Introducing the winners of the 2022 Student Foreign Policy Essay Contest

The question of whether to commit to defend Taiwan to the brink of nuclear escalation should be made on its own terms, rather than subsumed in a project to protect hegemony or bolster democracy.

Samuel Gardner-Bird, 2022 Winner

The United States’ primary security interest in Ukraine is a stable relationship with Russia, but you would not know it based on U.S. foreign policy.

Brendan Flynn, 2022 Runner-Up

The United States, Taiwan, the region, and Chinese subjects will be more secure if Taiwan is the sword the CCP dies on.

Scott McDonald, 2022 Runner-Up

While a negotiated settlement may not result in Ukraine being fully independent from Russia, achieving some freedom is better than not having any at all.

Benjamin David Giltner, 2022 Honorable Mention

The U.S. has three national interests in Ukraine: commodity prices, alliance relationships with European NATO members, and managing power projection abroad. To defend these interests, the federal government should not go to war with Russia. Instead, it should encourage Russians to emigrate to America and assist European states in developing their militaries.

Nicholas Kwasnik, 2022 Honorable Mention

As the weaker side in the increasingly asymmetric cross-Strait relationship, a responsible Taiwan needs to show restraint in approaching relations with Beijing. By accommodating Beijing at a minimal level, not only can Taiwan avoid undermining its own security, it also decreases the risk of a Taiwan Strait conflict that could lead to a potential war involving the United States. This requires a clear signal from Washington stressing the importance of accommodation and restraint.

Jonathan Liu, 2022 Honorable Mention

The Taiwanese need for security comes, to some degree, from both the Taiwanese mistrust towards their own military as well as the surprisingly low percentage of GDP it commits to defense. The United States would go further in securing peace by helping shore up Taiwan’s own capabilities and strategies, improving civil-military relations, and offering indirect assistance in the event of an invasion.

Sean Starkweather, 2022 Honorable Mention

The John Quincy Adams Society and The National Interest are pleased to announce the winners of our 2022 Student Foreign Policy Essay Contest.

This contest, the sixth, gave postsecondary students across the United States the opportunity to offer their views on several pressing national security topics, including nuclear weapons and U.S. interests in Ukraine and Taiwan. The winners, selected by a panel of judges, are:

WINNER: Samuel Gardner-Bird, Tufts University

RUNNERS-UP: Brendan Flynn, Wayne State University; Scott McDonald, The Fletcher School, Tufts University

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Benjamin Giltner, The Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M; Jonathan Liu, University of Cincinnati; Nicholas Kwasnik, the College of William and Mary; Sean Starkweather, James Madison University

The winner and runners-up will appear in The National Interest and will receive a cash prize. Honorable mentions appear in the Realist Review.

We will add links to published articles as they appear.

You can read about the winners of previous contests here: 2021, 2020201920182017. You may find the original contest announcement here.