06 September 2011
The Connect US Fund
Describe the impact on foreign policy you have made in your current/past jobs.
I have contributed to concrete gains in preventing nuclear terrorism. In March 2009, I founded the Fissile Materials Working Group, the world’s leading coalition of nuclear terrorism experts. I also regularly act as a jargon-free nuclear security expert in the media. Second, I have educated hundreds of people about the foreign policy-making process and empowered them to act; I have done this through my graduate-level courses at New York University and George Washington, and my writing. Finally, I continue to “grow the bench” of next generation foreign policy thinkers through my work as a Truman National Security Fellow and my mentoring.
What personal contribution to foreign policy are you most proud of?
I am most proud of running the Connect US Fund, a small team of foreign policy advocates working to build relationships among diverse actors and deliver targeted asks to policymakers. Through a program of grant-making and operations which foster stronger collaboration and advocacy among NGOs, we seek to advance responsible U.S. global engagement in an increasingly interdependent world.
What is your vision of foreign policy in the 21st Century?
Foreign policy should be more strategic and collaborative in nature; the more we take into perspective different and varied stakeholders, the more robust, inclusive, and democratic our foreign policy will be, and the more reflective of our American values.
What is the greatest foreign policy issue facing our generation?
Experts agree the threat of nuclear terrorism is the number one threat facing our nation and the world today; it’s also one of the most preventable. The global stockpile of nuclear materials is large enough today to build another 100,000 nuclear bombs and these materials continue to accumulate in unstable regions and countries. Unfortunately, not enough has been done to lockdown of these dangerous materials and crucial anti-terror nonproliferation programs continue to be under-funded.
What challenges need to be overcome to create better foreign policy?
Partisanship continues has gotten worse. Politics oftentimes stand in the way of good policy. It's unfortunate that our policymakers – on both sides of the aisle – cannot look beyond partisanship when making decisions that will affect not only U.S. national security and domestic well-being, but our standing in the world.
What personal, managerial, and leadership skills and traits must the next generation of foreign policy leaders possess?
Advances in technology have allowed us to Skype with colleagues around the world and get instant updates via Twitter. We are interconnected and we need to start thinking that way, start collaborating for maximum impact. Leaders need also be flexible, as information flow is rapid and circumstances can change in the blink of an eye or the click of a mouse.
How can foreign affairs be made more accessible to Americans, particularly younger generations?
Connect the foreign to the domestic, the everyday, the personal. We need to be better about talking with people in the space in which they currently exist – what's important to them on a day to day basis?
Which living or dead foreign policy practitioner do you look up to the most?
I admire John Adams for his tireless work to establish America and instill in our government the values that make our country great: equality, liberty, freedom, and opportunity. These values have resonated through the centuries and it's what has drawn generations of immigrants to our great nation.
Which living or dead foreign policy practitioner do you think has missed the mark and why?
In a globalized, interconnected world, President George W. Bush was anything but. From his brash invasion of Iraq to the way he treated international partners – and even American citizens – he exemplified the opposite of good global governance.
If you could change a critical decision in history to affect foreign policy, what would it be?
I would have had the U.S. join World War II earlier than we did. We could have stopped the genocide of millions of people during the Holocaust and perhaps headed off using nuclear bombs against innocent people.