The Blog

Note to Assignment Editor: Not Your Dad's National Security Establishment

If you care about the people of the United States being engaged in our foreign policy, then you need to care what the faces of the people who represent our foreign policy look like.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

I'm getting a little exhausted with reading assessments of President Obama and his team's first year that feature ten white men (own it, National Journal), or six male "experts" including the writer, President Obama and John Bolton (that's you, Politico). Foreign Policy "wins" this sorry competition with a roster that is less than 25% female and 20% minority voices.

In my day job, I run an organization that works to put national security experts in front of new audiences in traditional and new media, Capitol Hill and the Administration, and around the country. We struggle every day to make sure we're putting out the best faces, old and new, who reflect just how smart and diverse the progressive national security establishment is getting to be.

If you care about empowering minorities, you've read the social science that says you need 30% representation before real change begins - before the individuals themselves stop feeling like favored tokens, and before the community around them can let itself be changed in meaningful ways.

And if you don't care about empowering minorities, but you still care about the people of the United States being engaged in our foreign policy, then you need to care what the faces of the people who represent our foreign policy look like.

So I set myself a little test. Could I come up with a truly great list of names - people whose assessments of the Administration I'd read, and twitter, and link to - that flipped this balance? And, just to make it harder, could I do it without Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice?

Below, twenty people whose assessment of the first year of Obama national security I'd like you to be able to read - along with the very smart group of mostly white men asked by the above-mentioned publications, many of whom are my colleagues, friends and esteemed ideological sparring partners. They're intentionally a diverse group - I don't agree with all of them, but in every case their intellect and credentials match up or exceed their peers. (Assignment editors: in most cases, I have their emails.)

1. Reuben Brigety, Center for Strategic and International Studies, former Naval officer
2. Sharon Burke, Vice President, Center for a New American Security
3. Shahid Buttar, Executive Director, Bill of Rights Defense Committee
4. Kathy Bushkin Calvin, UN Foundation
5. Clark Kent Ervin, Aspen Institute (former inspector general, DHS)
6. John Estrada, former Sergeant Major, US Army
7. Ambassador Jendayi Frazer, Carnegie Mellon, former Assistant Secretary of State for Africa
8. Carla Hills, Board Member, International Crisis Group, former US trade representative
9. Lt. General Claudia Kennedy, ret.
10. Jessica Matthews, President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
11. Ambassador George Moose, former ambassador to the UN in Geneva and assistant secretary of state for Africa
12. Alberto Mora, former General Counsel, US Navy
13. Celina Realuyo, National Defense University, fmr State and NSC
14. Kori Schake, Hoover Institute, foreign policy advisor, John McCain for President 2008
15. Ambassador Wendy Sherman, The Albright Group (former Counselor, Department of State)
16. Suzanne Spaulding, Bingham Consulting (fmr Senate Select Cttee on Intelligence)
17. Ambassador Nancy Soderberg, ConnectUS Fund (fmr. Deputy National Security adviser)
18. Julian Wong, Center for American Progress
19. Emira Woods, Institute for Policy Studies
20. Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek

I could come up with another 20, but you get my point. And this is after the Obama Administration has pulled a very respectable number of women and minority national security wonks and whizzes into its ranks.

Twenty years ago, when I was in college, I like to tell students that the only female role model I encountered was Ronald Reagan's UN Ambassador, Jeane Kirkpatrick - and she wasn't much of a role model for me, anyway. Nowadays, the reality is far different - and I'd like to see the media reflect that as well.

Before You Go

Popular in the Community