A Letter from Truman’s CEO

To our extensive community and to our new visitors, I want to extend a warm welcome to the Truman National Security Project.
Truman is a high-trust impact community for national security leaders. Together, we develop timely, innovative and principled solutions to preserve and expand democracy, human rights, prosperity and security around the world. We draw on our nationwide membership’s intellectual firepower, national security experience, and extensive personal networks to do the work required for lasting change. Our diverse membership includes Hill staff, federal employees, non-profit leaders, academics, industry leaders, political strategists and elected officials across federal, state, and local government. With experience in uniform, as frontline civilians, and as members of the intelligence community, Truman members also know firsthand the stakes of our foreign policy choices.
Our mission is to unite and equip a diverse community of American leaders to produce timely, innovative, and principled solutions to complex national security challenges.

We envision an inclusive US foreign policy that makes American lives better because it advances democracy, human rights, prosperity and security at home and abroad.
How is Truman different from other foreign policy organizations?
  • We believe in international engagement through diplomacy first and foremost, and by force only when necessary.
  • We also believe that how we conduct ourselves in international engagement matters, and that our effectiveness abroad depends on the choices we make at home.
  • We go beyond thought leadership: we advocate, we build movements, we drive policy, we make change. And we bring an army: Yes, our members staff Secretaries and Senators and sit on the National Security Council, but we’re also in mayors’ offices, strategy boiler rooms, and boardrooms, with deep roots across the country and with mid-to-senior leaders everywhere change needs to be made. We speak “national security” in every local language. And when we write policy, we speak with the voice of personal experience.
Since its founding, Truman has championed the post-World War II understanding that the United States has a responsibility to preserve and expand human rights, prosperity, and security around the world. We have always acknowledged the essential role of diplomacy, defense, development, and democracy in our efforts to lead. Towards these internationalist goals, we espouse humanitarian means: the example we set, and the means we choose, are goals themselves.

Truman is uniquely positioned to give substance to this vision of national security. We boast deep roots in Washington, DC, but with 16 Chapters around the country and members in all 50 states, we also understand how national security decisions impact state and local communities across America.

As an example, our recent State Department Task Force Report — which brought together 60 Truman member drafters and external reviews to craft a pathbreaking report to rebuild the Department -- underscores the importance of the connection between the State Department and the rest of America and the role Truman believes that building trust via accountability and transparency, as well as diversity -- must play in order to get this change right.
We have five values at Truman - and they have remained unchanged since the organization’s founding 15 years ago.
  • Human rights and civil rights. (Liberalism).
  • We exist in community and have a duty to contribute to the common good. (Classical Republicanism).
  • Government should support social justice--equality of opportunity and some equality of distribution. (Liberalism merged with republicanism).
  • Tolerance and help for oppressed or marginalized to gain equal rights. (Liberalism/social ministry).
  • Together, we can progress and create a better world. (Enlightenment rationality).
It is why we believe in the four D’s: Diplomacy, Defense, Development, Democracy, even as the way we have calibrated those elements, has by necessity, shifted over time.

The world has changed since Truman first opened its doors - we have left the post 9/11 world behind. Things have gotten messier, more complicated, but progress has been made and now, as then, there is much at stake.

That is why we are here. That is why we are a movement and an impact community. It is why we don’t just believe, but do.

When Truman was founded, it brought together outstanding theorists to articulate a compelling alternative to the then-dominant, early-2000s neoconservative foreign policy worldview. These were our first Security Fellows. With that framework laid, we realized that good ideas need emissaries. The Political Partner cohort was born: communications professionals, campaigners, crisis managers, and everyone else with expertise in hearts and minds. To help tell those stories with authenticity, and to steal a march on arguments that the hard Right possessed a monopoly on sacrifice and service, we assembled the Defense Council from uniformed service members and members of the intelligence community. Over the years, while the lines between the cohorts have blurred as each of us has matured, moving from profession to profession as we’ve passed into new stages of our lives, the essential ingredients of a movement have only grown in potency.

More than that, we have coalesced around an additional idea—the necessity, and the practice, of leadership. Leadership for America on the global stage, certainly. And leadership for each of us in our own lives and communities. Over the years, this leadership has made Truman into a respected name in DC and across the country. We often hear from employers who look for our Torch on résumés, knowing that anyone in our community is someone they can trust. Trusted people get the call in moments of crisis. Trusted people get to make the decisions that matter. Trusted people have each other to lean on. Trust, and the leadership from which it grows like plants from good earth, ease our vision of national security into being.

Truman produces leaders united in pursuit of our vision of national security—leaders with a movement at their backs. With enough of us, in enough places, we can be and summon the change we seek.

Together we unite, we build, and we lead.

Ever Tru,

Jenna Ben Yehuda
President & CEO
Truman National Security Project