The John Quincy Adams Society (JQA) is a national network of student groups focused on U.S. foreign policy, with a centering vision of restraint. Our chapters aim to help college students advance, both intellectually and professionally, while promoting a broader and more strategic conversation about America’s approach to international affairs. We’re nonpartisan and nonpolitical: we work in the world of ideas, not on activism or elections, and we seek to work with every corner of the political spectrum.
We take our name from America’s sixth president, who was an accomplished diplomat and helped lay the foundations of the early Republic’s approach to the world. He famously encapsulated that spirit so:
Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will [America’s] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.
The United States is far bigger and far stronger now than it was in Adams’s day, and that means it is in better position than ever to serve as an exemplar of liberty, justice, and peace to the world. While remaining an exemplar of a prosperous, open society at home, America’s relations with foreign nations should be characterized by commerce and cultural exchange rather than entangling military and political ties. These beliefs were, for much of America’s history, one of the main currents in its foreign-policy debate. Yet now, they are underrepresented in academia, in the policy process, and in the press. The result has been a string of unsuccessful, expensive, destabilizing interventions, and, more subtly, a decline in the ability of that foreign-policy debate to distinguish between truly vital interests and those that are secondary. A less rigorous, lower-quality debate hinders all viewpoints. JQA aims to revive that conversation.