The Foreign Policy Initiative was founded in 2009 and its main financial supporter was a hedge-fund billionaire and Republican Paul Singer. This right-leaning think tank that was based in Washington ceased its operations during the last year.
Singer is a well-known critic of President Trump, and we could hear him many times during the campaign. Before the election, he commented that Trump’s stance on trade is “close to a guarantee of a global depression—widespread global depression.”
According to sources that were close to Singer, it has been said that the election results had no influence on the decision to stop the Foreign Policy Initiative. One of the veterans of a think tank that wanted to stay anonymous stated: “Even before the election, Paul, I think, had some questions about whether FPI was providing enough return for his investment in terms of moving the needle on things. Like a lot of things, after the election of Trump, the question was: What are they going to do?”
Source also added that Singer “decided to reduce the amount of money he was giving to FPI to a very low amount, and all the board members came to the conclusion that there was no point in continuing.”
We did receive another comment from a Republican that was close to the Foreign Policy Initiative who said that after changes in the world this group has simply outlived its usefulness. The main goals of the organization were to stay focused on problems regarding Afghanistan and Iraq, but this mission lost on its relevancy and Republican Party is moving on to other pressing issues.
Furthermore, the source said: “This was not some rash decision—this was kind of part of the plan. The initial impetus for the thing was always to sort of beat back the isolationist strain in the party at the beginning of the Obama era.
The whole idea behind the Foreign Policy Initiative is for it to be a temporary organization. Prior to shutting down, the number of personnel was reduced, and those plans were in motion for about two years. According to publicly available 990 form of FPI from 2015, it was noted that they received slightly over $1.5 million in grants for financing their operations during that year.
Among the most prominent names that left Foreign Policy Initiative prior to its shutdown was David Adesnik that was policy director. He joined the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Jamie Kirchick also decided to transfer as he went to the Brookings Institution. In the last few months and weeks, before everything stopped, only a handful of members stayed.
If we take a look at the board of directors that was in FPI, we could see some of the biggest names from “Never Trump” Republican foreign-policy world. Those include Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, and Eric Edelman.
Another senior level member of FPI claimed that the Never Trump Republicans did not have any influence on the decision for this organization to stop its activities. It was also added that the election certainly changed the way how the initiative work. “The Trump era is not why FPI shut down. But the Trump era does affect how those who founded FPI are thinking about what should come next.”
The source continued by saying: “I think there will be internal disagreements between the founders.” There were talks if it would be best to “isolate and abandon” the idea, and the other option was to stay and be “critical when necessary but cooperative.” According to the source, Singer did not want for the Foreign Policy Initiative to be shut down and he supported it to continue its work during the campaign in 2016. In the end, the conclusion of our source is that they “should have wound it down sooner.”