Friday, September 4, 2015

Think Tank Quickies (#189)

  • Miley Cyrus opened up VMA's with an "Instagram Think Tank" that helps her decide what to post.
  • Hillary Clinton inquired about think tanker Steve Clemons of NAF.
  • Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visits CAP to address strengthening of child nutrition programs.
  • The New Republic and CAP host policy forum on future of climate change with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.
  • Bharath Gopalaswamy named Director of Atlantic Council's South Asia Center.
  • Wilson Center on the future of 3D printing.
  • CNAS Senior Fellow Ely Ratner named Deputy National Security Advisor to VP Joe Biden. 
  • Loren DeJonge Schulman, former Senior Advisor to the National Security Advisor, named CNAS Leon E. Panetta Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of Studies.
  • Amb. William Taylor named EVP at USIP.
  • Libertarian think tank R Street study: US gov't agencies missed 1,400 of 2,684 regulatory deadlines.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

New Ed Policy Think Tank Opens With DC Office

A new education policy think tank has just opened its doors with a focus on pre-K through high school.  Here is more from Education Week:
Stanford educated heavy-hitter Linda Darling-Hammond has launched a new think tank intended to bring evidence into education policy.
The Palo Alto, California-based Learning Policy Institute launched this week with 30 researchers and a board including some big education names, such as Henry Louis Gates Jr., the director of Harvard University's W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African and African American Research, and Kris Gutierrez, a language, literacy and culture professor at the University of California, Berkeley.
The institute has some $5 million in initial funding and support from The Atlantic Philanthropies, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Sandler Foundation, the Stuart Foundation, and also the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which also provides support for Education Week coverage of deeper learning issues.

The article notes that the Learning Policy Institute will be based in Palo Alto, California but will also have a Washington office.  That office is located in Dupont Circle, near the heart of "think tank row."

Topics that the new think tank will focus on include early childhood learning, educator quality, college and career readiness, school organization and design, and school funding and management.

According to the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, the world's top five education policy think tanks are:
  1. Urban Institute (US)
  2. RAND Corporation (US)
  3. Brookings Institution (US)
  4. Cato Institute (US)
  5. National Institute for Educational Policy Research (Japan)

A full list of LPI's Board of Directors, leadership, staff, and senior fellows can be found here.

Stolen: Donor & Email Information From Heritage Foundation

It was the best of times and the worst of times.  The conservative think tank Heritage Foundation announced this week that it has received a $2.7 million gift.  Then, a day later, it announced that it had an unauthorized data breach in which donor information and emails were stolen.  Here is more from Politico:
The Heritage Foundation suffered a data breach this week in which intruders swiped sensitive emails and donor information, the right-wing think tank confirmed Wednesday.
The breach occurred at the same time that the foundation’s multimedia news organization, the Daily Signal, has criticized the Obama administration and federal agencies such as the Office of Personnel Management over lax cybersecurity. One article in July was headlined “How Obama’s Poor Judgment Led to the Chinese Hack of OPM.”
Any information dating back six years would preclude the arrival of former Sen. Jim DeMint as president of Heritage, and predate the existence of Heritage Action, the Foundation’s advocacy arm. Heritage’s review thus far has found no evidence of credit card or bank information being breached.

Politico notes that some of the stolen data may have recently been appearing on the Internet.  The article notes that in 2012, then-House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI) said tanks were "juicy targets" for foreign intelligence services and were "under constant cyber espionage assault."  The article also notes that Heritage has been the target of cyberattacks before.

Politico also notess that earlier this year, the think tank Urban Institute disclosed to charitable organizations that its National Center for Charitable Statistics, a system for filing taxes, had been breached and around 600,000 to 700,000 organizations were affected.  Here is more on the Urban Institute hack from a previous Think Tank Watch post.

Here is a statement on the data breach from the Heritage Foundation.  It says that the breach was of data that was six years old and on an external server.

Currently, the Heritage Foundation has 12 different "membership" levels.  The lowest level is the "basic member" one for $25, and the highest is the "founder" level at $100,000.

For those conservatives not phased by the data breach, don't forget that Heritage now accepts donations with Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discovery.

During the past few years, it has been publicly (and privately) disclosed that nearly every major US think tank has been hacked.  Besides attacks on Heritage and Urban Institute, Think Tank Watch has documented hacks on think tanks such as the Aspen Institute, Brookings, American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Center for American Progress (CAP), Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Heritage Scores $2.7 Million Gift for Family/Marriage Promotion

The conservative think tank Heritage Foundation has just received a $2.7 million gift from Ms. Betty A. Anderlink.  Here is more from Heritage:
Betty A. Anderlik of Clearwater, Fl. has made a $2.7 million gift to The Heritage Foundation, the prominent Washington, D.C., think tank announced today.
The gift is being made to support Heritage's efforts to design and promote public policies that "place marriage and the family at the center of civil society," as Heritage describes its efforts, and increase opportunity for all Americans. 
In recognition of her support, a fellowship will be established at Heritage in honor of Mrs. Anderlik and her late husband. The title of Joseph C. and Elizabeth A. Anderlik Fellow will go to the Vice President of Heritage’s Institute for Family, Opportunity and Culture. As the current Vice President of the Institute, Jennifer A. Marshall works to promote and defend a vibrant civil society with both a national and international audience. The Institute for Family, Opportunity and Culture performs both independent and integrated analysis in order to promote a stronger civil society.

David Callahan of Inside Philanthropy has just written a piece in response to the gift, entitled "Who Gives to Conservative Think Tanks?"  Mr. Callahan says that American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Cato Institute draw lots of support from the finance community, including many New Yorkers, but Heritage is "definitely a think tank of traditional heartland conservatives."

Mr. Callahan notes that the Heritage gift is meant to honor Mrs. Anderlik's late husband Joseph Anderlink, who was a successful executive at a civil engineering firm.  [More specifically, he was a vice president of engineering at Bonestroo Rosene Anderlik and Associates.]  In 2010 Mrs. Anderlik gave the same amount ($2.7 million) to Iowa State University to create an endowed engineering professorship.

While $2.7 million is a large amount, it is small change compared to a couple of previous gifts that Heritage Foundation has recently received.  Earlier this year the think tank received an "eight-digit" gift from a retired radiologist and several members of her family.  And in 2013, Heritage Foundation received $26 million from the family of the late Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis.

To put these gifts into perspective, in 2013, the Heritage Foundation received contributions and grants totaling around $102 million.  In 2012, it received  around $78 million.

WSJ Reminds Writers How to Cite Political Leanings of Think Tanks

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has just sent out a reminder to its writers on how to address various style and substance issues, including how to address the political leanings of think tanks.  Here is more:
"A reminder in this political season that we should be careful to classify the political leanings of the think tanks we mention in articles.  As noted in 2009, the designations 'liberal,' 'conservative,' and 'libertarian' are appropriate.  'Progressive' isn't.  If there is any doubt about what to call a think tank, double check with the Washington bureau."

In 2009, WSJ said it should "endeavor to classify the political leanings" of the think tanks its mentions in articles, to give readers a "reliable signpost."  The newspaper noted that the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), a liberal think tank, had recently been called "progressive" in a recent article.  WSJ said the word progressive is "a label some groups prefer because, after all, who doesn't like to be considered progressive?"  Here is more of what the WSJ said at that time:
It isn’t always easy to nail down the slant, if any, of individual think tanks. The conservative, liberal and libertarian designations as listed on Wikipedia are fairly reliable, but not infallible. The site also lists “centrist” groups, which we don’t consider a meaningful label, especially because some of those called centrist on the list are openly affiliated with political parties. Nonpartisan, if accurate, is better than “centrist.”  If other labeling is elusive, we can at least try to describe the think tank’s financing when it is appropriate: union-funded, or lawyer-funded,etc...

Think Tank watch is currently in the process of making a chart of dozens of think tanks and their political orientation compared to other think tanks.

In the meantime, one decent grouping of think tanks by political ideology can be found in this study by Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR).  But, according to WSJ standards, many of the ideological groupings would not pass editorial muster.  For example, Brookings is listed as "centrist" when in reality, it is left-leaning.  And the Cato Institute is listed as "center-right" when a more accurate description is libertarian.

By the way, WSJ is not the only media outlet that is thinking about think tank ideology.  For example, in 2011, NPR said it often does a lousy job in identifying the background of think tanks.  And inevitably, some think tanks, such as the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), fight to have their ideology as obfuscated as possible.

Here is an article from 2011 entitled "Calculating The Ideologies of Powerful Think Tanks."  Among other things, it contains a list of the 20 most cited think tanks and where they stand on the political spectrum.  Here is another list of think tanks by ideology, including Canadian think tanks.

Another interesting question: Is there media bias against certain types of think tanks?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

US Military Cutting Down on Outside Think Tanks

The US Army recently issued a press release suggesting that paying outside think tanks millions of dollars for projects that can be done just as good in-house is silly.  Here is more from the release:
And, for the first time, the school is getting Army money to do it, Betros said. "So instead of the Army spending millions to hire external think tanks, we're doing IRPs that allow us to funnel some of that money back into the Army." 
Students do research projects every year, he said. But they've been more or less individually driven, he said, meaning the students choose subjects they're interested in.
"We decided to make the Army War College as relevant as possible to the larger Army, so we found research topics that were of most interest to the chief of staff of the Army."
Former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno approved the five current research projects, which in fact, aligned with his priorities, Betros said.

The US military gives tens of millions of dollars each year to a variety of think tanks.  One example is RAND Corporation, a think tank that received $34.7 million from the US Army in fiscal year 2014, $39.9 million from the US Air Force, and $64.9 million from the US Secretary of Defense and other national security agencies.

Think Tank Quickies (#188)

  • Thomas Pritzker appointed Chairman of CSIS's Board of Trustees; succeeds former senator Sam Nunn, who will remain as Chairman Emeritus.
  • Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint gives keynote at Jackson Hole summit.
  • Professor attacks African think tanks as "tanks that do not think."
  • Is Bangalore the next think tank hub?
  • Cato "goes off the rails" on health policy?
  • Sri Lanka made hundreds of contacts with US think tanks in 2014.
  • Emanuel Pastreich: Think tanks suffer from a number of shortcomings.
  • Bruce Jones named VP and Director of Foreign Policy at Brookings; Hamilton Project at Brookings appoints Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach as new director.
  • Rexon Ryu, former Chief of Staff to former DefSec Chuck Hagel, joins Carnegie as Senior Advisor.
  • CSIS hires Olga Oliker from RAND to replace Andy Kuchins who will head Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service; Kuchins will be a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at CSIS.
  •  Two leading US think tanks (CEIP and Stimson) say that Pakistan will have 350+ nuclear weapons in a decade.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Are Any Presidential Candidates Running to Start a Think Tank?

Between Democrats and Republicans there are now 22 candidates running for president in 2016, and some think that future career moves - including the desire to start a think tank in the future - may be part of the reason that so many candidates are running now.  Here is more from Ron Faucheux The Hill:
Post-election career prospects may also play a role. Which of today's candidates are angling to be vice president, a Cabinet member or an ambassador? Which ones want to start advocacy groups, think tanks or host TV shows? Which ones intend to cash in on newfound fame by fattening up speaking fees and book royalties? These considerations, sometimes as much or more than actually getting elected, can shape presidential candidate behavior.

So, which presidential candidate is most likely to get involved with think tank land after he/she drops out of the race?  Is it Donald Trump, who has been talking and consulting more with think tankers?  Is it Rick Perry who has been hiring lots of think tankers?  Is it Jeb Bush, who has a virtual army of think tankers working to help defeat Hillary Clinton?  Or could it be Hillary Clinton herself, someone who has been hogging all the Democratic think tank talent?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Dick Cheney to Give Major Iran Speech at AEI

The conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has just announced that former Vice President Dick Cheney will give a major speech on the nuclear deal with Iran on September 8.  The event will last one hour and will be moderated by AEI Senior Vice President for Foreign and Defense Policy Studies Danielle Pletka.

Cheney, who is a member of AEI's Board of Trustees , has given numerous speeches at the think tank, including one in 2014 on 9/11 and the future of US foreign policy.  In 2009 he gave a speech at AEI on the ongoing threat terrorism poses to the US, and in 2003, he delivered a speech at the think tank on the "war on terror."

CNN says that Cheney's speech will "hammer" President Obama's Iran nuclear deal, and Politico says that he will speak out against the deal.

We should also note that Cheney's wife, Lynne Cheney, is a Senior Fellow at AEI, specializing in culture and education.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Thinks Tanks Have Deep Ties to Fortune 500 Companies

The University of California at Santa Cruz has put together a "Power Elite Database" showing the deep relationship between think tanks and corporations.  Here is an excerpt:
After the trustees of these 33 think tanks were added to the corporate network, we first looked at the relative centrality of Fortune-500 companies and think tanks in the combined database. (The six general business groups were excluded for the moment.) This analysis revealed that nine mainstream think tanks, such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Institute for International Economics, and combined think tanks/policy-discussion groups, such as the Atlantic Council and Council on Foreign Relations, were among the 15 most central organizations in the network, with the ultraconservative and liberal think tanks that remained in the database more peripheral. To make this point with one good comparison, 38.3% of the trustees of The Brookings Institution, a prestigious centrist think tank that goes back to the 1920s, are Fortune 500 directors, as compared to only 9.1% of the trustees for the ultraconservative Heritage Foundation, which was founded in the early 1970s and is not considered to be reputable by most mainstream scholars.

A map of the corporate world's connection to think tank's can be found here.

The think tanks with the deepest connections to the most powerful corporations were:
  1. Brookings Institution
  2. Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS)
  3. Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE)
  4. Atlantic Council
  5. Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)
  6. Aspen Institute
  7. American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
  8. RAND Corporation
  9. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
Among other things, the study concludes that its findings "cast doubt on any claim that think tanks are a unique independent sector."  It adds: "The idea that think tanks have a considerable degree of independence becomes even more questionable when it is added that they receive a significant share of their funding from wealthy individual donors and various foundations.  The authors of the study say that think tanks can basically be characterized as "subsidiaries of the corporate community."

The study goes on to note that between 2003 and 2011, 1,260 foundations gave $1.9 billion via 10,549 individual grants to the 41 most prominent think tanks.  Moreover, the 25 largest foundations accounted for over 71% of the total donations.

Think Tank Quickies (#187)

  • China-backed think tank (Madariaga-College of Europe Foundation) exits Brussels.
  • Chinese defense think tanks face enormous challenges.
  • India's most influential think tanks.
  • Leader of Korea's ruling Saenuri Party, Rep. Kim Moo-sung to visit think tanks such as Wilson Center and Brookings during 7-day trip.
  • Conservative think tanks wants the White House Science Czar's private emails. 
  • Guyana needs more think tanks.
  • Renaming a think tank in Singapore.
  • Ideological divide between US and Russian think tanks? 
  • Jimmy Carter's grandson to take over as chairman of Carter Center.
  • What's the point of development think tanks?
  • CFR map on vaccine-preventable outbreaks.
  • Who says the summer doesn't have cool think tank events?  See Hudson Institute's August 3 event Cyber-Enabled Economic Warfare - An Evolving Challenge, and Atlantic Council's July 29 event Rethinking Commercial Espionage.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Vietnam Event at Prominent US Think Tank Causes Stir

Although most think tank events go off without a hitch, there is often lots of behind-the-scenes scurrying to help avoid a whole host of obstacles that can cause potential problems for a think tank and/or its attendees.  But even the best of think tank event planning is often not enough.  Highlighting that fact is a recent event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) which reportedly caused quite a stir.  Here is more from The Rushford Report:
...When Dr. Binh T. Nguyen, a prominent Vietnamese-born physician (and an American citizen) showed up to hear the secretary general’s speech [referring to Nguyen Phu Trong, Vietnam Secretary General of the Communist Party], she was informed that she was persona non grata.
Binh, an invited guest, cleared CSIS security at the entrance, as she had on several previous occasions. But when she went upstairs to join the audience, a CSIS senior fellow was waiting. Murray Hiebert, accompanied by a CSIS security guard, insisted that Binh leave the premises. An obviously uncomfortable Hiebert explained that he was so sorry, but the communist security operatives simply would not permit Binh to hear Trong’s speech. The apologetic Hiebert told Dr. Binh that he had tried his best to reason with the Vietnamese security officials, but to no avail. They were not interested in negotiating, and were adamant that Binh would not be allowed to hear Trong’s speech, Hiebert related.
Hiebert apologized sincerely to Binh, admitting that it was wrong for CSIS to have given into the pressure. Ejecting her had ruined the event for him, Hiebert told the doctor. I spoke with Binh twice, for nearly an hour, going over the facts carefully, in great detail. Subsequently I was able to substantiate that the doctor’s account was the same as how Hiebert explained the incident to one of his colleagues at CSIS, Benjamin Contreras, the program director for CSIS’ Southeast Studies section.
Dr. Binh told me that Hiebert was characteristically polite. Still, it was intimidating that he had a guard with him to make sure she left the premises, the doctor added. Binh said she does not seek publicity, and looked forward to being invited to future CSIS events. She asked not to be quoted directly in this article.

More of the details can be found here.  The piece notes that the Vietnamese government is a fairly large donor to CSIS, and paid for a recent study favorable to the government of Vietnam.

Here is a link to the video and transcript of the July 8 event mentioned above.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Parody Paper Creates New Brookings Study on the US Dollar

Satirical newspaper The Onion has published has a new article citing a made-up Brookings Institution study showing it is "now easier than ever for American dollars to rise into the upper class."  Here is an excerpt:
Citing “nearly unlimited” opportunities for the nation’s currency, an encouraging study released Tuesday by the Brookings Institution found that it has never been easier for U.S. dollars to enter the richest segment of American society.
The study, which followed the legal tender over a 40-year period, confirmed that trillions of dollars have been able to move from the lower and middle classes into the upper class, indicating a significant rise in the upward mobility of American money.
“In comparison to earlier generations, today’s U.S. dollars are ascending the economic ladder much faster, and in far greater numbers,” said economist and lead researcher Hannah Rodrigues, emphasizing that it is much easier for money to escape the ranks of the poor now than it was just 10 years ago. “We have never seen this much money moving into the highest income brackets, and the trend is only getting stronger.”

This is not the first time that The Onion has used Brookings in its stories.  For example, last year, it had a story quoting a fake 85-page Brookings study saying that there is no need to produce any new chairs in the United States.  The Onion also ran a story in 2014 quoting another fake Brookings study saying that 47% of Americans should think before talking.  [We at Think Tank Watch thought this was one of the better think tank studies of the year, even if fake.]

One of Think Tank Watch's favorite Onion stories comes from 2013, when they cite a fake 10-year Brookings study saying that Americans, on average, have five to seven good shirts and eight or more "not-good" shirts.  We also like the 2011 Onion story citing a fake Brookings study saying that fax machine technology is pretty impressive.

Brookings is not the only think tank that The Onion writes about.  Last month, it wrote a fake story about how officials at the Heritage Foundation lowered retired Republican senator Saxby Chambliss into a giant vat of conservative policy experts.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tiny Think Tank FDD More Influential Than Its Bigger Brothers?

Can a small, narrowly-focused think tank be considered more influential than its bigger, more well-funded think tanks brothers and sisters?  Slate has just made the case that in some respects, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a small, conservative (some say neoconservative) think tank may be running circles around bigger think thinks.  Here are some excerpts from a story entitled "The Little Think Tank That Could":
...Opponents of the [Iran] deal, if they are to carry the day, need crisp talking points and plausible arguments; they need credible experts who will back up their position in congressional hearings, on opinion pages, and on TV and radio. And no organization has been better at providing this kind of intellectual firepower than the little-known Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a relatively small Washington think tank that is devoting itself to defeating the Iran deal.
During the last 18 months, FDD’s experts have testified 17 times before Congress in opposition to the interim and now final agreement. By contrast, experts from the Heritage Foundation, whose budget—$113 million in 2013—is more than 15 times the size of FDD’s, and which also opposes the agreement, have not appeared at all. Critics of the agreement from the American Enterprise Institute, whose budget is more than eight times as large, have testified only once.
In the wake of the agreement’s announcement, FDD experts have appeared on Fox News, CBS, CNN, PBS, and other television outlets at least 35 times to oppose it. 

The Slate article goes on to note that pro-Israel think tank "is no longer a public relations group for Israel," and over the years, it has "become much more of a conventional think tank than an advocacy group."

Will Washington's Think Tank Events Become More Upscale?

Think tanks typically don't hold great parties (there are exceptions, of course), but some seem to be studying up on how to put together a better, swankier shindig.  Here is more from The Washington Post:
Though most of Washington is still in vacation mode, plans for fall fundraisers, Halloween promotions and yes, even Christmas parties, are already in full swing. You see a “save the date” and think, “Free drinks!” To your hosts — political campaigns, think tanks, corporations, charities, trade associations, NGOs — the Evite is the first step in a carefully calculated strategy to grab your time and attention.
The very important people of Washington are short on time and easily bored. Which is why, during the dog days of summer, almost 400 people gathered last week at the Ronald Reagan Building for Elevate, a conference for Washington event organizers. Their goal: learning how to make their events more memorable, attract the right guests and do it all on a politically correct budget.
It’s not enough to throw free booze at people anymore, although that never hurts. The old formula of cocktails, dinner and endless speeches is giving way to artisanal menus, designer mixologists and charging stations. Plus hashtags, live Instagram feeds and anything else that will transform another boring evening into a talker.

But remember, think tank events come with a cost.  The Post notes that a basic, two-hour reception is roughly $75 to $125 per person, plus tax and gratuity.  Seated dinners, they point out, can range from $150 to $375 per guest.  The paper also notes that renting a location is an extra cost.  They note that the Library of Congress is $35,000 for a corporate host, but only $17,500 for a non-profit such as a think tank.  Fortunately, many think tanks have ample space to hold a decent-sized party, thus leaving more room for their food budget.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Think Tankers Caught in Ashley Madison Data Dump?

It has just been reported that a data dump of users using the "affair-oriented" website Ashley Madison includes 15,000 email addresses hosted by US government and military servers.  That got us wondering how many think tank-linked accounts are included.

There are likely a number of them, as Washington, DC, the city with the highest rate of membership to Ashley Madison, happens to have the largest amount of think tanks of any city, at 396 and counting.

If you are a think tanker and want to see if your data has been compromised, or, if you want to check to see if your think tank spouse has been cheating on you, you can search this site.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Brookings Head Has "Direct Line" to Hillary Clinton

New reporting about the ongoing saga of Hillary Clinton's emails while at the State Department has uncovered some interesting nuggets about Clinton's close ties to think tankers.  One of her closest ties is with Strobe Talbott, the current head of the Brookings Institution.  Here is an excerpt:
The emails underscored the privileged status of having Mrs. Clinton’s direct address. Strobe Talbott, the former deputy secretary of state who now heads the Brookings Institution, wrote to her directly, expressing concerns that “time-sensitive messages” were not getting through Ms. [Cheryl] Mills’s State Department email.

Mr. Talbott became friends with Bill Clinton when both were Rhodes Scholars at the University of Oxford. Talbott went on to become Deputy Secretary of State under Mr. Clinton.

Interestingly, Strobe Talbott's wife, Brooke Shearer, also had access to Hillary Clinton's email address.  Shearer was a former aide to Hillary Clinton.

Moreover, Center for American Progress (CAP) President Neera Tanden also had access to Hillary's email address.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Trump Consulting With Think Tanks

Donald Trump seems to be his own man, but that does not mean that he does not lean on think tanks for help.  Here is more from Robert Costa of the Washington Post:
[Donald] Trump came out with an immigration paper today. He expects in early September, in the next few weeks, to come out with one on taxes. He's talking to different people at think tanks. He doesn't want to lose the edge he has.

Juleanna Glover, a corporate consultant and Republican policy and communications adviser who has co-hosted fundraisers for Jeb Bush, says that right-leaning think tanks would not pledge to support Trump if he became the Republican Party nominee for president.

So, which think tank does Donald Trump like and which think tank likes Donald Trump?

Heritage Foundation has done a "10 Facts About Donald Trump" piece and has written other fact-based pieces on Trump, but writers for Heritage have also criticized Trump.  And as Think Tank Watch noted before, Trump is one of the only Republicans presidential candidates who does not follow Heritage President Jim DeMint on Twitter.

Scholars at American Enterprise Institute (AEI) are worried that Trump could disrupt the 2016 elections.  They have also bashed Trump for his "disparaging comments" about women.

That said, Trump just came out saying that he is has been seeking advice from John Bolton, a former ambassador to the United Nations and a Senior Fellow at AEI.

The libertarian Cato Institute has just come out bashing Trump's new position paper on immigration policy.

We have found evidence of state-level think tankers who support Trump.  One example is Ed McMullen, co-chair of Trump's South Carolina campaign, and president of the conservative think tank South Carolina Policy Council.

On the Democratic-leaning side of think tank land, here is a Brookings Institution assessment of Donald Trump, here is a Brookings piece on how to beat Trump in the debates, and here is a Brookings piece on why you should stop laughing at Trump.

By the way, remember when Dana Milbank of the Washington Post compared Jim DeMint running the Heritage Foundation to the equivalent of Donald Trump running AEI?

Think Tank Watch should note that none of the top 10 members of Trump's inner circle appear to have any deep ties to think tanks.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Think Tank Quickies (#186)

  • Brookings in a year-long development and redesign of its website to a top news site.
  • Defense think tank CSBA, which just went through major shake-up, is on a hiring spree.
  • Iran debate illustrates think tanks' niche in policy ecosystem.
  • Paul Maley wins 2015 Lowy Institute Media Award (and $20,000).
  • Many prestigious think tank refuse to pay their interns? (via USG official)
  • "What are think tanks saying (and who's paying)?" via Michael Harris at Guerilla Wire.
  • On Think Tanks organizing international online conference on think tank research methods.
  • Hong Kong think tanks can play a positive role, if their quality is up to scratch.
  • If fish tanks make you think happy thoughts, do think tanks?
  • DC, home to our nation's most impressive and frequently cited think tanks (pic).
  • Think tank launches summit to reshape Arab region.
  • The corporate community, think tanks, policy-discussion groups, and government, via UCSC.
  • Think tanks, lobbyists and the need for independent ideas in planning, via Chris Hale.
  • Think tanks and universities have a complementary role to play (from Stimson Center talk).
  • Jim Gilmore asked why he's running for president instead of doing something like running a think tank, and notes that he does head a think tank (i.e., Free Congress Foundation).
  • The role of think tanks in the EU policy process remains largely uncharted territory for political scientists.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Powerful Think Tanker Sells Iran Deal on Capitol Hill

Think tanker Nicholas Burns, a top diplomat in the Bush Administration, has been tapped by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to sell the recently reached Iran nuclear deal to Capitol Hill.  Here is more from Politico:
A former top diplomatic appointee in the administration of President George W. Bush will help sell the Iranian nuclear deal to House Democrats this week.
Nicholas Burns, who served as undersecretary of state for political affairs from 2005 to 2008, will brief the caucus on Wednesday at the invitation of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Burns, who helped Bush design the current detente with Iran, is a strong proponent of the nonproliferation deal.

Mr. Burns is a Director of the International Advisory Board at the Atlantic Council and sits on the board at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  He is also a member of the board at Harvard's Belfer Center.  He also serves on the Panel of Senior Advisors at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). He was previously a public policy scholar at the Wilson Center.

In related news, Ellen Laipson, President and CEO of the Stimson Center, has just penned a piece entitled "Iran Deal Debate Highlights Think Tanks' Role in US Policy."

Nearly every major foreign policy think tank in the US has weighed in on the Iran deal, and many are working behind the scenes to influence its outcome in Congress and elsewhere.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Think Tanks Trying to Score Visit From Chinese President

Chinese President Xi Jinping is coming to the United States in September, and think tanks are falling over themselves trying to get him to speak at their institution.  Why such desires from think tank land?  Landing a big-name figure like the Chinese president brings prestige, media attention, and respect, among other things.
Here is what one Chinese newspaper is reporting:
[Chinese Ambassador to the United States] Cui Tiankai says numerous organizations and think-tanks have sent out requests for Xi Jinping to speak to them.  He says they're doing their best to try to fit as many in as they can.

Mr. Xi seems to have a particular affinity toward think tanks, and he and his group may want to do in-person studies of how the US's most powerful and influential think tanks operate.

But don't worry think tankers.  If you don't score Mr. Xi, there is always Pope Francis.  He will be visiting Washington, DC later this year and may want to visit a think tank or two.

Fight Erupts Over Hard-Hitting Piece on Carnegie

Leonid Bershidsky, an author and Bloomberg View columnist who was the founding editor of Russia's top business daily Vedomosti, has just penned a retort to James Kirchick's piece in The Daily Beast slamming the Carnegie Moscow Center for being too close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Here is more:
...That, however, doesn't make the office [Carnegie Moscow Center] a Putin puppet. No one who follows Carnegie's Andrew Weiss, a Russia expert, on Twitter or reads his writings about the Ukraine conflict would suspect him of a pro-Kremlin agenda; he watches the Russian operation closely enough not to allow it to be subverted. If the center does indeed serve as a channel of unofficial communication between Russia and the U.S., that's a legitimate function that helps forge useful, sometimes lifesaving, deals, such as the Minsk one. A think tank is not designed to fight unsavory regimes; its job is to make them more understandable and transparent by filtering out the noise and distilling the substance.
The Kirchick piece offended the staff at Moscow Carnegie Center. "The world of American Kirchick, like the world of a bad Russian TV presenter, is divided into those who work for the State Department and those who work for Putin," editor Alexander Baunov, a polyglot ex-diplomat (also my former colleague at two Moscow publications, and assuredly no fan of Putin), posted on Facebook. "His piece is written as a complaint to the U.S. authorities: Pay attention, these guys are deviating from the party line. There's only one excuse for the author: Americans have never lived in a totalitarian state and they haven't developed an immunity to the urge to write such complaints."

In Mr. Bershidsky's piece, entitled "Putin Hurts a Think Tank by Not Banning It," he also wonders if the think tank will eventually end up on the Kremlin's list banning NGO's that are deemed undesirable:
At the same time Carnegie employees must be wondering when they might end up on the "stop list." The think tank, unlike the MacArthur Foundation, doesn't fund any activities but its own -- it's a recipient of funds, not a donor -- so it may be perceived as less dangerous to the Kremlin. That, though, would be a weak source of immunity. 

Mr. Bershidsky has taken his anger to social media as he defends the think tank:

And Mr. Kirchick has had his own fits of rage:

Mr. Bershidsky notes that Carnegie Moscow Center has 10 senior researchers but is considered influential.  He also notes that former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul once worked there.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

William Hague to Chair British Think Tank RUSI

The well-known British defense and security think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has just named William Hague as its next Chairman.  Hague served as Member of Parliament for Richmond from 1989 to 2015.  From 2010 to 2014 he served as Foreign Secretary, and between 2014 and 2015 he was Leader of the House of Commons.

Hague will take over from Lord Hutton of Furness on September 1, 2015.

In the recent past RUSI has hired other well-known figures, including David Petraeus in 2013.

RUSI was founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington.  It is a British institution but has satellite offices in Doha, Tokyo, and Washington, DC.

Corporate members of RUSI include: Accenture, Oracle, BAE Systems, Finmeccanica, QinetiQ, L-3, Palantir Technologies, Raytheon UK, Airbus, Rolls Royce, General Dynamics UK, Saab Group, Hitachi UK, Fujitsu Defense, and Leidos, among others.

The think tank also has many diplomatic members, including the embassies/governments of China, Israel, Bahrain, Finland, Turkey, Switzerland, Egypt, Pakistan, Singapore, Denmark, Austria, Germany, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Poland, Korea, Sweden, US, India, and Saudi Arabia.

RUSI was ranked as the world's 25th best non-US by the my recent University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings report.

Pope Francis Turns Two Offices Into "Think Tanks for the Church"

It looks like Pope Francis has embraced think tanks so much that he decided to create a couple of his own.

Here is more from Jason Berry in the Global Post:
And drawing down Rome's propensity for theological battles of scant interest to most Catholics, Francis rejuvenated two offices that had been around for years: the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Peace and Justice. He has turned them into think tanks for a church looking outward at the wider world.
Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana runs Peace and Justice, and guided the drafting of the ecology encyclical.
Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo of Argentina runs Sciences, and oversaw this month's conference with the mayors on climate change.

Think Tank Watch should note that the official English name for the above-mentioned "think tank" is the Pontifical Council of Peace and Justice.  A link to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences can be found here.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on how one think tank sought to block the Pope's climate encyclical.

Think Tank Watch has heard rumors that Pope Francis may visit at least one think tank when he visits Washington, DC later this year.  Is American Enterprise Institute (AEI) a likely courter?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Carnegie Slammed for Being Too Close to Putin

A well-respected think tank has just been slammed for being too cozy with Russian President Vladimir Putin.  It also stands accused of being a "trojan horse" for Russian Influence.

James Kirchick, a Fellow with the conservative think tank Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), has some pretty harsh words for the Carnegie Moscow Center (a subdivision of the Carnegie Institute for International Peace) and certain scholars there.  Following are some of Think Tank Watch's favorite excerpts from the piece, entitled "How a US Think Tank Fell for Putin."

On the "Secret" Boisto Meeting to Solve the Russia/Ukraine Tensions:
The Boisto Group’s meeting was sponsored by three entities: the Finnish Foreign Ministry, the Institute for World Economy and International Relations (a think tank affiliated with the Russian Academy of Sciences), and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, one of the largest funders of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which describes itself as “the oldest international affairs think tank in the United States” (Such a long-running pedigree hasn’t been without its hiccups: a former president of Carnegie was Alger Hiss, the State Department official who spied for the Soviets.) Boisto’s first three signatories were Tom Graham, a former associate at the Carnegie Endowment, and a managing director at Kissinger Associates; Andrew Weiss, the Carnegie Endowment’s vice president for studies who also serves as a senior adviser at the Albright Stonebridge Group, and Deana Arsenian, vice president of the international program and director of the Russia program at the Carnegie Corporation. On the Russian side, the delegation included, among others, Alexei Arbatov, a scholar-in-residence at the Carnegie Moscow Center, and Vyacheslav Trubnikov, a former head of the country’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).

Think tank vs. Business Consulting - A Conflict of Interest?
Policy analysts who simultaneously work for major consulting shops founded by former secretaries of state (Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright, respectively), Graham and Weiss—who also served as co-chairs of the Boisto initiative—are influential players in the transatlantic conversation about Russia, although it’s unclear where their analytical work stops and their business interests begin.
“I don’t want to be holier than thou,” a Russia analyst at a prominent Washington think tank said when asked about Graham and Weiss’s work as business consultants while also dispensing ostensibly objective analysis. “It seems to be a direct conflict of interest.

On Western Think Tanks in Russia
Carnegie was the first major Western think tank to open a branch in Russia following the breakup of the Soviet Union, and, ironically, it may be the last. 1994, when the Moscow center was founded, was a period of optimism for liberal reform of the post-communist system, and Carnegie Moscow was one of the leading Western outposts providing independent and reliable analysis of Russian domestic politics and foreign policy. After Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000, and throughout his rise as Russia’s new tsar, the center built a reputation for quality and insight. That reputation was built in part upon the work of three individuals: Lilia Shevtsova, a political scientist and one of the most well-respected analysts of Russian politics; Nikolai Petrov, who headed the center’s Society and Regions Program; and Maria Lipman, a journalist and author who edited the center’s renowned Russian-language Pro et Contra journal. All three have been vocal and prominent critics of Putin and the corrupt and sclerotic system he has imposed.

On Recent Turnover at Carnegie's Moscow Center
The center began to undergo serious change, however, after Putin returned to the presidency in 2012 following a rigged election and violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. In January 2013, Petrov left after his program was canceled, not due to lack of funds, he contends, but a desire not to ruffle Kremlin feathers.
Next to go was Lipman, laid off in the summer of 2014 due to what she was formally informed were “personnel cuts.” This came as a surprise, not least because in 2013 Carnegie Moscow had received a three-year grant of $350,000 from the MacArthur Foundation to fund the publication of Pro et Contra.
Last out the door in October was Shevtsova, who only two months earlier had signed the open letter protesting the Boisto manifesto, pitting her against her superiors, Arsenian and Weiss. Shevtsova, who is now affiliated with the Brookings Institution, told The Daily Beast: “Carnegie has been a wonderful place over the years with a strong a tradition of pluralism of views, including most prominently liberal principled views. Over the past year or two, however, I have sensed that this has changed, with a squeezing out of different points of view.”

On Carnegie's New Hired in Moscow
Three months after Shevtsova’s departure, in January 2015, Carnegie announced the hiring of three new analysts in its Moscow office, ostensibly to replace the veterans who had left. “I’m a great admirer of [Lilia] Shevtsova, Masha Lipman and Nikolai Petrov and their remarkable contributions to the Carnegie Moscow Center over many years,” Weiss said in an email. However, one current Carnegie staffer has referred to Lipman and Shevtsova as “dinosaurs” in this author’s presence.

Carnegie Not a Target of Russia's Campaign Targeting Think Tanks, NGOs
As the Russian government ratchets up a xenophobic campaign targeting Western nongovernmental organizations, accusing them of espionage and attempting to foment a coup, Carnegie’s presence in Moscow continues to be tolerated. Its name is conspicuously missing from the latest list of “undesirable organizations” compiled by the Russian government, which includes many other institutions of similar profile: George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation, the latter of which announced last week that it will leave Russia due to Kremlin pressure.
Adding to the mystery of Carnegie’s absence from the list of “undesirable organizations” is the fact that MacArthur, Mott, and Open Society have all funded the Moscow center. 

Carnegie Moscow Center Doesn't Do Anti-Russia?
A list of events held by the Carnegie Moscow Center on its website provides one clue to why this might be the case: Scarcely any have addressed internal Russian politics or, more amazingly, the ongoing war in Ukraine. “[Carnegie Moscow] used to be a venue where events were held regularly, and, I would say, quite frequently, that discussed current developments in looking at various aspects of Russia. I don’t see such events any more and if they still hold them they are much fewer,” Lipman said.

Carnegie Moscow Center Cozy with Russian Intelligence?
According to Garry Kasparov, the Russian chess grandmaster, human rights activist, and Daily Beast contributor, Carnegie functions in a role not unfamiliar to students of the Cold War: as a tribune to the West through which Russian intelligence whispers the official Moscow line—or rather, what Moscow wants the West to believe is that line. The Moscow center is the sort of operation that influential actors in the Kremlin, he said, “use at a time when they need to communicate their messages to the West not from official structures but from something that is viewed as independent and even American.”

Has Carnegie Lost Its Independence?
Over half a dozen Russia analysts at prominent Washington-based think tanks consulted for this article chose not to go on the record with their concerns out of professional courtesy. But they joined Kasparov in assessing that Carnegie has decided to place a premium on maintaining its presence in Moscow, sacrificing its intellectual independence and analytical rigor in the process.

Russia Moscow Center Influenced by Putin-Connected Think Tank?
Last December, Graham, Rumer and Weiss attended a conference in Moscow hosted by the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI), a think tank that, until 2009, was connected to Russia’s foreign intelligence service (SVR) and now provides analysis directly to the presidential administration. Under the leadership of Leonid Reshetnikov, a retired SVR general, the institute strongly supported the annexation of Crimea, and, according to former institute researcher Alexander Sytin, has hosted the separatist leader Igor Girkin (aka Igor Strelkov), himself a former operative in Russian intelligence and a purported “friend” of the institute’s director.

The Carnegie Moscow Center, which started its activities in 1994, was recently ranked as the 14th best non-US think tank in the world by the University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was ranked as the 26th best think tank in the world.  It was also ranked as the best think tank in Central and Eastern Europe.

CEIP was ranked as the world's third best think tank, and the second best think tank in the United States (after Brookings).

Friday, July 24, 2015

USIP to Expand Headquarters With Rehab of Historic Buildings

The think tank United States Institute of Peace (USIP) is going to be an even more major peace-building player with its new plans to rehabilitate two historic buildings and attach them to its current headquarters.  Here is more from The Northwest Current:
Preservationists encourage "adaptive reuse" of historic buildings, and the US Institute of Peace is fulfilliing that mission with a strikingly different reuse plan for two century-old former hospital buildings on the grounds of the old Naval Observatory and recently closed Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery - a landmarked complex west of 23rd Street and north of Constitution Avenue.
The institute presented plans to the US Commission of Fine Arts on June 18 for rehabilitating the two historic buildings and attaching them via a glassy walkway to its modern headquarters overlooking the Potomac River in Foggy Bottom.  The repurposing will create additional space for training Americans and foreign partners in what the institute calls "peace building."
Under the plan, the now-vacant "Contagious Ward," built in 1903 to 1908, will be used "to each effective conflict prevention and management skills" to foreign and domestic government officials, as well as "other professionals working for pace in conflict zones," according to institute spokesperson Allison Sturma.  The old three-story hospital building will also be used for expanded online education and training, Sturma said.
And the former "Male Nurses' Residence," another Georgian Revival building of the same vintage, will house the PeaceTech Lab, which will work "at the intersection of technology, media and data to help reduce violent conflict around the world," according to Sturma.

USIP was rated as the 22nd best think tank in the United States by the 2015 University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the world's 12th best government-affiliated think tank.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Fmr. UN Climate Chief Sacked From Think Tank Over Sex Complaint

Sex has brought down another think tanker.  In the latest case, a sexual harassment scandal has led to the dismissal of the head of an Indian think tank.  Here is more from Reuters:

Scientist Rajendra Pachauri, who quit a U.N. climate panel earlier this year over a sexual harassment complaint, was removed on Thursday from The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) he headed for more than 30 years.
The 74-year-old will be replaced at the Delhi-based think tank by Ajay Mathur, who heads the government's Bureau of Energy Efficiency, TERI said in a statement after a meeting of its governing council. 
Pachauri's 13-year tenure as head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), during which it shared the Nobel Peace Prize, was cut short in February when he stood down over complaints by a young female co-worker at TERI. 
Instead of resigning from the non-profit group, Pachauri took a leave of absence while police investigated the case. He recently won a court order allowing him to return to the organisation, according to local reports, bringing the simmering controversy to a head.
In its statement, TERI said that Mathur had been selected for the post after an extensive search initiated last September.
It added that TERI's governing council would not continue an internal investigation into the alleged sexual harassment by Pachauri, respecting a court order to halt the probe.

 Dr. Pachauri's profile from the think tank can be found here.  The alleged victim is said to be a 29-year-old think tank employee.  Here is an interview with her.

Apparently, around 50 employees, including several women, had threatened to go on strike if Pachauri returned to work.

Legal activists have reportedly slammed the Governing Council of TERI for delaying the removal of Pachauri.

TERI was founded in 1974 by Mr. Dabari Seth, builder of Tata Chemicals Limited.  It has a staff of more than 1,200. 

One-Stop-Shop Created for Conservative Think Tank Ideas

The news site Opportunity Lives has just launched a new Solutions Center aimed at organizing conservative policy ideas - including those from think tanks - in one location.

The site currently has categories for education, health care, energy, taxes, upward mobility, and retirement security.

For example, for energy, the site lists ideas of scholars from Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Mercatus Center, R Street Institute, and Manhattan Institute.

According to The Examiner, the site is meant to be a tool for aspiring Republican candidates trying to beef up on policy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rand Paul's Tax Plan Comes From Heritage Foundation

Who has helped Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a presidential candidate and "one-man think tank," create his tax plan?  It appears that much of the plan has come from think tank land.  Here is what Sen. Paul writes in the Wall Street Journal:
My tax plan would blow up the tax code and start over. In consultation with some of the top tax experts in the country, including the Heritage Foundation’s Stephen Moore, former presidential candidate Steve Forbes and Reagan economist Arthur Laffer, I devised a 21st-century tax code that would establish a 14.5% flat-rate tax applied equally to all personal income, including wages, salaries, dividends, capital gains, rents and interest. All deductions except for a mortgage and charities would be eliminated. The first $50,000 of income for a family of four would not be taxed. For low-income working families, the plan would retain the earned-income tax credit.

It has been reported that Stephen Moore, a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Heritage, is in Sen. Paul's "outer circle," along with David Boaz of the Cato Institute.  (Boaz has defended Paul on numerous ocassions.)  Those scholars happen to be from the two think tanks that Sen. Paul was accused on plagiarizing from.

Think Tank Watch is wondering if Sen. Paul's chainsawing of the tax code was also a think tank idea...

And of course, other think tanks are in deep disagreement with Sen. Paul's tax plan.

Is Hillary Hogging All the Think Tankers?

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton may be so good at building support that she may be taking away all the think tank talent from other Democrats who are running or want to run for president.

Here is more from Vox:
Clinton's been a boss at building institutional support. Here's her secret: Invite potential adversaries to the table, include some of their ideas in policy, and then send their laudatory remarks out to reporters. This signals to them that she'll be inclusive if she's elected president, and makes it hard for them to criticize her later on.
The MO has been most evident on the economic agenda Clinton's in the midst of rolling out. She consulted more than 200 economists, according to her campaign. Her aides worked closely with officials at the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive think tank, in advance of her official campaign launch rally on Roosevelt Island in New York and before her first big economic speech.
More important, she's taking input from liberal economists who emphasize "fairness" in the economic system and have warred with more Wall Street–oriented Democratic economists such as Bob Rubin and Larry Summers. Rather than choose between their "growth" wing of the Democratic economic establishment and the "fairness" wing, represented by the likes of Joe Stiglitz and Alan Blinder, Clinton has opted for both — and managed to co-opt both.
"Today Hillary Clinton began to offer the kind of comprehensive approach we need to tackle the enormous economic challenges we face, one that is squarely in line with what we have called for at the Roosevelt Institute," Stiglitz said in a statement.
That leaves her rivals with few respected economists left to vouch for their ideas, and it speaks to her mastery of coalition politics.

Think Tank Watch recently noted that think tankers played an integral role in drafting Hillary Clinton's recent economic speech.

Brookings Launches "Brookings Creative Lab" to Showcase Research

The Brookings Institution has just launched "Brookings Creative Lab," which is essentially a new YouTube channel that showcases the think tank's research with multimedia presentations.

Here is more from Brookings:
Today, the Brookings Institution launches “Brookings Creative Lab,” an innovative approach that illuminates Brookings research data with compelling images and storytelling. Led by George Burroughs, creative director in the Office of Communications, Brookings Creative Lab aims to showcase Brookings experts and their research through best-in-class data visualization, graphic, and interactive techniques. “We’re trying to give a face to the numbers,” Burroughs says.

There are currently six videos available for public viewing and they can all be watched here.  They include videos on research related to young adults entering parenthood, diversity, Baltimore, and social mobility.

Make sure to check out the one highlighting research from Melissa Kearney and Phil Levine on the effect of MTV's show "16 and Pregnant" on teen pregnancy.  The study found that in the places where more young adults watch MTV, there were significant declines in teen child-bearing.

So kids, make sure to listen to Brookings and watch your MTV.

Atlantic Council & Fletcher School at Tufts Join Forces

A major US think tank has just joined forces with a major US university, in what could be a a new phase in how think tanks collaborate and interact with academia.

It was recently announced that the Atlantic Council and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University would enter into an exclusive partnership that will deeply link the organizations together.  Here is more from Atlantic Council:
The Atlantic Council and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University announced a new partnership today that will link the organizations across a full range of substantive issue areas in a number of forms including faculty/scholar exchanges, joint programs between centers, cohosted conferences and workshops, and multi-media outreach. This will be the only partnership of its kind for both institutions.
The partnership will officially launch at a joint Atlantic Council-Fletcher School event on July 14 at 1:30 p.m.

The Atlantic Council was ranked as the 16th best think tank in the United States by the 2015 University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  Tufts, located in Medford, Massachusetts, was recently ranked as tied for the 27th best university in the US by US News & World Report.  In 2012, Foreign Policy ranked Tufts' Fletcher School as having the fifth best international relations master's program in the country.

Think Tank Watch has documented various think tank partnerships over the years, and they are not just with universities.  They can be with other think tanks, corporations, foreign governments, non-profits, news outlets/publications, and others.

Here is more on think tank collaboration with colleges/universities from On Think Tanks.

According to the 2015 University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, more than half of the think tanks in North America and Europe are university affiliated.

According to those rankings, the best university-affiliated think tanks are:
  1. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  2. IDEAS/Public Policy Group, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
  3. Center for International Development (CID), Harvard University
  4. Hoover Institution, Stanford University
  5. Earth Institute, Columbia University

Of course, there is the ongoing debate on whether think tanks or universities are more relevant.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Think Tank Quickies (#185)

  • USIP hosts Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on July 22.
  • VP Joe Biden gives speech at Truman National Security Project and CEIP.
  • Will these three new Hong Kong think tanks shake things up in Hong Kong?
  • The future of think tanks in Africa, via On Think Tanks.
  • Conservative think tank CEI has a new whiskey (!) project.
  • A complex web of Chilean think tanks, via Alejandro Chafuen.
  • 4th Transatlantic Think Tank Conference held.
  • "Darkode" described as "massive think tank for cybercriminals."
  • CAP to host special presidential envoy John Allen for discussion on countering ISIS; CAP hires former HHS official Joan Lombardi as Senior Fellow focusing on early childhood issues.
  • Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks at Atlantic Council. 
  • Henri Barkey named new Director of Wilson Center's Middle East Program; Laura Dawson named new Director of Wilson Center's Canada Institute.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Just Released: Think Tanks in the 21st Century

Daniel Drezner, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, has a new piece in Canada's International Journal entitled "American Think Tanks in the Twenty-First Century.Here is the abstract:
Think tanks have been a part of the United States’ foreign policy establishment for more than a century. They have played a significant role at key junctures in US foreign policy. Two inflection points, however, have dramatically altered the think tank landscape in the last 15 years. The 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks caused these organizations to dramatically expand their staff and overhead, as the demand for their services increased. The 2008 financial crisis subsequently left many of these same think tanks financially overextended. This circumstance forced these organizations to seek out more unconventional funding arrangements, imposing new constraints at the exact moment that their competitive environment intensified. In the twenty-first century, US foreign policy think tanks will maintain their relevancy by moving beyond what made them relevant in the last century.

A very relevant and timely piece with the shake-up going on at one prominent defense think tank (and likely many others). 

The End of a Prominent Defense Think Tank?

Defense One is reporting on a major shake-up that is currently underway at the think tank Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA).  Here is more:
Andrew Krepinevich, who has been president of CSBA since 1993, has begun telling colleagues and friends that he will retire from the think tank in March. Todd Harrison — perhaps the capital’s premiere defense-budget analyst — is decamping as well, heading for the nearby Center for Strategic and International Studies.
While Harrison’s move was quietly announced by CSIS last month, the news of Krepinevich’s departure follows a meeting of CSBA’s board of directors last week. Krepinevich could could be reached for immediate comment.
CSBA is considered the preeminent think tank for U.S. defense-budget issues. Its reports have been must-reads for defense officials, lawmakers, businesses and reporters, especially as Pentagon spending has come under tighter scrutiny after a decade of record highs.
But the non-profit organization has been taking in less money from contributions and government grants, and instead propping up its bottom line with more corporate consulting work, according to CSBA’s latest financial disclosures. The total value of contributions and grants fell from $4.6 million in 2011 to $2.6 million in 2013, that latest year for which figures are available. Meanwhile, its corporate consulting revenue grew from $257,294 in 2011 to nearly $2.2 million in 2013. Much of that work is for a major defense firm, according to people with knowledge of the contracts who declined to speak publicly.
The think tank, which has about 15 employees, had total revenue of just under $5.5 million in 2013. That year, Krepinevich earned $828,553 in salary and compensation, according to CSBA’s latest financial disclosure forms. Jim Thomas, the think tank’s vice president and director of studies, was its second-highest paid employee, earning $644,351 in salary and compensation.
Numerous current and former senior Pentagon officials have worked for CSBA, including Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work and Mike Vickers, the undersecretary for intelligence who recently retired. Eric Edelman, a former undersecretary for policy in the George W. Bush administration is among several former Pentagon officials that currently do work for the think tank.

Daniel Drezner notes that lots of think tanks will be confronting the same fiscal reality the CSBA is facing now.  "So think of the goings-on at CSBA as the canary in the coal mine for other, larger foreign policy/national security think tanks," writes Drezner.