Truman National Security Project

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The Truman National Security Project describes itself as being "dedicated to forging a Democratic foreign policy founded on strength and security, grounded in a strong military and active diplomacy, and committed to furthering the American ideals of freedom, dignity, and opportunity worldwide." [1]

One of its founders, Rachel Kleinfeld, described the impetus for the project as national security as being an asset for the Republicans. "We decided there really was a need to create a movement of Democrats to stand up for these ideas and to really start to think about it, very much as a counterpart to the neoconservatives of the 1970s," she told Forward. The group aims to change the Democratic Party so that national security is seen as a strength rather than as a weakness.[2]

At its 2005 conference one of the panel discussions was on "what Democrats did wrong, Republicans did right, and neo-cons did better" and "the need to increase the size of the deployable military."[2]

About the Principals

Kelley Vlahos comments on the TNSP's principals:[3]

One need to go no further to understand the dynamic at work here than the advisory board, on which sits former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who once infamously said while advocating the bombing of Bosnia, "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it?" She also said, when asked in a 1996 interview about the estimated half a million children dead due to Clinton's Iraq sanctions, that "we think the price is worth it." She now stewards her own lucrative "global strategy" consulting firm, The Albright Group LLC.
Then there's Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), which makes him a made man in the purest embodiment of the foreign policy establishment there is. Gelb confessed in 2009 that he supported the Iraq War because the hive made him do it. You may not have heard of Robert Abernethy, head of American Standard Development Co., but he sits on the board and serves as trustee at dozens of schools, associations, colleges and think tanks, including Brookings, the RAND Corporation, CFR, the Pacific Council and Johns Hopkins University. He's also raised some $80,000 in campaign contributions for Democrats since the beginning of 2011 and tens of thousands more over the past decade. He also sits on the Truman board.
He joins old Clinton friend and former White house lawyer Greg Craig (who was canned for wanting to close Gitmo; he's since represented Goldman Sachs on their Securities and Exchange Commission issues and former veep candidate John Edwards in court), former Clinton Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, who is now at the conservative Hoover Institution, former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, who now runs the very successful (and admittedly less hawkish) Center for American Progress, and Will Marshall, head of the Progressive Policy Institute, Clinton's old centrist "idea mill."
Also advising is Princeton professor Anne-Marie Slaughter, who recently served as director of policy planning in the State Department. She is widely known in foreign policy circles as a vocal proponent of R2P (responsibility to protect), which has replaced COIN as the new raison d'être for liberal interventions across the globe, hence her recent support for intervening in Libya and now in Syria. In a 2004 article for Foreign Affairs called "A Duty to Prevent," she argued, "the international community has a duty to prevent security disasters as well as humanitarian ones—even at the price of violating sovereignty."
The senior fellows list includes a who's who of the foreign policy elite, mingled with active and ex-military, politicians, legislative staff and assorted beltway bandits, not to mention the necessary moneybags. There's bland war supporter Michael O'Hanlon from Brookings, Peter Beinart, who wrote The Good Fight: Why Liberals—and Only Liberals—Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again, and Larry Diamond, another conservative from Hoover. There is Janine Davidson, a former Brookings fellow and DoD policy official who was a major player in the now-failed COIN enterprise, and Mark Jacobson, who until 2011 served as a senior U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan. He's also worked at the Pentagon and the Senate Armed Services Committee and is now a defense policy wonk at the German Marshall Fund.
The shop is run by President and CEO Rachel Kleinfeld, a super-educated thirty-something who seems to have spent most of her working years building her resume in the hive. She counts President Truman as her chief "political inspiration" and says things like "neoconservatives do care about people in other parts of the world, and they give real weight to ideas, ideologies, and civil society," though they are not as righteous and sensitive as "progressives" in their intentions. Ideals aside, Kleinfeld spends these days shilling for Obama, writing tired op-eds that talk to voters as if they were middle school students.
To my mind, this crew is about as "progressive" as a hamster on a wheel — to nowhere.

Staff (2009)

Accessed January 2009: [4]


Accessed July 2012: [5]

Board (2009)

Accessed January 2009: [6]

  • Stephen Bailey - Senior Vice President, Frontier Strategy Group
  • Pierre Chao - Managing Partner, Renaissance Strategic Advisors
  • Derek Chollet - Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security
  • Joy Drucker - Senior Vice President, Glover Park Group
  • Rachel Kleinfeld - President and Executive Director, Truman National Security Project
  • Sally Painter - Principal, Dutko Worldwide
  • Matthew Spence - Co-Founder and Director, Truman National Security Project

Advisory Board

Accessed July 2012: [7]

Advisory Board (2009)

Accessed January 2009: [8]

  • Madeleine K. Albright - Principal, The Albright Group LLC
  • Kurt M. Campbell - CEO and Co-Founder, Center for a New American Security
  • Gregory B. Craig - Partner, Williams and Connolly LLP
  • Leslie H. Gelb - President Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations
  • William Marshall - President, Progressive Policy Institute
  • William J. Perry - Professor and Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, Stanford University
  • John D. Podesta - President and CEO, Center for American Progress
  • Wendy R. Sherman - Principal, The Albright Group LLC
  • Anne-Marie Slaughter - Dean, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University

Senior Advisors and Trustees

Accessed July 2012: [9]

Contact details

Truman National Security Project
One Massachusetts Ave. Suite 333
Washington, D.C., 20001

Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch articles


  1. [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 E.J. Kessler, Putting National Security on the Democratic Agenda, Forward, 3 June 2005.
  3. Kelley B. Vlahos, How Think Tanks Think, Antiwar, 24 April 2012.
  4. Staff, Truman National Security Project, accessed January 5, 2009.
  5. Truman National Security Project Board, organizational web page, accessed July 5, 2012.
  6. Directors, Truman National Security Project, accessed 5 January 2009.
  7. Truman National Security Project Board, organizational web page, accessed July 5, 2012.
  8. Advisory Board, Truman National Security Project, accessed January 5, 2009.
  9. Truman National Security Project Senior Advisors and Trustees, organizational web page, accessed July 5, 2012.