Hello everybody, it’s Derek. I’m so excited to be able to announce that Kate Kizer is joining the Foreign Exchanges team as a new contributor. Kate is the Policy Director at Win Without War, a coalition of organizations working to advance progressive national security ideas in Washington. She’s previously served as the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Yemen Peace Project and as US Advocacy Officer for Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain. Kate has spent years working on human rights, democratization, and US foreign policy in the Middle East. Here at Foreign Exchanges she’ll be writing about where US foreign policy is, where we would like it to be, and how we can get from the former to the latter. From my days editing LobeLog I know her to be a thoughtful, incisive writer and commentator and I’m certain you’ll appreciate her contributions.
Please be on the lookout for Kate’s first piece, coming soon. She’s joining a growing team here, already including Daniel Bessner, Alex Thurston, and myself, that I plan to continue building as we move forward. The only way we can do that is through the support of Foreign Exchanges subscribers. If you’ve been thinking about subscribing please do, and if you’re new here or just on the fence, please sign up for our free email list, try the newsletter out, and then make your decision.
Welcome to Kate and thanks to you for continuing to support Foreign Exchanges!
Hey there! Great to be here with you and working with Derek again after having been an avid contributor to LobeLog over the years. It’s so great this community is taking shape. Years ago when I first moved to Washington to pursue a career in foreign policy, there were not, and still are not, many forums for debates on foreign policy—let alone debates within the left. And such conversations certainly were not the norm for me, growing up with neoconservative parents.
Given my upbringing, I certainly haven’t always been so progressive. My political shift dates back to my experience living and working in Egypt and backpacking through the Levant in 2010.
The stark contrast of the grace, generosity, and courage of the people I met against the demonization and exceptionalization of the region in American popular culture finally jarred me out of my slumber. Frustration at my own ignorance, including that I could still be so oblivious after my rigorous education in Middle Eastern studies, brought me back to these spaces to advocate for more equitable and evidence-based approaches that can fundamentally reorient the US approach to the world.
This is a big project, but thankfully, I’m not alone in the effort. I’m a movement activist and federal policy advocate, organizing with movement partners and Capitol Hill champions to fight back against some of the worst US national security decisions and articulate a positive vision of progressive foreign policy in practice. I also write a column at Inkstick and advise the Forum on the Arms Trade and the Feminist Peace Initiative, two amazing initiatives that bring people together across silos and borders to build partnership for transnational change. In a previous life I worked on political campaigns and also helped build a tech company in San Francisco. I have academic training in democracy and governance in the Middle East, yet much of my expertise is based on meetings and conversations with activists and human rights defenders on the ground and in the diaspora, often in and from countries the US is bombing.
I believe that we are at a tipping point in history, and that the next ten years will likely determine the future well-being and dignity of humankind thanks to the climate crisis. Creating the foundation for a paradigm shift away from American exceptionalism and toward solidarity as the orienting principle of the US approach to the world requires demystifying and discrediting the failed thinking driving the US foreign policy establishment today. As a result, much of what I will write here will be about connecting the various foreign policy debates happening in Washington, establishment attempts to co-opt progressive solutions in name but not in practice, and alternatives we can pursue if we have the political will and foresight to center the needs and solutions advocated by those most impacted by US policy decisions.
Thanks for reading—I’m delighted to be in good company here at Foreign Exchanges!