diplomacy. Building on a great achievement of the twentieth century — the liberation of most of humanity from colonial empires — the United States should welcome productive initiatives by other nations in the twenty-first century. It should not inhibit others from acting to solve common problems, reduce conflict, and provide for their own security.
Responsible statecraft builds a peaceful world.
The United States retains a strong interest in being a responsible and constructive member of the international community.
It should act so that others can model their conduct on its own. Therefore the United States should respect established international laws and norms, discourage irresponsible and destabilizing actions by others, and seek to coexist with competitors. The United States need not seek military supremacy in all places, at all costs, for all time.
Responsible statecraft abhors war.
The use of armed force, while sometimes necessary, does not constitute engagement in the world.
Force ends human life, displaces people, devastates communities, and damages the environment. In these ways, it prevents genuine engagement. Any resort to force should occur only as a last resort. The U.S. military exists to defend the people and territory of the United States, not to act as a global police force. The United States should reject preventive wars and military intervention to overthrow regimes that do not threaten the United States. Wars of these kinds not only are counterproductive; they are wrong in principle.
Responsible statecraft is democratic.
The American people have the right and responsibility to participate in the making of U.S. foreign policy.
They should engage in a robust and inclusive debate about America’s role in the world. Further, Congress must fulfill its duties in foreign policy, neither tolerating the usurpation of its Constitutional role by the executive nor abdicating its authority to declare war.
Chairman of the Board
Secretary and Treasurer
Managing Editor, Responsible Statecraft
Senior Advisor, Quincy Institute and Editorial Director of Responsible Statecraft
Senior Advisor, Quincy Institute and Investigative Journalist at Large at Responsible Statecraft
Director of Development
Senior Research Fellow
Senior Research Fellow
Contributing Editor, Responsible Statecraft
Director of Operations
Executive Vice President
Director of Communications
Senior Research Analyst
Social Media and Digital Marketing Manager
Director, East Asia Program
The Quincy Institute advances its mission to promote ideas that move U.S. foreign policy away from endless war and toward vigorous diplomacy in the pursuit of international peace with the philanthropic support of generous individuals and foundations. We are proud to recognize the following institutional supporters who help further our work. View a full list of Quincy Institute’s financial supporters here and our conflict of interest policy here. In early 2021, we will undergo an audit of our first year of operations and will make that available on our website.