Friday, January 31, 2020

New Study: Explosion of Foreign Funding at US Think Tanks

Foreign governments have given the top 50 US think tanks more than $174 million from 2014-2018, according to a new report by the Center for International Policy's (CIP) Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative (FITI).

The nearly 900 different donations to those 50 think tanks came from more than 80 different countries and international institutions.

According to the report, the top recipient of foreign funding was the World Resources Institute (WRI), with an eye-popping $63 million.  WRI was followed by the Center for Global Development (CGD), which received $37,580,000.  Next was the Brookings Institution, which received $27,350,000.

Here are the top 15 recipients of foreign funding:
  1. WRI: $63,000,000
  2. CGD: $37,580,000
  3. Brookings: $27,350,000
  4. Atlantic Council: $12,192,000
  5. Aspen Institute: $8,418,574
  6. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: $$7,025,000
  7. German Marshall Fund: $6,249,998
  8. New America: $2,804,058
  9. Center for American Progress (CAP): $2,490,000
  10. Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS): $1,930,000 
  11. Urban Institute: $1,060,000
  12. Hudson Institute: $870,000
  13. Center for Climate and Energy Solutions: $806,000
  14. Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE): $725,000
  15. Chicago Council on Global Affairs: $624,177

Here are the top 15 donor countries/institutions to US think tanks:
  1. Norway: $27,681,856
  2. United Kingdom: $27,123,775
  3. United Arab Emirates: $15,406,016
  4. Germany: $12,250,999
  5. Sweden: $9,313,999
  6. Australia: $9,231,000
  7. The Netherlands: $9,200,050
  8. Qatar: $8,500,600
  9. Canada: $6,712,250
  10. Denmark: $5,543,000
  11. Japan: $4,856,774
  12. United Nations: $4,720,500
  13. World Bank: $3,485,700
  14. Switzerland: $3,395,500
  15. Taiwan: $3,250,000

Interestingly, it appears that many think tankers do not even know the funders of their own think tanks.

Think Tank Watch should note that many colleges and universities also receive significant amounts of funding from foreign governments and international institutions.  George Washington University, for example, has received $80 million in funding from foreign governments in recent years.

And the Wall Street Journal has just reported that the US Department of Education has opened an investigation into Harvard and Yale as part of a continuing review that it says has found US universities failed to report at least $6.5 billion in foreign funding.

Update: Here is what Dan Drezner of Tufts University thinks about FITI's new report.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Think Tank CAP to Create Foreign Policy "Master Plan" for 2021

Democratic think tanks are pulling out their pens and papers as they furiously try to write game plans for a possible Democratic president should Republican Donald Trump lose the 2020 election.

Here is more from Axios:
The Center for American Progress tomorrow (Jan. 14) will convene prominent Obama administration alumni to create a foreign-policy "master plan" for what they hope will be an incoming Democratic president in 2021.  CAP says the conference will feature Ambassador Samantha Power, Ambassador Susan Rice, Denis McDonough, Michèle Flournoy, Avril Haines, Jake Sullivan and more.

Democratic think tanks have largely been sidelined during the Trump presidency, and many scholars from the Obama era and Clinton era are housed within those policy shops.

Update: Here is a list of 11 advisers, including think tankers, shaping candidates' climate policies.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#368)

  • The American Conservative (TAC) holds panel entitled "Think Tank Town: The Swampy Ecosystem Supporting Status Quo."
  • Gender gaps at think tanks.
  • Pic: Not sure why we need think tanks.
  • How China cultivates Europe's policy think tanks.
  • Pic: RAND Corp. releases 2020 calendar.
  • Claremont Institute recognized by White House.
  • Think tanks being challenged in many countries with fake news and alternative facts.
  • OxyContin's delayed the reckoning for their role in the opioid crisis by funding think tanks.
  • Bloomberg Law: Facebook, Google funding think tanks to shape federal policy debate.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Sen. Tom Cotton Attacks New Anti-War Think Tank

Here is more from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

Sen. Tom Cotton accused the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a new think tank funded by the billionaires George Soros and Charles Koch, of fostering anti-Semitism in speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday.
Cotton, R-Ark., referred to anti-Semitism as an “ancient hatred” and referenced recent attacks against Jews in Brooklyn and Monsey.
“[Anti-Semitism] festers in Washington think tanks like the Quincy Institute, an isolationist blame America first money pit for so-called ‘scholars’ who’ve written that American foreign policy could be fixed if only it were rid of the malign influence of Jewish money,” he said in remarks quoted prior to the speech by Jewish Insider.
The institute’s list of affiliated experts includes some figures who have at times been accused by mainstream Jewish groups of crossing from political commentary on Israel into anti-Semitism, such as political scientist John Mearsheimer, author of “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.” No evidence ties any of the experts affiliated with Quincy to the recent rise in anti-Semitic attacks.

More about the Quincy Institute can be found here.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

North Korean Hackers Target Think Tanks

Here is more from Reuters:

Microsoft Corp said on Monday it has taken control of web domains which were used by a hacking group called “Thallium” to steal information.
Thallium is believed to be operating from North Korea, Microsoft said in a blog post, and the hackers targeted government employees, think tanks, university staff members and individuals working on nuclear proliferation issues, among others.
Most of the targets were based in the United States, as well as Japan and South Korea, the company said.

North Korea has been hacking into think tanks around the world for years.  Here is an example from 2013.  Another of other countries have also been accused of hacking into think tanks, including China and Russia.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Fox News Host Tucker Carlson Sharply Criticizes Heritage Foundation

Here is more from The Hill:

The conservative Heritage Foundation pushed back on Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Saturday after he sharply criticized the organization during a segment on tech policy.
Carlson blasted the foundation and other groups during his show Friday night, arguing that Beltway conservative organizations have "colluded with big tech to shield left-wing monopolies from any oversight."
In specifically going after Heritage, where Carlson used to work, the host asserted, "As an organization, Heritage no longer represents the interests of conservatives, at least on the question of tech."

In response to Carlson, Heritage issued a statement saying that the Fox News host "made several false, outrageous, and unfounded accusations" against the think tank.

Here is the Washington Examiner's reporting on the incident.  Newsweek says that the rebuke of Heritage drew more than three million viewers.

Wikipedia notes that Carlson began his journalism career as a fact-checker for Policy Review, a national conservative journal then published by the Heritage Foundation and eventually acquired by the Hoover Institution.  Its final issue date was in 2013.

Update: Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James received criticism from Carlson in early June 2020, saying that she wrote a "long screed denouncing America as an irredeemably racist nation" in her response to George Floyd's death.

Heritage Foundation's VP of Communications, Rob Bluey, defended her, and noted that Carlson took $25,000 from Heritage two years ago and praised the think tank.  [This is likely referring to the Salvatori Prize for American Citizenship that he won from Heritage in 2018.]

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#367)

  • A mealtime guide to DC think tanks.
  • The think tank dedicated to keeping the US in Syria.
  • Large police presence at Heritage Foundation for Andy Ngo speech.
  • Roosevelt Institute at Cornell University joins UK student think tank to tackle global issues.
  • CGTN think tank launches in Beijing.
  • Florida State University now home to one of the US's only student-run think tanks.
  • Economic Innovation Groups spars with ProPublica over Opportunity Zones.
  • What is a think tank? A French perspective.
  • Huge pro-India fake news network includes Canadian sites, links to Canadian think tanks.
  • "DC think tank report or Bachelor's-level international relations paper" is a fun game to play.
  • Tip for people designing webpages for think tanks (hint: make it simple!).