In the summer of 2017, we partnered with one of Washington’s top foreign-policy outlets to bring college students’ voices into our nation’s foreign policy conversation and to take a small step toward restoring a healthy, balanced civic debate on the proper scale of our nation’s ambitions and actions abroad.
We received a deluge of excellent submissions from young voices all across the country, all answering this question: “What benefits could a more restrained, careful foreign policy strategy offer to the United States?”
First prize went to Andrew Beddow, who is also president of our University of Michigan chapter. In his essay, Beddow calls for America to set a clear grand strategy that recognizes the world’s complexity and thus does not treat international problems as separate and readily fixable. Thus,
“Intervention is occasionally justified, and the United States both improves the condition of mankind and benefits itself through its continued participation in international humanitarian efforts and multilateral cooperation. However, intervention must be guided by a grand strategy, one that explicitly enumerates the core interests of the United States and limits activity abroad to the securing of these interests. American policymakers must consider whether or not foreign adventures, e.g. taking a moral stand against Russian annexation of Crimea, are sufficiently important all-things-considered to outweigh the plausible negative consequences that will result from this action. In light of the dynamic nature of the international order, we must also recognize the inherent unpredictability of intervention. Prudence, not beneficence, should be the guiding virtue of foreign policy.”
One of our runners up was Enea Gjoza of the Harvard Kennedy School. Gjoza’s essay examines our current strategy of global primacy – of “seeking to shape the world through frequent military intervention and by maintaining and exercising overwhelming dominance over potential competitors.” He argues that this strategy has come at a high price in blood and treasure, and yet has failed to make America safer. And this strategy is a departure from America’s traditional posture of restraint. Under that approach, Gjoza writes,
“As the other great powers of the day exhausted themselves in conflict against each other throughout the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century, the United States developed its economy and society in relative peace, intervening substantially only to tip the balance in the World Wars. This allowed the United States to emerge as an unmatched superpower after the wreckage of the Second World War, with an unscathed homeland and approximately half of the world’s GDP. Today, however, the United States is on the other end of the spectrum, taking upon itself the burden of maintaining the global order while other nations enjoy the benefits of peace and commerce.”
Our other runner up was Matthew Petti of Columbia University. Petti challenges the conventional view in Washington that America needs to double down on support for one of our most problematic allies, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – to treat their enemies as our own and to accept their account of the problems in their region. Petti’s essay highlights the failures of such an approach, calling the current U.S.-Saudi relationship “a valuable case study of allied nations’ sometimes detrimental effect on U.S. foreign policy.” Thus, he writes,
“U.S. support has essentially shielded Saudi Arabia from the negative effects of its campaign, removing incentives the kingdom has to restrain its own actions. From the beginning of Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen, the Obama administration supported the Saudi-led coalition with mid-air refueling and advanced munitions. This aid hasn’t quite made up for poor military leadership, but it has passed the mounting economic costs onto a foreign guarantor, allowing Saudi forces to maintain their technological edge despite a budget crisis in the kingdom. Consequently, American calls for a political solution have fallen on deaf ears; as the Trump administration considers removing some restrictions on support to the Saudi-led coalition, Riyadh will only be encouraged to pursue the disastrous status quo.”
He adds that the war has enabled Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, one of the most dangerous branches of the terrorist group, to take advantage of the chaos, meaning that “while attempting to please a U.S. ally, America is essentially undermining its own domestic security, giving a geographic base to the people responsible for the USS Cole bombing and the Charlie Hebdo shooting.”
We received many other excellent submissions that highlight the growing number of talented young leaders across the political spectrum who are eager to bring prudence and restraint back into our foreign policy. We at the Society are here to help them.
Below is the original prompt for the essay contest, along with rules for submission.
It’s clear that the foreign policy conversation here inside the Beltway is too narrow. No matter what the question is, the answer always seems to be that the United States needs to do more – even after fifteen years of war, even with massive national-security expenditures, and even with our already-huge network of alliance commitments and overseas bases.
We need your voice to help change the conversation. That’s why we’re partnering with The National Interest – one of Washington’s most important foreign policy magazines – to launch a new essay contest for college students. The winners will run in TNI, meaning they’ll be read by many of those who make the decisions and shape the discussions that set our country’s course in the world. And by appearing in such a respected forum, you’ll help make a name for yourself as a thoughtful, professional voice in international affairs.
It’s a tremendous opportunity to restore balance to the discourse in DC – and to build your own personal brand. Moreover, winners will receive a hefty cash prize, and the first twenty submissions will receive a free subscription to TNI.
Undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students who will be attending institutions in the United States in the Fall 2017 semester are welcome to participate.
The winning essays will run on TNI’s website and be promoted on social media by both TNI and JQA.
Prizes are as follows:
• First prize: $1000, essay featured on TNI, two year subscription to TNI
• Runner up (two): $250, essay featured on TNI, one year subscription to TNI
Additionally, the first twenty submissions will receive a free one-year subscription to the National Interest.
Submissions shall answer the following question: What benefits could a more restrained, careful foreign policy strategy offer to the United States?
If you’re stuck, consider reading some of the articles in the Intellectual Development section of our Resources page.
Submissions shall be between 1000 and 1500 words, and are due by 11:59pm Eastern Time on Sunday, June 18, 2017, by following the instructions at this link. Sources should be hyperlinked, rather than footnoted, when possible. Complete rules follow:
Student Foreign Policy Essay CONTEST RULES
1. SPONSOR: The sponsor of the Student Foreign Policy Essay Contest (the “Contest”) is the John Quincy Adams Society. (the “Sponsor”).
2. ELIGIBILITY: Contest entrants must be legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia aged 18 years or older, except where prohibited. Employees, officers, and directors of the Sponsor, and its subsidiaries, affiliates, and divisions (“Related Entities”) and their immediate families (parents, children, siblings and their spouses) and household members (whether or not related) of each are not eligible to enter. Anyone serving as a contest judge is ineligible for the Contest. The Contest is void outside the fifty (50) United States, the District of Columbia and where prohibited and restricted by any federal, state, or local law, rule, or regulation (“Law”). The Contest is subject to all Law.
3. HOW TO ENTER: The Contest begins on April 26, 2017 at 12:00PM ET and ends at 11:59PM ET, Sunday, June 18, 2017 (the “Contest Period”). To be eligible for the Contest, you must:
• Before the end of the Contest Period, go to the Contest entry page at this link, and submit an essay between 1000 and 1500 words in length on the topic of “the benefits of a more restrained, careful foreign policy for the United States.”
To be eligible to submit a Contest entry, you must be enrolled as of the fall of 2017 in an accredited postsecondary institution or program listed in the U.S. Department of Education’s most recent database (http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/GetDownLoadFile.aspx). No person may submit more than one Contest entry. Attempting to submit multiple Contest entries will result in your disqualification from the Contest. Your participation in the Contest is optional and at your sole and absolute discretion.
4. PROHIBITED CONTENT: By entering the Contest you agree not to create or submit a Contest entry that:
• Infringes on any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, or other proprietary or property rights of any party;
• May be deemed, within the meaning of Law, to be electioneering communications, intervention in a political or electoral campaign, or lobbying;
• Is unlawful, threatening, harassing, abusive, obscene, vulgar, harmful, tortious, defamatory, libelous, false, invasive of another’s privacy, hateful racially, ethnically, or otherwise, or in any other way objectionable;
• You do not have the legal or contractual right to make available pursuant to any Law, or under any contractual or fiduciary relationship (such as inside information, proprietary information, and confidential information, learned or disclosed as part of employment relationships or under nondisclosure agreements);
• Harms minors in any way; or
• Violates any Law, intentionally or unintentionally.
The Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any and all Contest entries that violate the above conditions, or for any other reason at any time without prior notice.
5. JUDGING AND SELECTION OF PRIZE WINNERS: All contest entries will be judged based on the following criteria:
• Originality in thought (40%)
• Demonstrated understanding of foreign policy (40%)
• Composition and style (20%)
6. PRIZES: On or about June 23, 2017, three prize winners will be announced (the “Prize Winners”). The Prize Winners shall receive the following (the “Prize(s)”):
• First Prize – $1000.00, two years’ subscription to The National Interest
• Runners Up (2) – $250.00, one year subscription to The National Interest
All Prizes will be paid in United States Dollars. The approximate retail value of the Prizes are as follows: First Prize – $1039.95; Runner Up – $279.95. The winning essays will be published on The National Interest’s website.
7. PRIZE RESTRICTIONS: The specifics of all elements of the Prizes stated in these Contest rules shall be determined by Sponsor in its sole and absolute discretion. If an alternate prize is substituted and awarded: any portion of the alternate prize not used by any Prize Winner is forfeited and no substitute will be offered or permitted; all elements of the Prize being offered are: (a) provided “as is” with no warranty or guarantee either express or implied by Sponsor; (b) without warranty other than that offered by servicers or as required by Law; (c) provided without making the Sponsor responsible or liable for any warranty, representation, or guarantee, express or implied, in fact or in law, relative to the Prize, including but not limited to their quality or fitness for a particular purpose; and (d) if applicable, not transferable or redeemable for cash and may not be extended, transferred or substituted, except that the Sponsor may substitute a prize of equal or greater value when necessary (not to exceed $1039.95 for the First Prize or $279.95 for the Runner Up), as determined in its sole and absolute discretion (any such changes will be announced at the sole and absolute discretion of the Sponsor). Each Prize Winner assumes sole responsibility for all costs associated with any elements of the Prize not explicitly included as part of the Prize, including without limitation, all federal, state and local taxes (if any), fees, surcharges, or other expenses. Other restrictions may apply. In compliance with United States Internal Revenue Service regulations, the Sponsor will send a Form 1099-MISC to any Prize Winner, which requires disclosure to the Sponsor of the Prize Winner’s Social Security number. Prize Winners remain solely responsible for paying all federal and other taxes in accordance with Laws that apply in the Prize Winner’s state of residence.
8. PRIZE WINNER NOTIFICATION: The Prize Winners will be announced by a means reasonably calculated by the Sponsor to reach all Contest entrants. Following the announcement of the Prize Winners, the individuals selected as the Prize Winners will be notified via email or telephone within three days from the date of selection by the Sponsor based on the information provided by that person on his or her entry form. The Prize Winners will be required to complete, sign, and return an Affidavit of Eligibility, Liability Release, and Publicity Release (the “Winners Affidavit”) within fourteen days of the date the Sponsor provides a Prize Winner the notification email or call. If a Prize Winner fails to satisfy any eligibility requirements, declines to accept the Prize, or is ineligible for any other reason, the Prize Winner may be disqualified and an alternate winner may be selected at the sole and absolute discretion of the Sponsor. Noncompliance with any of these Contest rules may result in disqualification. The Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent communications made by third parties to Contest entrants or the Prize Winners. A Prize Winner is not an official winner until the Prize Winner returns the Winner’s Affidavit and eligibility has otherwise been formally verified by the Sponsor.
9. OWNERSHIP OF YOUR CONTEST ENTRY: By submitting your Contest entry you hereby relinquish, grant, transfer, assign, and deliver to the Sponsor all right, title, and interest of every kind and nature whatsoever that you have in the essay you write as part of your Contest entry, including the copyright and all other intellectual property rights thereto. As a condition of receiving your prize, you may be required to execute additional documentation such as copyright assignments to sponsor of your Contest Essay. In addition, you hereby irrevocably assign to the Sponsor all causes of action, including accrued, existing, and future causes of action, arising out of or related to the rights, including copyrights, in and to the essay you write as part of your Contest entry.
10. DISPUTES: By participating, entrants release Sponsor and its parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, and their members, directors, officers, employees, and agents from any and all liability with respect to all aspects of the Contest including all losses, damage or bodily injury resulting from participation in this Contest, and the possession, acceptance, or misuse of prizes. By entering the Contest, you agree that (a) any and all disputes, claims, and causes of action arising out of or connected to the Contest or the Prize, shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action; (b) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering the Contest but in no event attorneys’ fees; and (c) under no circumstances will any entrant be permitted to obtain any award for, and you hereby waive all rights to, any claim; punitive, incidental, or consequential damages; and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased and any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation, and enforceability of these Contest rules, or the rights and obligations of the entrants and Sponsor in connection with the Contest, shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of Virginia without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules or provisions that would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the Commonwealth of Virginia. Any legal proceedings arising out of this Contest or relating to these Contest rules shall be instituted only in the federal courts located in the Eastern District of Virginia, and the parties consent to jurisdiction therein with respect to any legal proceedings or disputes of whatever nature arising under or relating to these Contest rules. The invalidity or unenforceability of any provision of these Contest rules shall not affect the validity or enforceability of any other provision. In the event that any provision is determined to be invalid or otherwise unenforceable or illegal, these Contest rules shall otherwise remain in effect and be construed in accordance with their terms as if the invalid or illegal provision were not contained in these Contest rules.
11. INTERNET: If for any reason this Contest is not capable of running as planned due to an infection by a computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of the Sponsor that corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, or proper conduct of this Contest, the Sponsor reserves the right at its sole and absolute discretion to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the Contest. The Sponsor assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communications line failure, or theft, destruction, or unauthorized access to or alteration of entries. The Sponsor is not responsible for any problems or technical malfunctions of any telephone network or telephone lines, computer online systems, servers, or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any email or entry to be received by the Sponsor due to technical problems, human error or traffic congestion on the internet or at any website, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to your or any other person’s computer relating to or resulting from participating in this Contest or downloading any materials in this Contest. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEBSITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST MAY BE A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, THE SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES OR OTHER REMEDIES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON(S) RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ATTEMPT TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Uses of automated devices are not valid for entry.
13.GENERAL: By entering this Contest or accepting the Prize, you (a) agree to be bound by the Sponsor’s policies, these Contest rules, and the decisions of Sponsor which are final and binding in all respects; and (b) consent to the use of your name, voice, picture, and likeness for charitable, educational, advertising, and promotional purposes in any medium throughout the world in perpetuity without additional compensation unless prohibited by Law. The Sponsor reserves the right to correct typographical, clerical, or printing errors in any Contest materials. The Sponsor reserves the right to prohibit any person from participating in the Contest if, at its sole and absolute discretion, the Sponsor finds such person to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Contest, or if such participant repeatedly shows a disregard for or attempts to circumvent these Contest rules, or acts: (x) in a manner the Sponsor determines to be not fair or equitable; (y) with an intent to annoy, threaten, or harass any other entrant, the Sponsor, or related entities; or (z) in any other disruptive manner. The Sponsor reserves the right to cancel, terminate, modify, or suspend the Contest at its sole and absolute discretion.
14. WINNERS’ LIST/CONTEST RULES: To request an official Prize Winners list or a copy of these Contest rules, both available through September 1, 2017, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Section 2 was updated on 5/4/2017 to update the list of eligible locations.