Sally McNamara, The Heritage Foundation
Sally McNamara is a Senior Policy Analyst in European Affairs at The Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom.
Formerly the Director of International Relations for the American Legislative Exchange Council, McNamara joined Heritage in 2006 and now concentrates on American relations with the European Union and European countries, with particular focus on economic reform policy, trade issues and the War on Terrorism. She also analyzes NATO’s evolving role in post-Cold War Europe.
The Thatcher Center was created in 2005 to study and help strengthen transatlantic relations. Its primary focus is to: preserve and improve relations between the US and Britain; advance American and British interests in Europe, and promote joint American-British leadership in the global War on Terrorism.
Ms. McNamara talks to us about her work, current challenges to the transatlantic relationship and offers advice to students interested in the field of foreign policy.
What are the current priorities in your work at the Heritage foundation?
The Heritage Foundation is dedicated to building an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish. Within Heritage, I work in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, which is named in honor of the former British Prime Minister Lady Thatcher. I primarily work on issues related to Europe, the EU and NATO. My priorities are to advance the Anglo-American Special Relationship and the transatlantic alliance. I also analyze the dangers of further EU integration for the transatlantic alliance, and how the European Union harms US interests.
What would you describe as the greatest challenges faced by women interested in working in the field of security studies these days?
The Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom is dedicated to advancing the foreign policy goals that Lady Thatcher pursued while she was in office. As a true statesman, Lady Thatcher thought several steps ahead of the current situation and demonstrated an unflinching commitment to her political ideals. During her premiership, she stated flatly: “I owe nothing to Women’s Lib.” I believe that people should be given the opportunity to achieve their goals regardless of their gender, and not because of it.
What is the greatest challenge to the transatlantic relationship?
The transatlantic alliance faces a number of challenges. Foremost among them is a lack of interest—by leaders on both sides of the Atlantic. The transatlantic alliance has been so successful because successive American presidents have nurtured it and demonstrated an umbilical link to the Continent. Europe is not a priority for President Obama. As the first self-identified “Pacific president,” President Obama has often been ambivalent to Europe and to America’s strongest allies in Europe. His indifference to the Anglo-American Special Relationship has been especially marked.
What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing a career in foreign policy and international relations?
Foreign policy is such a wide-ranging topic that specializing in one area—whether it be by region or topic—is usually the best avenue to becoming a “foreign policy expert” or an analyst. There is no substitute for experience when it comes to international relations either. As a regional specialist, I have greatly benefitted from working and living in my area of study—experiencing first hand working in European institutions, visiting the NATO mission in Afghanistan, meeting with British and European politicians etc. Building up this experience over time gives an analyst a broader view of the trends in their field over time too, which has helped me to understand the changes and continuities of transatlantic relations.