Our History

The National Committee on American Foreign Policy (NCAFP) was founded in 1974 by Hans J. Morgenthau and others dedicated to the resolution of conflicts that threaten U.S. interests. For the past 41 years, this nonprofit, activist organization has held fast to its core mission: to identify, articulate, and advance American foreign policy interests from a nonpartisan perspective within the framework of political realism.

The National Committee has grown quickly in size and influence. It continues to hold public seminars regularly, assemble task forces in order to analyze areas of critical concern to the United States, and publish a journal and pamphlets containing summaries and policy recommendations derived from high-level conferences and briefings featuring American and foreign policymakers. In 1981 the first Hans J. Morgenthau Award was presented to NCAFP president, the Honorable Angier Biddle Duke. Subsequent recipients have included the Honorable Henry Kissinger, the Honorable George Shultz, the Honorable James Baker III, the Right Honorable Margaret Thatcher, and the Honorable Colin Powell. A second award, the George F. Kennan Award for Distinguished Public Service, was established in 1994. Recipients include the Honorable George F. Kennan, the Honorable Cyrus R. Vance, the Honorable Paul A. Volcker, the Honorable Richard C. Holbrooke, the Honorable John D. Negroponte, and General David H. Petraeus.

In 1993 William J. Flynn, chairman and chief executive officer of Mutual of America, became the chairman of the National Committee. When the British and Irish governments issued the Downing Street declaration at the end of the year, the National Committee under his leadership placed a full-page ad in The New York Times challenging every party involved in the conflict to attend an NCAFP-sponsored conference to air the arguments of all sides. The National Committee was instrumental in convincing President Bill Clinton to issue a visa to Gerry Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein. Adams’s first appearance in the United States enabled him to begin to develop ties with key leaders in New York and Washington that gave him and his party the assurance necessary to enter into peace negotiations, sign the Belfast Agreement, and contend for and win political office in the North. In recognition of William Flynn’s achievements, the National Committee established the William J. Flynn Initiative for Peace Award in 1997. Among the recipients are the Honorable George J. Mitchell, the Right Honorable Dr. Marjorie Mowlam, Viola Drath, the Honorable Hugh Carey, and Gerry Adams, M.P.

Shortly after establishing its Northern Ireland project, the NCAFP launched its track I-½ and track II project on U.S.-China relations and the question of Taiwan. The project gradually grew into the Forum on Asia-Pacific Security. Eight years ago the NCAFP, under this thematic umbrella, sponsored security talks with North Korea on the nuclear issue and, more recently, security issues affecting U.S.-Japan and U.S.-South Korea relations. The Forum on Asia-Pacific Security is largely conducted at track I-½ and track II levels.

Since its founding, the National Committee has focused its attention on significant geopolitical regions such as the Middle East and strategic partnerships in the area of Transatlantic Relations. The NCAFP also established projects on the Caspian Sea Basin and Africa. While the Committee’s scope has broadened, it remains anchored to its values: the preservation and strengthening of national security; supporting political, religious, and cultural pluralism; improving U.S. relations with its allies; advancing human rights; curbing nuclear proliferation and encouraging realistic arms-control agreements; and promoting an open global economy.

In looking to the future, the National Committee on American Foreign Policy anticipates continued growth and success as it applies the guiding principles of political realism and the sound pragmatism of track I-½ and track II diplomacy and renews its resolve to maintain and promote the philosophy of its founder in the face of an increasingly complex and divisive world.  For as Hans Morgenthau wrote in his definitive work, Politics Among Nations, "Diplomacy is the best means of preserving peace which a society of sovereign nations has to offer."


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