Thursday, December 22, 2016

Pair of Think Tank Heads Could Become Ambassadors

Here is what The Hill is reporting about Jon Huntsman, the Chairman of the think tank Atlantic Council, and Michele Flournoy, the Co-Founder and CEO of Center for a New American Security (CNAS):

Incoming White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is backing candidates for ambassadorships that are opposed by other advisers to President-elect Donald Trump and who fall outside the far-right view for which he is known, according to a report Wednesday in The New York Times.
Bannon has spoken favorably of Jon Huntsman, the former governor of Utah who served as ambassador to China under President Obama, according to the Times. Huntsman has reportedly been suggested for ambassador to Japan.
Bannon has also backed Michele Flournoy, who was the third-highest-ranking Pentagon official under Obama, for ambassador to NATO, the newspaper reported.
Flournoy, who was widely believed to be Hillary Clinton’s choice for Defense secretary had she won, has already denied any interest in taking a role in the Trump administration.
Amid speculation that Flournoy was in the running for Trump’s deputy Defense secretary, her think tank, Center for a New American Security (CNAS), put out a statement saying she was staying put.

As we reported earlier this week, several top think tankers are still in the running for high-level posts in the incoming Trump Administration.

Think Tank Watch will continue to provide updates of all the think tankers who go into the Trump Administration as well as all the outgoing Obama officials who are beginning their post-government lives in think tank land.

Will Heritage Foundation Bring All Republicans Together?

Politico reports that the Heritage Foundation continues to bring powerful Republicans together, confirming the fact that the conservative think tank will play an outsized role in US politics in the years ahead.  Here is more:
...the House Freedom Caucus and the Republican Study Committee -- two conservative caucuses in the House -- are holding a joint retreat in New York in February. There will be A LOT of opinions at this one, as the two groups represent well more than half of all House Republicans. The weekend is organized by the Heritage Foundation.

The Freedom Caucus has quite an affinity for the Heritage Foundation, which reportedly plagiarized from the think tank a list of rules the incoming Trump Administration should immediately repeal or revise.

The Heritage Foundation has already been a big influencing on the Trump transition team and Trump's political and economic thinking.

However, Heritage and similar influential think tanks are not omnipotent.  After all, as Associated Press has noted, "Trump's roster of agency heads and advisers conspicuously lacks and academics."

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Think Tank Quickies (#248)

  • FBI head James Comey probably faxing his resume around to right wing think tanks. 
  • How a think tank got a professor dropped from 538 for wrongthink.
  • Gen. Reshetnikov, head of Kremlin's foreign policy think tank RISS and key ideologist of war on Ukraine, fired.
  • What a progressive think tank gained by hosting Netanyahu. 
  • Brookings takes credit for Morocco app ban reversal.
  • Information on how to use Brookings's books in university courses.
  • Sponsored ad about getting DC dating advice from a think tank!
  • Most think tanks have consistently championed regime change from Iraq to Libya to Syria.
  • All the think tanks except Cato want to buy the tri-service F-35 fighter.
  • Peggy Noonan: "A stupid man from a leftist think tank..." 
  • RAND's overview of foreign policy issues that Mr. Trump will face.
  • Quality control at think tanks.

Monday, December 19, 2016

CFR Head Now in Running for Deputy Secretary of State

Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) did not get the nod for Secretary of State, but he is reportedly still in the running for the number two spot at Foggy Bottom: Deputy Secretary of State.

Here is more from Politico:
As President-elect Donald Trump fills out his national security and foreign policy team, among the names being circulated as the potential No. 2 at the State Department: Council on Foreign Relations president Richard Haass, according to two senior transition aides.
Haass, a veteran of both Bush administrations, has served as director of policy planning at the State Department and as a senior director on the National Security Council.
Trump has praised Haass, who is a regular presence on one of his favorite television programs, MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “I respect Richard Haass, who’s on your show a lot,” Trump told the show’s hosts in May. “And I like him a lot. I have a few people that I really like and respect.”
Haass also met with Trump privately in 2015 in Trump Tower to brief him on global issues. “I've spent an hour with him there. I've seen him a few times on and off golf courses,” Haass told NPR.
In that same NPR appearance, Haass said of Trump, “We obviously have areas of, you know, some disagreement, to say the least, on policy,” citing his support for free trade.

The article also notes that Haass is an acquaintance of his potential boss at the State Department, Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil Rex Tillerson.  Mr. Haass hosted Tillerson at CFR in 2012 for a conversation about energy security and climate change.  Moreover, Haass's former colleagues, Bob Gates and Condoleezza Rice, were the ones who recommended Tillerson for the top State Department job.

More about Tillerson's strong connections to think tanks can be found here.

Two others who are also in the running for the Deputy Secretary of State slot also happen to be think tankers: former UN Ambassador John Bolton, a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and Elliott Abrams, a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at CFR.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

CAP Pivots from Thinking to Attacking

In the time period of about one month, the liberal think tank Center for American Progress (CAP) has done a super-quick pivot from being Hillary Clinton's brain to being the top think tank assailant of Donald Trump.

Here is more from Politico:
Looking to build itself into a nerve center for the anti-Donald Trump resistance, the liberal Center for American Progress think tank is relaunching its advocacy-focused arm Thursday and bringing on a longtime senior aide to Sen. Harry Reid to help lead the charge.
Adam Jentleson, Reid’s deputy chief of staff, will work to steer the new war room at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, which its leaders hope will provide Democrats with a centralized resource to oppose the president-elect’s moves — starting with his Cabinet nominations.
The reorientation comes at a difficult inflection point not only for Democrats, but for the constellation of left-leaning organizations that pepper the Washington landscape and that fully expected to be advising Hillary Clinton’s White House transition team at this point. CAP’s move, landing Thursday to mark the 225th anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Rights, is one of the most significant in a series of pushes into a world where Democrats are once again the opposition.
Now, the group will be hiring researchers as it promotes its Trump transition tracker, which is intended to “empower readers and users to oppose Trump nominees” by informing them about activities that are being organized to stand in the way of appointments, explained Action Fund Deputy Director Igor Volsky.
Its website — separate from CAP's ThinkProgress news blog that has grown 33 percent in circulation since Trump’s win — will also track Trump’s conflicts of interest and will include resources like petitions and tools allowing readers to send messages to relevant elected officials.

CAP, steeling reeling from Mrs. Clinton's crushing loss to Donald Trump, had been pounding out reports to guide the Clinton Administration and was readying a slew of experts to go into the administration.  Now, it is stuck acting as an attack dog and a waiting room for Democrats who hope to regain power in 2020 or 2024.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Rex Tillerson Has Strong Ties to CSIS

Donald Trump's nominee to be Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, has very strong ties to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the world's top defense and national security think tank.

Mr. Tillerson, the Chairman and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corporation, has been a member of the CSIS Board of Trustees since 2005.  Here is a statement from CSIS congratulating Tillerson's nomination.

Dr. John Hamre, President of CSIS, defended Tillerson on PBS yesterday evening, saying he is not an ideological man.  Politico reports that Dr. Hamre has spent more than 100 hours discussing foreign policy with Tillerson over the past 11 years.

Exxon is one of the largest funders of CSIS, and is currently listed in a category of recently giving $200,000+ to the think tank in the past year, according to CSIS's corporate donors list.  That money is earmarked for regional studies, executive education, technology, and "general" programs.

Exxon was among those who gave more than $5 million to support CSIS's new $100 million headquarters in Washington, DC.  Tillerson himself also gave a gift, listed at "under $500,000," to support the new building.

In 2009, Exxon gave $5 million to strengthen CSIS's Global Health Policy Program and to provide space in its new headquarters to house the Global Health Program.

Exxon is a huge supporter of think tanks, having given more than $30 million over the years to more than a dozen think tank.

In 2009, Tillerson gave a speech at the Wilson Center in which he announced that his company supported a carbon tax to help fight climate change.

Tillerson is one of several of Mr. Trump's Cabinet picks who hails from think tank land.

Monday, December 12, 2016

AEI Has Grand Opening Party for New Headquarters

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) continues to celebrate its new headquarters in Washington, DC. 

Here is more from Politico:
AEI President Arthur Brooks and AEI scholars hosted the grand opening of their new HQ, The Daniel A. D’Aniello building, at 1789 Massachusetts Ave. last night. SPOTTED: Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Pa.), Rep. French Hill (R-Ark.), RSC Chairman Bill Flores (R-Texas), RSC Chairman-elect Mark Walker (R-N.C.), Carl Cannon, S.E. Cupp and John Goodwin, Hugo Gurdon, Daniel Halper, John Parkinson, Paul Teller, Chris Isham, Jonathan Karl, Michele Kelemen, Bill Kristol, Libby Liu, Josh and Ali Rogin, Neil Irwin, Chris Bedford, Lauren Zelt, Benny Johnson, Katie Glueck, Rich Lowry, Chris Stirewalt, Niels Lesniewski, Matt Continetti, Jim Geraghty, John Bolton, Jim DeMint, Strobe Talbot [sic], Sue Desmond-Hellman, Jonah Goldberg, Robby George, Ramesh Ponnuru, April Ponnuru, Cornel West, Marc Thiessen, Tim Carney, David French, Danielle Pletka, Michael Strain, Kevin Hassett, Michael Barone, Paul Wolfowitz.

In truly bipartisan fashion, AEI, a conservative think tank, invited Strobe Talbott, President of the liberal think tank Brookings Institution, as well as think tank competitor Jim DeMint, the head of the Heritage Foundation.

Here is more from Think Tank Watch on AEI's new headquarters.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Brookings Touts Itself as Santuary Think Tank for Liberals

Here is what PJ Media is reporting:
The center-left Brookings Institution hosted an event for former Labor Party members of parliament, and joked that the institution is now a "a sanctuary think tank for liberals." Apparently liberals are getting so outnumbered all over the world that the institution thinks it has to provide a safe space for them.

The video of that event, entitled "Cities in the Age of Trump and Brexit," can be watched here.  It featured Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and British MP Tristram Hunt.

Emanuel's visit to Brookings was part of a trip to Washington in which he was lobbying for more aid for Chicago.

The influence of the Brookings Institution has diminished greatly with the news that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States.

During the next several years (if not much longer), Brookings's main role will be acting as a Democratic government-in-waiting and an "attack dog" against various Trump policies.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

British Think Tank IISS Covertly Funded by Bahraini Royals

Here is more from The Guardian which broke the story:
A British think tank that bills itself as a global authority on military and diplomatic affairs has been accused of jeopardising its independence after leaked documents showed it has secretly received £25m from the Bahraini royal family, which has been criticised for its poor human rights record.
Confidential documents seen by the Guardian show that the country’s repressive rulers donated the sum to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) over the last five years.
The documents also reveal that IISS and the Bahraini royals agreed to “take all necessary steps” to keep most of the donations secret. The Bahrain donations make up more than a quarter of IISS’s income.
The disclosure comes as Theresa May, the prime minister, is on a two-day visit to Bahrain to discuss post-Brexit trade with Gulf leaders. Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, is due to give a speech in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, on Friday at a conference organised by IISS and paid for by Bahrain’s ruling family. The royals are footing the bill for all delegates to stay in villas at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel.

IISS's Manama Dialogue 2016, a regional security summit (more info. here), is taking place December 9-11 in Bahrain.  An archive of past dialogues can be found here.

The annual IISS conference has been hailed as "the central pillar" of discussions about about security in the Middle East.  Delegations from around 30 countries reportedly attend.

It has been reported that almost 30 percent of the Bahraini delegates at the 2015 Manama Dialogue were members of the Al Khalifa royal family.

The UK Charity Commission is reportedly investigating whether the think tank compromised its independence by accepting the financing.

Here is a list of IISS's sources of funding, and no, Bahrain is not included.  Here is more from Bahrain Watch.  Here is the most recent IISS financial report statement.

In 2016 IISS, which was founded in 1958, was ranked as the world's 7th best think tank by the University of Pennsylvania think tank rankings.  It was also ranked as the world's 2nd best think tank for defense and national security research.

IISS, which is considered one of four major British think tanks specializing in foreign affairs, is headquartered in London and has offices in Washington, DC, Singapore, and Manama, Bahrain.  Besides the Manama Dialogue, the think tank is well known for its annual Military Balance assessment of the world's armed forces, and the Shangri-La Dialogue, which was launched in Singapore in 2002.

Bahrain is also known to give to influential think tanks in the United States, including the Atlantic Council.  But with President-elect Donald Trump's general indifference about think tanks, it seems that Bahrain has decided to bypass think tanks and go directly to the source of influence.

We should also note that think tanks hiding their funding sources is extremely prevalent in the United States as well as think tanks overseas.

Update: It is being reported that John Jenkins quietly stepped down as executive director of IISS-Middle East in late November.  Sources close to IISS management reportedly said that there had been various internal management disputes on issues such as "lack of oversight."  His bio can be found here.

Also, Middle East Eye has been doing its own investigation into IISS and says that it believes the think tank's financial dependence on Bahrain may be significantly greater than The Guardian has suggested.

The Most Powerful Think Tanks Now All Start With the Letter "H"

With Donald Trump as the new sheriff in town, think tank influence and power has shifted dramatically to a select few conservative think tanks that all happen to start with the letter "H."  We are referring to the Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institution, and, to a lesser extent, the Hudson Institute.

The Heritage Foundation is by far the biggest think tank winner with the incoming Trump Administration, and has dozens of current and former scholars and experts helping the Trump team with its transition process.  A massive amount of Heritage scholars likely will go into the Trump Administration.

The Hoover Institution is also a big winner, with Gen. Jim Mattis just being named as Trump's Secretary of Defense.  Mattis was a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Hoover.

Moreover, it was just announced that Kevin Warsh, another Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Hoover, will be the only think tanker on Mr. Trump's new "President's Strategic and Advisory Forum."

Elaine Chao, Trump's pick for Secretary of Transportation, was a Distinguished Fellow at the Heritage Foundation until June 2016, when she became a Distinguished Fellow at the Hudson Institute.

Of course, other think tanks, such as Atlantic Council, Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and even the Cato Institute could score some big wins, but for now, the "H" think tanks dominate.

Think Tank Watch should also note that these newly empowered think tanks are not omnipotent.  After all, it seems that Donald Trump is listening to a just a handful key advisors much more than the think tankers in Washington, DC.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Trump Dumping Think Tanks

Even though a massive amount of think tankers from the Heritage Foundation and other conservative think tanks are on the Trump transition team, it doesn't mean that Donald Trump is actually listening to any of them.

Here is more from Politico:
While Donald Trump dines on frog legs with Mitt Romney and meets with a parade of lawmakers and governors in his gold-plated Midtown skyscraper, most of his transition staff are hunkered down in Washington, D.C., writing detailed governing plans for his first 100 days.
But so far, Trump and his inner circle have largely ignored those plans as they focus on top appointments and lean on the advice of politicians, CEOs and donors, rather than on their transition staff, say sources close to the transition.
The president-elect, meanwhile, has been more likely to set policy on Twitter than through consultation with his D.C. advisers.
The New York-D.C. transition divide reflects Trump’s tendency to focus on personnel and, especially, personality, over policy. Experts say that bent, combined with his improvisational style and the divisions between the teams will complicate his transition to the White House, making it less likely he’ll have a cohesive roadmap for governing on Day One. 
...former transition officials say Trump’s operation is unusual in the way it’s leaving so much of the policy and second-tier personnel appointments to D.C. transition team members, many of whom are volunteers with little power and no connection to Trump’s key advisers.
Trump has few real ties to Washington’s network of Republican policy wonks and is much more likely to take advice from son-in-law Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon, Trump’s incoming chief strategist, than from veterans of Republican presidencies.

The article goes on to list Mr. Trump's "inner core," which consists of Jared Kusher, Steve Bannon, Mike Pence, Reince Priebus, and Kellyanne Conway.  Think Tank Watch should note that of those five, only Mike Pence has any real connection to the think tank world.

To be sure, hundreds of think tankers will go into the Trump Administration over the next few months and years, and they will certainly influence policy, but by how much has yet to be determined.

Think Tank Quickies (#247)

  • To all you highly educated wonks at think tanks scratching your head, there's no big mystery.  "It's just that most voters are idiots."
  • Brookings trustee meeting in Mexico City.
  • Will we see bona fide white nationalist think tanks emerge in DC, with offices off of K Street?
  • 48 hours after election, Clinton-linked think tank sent out fundraising appeal.
  • Pic: Think tanks who endorsed HRC.
  • At least two UK think tanks set up 501(c)(3) arms in US.
  • The think tank that built the alt-right is basically just a bunch of white supremacists?
  • Jewish groups urge Israel's envoy to reject award from "anti-Muslim" think tank.
  • Princeton doing joint workshop in UK on role of think tanks in foreign policy.
  • Any bankers at think tank Third Way?
  • Think Tank the basement of CSIS...think tank revolution is changing think tanks.
  • Penn State SIA learning about think tank at CSIS.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

VP-Elect Pence Keynotes Heritage Foundation Event

Here is more from Politico:
The Heritage Foundation has reserved the “presidential ballroom” at President-elect Donald Trump’s Washington D.C. hotel on Tuesday for an event to honor some of the group’s top donors — those who give at least $1,000 annually.
And who keynoting the evening event at Trump’s hotel? None other than Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
Trump’s hotel, in the renovated Old Post Office Building only blocks from the White House, has become a symbol of the potential financial conflicts for the incoming president, as two foreign nations have already scheduled events there.

As Think Tank Watch has reported, Mike Pence is no stranger to think tank land and has close ties to the Heritage Foundation, and no other think tank is more closely aligned with the Trump transition team than Heritage.

We should also point out that Pence served in the House with Jim DeMint, the current President of the Heritage Foundation.  Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who has been tapped by Mr. Trump to be is Attorney General, also has a close relationship with DeMint and Heritage.

In related news, CNN just published a new piece entitled "Meet Donald Trump's Think Tank" which is all about Trump's connections to Heritage.

Think Tankers Secretly Pushed for Taiwan Call With Trump

Asia advisers to President-elect Donald Trump apparently were behind Mr. Trump's phone call with Taiwan's leader Tsai Ing-wen.

Alexander Gray, Peter Navarro, and Stephen Yates were whispered to be the drivers behind the call, according to several insiders close to the Trump transition team.

Stephen Yates, CEO of D.C. International Advisory (DCIA), previously served as a Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation.  Several sources say Yates was behind the call, but he has denied it.  Yates reportedly wrote much of the China/Taiwan portion of the Republican Party platform.

The Heritage Foundation has very close ties to Taiwan, and Ed Fuelner, the former President of that think tank (and current adviser to the Trump transition team), is said to have cultivated extensive ties with Taiwan for decades. [Fuelner actually took a group from his think tank and met with Tsai Ing-wen in October 2016, and is said to have been a "crucial figure" is setting up communications channels between the two sides.]

Here is the Heritage Foundation's most current thinking on Taiwan.  Last month the think tank held an event on US-Taiwan relations in the new administration (video here).

Walter Lohman, Director of the Heritage Foundation's Asia Studies Center, said that the Trump-Tsai call is a "good start" to reforming US-Taiwan relations.

Lohman told Politico today that Heritage has received money for 30 years from three Taiwanese companies, although he declined to name them.  Politico noted that Taiwan has also given money to American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  However, an AEI spokesman said the think tank no longer accepts foreign donations.

Mr. Gray was a Policy Analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) from 2011-2013, and also participated in the CSIS-Pacific Forum Young Leaders Program in 2014 and the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) Future Leaders Program 2014-2015.

The phone call was reportedly arranged by Bob Dole, Special Counsel at the law firm of Alston & Bird LLP and Co-founder of BPC.

Dr. Navarro,a professor at the University of California-Irvine, is not tied directly to any think tanks but writes extensively about China and Taiwan.  Here is a Navarro piece from July 2016 entitled "America Can't Dump Taiwan."

Here is a recent Foreign Policy piece by Gray and Navarro entitled "Donald Trump's Peace Through Strength Vision for the Asia Pacific."

Think Tank Watch should note that other conservative think tanks have also been supportive of Trump's seemingly new Asia policy.  Michael Pillsbury, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Chinese Strategy at the Hudson Institute, said he admires Trump's writing and campaign speeches about how to negotiate with China.

Dan Blumenthal, Director of Asian Studies and Resident Fellow AEI, and Randall Shriver, President and CEO of the Project 2049 Institute, said that Trump's Taiwan call was a step toward balanced relations.

The call comes as Taiwan has begun to ramp up its lobbying and think tank efforts in Washington, DC the past year, and the incoming Trump Administration should be a big boon to new Taiwan-funded think tanks such as the Global Taiwan Institute (GTI).

One thing is for sure: Asia hands from think tanks who supported Hillary Clinton should have their hands full as they work to figure out how to handle the new administration.

Clinton's Asia Policy Team to Burrow In at Think Tanks

Hillary Clinton's Asia policy team may still be reeling from the surprise loss to Donald Trump and the realization of no high-level White House post, but most still have their think tanks to fall back on.

Earlier this year the China Program at the Carter Center compiled a list of Hillary Clinton's Asia Policy Team, and nearly all of them hailed from think tank land.

Among those on the list include:
  • Jeff Bader, a Senior Fellow at Brookings
  • Karen Brooks, an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)
  • Kurt Campbell, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS)
  • Amy Chang, a former Research Associate at CNAS
  • Michael Chase, a senior political scientist at RAND Corp.
  • Darcie Draudt, a Research Associate at CFR
  • Elizabeth Economy, a Senior Fellow and Director of Asia Studies at CFR
  • Glen Fukushima, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress (CAP)
  • Bonnie Glaser, a Senior Adviser for Asia and Director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  • Brian Harding, Director for East and Southeast Asia for the National Security and International Policy team at CAP (and formerly at CSIS)
  •  Scott Harold, Associate Director of the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy
  • Duyeon Kim, Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Harry Krejsa, Research Associate at CNAS
  • Satu Limaye, Director of the East-West Center in Washington
  • Jamie Metzel, Senior Fellow at Atlantic Council
  • David Parker, Associate Fellow at CSIS
  • Jim Schoff, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Sheila Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies at CFR
  • Alexander Sullivan, Adjunct Fellow at CNAS
  • Ali Wyne, Nonresident Fellow at Atlantic Council

The complete list can be found here, although Think Tank Watch should note that many others were advising Clinton on Asia policy.

Nevertheless, their think tanks should provide a nice resting place until the 2020 election.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Think Tank Quickies (#246)

  • Heritage breaks with Trump in describing Russia threat. 
  • Cato agrees with Trump on many issues.
  • RAND study: Predictive death of household landline telephones in US may be premature.
  • Elizabeth Warren aligns with daughter's think tank on policy goals.
  • Can Trump overcome the US foreign policy blob at think tanks?
  • US Army ranked weak in new think tank report.
  • How should think tanks respond to a changing post-truth reality?
  • Atlantic Council announces Stockholm office.
  • Why think tanks should implement Accelerated Mobile Pages.
  • 18 think tanks every teacher should know.
  • Emma Connors of Lowy Institute on the scene in DC post-election.
  • Brookings on the three possible Trump presidencies.

One Think Tanker on Trump's New 16-Member Policy Panel

On December 2 President-elect Donald Trump established the President's Strategic and Policy Forum, a group consisting mostly of current and former business executives that will advise Mr. Trump on how government policy impacts economic growth, job creation, and productivity.

One think tanker made the list: Kevin Warsh, the Shepard Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Economics at the Hoover Institution, a think tank housed at Stanford University.

Warsh served as member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 2006 to 2011.  He currently serves on the Board of Directors of UPS and is a member of the Group of Thirty.

Warsh is married to Jane Lauder, the granddaughter of Estée Lauder and heiress to the Estée Lauder beauty empire.

Mr. Trump's pick for Secretary of Defense, Gen. Jim Mattis, is also a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Two Think Tank Heads Could be Trump's Secretary of State

In recent days President-elect Donald Trump has been expanding his search for Secretary of State, and Jon Huntsman, the Chairman of the Atlantic Council, is one of the names that has recently surfaced.

The Atlantic Council has been issuing strategy papers meant as a "blueprint" for the Trump Administration, and Huntsman has participated in the writing of some of those reports.

Another dark horse candidate for Secretary of State is Richard Haass, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Haass was among several think tank heads who had a private briefing with Mr. Trump during the presidential campaign, and Trump has shown affection for Haass.

Another think tanker that has been considered for the Secretary of State position is John Bolton, a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Mr. Trump has already hired and nominated a number of think tankers for his transition team and Cabinet, including a number of scholars and experts from the Heritage Foundation, Hoover Institution, and Hudson Institute.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Trump's SecDef "Mad Dog" Mattis Hails From Think Tank Land

President-elect Donald Trump continues to choose people for his transition team and Cabinet with extremely deep ties to powerful US think tanks.

Gen. Jim Mattis, who has just been selected by Mr. Trump to be his Secretary of Defense, is the Davies Family Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank at Stanford University.

Before that, he was the Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Hoover.

He is also a member of the think tank's Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group.

A number of think tankers seem to hold Gen. Mattis in high regard.  Heather Hurlburt, Director of the New Models of Policy Change initiative at New America, said "Mattis is respected by people I respect."

Max Boot, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), said that Mattis is a "great choice" for Defense Secretary.

Mattis has also praised think tanks, such as the defense-oriented Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  In an April 22, 2016 speech at that think tank, he said that he is "routinely copying things down from CSIS," and noting that "CSIS doesn't just make assertions...It also includes discussions where you actually come out with something that is perhaps a little better each time you go through a cycle."

The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank with extremely close ties to Mr. Trump, has a new piece on the "four things you need to know" about Mattis.  That think tank says Mattis faces challenges of rebuilding the US military and American credibility.

Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, the Director of the Heritage Foundation's Center for National Defense, said Gen. Mattis will bring a "solid perspective" to the job.  Think Tank Watch should note that in May 2015 Mattis spoke at Heritage on "the state of the world."

Gen. Mattis recently co-edited a book with Kori Schake, a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, entitled "Warriors and Citizens: American Views of Our Military."

In related Cabinet-think tank news, Mr. Trump chose Elaine Chao, who has strong ties to the Heritage Foundation and the Hudson Institute, to be his Transportation Secretary.

We should also note that Trump's pick for Education Secretary, Betsy Devos, whose fortune derives from Amway, has funded through various foundations American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Heritage Foundation, and the Cato Institute.