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New progressive foreign policy alliance backs Hagel

New progressive foreign policy alliance backs Hagel

Two major left-leaning foreign policy organizations have merged and they are both throwing their weight behind the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense.

The Truman National Security Project, a left-leaning national security group that focuses on leadership development and grassroots political messaging, has joined forces with the Center for National Policy, a more traditionally styled national security think tank, both organizations announced Wednesday.

"This partnership is going to combine values based national security policy and politics into a single organization will the tools of both and we hope that organization will help define what leadership means in a changing world," said Michael Breen, who will be the executive director of the new combined organization. "We’re creating what we believe will be a preeminent national security organization that combines political power, community building and the leadership strengths of the Truman Project with the policy heft and the heritage that the Center for National Policy brings."

Truman and CNP will retain their names and keep separate boards of directors, but they will merge their staffs, which total about 30 people, and their budgets, which total about $5 million. Rachel Kleinfeld remains president of the Truman Project and Scott Bates remains president of the Center for National Policy; both serve as senior advisors to the other partner organization.

On a conference call Wednesday, the leaders all endorsed the Hagel nomination, noting that the former Nebraska’s senator’s national security vision and policies, especially as espoused in his 2004 essay in Foreign Affairs named "A Republican Foreign Policy," match the longstanding views of both organizations.

"Hagel certainly shares with us that all of the tools of national power and statecraft are required to address our challenges. Military power is essential but also are a host of other tools," said Breen.

"Chuck Hagel put his life on the line for his country. The president has asked him to serve. I think it’s the president’s prerogative to get the people that he wants if they are qualified and he seems well qualified," Bates said.

Although it clearly leans to the left, the Truman National Security Project does not self-identify with either political party. The group’s mantra is "Training a new generation of progressives to lead on national security." Its board of advisors includes Clinton era Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Carter era official and CFR President Emeritus Leslie Gelb, former Democratic Senator Gary Hart, Clinton era Defense Secretary Bill Perry, Former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, and former Policy Planning Director Anne-Marie Slaughter.

The Center for National Policy also does not outright identify with either party. Its leadership has included senior Democrats including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Secretaries of State Madeline Albright, Cyrus Vance, Ed Muskie and former 9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer.

"With a national footprint and deep reach in Washington, and a set of values-driven policies, we think we can help this administration and help future administrations and congresses put their values and the security platform together and lead a whole new generational march on what our policy should be for America," Kleinfeld said. "We hope to make big waves."