At the end of August, the Foreign Policy Initiative will cease to exist, ending an eight-year run for the conservative-policy organization. The small but active think tank has been a proponent of a hawkish, pro-defense national security policy agenda but found itself unable to survive in the Trump era.
“I’m proud to have been associated with FPI,” board member William Kristol told me. “FPI fought for strong American world leadership when it was out of fashion, and when that leadership returns, FPI alums and associates will be key to restoring it.”
Kristol founded the non-profit organization with other neoconservative thought leaders Robert Kagan (now at the Brookings Institution), former undersecretary of defense for policy Eric Edelman and former Bush administration official Dan Senor. Although its funding wasn’t publicly disclosed, the bulk came from billionaire Paul Singer, according to staffers.
Those close to the organization said that in the new policy and political environment marked by the ascendency of Donald Trump, many donors, including Singer, are reassessing where to put their funds and FPI, although well established and well liked, simply didn’t warrant the continued investment.
Chris Griffin, the current executive director of FPI, noted that the think tank’s staff have gone on to serve in key positions with several members of Congress. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) was an FPI staffer. The organization’s first executive director, Jamie Fly, served as national security counselor to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.).
“Over the past eight years, the team at FPI has worked tirelessly to educate policymakers and the pubic about the need for a principled foreign policy backed by a strong military,” Griffin said. “I am grateful for the hard work of everyone who has been a part of the team, and look forward to seeing all they will accomplish in the future.”
There are efforts to spin off some of FPI’s efforts, including the popular “Overnight Brief” on national security news, to other organizations. Overall, think tanks and policy organizations are increasingly under pressure in the Trump era and competition for space in the debate as well as for donors’ dollars is likely to intensify.