An Evening of Reflection: FPIF’s 10th Anniversary

Marie Dennis, Co-chair, IRC Board

I am delighted to be here to celebrate with you …

  • ten years of Foreign Policy In Focus
  • ten years of high quality social and political commentary and analysis
  • ten years of providing concerned citizens with the tools to engage intelligently in the shaping of U.S. foreign policy

The International Relations Center is proud of this collaborative project and our partnership with the Institute for Policy Studies. We believe that each organization brings different but complementary strengths to the common effort.

Congratulations to the many who have been involved in shaping the FPIF vision and making it a reality.

Adelante!

Martha Honey, Former FPIF co-director and current director of The International Ecotourism Society.

I am so pleased to be able to join the staff and members of the Foreign Policy In Focus network to celebrate the 10th anniversary of FPIF.

A decade ago, the vision of building a network of foreign policy analysts using an inside/outside the Beltway alliance was developed by Tom Barry at the International Relations Center in coordination with Marc Raskin and John Cavanagh at the Institute for Policy Studies. I loved the idea of this project. Phyllis Bennis and I both applied for the job at the same time. IPS was smart to hire us both—I became co-director for the project and Phyllis was the director of the Middle East project, which has made tremendous contributions to FPIF.

When I walked into the room I was amazed by the continuity of both the staff and the writers for the project. Miriam Pemberton and Erik Leaver have been with FPIF from the beginning. John Cavanagh and Marc Raskin have continued to guide it at IPS. FPIF co-director John Feffer was one of our earliest–and finest–writers. Looking over the articles on the website this morning I still find many familiar names. This sort of longevity is rare in Washington DC and is a real tribute to the character and quality of our staff and experts, to the importance of this project, and to the unique community that the project has built.

When I decided to step down as co-director three years ago, I was thrilled that we were able to convince Emira Woods to come on board. In a town where foreign policy think tanks are dominated by white males, FPIF has been different–and has made a difference. Under Emira, it has continued to expand and to be truly a think tank without walls that gives voice to and reflects the composition of this country and of the world.

Thank you all for your great work and dedication. I feel proud to have been a part of FPIF.

William Hartung: FPIF Advisory Committee member and stand-up comedian

As we look to the future, we need to start with a new slogan. I have a few candidates:

FPIF: We Know the Difference between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan

FPIF: A Think Tank Without Walls, Windows or Hot and Cold Running Water

FPIF: We Told You So

We also need some new web features. For example how about a weekly Foreign Policy Advisor column? We scould become the Ann Landers column for world leaders. A likely letter might go as fellows:

Dear Foreign Policy Advisor,

Most Americans can’t pronounce my name, which is an affront to my dignity and an insult to our great nation. What do you recommend?

M. Ahmadinejad,
Tehran, Iran

Dear Mr. A,

Given that our president pronounces nuclear as “nucular,” thinks “terrorist” is a two-syllable word, and says I-ran instead of Iran, your prospects for changing America’s pronunciation of your name are between slim and none.

How about a presidential nickname? Vladimir Putin is “Pooty-Poot,” and Karl Rove is “Turd Blossom.” How much worse could you do?

Sen. Jess Trussme, 2008 presidential candidate

A surprise speaker at the FPIF event was Senator Jess Trussme–from a “state that cannot be named for security reasons.” Senator Trussme is running for the presidency in 2008 as an ultra-compassionate conservative, because, “We can do better at looking more compassionate and being more conservative.” As the Senator says, “President Bush has been right about everything, I’m going to be farther right.”

Senator Trussme pledged that his first act in office would be to eliminate America’s deficit by offering our national monuments and parks to corporations for product identification. “I’m going to sell the Smokey Mountains to the Phillip Morris company, the St. Louis Arch to Dr. Scholl’s, and the Washington Monument to the Trojan company!” said the Senator.

Marie Dennis is the co-chair, IRC Board and is the Director at the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns. Martha Honey formerly served as FPIF’s co-director at IPS and is currently the director of The International Ecotourism Society. Bill Hartung is an FPIF Advisery Committee member, director of the Arms Trade Resource Center and stand-up comedian. Senator Trussme, whose political campaign is being run by Diebold (“I can’t lose!” said Sen. Trussme) is available for appearances by contacting Ira Shorr at: irashorr@hotmail.com.