...Far too little bold thinking goes on in the country's think tanks. It is safer to write an article that doesn't offend than it is to write one that actually breaks new ground. It is safer to write an article that doesn't offend than it is to write one that actually breaks new ground. The result? Journals that are exercises in reputation management. The bland leading the bland.
In researching my book National Insecurity, I looked at 10 of the most prominent think tanks in Washington over a period of a decade. These organizations produced almost 12,000 events, papers, and research reports over that time. Of these, the vast majority concentrated on just a few topics -- such as the Middle East, the war on terror, and China -- linked closely to whatever was in the headlines at the time. Other areas, deserving of focus but outside the "buzz zone," got much less attention. The areas that got by far the least coverage? Science and technology -- never mind that they are responsible for most of the changes redefining life on the planet and many of the emerging threats with which humanity is grappling.
Mr. Rothkopf, who is CEO and Editor of Foreign Policy magazine, has a deep connection to a variety of think tanks. For example, he is a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP),and he is on the International Advisory Council of US Institute of Peace (USIP). He is also on the Advisory Committee of the Center for Global Development (CGD).