Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts The Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Service

The Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Service

An inventor, entrepreneur, writer, diplomat, and lover of liberty, Benjamin Franklin devoted himself from an early age to public service and the resolution of problems through objective analysis that draws upon the best knowledge available – setting the standard to which FPRI has always aspired. In 2005, on the occasion of FPRI’a 50th anniversary and on the eve of Benjamin Franklin’s 300th birthday, we were pleased to inaugurate the annual Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Service, to be awarded each year to the American whose service as a statesman, sage, or soldier best exemplifies the ideals of Benjamin Franklin and the United States. Dr. Henry A. Kissinger was the first honoree. Recent honorees have included Robert Gersony, H.R. McMaster, Anne Applebaum, and Ash Carter.

The annual Benjamin Franklin Award for Public Service was not given in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.  

Past Recipients

Robert Gersony

Robert Gersony is an American consultant known for his reports on conflict-affected countries, in particular in Africa. He conducted on-the-ground research for the U.S. government in virtually every war and natural-disaster zone in the world. In Thailand, Central and South America, Sudan, Chad, Mozambique, Rwanda, Gaza, Bosnia, North Korea, Iraq, and beyond, Gersony never flinched from entering dangerous areas that diplomats could not reach, sometimes risking his own life. Gersony’s behind-the scenes fact-finding, which included interviews with hundreds of refugees and displaced persons from each war zone and natural-disaster area, often challenged the assumptions and received wisdom of the powers that be, on both the left and the right. In nearly every case, his advice and recommendations made American policy at once smarter and more humane—often dramatically so. 

H.R. McMaster

H.R. McMaster was the 26th assistant to the president for National Security Affairs. He served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army for thirty-four years before retiring as a Lieutenant General in June 2018. From 2014 to 2017 McMaster designed the future army as the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center and the deputy commanding general of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). As commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, he oversaw all training and education for the army’s infantry, armor, and cavalry force.

Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum is a columnist for the Washington Post and a Pulitzer-prize winning historian. She is also Professor of Practice at the London School of Economics’s Institute of Global Affairs where she runs Arena, a program on disinformation and 21st century propaganda. Formerly a member of the Washington Post editorial board, she has also worked as the Foreign and Deputy Editor of the Spectator magazine in London, as the Political Editor of the Evening Standard, and as a columnist at Slate and at several British newspapers, including the Daily and Sunday Telegraphs. From 1988-1991 she covered the collapse of communism as the Warsaw correspondent of the Economist magazine and the Independent newspaper. Her newest book, Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine was published in October 2017.

Ashton Carter

A native of Philadelphia, Ashton Carter served as the 25th Secretary of Defense (2015-2017). For over 35 years inside government under presidents of both political parties as well as in the private sector, Carter has leveraged his extraordinary experience in national security, technology, and innovation to defend the United States and to make a better world. Carter has taught at many of the world’s outstanding academic institutions, including Stanford, Harvard, and Oxford. He received his doctorate in Theoretical Physics from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and is the author of 11 books and more than 100 articles, including one in Orbis: FPRI’s Journal of World Affairs.

Kanan Makiya

Born in Baghdad, Kanan Makiya has been described as the Arab world’s “Solzhenitsyn” for courageously bearing witness to unspeakable cruelty. In 1989, he published his first book Republic of Fear, under the pseudonym Samir al-Kahlil, exposing the personality cult surrounding the bizarre rule of Saddam Hussein. In 1994, under his real name, Makiya released Cruelty and Silence: War, Tyranny, Uprising, and the Arab World, which denounced those in the Middle East who failed to speak out loud the unpalatable truths about widespread repression. In 2003, Makiya founded the Iraq Memory Foundation, an NGO based in Baghdad and the U.S, which has collected and digitized nearly 10 million pages of Ba’th era documents. Makiya’s essays have appeared in the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and many more. Makiya is currently the Sylvia K. Hassenfeld Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University.

Robert B. Zoellick

Robert Zoellick

Robert Zoellick is the former president of the World Bank (2007-12), former Deputy Secretary of State (2005-06), and a former U.S. Trade Representative (2001-2005). He is currently Chairman of Goldman Sachs’ International Advisors, and serves on the boards of Temasek, Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, and Laureate International Universities, as well as on the international advisory board of Rolls Royce. Zoellick is also a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He is a member of the board of the National Endowment for Democracy and the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Gen. Michael V. Hayden

General Michael V. Hayden

General Michael V. Hayden has devoted his life to public service, serving as Director of the CIA (2006-09), Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence (2005-06), and Director of the NSA (1999-2005). He retired from the US Air Force as a four-star general in 2008 after nearly 39 years of active-duty military service, serving in various capacities including Commander of the Air Intelligence Agency and Director of the Joint Command and Control Warfare Center. Currently, he is a Principal of the Chertoff Group and Distinguished Visiting Professor at George Mason University. He appears regularly on national news media to comment on a range of national security and intelligence issues.

General James Mattis

General James Mattis is widely known within the U.S. military as the most revered Marine Corps officer in a generation. With a reputation for candor, a career of combat achievements, and a library that once spanned 7,000 books, Gen. Mattis has a record of over 41 years of public service.  Modern military historians chronicle him as one of America’s great soldier-scholars. In March 2013, he ended his service as the eleventh commander of U.S. Central Command, where he was responsible for U.S. military activities in one of the world’s most volatile regions, including Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Commissioned a second lieutenant in 1972, Mattis has commanded at every level in the Marine Corps. As a lieutenant colonel, he commanded 1st Battalion, 7th Marines during the first Gulf War. As a brigadier general, he commanded Task Force 58, which, shortly after 9/11 conducted an amphibious assault to seize the airfield at Kandahar, Afghanistan. During the invasion of Iraq, Major General Mattis commanded the 1st Marine Division on the “march up” to Baghdad. Before his posting to USCENTCOM, Gen. Mattis commanded U.S. Joint Forces Command, becoming one of only a few general officers to hold two four-star billets.

Walter Russell Mead

Walter Russell Mead is the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and the Humanities at Bard College, and Editor-at-Large of American Interest Magazine. Until 2011, he was a Brady-Johnson Distinguished Fellow in Grand Strategy at Yale, and, until 2010, the Henry Kissinger fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. The author of three critically acclaimed books, Mr. Mead writes regularly on international affairs for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and many other leading journals. He frequently appears on national and international radio and television programs. His book, Special Providence: American Foreign Policy and How It Changed the World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2001), was widely hailed by reviewers, historians, and diplomats. His most recent book is God and Gold: Britain, America and the Making of the Modern World (Alfred A. Knopf). His always provocative blog, Via Meadia, is widely read and can be accessed here:

Fouad Ajami

Fouad Ajami is one of the most astute observers of the Middle East, with a poet’s gift for expression on display in his many essays for Foreign Affairs magazine, the Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, and elsewhere. Particularly at this time of turmoil throughout the Middle East, he is a ubiquitous presence on CNN.  A naturalized U.S. citizen born in Southern Lebanon, Professor Ajami is a senior fellow at The Hoover Institution and co-chairman of Hoover’s Working Group on Islamism and the International Order. Until recently, he was the Majid Khadduri professor and Director of Middle East Studies at The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, a post he held for 30 years. Between 1989 and 2008, he was a contributing editor for U.S. News and World Report. In June 2002, he was elected by the members of the Council on Foreign Relations to a five-year term on the Council’s Board of Directors, and re-elected in 2007. His books include The Arab Predicament; The Vanished Imam; The Dream Palace of the Arabs; and The Foreigner’s Gift: The Americans, the Arabs and the Iraqis in Iraq.  Professor Ajami has been the recipient of the MacArthur Prize Fellowship, the Bradley Prize for Outstanding Achievement, the National Humanities Medal and the Eric Breindel Prize in Journalism.

Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and the William Ziegler Professor at Harvard Business School. He also is a Contributing Editor to the Financial Times (London) and a Regular Contributor to Newsweek Magazine. He is the author of several highly regarded books including: The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World (Penguin, 2008), War of the World: 20th Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006). Colossus: The Rise and Fall of the American Empire (Penguin (2004), and Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order (Basic, 2003). In 2004, Time Magazine named him “one of the world’s hundred most influential people.” His most recent book is High Financier: The Lives and Time of Siegmund Warburg (Penguin, June 2010).

Robert D. Kaplan

Robert D. Kaplan is a Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He continues to write on a range of foreign policy and national security issues for The Atlantic Monthly and is now writing a book on the future of the Indian Ocean region. His books, several of which were written under grants received through FPRI, include Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts: The American Military in the Air, at Sea, and on the Ground (2007); Imperial Grunts(2005), Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus(2000); and Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History (1993).  Kaplan’s essays have appeared in the New York TimesWall Street JournalWashington Post, and Los Angeles Times. He has been a consultant to the U.S. Army’s Special Forces Regiment, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Marines, and has lectured at military war colleges, the FBI, the National Security Agency, the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, major universities, the CIA, and business forums. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman calls Kaplan among the four “most widely read” authors defining the post-Cold War era (along with Francis Fukuyama, the late Samuel Huntington, and Yale Professor Paul Kennedy). He has received the U.S. State Department Distinguished Public Service Award. In July 2009 he was named to the Defense Policy Board.

Ambassador John Bolton

Ambassador John Bolton served as the Permanent U.S. Representative to the UN from August 2005 until December 2006. He had previously served as Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Securityand in several positions within the State Department, the Justice Department and USAID. Before entering government service Bolton was Senior Vice President for Public Policy Research at the American Enterprise Institute.

Philip Zelikow

Philip Zelikow is the White Burkett Miller Professor of History at the University of Virginia and serves on the advisory panel for global development of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. From 2005-07 he was Counselor of the State Department, and in 2003-04 he was executive director of the 9/11 Commission, the most wide-ranging government investigation in U.S. history. In 2001 he directed the Carter-Ford commission on federal election reform, which successfully guided legislation and spending to revamp America’s election systems. From 2001-03 he was also a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary, writes a nationally syndicated column for The Washington Post. Also winner of the 1984 National Magazine Award for essays, he began writing the column for the Post in January 1985. It appears in more than 150 newspapers. He is also a monthly essayist for Time magazine, a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and The New Republic, and a weekly panelist on Inside Washington.

Henry A. Kissinger

Henry A. Kissinger was the 56th Secretary of State of the United States from 1973 to 1977, continuing to hold the position of Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, which he first assumed in 1969, until 1975. After leaving government service, he founded Kissinger Associates,  an international consulting firm, of which he is chairman.  Secretary Kissinger has written many books and articles on United States foreign policy, international affairs, and diplomatic history.