People protest recent crimes against Asian-Americans in Seattle, Washington, on March 13, 2021.

People protest recent crimes against Asian-Americans in Seattle, Washington, on March 13, 2021. JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images

National Security Professionals Call for Action on Hate Crimes and Racism Against Asian-Americans

This statement began as informal conversations among Asian-American and Pacific Islander friends in the national security community. We shared personal experiences and, frankly, vented to each other about discriminatory and racist incidents. Last month, we began consolidating our thoughts into something more productive: publicly calling out the problems and gathering policy recommendations.

Our broader objective is to advance a much-needed discourse on combating the surge of hate crimes and racism against Asian-Americans in the United States — including the deadly March 16 shootings in Atlanta. We are hardly the first to call for action; our efforts build on an open letter published last summer that called for U.S. leaders at every level to take action against anti-Asian racism as well as many other letters, statements, and commentaries on these critical issues. Our target audience here, however, is much narrower: the national security community. This community faces additional unique challenges, such as ethnic profiling in security clearances, that require swift solutions but are esoteric to the general American populace.

This statement is meant to start conversations. We will soon host a series of private Zoom roundtables under Chatham House rules, so that various stakeholders are able to more openly express their views and give suggestions on next steps, including policy recommendations. We also want to discuss best practices and lessons from similar initiatives to push through real change while simultaneously moving towards the greater mission. We invite readers to co-sign our statement and to sign up to participate in the Zoom conversations.


Throughout our collective history, Americans have stood in the face of, challenged, and overcome foreign oppression. Many of those who shouldered this burden were new American citizens, immigrants, and refugees who found their way to the United States to escape atrocities abroad. They fought to defend America’s ideals because they most reverently cherished the value of American freedom; indeed, they knew all too well the alternative: the lack of fundamental rights, the oppression that arises from tyranny, the fear of not knowing whether survival can be expected from one day to the next, and the horrors of abject poverty. Freedom—our Nation’s highest ideal—can never be taken for granted. Our freedom was won and ultimately secured by individuals who, throughout history, profoundly appreciated its value, fragility, and imperfections. They carried with them—and continue to carry with them—an unwavering resolve to defend America’s democracy.

We are foreign policy and national security professionals, including active and retired military members, diplomats, civilian government employees, government contractors, intelligence officers, investors, scientists, and academics. We are Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, or AAPI, who come from diverse backgrounds, from third-generation Chinese-Americans whose ancestors sought more opportunities and labored to build the vital infrastructure of America’s westward expansion, to first-generation immigrants whose parents wanted to achieve the American Dream. We are allies and community members united by our commitment to America, and we are bound by a collective mission to make our country a better and more secure place.

As a community, it has been heart-wrenching to hear—and personally experience—the latest surge of hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans across our beloved country, the same country for which thousands of Asian-Americans have fought and died. The perpetuation of this prejudice has only intensified under the COVID-19 pandemic and the geopolitical and economic strains and racial polarization it has surfaced. Simultaneously, the xenophobia that is spreading as U.S. policy concentrates on great power competition has exacerbated suspicions, microaggressions, discrimination, and blatant accusations of disloyalty simply because of the way we look. Many of us have been targeted because we are either ethnically Chinese or simply look Asian. This is not to dismiss credible counterintelligence concerns as evidenced through indictments of U.S. citizens—some of whom are White—spying for China. Treating all Asian-Americans working in national security with a broad stroke of suspicion, rather than seeing us as valuable contributors, is counterproductive to the greater mission of securing the homeland. As members and allies of the AAPI community, we acknowledge that Asian-Americans are intrinsic to the fabric of American society.

Pertaining specifically to the current state of affairs, Chinese-Americans are America’s greatest asset in promoting improved understanding and providing a unique bulwark to counter malign Chinese economic, military and political aggression. Not only do they have the linguistic and cultural intelligence to better understand the other side, but many of them possess the expertise and creativity to find innovative solutions to various issues within U.S.-China relations. In an environment where most security-cleared professionals are prevented from travel, cultural exchange, and research with China, diaspora community members have the perspectives and sophistication vital to crafting creative policy solutions to complex, interdisciplinary challenges.

Asian-Americans have also contributed to irregular and unconventional activities. Similar to how the U.S. military opened its ranks to foreign nationals to defeat the Axis Powers in WWII and allowed immigrants to become some of the first Green Berets, we can leverage our diverse backgrounds to increase the U.S.’s strategic advantage. We must recall and learn from painful elements of American history, when hostilities abroad resulted in undue prejudice and groundless suspicion at home, culminating, for instance, in the internment of Japanese-Americans. No American should be asked to prove their loyalty, absent evidence to the contrary. We as Asian-Americans are integral in combatting and securing America’s collective cognitive security.

These are just a few ways that Asian-Americans are contributing to U.S. national security. We must recognize that our diversity is a critical asset in protecting this nation as we not only uphold our country’s founding democratic principles, but also work towards an America where all of our children will, as Martin Luther King extolled to all Americans, “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

For we embody the American spirit. We are proud Americans, and we love what America stands for: democracy and freedom. 

Evanna Hu, Atlantic Council & Omelas

Bryan Aaron Jr.
Lalitha Adury
Maureen Ahmed, Truman National Security Project
Judi Rhee Alloway, Women's Biz Coop
Wida Amir, Afghan-American Foundation 
David Anderson, Department of State
Mark Appleton, former U.S. Senate
April Arnold
Alexander Arvizu, retired Ambassador, Department of State
Elena Augustine
Frank Aum
Sebastian Bae, Georgetown University
Kevin Bankston, Truman National Security Fellow
Bryce Barros, Truman National Security Project
Jenna Ben-Yehuda, Truman National Security Project
Kirsten Berken 
Chidi Blyden, Culturally Bound
Dr. David Bray, Atlantic Council, Geotech Center
Newton Campbell, American University
Pam Campos-Palema, Working Families Party
Malenereynee Carr, Department of State
Michael Carson
Philip Caruso
Katrina Chan
Ben Chang, Princeton University
Chen-Lu Chang, ICAP Fellows Association
Ben Chang, Princeton University
Ravi Chaudhary, former Commissioner, President's Advisory Commission on AAPIs
Michael CheKim, Department of State
Elizabeth Chen, Jamestown Foundation
Hannah Cho
Sam Cho
Andrew Choi
Grace Choi, New York City government
Jane Chung
Jason Chung, retired U.S. Army
Stone Conroy
Adom Cooper
Thomas Countryman, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security and Arms Control
Alexia D'Arco, former Department of State & Office of Secretary of Defense
Chandrima Das
Ruth A. Davis, former U.S. Ambassador
Sudila De Silva
Tino Dinh
Theo Dolan
Rana Dotson, ICAP Fellows Association
Benjamin Dubow, CEPA
Zarina Durrani
Nima Patel Edwards, ICAP Fellows Association
Thomas Ewing, Center for Advanced Defense Studies
Abdirizak Farah Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Homeland Security
Steven Feldstein, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Ashley Fox
Muhammad Fraser-Rahim, The Citadel and Quilliam Foundation
Clark Frye 
Chelsea Geier, Department of State
Khashayar Ghashghai
Libia Gil
Jay Gilliam, Truman National Security Fellow
Matt Glazer, Blue Sky Partners and Trinity University
Abigail Golden-Vazquez, ally
Andrew Gonzalez, Omelas
Gian Gozum, Department of State
Naima Green-Riley
Christopher Gundermann
Suchitra Gururaj
Kristen Hajduk, George Mason University National Security Institute
Pamela Hamamoto, retired U.S. Ambassador, Department of State
Shirley Martey Hargis, Oxford Diplomatic Society at the University of Oxford
Sarah Elaine Harrison
Razi Hashmi, Truman National Security Fellow
Thomas Hendrix veteran, Green Beret
Adam Hesch, Navy veteran
Shannon Hill, Princeton University
Shahrazad Hired
Jeffrey Hornung, RAND Corporation
Kelly Ilagan, former Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration/Global Markets
Esther Im
Shin Inouye, former Press Secretary & Acting Senior Advisor, USCIS, Department of Homeland Security
Arun Iyer
Igor Jablokov, industry
Vi L. Jacobs-Nhan
Avi Jacobson, Truman National Security Project Defense Council
Ali Jafri
Deborah James, 23rd Secretary of the Air Force
Bonnie Jenkins, Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security, and Conflict Transformation
Malaika Jeter
Tony Johnson
Kamal Kalsi, Sikh American Veterans Alliance
Ann Kambara, retired Foreign Service Officer
Heera Kamboj
Elsa Kania
Warren Katz, Techstars
Zachary Keck, Congress
Laura Kennedy, former U.S. Ambassador
Wardah Khalid, Poligon Education Fund
Laura Khor, consultant
Sang Kim
Gene Kim, Department of Agriculture
Ellen Kim, Department of State
David Kim, U.S. Forces Korea
Annie Kleiman, U.S. Air Force
Harrison Koh
Tyna Korcz
Samantha Ku
Raymond Kuo
Lorand Laskai, Yale Law School
Anka Lee, Truman National Security Project 
Shanah Lee
Sung Min Lee, USAID OIG
Christopher Lee, U.S. Army
Jason Lee, Asian American Federal Employees for Nondiscrimination
Ryan Lee, USAID
Jean Lee, Wilson Center
George LeMeur, Concerned Citizen, Green Beret
Jonathan Leo, U.S. Navy
Robert Levinson, Lt. Col. USAF (Ret.)
Chenlin Li, Department of Energy
Joanne Lin
Jay Long
Edward Loo, retired Senior Foreign Service Officer
Nick Loui, PeakMetrics
Gilman Louie, Federation of American Scientists
Ross Luo
Christopher Ma, CNA
Michael Madrid
Hansen Mak, Army veteran and national security professional
Shaila Manyam, Former FSO; current public affairs professional
Josh Marcuse
Jonathan Margolick, Truman National Security Project
Victor Marsh, former Foreign Service Officer, 2007-15
Bryce H.P. Mendez 
Mark Mitchell, former Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense, SOLIC
Mike Mochizuki, George Washington University
Jasun Moy
Mike Murdock, Department of State
Nicholas Muy, former DHS Cybersecurity Strategy/CISA
Christina Nemr
Jacob Nguyen, U.S. Army
Nazak Nikakhtar, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Analysis
John Noh
Mintaro Oba, International Monetary Fund
Douglas Ollivant, New America
Sara Ong
Hui Hui Ooi
Allan Ortiz, 7229th MSU, U.S. Army Reserve
Barry Pavel
Patricia Pazos, Talking About Terrorism
Tony Perez, Highlight Technologies
Minh-Thu Pham, Truman National Security Fellow
Minh-Thu Pham, Connect Frontier, LLC
Hong-Phong Pho, Department of Commerce/International Trade Administration
Erin Pineda
Graham Plaster, defense innovation mentor
Michael Pozmantier
Nathan Ramia
Sammy Rangel, Life After Hate
Charlotte Rhee
Jaden Risner
Winslow Robertson, IESE Business School
Lindsay Rodman, LCWINS
Maryum Saifee
Tawni Sasaki
Yevgen Sautin
Aaron Sayama, The Aspen Institute
Nicole Sbitani
Ryan Schaffer, Japanese-America Society of Washington, D.C.
Michael Schiffer
Lucas F. Schleusener, Out in National Security
Luke Shabro, Deputy Director, Army Mad Scientist Initiative
Jacob Shapiro, Princeton University
Matt Sheehan, The Paulson Institute
Joshua Shen, Department of State
Justin Sherman, Atlantic Council
Jennifer Shin, Department of State
David Shullman
Jaidev Singh
DJ Skelton
Desirée Cormier Smith
Albert Smith, Department of State
Komal Bazaz Smith, international development professional
Ashley Sogge, University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School
Steven Song, Department of the Army
Camille Stewart, Diversity in National Security Network
Amy Studdart
Wei Su, U.S. Army civilian retiree
Hannah Suh
Joe Suh 
Tait Sye, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of Health and Human Services
Nanako Tamaru, Peace and Security Collaborative
Adam Tanga
Daphne Titus, Department of State, SFS Alumna
Katherine Tobin 
Stephanie Tom, California Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus
Thao Tran
Gerardo Traslosheros 
Atman Trivedi, Atlantic Council
Byron Tsao, Foreign Service Officer, Department of State
Clara Tsao
Hai Tu, U.S. Army
Annie Tulann
Xiaobin Tuo, Lt. Cmdr., U.S. Coast Guard
Tiffany Venmahavong
Luis Vertiz, SIGAR
Frederick Vincenzo, Atlantic Council
James Walker, industry
Jason Wang
Laurie A. Watkins, Truman National Security Project
Nicholas Webb, Department of State
Linda Wei 
William Wei, University of Colorado at Boulder
Bryon L. Williams
Oleksandra Williams
Leslie Wilson
Tina Wong
Eric Wong, Foreign Service Officer, Department of State
Adam Wood, Harvard University 
William Wu, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Edmund Xu
Rebecca Yang
Rebecca Yang, former Foreign Service Officer; Truman National Security Fellow
John Yang, Asian Americans Advancing Justice
Michael Young
Dov S. Zakheim, former Under Secretary of Defense
Noah Zaring
Olivia Zetter
Pepe Zhang, Atlantic Council     

The list of names was last updated at 11:25 p.m. on March 19.                                                                      ,     

Other efforts

This initiative is one of many that aim to make America more inclusive and to address the surge of hate crimes against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. Others include:

  • Article, Lawfare: Empowering Diaspora Americas in National Security
  • Article, Quincy Institute: How Asian-American Rhetoric Harms US National Security
  • Memorandum, White House: Condemning and Combating Racism against AAPI
  • Op-ed, Foreign Policy: Anti-Asian Attacks Are Blighting the United States
  • Op-ed, Washington Post: The Surge of Attacks Against AAPI Requires Attention and Swift Solutions
  • Statement of support, Truman National Security Project