Monday, July 15, 2013

Prospect Magazine Praises Work of US Think Tanks

More information is being published about Prospect magazine's annual think tank awards, which Think Tank Watch has previously written about.

In a blog post, Prospect magazine highlights several US think tanks, including the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), Brookings Institution, and Third Way, which won the North American think tank of the year award:
In the US, the Peterson Institute was considered immensely impressive, with extensive access and influence on US policy. However, one judge suggested that, now the first signs of economic recovery are appearing in the US, it is not certain that the Peterson has lifted its gaze from the financial crisis to questions of growth.
The Brookings Institution report, “The Thistle and the Drone,” explored the relations between central governments and tribal societies on their periphery—germane now that the Afghan and US governments have decided to negotiate with the Taliban. For this and other work, the judges felt that Brookings was the  runner-up in the category.
But the winner of this year’s North American Think Tank Award was Third Way. A newcomer to the US think tank scene, founded in 2005 and still small, Third Way has had influence on the Obama team and was quick to home in on the plight of low to middle-income families and the difficulties they face in times of economic stagnation. The judges credited Third Way with making a real impact on debate in the centre ground of American politics, an arena which has seemed vanishingly small in recent years. They felt it was an organisation charged with a sense of urgency; one described their output as “really sexy,” while another commented: “I like the bottom-up approach, and signs of innovation in a crowded and very rich think tank scene.”
Prospect magazine had this to say about publications by think tanks not based in the UK:
This award covers publications by think tanks not based in the UK. The US-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace was commended by judges for its report, “Iran’s Nuclear Odyssey: Costs and Risks.” This was described as “original and interesting” for its suggestion that the only possible solution is a peaceful diplomatic settlement with Iran. The international community, the report noted, might do well to offer Iran advanced solar technology—its potential solar capacity is 13-times greater than its total domestic need.
The Cato Institute, also based in the US, caught the eye of the judges for its recent book on the legalisation of drugs, The Fire Next Door. The book maintains that the US’s prohibition of narcotics has empowered the drug cartels in Mexico with disastrous effects. The only solution now, it argued, is to legalise drugs. The judges were impressed by the book’s thoroughness and the intellectual flexibility that it suggested.
However, the International Publication of the Year category was won by Carnegie Europe, the European arm of the Carnegie Endowment, for its report “Press Freedom in Turkey.” This was a thorough and prescient examination of the control exerted on journalists by Ankara. The report was impressive and timely, given the demonstrations in Gezi Park and Taksim Square.

The Prospect think tank awards are now in their 13th year.

The judges of this year's think tank awards were: Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty and Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University; Bill Emmott, former Editor of the Economist; Richard Lambert, Chancellor of Warwick University, former Editor of the Financial Times and member of the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee; David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham; Bronwen Maddox, Editor of Prospect; and David Willetts, Conservative MP for Havant and Minister of State for Universities and Science.