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TruCon 2024
Every year, the Truman Center and Truman National Security Project host our flagship annual event, TruCon. Thought leaders across government, academia, and the private sector speak about the most pressing national security issues facing America today.

Announcing MSNBC’s

Rachel Maddow

will keynote TruCon - June 2

REGISTER NOW

#TruCon2024 is coming!
May 31 – June 2

May 31: Public Programming
June 1 - 2: Second Member Weekend

Relive the highlights of TruCon2023

KEYNOTE ADDRESS

Rachel Maddow

Principled decision-making means not only responsibility to the full circumstances at hand in the moment, it also means there's a responsibility to the Americans 80 years from now who will be contending anew with something like this mess that we're in today...

Rachel Maddow, host of the Emmy Award-winning Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, delivered the TruCon 2023 keynote address. Maddow was introduced by Monique Alcala, Truman National Security Project Class of ‘16, who also moderated the question-and-answer session after the speech.

Maddow’s address focused on investigations into high-ranking officials for treason and collaborating with foreign agents, as she recounted a historical example of collusion with Nazi Germany by sitting congressmen during World War II.

Maddow began by tracing the rise of Scribner's Commentator, a far-right, isolationist, and often antisemitic publication based in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Until it was shut down in 1942, the glossy magazines would be sent for free across the country, including to military installations, with no clear source of funding. After the war, Nazi officials confessed to funding the magazine, and the magazine’s publisher, who had previously sworn under oath that the funding came from anonymous, generous benefactors, was prosecuted for perjury. Despite strong evidence to the contrary, the publisher was acquitted, as false rumors about Nazi officials being tortured to give testimony had been circulating in the media at the time. The prosecutor in the case was later fired on direct orders from President Truman.

Maddow recounted how Truman gave no rationale for firing the prosecutor, despite storms of media criticism of the move. That same prosecutor, however, was also involved in investigating sitting congressmen for collusion with Nazis, and it was later revealed that Senator Burton K. Wheeler of Montana, a close friend of President Truman, was one of the named collaborators.

Maddow ended the speech by lamenting that Truman never explained a decision that has special relevance to challenges faced today. “If we have learned nothing else in national security,” said Maddow, “let it be that there are no real one-offs, there are no black swan events, there was no one American fight against fascism.”

LIVE RECORDING OF VOX’S THE WEEDS PODCAST

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States Ambassador to the United Nations
Jonquilyn Hill, Host, The Weeds

We are in a multi-polar world and we have worked to ensure that we are continuing to take a leadership role in that world.

Vox’s The Weeds, a policy and politics podcast hosted by Jonquilyn Hill, held a special live recording during TruCon featuring Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. The episode, available for listening here, covers a wide variety of topics, including diversity in the foreign service, U.S. policy toward Africa, and changes at the United Nations.

Hill started the conversation by pointing out the rarity of having two Black people featured in a discussion surrounding foreign policy. In response to a question about increasing diversity in the foreign service, Amb. Thomas-Greenfield explained that the best way to improve inclusion in any field, including foreign policy, is to expose youth to a wide variety of career paths. “I didn’t know this was an option for me,” she said. “I gave a speech at a high school recently for graduation. I told them I never had a me to come speak to my high school class, so I didn't know diplomacy was an option. Now they have that knowledge as they go off to college.”

On U.S. relations with Africa, Amb. Thomas-Greenfield was very positive about the longstanding connection between the U.S. and African allies. The ambassador expounded upon American efforts in places like Sudan, where the U.S. is pushing for a civilian-led government and end to a brutal conflict, or the Horn of Africa, where the U.S. is working to end regional famines. On China’s increasing presence on the continent, the ambassador emphasized that the U.S. does not aim to tell others what their foreign policy should be.

In the audience question-and-answer portion of the program, Amb. Thomas-Greenfield emphasized that in an increasingly multilateral world, the U.S. still has a responsibility to take a leadership role, one that is well supported by other U.N. member states. On countering the rise of authoritarianism and addressing issues like human rights or sustainable development, the ambassador emphasized the importance of global cooperation driven by an active U.S. foreign policy, especially one that highlights contributions from underrepresented voices.

AWARD FOR MORAL COURAGE WINNER REMARKS

2023 Recipient Congressman Jamie Raskin

It’s not my ambition to be in the political center, which blows around with the wind. It's my ambition to be in the moral center.

At TruCon 2023, the Truman Center was proud to present its Award for Exceptional Moral Courage in Public Service to the Honorable Jamie Raskin. The award is given each year to a public servant whose values have led them to do what’s right, even when doing so may have posed personal risk. Representative Raskin, who represents Maryland's Eighth Congressional District and leads Democrats on the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability, has had a distinguished career in both academia and government.

As the Lead House Manager in the second Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump and a key member of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, Rep. Raskin has defended American democracy during challenging times for the nation. In a statement issued prior to the event, Truman’s President & CEO, Jenna Ben-Yehuda, explained, “Congressman Raskin’s career has been defined by a principled defense of American democracy, especially in moments of enormous challenge for our nation. His remarkable work aligns closely with Truman’s values and our strategic priority to fortify the domestic foundations of America’s global strength.”

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and recipient of the 2022 Award for Exceptional Moral Courage in Public Service, introduced Rep. Raskin and presented him with the award. In her introduction, the ambassador traced Rep. Raskin’s illustrious career from professor of constitutional law at American University to Maryland State Senator to Congress. Even after enduring tremendous personal loss, Amb. Thomas-Greenfield said, Rep. Raskin continued to go above and beyond in fulfilling his duties to his country and constituents.

Rep. Raskin’s acceptance speech discussed his views on moral courage, the progressive momentum of America’s democracy, and the necessity of optimism and dedication to overcome the greatest historical challenges. “In politics, nothing’s impossible, nothing is inevitable,” he said. “Everything is just possible through the democratic arts of education and organizing and mobilizing people for change.”

Truman President & CEO Jenna Ben-Yehuda led a short question-and-answer session after the speech. In response to audience questions about preventing another January 6th, Rep. Raskin expressed a high level of optimism about the country’s future. Convictions of insurrectionists and increasing momentum for defending democracy, he said, give him hope that there will not be another January 6th anytime soon. Rep. Raskin made the case that youth are shedding the entrenched racism and antisemitism that have weighed down American progress, and that demonstrates the inevitability of progress towards an evermore improving democracy.

PANEL: DIVERSITY IN NATIONAL SECURITY

Dr. Alyssa Ayres, Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
The Honorable Gilbert Cisneros, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness
Dr. Nola Haynes, Academic, Policy-writer and Advocate, Truman Security Fellow ‘23
Akbar Shahid Ahmed (moderator), Senior Foreign Affairs Reporter, HuffPost


The "Diversity in National Security" panel at TruCon 2023 demonstrated Truman's ongoing commitment to diversifying the national security workforce. It focused on the progress made in building a military and national security workforce that reflects America's diversity, as well as the challenges that still need to be addressed, nearly two years after President Biden's Executive Order on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the Federal Workforce.

Moderated by Akbar Shahid Ahmed, Senior Foreign Affairs Reporter for HuffPost, the panel featured the Honorable Gilbert Cisneros, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness at the Department of Defense. Cisneros acknowledged that there is much work ahead, but he stressed that the Department views diversity and inclusion as a strength. He emphasized that the Secretary of Defense prioritizes diverse and qualified individuals over mere names when considering appointments.

The discussion also delved into the barriers that people from historically marginalized groups face when entering the national security field, with a particular focus on exclusionary systems. Dr. Nola Haynes, an academic, policy-writer, advocate, and Truman National Security Project member, highlighted the additional challenges that individuals from communities of color encounter, specifically citing the security clearance process as a significant obstacle.

Dr. Alyssa Ayres, Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University, also participated in the panel, sharing efforts undertaken by the university to address entry barriers for students from diverse backgrounds. One key aspect of their focus is providing students with access to networks that can shape their future opportunities.

PANEL: THE CHIPS ACT, INDUSTRIAL POLICY AND NATIONAL SECURITY

Jordan Blashek, President, COO, and Co-Founder of America’s Frontier Fund
Dr. Morgan Dwyer, Chief Strategy Officer, CHIPS Program Office, U.S. Department of Commerce
Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO of New America
Vivian Salama (moderator), Reporter, The Wall Street Journal


The "CHIPS Act, Industrial Policy, & National Security" panel at TruCon 2023 examined one of the Biden Administration's most significant legislative achievements: the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act in August 2022. Vivian Salama, a Wall Street Journal reporter, moderated the discussion that explored the strategic and national security implications of the CHIPS Act and the United States' return to industrial policy, and how the Act and industrial policy affect US-China competition.

Featured panelists included Morgan Dwyer, the Chief Strategy Officer for the CHIPS Program Office at the Department of Commerce, who emphasized the link between America's domestic capacity to produce semiconductors, the economic security associated with increased capacity, and the impact on our national security goals. She addressed the vulnerability created by the United States' dependence on other countries for advanced logic chips, stating, "CHIPS is about economic and national security. If we cannot build and operate facilities in America, if we don't have the workforce to do that, we won't succeed at our goals."

Jordan Blashek, President, COO, and Co-Founder of America's Frontier Fund, explained some of the challenges America faces in becoming a leader in the semiconductor industry, noting the reluctance of many investors to make large investments due to the extended nature of a return on those investments. He emphasized the importance of the CHIPS Act in circumventing these challenges and the galvanizing effect it has had on American semiconductor companies, encouraging them to accelerate plans to build semiconductor factories and increase collaboration with one another. Blashek stated, "The CHIPS Act is absolutely critical because, otherwise, you have these investors who are not willing to invest in these types of companies. So I think the CHIPS Act has really focused the industry on coming together, and it has allowed the industry to move much faster than it otherwise would have."

The panelists discussed the significance of government support for community colleges, apprenticeship programs, and educational institutions at large in giving America a leg up in global competition. Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO of New America, highlighted the importance of attracting new talent to the industry from beyond elite universities, asserting, "You ought to be able to get a job based on whether you can do the job, not on where you went. So community colleges are critical. So are the... various technical colleges of different kinds, connecting those to industry, connecting them to what we call youth apprenticeships."

PANEL: POLITICAL POLARIZATION AND NATIONAL SECURITY

Kristofer Goldsmith, Founder and CEO of Task Force Butler Institute, Truman Defense Council ‘16
Amy Spitalnick, CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Truman Political Partner ‘11
Joe Tate, Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, Truman Political Partner ‘17
Amanda Ripley (moderator), Journalist and Author

The "Political Polarization and National Security" panel at TruCon 2023, moderated by author and journalist Amanda Ripley and featuring three Truman National Security Project members, examined the connection between the growing political polarization in the United States and its impact on national security. While Truman has traditionally focused on foreign policy matters, the panel highlighted how internal divisions within the country can threaten domestic stability and, consequently, the image of the United States as a model for advancing democracy and human rights globally.

The panel featured Joe Tate, Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, who described the increase in extremist movements he has witnessed during his three terms as a state representative. Speaker Tate noted the similarities between the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6th, 2021, the armed protests at the Michigan State Capitol Building in April 2020, the intimidation tactics used by extremist militias against Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and the militias’ plans to interrupt Michigan’s certification of the 2020 presidential election. In reference to the escalation of intimidation tactics used to disrupt the democratic process, he said “we’re trying to make government…more boring so we can just get down to doing the work of the people.”

Kristofer Goldsmith, Founder & CEO of Task Force Butler Institute, discussed the extensive work he and his team are doing to investigate radicalization in veteran organizations, and to engage the veteran community to reclaim patriotism and protect democracy. As a military veteran, Goldsmith described the critical juncture that he and many veterans face when returning from deployment. “I know what it's like to fall down the conspiracy theory rabbit hole,” he said. “I know what it's like to feel vulnerable and to lash out at others because I feel unsafe on a deep, deep, deep level…I know how a lot of [extremists] got there.”

In her remarks, Amy Spitalnick, CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, emphasized the necessity of creating an inclusive and welcoming society for everyone as a principal element in protecting democracy. Spitalnick highlighted the importance of intersectionality of social and political issues: “When we start to look at our society in this holistic way, understanding that fighting extremism and protecting democracy requires not just the same tools we've been using that clearly haven't worked [but] this more holistic cross community, cross issue dynamic, we can not just fight the extremism but work towards that inclusivity.”

Highlights from Truman Center for National Policy’s annual national security conference #TruCon2023.

Courtney Bowman Palantir
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Jenna Ben-Yehuda
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Diversity In National Security
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CHIPS Act & Industrial Policy
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Political Polarization
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Rachel Maddow Keynote
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Award Ceremony
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Watch Truman Center for National Policy’s annual national security conference #TruCon2022.

We are pleased to invite you to attend Truman Center for National Policy’s annual conference.

TruCon2022: Local Action, Global Impact

Truman Center for National Policy develops timely and innovative national security solutions. This year’s conference, TruCon2022: Local Action, Global Impact, will host a range of interactive panels, including:

  • A deep dive on how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is reshaping the world order.
  • A discussion on the intersection of technology and national security, including strategies to strengthen the security and resilience of the cyber-ecosystem.
  • A conversation with the co-chairs of Truman Center’s Task Force on City & State Diplomacy on ways to broaden diplomatic engagement across America.

We hope that you will be able to join us for this event, which will feature high-level speakers from a diverse range of national security perspectives.

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