October 22, 2009 — November 2009 - CNAS CEO Nate Fick talks about the Center for a New American Security, and the connection he has to CNAS work as a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, as part of GQ's "The 50 Most Powerful People in D.C." series.
GQ: You run a national-security and defense-policy think tank. What exactly does that mean?
Fick: We help people in Washington think creatively on issues related to national security, diplomacy, and economics.
GQ: Like what?
Fick: This is a hypothetical, but what if the U.S. fails to deter Iran from getting a nuclear weapon? How does that change the relationship with our allies in the Middle East? If our government is dealing with those questions, our allies could interpret that as an admission that Iran has nuclear weapons. But it's an issue we can look at.
GQ: Several former CNASers now hold key posts, including Flournoy [#20] and Susan Rice [the U.S. ambassador at the U.N.]. What's it like to be so connected?
Fick: It gives us the ability to pick up the phone and figure out how we can contribute to what it is they're trying to do.
GQ: How does an organization like yours react to the increasingly violent situation in Afghanistan?
Fick:We've sent one of our fellows, Andrew Exum, to serve on General McChrystal's assessment team, and we meet with General McChrystal via videoconference once a week to talk about strategy there.
GQ:CNAS's current leadership is composed of vets of the current wars. Does that impact your work?
Fick: We've been there, and we've lost friends, and we have a visceral understanding of what it means to commit force.