Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"The Oscars of the Think Tank World"

As points out today, Prospect magazine is looking for entries for their annual think tank awards.  There is an administrative cost of $80 to enter any number of categories.

Says Prospect:
The awards, described on BBC Radio 4 as “the Oscars of the think tank world,” are an annual celebration of the important and influential work done by think tanks across the globe.
Entries close on June 15, 2012 and an awards ceremony will take place at the Royal Society on July 10, 2012 in London, England.  For more information about the awards, you can visit here.

Previous winners (going back to 2001) can be found here.

Prospect magazine, founded in 1995, is a monthly British general interest magazine, specializing in politics and current affairs.  It is well known for its Top 100 Public Intellectuals Poll which is conducted jointly with Foreign Policy magazine November 2005 and June 2008.

Just as some say that The Global Go To Think Tanks rankings produced by Dr. James McGann of the University of Pennslyvania are too US-centric, are the Prospect awards too Euro-centric?  What type of impact (if any) does paying to vote have on the outcome?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Battle for Cato

The June 2012 edition of Washingtonian magazine has a long piece on the Cato Institute titled "The Battle for Cato" by Luke Mullins.  Following are some highlights:

On the young Ed Crane (who is president of Cato):
Ed Crane was first drawn to libertarian ideals as a boy growing up in Los Angeles.  The son of a doctor, he began reading the complete works of Ayn Rand in high school.
 On Ed Crane becoming head of Cato:
Crane was just 32 when he become Cato's CEO.  His management style was criticized by some as tyrannical, and he became known in libertarian circles as Boss Crane.  His allies were called the Crane Machine.
On how Cato tries to influence Washington:
Most Washington organizations try to shape legislation through lawmakers.  Cato focuses on influencing the public.
On why the Cato building is facing an odd direction:
Crane told a colleague that the entrance to Cato's building faced away from the Capitol "so Congress can kiss my ass."

Think Tank Quickies #7

  • Singularity University: Meet the people who are building the future.
  • Asia Society to get new president.
  • Media ignores almost all think tank reports?
  • On Republican think tank neologisms
  • UPenn to host G-20 Foreign Policy Think Tanks Summit June 3-5.
  • India and Myanmar forge think tank links.
  • Think tank coalition Americans for Tax Fairness created to help end tax breaks for richest 2%.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Cool Think Tank-Related Job of the Week

Boeing has a job opening for "Director, Public Policy Advocacy - Think Tanks."  Following is the job description:
The Director, Public Policy Advocacy-Think Tanks, serves as the Think Tank advocacy leader on key Boeing programs & issues. Responsible for determining the organizations Boeing will engage with and support, identifying key issues and programs for which Boeing will engage think tanks, think tank strategies the company will implement to advance company objectives, and coordinating communications and company participation in meetings, communications, events and other activities in support of our third party advocacy efforts.

Major Responsibilities include:
Provide leadership as company focal for WDC-based public policy institutions (think tanks).

Develop strong personal relationships with key think tank leaders and scholars through regular participation in relevant activities as well as proactive communications and outreach on Boeing priority issues and programs.

Expand and improve awareness and knowledge of Boeing programs and issues within the think tank community.

Develop, coordinate and implement strategies to shape and influence third party positions and advocacy in alignment with and to advance Boeing's objectives.

Assist business unit and functional leaders with the development of strategies and plans to leverage think tank capabilities in support of Boeing programs, government policies, and other priority issues.

Promote and broaden company access to information and knowledge provided by think tanks.

Provide proactive management of think tank event participation across the Boeing enterprise; improve both the quality and frequency of company participation in events, forums, working groups and other activities sponsored by think tanks.

Develop, coordinate and secure approval of grant, event, and project funding in coordination with appropriate business unit and functional organizations.

Participate in cross functional teams to share information and provide strategic / tactical support of priority programs and issues.

Provide analysis and problem solving approaches to address complex issues and workable solutions that meet internal expectations and external realities.

Earn the trust, confidence and respect of key public policy leaders and stakeholders through honest, open, and timely communications.
The position is based in Arlington, VA and does not require a security clearance.

Think Tank Tweet of the Week

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sen. McCain's New Think Tank = Senate Retirement?

It was just reported that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) has "donated" big bucks to fund a foreign policy think tank which will have offices in both Washington, DC and Arizona.
Republican Sen. John McCain has donated $9 million of money left over from his 2008 presidential campaign to fund a foreign policy think tank connected to Arizona State University, the school announced Thursday. 
The McCain Institute for International Leadership, a nonpartisan and nonprofit education and research center, will promote “character-driven leadership” in global humanitarian work, human rights and national security, according to a university news release.
Former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker, who has been named director of the institute, said it has “a real opportunity to fill some gaps in Washington.”

Two of its top priorities, he said, would be building “future international leadership through a Fellows program” and engaging directly “with senior decision-makers in developing, analyzing, testing, and promoting the implementation of innovative policies.”

The institute’s formal dedication is planned for later this year. It’s offices, to be located in the nation’s capital and on the Arizona State campus in Tempe, will become operational in early 2013.
As the Arizona Republic notes, it is unusual, but not unprecedented, for a sitting senator who has not announced retirement plans to get his own institute.  The article notes that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has had a center at the University of Louisville since 1991 - The McConnell Center.  [McConnell's wife, former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, is a Distinguished Fellow at Heritage Foundation.]  McCain already has some think tank experience, including as an Advisory Board Member at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  McCain is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), as well as the Chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI), which many consider a conservative think tank.

Here is what the Arizona Republic says about funding for McCain's new think tank:
McCain is using $9 million of leftover cash from his 2008 presidential campaign to get the institute started. He began transferring the money to ASU through a recently created charitable trust called the McCain Institute Foundation. Charitable contributions are an allowable use of surplus campaign money under federal election law. The $9 million donation is expected to initially generate about $500,000 in interest a year, an amount that ASU will match. The institute also is planning significant additional fundraising efforts.
McCain, 75, said his decision to donate the unused campaign money to his namesake institute should not be construed as an indication that he won't seek a sixth Senate term when he comes up for re-election in 2016. But he made clear the frustration he feels these days as a member of the minority party in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
According to Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules, presidential candidates with leftover funds can't use the money for personal expenses.  McCain donated to his personal charitable trust.  So how exactly does McCain get around that?  Well, he knows the rules quite well, since he wrote many of them.  Actually, the FEC says that gifts to charity are not considered personal use expenses as long as the candidate does not receive compensation from the charitable organization before it has expended the entire amount donated.

Here is what Comedy Central said about McCain's charitable trust, the so-called McCain Institute Foundation:
The eponymous organization to which MCain gave his money is called the McCain Institute Foundation. Institute Foundation? In that case, it should really be called the McCain Institute Foundation for Redundancy. Or perhaps the McCain Institute Foundation for Politicians Who Can't Read Good.
It is worth noting that $9 million is a pretty good chunk of change for a think tank to start out with.  As a comparison, you can view this previous Think Tank Watch post on the funding that other think tanks get.

Think Tank Watch reported on May 17, 2012 that John McCain's former foreign affairs advisor Richard Fontaine has become the Center for a New American Security's (CNAS) new president.

Here is what Steve Clemons has to say about McCain's new think tank.

Will Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) get think tank envy?

Update: The McCain Institute website is now up and running.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Romney Campaign Attracts More Think Tankers

This new map by Muckety shows some of the connections that Romney has with think tank land.  Says Muckety:
Mitt Romney is leaning heavily on two think tanks - the Hoover Institution and the Center for Security Policy - to advise his presidential campaign.
Five members of the campaign’s education policy advisory group, announced Tuesday, have Hoover connections.
Four people advising Romney on foreign affairs and national security have links to the Center for Security Policy advisory board.
This previous post by Think Tank Watch shows additional connections that Romney advisors have with think tanks.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cyber Spies Target Washington Think Tanks

Here is what the Washingtonian reports today:
Think tanks and law firms in Washington, experts say, are targets of pervasive espionage by cyber spies who are stealing sensitive information on business and policy matters and are using their unwitting victims to better understand the intricacies of Washington decision-making.
One prominent organization that found itself an unwitting target of cyber spying is the Brookings Institution, which runs a policy center on China. Brookings' computer systems were penetrated last summer by an intruder who tricked a still-unknown number of employees into installing back doors on Brookings' networks, according to several people with knowledge of the incident.
Of course, this is nothing new.  Here is what the Wall Street Journal reported last year:
"It's a routine occurrence now because think tanks are soft targets and you get good data," said James Lewis, a former State Department official and current cybersecurity specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who has advised the Obama administration on cybersecurity policy. He said he was the target of a combined telephone and phishing attempt in 2010. "I just assume that all our communications are insecure."
One such email in November 2009 purported to come from Dennis Wilder, a former Asia specialist on the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration who was at the Brookings Institution at the time.
The email discussed a recent press briefing by the Chinese ambassador on climate change, and it contained an attachment concealing a virus that claimed to be a transcript of the press briefing. Mr. Wilder hasn't owned a Gmail account.
CSIS's James Lewis, who was quoted in the above WSJ article, later said that the Chinese military is behind most of the hackers cyberspying on the US.

Which Head of State is Most Think Tank Obsessed?

My best guess would be Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti.  Following are a few of his think tank connections.

CSIS to Investigate Plagiarism

Writes the Washington Post:
The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said this afternoon that it will investigate the work of Arnaud de Borchgrave, one of the think tank’s program directors and a columnist for the Washington Times and United Press International.
“We were unaware of any plagiarism until I saw your piece, and we take it very seriously. We will be conducting an internal review,” says H. Andrew Schwartz, CSIS’s senior vice president for external relations.
Damning side-by-side text is something of a shock to the CSIS’s system. The outfit, says Schwartz, has never had a problem with literary attribution, perhaps because of strongly worded internal warnings on the matter.
You can view the allegedly copied text at the link above.  Arnaud de Borchgrave is the Director and Senior Adviser of CSIS's Transnational Threats Project.  He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  His son-in-law, Dr. Robin Niblett, was previously an Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of CSIS.  Dr. Niblett now is the Director of Chatham House.

Here is what WPost's Think Tanked blog has to say:
How CSIS rules on the matter could make for a hypocritical decision — or it could show exactly how forgiving the think tank is when it comes to plagiarism.
In October 2011, CSIS brought on Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Germany’s former minister of defense and minister of economy, as a “distinguished statesman.”
Guttenberg had become known as the “cut and paste minister” or the “minister of plagiarism” for allegedly plagiarizing much of his 2009 doctoral dissertation at Germany’s University of Bayreuth.
While he never clearly stated that he plagiarized his dissertation, he did ask the university to withdraw his doctor title. The investigating university committee found that “the standards of good scientific practice were obviously grossly abused and it was obvious that plagiarism was involved.”
CSIS president and chief executive John Hamre told Think Tanked at the time that he saw no reason to punish Guttenberg “just because some people wish to chain him to his transgression as part of their political agenda.” has statistics saying that 84% of college students admitted to cheating on written exams.  The Online Education Database notes an informal poll saying that 60.8% of college students admitted to cheating.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Should Romney Disclose His Think Tank Advisors?

Heath Brown, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Seton Hall University and author of the book Lobbying the New President: Interests in Transition thinks he should:
If Governor Romney wants to limit the uncertainty surrounding his transition planning, he could soon announce his pre-election transition team, those think tanks which are likely to help him plan his transition, and a vision for how he intends to solicit ideas from a wide array of stakeholders. Such a move would compel think tanks to reconcile the role they want to play in the policy process: either as the voice of reason and impartial advice or as just another well-positioned interest group. It would also clarify that the same principles of democracy, public input, and transparency that are at the heart of the election are also fundamental to transition planning.
Of course, at this point, based on a previous Think Tank Watch post on think tankers in the Romney campaign, it is no secret that scholars from Heritage and CSIS, among others, are heavily advising Romney.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Think Tank Quickies #6

  • Peterson Institute names Adam Posen as new President effective January 1, 2013.
  • Are think tanks neglecting social media such as Twitter?
  • Does money cause think tankers to hype global threats?
  • "R Street Institute" formed after split from Heartland Institute.
  • New think tank to be established to help map the future of Malta's financial services sector.
  • Peterson Institute a new venue for weddings?
  • Third global Copenhagen Consensus released on cheapest way to save the world.

CSIS Collaboration With Chinese Spies?

Bill Gertz of the conservative Washington Times writes this:
The Center for Strategic and International Studies, which has taken a turn to the left under current President John Hamre, recently held an unusual series of meetings in China on cybersecurity.
China’s state-run newspaper Global Times reported last month that U.S. and China were “discreetly” engaged in cyberwarfare exercises involving U.S. and Chinese think tank specialists.
The problem, according to U.S. officials, is that the Chinese think tank involved was a front for the political police and intelligence services known as the Ministry of State Security.
The front group is the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, known as CICIR (pronounced “kicker”), which is notorious among U.S. security and intelligence officials for its work on behalf of Chinese intelligence.
The congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, in its annual report last year, said CICIR is “the public face” of the intelligence ministry.
The article also mentions two scholars at CSIS:
CSIS‘ China specialists include Bonnie Glaser, who has a long history of cooperating with CICIR during years as a CIA consultant.
The center recently hired Christopher K. Johnson, who during his years as a CIA China analyst was considered among the most assertive of the so-called “benign China” school of intelligence and policy officials who has sought to play down China’s military buildup, arms-proliferation activities and human rights abuses.
The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission's (USCC) 2011 report can be found here.  Page 339 (347 in PDF format) has a chart of selected "track two" exchanges with government officials and think tank scholars in 2009-2010.

The USCC report notes that in testimony before the Commission, Abraham Denmark, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), defended track two exchanges with the Chinese as an "invaluable source of information, as well as an avenue for building contacts and communication with Chinese foreign policy thinkers."  The report goes on to say that the Commission itself has met on multiple occasions for discussions with representatives of Chinese think tanks.

Think Tank Watch previously mentioned this Open Source Center report on CICIR.

CSIS is considered the #1 think tank in the world for security and international affairs.  CICIR is considered the 23rd best think tank in the world for security and international affairs.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

CNAS Gets Former McCain Advisor as New President

Today (May 17, 2012) the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) announced it has selected Richard Fontaine as the Center's next president.  He will assume the role immediately.  Mr. Fontaine succeeds Dr. John Nagl, who was named as the Minerva Research Fellow at the US Naval Academy in December 2011 and remains a non-resident senior fellow at CNAS.

Before joining CNAS, Fontaine served as foreign policy advisor to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) from 2004-2008 and then as a foreign policy advisor to the McCain 2008 presidential campaign.

He also worked at the National Security Council (NSC) and at the State Department with former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who is on CNAS's Board of Directors.

The announcement comes a day after CNAS co-founder Michele Flournoy joined the Board of Directors.  Flournoy served as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy from February 2009 to February 2012.  Before joining DOD, she had served as CNAS's president.

A complete list of CNAS's Board of Directors can be found here.  A list of CNAS donors/supporters can be found here.

CNAS is considered the 22nd best think tank in the US, based on the latest rankings.  It is also considered the 35th best global think tank in terms of having the greatest impact on public policy.

Former CNAS President John Nagl received a base salary of $196,837, based on the latest publicly available documents.

CEO Nathaniel Fick received a base salary of $186,748.

Here is an interactive Muckety Map for CNAS, showing the various connections that the think tank has.  Click around to explore various relationships.

Finally, here is an article about CNAS becoming a "top farm team" for the Obama Administration.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Best New Think Tanks of 2012

Following are the best new think tanks for 2012, established within the past 18 months.  It is based on the University of Pennsylvania's most recent think tank rankings.

  1. Google Ideas (US/UK)
  2. Institute for New Economic Thinking, or INET (US)
  3. China Center for International Economic Exchange, or CCIEE (China)
  4. Dusseldorf Institute for Competition Economics, or DICE (Germany)
  5. Macdonald-Laurier Institute, or MLI (Canada)
  6. Res Publica (UK)
  7. Adelphi Berlin (Germany)
  8. New Economy Network, or NEN (US)
  9. Casablanca Institute (Morocco)
  10. African Center for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Nigeria)
  11. Econwatch Society of Political Analysis (Germany)
  12. Cambridge Winter Center (US)
  13. Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Malaysia)
  14. Economic Strategies for the 21st Century, or e21 (US)
  15. Sheikh Saud bin Saqr al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research (UAE)
  16. Institut des Hautes Etudes sur les National Unies, or IHENU (France)
  17. Audace Institut Afrique, or AIA (Cote d'Ivoire)
  18. Amadeus Center (Morocco)
  19. Grattan Institute (Australia)
  20. Fundacion Centro de Pensamiento Primero (Colombia)
Click here to see the previous year's top 20 best new think tanks established within the past 18 months.

Book Review: Think Tanks, Public Policy, And the Politics of Expertise

Think Tanks, Public Policy, And The Politics of Expertise by Andrew Rich, published in 2004, is a great resource on US think tanks.

The central question of the book is: "Have think tanks generally evolved from producing painstaking research and objective writing to pursuing ideological agendas with far-reaching impact in the war of ideas?"

On the study of think tanks:
Fewer than a dozen books published since 1970 focus on American think tanks.  No articles specifically about think tanks have appeared in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, or the Journal of Politics in the past thirty years, nor in the major policy or sociology journals.  By contrast, scores of books and articles have been published about other types of nongovernmental organizations, particularly interest groups.
On think tanks vs. universities:
The political access of think tanks tends to far surpass that of university-based research institutes, and the incentives to pursue political access are far greater for think tank researchers than university faculty.  University-based social scientists often have professional, if not personal incentives to move quickly from one study to the next and to conduct research relevant to scholarly and theoretically based debates rather than that which confronts the most current and pressing policy questions of the day.
On classifying conservative vs. liberal think tanks:
In classifying conservative organizations, I looked for references to promoting the free market system, limited government, individual liberties, religious expression, and traditional family values, or to eliminating racial or ethnic preferences in government policy.  I classified organizations as liberal when they expressed interest in using government policies and programs to overcome economic, social, or gender inequalities, poverty, or wage stagnation.  I also classified calls for progressive social justice, a sustainable environment, or lower defense spending as signals of liberal organizations.
On the explosion of conservative think tanks:
As the ranks of think tanks generally exploded during the 1980s and '90s, the rate of formation of conservative think tanks was twice that of liberal ones.
On think tank testimony before Congress:
Think tanks based in Washington, DC receive more chances to testify than think tanks based elsewhere, an advantage that also increases with the size of the organization.  Think tanks that are newer have a slight advantage, and those that are focused on a broad range of policy issues receive more opportunities to testify before Congress than those that specialize in a narrow set of topics.
On newspaper citations of think tanks:
The Washington Post demonstrates a greater overall propensity for citing think tanks than the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.  Second, the Wall Street Journal shows a remarkably strong preference for ideologically conservative think tanks, citing them on average five more times per year than the other newspapers.

The author, Andrew Rich, was an associate professor at the City College of New York.  He then served as President and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute.  He is now the Executive Secretary of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.

Carnegie Duo Brokering Secret US-Iran Deal?

Here is what David Ignatius wrote in this week's Washington Post op-ed:
A compelling framework for future talks has been prepared by analysts from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The authors are George Perkovich, a leading U.S. scholar on proliferation issues, and Ariel Levite, a former deputy director of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission. In preparing the plan, the Carnegie team has had quiet discussions with U.S. and Iranian experts.
George Perkovich is vice president for studies and director of the Nuclear Policy Program at CEIP.
Ariel Levite is a non-resident senior associate in the Nuclear Policy Program at CEIP.

CEIP is considered the #3 best think tank in the world, only behind Brookings (#1) and Chatham House (#2).

Here is a recent Iran-related New York Times op-ed the duo wrote along with Mark Hibbs of CEIP.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

G20 Holds First-Ever Think Tank Meeting: "Think-20"

This year's G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico included the first-ever "Think20," a meeting of think tanks from around the world.  The Mexican G20 presidency along with the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI) jointly hosted the meeting on February 27-28, 2012, in which four broad topics were discussed: 1) finance/economics, 2) green growth, 3) food security and commodity-price volatility, and 4) the role that think tanks can play in making the G20 more effective.

The new think tank summit, Think20, was in line with the proliferation of forums within the G20, including the B20 (for business), L20 (for labor unions), Y20 (for young people), and the SC20 (for civil society organizations).

Here is a video of the Think20 summary session, organized by COMEXI (no translation available)

Here is a YouTube video of Stanley Foundation's David Shorr discussing his participation in the Think20 meeting.  Here is a piece Mr. Shorr wrote for World Politics Review on Think20.

Here is another YouTube video on "main contributions of think tanks to the G20 Summit" with Stewart Patrick (CFR), Thomas Bernes (The Centre of International Governance Innovation), and Colin Bradford (Brookings).

A full list of the 23 participants and their biographies can be found here.  And here is a statement made at the conclusion of Think20.

Here is the final Think20 Report to the G20 Sherpas.

I wonder if the G8 will start the "Think8."

By the way, if you share a healthy skepticism about international organizations, you may want to check out this Financial Times (FT) piece by Gideon Rachman on how to write about international organizations.

He wrote a satirical generic column on how reporters write about international institutions.  Here is the mention is has of think tanks:
The story was given further padding by a study from an ambulance-chasing Washington think-tank, which warned that it would continue to convene media conference calls until its quixotic and politically suicidal plan to ameliorate whatever crisis was gathering had been given respectful though substantially undeserved attention.

Think Tank Quickies #5

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Will Obama Join The Council on Foreign Relations?

More US presidents have been or currently are affiliated with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) than any other think tank in the world.  Will President Obama join CFR after his presidency?  Well, he shouldn't have any problem getting a nomination or being seconded by a minimum of three people (the current requirement for life membership), considering, among other things, that scores of Obama folks are affiliated with CFR.  According to the most recently available annual report, CFR, founded in 1921, has 4,500 members.

Past presidents who are/were members of CFR include:
  • Bill Clinton (42nd President); Hillary Clinton was also a member
  • George H.W. Bush (41st President)
  • Jimmy Carter (39th President)
  • Gerald Ford (38th President)
  • Richard Nixon (37th President)
  • Herbert Hoover (31st President)

Other interesting people who are/were members of CFR include:

  • Angelina Jolie
  • George Clooney
  • Steven Spielberg
Media Moguls:
  • Oprah Windfrey
  • Rupert Murdoch
  • Roger Ailes
News Types:
  • Charlie Rose
  • Katie Couric
  • Erin Burnett  
  • Rush Limbaugh
  • Tom Brokaw
  • Fareed Zakaria (also affiliated with NAF)
  • Joe Biden
  • Newt Gingrich
  • Mikhail Gorbachev
Supreme Court:
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg
  • Sandra Day O'Connor
  • Stephen Gerald Breyer

CFR member George Clooney will be hosting a mega-fundraiser for President Obama on May 10, 2012 at his home in Los Angeles.  Tickets are said to cost $40,000 a pop.  The event reportedly will be the largest single presidential fundraiser in US history.

The latest CFR member's list, from the 2011 annual report, can be found here.  A list of corporate members can be found here.  Also, here are the requirements for becoming a CFR member, along with a profile of the current CFR membership.

Recent US presidents have been quite fond of think tanks.  For example, George W. Bush started the George W. Bush Institute in 2011.  Gerald Ford joined the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) as a distinguished fellow in 1977.  Jimmy Carter created the Atlanta-based Carter Center in 1982.  And Richard Nixon founded the Nixon Center (which is now the Center for National Interest).

Here is an article from 2004 written by Laurence Shoup titled Bush, Kerry, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Prince Harry Boosts Atlantic Council's Exposure

Here is how the Washington Post describes Prince Harry's appearance at the Atlantic Council of the United States (ACUS) on May 7, 2012:
The purpose of Harry’s visit was to accept a humanitarian award from the Atlantic Council for his work with wounded service members. The Atlantic Council is one of those terribly important Washington think tanks, busy promoting U.S. and European leadership on international issues and holding galas to recognize distinction in the field. This being Washington, where you can’t so much as swipe your Metro card without bumping into somebody’s undersecretary, it’s easy to play hooky from events like this; they happen all the time.
However, the Atlantic Council has been growing in visibility — it had U2’s Bono two years ago and Vice President Biden last year — and Harry is something of a get. It is an honor to be able to honor him.
The Atlantic Council's Annual Awards Dinner seems to be increasing in star-power every year.  You can watch a video of the the 2012 awards dinner here.

Adding to  the star-power were hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC.  Mika's father, Zbigniew Brzezinski, is a member of the Atlantic Council International Advisory Board.  He is also a counselor and trustee and co-chair of the advisory board at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  Zbigniew, along with Mika and her brother Mark Brzezinski (the current US Ambassador to Sweden) are all members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Ian Brzezinski, another of Mika's brothers, is a senior fellow in the International Security Program at the Atlantic Council and is on the Council's Strategic Advisory Group (SAG).  [He is also on the Board of Directors at Project 2049 Institute.]

More details about this year's awards dinner, which took place at the Washington Ritz-Carlton, and past year's dinners can be found here.

The Daily Beast describes Atlantic Council's gala dinner as the "Met Ball for ugly people."  The Met Ball, also known as the Costume Institute Gala or the "Oscars of the East Coast," is an annual ball to celebrate the annual opening of the Metropolitan Museum's fashion exhibit at the Costume Institute.

ACUS is considered the #15 best think tank in the US, based on the latest University of Pennsylvania ratings.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Think Tank Quickies #4

Buckley Bashes AEI Through Fictitious Think Tank

In his latest Washington satire titled They Eat Puppies, Don't They?, Christopher Buckley writes about a defense lobbyist (Walter "Bird" McIntyre) who leans on a fictional think tank (Institute for Continuing Conflict) and think tanker (Angel Templeton).  Bird works for the fictional aerospace giant Groepping-Sprunt.

Here is a description from the Washington Post:
When Groepping-Sprunt’s latest project, the massive and massively armed drone Dumbo, is canceled in a Senate hearing because of a “ ‘funding factor’ (Washington-speak for ‘appalling cost overruns’ ” and “a bit of a ‘perception problem’ (Washington-speak for ‘reality’),” Bird is dispatched by his bosses to start a phony foundation to create a new threat to American security.
The target: China.
Bird’s first stop is the Institute for Continuing Conflict — a think tank with a thinker named Angel Templeton, one of that breed of “tall, blond, buff, leggy, miniskirted” conservative commentators who seem to be manufactured in a Fox News lab somewhere.
Here is a description from the Wall Street Journal:
Walter "Bird" McIntyre, a well-remunerated lobbyist for the defense contractor Groepping-Sprunt, is tasked with stoking tensions with China to ensure the approval of an ultra-secret weapons program. McIntyre's campaign is assisted by Angel Templeton, a sexy, slightly unhinged right-winger with a son named after Barry Goldwater and a perch at a brilliantly named think tank, the Institute for Continuing Conflict. ("We're not really into deterrence at ICC.") Buckley is being mischievous here, reproving the American Enterprise Institute for firing his friend David Frum in 2010.
It is very interesting to note the ICC/AEI connection.  Back in 2010, David Frum lost his job at the conservative AEI after criticizing Republicans, and shortly after that, Buckley wrote that it was a mistake for AEI to fire him.  Buckley and Frum have been friends since 1982.

Update: David Frum's new novel Patriots, which came out May 7, 2012, apparently is some more revenge against AEI.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Day In The Life of an EU Think Tanker

In the video above, Hugo Brady, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Reform (CER; the 17th best non-US think tank in the world), discusses the world of think tanks and what it is like to work at a European Union (EU) think tank.

My favorite quote of his:
A think tanker has to be able to think like an academic, act like a diplomat, and write like a journalist.
The EU has 1,485 think tanks.  Europe, in its entirety, has 1,795 think tanks.  That compares to 1,815 think tanks in the US, the most of any country in the world.

Following is a list of the top 10 think tanks in Western Europe:
  1. Chatham House (UK)
  2. Amnesty International (UK)
  3. Transparency International (Germany)
  4. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sweden)
  5. International Crisis Group (Belgium)
  6. Center for European Policy Studies (Belgium)
  7. International Institute for Strategic Studies (UK)
  8. Bruegel (Belgium)
  9. Adam Smith Institute (UK)
  10. World Economic Forum (Switzerland)

Following is a list of the top 10 think tanks in Central and Eastern Europe:
  1. Carnegie Moscow Center (Russia)
  2. Polish Institute of International Affairs (Poland)
  3. Center for Social and Economic Research (Poland)
  4. Moscow State Institute of International Relations (Russia)
  5. Institute of World Economy and International Relations (Russia)
  6. Center for Policy Studies (Hungary)
  7. Center for Eastern Studies (Poland)
  8. Prague Security Studies Institute (Czech Republic)
  9. Center for Economic and Financial Research (Russia)
  10. Centre for Liberal Strategies (Bulgaria)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Think Tank Quickies #3

  • On the Koch brother's funding of Canada's Fraser Institute.
  • French think tank Fondapol sets up interactive simulator to predict French elections.
  • Russian billionaire investing $100 million in new think tank called Be Open.
  • Mark Schmitt (Roosevelt Institute) interviews Tevi Troy (Hudson) on think tanks.
  • Cool chart of Canadian think tanks by ideology and budget size.
  • On Douglas Holtz-Eakin and his think tank American Action Forum (AAF). 
  • Chinese activist asked to join Hu Jintao's think tank? 
  • Two South Korean think tanks reportedly obtain copy of Kim Jong-il's will. 
  • Prominent German think tanker at EAG in plagiarism scandal
  • Have think tanks made thinking impossible? 
  • The think tanks behind "Cameronism."

Chinese Think Tank Site Shut Down Because of Cato?

Says the AP report via the Washington Post:
A liberal think tank website that backs free markets has been closed for days, its co-founder said Wednesday, though its web administrator said it was for technical reasons.
The shutdown of comes amid a tightening of communication controls during one of China’s biggest political scandals in decades.
Established in 1993, Unirule Institute of Economics in Beijing champions free market economics, and some of its members advise Beijing on its economic policies. Articles posted on Unirule’s website focus primarily on economics and politics.
Mao Yushi, co-founder of Unirule, has been named the 2012 winner of the Washington-based Cato Institute’s Milton Friedman Prize for his advocacy for free markets.
He is scheduled to be in Washington on Friday (May 4, 2012) to receive the award. He said from his Beijing home Wednesday that the blocking of the Unirule site had nothing to do with winning the Cato award.
Here is what Forbes in saying about the Unirule/Cato issue.

In the latest think tank ratings by the University of Pennsylvania, Unirule was rated as the #12 best think tank with an annual operating budget of less than $5 million.

Update: A Chinese protester reportedly disrupted the event and had to be dragged out of the Washington Hilton.  You can watch a 17 second video at the link provided.  Do not worry: Mr. Yushi still received his $250,000 prize.

Sen. Lugar's Next Stop: Think Tank Land?

The Hill speculates that if Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) loses his primary battle next week, it is possible that he could join a Washington think tank.
Some possible landing spots could include the Bipartisan Policy Center, a group co-founded by former Senate Majority Leaders Mitchell, Bob Dole (R-Kan.), Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) that focuses on finding bipartisan solutions to policy problems. Other possibilities mentioned include the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, run by former Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), and the center-left Brookings Institution.
Less likely would be the conservative American Enterprise Institute or Heritage Foundation. Both think tanks have foreign-policy teams dominated by neoconservatives who in the past have sparred with Lugar, who has a less interventionist viewpoint.
Not mentioned was the foreign policy-heavy Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which has numerous past and current Members of Congress in various trustee/advisory roles.  In fact, Sen. Lugar, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is an Advisory Board Member at CSIS.  Other Members of Congress affiliated with CSIS include:
  • Sam Nunn, former Democratic Senator representing Georgia; Chairman of Board of Trustees
  • Bill Frist, former Republican Senator representing Tennessee; Trustee
  • Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA); Advisory Board Member
  • Rep. David Dreier (R-CA); Advisory Board Member
  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA); Advisory Board Member
  • Sen. Kay Bailey-Hutchison (R-TX); Advisory Board Member
  • Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Advisory Board Member
  • Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-WV); Advisory Board Member

Perhaps Sen. Lugar could take a more active role in CSIS if he does indeed leave Congress.

Sen. Lugar is also a current member of the Board of Directors of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).  Sam Nunn (who is also at CSIS along with Lugar) is the Co-Chairman and CEO of NTI.

Perhaps he will play a more active role in the Richard G. Lugar Center for Renewable Energy? Or the Richard G. Lugar Center for Rural Health?  Or the Richard G. Lugar Academy?

If Lugar follows in Nunn's footsteps even closer, perhaps he can get a school named after himself.  (See Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech.)

Another possibility for Lugar could be a return to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).  Lugar served on the Board of Directors of that group from 1992-2001.

Last year, Sen. Lugar resigned from the liberal Campus Network, a division of the New York City-based think tank Roosevelt Institute, after Indiana State Treasurer (and Tea Party-backed Republican primary opponent) Richard Mourdock pressured Lugar to leave the board.

Mourdock has recently called on Sen. Lugar to resign from the Brookings Institution's Energy Security Initiative (ESI), saying that it advocates the Obama Administration's "cap and trade" legislation, which would "devastate the Hoosier energy industry."  Sen. Lugar serves on ESI's advisory group.

Update: Sen. Lugar was defeated in the Republican primary on May 8, 2012.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

AEI, Brookings Scholars' "Shock Thesis"

An op-ed written in the Washington Post by Thomas Mann (Brookings) and Norman Ornstein (AEI) on US political dysfunction titled "Let's Just Say It: The Republicans Are The Problem" has been getting a huge amount of attention.
Ornstein is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Mann is at the Brookings Institution. The two think tanks, both embedded near Washington, D.C.’s Dupont circle, can be described, roughly, as right-wing and left-wing. And so ThinkProgress gave the “conservative American Enterprise Institute” partial credit for the column, as did the Detroit News, as did the Vermont Times Argus. Newser slapped on the headline “Conservative Think Tank: Mess is the GOP’s Fault.” That was the story—not that Republicans were criticized, but that they were criticized by a conservative. That meant that it mattered.
But some of the Facebook-sharers were played for simps. Ornstein doesn’t pretend to be a conservative movement, Republican scholar. “He’s as conservative a Democrat as there’s ever been,” suggests his friend David Frum.
It is an important lesson.  Not everyone at "right-leaning" or "Republican" think tanks is necessarily conservative or supports all conservative ideas/thinking.  The same goes with Democratic think tanks.  Not everyone at left-leaning think tanks is liberal or supports all liberal ideas/thinking.

The two prominent think tank scholars co-authored the book "The Broken Branch: How Congress is Failing America and How to Get It Back on Track."

Romney Leans Heavily on Think Tank Community

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney already has quite a lineup of advisers to his campaign, and many are from the think tank community.  Here are some of his foreign policy advisers that work at think tanks:
  • Nile Gardiner: Director of the Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom
  • Kim Holmes: Vice President of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation
  • Jim Talent: Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation
  • Ray Walser: Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation
  • Dov Zakheim: Senior Advisor at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS)
  • Grant Aldonas: Senior Advisor at CSIS
  • Daniel Runde: Director of Prosperity and Development at CSIS
  • Robert Kagan: Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution; Board Member of the Foreign Policy Initiative
  • Ashely Tellis: Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP)
  • Leon Aron: Resident Scholar and Director of Russian Studies at American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
  • Robert Joseph: Senior Scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP)
  • Evan Feigenbaum: Executive Director of the Paulson Institute 
(Please note that the list does not include every think tank affiliation that they may have.)
Others include:
  • Dan Senor is an Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle East Studies at Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)
  • Ian Brezinski is a senior fellow in the International Security Program and is on the Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) at the Atlantic Council (ACUS)
  • Paula Dobriansky is on the board of advisors at Center for a New American Security (CNAS); she is also a senior fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center and affiliated with the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC)
  • John Bolton is a senior fellow at AEI
  • Henry Kissinger is a Counselor and Trustee at CSIS
  • James Baker is the Honorary Chair of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy
  • George Schultz is a Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution
  • Richard Williamson was at Brookings although he is now on a leave of absense
  • Tevi Troy is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
  • Eric Edelman is a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, on the Board of Directors of USIP, on the Atlantic Council's Board of Directors, and a Senior Associate at Harvard's Belfer Center
  • Mitchell Reiss is a non-resident Senior Associate at CSIS and on the Board of Directors at CNAS
  • Aaron Friedberg is a non-resident Senior Fellow for Asia at the German Marshall Fund (GMF)
  • Frank Shakespeare is on the Board of Trustees of the Heritage Foundation 
  • Meghan O'Sullivan is an Adjunct Fellow at CFR and is a member of the Board of Directors of Harvard's Belfer Center
  • Ray Walser is a Senior Policy Analyst at Heritage Foundation
  • Kristin Silverberg is a Senior Transatlantic Fellow at GMF
  • Roger Zackheim is a member of CFR
  • Michael Chertoff is an International Council Member at Harvard's Belfer Center
  • Stephen Rademaker is an Advisor at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC)
  • Aaron Friedberg is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow for Asia at GMF
  • Andrew Natsios is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute
  • Glenn Hubbard is a Visiting Scholar at AEI 
  • Robert Zoellick is a Distinguished Fellow at PIIE and a Senior Fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center