Foundation for Defense of Democracies

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The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is an American think tank and interest group, "founded shortly after 9/11 by a group of visionary philanthropists and policymakers to support the defense of democratic societies under assault by terrorism and militant Islamism. Its advisory Leadership Council includes former FBI Director Louis Freeh, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia), former National Security Advisor Robert “Bud” McFarlane, former Ambassador Max Kampelman, Sen. Joe Lieberman (Independent-Connecticut), and former CIA Director R. James Woolsey."[1]

FDD ideology

While it specifically describes itself as nonpartisan, its current leadership has strong Republican Party (United States) and neoconservative affiliations. Its director is Clifford May, a journalist and former head of communications for the Republican National Committee. Its Leadership Council have predominantly Republican or Independent associations. [2]

President George W. Bush spoke at a 2006 event, saying ""The foundation is making a difference across the world, and I appreciate the difference you're making. You have trained Iraqi women and Iranian students in the principles and practice of democracy, you've translated 'democracy readers' into Arabic for distribution across the broader Middle East, you've helped activists across the region organize effective political movements—so they can help bring about democratic change and ensure the survival of liberty in new democracies. By promoting democratic ideals, and training a new generation of democratic leaders in the Middle East, you are helping us to bring victory in the war on terror—and I thank you for your hard work in freedom's cause.[3]

In February 2008, it created a subsidiary organization, Defense of Democracies, which operates from the same physical offices but has a different nonprofit tax status (i.e., 501(c)(4) versus the FDD's 501(c)(3) that allows it to participate in partisan politics. Defense of Democracies then ran a television advertising campaign, in 15 Congressional districts; it was believed to suggest that Democrats are soft on Islamic terrorism. In the ads, Osama bin Laden's face was in close time proximity to that of Democratic congressmen. Within four days, all the Democrats on the FDD board, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Eliot Engel of New York; former Al Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile; and Rep. Jim Marshall of Georgia had resigned. [4]

While FDD had shared forums with the American Enterprise Institute, several senior staff at AEI moved to FDD, some bringing funding with them. AEI depends on corporate financing, and it was reported that AEI vice-president Danielle Pletka was purging some of the more outspoken neoconservative interventionists, to bring AEI to a more center-right position. That position might be more attractive to its financial sponsors. [5] Key AEI fellows that left include Michael Ledeen, Reuel Marc Gerecht and Joshua Muravchik.

FDD Positions and Programs

In 2004, it submitted a brief to the International Court of Justice, denying Israel's that the "Anti-Terrorism Fence" built on the Palestinian border, is i"The terrorism prevention barrier can benefit the Palestinians because with it in place, Israel's re-occupation of West Bank cities and towns will no longer be necessary. Tanks, troops, checkpoints, and roadblocks will be removed as terrorism declines. Under such circumstances, the chances for renewed negotiations leading to a settlement can increase."[3]

It has criticized the Obama Administration's overtures to Russia. [6]

Rather than withdrawing to enclaves inside Iraq, there is a recommendation that U.S. forces that remain in Iraq deploy on the borders with Syria and Iran, to provide a deterrent. The article opposes engagement with the two countries. [7] The ability to withdraw from cities, however, is considered a victory, one that the "mainstream media" are reluctant to report.[8]


FDD proper has received democracy promotion grants from the U.S. Department of State. Its primary funding, however, comes from foundations and individual contributors, especially the Scaife Foundations and Ameriquest Capital. [3]


  1. Who We Are, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
  2. Our Team, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Foundation for Defense of Democracies]], RightWeb
  4. Spencer Ackerman (26 February 2008), "‘Bipartisan’ Think Tank Attacks Democrats: Democratic Board Members Quit After 15 TV Ads Run in Blue Districts", Washington Independent
  5. Jacob Heilbrunn (19 December 2008), "Flight of the Neocons", National Interest
  6. Claudia Rosett (9 July 2009), "The Bear Scare", Forbes
  7. Walid Phares (9 July 2009), "Iraqi Success Will Depend on Next U.S. Strategy", World Defense Review
  8. Clifford May (9 July 2009), "An American Victory", Scripps Howard News Service