Wednesday, April 1, 2020

What Happens to Think Tank Funding After a Global Crisis?

Here is a tweet from Hans Gutbrod of Transparify:

Think Tank Watch has learned that a number of donors are making cuts to the think tanks they fund.  Moreover, think tanks themselves have been tightening the belt and have started to announce things like salary cuts.

Here is what happened to the revenue of the Brookings Institution during the 2008 financial crisis.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Think Tanks Helping to Write 4th Coronavirus Stimulus Package

Here is more from the Wall Street Journal:

As lawmakers last week completed a record-shattering economic-rescue package estimated at $2 trillion, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) predicted: “This is certainly not the end of our work here in Congress—rather the end of the beginning.”
Legislators from both parties, administration officials, economists, think tanks and lobbyists are already roughing out the contours of yet another emergency-spending package—perhaps larger than the last—to try to keep the coronavirus crisis from turning into a 21st-century Great Depression. Many expect the debate to begin in earnest by late April.
“There’s talk of a multi-trillion-dollar program, given the size of the shutdown,” says Stephen Moore, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation. “There’s a general recognition that we need something big to get some juice into the economy,” adds Mr. Moore, an outside economic consultant to the Trump administration and some congressional Republicans.

The article notes that Mr. Moore "has discussed with administration officials and congressional Republicans" the idea of suspending the payroll tax through the end of the year.

It also notes that Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), has been working with Republican lawmakers on crisis-response measures.

Here are some links to Think Tank Watch's latest pieces on the coronavirus.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#375)

  • Think tank claims hundreds of fishing boats intrude into Chinese waters.
  • Conservative site Gateway Pundit: DC think tanks lobbying for illegal aliens to get checks and healthcare in coronavirus relief package.
  • Robert O'Brien had off-the-record dinner at CSIS hosted by Dan Runde for about 20 current and former officials.
  • Analysts at think tank present disturbing assessment of freedom in US.
  • Nearly all DC think tanks large and small are shut down due to coronavirus.
  • AEI has started a tool @COVID2019tests to track total coronavirus testing capacity.
  • Think tank CSIS continuing to get South China Sea issues wrong? 
  • Ed Lezere, the leader of left-leaning DC think tank DC Fiscal Policy Institute, is running for an at-large seat on the DC Council.
  • Radix: A "think tank for the radical centre." 
  • American Alliance of Museum's Center for the Future of Museums, a DC think tank "that studies trends and challenges likely to affect the museum world."

Friday, March 27, 2020

Will Think Tanks Survive the Coronavirus Pandemic?

The response to the coronavirus pandemic has already caused many job cuts, and it is sure to hurt funding at a number of think tanks.

Can think tanks survive in this environment?  Here is what Hans Gutbrod and Till Bruckner of Transparify said in a new piece entitled: "Avoiding the Asteroid: Being Constructive and Relevant in the Pandemic":
COVID-19 could become to many think tanks what the asteroid was to dinosaurs: an extinction level event. It’s likely that sector funding will decrease sharply, both within countries and from foreign donors in developing-country contexts, while other pressing causes take precedence.

And here is a piece from On Think Tanks founder and director Enrique Mendizabal, entitled "Times of Crisis: What Can Think Tanks and Their Funders Do?"

Here is a recent Think Tank Watch piece on why no think tanks predicted the coronavirus pandemic.

Here is a selection of various think tank writings on the coronavirus.

Nonprofits, which have been seeking billions of dollars in emergency funding, are already feeling the impact of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, think tanks continue to cancel events left and right.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Why No Think Tanks Predicted the Coronavirus Pandemic

Here is a little tidbit from Neil Pyper in The National Interest:
A number of think tanks and consultancies provide early warning services about low-profile, high-impact events, such as conflict in the South China Sea. However, if they feature events that are considered far fetched, they risk losing credibility among their clients and readers.

Of course, after major events happen, think tanks readily jump on the short-term bandwagon and offer quick analysis that often lacks depth and breadth.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Coronavirus Chaos Rocks Think Tanks

While nearly every Washington think tank large and small has closed their offices and instituted telework policies, they still continue to churn out reports.  Following is a selection of think tank work on the coronavirus:

Brookings
  • Coronavirus guidance.
  • Brookings' coronavirus homepage.
  • How will the Chinese economy rebound from COVID-19?
  • Why $1 trillion is not enough.
  • The economy and policy in the coronavirus crisis to date.
  • The global macroeconomic impacts of COVID-19: Seven scenarios.

Heritage Foundation

Cato Institute

Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  • Regaining Lost Ground: Defense Support in the Coronavirus Pandemic. 
  • The impact of COVID-19 on humanitarian crises.
  • COVID-19: US economy and supply chains.
  • US-China relations and COVID-19: What can be done now.
  • Coronation, coronavirus, and the economy: The economic backdrop of a fifth Putin term.
  • Use of military forces in COVID-19 emergency.

Atlantic Council
  • A coronavirus message from the president of Atlantic Council. 
  • Atlantic Council's coronavirus homepage.
  • How the US can avoid COVID's geopolitical perils. 
  • Amid COVID-19, Iraq remains US-Iran battleground.
  • How the coronavirus will impact Panama's economy.
  • The global economic policy response to coronavirus takes shape.

RAND Corporation

Urban Institute
  • How we can alleviate economic insecurity during the pandemic.
  • Even before coronavirus outbreak, hourly and self-employed workers were struggling to meet basic needs.
  • How should prisons and jails prepare for COVID-19?
  • Understanding hospital bed capacities nationwide amid COVID-19.
  • Addressing housing insecurity during a pandemic.
  • What a COVID-19 recession looks like.

Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Policy in the time of coronavirus. 
  • The case for a big coronavirus stimulus.
  • Coronavirus, a new jolt to Iran's economy?
  • Coronavirus: From quarantine to trade.
  • Coronavirus and trade restrictions.
  • Coronavirus is no excuse for repeating errors of financial crisis.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • What the coronavirus means for China's foreign policy.
  • The coronavirus pandemic should end Europe's comfort zone.
  • How is Russia coping with the coronavirus?
  • US-China cooperation on coronavirus hampered by propaganda war.
  • Drawing near to God amid the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Corruption vulnerabilities in the US response to the coronavirus.

Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

Wilson Center

US Institute of Peace (USIP)

Much more coming soon...

Think Tank Quickies (#374)

  • What happens to think tanks in a recession (or depression)?
  • Hunter Biden was on the board of the Truman Center for National Policy. 
  • Pic: Cato and AEI vandalized with slogans reading "capitalism is the virus." 
  • Atlantic Council launches GeoTech Center and Commission.
  • TRT World: RAND's "controversial" report says more about the think tank than Turkey.
  • Center for Security Policy: Russia planning to invade Ireland.
  • CNN fact checks Bernie Sander's speech and highlights a think tank error.
  • This is how to get hired by an elite think tank created by Google.
  • RAND Corp. has posted a collection of tools to target online disinformation.
  • Javad Zarif goes to Munich and meets with think tankers.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Think Tanks Were Secret Users of Clearview AI's Facial Recognition App

Here is more from BuzzFeed:

Last month, a BuzzFeed News investigation found that people at more than 2,200 organizations have tried Clearview’s facial recognition technology, including federal entities such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, and private companies like Macy’s, the NBA, and Bank of America.Prior to BuzzFeed News’ report, Clearview insisted its tool was strictly for law enforcement.
Clearview, however, has shared its technology with organizations it designated as friends, conservative think tanks, Republican lawmakers, and more than 20 potential investors around the world, according to company documents seen by BuzzFeed News.
Clearview also provided access to two conservative think tanks: the Manhattan Institute and the American Enterprise Institute.
The Manhattan Institute, where cofounders Ton-That and Schwartz reportedly first met, received an account in the fall. A spokesperson for the think tank said Schwartz is a “longtime friend of the Institute” and noted that a former fellow at the organization had served as one of three judges for a supposedly independent report in which Clearview claimed its technology was “100% accurate.”
Although the spokesperson denied that the Manhattan Institute used Clearview, a document reviewed by BuzzFeed News shows that one person associated with the organization ran more than a dozen searches.

Here is a Popular Mechanics article entitled "This App is a Dangerous Invasion of Your Privacy - and the FBI Uses It."

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Hudson Institute President Named US Ambassador to Japan

Here is more from Japanese broadcaster NHK:

US President Donald Trump has nominated the head of a conservative think tank as new ambassador to Japan.
The White House announced the choice of Kenneth Weinstein on Friday. Weinstein is the President and CEO of Hudson Institute and believed to have expertise on foreign policy and security issues.
He has close ties with Japanese political figures and met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe when he visited Japan in July. He has also frequently met with senior Japanese officials and researchers visiting Washington.
Hudson Institute is known among Washington think tanks for its close ties with the Trump administration. In July, it created the post of Japan Chair, served by H.R. McMaster, former national security adviser to Trump.

Before officially becoming ambassador, Mr. Weinstein must first be confirmed by the full US Senate.  It is unclear who would become the next head of the Hudson Institute should Weinstein be confirmed.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Think Tank President Steps Down Over Coronavirus Tweet

Here is more from Politico:

Berin Szóka, the president of TechFreedom, a libertarian-leaning think tank, will step down “after tweeting that it would be ‘poetic justice’ if President Donald Trump died from the coronavirus,” POLITICO’s Cristiano Lima reports. He plans to write a book on tech policy while taking an indefinite sabbatical. “Shane Tews, a longtime member of the group's board, will lead the organization in his stead. The move deals a blow to one of the tech industry’s staunchest defenders in Washington, where Szóka has served as its combative and outspoken leader for nearly a decade.”

Washington, DC-based TechFreedom, launched in 2011, focuses on issues of Internet freedom and technological progress.

Breitbart notes that the think tank receives "substantial funding" from Google and it also part of the company's "Public Policy Fellowship" program, in which Google places interns at public policy organizations, including TechFreedom.

Breitbart says that Shane Tews, a member of the think tank's board, will take over as president.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#373)

  • Republican-aligned think tanks have joined the push by foreign-funded dark money groups to lobby the IRS to repeal remaining reporting requirements.
  • List: Those spotted at the annual CSIS pre-Alfalfa luncheon.
  • Center-left think tank Third Way urgently calls for Democrats to challenge Bernie Sanders.
  • Fmr. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe named adviser to law firm Hunton Andrews Kurth's global privacy and cybersecurity think tank Centre for Information Policy Leadership. 
  • Pics: Johns Hopkins students do a "Think Tank Career Trek." 
  • Assessing Asia's think tanks.
  • AEI's Charles Murray "sows controversy" with new book.
  • Flashback: London-based New Economic Foundation created the Happy Planet Index (HPI). 
  • Quincy Institute debut a dud
  • Latin American free-market think tanks change strategies.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Former Think Tanker Shaping Foreign Policy for Sanders

Here is more from The Hill:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is taking stronger positions on foreign policy compared to his White House bid four years ago, a shift that is largely credited to a top adviser hired after the 2016 campaign.
Matt Duss is the first person to hold the title of foreign policy adviser to Sanders. He was hired in 2017 in response to criticism that Sanders’s first presidential bid failed to lay out a comprehensive global agenda.
Duss first gained prominence in Washington while working at the Center for American Progress (CAP), a progressive think tank founded in 2003 by John Podesta, a longtime political operative who later became campaign chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2016 White House bid.
At CAP, Duss wrote prolifically on Middle East issues, advocating for U.S. negotiations with Iran and engaging with political Islam in Egypt and Tunisia. Those stances put him at odds with established foreign policy thinking in Washington, especially since CAP was considered influential with the Obama administration’s Middle East policy.
Duss left the think tank in 2014 and became president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace. Three years later, he joined Sanders’s staff as foreign policy adviser.

Sen. Sanders has been clashing with the Center for American Progress and its president/CEO Neera Tanden, who was a close adviser to Hillary Clinton during her 2016 presidential campaign.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Think Tank Report on Uighur Labor in China Lists Global Brands

Here is more from Reuters:

Tens of thousands of ethnic Uighurs were moved to work in conditions suggestive of “forced labor” in factories across China supplying 83 global brands, an Australian think tank said in a report released on Sunday.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) report, which cited government documents and local media reports, identified a network of at least 27 factories in nine Chinese provinces where more than 80,000 Uighurs from the western region of Xinjiang have been transferred.
“Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labor, Uighurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen,” the think-tank said in the introduction to its report. 

The full ASPI report can be read here.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Axios: State-Owned Think Tank Floats China-led WHO Alternative

Here is more from Axios:

As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, a Chinese government-owned think tank is soliciting opinions to gauge how the international community might receive a Chinese alternative to the World Health Organization.
Why it matters: Beijing is seeking to turn the coronavirus, initially a disaster for China's public image, into an opportunity to advance its global leadership and bolster its soft power abroad.
In a message viewed by Axios, an employee of CNPC Economics & Technology Research Institute (CNPC ETRI) said they were exploring the possibility of a Beijing-led global health organization that would rival the WHO.
CNPC ETRI is a think tank affiliated with the China National Petroleum Corporation, which is owned by the Chinese government. The president of CNPC ETRI reports to Chinese leadership. (The institute did not respond to a request for comment.)
In China, state-sponsored think tanks can double as diplomatic back channels, allowing leaders a low-risk means to float new ideas and explore how they might be perceived.

Here is a recent Think Tank Watch piece about the Chinese think tank monitoring US governors.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#372)

  • Did the new think tank Quincy Institute help stop war with Iran? 
  • China's growing trail of think tanks and lobbyist in Europe.
  • CSIS hosted 2020 think tank ranking event on Jan. 30.
  • Hudson Institute President Kenneth Weinstein to be next US ambassador to Japan?
  • The Nation: Will billionaire-funded think tank FDD get its war with Iran? 
  • How do elite think tanks shape public opinion and undermine democracy? 
  • Executives can't find decent executive assistants at think tanks?
  • Pic: Defense Secretary Mark Esper meets with think tankers. 
  • Rolling dice to name your US or UK think tank.
  • 30 heads of think tanks at Raisina Dialogue.
  • The purpose of think tanks.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Think Tank Workers are Unionizing and Bosses Aren't Happy

Here is more from the Washington Post:
The idea to unionize took shape last summer. And it didn’t happen at a big company, school or hospital, but a more unexpected place: a small nonprofit organization.
Employees at an Austin-based think tank, the Center for Public Policy Priorities, started meeting after work to figure out how they could improve their workplace. Some workers felt there was an incongruity between the think tank’s advocacy on issues such as health care, living wages and public benefits, and the way it treated its employees, according to Amanda Posson, one of the union organizers.
On Tuesday, workers at the Center for Public Policy Priorities formally opted to join a union, voting unanimously to be represented by the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union.
While generally union participation has been declining, union efforts at nonprofit entities are a bright spot for the labor movement and are the latest sign of growing momentum. Nonprofit workers, centered in the District but also in states such as California, Maryland, Alabama, and New York, have helped swell the NPEU’s ranks 30 percent over the past year. The staffs of five nonprofits opted to join the NPEU in 2019, bringing the total number of groups it represents to 19 nonprofits, or 350 members.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece about various efforts by think tanks to unionize.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Marie Yovanovitch to Join Foreign Affairs Think Tank

Here is more from Politico:
Marie Yovanovitch is joining the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as a senior fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program. Yovanovitch will primarily be working on her book while there.

Yovanovitch is a recently-retired US diplomat whose abrupt removal by President Trump from her post as ambassador to Ukraine became a focus of impeachment hearings. William Burns, President of Carnegie, has defended her on numerous occasions.

She is also a Senior State Department Fellow at Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of Diplomacy.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Heartland Institute Hires "Anti-Greta" to Promote "Climate Realism"

American think tanks often offer positions to scholars from overseas, but now a US think tank has probably set the record for the youngest think tank hire ever.  So far, it also happens to be the most controversial think tank hire of 2020...

Here is more from the Washington Post:

For climate skeptics, it’s hard to compete with the youthful appeal of global phenomenon Greta Thunberg. But one U.S. think tank hopes it’s found an answer: the anti-Greta.
Naomi Seibt is a 19-year-old German who, like Greta, is blond, eloquent and European. But Naomi denounces “climate alarmism,” calls climate consciousness “a despicably anti-human ideology,” and has even deployed Greta’s now famous “How dare you?” line to take on the mainstream German media.
“She’s a fantastic voice for free markets and for climate realism,” said James Taylor, director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy at the Heartland Institute, an influential libertarian think tank in suburban Chicago that has the ear of the Trump administration.
In December, Heartland headlined Naomi at its forum at the UN climate conference in Madrid, where Taylor described her as “the star” of the show. Last month, Heartland hired Naomi as the young face of its campaign to question the scientific consensus that human activity is causing dangerous global warming.
Her path to Heartland began in November with a speech at EIKE, a Munich think tank whose vice president is a prominent AfD politician. By then, Naomi was already active on YouTube, producing videos on topics ranging from migration to feminism to climate change. In the audience was Heartland’s Taylor. He said he immediately recognized her potential and approached her about working with Heartland.

Here is more from Think Tank Watch about the Heartland Institute, which has been extremely influential within the Trump Administration.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#371)

  • What makes a good (or bad) DC policy event?
  • Think tanks face two challenges: Growing distrust of experts and the rise of China. 
  • Chinese Embassy hires BLJ International to target US think tanks.
  • ProPublica: A think tank that pushes the big Trump tax break accused of omissions.
  • US think tanks play major role in South Korea arms acquisitions. 
  • Experts from four think tanks share what to expect from the global economy in 2020.
  • RAND Corp. trustee Paul Volcker dies.
  • A "bogus" police think tank?
  • Pic: DC think tanks now establishing colonial outposts in Southern Indian strip malls.
  • Pic: Wonky lunch sign spotted at AEI.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Think Tanker Becomes Queen of the Antitrust Movement

Here is more from the New York Times:

Ms. [Sarah] Miller has been central in making the issue prominent. From her onetime seat as the deputy director of the Open Markets Institute, a research and advocacy group focused on antitrust, she spent three years as a thorn in Silicon Valley’s side, guiding a coalition of liberal groups that demanded federal officials break up Facebook.
Now there’s opportunity to ratchet up the pressure on policymakers even more, Ms. Miller said. So she left Open Markets at the beginning of this year to lead the American Economic Liberties Project, a new organization dedicated to pushing government to confront corporate concentration.
The organization is aiming to spend $3 million in its first year, funded by philanthropic organizations including the Omidyar Network, linked to eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.
Her political education began before the crisis, on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. After Mrs. Clinton dropped out of the race, Ms. Miller was hired by John Podesta, the Democratic power broker who was leading the Center for American Progress, one of Washington’s most influential progressive groups.
There, she met her eventual husband, Faiz Shakir, who was running the organization’s blog, ThinkProgress. Mr. Podesta officiated at their wedding. Mr. Shakir now manages the Democratic presidential campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Here is a link to the American Economic Liberties Project, which is currently hiring a director of government relations as well as a communications/program associate.  The new entity says it does not receive any corporate funding (although it appears to do so indirectly).

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Atlantic Council Scholar Targeting Russian Bots & Disinformation

The New York Times recently wrote a piece on Ben Nimmo, a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab).  Here are some teasers:

In August 2017, Ben Nimmo was declared dead by 13,000 Russian bots on Twitter.
“Our beloved friend and colleague Ben Nimmo passed away this morning,” read the epitaph, which was manipulated to look as if it were from a co-worker’s Twitter account. “Ben, we will never forget you.”
The message was immediately shared thousands of times by the network of automated accounts. Notes began pouring in from worried friends and colleagues — even though Mr. Nimmo was very much alive.
It didn’t take long for Mr. Nimmo, who helped pioneer investigations into online disinformation, to figure out what was going on: He had been targeted by a shadowy group after reporting, along with others, that American far-right groups had adopted pro-Kremlin messages on social media about Ukraine. His fake death notice was a sinister attempt at disinformation, which is the spreading of falsehoods with the deliberate intent to mislead.
For the last five years, Mr. Nimmo, a founder of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, has been a leader of a small but growing community of online sleuths. 

Here is a link to DFRLab, which says on its "Digital Sherlocks" page that it is "building the world's leading hub of digital forensic analysts tracking events in governance, technology, security, and where each intersect as they occur."

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Nikki Haley Hires Chief of Heritage Foundation's Lobbying Arm

Here is more from Philip Wegmann at Real Clear Politics:

If personnel is indeed policy, as the Heritage Foundation likes to argue, an imminent staffing change at the think tank could have significant repercussions for the conservative movement and the future of Republican presidential politics.
As RealClearPolitics first reported, Tim Chapman, the executive director of Heritage Action, will soon join the team of Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and a possible contender for the presidency post-Trump.
Chapman will serve as executive director of Stand for America, Haley’s conservative policy group. Details remain unknown, as Heritage, Heritage Action, and Stand for America did not return requests for comment.
Since its founding in 2010, Heritage Action has served as the lobbying arm of Heritage, pushing lawmakers to embrace their vision of conservative policy. Chapman was there since the beginning, marshalling a grassroots army from across the country to lobby Congress.

Here is more from Heritage's Daily Signal.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#370)

  • World Bank official attacks CGD staffer at event.
  • Pic: Defense Secretary Mark Esper meets think tank officials.
  • Thinking foreign policy in Russia: think tanks and grand narratives.
  • Heritage Foundation president invites Kanye West to her think tank.
  • Still missing: The woman wonks.
  • Orville Schell and Larry Diamond: China infiltrating think tanks.
  • Samantha Power interned at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
  • Pic: Denmark partners with Hudson Institute.
  • Think Tank Diplomacy, via AIIA. 
  • Founded by Chinese publishing entrepreneur: US-China New Perspectives Foundation (UCNPF).

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Koch Giving $10 Million in New Grants to Several Think Tanks

Here is more from Politico:

Libertarian business tycoon Charles Koch is handing out $10 million in new grants to promote voices of military restraint at American think tanks, part of a growing effort by Koch to change the U.S. foreign policy conversation.
The grants, details of which were shared exclusively with POLITICO, are being split among four institutions: the Atlantic Council; the Center for the National Interest; the Chicago Council on Global Affairs; and the RAND Corporation.
Each institution is using the funds in different ways. But, broadly speaking, the money will pay for scholarly positions and activities that explore various aspects of U.S. foreign policy, with a focus on testing widely held assumptions about the use of U.S. military force.
Around $4.5 million will go to the Atlantic Council, which will use it to establish what it is calling the New American Engagement Initiative. The grant will support five scholars and activities related in part to how the U.S. balances its use of diplomacy, international alliances and the military. 
RAND is receiving $2.9 million over five years to support a new center focused on the concept of grand strategy. The initiative, called the Center for Analysis of U.S. Grand Strategy, will be led by scholar Miranda Priebe.

Koch, who helped co-found the libertarian Cato Institute, recently helped fund the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a new anti-war think tank based in Washington, DC.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

New Conservative Think Tank Opens Shop in DC

Here is more from the Washington Post:

Oren Cass believes conservatives have blundered by outsourcing GOP economic policymaking to libertarian “fundamentalists” who see the free market as an end unto itself, rather than as a means for improving quality of life to strengthen families and communities. The former domestic policy director on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign quit his job as a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute to launch a new group called American Compass that aims to reorient the right. He previewed their plans in an exclusive interview on Monday afternoon.
Joining him on the board of directors will be Sen. Marco Rubio’s chief of staff Mike Needham, the former chief executive of Heritage Action for America; Julius Krein, the editor of American Affairs, a quarterly political journal; and David Azerrad, a Hillsdale College professor who was formerly a fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Wells King will be the research director. Until last week, the former McKinsey consultant was a policy adviser to Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) on the Joint Economic Committee.
Here is more from Oren Cass, who is the executive director on the new think tank.

Here is what Brad Polumbo of the Washington Examiner had to say about the new think tank.

Here is what the National Review says.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Chinese Think Tank Monitoring US Governors, Says Pompeo

Here is more from Politico:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a stark message for the governors gathered in Washington this weekend: The Chinese government is watching them, and other state government officials, more closely than they think.
Pompeo told some 44 governors at the National Governors Association winter meeting that they are being individually analyzed by at least one Chinese government-backed think-tank on how malleable they are, and how prone to cooperate with China. And he warned governors to be cautious on everything from business deals to pension funds to the D.C. metro system.
“They’ve labeled each of you friendly, hardline or ambiguous,” he said, describing a report put out by the think tank last year. “I’ll let you decide where you think you belong. Someone in China already has. Many of you indeed, in the report are referenced by name.”

The Chinese think tank that rated the governors was not named by Pompeo.

Update: Axios has just written a piece on how the Beijing-based policy shop, D&C Think Tank, has rated all the governors (report here).

Monday, February 3, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#369)

  • Judge rules against think tanker at CGD who lost her job over transgender tweets.
  • Men praise their own research more than women.
  • Washington think tanks: Legalized corruption and the exercise of power.
  • Bruegel to host event on Jan. 30 on the future of think tanks and policy advice.
  • Dr. Alina Polyakova named President and CEO of CEPA.
  • France's Ministry of Foreign Affairs helping French think tanks. 
  • French researchers from SciencesPo Center for International Studies held by Iran.
  • "Wes Anderson should make a movie about China experts and think tanks."
  • Calls for think tanks to boycott Qatar.
  • Game to name US and UK think tanks.

Friday, January 31, 2020

New Study: Explosion of Foreign Funding at US Think Tanks

Foreign governments have given the top 50 US think tanks more than $174 million from 2014-2018, according to a new report by the Center for International Policy's (CIP) Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative (FITI).

The nearly 900 different donations to those 50 think tanks came from more than 80 different countries and international institutions.

According to the report, the top recipient of foreign funding was the World Resources Institute (WRI), with an eye-popping $63 million.  WRI was followed by the Center for Global Development (CGD), which received $37,580,000.  Next was the Brookings Institution, which received $27,350,000.

Here are the top 15 recipients of foreign funding:
  1. WRI: $63,000,000
  2. CGD: $37,580,000
  3. Brookings: $27,350,000
  4. Atlantic Council: $12,192,000
  5. Aspen Institute: $8,418,574
  6. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: $$7,025,000
  7. German Marshall Fund: $6,249,998
  8. New America: $2,804,058
  9. Center for American Progress (CAP): $2,490,000
  10. Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS): $1,930,000 
  11. Urban Institute: $1,060,000
  12. Hudson Institute: $870,000
  13. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions: $806,000
  14. Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE): $725,000
  15. Chicago Council on Global Affairs: $624,177

Here are the top 15 donor countries/institutions to US think tanks:
  1. Norway: $27,681,856
  2. United Kingdom: $27,123,775
  3. United Arab Emirates: $15,406,016
  4. Germany: $12,250,999
  5. Sweden: $9,313,999
  6. Australia: $9,231,000
  7. The Netherlands: $9,200,050
  8. Qatar: $8,500,600
  9. Canada: $6,712,250
  10. Denmark: $5,543,000
  11. Japan: $4,856,774
  12. United Nations: $4,720,500
  13. World Bank: $3,485,700
  14. Switzerland: $3,395,500
  15. Taiwan: $3,250,000

Interestingly, it appears that many think tankers do know even know the funders of their own think tanks.

Think Tank Watch should note that many colleges and universities also receive significant amounts of funding from foreign governments and international institutions.  George Washington University, for example, has received $80 million in funding from foreign governments in recent years.

And the Wall Street Journal has just reported that the US Department of Education has opened an investigation into Harvard and Yale as part of a continuing review that it says has found US universities failed to report at least $6.5 billion in foreign funding.

Update: Here is what Dan Drezner of Tufts University thinks about FITI's new report.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Think Tank CAP to Create Foreign Policy "Master Plan" for 2021

Democratic think tanks are pulling out their pens and papers as they furiously try to write game plans for a possible Democratic president should Republican Donald Trump lose the 2020 election.

Here is more from Axios:
The Center for American Progress tomorrow (Jan. 14) will convene prominent Obama administration alumni to create a foreign-policy "master plan" for what they hope will be an incoming Democratic president in 2021.  CAP says the conference will feature Ambassador Samantha Power, Ambassador Susan Rice, Denis McDonough, Michèle Flournoy, Avril Haines, Jake Sullivan and more.

Democratic think tanks have largely been sidelined during the Trump presidency, and many scholars from the Obama era and Clinton era are housed within those policy shops.

Update: Here is a list of 11 advisers, including think tankers, shaping candidates' climate policies.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#368)

  • The American Conservative (TAC) holds panel entitled "Think Tank Town: The Swampy Ecosystem Supporting Status Quo."
  • Gender gaps at think tanks.
  • Pic: Not sure why we need think tanks.
  • How China cultivates Europe's policy think tanks.
  • Pic: RAND Corp. releases 2020 calendar.
  • Claremont Institute recognized by White House.
  • Think tanks being challenged in many countries with fake news and alternative facts.
  • OxyContin's delayed the reckoning for their role in the opioid crisis by funding think tanks.
  • Bloomberg Law: Facebook, Google funding think tanks to shape federal policy debate.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Sen. Tom Cotton Attacks New Anti-War Think Tank

Here is more from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

Sen. Tom Cotton accused the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a new think tank funded by the billionaires George Soros and Charles Koch, of fostering anti-Semitism in speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
Cotton, R-Ark., referred to anti-Semitism as an “ancient hatred” and referenced recent attacks against Jews in Brooklyn and Monsey.
“[Anti-Semitism] festers in Washington think tanks like the Quincy Institute, an isolationist blame America first money pit for so-called ‘scholars’ who’ve written that American foreign policy could be fixed if only it were rid of the malign influence of Jewish money,” he said in remarks quoted prior to the speech by Jewish Insider.
The institute’s list of affiliated experts includes some figures who have at times been accused by mainstream Jewish groups of crossing from political commentary on Israel into anti-Semitism, such as political scientist John Mearsheimer, author of “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.” No evidence ties any of the experts affiliated with Quincy to the recent rise in anti-Semitic attacks.

More about the Quincy Institute can be found here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

North Korean Hackers Target Think Tanks

Here is more from Reuters:

Microsoft Corp said on Monday it has taken control of web domains which were used by a hacking group called “Thallium” to steal information.
Thallium is believed to be operating from North Korea, Microsoft said in a blog post, and the hackers targeted government employees, think tanks, university staff members and individuals working on nuclear proliferation issues, among others.
Most of the targets were based in the United States, as well as Japan and South Korea, the company said.

North Korea has been hacking into think tanks around the world for years.  Here is an example from 2013.  Another of other countries have also been accused of hacking into think tanks, including China and Russia.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Fox News Host Tucker Carlson Sharply Criticizes Heritage Foundation

Here is more from The Hill:

The conservative Heritage Foundation pushed back on Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Saturday after he sharply criticized the organization during a segment on tech policy.
Carlson blasted the foundation and other groups during his show Friday night, arguing that Beltway conservative organizations have "colluded with big tech to shield left-wing monopolies from any oversight."
In specifically going after Heritage, where Carlson used to work, the host asserted, "As an organization, Heritage no longer represents the interests of conservatives, at least on the question of tech."

In response to Carlson, Heritage issued a statement saying that the Fox News host "made several false, outrageous, and unfounded accusations" against the think tank.

Here is the Washington Examiner's reporting on the incident.  Newsweek says that the rebuke of Heritage drew more than three million viewers.

Wikipedia notes that Carlson began his journalism career as a fact-checker for Policy Review, a national conservative journal then published by the Heritage Foundation and eventually acquired by the Hoover Institution.  Its final issue date was in 2013.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#367)

  • A mealtime guide to DC think tanks.
  • The think tank dedicated to keeping the US in Syria.
  • Large police presence at Heritage Foundation for Andy Ngo speech.
  • Roosevelt Institute at Cornell University joins UK student think tank to tackle global issues.
  • CGTN think tank launches in Beijing.
  • Florida State University now home to one of the US's only student-run think tanks.
  • Economic Innovation Groups spars with ProPublica over Opportunity Zones.
  • What is a think tank? A French perspective.
  • Huge pro-India fake news network includes Canadian sites, links to Canadian think tanks.
  • "DC think tank report or Bachelor's-level international relations paper" is a fun game to play.
  • Tip for people designing webpages for think tanks (hint: make it simple!).

Friday, December 6, 2019

Liberty University Launches Its Own Think Tank

Here is more from The News & Advance:

Liberty University has added a new institution to its ever-expanding campus: a think tank.
The school announced Saturday the launch of the Falkirk Center for Faith and Liberty, which aims to shape government policies, national institutions and American culture around Judeo-Christian principles.
The center is the brainchild of Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. and Charlie Kirk, the founder and executive director of Turning Point USA, a conservative youth organization with close ties to U.S. President Donald Trump.
The nonprofit Falkirk Center, which is named after its co-founders, will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Liberty University and will be based in Lynchburg. The center is funded by the university, which boasts an endowment of nearly $1.5 billion, according to a financial audit released by the school. A director has not yet been named.
Erika Lane Frantzve, a former Miss Arizona USA winner; Josh Allen Murray, a former contestant on “The Bachelorette;” Antonia Okafor Cover, the spokesperson for Gun Owners of America; David J. Harris Jr., a conservative author; and Jaco Booyens, a conservative filmmaker, have all been named as the center’s first fellows.
In addition to the fellows, more than 60 “ambassadors” have joined the project to educate high school and college-age students about the “inseparable intersection of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and American first freedoms and liberties” through social media, Kirk said in an interview Tuesday.

A number of think tanks in the US are housed within colleges and universities, although only a handful advocate for policies from a conservative religious position.