Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Major Think Tank Reports Seek to Influence New Administration

Think tankers are quietly writing a slew a major policy reports that will likely shape the future of US foreign policy for years to come.

Here is more from The Washington Post:
The Republicans and Democrats who make up the foreign policy elite are laying the groundwork for a more assertive American foreign policy, via a flurry of reports shaped by officials who are likely to play senior roles in a potential Clinton White House.
It is not unusual for Washington’s establishment to launch major studies in the final months of an administration to correct the perceived mistakes of a president or influence his successor. But the bipartisan nature of the recent recommendations, coming at a time when the country has never been more polarized, reflects a remarkable consensus among the foreign policy elite.
This consensus is driven by a broad-based backlash against a president who has repeatedly stressed the dangers of overreach and the need for restraint, especially in the Middle East. 
“The American-led international order that has been prevalent since World War II is now under threat,” said Martin Indyk, who oversees a team of top former officials from the administrations of Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton assembled by the Brookings Institution. “The question is how to restore and renovate it.” The Brookings report — a year in the making — is due out in December.
Taken together, the studies and reports call for more-aggressive American action to constrain Iran, rein in the chaos in the Middle East and check Russia in Europe.

The article notes that other think tanks (besides Brookings) have recently released or are set to release their own foreign policy prescriptions for the incoming administration.  One example is the Center for American Progress (CAP), which just released a report calling for renewed engagement with long-standing partners in the Middle East.

The article also notes that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is leading a bipartisan and international team looking at US strategy in the Middle East for the think tank Atlantic Council.

But many of these think tanks will wait a few more weeks to release certain reports because the Obama Administration will instantly dismiss them.  As Derek Chollet, a former top Obama Administration official and Counselor/Senior Advisor at The German Marshall Fund (GMFUS) said, "many inside the White House regularly dismissed calls for military force from the foreign policy establishment as the product of 'too much college and not enough knowledge.'"

As the Washington Post points out, some White House officials "derisively referred to Washington's foreign policy experts as 'The Blob.'"

Update: In response to the Washington Post article, a reader from Delaware asked in the newspaper's "Free For All" Section: "Who are the foreign policy elite?  How are they chosen?  How does one identify eliteness?  If elites want to urge the nation into any and all conflicts from the well-paid security of their 'think tanks' (and how many of those things are there anyway?), lest we be deemed not 'muscular' enough, shouldn't the rest of us at least be told what the criteria are to determine their eliteness?  And why do they always seem to be belligerent?  Do they need reassurance, or do they merely have books to sell?"