On March 10, 2009 Jonathan Fanton and other members of the MacArthur Board met with William J. Burns, former Under Secretary for Political Affairs for the State Department, and Ann Marie Slaughter, former Director of Policy Planning for the State Department.
Introduction of Under Secretary Burns and Ann Marie Slaughter
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Thank you for taking the time to meet with the MacArthur Board and senior staff. Bill we are grateful to you for organizing this conversation and are appreciate the support you provided to MacArthur activities in Russia when you were Ambassador.
Ann Marie Slaughter is currently Director of Policy Planning. She has worked extensively on democracy promotion as a key component of US foreign policy and just returned from the Middle East and Europe with Secretary Clinton. She was previously dean of the Woodrow Wilson School, a MacArthur grantee.
I am going to say a few words about what brings us to Washington, and then pose a couple of questions that are on our minds. Mainly we want to hear from trusted friends about how foreign policy is shaping up in the first weeks of the new administration and, of course, this session is completely off-the-record.
We are holding our March Board meeting in Washington so we can talk with senior members of the new Administration about issues of mutual concern. We are obviously pleased that our friend and Chicago neighbor has become President, and proud that he has recruited so many people with MacArthur ties as Senior Advisors, to his Cabinet and in key positions throughout the executive branch. On the domestic side, we will be talking with Valerie Jarrett, Shaun Donovan, and Arne Duncan.
MacArthur spends about 40% of its philanthropy on international issues: conservation, human rights and international justice, population and reproductive health, and international peace and security. We have four country offices – and another coming soon in China – and work in 60 countries.
But in the end, the amount we spend on these issues is modest and it takes government policy and action to really make a difference.
For the most part, the landscape in the U.S. is changing in ways that create a more favorable context for our work. We need to understand those changes and then adapt to new opportunities – and perhaps new challenges as well. We will spend our June Board meeting on that review, so our conversations today and tomorrow are part of the learning process.
I anticipate that there will be many opportunities to work together toward shared goals.
Some of the topics that I hope your colleagues will touch on today include your views on how to manage relations with key countries – China and India in Asia, Russia, as well as thorny hotspots such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran. In addition, given our longstanding work in disarmament, we would be interested in hearing about the future of arms control and non-proliferation efforts. Finally, any comments on the role of human rights and its effect on foreign policy will be appreciated.
Bill, it’s a tall order and I leave it to you and your colleagues to start what I hope will be a first discussion with us and others in the Foundation on the defining foreign policy challenges ahead and how MacArthur can contribute to the nation’s foreign policy thinking.