Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Think Tank Salaries - 2014 Update


Who says that the think tank world is not lucrative?

Sure, people at think tanks often complain about low salaries, but many do not realize that think tank heads are often making out like bandits.

In 2012, Think Tank Watch created a salary list of leaders at top think tanks.  Think Tank Watch has now updated that list (see below) to reflect the latest publicly available information.

Please note: Several of the think tank presidents/CEOs listed are no longer with the think tank.  Also, several heads of think tanks may have started in the middle of the year, and thus, their salary does not necessarily reflect an entire year.

  • Ed Feulner (Heritage Foundation): $1,162,696
  • Richard Haass (Council on Foreign Relations): $890,954
  • Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute): $783,449
  • Arthur Brooks (American Enterprise Institute): $565,772
  • James Poterba (National Bureau of Economic Research): $528,631
  • Craig Kennedy (German Marshall Fund): $525,000
  • Jessica Matthews (CEIP): $492,263
  • Michael Rich (RAND Corp.): $489,066
  • Edward Crane (Cato): $466,872
  • Strobe Talbott (Brookings): $438,940
  • Frederick Kempe (Atlantic Council): $420,000
  • Fred Bergsten (Peterson Institute for International Economics): $406,105
  • Merrick Carey (Lexington Institute): $386,942
  • Jason Grumet (Bipartisan Policy Center): $384,502
  • Jane Harman (Wilson Center): $375,000
  • John Hamre (CSIS): $368,819
  • Sarah Rosen Wartell (Urban Institute): $355,236
  • Steve Coll (New American Foundation): $320,815 
  • Nancy Birdsall (Center for Global Development): $317,353 
  • Philip Sharp (Resources for the Future): $296,277
  • Kenneth Weinstein (Hudson Institute): $285,906
  • Neera Tanden (Center for American Progress): $254,739
  • Ellen Laipson (Stimson Center): $243,657
  • Scott Bates (Center for National Policy): $218,366
  • Nathaniel Fick (Center for a New American Security): $217,786
  • Lawrence Mishel (Economic Policy Institute): $214,349
  • Jonathan Cowan (Third Way): $212,801
  • Richard Solomon (US Institute of Peace): $196,759
  • John Cavanagh (Institute for Policy Studies): $77,757


According to Simply Hired, the average think tank salary is $56,000.  According to SalaryList, the average salary at a think tank is $47,136.  According to Indeed, the average think tank salary is $66,000.

Here are some articles related to think tank salaries:

  • New Republic: The Great Think Tank Bubble: Think Tank Salaries are Looking More and More Like Lobbyist Salaries.
  • CFNC: A career as a think tank analyst is worth thinking about. 
  • Politico: Think tank jobs a lucrative landing spot.

Think Tank Watch is also keeping its eye on the National Think Tank Compensation Survey which is being administered by AKRON, Inc.  They are working with a steering committee from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP), Brookings Institution, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), American Institutes for Research, and Population Council.

It is also worth noting that base pay of leaders at top think tanks is not wildly different from base pay of leaders at many top colleges and universities.  That said, some heads of top universities have a much higher total compensation than even the highest-paid think tank head.  Here is a look at executive compensation at public and private universities from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Here is a useful link from The NonProfit Times which has, among other things, a chart of average base salary of non-profits by budget size.

Transparify: Good Source of Think Tank Information


Transparify, a new initiative coordinated by think tank expert Hans Gutbrod, has some excellent resources for those digging deeply into the world of think tanks.

Most notably, the site has four annotated bibliographies on think tanks:

Here is Transparify's list of key players in the think tank world.

In early 2014, Transparify conducted the first-ever global rating of the financial transparency of major think tanks, and results will be released soon.

Transparify if funded by the Think Tank Fund of the Open Society Foundations (OSF).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Brookings Institution Caught in Pension Crossfire


The Brookings Institution is among the well-known nonprofits that receives money from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, a group created by a Texas billionaire and his wife that funds research on the fiscal health of public pensions.

Now, public employee unions, who say that the Foundation is trying to sway public opinion to support replacing public pensions, are taking aim at various entities, including think tanks, that have taken money from the Foundation.

Here is more from The Wall Street Journal:
Union groups are calling on the Washington-based Brookings Institution—which has taken more than $500,000 from the Arnold Foundation from 2012 through this year to produce research on pensions—to cut ties. Spokesman David Nassar said the think tank wouldn't return the grant money and said donors are forbidden from influencing any research.

Brookings scholars have received a research grant of $500,000 for work on "Reforming Public Employee Pensions," and Brookings held an event in February titled "Public Pension Reform: Questions of Politics and Policy."

The WSJ notes that the "confrontation has well-known nonprofits caught between multimillion-member unions and a foundation that is becoming an important voice on the pension issue."

The liberal advocacy group Institute for America's Future recently said that the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is part of an effort to dismantle public pensions.

Stay tuned for more updates...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Think Tank Quickies (#118)

  • Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) makes first appearance ever at CSIS.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) again says Wall Street should disclose its think tank contributions.
  • The best free-market think tank conferences.
  • Think tankers attend World Bank/IMF spring meeting in Washington, DC.
  • Inomics Blog on top think tanks and social research institutes in the US.
  • Brookings map: State of the global economy.
  • Heritage Foundation now the Business Insider/HuffPo/Gawker/Buzzfeed of think tanks?
  • Video via Thomas B. Fordham Institute (education policy think tank): "I'm just a lowly think tank executive."
  • Acton Institute's Freedom Flash Drives.
  • Brookings happiness/age chart.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Google Masters Think Tank Row


The Washington Post has a new piece about how Google has learned the influence game in Washington, including how to embrace its most powerful think tanks.

The think tanks (and lobbying arm of think tanks) that Google donates to include:

  • Brookings Institution
  • Aspen Institute
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  • New America Foundation (NAF)
  • Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF)
  • American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
  • American Action Forum
  • Mercatus Center
  • Cato Institute
  • R Street Institute
  • Ripon Society
  • Free State Foundation
  • Heritage Foundation
  • Heritage Action
  • Center for a New American Security (CNAS)
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)

The Post piece details Google's embrace of Heritage and Cato, a conservative and libertarian think tank.  Here is what is said about the Google-Heritage relationship:
An early sign of Google’s new Washington attitude came in September 2011, when executives paid a visit to the Heritage Foundation, the stalwart conservative think tank that has long served as an intellectual hub on the right, to attend a weekly lunch for conservative bloggers...
In their visit to Heritage that day, Google officials were eager to make new friends. Their challenge was instantly clear.
“In 2008, your CEO campaigned for Barack Obama,” said Mike Gonzalez, Heritage’s vice president for communications, according to a video of the event. “. . . As a company, you’re really identified with this administration from the beginning. And you come here and you’re like a mix of Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek.”
Adam Kovacevich, then a member of Google’s policy team, responded by stressing the company’s interest in building new alliances.
The Google-Heritage relationship soon blossomed — with benefits for both.
A few weeks after the blogger session, Heritage researcher James L. Gattuso penned a critique of the antitrust investigation into Google, praising the company as “an American success story.”
That winter, Heritage joined the chorus of groups weighing in against the anti-piracy legislation. As the bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act, appeared to gain steam in the GOP-led House, Gattuso wrote a piece warning of “unintended negative consequences for the operation of the Internet and free speech.” The legislation, he said, could disrupt the growth of technology. Gattuso said he came to his position independently and was not lobbied by Google.
After Gattuso’s piece went live, Heritage Action, the think tank’s sister advocacy organization, quickly turned the argument into a political rallying cry. In terms aimed at tea party conservatives, the group cast the bill as “another government power grab.”
 As congressional offices were flooded with phone calls and e-mail protests, support for the legislation crumbled. Within days, both the House and Senate versions of the bill were shelved and Hill veterans were left marveling at the ability of Google and its allies to muster such a massive retail response.
For Google and Heritage, the legislative victory was the beginning of a close relationship. A few months later, Google Ideas and the Heritage Foundation co-hosted an event focused on the role the Internet could play in modernizing Cuba, featuring Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Google Ideas director Jared Cohen.
The following year, a new name popped up on Google’s list of groups it supports financially: Heritage Action.

Here is what the Post piece says about the Google-Cato relationship:
On a February night this year, Schmidt sat down with a Washington audience far friendlier than the panel of senators who had grilled him nearly three years earlier. Addressing a dinner of journalists and scholars at the libertarian Cato Institute, Schmidt received applause and lots of head-nodding as he declared, “We will not collaborate with the NSA.”
Cato was not always in sync with Google’s policy agenda. In previous years, the think tank’s bloggers and scholars had been sharply critical of the company’s support for government rules limiting the ways providers such as Comcast and Verizon could charge for Internet services.
But, like many institutions in Washington, Cato has since found common ground with Google.
And the think tank has benefited from the company’s investments, receiving $480,000 worth of in-kind “ad words” from Google last year, according to people familiar with the donation.

Here is an infographic from the Washington Post piece that allows one to explore Google's influence in Washington (including think tank funding) over time.

Google actually has its own think tank, called Google Ideas.  Here are the reasons you didn't know Google has its own think tank.

To update that Washington Post piece about Google's think tank, Google Ideas does indeed have its own website now.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Troubles Brewing at Top Think Tank SIPRI?


Trouble seems to be brewing at one of the world's top think tanks - Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

There are suggestions floating around that the work environment at the Stockholm, Sweden-based think tank is so bad that it could actually be closed. [SIPRI, founded in 1966, also has offices in Beijing and Washington, DC.]

This is from one post (Think Tank Watch could not immediately verify the authenticity of the content):
Many employees at peace research institute SIPRI are suffering from stress, sleeping problems, anxiety, high blood pressure and suicidal thoughts, according to [trade unions] ST and SACO-S [which organize around 85% of the employees at SIPRI.] The trade unions have therefore put the foundation under so called special protection measures.

"If the demands are not met, the workplace could be closed," said ST Press Secretary Sofia Johansson.

She states that the special protection measures involve demands for systematic efforts to improve the work environment, and to deal with specific identified problems.

According to the union, employees at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, which employs about 50 people at its Solna office, have experienced degrading and discriminatory treatment, and there have been no improvements since the previous work environment survey.

Here is a letter from the Swedish trade union ST describing the situation in a bit more detail.  It says, among other things, that there have been 25 cases of staff turnover in the past year, out of a total of around 50 employees.  Some details:
ST and SACO-S organize around 85% of the employees at SIPRI. We have been contacted by the local elected officials about an unsustainable work environment situation that has gone on for the past year and has now escalated. We believe that the employer has breached its responsibility to carry out systematic Work Environment Work according to AFS 2001:01 and has not observed its rehabilitation responsibilities under the Social Insurance Code 2010110. Despite the fact that the employer has been aware of the problem they have not taken forward appropriate measures and the work environment has powerfully worsened.

We are deeply concerned about the work environment situation at SIPRI and demand today that Special Protective Measures be taken forward in accordance with Chapter 6 Section 6 of the Work Environment Law. This may also involve us closing the workplace since there is a danger to our members’ life and health. We would like to draw particular attention to the fact that there is more than one person at SIPRI with suicidal thoughts. This is alarming, and if it is not dealt with in a professional manner, we fear that it could become a bigger catastrophe than what happened in Krokom municipality.[1]

During a joint meeting with ST and SACO-S members on April 2nd, we carried out a simple work environment survey using a 12-question questionnaire. Our goal was to gain an understanding of how the work environment at SIPRI operates, and to try to understand the problems. Below is a summary of the results. There were 26 respondents to the survey.

- 16 of the 26 respondents states that they had experienced degrading or discriminatory treatment in various forms. Of these, 14 stated that the Director had behaved in an intimidating manner.
- 22 of the 26 respondents suffer from stress-related problems (manifesting itself in for example sleep problems, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, miscarriage, high blood pressure, pressure in the chest, and others). These cases are directly related to the Director’s treatment of staff
- 23 of the 26 choose to a great extent to work from home whenever possible because of the work environment at the workplace, rather than to take sick leave.
- 24 of the 25 have experienced no improvement since the last work environment survey, but rather the opposite.
- All 26 respondents are actively seeking other employment due to the work environment at SIPRI (some are ready to resign even if they don’t have a new job).

Of the 25 cases of staff turnover in the past year, out of around 50 total employees, several of the terminated employments can be directly linked to the Director’s actions.

The letter goes on to say that the director of SIPRI is the main source of the work environment problem at the think tank.

Think Tank Watch could not immediately identify the authenticity or content of the letter, which Think Tank Watch first saw thanks to the kind tip by think tank expert Hans Gutbrod.

SIPRI is probably most well-known for its annual SIPRI Yearbook which details armaments, disarmament, and international security issues.

SIPRI was just ranked as the 5th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the 3rd best non-US think tank.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sugar Baron Leans on Brookings to Influence US-Cuba Policy


Alfonso Fanjul, owner of the vast sugar and real estate conglomerate Fanjul Corp., wants to invest in Cuba and its sugar industry, and he has turned to the influential think tank Brookings Institution for help.

Here is more from the Washington Post:
Fanjul visited Cuba in April 2012 and again in February 2013 as part of a delegation licensed through the Brookings Institution, the Washington think tank that has produced recent papers criticizing U.S. policy and calling on the Obama administration to further loosen sanctions.
Fanjul’s Brookings-organized trips coincided with calls by President Raúl Castro to rapidly revive Cuba’s moribund sugar industry.  Fanjul said his visits were unrelated to Castro’s sugar initiative.
Fanjul joined the Brookings board this past July and has donated at least $200,000 to the think tank, which has hosted Cuban officials for panel discussions geared toward encouraging greater communication and loosened restrictions on doing business with Cuba. Ted Piccone, Brookings’ acting vice president and foreign policy program director, wrote an open memo to Obama last month urging him to use his executive authority to give direct aid to entrepreneurs on the island and expand travel licenses.

Here is the list of the Brookings Board of Trustees, of which Fanjul is a member.  His election to the Board was announced on July 19, 2013.

Here is a recent Brookings piece by Nonresident Senior Fellow Richard Feinberg on Cuba's new investment law.

Here is a link to a Brookings event from late 2012 titled "What Roles for Foreign Direct Investment in the New Cuban Economy."

For years, scholars at Brookings have argued that the "usefulness" of US's embargo on Cuba has run its course.

According to the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, Cuba has 18 think tanks.  A variety of other Caribbean islands have think tanks, including Antigua & Barbuda (2 think tanks), Bahamas (2), Dominica (3), Dominican Republic (28), Grenada (1), Jamaica (6), Martinique (2), Puerto Rico (5), St. Kitts-Nevis (1), St. Vincent & the Grenadines (1), and Trinidad & Tobago (10).

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Think Tank Quickies (#117)

  • Billionaire Tom Steyer: Starting a think tank network as big as that of the Koch brothers?
  • WSJ: Michael Mandelbaum's new book on globalization focuses on "establishment view" of globalization, most frequently citing Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE).
  • Senior Obama official on John Podesta: "He has the ball-breaking skills of Rahm Emanuel and the policy chops that come with running the Center for American Progress."
  • WPost: While head of CAP, John Podesta urged White House officials to appoint a senior adviser to tackle climate change and energy policy.
  • NYTimes on Jim DeMint shifting Heritage from policy to politics.
  • The boom of think tanks in a changing Arab world.
  • Salman Shaikh of Brookings: Think Tanks - A Social Good for the Global Community.
  • Neoconservative think tank influences on US policy.
  • James Carafano of Heritage Foundation: "When I come to work each day I don't think like I am part of a powerful think tank but a hungry start-up pushing the envelope."
  • Bobby Jindal's "pocket think tank," America Next.

Think Tank Fact of the Day: CEIP Alumni

Think Tank Watch was reading through a Washington Post Magazine piece on United Nations (UN) Ambassador Samantha Power, and noticed a line saying that she was an intern at the think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP).

On its website, CEIP has a section titled "Notable Alumni," which includes Ms. Power.  [She reportedly got the position right after graduating from college.]  Others on CEIP's list include:
  • Marcel Lettre, President Obama's Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence (PDUSDI).
  • George Stephanopoulos, anchor on ABC's Good Morning America and This Week, and former Senior Adviser to President Bill Clinton.
  • Brian Deese, Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the Obama Administration.
  • Evan Medeiros, Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council (NSC).

CEIP was recently ranked as the 3rd best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was ranked as the 2nd best think tank in the United States, after the Brookings Institution.

Monday, April 7, 2014

2016 GOP Hopefuls Tap Think Tanks


As jockeying begins for the 2016 US presidential race, potential Republican candidates are quietly meeting with think tank experts to tap their knowledge, acquire future policy advisors, and gain an edge over their competitors.

Today, The Washington Post  details how a variety of Republican hopefuls are cozying up to think tanks.  Here is a look at which think tank experts potential candidates are talking to:

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) met Stephen Moore, Chief Economist at the Heritage Foundation, last Monday night at Washington's Capital Grille for a dinner that lasted four hours.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently invited former Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Holtz-Eaken, President of American Action Forum, to his office.  Sen. Rubio regularly solicits advice from scholars at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).  Rubio says that AEI is the "primary organization" that he turns to.  He reportedly confers with AEI President Arthur Brooks and AEI columnist/blogger James Pethokoukis.  Heritage Foundation's Stephen Moore has also advised Rubio.  Yuval Levin, a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, has apparently become friendly with Rubio.
  • New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been consulting with Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) President Richard Haass.
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker met in California last year with scholars at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, including former White House economic adviser John B. Taylor and former Romney policy director Lanhee Chen.  Gov. Walker has also developed a bond with AEI Fellow Marc Thiessen.
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is close to Hudson Institute social policy analyst William Schambra.  In March, Rep. Ryan had dinner with Douglas Holtz-Eaken, President of American Action Forum.
  • Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has received feedback about his health care plan from AEI Visiting Fellow Ramesh Ponnuru and Yuval Levin, Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.  Gov. Jindal also has been courting Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint.
  • Texas Governor Rick Perry has been getting briefings from think tank experts.
  • Heritage scholars, including national security specialist James Carafano and former Sen. Jim Talent have become a "faculty of sorts" for potential Republican candidates.

The Washington Post article does not mention it, but AEI President Arthur Brooks has a close relationship with Rep. Paul Ryan, as noted in a recent Think Tank Watch post.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

American Enterprise Institute's Stock Continues to Rise


Another day, another positive story on American Enterprise Institute (AEI).  This time it is from a Newsweek piece written by Pema Levy titled "Arthur Brook's Push to Make the American Enterprise Institute - and Republicans - Relevant Again."

Here are some of Think Tank Watch's favorite passages:

  • AEI is on the rise. Its influence is growing on Capitol Hill, where Brooks, a former musician and college professor, is now a sought-after counsel to Republicans like House Budget Committee chairman and presidential hopeful Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va. Earlier this year, Brooks delivered the keynote address at both House and Senate GOP retreats.
  • On Capitol Hill, that message [of "capitalism for the masses"] sounds very similar to the one preached by [Rep. Paul] Ryan, who plans to roll out a comprehensive antipoverty agenda this year. Ryan's office works closely with AEI and the two men are friends.
  • Brooks rattles through the investments AEI has made in the past five years, including hiring over 60 new people. The new headquarters will have TV and radio studios and classrooms, as AEI ramps up its media presence and extends its reach to college campuses, paid for in part by a $20 million donation from billionaire Daniel A. D'Aniello, chairman of the private equity firm the Carlyle Group. "We've grown like crazy," Brooks says, before making the noise of an explosion.
  • But in the free marketplace of ideas, as in all markets, it always helps when your competitors stumble. It's no coincidence that AEI's newfound popularity comes at a time of waning influence for another D.C. think tank, the Heritage Foundation.
  • [Arthur] Brooks's model is aggressive outreach. AEI has made investments in its communications department and Capitol Hill outreach. The metrics by which you might calculate success-newspaper op-eds, scholars testifying before Congress-have gone up exponentially under Brooks.
  • In some ways, [Arthur] Brooks is an unlikely conservative leader. He was raised in a liberal family in Seattle, and dropped out of college to spend his 20s as a professional French hornist, including several years in the Barcelona city orchestra.

 Here is what the article says about other conservative think tanks besides AEI and Heritage:
In the conservative ecosystem, heavyweight institutions funded by rich donors (AEI has about 1,200) compete. Among them is the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., where Republican stars like former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice are fellows.
There's the Manhattan Institute, a conservative outpost in liberal New York City, the Hudson Institute in D.C., mostly focusing on national security and foreign policy, and the Ethics and Public Policy Center that punches above its weight when it comes to influence. And there is the Cato Foundation, a libertarian think tank, which has blossomed since that philosophy became more in vogue among Republicans.

Here is a recent Think Tank Watch piece titled "AEI President's Powerful Friends," which focuses on Arthur Brooks's strong relationship with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA).

AEI was just ranked as the 24th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the 11th best think tank in the US.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Think Tank Quickies (#116)

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke at Claremont Institute's annual Winston Churchill dinner at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.
  • CAP Senior Fellow Matt Miller on why he's running for Congress.
  • Jon Lieber, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's tax and economic adviser, and former researcher at AEI, joins startup Thumbtack to connect consumers and service providers.
  • Washington Post on CAP: The [Obama] Administration's "off-campus think tank."
  • Open letter organized by Economic Policy Institute (EPI) signed by dozens of top economists calling for higher minimum wage.
  • Aspen Institute president Walter Isaacson inducted into Alfalfa Club as newest "sprout."
  • Karen Dynan of Brookings still waiting to be confirmed as Assistant Secretary of Treasury (hearing held January 30, 2014).
  • Accused mastermind behind the "Silk Road" Ross Ulbricht (i.e., Dread Pirate Roberts) has fondness for the Ludwig von Mises Institute, a paleolibertarian think tank.
  • CAP's ThinkProgress highlights climate change impact with post on Chipotle guacamole price increase. 
  • Fact of the day: The term "Super Zips" was coined by AEI scholar/author Charles Murray.  It describes the country's most prosperous, highly educated demographic cluster.

Friday, March 28, 2014

NBA Star Yao Ming Comes to Think Tank Land


The average height of people on think tank row will spike today as a 7-foot 6-inch sports star hangs out at the world's top think tank.

Former NBA star Yao Ming will speak at the Brookings Institution today (March 28) to mark the 35th anniversary of the establishment of US-China relations.

More specifically, he will be hosted by the think tank's John L. Thornton China Center and the China Institute for International Studies (CIIS), a top Chinese think tank.

Yao Ming will be on a panel with NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern.  The event will be broadcast live at 2pm and you can watch it here.

Stern and Ming will discuss the role that basketball has played in US-China relations.  A second panel will discuss US-China relations from the perspective of prominent young scholars from both countries.

Athletes or former athletes speaking at think tank events is extremely rare.  The US State Department, however, often touts sports diplomacy.

In 2008, at a dinner hosted by Brookings marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of US-China diplomatic relations, Dai Bingguo cited Yao Ming as a "star popular among both countries."

In related China news at Brookings, it was announced last month that Cheng Li would be the new director of the John L. Thornton China Center, effective March 3.

Brookings launched the John L. Thornton China Center in 2006, with headquarters in Washington, D.C. and an office in Beijing in partnership with the School of Public Policy and Management at Tsinghua University.

In the recently released University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, Brookings was rated as the top think tank in the world, and CIIS was rated as the 36th best think tank in the world.  CIIS was also ranked as the best think tank in China, and the third best among think tanks in Korea, India, Japan, and China.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Is the Traditional Think Tank Model Dead?


The traditional think tank model is dead according to Bruce Katz, Vice President and Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution.

Here is more from Mr. Katz:
Through the 20th century, the think tank model was established and perfected: conduct research, write a memo, walk it to the U.S. Capitol, and watch it become law. Indeed, Brookings has a number of crowning achievements including aiding the formation of the Marshall Plan and proposing the creation of the Congressional Budget Office.
But that model has been seriously disrupted, forcing institutions like Brookings to adapt and evolve.
First, the locus of policy innovation has shifted from Washington DC to cities and metropolitan areas across the country. With Congress and the President mired in partisan gridlock, local leaders have been forced to grapple with super-sized national challenges — sluggish economic growth, rising inequality, the climate imperative — largely on their own. How are we at Brookings responding? By getting out of Washington DC and going to the places where innovative policy solutions are happening.

Second, the sources of productive investment are shifting from the public sector to a broader mix of public, private and civic investors. Over time, the federal government will be a less reliable investor in our economy. As federal funding shifts to mandatory programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, critical investments in national competitiveness like infrastructure, innovation and human capital will necessarily fail to keep pace with demand. As a result, think tanks will need to get smarter – a whole lot smarter – about how to design, finance and deliver what the nation needs to prosper. The search for capital will only be resolved by accessing a mix of public, philanthropic, and private funding and leveraging market mechanisms to the max.
Third, as policy work moves from the national to the local and from “public” to “public/private/civic,” new modes of communication must be maximized. In the past, the think tank model was to write a report and send it to the three networks. With technological innovation, the conduits for reaching key audiences have multiplied exponentially. Brookings has replaced the press release with a raft of new products in order to communicate our research to broader audiences — from interactive data visualizations and an iPad app, to long-form, narrative Brookings Essays.

Last year Mr. Katz and Jennifer Bradley, A Brookings Fellow, co-authored a book called "The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros are Fixing our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy."

It should be noted that Mr. Katz is not the first one to note that the traditional think tank model is dead.  For example, in 2011, Dr. Andy Williamson said that the think tank model has passed its use by date.

Here is Enrique Mendizabal on a new think tank model.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Think Tank Report Sparked China Spy Concerns


It was just reported that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been hacking into the networks of Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant.  And concerns about Huawei stem from an unlikely source - a think tank.

Here is more from The New York Times:
Washington’s concerns about Huawei date back nearly a decade, since the RAND Corporation, the research organization, evaluated the potential threat of China for the American military. RAND concluded that “private Chinese companies such as Huawei” were part of a new “digital triangle” of companies, institutes and government agencies that worked together secretly.

The newspaper notes that the Air Force hired the RAND Corporation in 2005 to examine threats from Chinese networking firms.  That report noted that Huawei had "deep ties" with the Chinese military.

Here is a full copy of the RAND report published September 19, 2005, which is titled, "A New Direction for China's Defense Industry."  The report is part of a larger RAND Project AIR FORCE (PAF) study on Chinese military modernization.  PAF was established in 1946 by General H.H. "Hap" Arnold.

That report was written by Evan Medeiros, Roger Cliff, Keith Crane, and James Mulvenon.  Mr. Medeiros in now Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council (NSC).  Roger Cliff, among other things, is a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Asia Security Initiative at Atlantic Council.  Keith Crane is Director of the RAND Environment, Energy, and Economic Development Program.  James Mulvenon is Vice President for Intelligence at Defense Group Inc. (DGI).

Here is a link to some of RAND's more recent writings on China.

In fiscal year 2013, RAND received $36.5 million from the US Air Force.  In addition, it received $52.3 million from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and related agencies, and $63 million from the US Secretary of Defense and other national security agencies.  RAND received $33.1 million from the US Army.  It also received funding from other federal agencies, the private sector, philanthropic organizations, universities, foundations, and state/local governments.

RAND currently has a staff of 1,700 in 43 countries who speak 59 languages.  Sixty-seven (67) percent of RAND's research staff hold Ph.D.'s.

RAND was just ranked as the 8th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was ranked as the 4th best think tank in the United States, after Brookings (#1), Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (#2), and Center for Strategic and International Studies (#3).

Monday, March 24, 2014

CAP Founder to Convene Meetings for Hillary Run


The founder of one of Washington's most powerful think tanks appears to be laying the groundwork for a Hillary Clinton presidential run in 2016.

Here is what The Wall Street Journal is reporting:
As Mrs. Clinton considers whether to run, people close to her are weighing in. John Podesta, a White House chief of staff to her husband and now a senior aide to President Barack Obama, has said he wants to begin a set of regular conversations among her top aides, aimed at thinking through a possible run, a person familiar with the matter said. Mr. Podesta wouldn't comment on the matter.
John Podesta, the founder of the think tank Center for American Progress (CAP), was the former Chairman of the Board of Directors at CAP, but he recently left that position after being tapped by President Obama to be the White House Counselor.  Tom Daschle recently replaced Podesta for that position.

Podesta was Counselor to Democratic Leader Sen. Tom Daschle back in the 1990s.  Podesta was also White House Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton.

CAP was recently ranked as the 10th best think tank in the United States and the 30th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Think Tank Quickies (#115)

  • Secretive Pentagon think tank knows no bounds.
  • Think tank director at CER: US and EU think tank failed to predict Russian takeover of Crimea.
  • Nominees for 2014 Chatham House Prize announced.
  • Recommendations of six think tanks on Iran, via National Security Network.
  • When think tanks are in the tank: Pressured to tow the White House line at CAP?
  • CAP urges President Obama to reject Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Former AEI scholar David Frum, who now sits on the boards of US think tank R Street and UK think tank Policy Exchange, named Senior Editor at The Atlantic. 
  • Cheng Li named Director of the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings. 
  • William Wilson, former Chief Economist at Ernst & Young, tapped as Senior Research Fellow at Heritage Foundation's Asian Studies Center.
  • AEI Adjunct Scholar Ioana Petrescu to become Romania's next Finance Minister.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Most Powerful Woman Think Tanker?


ELLE magazine has just published its "ELLE's Women in Washington Power List," and two think tankers made the list: Neera Tanden, President of Center for American Progress (CAP), and Capricia Marshall, Ambassador-in-Residence at Atlantic Council's Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.

ELLE said that Tanden, who has served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, is "the policy whisperer for progressives and was an architect of Obamacare."  In the interview, Tanden says that next on her to-do list is women's economic issues.

As for Marshall, ELLE notes that straight out of law school she started as Hillary Clinton's aide on Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign.  She later became White House social secretary under him and US chief of protocol for President Obama.  ELLE notes that she is a member of Hillary's inner circle.

Others on the ELLE power list include: Tulsi Gabbard, Cheryl Mills, Susan Collins, Illyse Hogue, Penny Pritzker, Cathy Lanier, Kim Kingsley, and Dana Bash.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on women running think tanks.  Last year, Foreign Policy noted that 42 of the top 50 think tanks in the US are run by men.

As head of the current White House's de facto think tank, Tanden is arguably the most powerful think tanker in general (man or woman).

CAP was recently ranked as the 10th best think tank in the United States and the 30th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.

Atlantic Council was just ranked as the 16th best think tank in the United States and #7 on the list of "think tanks to watch."

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Billionaire Named as Co-Chair of Brookings Board

Today the Brookings Institution announced that billionaire David Rubenstein has been elected co-chair of its Board of Trustees.  Rubenstein will serve as co-chair along with John L. Thornton.

Mr. Rubenstein was elected to the Brookings Board in 2009 and has served as vice chair since 2011.

According to Forbes, Rubenstein is ranked as the 520th wealthiest person in the world, with $3.1 billion.

Rubenstein serves with other billionaires on the Board at Brookings, including Phil Knight ($18.4 billion net worth), Haim Saban ($3.4 billion), Robert Bass ($2.8 billion), and Wilbur Ross ($2.8 billion)

The full Board of Trustees list can be found here.

Rubenstein, Co-founder and Managing Director of The Carlyle Group, is also on the Board of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Appropriately, Darrell West, Vice President and  Director of Governance Studies at Brookings, has just written a new book titled "Billionaires: Reflections of the Upper Crust."

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on which think tanks billionaires favor.

Ted Strickland to Head CAP's Lobbying Arm


Former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland said today (March 19) that he will become the President of the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF), the lobbying arm of the think tank Center for American Progress (CAP).  Strickland, who is a former Democratic congressman representing Ohio, will start his new position effective April 1, 2014.

Here is a CAPAF press release on the announcement, which also notes that Strickland will serve as Counselor to the Center American Progress.  CAPAF oversees the influential blog Think Progress and the CAP Action War Room, the group's advocacy communications hub.

Here is more on CAPAF and the Strickland move from the Huffington Post:
Strickland's move to CAP Action Fund ends a major shuffle of the organization's leadership. It also continues the tradition of attracting oft-rumored Democratic candidates to the powerful non-profit. When Strickland assumes the post on April 1, he will succeed Tom Perriello, a former congressman who chose to head the Action Fund amid speculation he'd run for Virginia governor. Perriello, who is leaving CAP Action Fund for the State Department, succeeded Jen Palmieri, who became communications director at the White House. Tara McGuinness, who was senior vice president of the Action Fund under Perriello, also departed for the White House.
The Action Fund may not be elected office. But it is an important piece of progressive real estate with the capacity to influence Democratic politics. ThinkProgress has more than 6 million unique readers per month, and its CAP Action War Room (under the Action Fund rubric) helps shape legislative debate on and off the Hill.
...Strickland's move to CAP Action is reminiscent of Jim DeMint leaving the Senate at the end of 2012 to take over the conservative Heritage Foundation. But Strickland is not in the Senate currently, and he's not taking over CAP itself, which remains headed by Neera Tanden. He also insisted he will use his perch in a less political fashion.

CAP has made other major personnel announcements this year, including naming Tom Daschle as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the think tank.

Last month, CAP announced that Chief of Staff and Senior Vice President Jessica O'Connell would be leaving the think tank to become the executive director of EMILY's List.  Lindsay Hamilton replaced her as Chief of Staff.

Strickland currently serves as a member of the Governors' Council at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a Washington, DC-based think tank.

CAP was recently ranked as the 10th best think tank in the United States and the 30th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Can Think Tanks Find the Malaysia Airlines Flight?


Can think tanks, with thousands of smart people around the globe, help find missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370?

Following is a brief look at how think tankers around the world view the incident.

Brookings President Strobe Talbott notes that hijackers could have taken the plane, headed toward India, but crashed like UA Flight #93 on September 11, 2001.

Andrew Davies, a senior analyst at the Austrlian Strategic Policy Institute, says that even if the aircraft flew within the range of Australia's radar system, it's possible that it wouldn't have been picked up.

Ajai Sahni, executive director of India's Institute for Conflict Management, said it's amazing that an airplane could fly so far, over multiple overlapping jurisdictions, without being detected.

Nicholas Chan, socio-political analyst at Penang Institute, said that it has become increasingly possible that if we do not know what happened to MH370, we might never find it.

Ernest Bower, a Southeast Asia expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said he thinks that Malaysia was defensive and embarrassed that its military and radar operations failed to track the plane.

The Heritage Foundation has a piece titled "Two Stolen Passports Were Used by Malaysian Airlines Passengers.  Here's How To Make Sure That Never Happens Again."

Here is a piece from Joshua Kurlantzick of Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) titled "Why Malaysia Will Say Almost Nothing About the Missing Plance."

It was recently noted that Islamic think tanks were set up in Malaysia under the leadership of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, in what he called an "Islamicisation drive."

The world has 6,826 think tanks.  Malaysia has 18 think tanks.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Think Tank Quickies (#114)

  • Tips for a successful network of think tanks.
  • Applications now open for Prospect Magazine's 2014 think tank awards.
  • Hewlett Packard: Supporting think tanks as a team sport.
  • Helping think tanks communicate research.
  • Quoting a "centrist think tank scholar" anonymously.
  • On lobbying, think tanks, and Ukraine, via Eli Lake.
  • New tool tracking cash between conservative think tanks and donors.
  • FFF-UNDP Directory of Arab Think Tanks has been updated.
  • How do think tank economists haze each other?
  • Bruce Bartlett (flashback): The Alarming Corruption of the Think Tanks.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

AEI President's Powerful Friends


The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has been on a roll recently, hosting high-level figures (Dalai Lama, Bill Gates) and scoring big bucks from friends and donors, among other things.

To add to that, Politico just wrote a piece about the so-called "Young Guns" of Congress (Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, and Paul Ryan) as they jockey to prepare for potential changes to the power structure of the House.

The article notes tha AEI President Arthur Brooks "has become a key figure in [Eric] Cantor's policy world."  Cantor, who is currently the House Majority Leader, is the likely successor to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) if he leaves Congress.

That would elevate Cantor to the most powerful House position and bring AEI even more influence in the halls of Congress.

Here is what Roll Call recently had to say about Brooks's relationships on Capitol Hill:
Brooks and his AEI colleagues make frequent trips to Capitol Hill for meetings, presentations and congressional hearings. He said he has forged relationships with influential House GOP lawmakers who “get” his message. Brooks referred to many of them by their first names: Eric, as in Majority Leader Cantor, for example, or Paul, as in Budget Chairman Ryan.

That familiarity might not extend itself in the reverse, however — at least not yet. In conversations with CQ Roll Call, many prominent House Republicans and their aides said the name “Arthur Brooks” was familiar but didn’t evoke any strong feelings other than that he and the AEI continued to do good work.

On March 5, 2013, Rep. Cantor spoke at AEI at an event titled "Making Life Work."  In 2012, Rep. Cantor gave an introduction at an AEI event launch of Brook's book "The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise."

Rep. Ryan seems to like AEI's views.  For example, he recently quoted Charles Murray of AEI.

To be sure, AEI is not the only think tank that Cantor associates himself with.  For example, early this year, he spoke about the value of school choice at the Brookings Institution.

Arthur Brooks has been President of AEI since January 1, 2009.

AEI was just ranked as the 24th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the 11th best think tank in the US.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Threats to Close Brookings & RAND in Qatar


Saudi Arabia is furious at Qatar for its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and reportedly wants Qatar to expel two prestigious think tanks - Brookings Doha Center (BDC) and the RAND-Qatar Policy Institute (RQPI) - from the country.

Here are some more specifics:
Saudi Arabia has threatened to blockade its neighbouring Gulf State Qatar by land and sea unless it cuts ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, closes Al Jazeera, and expels local branches of two prestigious U.S. think tanks, the Brookings Doha Center and the Rand Qatar Policy Institute.
The threats against the television station Al Jazeera, Brookings Institute and the Rand Corporation, were made by the Saudi Foreign Minister Saud bin Faisal in a foreign minister's meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council in Riyadh last week, according to a source who was present. Bin Faisal said only these acts would be sufficient if Qatar wanted to avoid "being punished."
News of the threats to shut down the Brookings and Rand Corporation think tanks in Doha will embarrass the U.S. president Barack Obama, who is due to visit Riyadh at the end of month. His Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker was in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, where she told AP that she will tell officials from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar that closer economic cooperation with Washington is a bridge to building deeper security ties.

On December 31, 2013, according to RAND's website, Qatar Foundation and RAND "wound up" the  RQPI partnership.  It says, however, that RAND "remains active in helping policy leaders throughout the Greater Middle East think broadly, plan systematically, and execute ideas effectively."

Here is more on RQPI and other think tanks in Qatar.  Here is more from the launching of RQPI in 2003.

RAND, of course, still has the RAND Center for Middle East Public Policy (CMEPP).

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post titled "Brookings Slammed for Qatar Connection.Here is a link to the BDC.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post about various Qatari think tanks (including BDC and RQPI) appearing in Wikileaks documents.  One of the cables notes that Brookings and RAND opened shop in Qatar at the Qataris request.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post titled "Qatar Buying Influence at US Think Tanks?"

The Brookings Doha Center was just rated as the second best think tank in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), only behind Egypt's Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.  RAND-Qatar Policy Institute was rated as the 16th best think tank in the MENA region.  The Al-Jazeera Centre for Studies (in Qatar) ranked as the 6th best think tank in the MENA region.

Qatar has 10 think tanks, according to the recently released University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  Saudi Arabia has seven think tanks.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Think Tank for Name, Talk Circuit for Cash


Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who recently joined the Brookings Institution as a Distinguished Fellow in Residence, will not be leaning on the venerable think tank for the majority of his cash intake during the next few years.

That is because Bernanke has started hitting the public speaking circuit, and it looks like he will bring in around $250,000 per speech, as he just did in Abu Dhabi this week with a 40-minute talk.  That conference, the Global Financial Markets Forum (GFMF), was sponsored by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD).  It was noted that with that one speech, Bernanke exceeded his $199,700 annual salary as Fed Chairman in 2013.

With one or two speeches, he will likely exceed his annual salary at Brookings.

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who was just named as Board Chair at the Center for Global Development (CGD), was also speaking at the same Abu Dhabi event, but it is highly unlikely he was paid the same amount as Bernanke.

Bernanke is also writing a book, so he likely will receive a large cash advance.  Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan received an $8 million cash advance for his book.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Wilson Center Shutting Down Moscow Office


The Wilson Center has decided to shut down the Moscow office of the Kennan Institute, the oldest of the think tank's programs.

Here is what Russia Beyond the Headlines (RBTH) reports today:
The Russian academic community reacted with shock and alarm to the recent decision by the Washington, DC-based Woodrow Wilson Center to shut down the Moscow office of the Kennan Institute.

Reports suggest that funding was an issue as well as the declining relations between the US and Russia.  The New York Times reported last month that the Institute would close this spring.  Here is what they had to say:
News of the closing, confirmed by the head of the Kennan Institute comes as a number of large United States aid and academic programs here that flowered after the collapse of the Soviet Union have been plagued by budget cuts and frigid relations between the two countries recently.

Various Russian academics who have received grants from the center recently published an open letter protesting the decision to close.

Here is more on the closing from The New York Times:
The process has been punctuated by political interventions like the expulsion of the United States Agency for International Development by the Russian government in 2012 and by a budget shortfall that forced the United States to defund grants for research and language study in former Soviet bloc countries last year.
Matthew Rojansky, the head of the Kennan Institute, said that while the center’s Moscow office had withstood police investigations under a new Russian law requiring certain nongovernmental organizations to register as “foreign agents,” the death of a major sponsor and the loss of United States government funding for research proved decisive.

Besides the Moscow branch, the Kennan Institute also has an office in Washington, DC and Kyiv, Ukraine.  Here is a link to the Russian site, and here is a link to the Ukrainian site.

Here is a 10-minute video about the Kennan Institute.  Here is what the Institute has to say about the crisis in Ukraine.

The Wilson Center has considered selling or stopping publication of the Wilson Quarterly, a well-known, 37-year-old magazine published by the think tank, due to budget constraints.

Here is an interesting fact about the Wilson Center that was just reported in CQ Weekly: Nearly 150 visiting scholars study at the Wilson Center each year.

The Wilson Center was just ranked as the 10th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the 6th best think tank in the United States.

Think Tank Quickies (#113)

  • Brookings video: How MTV's 16 and Pregnant Reduced Teen Births.
  • Heritage Foundation has given up on that boring "think tank" stuff.
  • Flashback: Koch brothers pour more cash into think tanks.
  • Atlantic Council: "Extraordinary crisis" needed to preserve "New World Order."
  • Student think tank to launch this year in London.  Name: London Forum for Science and Policy (LFSP).
  • FAIR: "Heritage Foundation: Where Have All the Scholars Gone?"
  • Chinese think tanks sinking?
  • Microsoft founder Bill Gates to speak at AEI on March 13. 
  • Rahm Emanuel speaks at Brookings. 
  • Two Chinese think tanks declare Beijing "nearly uninhabitable."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Larry Summers to Become Board Chair at CGD


Former US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers has been tapped to be the next Board Chair of the think tank Center for Global Development (CGD).  He will succeed founding board chair Edward Scott Jr., who informed the board recently of his decision to step down, and proposed Summers as his successor.

Summers was a member of CGD's original board, and he is one of three former secretaries of the US Treasury who have served on CGD's board.  Timothy Geithner, a former US Treasury Secretary, is a former CGD board member.

The change in board leadership is effective May 1, 2014.

Summers is no stranger to think tank land. In fact, he is a prolific think tanker.  In late 2012 he was named as a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP).  He is also on the Advisory Council at The Hamilton Project, an economic policy project housed within the Brookings Institution.  He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE).  Summers is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Think Tank Watch reported last year that Summers had wanted to become Chairman of the Federal Reserve and lobbied hard for that post (and embraced another think tank for his lobbying campaign), but was ultimately knocked out by a think tank dedicated to women's issues.

CGD was founded in 2001 by Edward Scott Jr., C. Fred Bergsten, and Nancy Birdstall, the current President of CGD.

CGD was recently ranked as the 27th best think tank in the United States in the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  CGD was also rated as the 4th best think tank in the world in terms of international development, only behind Brookings (#1), Center for International Development (#2), and Overseas Development Institute (#3).

View of Ukraine Crisis From Non-US Think Tanks


Here are views about what is happening in Russia, Ukraine, and Crimea from scholars at various non-US think tanks:

  • Chatham House analysis of the Ukraine crisis.
  • European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR): How can the EU impose costs to Russia; and How to Help the Ukraine Help Itself.
  • Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS): Ukraine - A Week of Testing Red Lines Ahead; and Ten Things You Should Know About Crimea.
  • Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI): Preventing a New Division of Europe; and Reducing Risks Arising from Developments in Ukraine.
  • International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS): Russia's Unclear Motives in Ukraine.
  • Royal United Services Institute (RUSI): Russia's Crimea Gamble - Another Reckless Putin Move.
  • Polish Institute of International Affairs: An American Strategy for Crimea.

Here is how a variety of top US think tanks view the situation.

While on the topic of Russia, here is a Moscow Times piece titled "The Rise and Fall of Russia's Economic Think Tanks."

And from Russia Direct: "Russian (think) thanks intervene in Ukraine.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Think Tanks Weigh in on Ukraine Crisis (Updated)


Here is a compilation of what various think tanks are saying about the Ukraine crisis:
  • Steven Pifer of Brookings: Ukraine's Perpetual East-West Balancing Act; and A Tour of the Biggest Stumbling Blocks Ahead.
  • Robert McMahon of CFR: Issue Guide - Crisis in Ukraine's Crimea.
  • Charles Kupchan and Whitney Shepardson of CFR: Ukraine's Road Ahead - Three Things to Know; Richard Haass of CFR: How to Respond to Ukraine's Crisis?
  • Bernard Gwertzman of CFR: Ukraine's New Era of Uncertainty.
  • Heather Conley of CSIS: The "Consequences" for Ukraine and the Transatlantic Partnership.
  • Andrew Kuchins and Jeffrey Mankoff of CSIS: Ukraine's February Revolution - What Next?; and US Credibility at Stake in Ukraine.
  • Leon Aron of AEI: How to Understand Putin's Ukraine Strategy; video with Leon Aron: Ukraine's Revolution - Toward Russia or the West?
  • Andrei Illarionov of Cato: Russia's Involvement with Ukraine.
  • Matthew Rojansky of Wilson Center: Ukraine's Oligarchs Need to Step Up; Ukraine Must Reject Roots of Violence (Rojansky and Mattison Brady).
  • Peter Brookes of the Heritage Foundation: Ukraine and Russia - Here's the Real Story. 
  • Anatol Lieven of New America Foundation (NAF): Why Obama Shouldn't Fall for Putin's Ukrainian Folly. 
  • David Satter of Hudson Institute: Ukraine's Revolutionary Lessons for Russia; Christopher Sands of Hudson: Domestic Politics and Ukraine.
  • Ian Brzezinski of Atlantic Council: Four Steps NATO can Take to Support Ukraine; Jason Healey of ACUS: How to Beat a Russian Cyber Assault on Ukraine. 
  • Richard Fontaine of Center for a New American Security (CNAS): US Should Resist, Reinforce and Reassure in Face of Ukraine crisis; and Julie Smith of CNAS: Transatlantic Unity Crucial But Thin on Ukraine; and Elbridge Colby of CNAS: The Return of History in Eastern Europe.
  • F. Stephen Larrabee on RAND Corporation: How the West Can Help End Violence in Ukraine.
  • Carter Page of Center for National Policy (CNP): There Will be Costs - Applying US Intervention Principles from Ukraine to North America; and Vaira Paegle of CNP: Ukraine - The Litmus Test of Russia's Neighborhood Policy and the West's Political Will.
  • Comprehensive analysis on Ukraine from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP).

Interesting fact: Ukraine has 47 think tanks and Russia has 122 think tanks, according to the most recent University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.

Here is an interesting piece on defense-oriented think tanks in Ukraine.

Also, Find Policy now offers a search page focusing on Russian think tanks. 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Off-Record Think Tank Event Signals Danger of Pacific War


All is not well in the Pacific, and more and more think tanks are starting to fret.

The Washington Post's David Ignatius reveals a frank discussion at a think tank forum in China, organized by the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and the German Marshall Fund, outlining the danger of war in the Pacific.
The changing political-military map in Asia formed the context for last weekend’s meeting of the Stockholm China Forum, an annual event organized by the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS) and the German Marshall Fund (GMF) of the United States (of which I’m a trustee). The not-for-attribution discussions were surprisingly frank on all sides. But they dispelled, at least for me, the hope that China would continue deferring to a powerful United States. Instead, we’re clearly entering a period of greater Chinese assertiveness, especially in maritime issues.
It is a sign of the times that delegates here talk openly about the danger of war in the Pacific.  That's a big change from the tone of similar gatherings just a few years ago, when Chinese officials often tried to reassure foreign experts that a rising China wasn't on a collision course with the United States or regional powers.  Now, in the East and South China seas, the collision seems all too possible.

Here are more details about the Stockholm China Forum, which bills itself as the leading transatlantic dialogue on China.  The forum was established in cooperation with the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2007.

Here are some pictures from the event, including David Ignatius asking a question.  SIIS described the "warm discussions" at the event.  Here is a list of some past participants.

GMF was recently ranked as the 43rd best think tank in the United States by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  SIIS was ranked as the 71st best think tank in the world.