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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Edwin Feulner

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    • Heritage Foundation: President and Co-founder
    • Hoover Institution: Former Fellow

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Edwin Feulner is president and cofounder of the Heritage Foundation, one of Washington's premier institutions of conservative advocacy. Feulner, who founded Heritage with New Right leader Paul Weyrich (1942-2008), played an instrumental role in making the organization a mainstay of Republican Party ideas during the late 1970s and 1980s. In recognition of his work, President Ronald Reagan awarded Feulner the Presidential Citizens Medal in 1989.[1] Feulner's Heritage bio states, "Under Feulner, Heritage's presence in Washington grew from a nine-member staff working out of a rented office on Capitol Hill in 1977 to a 255-person organization occupying three office buildings near the U.S. Capitol today."[2]

A key element of Feulner's early success was his ability to turn the traditional notion of think tanks as drab centers of scholarship on its head. Under his tutelage, Heritage has been devoted to turning its ideologically driven agenda into policy. States his bio, "[Feulner] did not want to lead a group of academics that would write studies, place them on a shelf and hope someone important would read them. Instead, Feulner decided that Heritage would operate like a business that expected progress from its analysts and results from their policy studies. Heritage would achieve these results by creating timely, concise studies and aggressively marketing them to Congress, policymakers and the media."[3]

Heritage is more accurately described as an advocacy organization. It spends a massive portion of its budget on marketing, pioneered the use of succinct messaging, and aims to influence the policy-making community directly (without, of course, overstepping its limits as a 501(c)(3) organization). As Feulner is fond of saying, "We conduct warfare in the battle of ideas."[4]

Feulner has been repeatedly recognized as one of the most influential conservatives in the United States. Britain's Daily Telegraph ranked him among the Top 100 American Conservatives in 2007 and 2010, and Karl Rove pegged him the sixth most important conservative in a 2009 Forbes article.[5]

Opposition to the Obama Administration

Feulner has long pushed conservative foreign policy causes. In a 2001 article for Capitalism Magazine he used the September 11 attacks—and a hypothetical, disproportionate Israeli response to a similar-style attack on that country—as justification to pursue a ballistic missile defense system.[6] He berated the Obama administration for criticizing a deliberate Israeli diplomatic snub in 2010 while at the same time playing nice with an "international competitor"—Russia. In the paper he lambasted the Obama administration's handling of the New START Treaty—which eight months later was ratified by the U.S. Senate and is now seen as one of the most important anti-nuclear treaties in years.[7]

In an April 2010 op-ed criticizing Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for publicly lambasting Israel, Feulner wrote, "The United States is engaged in a long war against extremists. We can use all the help we can get. Too bad the Obama administration can't seem to tell which countries are with us, and which aren't."[8]

After Osama bin Laden's death, Feulner backed U.S. use of torture, calling U.S. policy at Guantanama Bay "the strategic and lawful interrogation of detainees," and further beat the drums for continued U.S. military action in the "war on terror."[9]


Feulner has served in a number of governmental advisory roles. According to his bio, "Feulner formerly served as a member of the Gingrich-Mitchell Congressional U.N. Reform Task Force (2005) and on the Congressional Commission on International Financial Institutions ('Meltzer Commission') from 1999-2000. He was the Vice Chairman of the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform ('Kemp Commission') from 1995-1996. As Chairman of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (1982-91), he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on three occasions. He served as the Public Member (Ambassador) of the U.S. Delegation to the United Nations Second Special Session on Disarmament in New York, as a consultant for domestic policy to President Reagan, and as an adviser to several government departments and agencies." [10]

Feulner's books include Leadership for America (2000); Intellectual Pilgrims (1999); The March of Freedom (1998); Conservatives Stalk The House (1983); and Looking Back (1981).

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[1] Heritage Foundation: Edwin Feulner," http://www.heritage.org/about/staff/f/edwin-feulner

[2] Heritage Foundation, "Edwin Feulner," http://www.heritage.org/about/staff/f/edwin-feulner.

[3] Heritage Foundation, "Edwin Feulner," http://www.heritage.org/about/staff/f/edwin-feulner.

[4] "Happy Birthday, Heritage Foundation," Slate.com, January 9, 1998, http://slate.msn.com/id/2299/

[5] Heritage Foundation: "Edwin Feulner," http://www.heritage.org/about/staff/f/edwin-feulner

[6] Capitalism Magazine: "Avoiding the Next Nightmare," http://www.capitalismmagazine.com/war-peace/terrorism/1233-avoiding-the-next-nightmare.html

[7] Heritage Foundation: "How to Alienate Allies and Flatter Foes," April 5, 2010, http://www.heritage.org/Research/Commentary/2010/04/How-to-Alienate-Allies-and-Flatter-Foes

[8] Edwin Feulner, "How to Alienate Allies and Flatter Foes," Heritage Foundation, April 5, 2010,http://www.heritage.org/Research/Commentary/2010/04/How-to-Alienate-Allies-and-Flatter-Foes.

[9] The Foundry, "Morning Bell: Bin Laden Dead," May 2, 2011, http://blog.heritage.org/2011/05/02/morning-bell-bin-laden-dead/

[10] Heritage Foundation, "Edwin Feulner," http://www.heritage.org/about/staff/f/edwin-feulner.

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Edwin Feulner Résumé


    • Heritage Foundation: President and Co-founder
    • The Mont Pelerin Society: Treasurer and Trustee
    • George Mason University: Member, Board of Visitors
    • Acton Institute: Trustee
    • International Republican Institute: Trustee
    • Hoover Institution: Former Fellow
    • Center for Strategic and International Studies: Former fellow
    • High Frontier: Underwrote, through Heritage Foundation, High Frontier's first study advocating a ballistic-missile defense system in the early 1980s


    • Congressional Commission on International Financial Institutions (Meltzer Commission): Member, 1999-2000
    • National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform (Kemp Commission): Vice Chairman, 1995-1996
    • U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy: Chairman, 1982-1991
    • Reagan Administration: Consultant to the President for Domestic Policy
    • President's Commission on White House Fellows: Member, 1981-1983
    • Secretary of State's UNESCO Review Observation Panel: Member, 1985-1989
    • Carlucci Commission on Foreign Aid: Member, 1983


    • Sequoia National Bank: Former Director
    • Peregrine Control Technologies: Former Director


    • Regis University: B.A.
    • Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania: M.B.A.
    • London School of Economics: Richard M. Weaver Fellow
    • University of Edinburgh: Ph.D.


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