The waning focus on Iraq is just one of many shifts that have occurred among Washington think-tanks that focus on the Middle East over the past few years – and there are more profound shifts underway during the Trump administration that point to the possibility that overall policy analysis on the Middle East in the next few years may follow the same path as Iraq over the past few years.
In three key ways, Washington think-tanks that focus on the Middle East have shifted during the Trump era – and it’s important to note that some of these shifts were already in motion long before President Trump was elected.
1) A trend towards more policy advocacy rather than putting analysis first.
2) An increasing polarization and lack of dialogue among different views.
3) A growing focus on human rights, democracy, and dignity.
Iraq’s trajectory in the DC policy debate over the past decade may serve as a harbinger of things to come on Middle East policy overall in the next ten years. The declining attention in the broader political and media environment, a less rich and textured policy discussion inside government, and an increasing disinterest in wrestling with the detailed challenges – all of these factors may lead to what ultimate leads to the death of think-tanks analysis on Middle East policy in the coming years.
This prediction comes amid intense scrutiny of Middle East funding at influential US think tanks over the past several weeks.
Here is a recent Think Tank Watch post on the Saudi think tank whisperer.