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.
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
Managing Editor, Responsible Statecraft
Director, Democratizing Foreign Policy Program
Senior Research Fellow, East Asia Program
Director, Business Operations
Research Fellow (On Leave)
Executive Vice President
Director of Communications
Senior Research Analyst
Deputy Director of Research and Policy
Managing Director of Research and Policy
Research Fellow, Middle East 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.
For more information about the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, please email [email protected]