Thursday, January 30, 2014

Clinton Think Tank Readies for 2016

As Hillary Clinton ponders a 2016 presidential run, a hugely influential Washington think tank in gearing up for battle to promote and defend her.

Here is more from Time:
...Her [Hillary Clinton's] unofficial apparatus already includes...a think tank, the Center for American Progress (CAP), ready to work up white papers and field-test applause lines.
Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on CAP being a launch-pad for Hillary Clinton's campaign.  Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on CAP offering access to Clinton for $250,000.

CAP, which may be Clinton's favorite think tank, is also hugely close to President Obama and a variety of powerful Democrats.

CAP was just ranked by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings as the 30th best think tank in the world, and it has climbed the ranks to become the US's 10th best think tank.

Think Tank Quickies (#106)

  • Flashback on UPenn think tank rankings: "It will take at least one more decade to refine tools to further measure think tanks."
  • Wilson Center comments on its wins in the 2014 UPenn think tank rankings.
  • Craig Zelizer: Key policy institutions and think tanks in peacebuilding and related fields.
  • WSJ: Think tanks = geeky institutions with opinions.
  • China Daily: 36 private think tanks founded in China from 2003-2012.
  • Does Russia fall behind in think tanks?  Only four Russian think tanks in top 100 list.
  • Rep. Allyson Schwartz leaves Third Way.
  • Cool Map: Number of think tank in the world by region (2012-2013 comparison).
  • 40% of Chinese think tanks have strong backing from government or military.
  • CPSSA annual conference has talk on student run think tanks.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Think Tanks Advising Obama on SOTU Speech

It's that time of year again for the annual State of the Union (SOTU) address, and as usual, think tanks are providing a variety of talking points for the President.

Here is more from the Washington Post:
Senior administration officials have been meeting with think-tank experts, administration alumni, Democratic strategists and others before the State of the Union — an outreach described by White House officials as more intensive than in the past. “After five years,” said one adviser, “it’s good to get some fresh eyes on the target.”
One of the think tanks that will likely have a large fingerprint on President Obama's talking points: Washington Center for Equitable Growth (WCEG), a new think tank focusing on income inequality that was founded by John Podesta, who was recently named as a top advisor to President Obama.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on WCEG.  Politico notes that WCEG is one of the think tanks that has compiled a list of possible unilateral executive actions that President Obama can take to bypass the gridlocked Congress. The new think tank is housed within the liberal think tank Center for American Progress (CAP).

Following is a look at some advice and analysis that think tanks are giving about this year's State of the Union address:
  • John Hudak of Brookings: Obama should encourage Congressional earmarks.
  • Amy Liu of Brookings: Don't back down on trade in the SOTU.
  • Lloyd Green of Brookings: A GOP SOTU would still be off message.
  • Thomas Mann of Brookings: Why the SOTU matters, even if it doesn't.
  • Marc Thiessen of American Enterprise Institute (AEI): In his SOTU address, President Obama will try to turn the page on the controversies of 2013 and shift to new topics.  Good luck with that.
  • Heritage Foundation's pre-SOTU Twitter chat.
  • Amy Payne of the Heritage Foundation: 7 things the President and Congress can do after SOTU.
  • Matt Lee-Ashley and Jessica Goad of CAP: Why President Obama should discuss conservation for the first time in his SOTU address.
  • Lawrence Korb of CAP: The state of our union? Dull.
  • CAP's recommendations for President Obama's energy and environmental to-do list in the SOTU.
  • Karla Walter and David Madland of CAP: Obama should use the SOTU to hold accountable federal contractors that harm workers and shortchange taxpayers.
  • CAP: Eight actions young Americans want to hear Obama discuss in his SOTU address.
  • Josh Bivens of Economic Policy Institute (EPI): What to look for in the SOTU.
  • A variety of university and think tank scholars are pushing for Obama to address the minimum wage in the SOTU. 
  • Cato Institute is live-blogging the State of the Union speech.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Details Emerge: 1st-Ever Africa Think Tank Summit

Here are more details from The Daily Pennsylvanian:
Penn staff and students are organizing the first-ever think tank summit in Africa.
Penn International Relations’ Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, directed by James McGann, is working with student interns to bring representatives from African think tanks together for the first time. The three-day conference will take place in Pretoria, South Africa between Feb. 3 and Feb. 5.
The African summit is one of several conferences TTCSP is organizing around the world and follows a Middle Eastern and North African summit, which was held in Istanbul in December.
While TTCSP had expected 40 or 50 think tanks to register for the conference, McGann said that currently 71 organizations have decided to attend. He added that this “overwhelming” interest means the summit will almost definitely become a yearly event.
The summit will consist of panel presentations and round-table discussions under the working title “Think Tanks and the Transformation of Africa.” TTCSP’s Global Summit Intern Coordinator Erin McCabe, a graduate student in the School of Social Policy & Practice, said the role of TTCSP at the summit will be that of “a neutral party but also an authoritative voice.”
The organization aims to help unlock the potential in Africa’s diversity by “fortifying the think tanks” so they can have “fertile resources to stay alive and stay active,” she said.

The just-released University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings says that there are 1,123 think tanks in Africa (including the non-African Middle East).  The Middle East and North Africa have 16.46% of the world's total think tanks.  North America and Europe have nearly 60% of the world's think tanks.  With 88 think tanks, South Africa has the largest number of think tanks in Africa.

Demos To Get Woman President

The liberal-leaning think tank Demos announced today that Heather McGhee will take over as the new president starting on March 10, 2014.

She will be replacing current president Miles Rapoport, who is leaving to head the public interest group Common Cause.  Rapoport led Demos for 13 years.

Ms. McGhee is currently the Vice President for Policy & Outreach at Demos, which is based in New York.

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

Neera Tanden, who leads one of the top 50 US think tanks (Center for American Progress), congratulated Heather McGhee on Twitter.  Said Tanden: "Proud to have another sister run a think tank & especially one so devoted to justice."

A variety of other people praised the announcement, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Jeff Merkley (R-OR), President of Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Lawrence Mishel, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, International President of SEIU Mary Kay Henry, and MSNBC host Chris Hayes.

Demos, founded in 2000, was just ranked by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings as the 53rd best think tank in the US.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cool Map: Number of Think Tanks in the World

From the University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.

Sen. Schumer Uses CAP to Launch New Plan to "Destroy" the Tea Party

From BusinessInsider:
Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) will outline on Thursday a new plan that he says will undermine the conservative wing of the Republican Party by driving a wedge between its wealthy donors and the rank-and-file members of the "Tea Party."
Schumer, one of the Senate Democratic caucus' top political strategists, will discuss the plan in a speech at the left-leaning Center for American Progress on Thursday. He will argue that the Tea Party has a "fundamental flaw," and that Democrats can exploit it, according to a preview of his speech.
Center for American Progress (CAP), which has close ties to the Obama Administration, was ranked as the 30th best think tank in the world by the 2013 University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was ranked as the 11th best think tank in the US.  It was also ranked as the 2nd best think tank in the world in terms of best use of the Internet or social media.

China's Think Tanks Lack Quality?

Hot off the press from UPI:
China has the world's second-largest number of think tanks after the United States, but experts question their quality.
A report by the think tank and civil societies program at the University of Pennsylvania said China had 426 think tanks as of August of last year, compared to the United States' 1,828, but only six of the Chinese institutions ranked among the top 100 worldwide. The rankings were determined by the think tanks' academic successes and global influence.
The country's top rated Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing got only the 20th rating on the world list, which was topped by the Washington-based Brookings Institution. The top 10 positions were taken by U.S. and European institutions.

This leads us to another question.  Are the University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings biased towards the US and Europe?  Think Tank Watch is aware of other think tank "rankings" outside of the US, but none are as comprehensive as the one compiled by UPenn.

Think Tank Quickies (#105)

  • Sunder Katwala on the role that journalism plays within think tanks.
  • Heritage Foundation video: Just how much is $1 trillion?
  • Jill Biden speaks at CAP on Feb. 5 about caregiving beyond parenting (postponed on Jan. 22).
  • Congressional Moneyball: Brookings uses sports-inspired stats to rank lawmaker effectiveness.
  • Brookings wins Bunkun Grand Prize for shoddiest educational research for 2013.
  • Three ways creating a "think tank" will improve your company.
  • New American Foundation analysis finds NSA surveillance programs had minimal impact in 225 terrorism cases since 9/11.
  • Will Ken Cuccinelli join a think tank?
  • Townhall: "Study by Brookings finds Sen. Harry Reid and Democrats responsible for gridlock."
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY) speak at Brookings Social Mobility Summit.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Ben Bernanke Headed to Think Tank Land?

Is one of Washington's premier think tanks about to land one of the most powerful people in the world?

Speculation is hot that Ben Bernanke is headed to think tank land once he steps down from the Federal Reserve at the end of this month.  More specifically, Brookings could be his think tank of choice.

Here is more from The Wall Street Journal:
The stars could be aligning for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke to join the Brookings Institution after his term ends at the end of the month.
Mr. Bernanke was the featured speaker at an event sponsored by Brookings last week, his last public appearance as Fed chairman. His friend and former deputy, Donald Kohn, has been a senior fellow at Brookings since leaving the Fed in 2010. And Brookings has recently established a new center on monetary and fiscal policy, called the Hutchins Center, with $10 million in funding from Glenn Hutchins, a founder of Silver Lake Partners, an investment fund. Mr. Hutchins also is a director on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Mr. Bernanke plans to write books and give speeches after he leaves the Fed, and has said he plans to remain in Washington.
Brookings, a Washington think tank, has been keen to land Mr. Bernanke and has had talks with him about it, said people familiar with the discussions. If he does plan to make a move there, he likely wouldn’t announce it until after his business at the Fed is finished. The Fed has a policy meeting Jan. 28-29 and his term ends Jan. 31.

But Think Tank Watch is not as sure about Mr. Bernanke going to Brookings as it was about Brookings being the #1 think tank (again, and again, and again) in the just-released University of Pennsylvania 2013 Global Go-To Think Tank Index.

In that report, released today, Brookings was rated as the world's best think tank, the US's top think tank, the top domestic economic policy think tank, the top education policy think tank, the top foreign policy and international affairs think tank, the top international development think tank, the top international economic policy think tank, the top social policy think tank, the best managed think tank, the think tank with the best use of social networks, the think tank with the best external relations/public engagement program, and the think tank with the most significant impact on public policy, to name a few.

Think Tank Watch wrote about Bernanke joining a think tank the spring of last year in this post.  Think Tank Watch noted at that time that former Federal Reserve officials are scattered at various think tanks, such as Brookings, American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE).  More recently, as we have noted, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has been on a central banker "binge."

Here is more on Ben Bernanke's speech at Brookings  Here is more on why Brookings is looking pretty darn good to Ben Bernanke.

In other related Federal Reserve/think tank revolving door news, President Barack Obama recently tapped Stanley Fischer, former governor of Israel's central bank, to serve as the Fed's Vice Chairman.  He also tapped Lael Brainard, a top Treasury Department official, to serve as a Fed governor.

In September 2013, Stanley Fischer became a Distinguished Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Lael Brainard is a former Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Vice President and Director of the Global Economy and Development program (2001-2009).  Her husband, Kurt Campbell, is also a prolific think tanker.

2014 Think Tank Rankings - Cheat Sheet

The 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index was released today by Dr. James McGann, Director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania.

This year, the report was jointly released in 25+ cities around the world, in conjunction with the launch that Dr. McGann gave at the World Bank in Washington, DC.

It was the 7th annual report of the think tank rankings (technically, it is the 2013 report released in 2014), and it ranks think tanks in various categories such as "top think tanks in the US," "top think tanks in Mexico and Canada," and "top health policy think tanks."

The rankings are considered the most comprehensive and most well-known think tank ratings in the world, but it certainly is not the only ranking out there.  For example, last year, the Center for Global Development (CGD) came up with its own rankings.

In terms of the world's best think tanks, Brookings Institution remained #1, Chatham House remained #2, and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP) remained #3.  But this year, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) climbed one spot to #4, and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) dipped one spot to #5.

Although the full report has not been officially released, Think Tank Watch has put together this list from an abridged copy of the report.  I will be adding more over the next few hours and days.

Top Think Tanks World Wide (US and Non-US):
  1. Brookings Institution
  2. Chatham House
  3. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP)
  4. Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  5. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

Top Think Tanks World Wide (Non-US):
  1. Chatham House
  2. Bruegel
  3. SIPRI
  4. International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)
  5. Transparency International (TI)

Top Think Tanks (US):
  1. Brookings
  2. CEIP
  3. CSIS
  4. RAND Corporation
  5. Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) 

Top Think Tanks with Outstanding Policy-Oriented Public Programs:
  1. RAND 
  2. Brookings
  3. CEIP

Think Tanks with the Most Significant Impact on Public Policy:
  1. Brookings
  2. CEIP
  3. Bruegel

Think Tanks with the Most Innovative Policy Ideas/Proposals:
  1. CEIP
  2. Brookings
  3. Fundar, Centro de Analisis e Investigacion

Think Tanks with the Best Use of the Media (Print or Electronic):
  1. Pew Research Center
  2. CFR
  3. Brookings

Think Tanks with the Best Use of the Internet:
  1. Amnesty International
  2. Cato Institute
  3. Pew Research Center

Think Tank to Watch:
  1. BRICS Policy Center
  2. Australian Strategy Policy Institute
  3. Association for International Affairs

Best University Affiliated Think Tanks:
  1. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  2. IDEAS/Policy Group, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
  3. Center for International Studies and Research (CERI)

Best New Think Tank:
  1. Instituto PVBLICA
  2. Russian Council on International Affairs (RSMD)
  3. Centre Africain des Estudes Asiatiques (CAEA)

Best Government Affiliated Think Tanks:
  1. World Bank Institute (WBI)
  2. United States Institute for Peace (USIP)
  3. Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)

Best For-Profit Think Tanks (Unranked):
  1. Economist Intelligence Unit
  2. McKinsey Global Institute
  3. Google Ideas 

Top Think Tanks in Mexico and Canada:
  1. Fraser Institute
  2. Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales (COMEX)
  3. North-South Institute
  4. Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)
  5. Centro Analisis e Investigacion (FUNDAR) 

Top Think Tanks in Central America and South America:
  1. Fundacao Getulio Vargas (FGV)
  2. Centro de Divulgacion del Conocimineto Economico para Libertad (CEDICE Libertad)
  3. Centro de Estudios Publicos (CEP)
  4. Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC/CEPAL)
  5. Centro de Implementacion de Politicas Publicas para la Equidad y el Crecimiento (CIPPEC)

Top Think Tanks in Central Asia:
  1. Center for Economic and Social Development
  2. Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies
  3. Alternate Solutions Institute
  4. Caucasus Research Resource Center
  5. Sustainable Development Policy Institute

Top Think Tanks in China, India, Japan, and Korea:
  1. Korea Development Institute (KDI)
  2. Japan Institute for International Affairs (JIIA)
  3. China Institute of International Studies (CIIS)
  4. Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS)
  5. Korea Institute for Economic Policy (KIEP)

Top Think Tanks in Asia and the Pacific (Excluding China, India, Japan, and Korea):
  1. Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA)
  2. Centre for Strategic Studies (CSS)
  3. Lowy Institute
  4. Australian Institute for International Affairs (AIIA)
  5. East Asian Institute

Top Think Tanks in Western Europe:
  1. Chatham House
  2. Bruegel
  3. SIPRI
  4. Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS)
  5. IISS

Top Think Tanks in Middle East and North Africa:
  1. Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies
  2. Brookings Doha Center
  3. Center for Economic and Policy Studies
  4. Carnegie Middle East Center
  5. Institute for National Security Studies (INSS)

Top Defense and National Security Think Tanks:
  1. CSIS
  2. RAND
  3. IISS
  4. Brookings
  5. Chatham House

Top Foreign Policy and International Affairs Think Tanks:
  1. Brookings
  2. CEIP
  3. Chatham House
  4. CFR
  5. CSIS 

Top Energy and Resource Policy Think Tanks:
  1. Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES)
  2. World Resources Institute
  3. RAND Corp.
  4. Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR)
  5. James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy

Top Environment Think Tanks:
  1. World Resources Institute
  2. Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
  3. Worldwatch Institute
  4. Brookings
  5. Resources for the Future (RFF)

Top Health Policy Think Tanks:
  1. Cambridge Centre for Health Services Research
  2. Bloomberg School of Public Health Research Centers (JHSPH)
  3. RAND Corp.
  4. Brookings
  5. Fraser Institute

Top Domestic Economic Policy Think Tanks:
  1. Brookings
  2. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
  3. Adam Smith Institute
  4. Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE)
  5. Cato Institute

Top International Economic Policy Think Tanks:
  1. Brookings
  2. Bruegel
  3. NBER
  4. PIIE
  5. Chatham House

Here are the think tank rankings from 2012, which were released in 2013.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

WSJ's Stephen Moore Returning to Heritage

Stephen Moore, a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board, is returning to The Heritage Foundation to become the think tank's Chief Economist.

Moore previously worked for Heritage from 1983 to 1987 as the Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Budgetary Affairs.

Why is Moore returning to the think tank?  He cites a philosophy that closely aligns with his, as well as the presence of Heritage Action, the lobbying arm of the think tank.

The Club for Growth, a conservative group that Moore founded in 1999, helped elect Jim DeMint to the US Senate.  DeMint is now the President of Heritage Foundation.  That said, Moore and DeMint do not always see eye-to-eye.

Heritage Foundation is not the only think tank that Moore has close ties too.  Moore was previously the Cato Institute's Director of Fiscal Policy Studies, as well as a Senior Fellow at the libertarian think tank.

Here is what David Weigel of Slate says about the Moore hire.

The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin is calling for Moore to become President of the Heritage Foundation, and send DeMint to head Heritage Action.

Think Tanker Killed in Afghanistan

Three Americans were killed in an attack on a restaurant in Kabul, Afghanistan on Friday, one of them being Alexandros Petersen, a former adviser at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

A profile from the Wilson Center says that Petersen was an Advisor to the European Energy Security Initiative (EESI).

That same profile notes that he has been a Senior Fellow for Eurasia and Fellow for Transatlantic Energy Security at the Atlantic Council, and a Visiting Fellow with the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Here is a statement from the Wilson Center on the death of Dr. Petersen.  That statement said that he had also been a Wilson Public Policy Scholar and a Visiting Scholar with the think tank's Southeast Europe Project.

According to his personal homepage, Petersen had other think tank affiliations, including being a Visiting Scholar at the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies (GFSIS), and a Senior Researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).  It also says he provided research for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) Task Force on Russian-American Relations.

The Taliban reportedly has claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 21 people.

Here is a Washington Post story about Mr. Petersen.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Think Tank Quickies (#104)

  • First African Think Tank Summit to take place Feb. 3-5 in Pretoria, South Africa.
  • How a NAF Board of Directors member was blackmailed and hacked by the Chinese.
  • Red Burns's Interactive Telecommunications Program was "part think tank, lab, playground, and atelier."
  • On Think Tanks on "Think Tanks in America" by Thomas Medvetz.
  • Video: Nicolas Ducote on effective leadership of think tanks.
  • Andrew Selee, author of What Should Think Tanks Do?, to become EVP of Wilson Center; Blair Ruble to become VP of Programs.
  • Video: Andrew Selee on thinking about think tanks: What are they and what do they do?
  • Results of Brookings' war-games of a US-Iran crisis over Syria.
  • Atlas Network establishes in 2013; requesting proposals for Liberating Asian Enterprise - a new grant opportunity for think tanks tackling the big questions in Asia.
  • Slide show presentation on think tanks via Demos Helsinki.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Ailes Biographer Attacked for NAF Affiliation

Gabriel Sherman, contributing editor at New York Magazine, has just written a much-talked-about biography on Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, and there has been lots of pushback.

Mr. Sherman happens to be a Bernard L. Schwartz Fellow at the New American Foundation (NAF), which is often described as a liberal think tank.  NAF calls itself non-partisan.  The President and CEO of NAF is Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former top-level State Department official in the Obama Administration.

Here is a recent conversation that CNN's Brian Stelter had with Mr. Sherman about the book:
STELTER: Another charge you'll see online, it seems to have merit to me, is the New America Foundation gave you a fellowship a couple of years ago. They are backed by a number of liberal causes and groups and donors.
What's - what do we make of that connection to the book?
SHERMAN: Well, listen, number one, that's an effort to distract from the book. The book is coming out –
STELTER: That is what you think.
SHERMAN: Readers can read the book. But to that point, New America is a nonpartisan think tank. They receive funding from a variety of sources. Roger Ailes' own handpicked autobiographer, Jim Pinkerton, who for many years, almost 10 years, was a fellow at the New America Foundation. So, it's clearly a transparent effort to distract from the book.

Indeed, Mr. Pinkerton was a fellow at NAF, and you can read much of his content here.

Here is a recent article in the conservative National Review Online labeling NAF as liberal.  Here is an article from the conservative Daily Caller from 2010 calling NAF a liberal think tank.  Another conservative outfit, The Free Beacon, recently called NAF "liberal" in an article titled "New America Foundation Under Fire for Hosting Event for Anti-Israel Book."  The liberal Huffington Post has labeled NAF "eclectically liberal."

New Atlantic Council Chairman: Jon Huntsman

Yesterday (January 15) the Atlantic Council of the United States (ACUS) named Jon Huntsman as the new Chairman of its Board of Directors.  His appointment takes effect immediately, according to a press release.

Huntsman served as governor of Utah and as President Obama's Ambassador to China.  He was a Republican presidential candidate in 2012 but dropped out of the running and endorsed Mitt Romney.

Huntsman succeeds Chuck Hagel, who stepped down from the think tank position to become Secretary of Defense.  Since then, Brent Scowcroft has been serving as Atlantic Council's Interim Chairman.

Although Huntsman is the new Chairman, Scowcroft will remain as Chairman of the think tank's International Advisory Board.

The search for the chairmanship post was conducted by Korn Ferry, the world's largest executive search firm.

Think tanks are nothing new to Huntsman.  As Think Tank Watch previously reported, Huntsman joined the Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank, in June 2012 as a Distinguished Fellow.

Huntsman was also the Founding Director of the Pacific Council on International Policy, which was founded in 1995 in partnership with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  He has also served on boards such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) Pacific Forum, Asia Society in New York, National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), and the Brookings Institution's Asia Policy Board.

ACUS was recently ranked as the 17th best think tank in the US by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Japan Urged to Embrace US-Style Think Tanks

Here is what is being reported by the Japan Times:
The lack of strong, independent think tanks that offer alternative policies to those of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and actually accomplish them also explains why the [Japan] has not been able to achieve a stable two-party system, experts said.
“American-style independent think tanks are key to changing the way the government operates,” said [Yoichi] Funabashi [former editor-in-chief of the Asahi Shimbun], who was formerly affiliated with U.S. think tanks, including the Brookings Institute.
There have been efforts to emulate American-style think tanks with the aim of connecting the intellectual community and the government in Japan. But critics said they have not been successful, partly because the government still wields strong power to limit private-sector bodies from taking part in policymaking.
The bureaucrat-led government system worked especially well after World War II, when the goal to rebuild was clear and Japan had a role model — namely America. As Japan ascended to become the world’s second-largest economy, numerous think tanks emerged to recommend policies starting in the mid-1960s. But the strong bureaucracy often prevented the fresh flow of ideas from the private sector from reaching the public realm.
In the case of individuals, analysts at American think-tanks often work as political appointees and later return to academia or think tanks to educate the next generation. Japan has few such appointees from the private sector, although they are increasing.
There are also problems with existing Japanese think tanks, as their main function has been to compliment government policies via consultations rather than offering ideas to change the system. They also lack the people capable of compiling and effecting policies, or a system to raise people’s level of expertise.
Suzuki noted that independent think tanks also struggle due to a lack of funds. While American think tanks are mostly independent and cash-rich, thanks to tax deductions for donations, Japan lacks such a system.
Suzuki, who helped set up a think tank within the LDP in 2006, also said lawmakers do not see any point in paying think tank workers to make policy recommendations when they can get what they need from bureaucrats for free.

According to the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank survey, Japan has 108 think tanks, making it the country with the 9th largest amount of think tanks, after the US (1,823), China (429), United Kingdom (288), India (269), Germany (194), France (177), Argentina (137), and Russia (122).  Italy, which is number 10 on the list, has 107 think tanks.

And for more reading pleasure about Japanese think tanks:

Here is a report from The Tokyo Foundation on the evolving role of think tanks in Japan.

Here is a report on how to "enliven" Japanese think tanks.

Here is a Japanese think tank fellow on American think tanks thinking about Japan.

Here is a report on foreign policy think tanks in Japan.

Why have no American-style think tanks been developed in Japan?

Trends and issues of think tanks in japan.

New Think Tank: Center for Health and Economy

Here is what Lori Montgomery of the Washington Post is reporting:
The politics of health care may, for the moment, be mired in gridlock. But Republican policy analyst Douglas Holtz-Eakin thinks the time will come when his party will stop trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and Democrats will start trying to fix it.
When that day arrives, both sides will need help charting a path through the health policy wilderness. So Holtz-Eakin, a former director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, this week opened the virtual doors of a new think tank known as the Center for Health and Economy.
Unlike your average think tank, the center is not dedicated to developing its own policy prescriptions. Instead, it is intended to help lawmakers, members of the media and the public assess ideas put forward by others.
The center aims to be nonpartisan, and Holtz-Eakin has assembled an impressive board of academics, including Mark Pauly from the Wharton School of Business, known as the father of the individual mandate, and Princeton’s Uwe Reinhardt. But for now, at least, the center relies on a start-up grant from the American Action Forum, Holtz-Eakin’s very partisan employer.
So far, Democrats may have cause to question the center’s political leanings. Its Web site features a critical analysis of the ACA that challenges the CBO’s conclusion that the law will reduce federal budget deficits. But over time, Holtz-Eakin hopes it will gain a reputation for fair analyses of proposals from both parties, with a special focus on the impact on health premiums and efficiency of care.

The website for the new think tank, Center for Health and Economy (H&E), can be found here.  And here is the full list of board members.

Here is more about Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who is also President of the American Action Forum (AAF), an organization that is often described as a conservative or "right of center" think tank.

Holtz-Eakin has lots of experience with think tanks.  He was a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), and Director of the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies and the Paul A. Volcker Chair in International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  He has also been a Visiting Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Heritage Foundation.  He is currently on the Research Advisory Board of the Center for Economic Development (CED).

According to the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank survey, there are 6,603 think tanks in the world, including 1,823 in the US.  Of those 1,893 US think tanks, 394 are in Washington, DC.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Third Way's President on Third Way

Today's The Hill newspaper published a profile on Jonathan Cowan, President and Co-Founder of the think tank Third Way.  Here is an excerpt from the article about the founding of the think tank:
After a turn as a visiting fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, it was back to Washington. He [Jonathan Cowan] was tapped by Andrew McKelvey, the philanthropist and former head of the job-hunting site, to establish Americans for Gun Safety, a centrist gun safety group.
That project eventually morphed into Third Way, as Cowan and co-founders sought to adopt their middle-ground approach on guns to other issues. The think tank has branched out to tackle fiscal matters, energy policy and social issues like gay marriage.
What started out as a four-person staff has ballooned to about 40, with a roughly $8.5 million budget, according to Cowan.
At Third Way, Cowan continues to push a centrist Democratic message, which has sometimes put him at odds with influential voices in the party.

Here is more about a recent op-ed co-authored by Cowan published in The Wall Street Journal that sparked a massive debate within the Democratic Party.

Think Tank Quickies (#103)

  • 13 tools think tank communicators should use in 2014.
  • Wilson Center is the first think tank on Biz Stone's new startup Jelly.
  • Rep. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at Heritage Foundation on January 14.
  • Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at Brookings on January 16.
  • BPC has hired Theresa Brown as its new immigration policy director.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) speaks at AEI on income mobility and the American Dream.
  • "Global Think Tank" generates dozens of ideas from Greenpeace staff to support Arctic campaign.
  • Foreign Policy: "How America's favorite Chinese dissident ended up at a pro-life, anti-gay think tank."
  • Alberto Mingardi of Italian free market think tank Institutio Bruno Leoni on think tanks.
  • Did a RAND Corp. researcher design the bridge of the Starship Enterprise on the original Star Trek television series?

CNAS CEO Likely to Get #2 Position at DoD

Here is what Defense News is reporting:
The search for a full-time, deputy secretary [of defense] nominee continues and remains a top priority for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a senior defense official said. Former Navy Undersecretary Robert Work, who stepped down earlier this year to become the CEO of the Center for New American Security think tank, is said to be a leading candidate for the deputy secretary position.
Here is more about Robert Work's chances of becoming Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Work was recently named by Defense News as the 34th most influential person in US defense.  More than a dozen think tankers made the list.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on Robert Work.  A CNAS press release said that Robert Work assumed his CNAS role on April 22, 2013.

David Ignatius of the Washington Post recently reported that several top candidates weren't interested in the job, including former Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, a Co-Founder and former President of CNAS who currently serves as Co-Chair of the think tank's Board of Directors.

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.

Monday, January 13, 2014

USIP President Steps Down After Short Tenure

US Institute of Peace (USIP) President and CEO Jim Marshall quietly stepped down from the think tank on Friday (Jan. 10), according to a press release on Saturday (Jan. 11).

Kristin Lord, Executive Vice President of USIP, has been appointed as the acting president.  From 2009-2013, Lord was Executive Vice President and Director of Studies at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), a security-focused think tank.

No reason has been given for Marshall's departure.  Marshall previously served as a Democratic Congressman from Georgia from 2003-2011.

Think Tank Watch previously reported that Marshall's 3-year renewable term at USIP began September 14, 2012.  That means he was only at the think tank for around 16 months.

Gordon Lubold, a reporter at Foreign Policy, speculates that his departure is probably a result of his "prickly approach" and wanting to move Constitution Avenue.  [Yes, the think tank asked the Washington, DC government last year to move Constitution Avenue, a major street in the city.]

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fanciest Chandelier at a Think Tank

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) recently moved into its new, $100 million headquarters at 1616 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, DC, and one of the coolest features of the new building is its massive, one-of-a-kind chandelier.  Here is a description:
Commissioned by the Center for Strategic and International Studies for their new headquarters in Washington, Sosolimited partnered with Hypersonic Engineering & Design, Plebian Design, and Chris Parlato to design, program, and fabricate one-of-a-kind chandelier. 425 hanging pendants form a map of the world when viewed from below. This map becomes a low-res display for illustrating global data such as GDP growth rate, renewable water resources, and energy consumption.
Each data set is paired with a lighting animation. In addition, CSIS can highlight regions of the map that correspond with international developments or events within the building. The entire system is automated, linking to web-based data to dynamically build animations. By parsing CSIS website, the team can identify countries in the news and highlight them on the chandelier.
The system currently uses UN Data GDP growth rate, USEIA Total Energy Consumption per capita and Aquastat Total Renewable Water Resources per capita. Each of these data sets updates on an annual or quarterly basis. The team wrote a series of python scripts that process the data and colour an SVG map of world to match a normalized value for each set. An openFrameworks app loads these maps and uses the data to drive a series of animations. Each animation is unique to the data set and attempts to resemble the underlying data: water feels like rain drops, energy pulses, and GDP grows. There are also visual modes that let researches at CSIS select specific regions of the world to highlight – either to show conflict, or to show progress — John Rothenberg of SoSo Limited explains to CAN. Finally, the oF app outputs DMX to a series of DMX dimmer boards that control the light fixtures. Each pendant lights contains an MR-11 LED bulb that becomes a pixel in the display.

Think Tank Watch formerly awards the prize of fanciest chandelier at a think tank to CSIS.

Click here to view pictures and a video of the chandelier.

Several CSIS scholars have noted that the chandelier has left out Japan...

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.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Think Tank Quickies (#102)

  • Ali Akbar Velayati, aide to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, appointed head of think tank Center for Strategic Research.
  • Bahrain Ambassador to Saudi Arabia attends think tank celebration.
  • Where did the Hudson Institute sign go?
  • Think tanks receive disproportional and non-critical media coverage?
  • Reminder: "Real" scholarship can be just as corrupt as some think tank scholarship.
  • Four New Years resolutions for On Think Tanks.
  • Former Washington Post think tank reporter Allen McDuffee: Bob Costas should preview the summer softball league with Jane Harman."
  • What do partisan think tanks seek?
  • Peter Oborne in The Telegraph: Why do we let shadowy think tank nonentities drive the political agenda?
  • Third Way is hosting a party.

Push for Think Tanks in Myanmar

Eleven, a Myanmar-based news company, is calling for the "emergence of" think tanks in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma.

According to the latest University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings, there is "no known think tank" in Myanmar.  It is among a handful of countries with no known think tank, according to the survey.

That said, the US Institute of Peace (USIP) and others have recently mentioned  and worked with a new "think tank" in Myanmar called the Myanmar Development Resources Institute (MDRI).

MDRI was formally proposed to President Thein Sein by Dr. Muang Myint (presidential advisor on economic affairs) at a workshop held in Naypyitaw Myanmar in May 2011.

In a previous Think Tank Quickies, Think Tank Watch mentioned an article that said India and Myanmar were forging links between think tanks.  The article mentions a "think tank" called the Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (MISIS), which was founded in 1992.

There has also been mention of Rangoon-based policy "think tank" Myanmar Egress.

Here is an interested article titled "From Dissident to Contributor: New Think Tanks Help Myanmar's Transition to Democracy," which mentions MDRI and several of think tanks or think tank-like entities.

Of course, the debate regarding whether or not Myanmar actually has a think tank all depends on ones definition of "think tank."

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post about Aung San Suu Kyi hitting the think tank circuit in the US.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

AEI = "Quiet Success Story of 2013"

Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin says that the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is one of the "quiet success stories" of 2013.  Here is what she writes:
Under president Arthur Brooks AEI has hit its stride, becoming the premiere right-leaning think tank. Unlike Heritage, it has stayed out of politics and stuck to the realm of political philosophy and policy. It has been a major mover on the right to create a more people-centric, positive vision of conservatism. And to top it off, Brooks is doing some fascinating work on happiness — who is happy, what makes us happy. AEI has and continues to provide intellectual sustenance and encouragement to conservatives like Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah).

Here is more from Think Tank Watch about Brooks' happiness campaign.  Here are Think Tank Watch's favorite excerpts from a recent Roll Call piece about how AEI is working to transform the Republican Party.

AEI was recently ranked as the 20th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the 7th best think tank in the United States, and the 3rd best think tank in the world in terms of domestic economic policy.  It was also ranked 3rd best think tank in the world for social policy, and 4th best think tank in the world for energy and resource policy.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Wall Street Journal's Characterization of CAP

Here is how the Wall Street Journal characterizes the Center for American Progress (CAP) in a recent editorial.
After he left the Clinton Administration, Mr. [John] Podesta founded the Center for American Progress, a Beltway think tank with a hard liberal and partisan Democratic edge. ObamaCare, nationalizing the college loan market, slashing the defense budget, a new preschool entitlement, and using regulation to punish fossil fuels: These were all pushed by the Podesta policy shop.
Another recent article Wall Street Journal says that the hiring of Podesta, who was just tapped to be an official adviser to President Obama, is the president's most important personnel move in a year, and that Mr. Obama is hoping Mr. Podesta will help energize the White House.

Here is a description of CAP from that article:
Mr. Podesta is chairman of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank he founded that regularly supplies policy ideas and staff to the White House and Congress.

Center for American Progress (CAP), which has close ties to the Obama Administration, was recently ranked as the 30th best think tank in the world by the annual University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was ranked as the 11th best think tank in the US.  It was also ranked as the 2nd best think tank in the world in terms of best use of the Internet or social media.

Think Tank Quickies (#101)

  • Think tanks promoting a Mexican free economy.
  • Boston Globe editorial: Revealing think tank donors a "noteworthy" first step.
  • Cato Institute's "Libertarian State of the Union" to be held January 24, 2014.
  • Best of Brookings playlist (YouTube).
  • Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi says think tanks should help cooperation between China and Central/Eastern Europe.
  • petition: Think tanks cannot voice opinions on the BBC without stating their funders.
  • Gary Kasparov to deliver keynote address at Cato's Milton Friedman Prize dinner on May 21, 2014.
  • CFR's Preventative Priorities Survey for 2014 is released.
  • Unilever CEO Paul Polman wins CGD's 2013 Commitment to Development Ideas in Action Award.
  • Pic: Holiday party at the Wilson Center.

Monday, January 6, 2014

East-West Center Collapsing?

Here is what Reuters in reporting about the think tank East-West Center:
The East-West Center in Hawaii, a U.S. government-funded institute to promote better relations with Pacific and Asian nations, is hardly a center of harmony these days.
At yearend, the four-person energy research team resigned, protesting funding and job cuts and accusing the center's president of jeopardizing the viability of the 54-year-old institution, which receives about $16 million in federal funding and has been a respected forum for geopolitical research and discussion. 
The resignations followed a steady paring of the center's research staff during the 16-year tenure of President Charles E. Morrison, reflecting what he says is a more cost-effective strategy. Opponents, meanwhile, say the cuts have weakened the institute's influence that in the past helped shape national debates on U.S.-China relations, U.S.-Asia trade policy and other economic and political issues.

On January 1, 2012, President Barack Obama and his family visited the EWC in Hawaii to view an exhibition on the field work that the president's late mother conducted in Indonesia.  The family also visited EWC's well-known Japanese garden.

Here is a Real Clear Politics report from 2013 titled "Funding Games: Sad Plight of the East-West Center."  Here are some excerpts:
At a time when the Obama administration seeks to emphasize U.S-Asia relations after years of focusing on Iraq and Afghanistan, the East-West Center (EWC) in Honolulu ought to be flourishing.
Created by Congress in 1960 to promote understanding between the United States and the nations and peoples of Asia, the center is a valuable resource. As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton visited the EWC three times and made her most significant policy statements on Asia there. She lauded the center for bringing together educators, students, journalists, and political leaders and contributing to a “sea change” in the region.
...Yet despite these contributions, the East-West Center now faces massive budget reductions that have already resulted in cancellation of some scholarships and now threaten staff layoffs and the elimination of many useful programs.

The East-West Center (EWC) was established in 1960 by the US Congress.  Here is a biography of EWC President Charles Morrison.  Here is a list of EWC's Board of Governors.  Here is its annual report from 2012.