The conservative Heritage Foundation has consistently fought international treaties banning weapons that pose an outsized threat to civilians in the war zone. This would include anti-personnel landmines, cluster munitions, and “killer robots”—as well as regulations that would enforce arms embargoes on human rights offenders. And yet, Heritage fails to disclose a possible financial incentive for taking these positions.
Heritage received at least $5.8 million from the Hanwha Group between 2007 and 2015, according to the organization’s annual reports reviewed by Responsible Statecraft. Between 2010 and 2014, Hanwha—a South Korean conglomerate that has produced landmine and autonomous weapons systems—contributed a minimum of $1 million per year, making Hanwa one of the Heritage Foundation’s biggest donors. Hanwha was not listed as a donor after 2015, but Heritage permits donors to make anonymous contributions and Heritage and the Hanwha Group did not respond to questions about whether the funding arrangement continued after 2015.
However, Korean media regularly reports on the close relationship between Heritage and Hanwha, and suggested their friendly relationship was alive and well, at least as recently as October 2018 when Heritage Foundation founder Edwin J. Feulner and Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn met in Seoul.
Mr. Clifton is the research director at the Quincy Institute's Democratizing Foreign Policy Program. Last month he wrote a piece about Taiwan's funding of US think tanks.