Principles of the Quincy Institute

The Quincy Institute stands for responsible statecraft, defined as follows:

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.