Monday, September 30, 2013

What the Gov't Shutdown Means for Think Tanks

How will Washington, DC-area think tanks be impacted by a US government shutdown?  The only major difference Think Tank Watch can envision is more government participants at think tanks.  With thousands of federal staffers waiting to return to work, they may want to go explore think tank land...

A shutdown may also lead to some cancellations of government speakers at think tanks, but may also lead to a flood of Members of Congress who want to use think tanks as a platform to discuss the shutdown.

At least one think tank will feel a significant impact from the shutdown - United States Institute of Peace (USIP).  The think tank, which is federally funded, says that it is "closed temporarily for ordinary business."  A USIP spokesman told Foreign Policy that researchers and fellows cannot officially work on anything USIP-related if the Institute shuts down as part of the overall government shutdown."

Other think tanks that receive federal funding, such as the Wilson Center, reportedly will keep operating with a reduced staff.

Many other think tanks are gearing up to debate and analyze the shutdown.  Brookings Now blog will highlight what Brookings experts are saying about the impending shutdown.

Here is the Heritage Foundation on what happens during a government shutdown.

Here is the Center for American Progress (CAP) on how the US ended up on the verge of another government shutdown.

The libertarian Cato Institute says the government shutdown is no big deal.

Iran's New President is a Think Tanker

Iran's new President, Hassan Rouhani, led one of Iran's most well-known think tanks, the Center for Strategic Research (CSR).

The Diplomat notes that Dr. Rouhani spent 20 years there, part of which he was president of the think tank.  It notes that CSR informs the Expediency Council, the chief advisory board to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on political and economic matters.

Here is more from The Diplomat on Rouhani and the think tank:
Through this experience, Rouhani had “the privilege to develop a pragmatic moderate trend” in Iranian politics, Dr. Kayhan Barzegar, the Director of the Institute for Middle East Strategic Studies (IMESS) in Tehran and former a senior foreign policy researcher at CSR, told The Diplomat in an interview. There, he cultivated some of the country’s brightest moderate minds, many of whom he will likely bring into his administration.
CSR was founded in 1989 at a decisive moment in Iran’s history. Just two months after the death of Supreme Leader Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Rafsanjani took over as president of the young state facing an existential crisis.
“A decade after the revolution, the shape of Iranian society remains ill-defined.” Geraldine Brooks wrote at the time in the Wall Street Journal. “Questions as basic as whether the country is committed to a free-enterprise economy or should shift to socialism still are wide open.”
The think tank would translate self-reflection into action. When Rouhani spurned the job as Intelligence Minister to take over the center in 1992, CSR’s role expanded from advisory to advocacy. “In one way or another, wherever Hashemi [Rafsanjani] was, Dr. Rouhani was there too.” Hojjatoleslam Ali Asgari, chief parliamentary advisor at CSR, recently told Sharq, a reformist daily.
The likeminded pragmatists became trusted allies. Rouhani threw CSR’s considerable intellectual firepower behind then President Rafsanjani’s controversial “economy first” policies, which included measures to privatize many of the country’s major export industries and reduce the money supply. The center’s defense of the president’s liberal economic policy and semi-authoritarian politics drew Rouhani into conflict with many deputies in the radical majority of the Majles. It would not be the last time the organization would confront more the radical factions in the regime.
 But with reformists in charge, CSR fast became Iran’s most important think tank, an “attractive place” for academics and intellectuals to hold open-ended discussions on economic, security, and cultural affairs, Barzegar says. In 1997, at the start of Mohammad Khatami’s presidency, it was separated from the Presidential Office to serve as the research arm of the Expediency Council, run by Rafsanjani, giving the center a direct channel to the Supreme Leader and an advisory role throughout the regime.
Rouhani embraced the new responsibilities with gusto. He recruited thinkers like Mahmoud Vaezi, an influential diplomat who had commandeered Iran’s shuttle diplomacy in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in 1992, and economic whiz Mohammed Bagher Nobakht, who envisaged the rerouting of oil revenues into infrastructure and social development projects. After a stint as Khatami’s Minister of Intelligence, Ali Younesi also joined CSR as deputy director, where he advocated for the removal of restrictions on the activities of print media and civil society organizations.
With his brain trust assembled, Rouhani attempted an ambitious experiment: to establish an alternative “conservative moderate” political ideology. In Barzegar’s estimation, CSR offered a “third way,” trying to bridge the conservative-reformist divide that was narrowly focused on domestic debates over “ideological ideas or political reforms.” Instead, the new approach put equal emphasis on “constructive” foreign policy and economic development.
This established the organization as a primary refuge for centrists after Ahmadinejad’s election in 2005. Behind Rouhani’s leadership and the ideas of people like Vaezi, Norbakht, and Younesi, the center reimagined Iran as a model for “reintegration into the world economy” and “playing a constructive role” in world affairs, says Mohsen Milani, a professor at the University of Southern Florida, who has published reports with CSR. Rouhani drew heavily upon this vision in his campaign for president this year.

Here is the page of Dr. Rouhani at CSR, which still has his contact information.

Last week Rouhani spoke at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), and said "I talk to you today as a colleague.  I had the same job until recently - I lead a think tank for many years."

It is worth noting that Iran's news agency FARS loves quoting US think tanks.  Here is one recent example.  Here is one more.

According to the most recent rankings by the University of Pennsylvania, Iran has 33 think tanks, ranking third place in the Middle East after Israel (54 think tanks) and Egypt (34 think tanks).  Iraq has 29 think tanks.

Sen. McCain Hires Axed Think Tanker

Elizabeth O'Bagy, the analyst who was fired by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) for allegedly padding her academic credentials, has been hired by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as a legislative assistant.  Foreign Policy broke the story.

Her work has been cited by Sen. McCain, Secretary of State John Kerry, and others.  Her title at the think tank was Senior Research Analyst and Syria Team Lead.  She reportedly first joined the think tank as an upaid intern, and was later given a more permanent position because the think tank needed a fluent Arabic speaker.

Think Tank Watch estimates that her pay likely will not fluctuate wildly one way or the other...

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Video: A First Look at the New CSIS

Check out the snazzy new home of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  Here is a 51-second video showing the inside and outside of its new, $100 million headquarters.

For more than 35 years, CSIS was housed at 1800 K Street, NW in Washington, DC.  Now it is a few blocks north and east at 1616 Rhode Island Ave., NW.  Before its headquarters on K Street, it was housed at Georgetown University for 15 years.

Here is a map showing the old building and the new building.

CSIS was recently ranked as the best think tank in the world for security and international affairs by the University of Pennsylvania annual think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the 5th best think tank in the world.

CSBA Urges Pentagon to Rethink Biz Strategy

A new report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), a think tank focusing mainly on national security, says that the Pentagon needs to put together a strategy for its industrial base that decides what is important to protect over the long term.

Here is a summary of the report, which was authored by CSBA Senior Fellow Barry Watts:
Since World War II, the Department of Defense (DoD) has been able to count on America’s defense industrial base (DIB) always being ready to design and produce the world-class weaponry on which the U.S. military has long relied. But the U.S. DIB is considerably smaller today than it was following the Cold War’s end. Now the Pentagon confronts a period of shrinking defense budgets at the same time the international security environment is posing new military challenges, such as the emergence of anti-access/area-denial capabilities, the growing threat to space-based systems, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The Defense Department has never had a coherent, long-term strategy for sustaining the defense industrial base’s core competencies. Absent a strategy that proceeds from deciding first what to keep rather than what to cut, the possibility is growing that a day will come when the country’s industrial base will no longer possess all the critical design and manufacturing capabilities that the U.S. military needs.
This study provides a diagnosis of the military competitions most likely to dominate military relationships between the United States and prospective adversaries over the next decade or two, and the corresponding DIB competencies where the U.S. military will need to sustain advantage.
The full report, titled "Sustaining the U.S. Defense Industrial Base as a Strategic Asset," can be read here.

Earlier in 2013, Todd Harrison, a defense specialist at CSBA spearheaded a campaign of major think tanks to urge politicians to close military bases, overhaul the military's health care program, and cut the size of the Pentagon's civilian workforce.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

WSJ & Heritage = Not BFFs

The Wall Street Journal had an editorial yesterday titled The Cruz Campaign which questions the tactics being used by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and others to deal with the federal budget and funding Obamacare.  The editorial goes on to take a swipe at the Heritage Foundation:
These columns opposed ObamaCare before it was known by that name, and we may have even been the first to call it by that name. We also don't need any lectures about principle from the Heritage Foundation that promoted RomneyCare and the individual mandate that is part of ObamaCare. Or from cable TV pundits who sold Republicans on Mitt Romney despite RomneyCare.
Patrick O'Connor of the WSJ recently wrote what some believe to be a semi-critical piece on the conservative think tank titled Heritage Foundation Becomes a Handful for the GOP.

Although The Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation might not be best friends forever (BFFs), Heritage seems to have become BFFs with a rival think tank.

Think Tank Quickies #84

  • CSIS has officially moved.
  • "Worst peace scare in memory is sweeping through the think tanks of Washington."
  • Think tank may face legal action over fake adviser row.
  • Hamilton Project at Brookings announces new leadership team. 
  • Think tanks in Brussels aren't as aggressive and partisan as those in Washington, DC. 
  • David Berteau named Director of new CSIS National Security Program on Industry and Resources. 
  • Peter Schechter named first Director of the Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center at Atlantic Council.
  • LexisNexis and Atlantic Council formally introduce "The Global Rule of Law Business Principles" to the United Nations Secretary General.
  • RAND Corp. report: US debt could reduce US global influence.
  • RAND Corp. report: US & ROK should prepare for eventual collapse of North Korean gov't.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

CFR Beefs Up With Former Central Bankers

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) announced this month that two former central bank governors have joined the think tank.

In early September, CFR announced that Stanley Fischer, former Bank of Israel Governor has joined CFR as a Distinguished Fellow.

Last week, CFR announced that Mervyn King, former Bank of England Governor and Chief Economist, has joined CFR as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow.

Those two are the newest addition to a variety of other high-profile scholars and practitioners on economics and geoeconomics at CFR, including:
  • Robert Rubin, former US Treasury Secretary
  • Timothy Geithner, former US Treasury Secretary
  • Peter Orszag, former Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
  • Jagdish Bhagwati, Professor at Colombia University

Adam Posen, the new head of the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) and former member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England, criticized Mervyn King earlier in the year.

CFR was recently ranked as the 6th best think tank in the world and 3rd best think tank in the US by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  CFR was also ranked as the 7th best think tank in the world for international economic policy.

In other think tank personnel news, Austan Goolsbee, former economic adviser to President Obama, has been named as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP).

Brookings' New Center for Effective Public Mgmt.

The Brookings Institution announced this week the establishment of the Center for Effective Public Management (CEPM), a new research organization that will focus on identifying and solving political and governance challenges in 21st century America.

The new Center will be housed within the Governance Studies program at Brookings.

Here is more about the Center for a Brookings press release:
The Center for Effective Public Management will be led by Senior Fellow and Founding Director Elaine Kamarck, a key figure in reinventing government research and action. As a senior staffer in the Clinton administration, she created the National Performance Review, the largest government reform effort in the last half of the twentieth century. Kamarck will be joined in these efforts by a number of Governance Studies scholars, as well as a team of non-Brookings experts with proven track records in government reinvention and innovation.
Governance Studies will host a forum on September 27 to commemorate the creation of the think tanks newest research center.  Former Vice President Al Gore will deliver the keynote address at that forum, which will be webcast live.

The Brookings Institution was recently ranked as the best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.

Monday, September 23, 2013

New Book: What Should Think Tanks Do?

Stanford University Press has just released a new book by Andrew Selee titled "What Should Think Tanks Do? A Strategic Guide to Policy Impact."

Here is a description:
Think tanks and research organizations set out to influence policy ideas and decisions—a goal that is key to the very fabric of these organizations. And yet, the ways that they actually achieve impact or measure progress along these lines remains fuzzy and underexplored. What Should Think Tanks Do? A Strategic Guide for Policy Impact is the first practical guide that is specifically tailored to think tanks, policy research, and advocacy organizations. Author Andrew Selee draws on extensive interviews with members of leading think tanks, as well as cutting-edge thinking in business and non-profit management, to provide concrete strategies for setting policy-oriented goals and shaping public opinion. Concise and practically-minded, What Should Think Tanks Do? helps those with an interest in think tanks to envision a well-oiled machine, while giving leaders in these organizations tools and tangible metrics to drive and evaluate success.
You can read the introduction here.  You can read the preface here.

Andrew Selee is Vice President for Programs at the Wilson Center, and Senior Advisor to the think tank's Mexico Institute, of which he is the Founding Director.

Think Tank Watch plans on reading and reviewing the book, so stay tuned...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #83

  • WSJ Review has reaction from five think tankers on the Syria situation.
  • Wilson Center: Approx. 1.5 billion people live in conflict-affected, post-conflict, or fragile countries.
  • Heritage President Jim DeMint makes Townhall's 25 most influential people on the right list.
  • US's top climate negotiator Todd Stern to speak at Chatham House climate change event in October.
  • PIIE studies to form the core reading list for a MOOC on globalization.
  • Video: NAF scholar Philip Mudd interviewed on the Colbert Report.
  • Richard Bush named Chen-Fu and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies at Brookings.
  • How Australian think tanks turned the electoral tide in favor of Tony Abbott.
  • Ratan Tata nominated as member of the board of trustees at CEIP.
  • Jersey Shore's Snooki inspired Hudson think tank wonk's new book.  (no joke)

Think Tankers Among "100 to Watch" This Fall

The Hill newspaper recently released its "100 People to Watch in the Fall," and five think tankers are on the list:
  • Christopher Horner, Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)
  • Adele Morris, Policy Director for the Climate and Energy Economics Project, Brookings Institution
  • Mark Krikorian, Executive Director, Center for Immigration Studies
  • Michael Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies, Cato Institute
  • Len Burman, Director, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (TPC)
The Hill says that you "can't ignore" these people if you are wondering how events in Congress and the White House (such as climate/energy policy, immigration, health, and taxes) will play out.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

How Special is Heritage's $26 Million Gift?

As Think Tank Watch previously reported, the Heritage Foundation has received a $26 million gift from the family of the late Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis.  The gift is to be used for advancing the mission of the Davis Institute for International Studies at the think tank.

Here is more from Heritage:
The Davis family made the gift in memory of Shelby Cullom Davis, former ambassador to Switzerland, member of Heritage’s Board of Trustees from 1979 to 1992 and chairman from 1985 to1992, and Dr. Kathryn Davis, an adventurer, author and scholar who served as an honorary trustee of Heritage for many years. Both Shelby and Kathryn received the first Clare Boothe Luce Award, Heritage’s highest honor, in 1991 for their legacy of accomplishments for the conservative cause.
The Davis family has had a long relationship with The Heritage Foundation. The late Shelby Cullom Davis was an early and influential backer of Heritage’s mission, and his support led to the publication of Mandate for Leadership, which became a blueprint for President Reagan’s first term in office. He and his late wife Kathryn Wasserman Davis are the namesakes of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies. The Institute is Heritage’s base for research and analysis of foreign policy, international relations, global economics and national security. It now comprises multiple centers for research and policy development.
It is the largest gift that the Heritage Foundation has received to date.  As for it being the largest think tank gift ever, Think Tank Watch is still doing some digging into that.

If you take some of the early endowments at the big Washington think tanks and adjust them for inflation, they may very well be surpass that $26 million number.  Also, it is hard to quantify the gifts to think tanks over a long period of time from wealthy donors such as the Koch brothers, who have heavily funded a variety of conservative think tanks for years.

To be sure, think tanks have received multi-million dollar gift before.  For example, the Brookings Institution received a five-year, $10 million gift in 2012 from the Irene Diamond Fund, Inc.  In 2011 Brookings received a $10 million grant from J.P. Morgan Chase.

Frederick Pardee, a former researcher at RAND Corp., donated $5 million to RAND in 2001, $10 million to RAND in 2003, and $3.6 million in 2013.

Earlier this year, Adrienne Arsht donated $5 million to the Atlantic Council to create the think tank's Adrienne Arsht Latin America Center.

Just in terms of size, that think tank money pales in comparison to recent gifts to universities.  Indeed, it was just reported that a former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers is giving Georgetown University $100 million.

The article says that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged $350 million to Johns Hopkins University this year alone.  American University says its largest private donation was $20 million.  George Washington University (GWU) says its largest donation ever was $25 million.

By the way, $26 million is a lot of money, but for the already well-funded Heritage Foundation, it may not have as much monetary significance compared to such a gift given to a smaller, less well-funded think tank.

According to the Heritage Foundation's 2012 annual report, six years into its Leadership for America campaign, Heritage members have made gifts, pledges, and commitments totaling more than $544 million.

The same report says that contributions to Heritage and Heritage Action topped $80 million in 2012 - an all-time record for the think tank.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Think Tankers Among Top Foreign Policy Leaders

The Diplomatic Courier has just announced the 2013 top "99 under 33 Foreign Policy Leaders," and think tankers are among the ranks.  They include:
  • Rebecca Anne Schneider, Chief of Staff, The McCain Institute for International Leadership
  • Ryan Sickles, Deputy Director of External Affairs, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  • Eric Trager, Next Generation Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP)
  • Melinda Wuellner, Deputy Director, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)
  • Caitlin Poling, Director of Government Relations, Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI)

Here is the list from 2011, and here is the list from 2012.  Diplomatic Courier is a global affairs magazine that connects the diplomatic and policy establishment to the next generation of leaders in diplomacy and foreign policy.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Heritage Head Pens Rebuttal to Putin Op-Ed

Former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), the head of the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation, has written a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to his op-ed in The New York Times.  It was reportedly sent to the Russian Embassy.

The letter notes that DeMint enclosed a booklet by Heritage expert Matthew Spalding called "Why Is America Exceptional?"

Here is how the Daily Caller describes the letter.  Here is what the Washington Times says:
The Heritage Foundation has been a thorn in Russia’s side since the 1980s, when it was one of the first proponents of missile defense. The organization sponsored the High Frontier study in 1981, one year before President Reagan’s speech on the Strategic Defense Initiative.
Here is more from Heritage.

Here is Vladimir Putin's op-ed in the New York Times.

Think Tank Quickies #82

  • Debt ceiling to be reached between Oct. 17 & Nov. 5, says BPC.
  • Tax Policy Center (TPC) says 47% not paying federal taxes is now 43%.
  • Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at Heritage Foundation. 
  • Washington think tank e21 joins Manhattan Institute family of research centers.
  • If you are starting a think tank, this book is for you.
  • Think tank challenge: Surviving the competition.
  • CFR's Micah Zenko: PhDs are less of a requirement for think tank fellowships then being funded by 4-5 grant-giving institutions.
  • Advice for those who want to work at a think tank.
  • How did leading think tanks fare in 2012?  Hans Gutbrod analyzes the numbers.
  • The Heritage Foundation has decided it's better to be feared than loved.

Cool Image: What are Think Tanks Working On?

Wordle: What the US Top 20 Think Tanks Work on
Hans Gutbrod, a consultant and think tank expert, has put together this word cloud of what the top 20 US think tanks are currently working on, based on an analysis of their websites.  Please click here for a clear image.

Economics, Security, Energy, Health, and Education seem to be among the top topics for US think tanks.

Think Tankers Knock Out Summers for Fed?

The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), a think tank dedicated to women's issues, has facilitated the collection of 450+ signatures calling for support of Janet Yellen to be the next Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

A variety of think tankers have signed the letter, including:
  • Heidi Hartmann, President of Institute for Women's Policy Research
  • Alice Rivlin, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution
  • Dean Baker, Co-Director, Center for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
  • Eileen Appelbaum, Senior Economist, CEPR
  • John Schmitt, Senior Economist, CEPR
  • Michael Goldberg, Senior Research Associate, Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)
  • Thomas Hungerford, Senior Economist and Director of Tax and Budget Policy, Economic Policy Institute (EPI)
  • Monique Morrissey, Economist, EPI
  • Heidi Shierholz, Economist, EPI
  • Lawrence Mishel, President, EPI
  • Stephen Oliner, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute (AEI)
  • Josh Bivens, Research and Policy Director, EPI

Yesterday (September 15) Larry Summers, who was reportedly the front-runner for the job, withdrew his name from consideration to be the next Federal Reserve Chairman.

IWPR was co-founded by Heidi Hartmann in 1987 and is based in Washington, DC.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Heritage Wants to be Feared, Not Loved

Tim Mak of the Washington Examiner has just written a fairly long piece on the Heritage Foundation.  The conclusion: Heritage has decided to be feared rather than loved.

Here are some interesting excerpts from the article:

  • The conservative think tank conducted private market research on Capitol Hill between 2008 and 2009, asking respondents whether they were ever worried about being on the wrong side of Heritage’s position.  “Overwhelmingly, nobody cared,” said Tim Chapman, now the chief operating officer of Heritage Action, the organization’s three-year-old advocacy arm.
  • Sen. Jim DeMint wasn’t the board’s original choice for the post of president.  Heritage’s Board of Trustees initially had doubts about whether choosing a politician would be the right move for a think tank that had for decades been led by a former Hill staffer with a Ph.D., outgoing president Ed Feulner.
  • In the first half of 2012, Heritage offered the presidency to Larry Arnn, the president of conservative Hillsdale College and a member of the board. After considering it, Arnn declined the job, deciding instead to remain in academia.
  • The search to replace [Ed] Feulner took the better part of three years, during which 18 candidates were interviewed. Academics, “two or three” politicians, staff from other think tanks, and even media figures were considered for the position, Heritage Executive Vice President Philip Truluck said.
  • Former Sen. Jim Talent, an adviser to GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and rumored to be a favorite for secretary of defense had Romney won the election, was seriously considered, according to multiple board members. Others considered for the post included Heritage insiders David Addington and Matt Spalding.
  • After President Obama was elected to a second term, there was a sense among the board that Heritage needed to become more aggressive. And American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks, who consulted with the Heritage board during its search, said he recommended they “not try to clone Ed Feulner.”
  • When it comes time to determine which key votes and co-sponsorships should be included on Heritage Action’s scorecard, [Tim] Chapman, [Michael] Needham, Political Director Russ Vought, Communications Director Dan Holler and their relevant registered lobbyists – Heritage Action employs six – huddle to decide.
  • Heritage Action and Heritage Foundation staffers communicate regularly and share a building, but staffers in both groups insist that Heritage Action only suggests topics for scholars to write about, and never influences the work itself.
  • Three years in, Heritage Action has proven to be an experiment whose success remains uncertain.  Heritage Action’s targeting of Republicans has upset the think tank's relations with Capitol Hill. In fact, it’s difficult to overstate the anger of top congressional aides and many Republican members of Congress.

Despite all the uproar, Heritage still has lots of money rolling in.  In fact, the think tank just announced that it received a gift of $26 million.

The Heritage Foundation was recently ranked as the 18th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was rated the 9th best think tank in the US.  It was also rated as the #1 think tank in the world in terms of best use of social media and the Internet.  Heritage was also rated as the 10th best think tank in the world in terms of most significant impact on public policy.

Former CSIS Scholar Takes Center Stage on Syria

Tony Blinken, the Deputy National Security Adviser and former think tanker, has been thrust into the spotlight on Syria while National Security Adviser Susan Rice has been traveling overseas.

Here is more from the Washington Examiner:
Deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken built his reputation in Washington by being the smartest — and most soft-spoken — aide in the room.
But now the former adviser for Vice President Joe Biden has been thrust into the spotlight as the point man for the Obama administration’s contentious push to win congressional authorization for a military strike on Syria.
Blinken has long been a central player in the White House. He was in the Situation Room when President Obama's inner circle learned that Navy SEALs had killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
In the famous photo capturing the tense moments during the raid on bin Laden's compound, Blinken seemingly fades into the background, looking over the shoulder of then-White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.
Blinken, though, is now front and center and the stakes couldn’t be much higher.
His newfound role was accelerated when National Security Adviser Susan Rice joined Obama for his trip to the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, leaving Blinken, the understudy, as the public face of the administration's push in Washington.

Blinken was a Senior Fellow in the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which was recently ranked as the best think tank in the world for security and international affairs by the University of Pennsylvania annual think tank rankings.

Amb. Rice also hails from think tank land.   She was a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution from 2002 to 2009.  There she focused on US foreign policy, weak and failing states, the implications of global poverty, and transnational threats to security.  The various work she did while at Brookings can be found here.

Rice is also a former Board Member of the American Security Project (ASP), and was on the Board of Directors of the Atlantic Council.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #81

  • Stanley Fischer, former Bank of Israel Governor, joins CFR as Distinguished Fellow.
  • Does Ghana need a diaspora think tank?
  • Cato Institute: Free trade makes you fat.
  • Hong Kong think tank used experts' names without consent
  • Think tanks and public policy in the Arab world. 
  • LSE flashback - Getting research into policy: the role of think tanks and other mediators.
  • The launch of Peru's first national awards for think tanks. (subscription/registration needed)
  • LSE: BBC News does not really have as much left-of-center bias towards think tanks as previously suggested.
  • Harold Trinkunas named Senior Fellow and Director of Foreign Policy at Brookings Latin America Initiative.
  • AEI releases new book on college costs.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

North Korea Targeting South Korean Think Tanks

North Korea seems to think that South Korean think tanks hold lots of useful information.

TechWorld reports that Kaspersky Lab has uncovered what looks like an attempt by North Korean hackers to target South Korean think tanks and others.

Here is more:
Kaspersky Lab has uncovered what looks like a surprisingly clunking attempt by North Korean hackers to steal data from  think-tanks in hated neighbour South Korea using a poorly-concealed Trojan.
The Russian firm’s analysis makes clear that attribution for ‘Kimsuky’ can’t be planted on the door of North Korea with absolute certainty but it’s hard to see why anyone else would be so interested in its target list.
These include among 11 South Korean organisations, the Sejong Institute, the Korea Institute For Defense Analyses (KIDA), the Ministry of Unification Government department, and Hyundai Merchant Marine, all attacked most likely using some form of spear phishing.
South Korea has 35 think tanks, according to the latest statistics from the University of Pennsylvania.  North Korea has two think tanks.  [Here is a collection of think tank reports about North Korea; Interesting fact: Japan has a pro-North Korea think tank called Center for Korean-American Peace, or CFKAP.]

Hack attacks against think tanks are nothing new.  Here is a recent post from Think Tank Watch on a hack attack against an unnamed think tank.

Think Tank Staffer Fired For Lying on Resume

Elizabeth O'Bagy, a Senior Research Analyst and Syria Team Lead at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), has been fired from the think tank for lying about having a Ph.D.

Here is what Politico writes:
The Syria researcher whose Wall Street Journal op-piece was cited by Secretary of State John Kerry and Sen. John McCain during congressional hearings about the use of force has been fired from the Institute for the Study of War for lying about having a Ph.D., the group announced on Wednesday.
O’Bagy’s Aug. 30 op-ed piece for the Journal, “On the Front Lines of Syria’s Civil War,” was cited by both Kerry and McCain last week. McCain read from the piece last Tuesday to Kerry, calling it “an important op-ed by Dr. Elizabeth O’Bagy.” The next day, Kerry also brought up the piece before a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing and described it as a “very interesting article” and recommended that members read it.
But the piece had also come under fire for misrepresenting her affiliations. Originally the op-ed only listed O’Bagy, 26, as only “a senior analyst” at the ISW, later adding a clarification that disclosed her connection to a Syrian rebel advocacy group.
“In addition to her role at the Institute for the Study of War, Ms. O’Bagy is affiliated with the Syrian Emergency Task Force, a nonprofit operating as a 501(c)(3) pending IRS approval that subcontracts with the U.S. and British governments to provide aid to the Syrian opposition,” the WSJ added in its clarification.
Her biography on the ISW website now says that "contrary to her representations, Ms. Elizabeth O'Bagy does not in fact have a Ph.D. degree from Georgetown University.  ISW has accordingly terminated Ms. O'Bagy's employment, effective immediately."

Here is a Huffington Post article about Ms. O'Bagy's ties to the Syria Emergency Task Force.

Here is a recent Think Tank Watch post on ISW's new Syria blog.

This is not the fist time that Ph.D.'s/dissertations have gotten think tankers in trouble.  Remember the Heritage Foundation's Jason Richwine?

ISW, founded in May 2007 by Dr. Kimberly Kagan, was established to provide real-time, independent, and open-source analysis of ongoing military operations and insurgent attacks in Iraq.  General Jack Keane (U.S. Army, Ret.) is the Chairman of ISW's Board of Directors.

Brookings and Heritage: New BFFs?

The conservative think tank Heritage Foundation is now following the liberal Brookings Institution on Twitter.  New best friends forever?

For the record, Brookings follows Heritage on Twitter.

Heritage's "Mammoth" Billboard Campaign in NYC

The conservative think tank Heritage Foundation announced this week a "mammoth" billboard campaign in New York City warning that "Obamacare may be hazardous to your health."

Here is more from Heritage:
Inspired by health warnings from the U.S. Surgeon General, the billboard will encourage passersby in the Times Square area to get more information by texting the word “HAZARD” to 33733.
The six-story billboard, which will be unveiled this week, will be hard to miss. Located on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, it is 90 feet long and 67 feet high. The message will run through late October.
A picture of the billboard can be viewed here.

The Heritage Foundation was recently ranked as the 18th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was rated the 9th best think tank in the US.  It was also rated as the #1 think tank in the world in terms of best use of social media and the Internet.  Heritage was also rated as the 10th best think tank in the world in terms of most significant impact on public policy.

Universities Have Better Scholars Than Think Tanks?

The New America Foundation's (NAF) new President and CEO Anne-Marie Slaughter recently wrote an essay about why she returned to Washington.

In that essay, she says that universities, not think tanks, have the best thinkers and researchers.  Here is what she said:
...Washington think tanks have proliferated, adding endowed chairs and research centers that attract highly qualified experts and that often replicate the intellectual infrastructure that once only universities could provide.
Great American universities, however, still host the world’s best thinkers and researchers.
The debate continues.  Who has the best scholars, universities or think tanks?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

CNAS to Host Syria Live Stream & Twitter Chat Tonight

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a think tank with close connections to the Obama Administration, will host a live stream tonight of President Barack Obama's Syria speech at the White House along with a Twitter chat.

You can view the live stream and Twitter chat here.  President Obama's speech starts at 9pm ET.

Here are some CNAS commentaries on Syria from nine of the think tank's scholars.

In the recently released University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, CNAS was ranked as the 14th best think tank in the US.  It was also ranked as the 24th best security and international affairs think tank in the world.  It was ranked 25th in the world in terms of think tanks having the most significant impact on public policy.

Think Tank's Wilson Quarterly to Fold?

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars reportedly may sell or stop publication of the Wilson Quarterly, a well-known, 37-year-old magazine published by the think tank.

Here is more from the Washington Post:
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is exploring selling or ceasing publication of the Wilson Quarterly, a wise, wonky and sometimes witty magazine that showcases the work of renowned intellectuals and policy experts but has struggled to find a footing in the digital world, according to sources.
The quarterly abruptly canceled its print edition last year, shifting its focus to digital platforms such as the Kindle and iPad, as well as its Web site. But readership has declined, and the cachet of a 37-year-old publication that once cultivated a loyal and elite audience drawn to its special brand of brainy, yet accessible, writing has slipped.
Preliminary contacts have been made with prospective buyers, according to sources, but no deal has been struck. Discussions about the uncertain future of the quarterly, which have not been publicly disclosed, coincide with increased financial pressures at the Wilson Center, a venerable institution that hosts scholars and foreign dignitaries, as well as housing numerous programs focused on world regions. 
The center gets about a fourth of its budget from the federal government, but an annual spending bill being considered by the House Appropriations Committee would eliminate funding for the center. All or part of the $10 million funding request could be restored, but at a time when federal budget woes are consuming lawmakers, the threat of a cutoff of federal dollars can’t be taken lightly.
The Wilson Center was recently ranked as the 11th 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 #80

  • World's think tanks increasing attention towards Azerbaijan; 1st Forum of Think Tanks of Member States of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) kicks off in Baku.
  • Stimson Center launches website for Indo-Pak dialogue.
  • RAND Corp. study evaluates airpower options for Syria intervention.
  • Frederick Pardee, a former RAND researcher, contributes $3.6 million to support the Pardee RAND Graduate School and to create its Pardee Initiative for Global Human Progress.
  • Former Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Kathleen Hicks named CSIS Senior Vice President, Kissinger Chair, and International Security Program Director.
  • Marc Jarsulic, former chief economist of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, named CAP's Vice President for Economic Policy.
  • James Hasik becomes new Nonresident Senior Fellow for Defense with the Atlantic Council's Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security.
  • George Lopez appointed to lead USIP's Academy for International Conflict Management and Peacebuilding.
  • New America Foundation (NAF) has a new magazine: The Weekly Wonk. 
  • Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK): "I pay no attention to Heritage is destroying the Republican Party."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Think Tanks & Syria Intervention

The past week or so Think Tank Watch has had numerous posts related to a possible US military intervention in Syria and how think tanks are involved in the whole process.  Here is an aggregation of those posts:
Visit Think Tank Watch for much more information on think tank news, gossip, personnel, reports, studies, and pretty much anything related to think tanks.  Think Tank Watch aims to be the world's best online resource on think tanks.  Tips are always welcome.

Obama Using Brookings Proposal for Syria?

The conservative website WND has a new piece speculating that President Obama may be employing a March 2012 Brookings Institution report for its Syria strategy.

The report, Middle East Memo #21,, is titled "Saving Syria: Assessing Options for Regime Change."  It was authored by Daniel Byman, Michael Doran, Kenneth Pollack, and Salman Shaikh.

Here is an excerpt from WND:
The memo proposed six strategies the U.S. “should consider to achieve Asad’s overthrow”:
  1. Removing the Assad regime via diplomacy;
  2. Coercing the regime via sanctions and diplomatic isolation;
  3. Arming the Syrian opposition to overthrow the regime;
  4. Engaging in a Libya-like air campaign to help an opposition army gain victory;
  5. Invading Syria with U.S.-led forces and toppling the regime directly; and
  6. Participating in a multilateral, NATO-led effort to oust Assad and rebuild Syria.
The memo stressed that no one strategy was going to be endorsed, although the memo clearly indicates preferences, especially when it comes to evaluating the probability each particular strategy has to achieve the stated policy goal of ousting the Assad regime.
The diplomatic option is discounted as having a low probability of success, because Russia’s protection of the Assad regime makes it unlikely the U.S. could pass a U.N. Security Council resolution in any way critical of Assad.
The effort to coerce the Assad regime by sanctions and diplomatic isolation is also regarded as a strategy with a low probability of success, because it would most likely create a stalemate in Syria between government and rebel forces, which would benefit Iran and Russia.
...In conclusion, the Brookings Institution memo cautioned against inaction: “As a final thought, it is always important to keep in mind that failing to act – even failing to decide – is an action and a decision.”

President Obama's National Security Adviser, Amb. Susan Rice, a former Brookings Institution scholar, is speaking today at the New America Foundation (NAF) on why the US must intervene in Syria.

The Brookings Institution was recently ranked as the best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.

New RAND Study: Syria Military Action Risky

The RAND Corporation recently released a new study regarding airpower options in Syria.  Here is a summary of the findings:
  • Destroying the Syrian air force or grounding it through intimidation is operationally feasible but would have only marginal benefits for protecting Syrian civilians.
  • Neutralizing the Syrian air defense system would be challenging but manageable; however, it would not be an end in itself.
  • Making safe areas in Syria reasonably secure would depend primarily on the presence of ground forces able and willing to fend off attacks, and defending safe areas in Syria's interior would resemble intervention on the side of the opposition.
  • An air campaign against the Syrian army could do more to help ensure the Assad regime would fall than to determine what would replace it.
  • Airpower could be used to reduce the Assad regime's ability or desire to launch large-scale chemical attacks, but eliminating its chemical weapon arsenal would require a large ground operation.
Karl Mueller, Associate Director, Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program, RAND Arroyo Center, and Professor of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, was the report's lead author.

Here is what Politico is saying about the study.

RAND Corp. was recently ranked as the 9th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the 5th best think tank in the US, and the world's 7th best security and international affairs think tank.

Obama Administration Using Liberal Think Tanks to Sell Syria Intervention

As the Obama Administration tries to sell intervention in Syria, it is using liberal think tanks to make the case for a strike against that country.

On Friday, September 6, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) Samantha Power gave an address at the Center for American Progress (CAP) on the need for action in Syria.  A video can be watched here.

CAP has an extremely close connection to the Obama Administration, and dozens of former staffers from the think tank have gone on to join the Administration.  Conversely, many former Obama Administration officials are now housed at CAP.

Today (September 9) President Obama's National Security Adviser Susan Rice will be giving on speech on Syria at the New America Foundation (NAF).  The think tank will be streaming a live webcast of the event.

On September 1, 2013, Anne-Marie Slaughter, officially began her new position as President and CEO of NAF.  Dr. Slaughter was the former Director of Policy Planning at the US State Department under President Obama.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Heritage Action Opposes Action in Syria

Heritage Action, the lobbying arm of the Heritage Foundation think tank, said this week that it opposes action in Syria.  Heritage Action released this statement: 
“Heritage Action is opposed to punitive missile strikes on the Syrian regime.  Yesterday’s hearing made it clear there is not a vital U.S. interest at stake.  Further, there is not a clear, achievable, realistic purpose to the use of force being contemplated by the Obama administration and officials offered little evidence such action would prevent further abuses.”
Here is an article from Heritage scholar James Carafano on the top five reasons not to use missile strikes in Syria.

But at the Heritage Foundation, there seems to be many differing views on action in Syria.  Here is what the Washington Post said in an article this week:
Heritage Action jumped into the foreign policy arena Wednesday when it declared there was “not a vital U.S. interest at stake” in attacking Syria for its alleged use of chemical weapons. That stands in sharp contrast with recent statements from Heritage analysts, including several who called for urgent action on Syria last November and said the United States should “work closely with allies to accelerate the fall of the Assad regime.”
The Heritage Foundation was recently ranked as the 18th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was rated the 9th best think tank in the US.  It was also rated as the #1 think tank in the world in terms of best use of social media and the Internet.  Heritage was also rated as the 10th best think tank in the world in terms of most significant impact on public policy.

Mass Exodus at Heritage Foundation?

Are staffers leaving the Heritage Foundation at a dizzying pace?  There have certainly been some recent high-profile exits, but it doesn't appear there has yet been a mass exodus.

Here is what the Washington Post is reporting:
The shift toward political activism has dismayed some longtime Heritage scholars; more than half a dozen have left in recent months.
The group has experienced a wave of departures to Capitol Hill and rival think tanks in recent months, losing its top statistician, its chief lobbyist, a senior tax analyst, a key retirement expert and a Latin America expert. Heritage Vice President Matthew Spalding announced last month that he was decamping for conservative Hillsdale College, where he will become vice president and dean of educational programs in Washington.
Truluck said that the think tank’s rate of turnover is consistent with past years and that DeMint fully supports independent analysis. “There has been no change in our policy direction,” he said. “Zero.”
The Heritage Foundation was recently ranked as the 18th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was rated the 9th best think tank in the US.  It was also rated as the #1 think tank in the world in terms of best use of social media and the Internet.  Heritage was also rated as the 10th best think tank in the world in terms of most significant impact on public policy.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Think Tank Quickies #79

  • CFR President Richard Haass criticizes President Obama over Syria.
  • Heritage Action leaves GOP "in the lurch" on government shutdown.
  • The Washington Diplomat: Libertarian Cato breaks bipartisan mold.
  • The Washington Diplomat: Lugar Institute aims to bridge chasm between Capitol Hill, Embassy Row.
  • Employment Policies Institute (EPI) full-page ad in WSJ attacking a possible $15 minimum wage.
  • Can think tank experts ever be wrong?  The example of Brookings' Kenneth Pollack.
  • First annual meeting of Pak-China think tanks concludes.
  • J.W. Thacker of Western Kentucky U. reviews "Leading the Way: The Story of Ed Fuelner and the Heritage Foundation."
  • David Brodwin: "Americans lose when think tanks become lobbyists."
  • Alejandro Chafuen on expanding the reach of think tanks and the growing relevance of online media.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Jim DeMint More Powerful as Think Tank Head?

Here is some of what The Washington Times in reporting, in an article titled "Jim DeMint Still Able to Pull Some Weight Among Senate Republicans."
When he was in the Senate, Jim DeMint wasn’t shy about trying to recruit conservatives he thought would buck the Republican Party establishment and gum up the collegial workings of the legislative process.
Now on the outside, running the Heritage Foundation, the former senator from South Carolina may have even more levers to pull as he puts the full weight of the conservative think tank behind the effort to defund President Obama’s health care law — and in the process becoming a tremendous headache for many fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill.
“Some people love him, some people hate him,” said John Feehery, a Republican Party strategist. “He has never been someone who wanted to be a deal-cutter. Jim DeMint is someone who wants to push the party to the right. He seems to want to spend most of his attention going after Republicans.”
Here is what the article says on DeMint possibly losing clout:
His hardball tactics even might have led to friction with the strongly conservative House Republican caucus. The National Journal reported last week that Heritage officials were disinvited from attending private strategy sessions of the conservative House Republican Study Group after the think tank harshly criticized the farm bill passed by the House.
The defund Obamacare tour, which started in Arkansas in mid-August, put Mr. DeMint at odds with a number his former Republican colleagues in the Senate, including fellow South Carolinian Sen. Lindsey Graham.
The entire article can be read here.

The Heritage Foundation was recently ranked as the 18th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was rated the 9th best think tank in the US.  It was also rated as the #1 think tank in the world in terms of best use of social media and the Internet.  Heritage was also rated as the 10th best think tank in the world in terms of most significant impact on public policy.

Slaughter Takes Over Reins at Think Tank

On September 1, 2013, Anne-Marie Slaughter officially began her new position as President and CEO of the New America Foundation (NAF).

It was announced in early April that NAF's Board of Directors voted to name Dr. Slaughter as the think tank's next president.

Dr. Slaughter, a Princeton professor, former Dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and the former Director of Policy Planning at the US Department of State, succeeds Steve Coll, who stepped down as NAF president on March 31, 2013 after five years on the job.

Mr. Coll became the dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, but he remains a Senior Fellow with the National Security Studies Program at NAF.

Dr. Slaughter is the Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton.  She is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and writes a monthly column for Project Syndicate.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on Slaughter's plans for NAF.

NAF was recently ranked as the 32nd best think tank in the US by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the 8th best think tank in the world in terms of most innovative policy ideas and proposals.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

ISW's New Syria Blog Tracks Action

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has a new blog that allows you to follow important developments in Syria.  There are lots of maps, descriptions of fighting and military movements, and details about Bashar al-Assad's response to all the events.

ISW, founded in May 2007 by Dr. Kimberly Kagan, was established to provide real-time, independent, and open-source analysis of ongoing military operations and insurgent attacks in Iraq.  General Jack Keane (U.S. Army, Ret.) is the Chairman of ISW's Board of Directors.

Dr. Kagan's husband, Frederick Kagan, is the Christopher DeMuth Chair and Director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).  Along with his wife, Frederick Kagan is a faculty member of the Hertog War Studies Summer Program in Washington, DC, an intensive two-week program run by ISW.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on what various think tanks are saying about a possible US intervention in Syria.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Think Tanks Pushing for War in Syria?

As the drumbeat of intervention in Syria grows louder, Think Tank Watch has compiled the view on Syria from think tank land.  Here are a few links to what some think tankers are saying about possible intervention in that country.
  • The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) has compiled the thoughts of nine of its scholars on the Syria situation.
  • Here is what four different scholars from the Brookings Institution have to say.  Here is a compilation of what a variety of other scholars at Brookings think.
  • Michael Rubin of AEI weighs in, as does Daniella Pletka.
  • Here is Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on "choosing the right options" in Syria.  Here is another piece by Cordesman saying that US strikes and military involvement in Syria must be limited and conditional.
  • Paul Salem of Carnegie's Middle East Center (MEC) writes about "bracing for impact" in Syria.  Here is what John Judis of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) has to say on Syria.
  • The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has a lot to say on Syria.  Here is Matthew Waxman on intervention in Syria.  Here is Ed Husain on why Western intervention will leave "chaos."  Here is Leslie Gelb on President Obama's new Syria options.  Here is Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on the best case scenario in Syria.  Here is a transcript from a media call on Syria with Richard Haass.  Here is an op-ed he wrote titled "America Must Stick to a Course on Syria."  Here is James Lindsay on Syria and the War Powers debate.
  • Here is the Heritage Foundation's recent thinking about intervention in Syria. 
  • The Cato Institute's Christopher Preble on resisting the calls for action in Syria; Cato's Benjamin Friedman and Erica Borghard on Syria.  Cato's Doug Bandow says President Obama must go to Congress before bombing Syria.
  • Here is what the Atlantic Council has to say about the Syria situation. 
  • Wilson Center scholars debate possible US-led attack on Syria.  Aaron David Miller says Obama is mulling the least bad option; discusses the limits of action in Syria; predicts Obama will bomb Syria.
  • New America Foundation's (NAF) Peter Bergen on why Syria "is truly a problem from hell."
While on the topic of Syria, Think Tank Watch thought it would be interesting to see what the think tank scene is like in that country.  According to the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, Syria has five think tanks.  Within the Middle East, Israel has the most think tanks, with 54.  Egypt has 34 think tanks, Iran has 33, Iraq has 29, Palestine has 28, Turkey has 27, Yemen has 23, Saudi Arabia has 4, Oman has 2, and Libya has only one think tank.