Monday, August 24, 2020

British Trade Minister Hid Think Tank Meetings

Here is more from Reuters:

Britain’s trade minister has reclassified recent meetings with a pro-hard Brexit think tank as personal discussions, removing them from the public record and sparking opposition allegations that she wants to conceal their influence on public policy.

The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is widely regarded as one of Britain’s most influential right-leaning think tanks. It promotes free-markets and has argued strongly for a clean break from the European Union since the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Two meetings with trade minister Liz Truss and the IEA had originally been included in quarterly transparency data published on the government’s website and described as discussing trade. They were removed on Wednesday with a note explaining they were personal meetings - the first such revision since the department was created in 2016.


 IEA was founded in 1955 by businessman and battery farming pioneer Antony Fisher.

 Update: Truss reverses decision to remove think tank meetings from public register.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Think Tank Quickies (#385)

  • At the Atlantic Council, foreign money talks.
  • Conservative think tankers, including China hawks, talking to Biden campaign; more than 2,000 people, including think tank experts, advising Biden on foreign policy.
  • NYT: How a tech-funded think tank (Global Antitrust Institute) influences global antitrust regulators.
  • FBI investigating Russia's Strategic Culture Foundation, which is reportedly directed by Russian intelligence agency SVR.
  • Rush Doshi, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, has led a months-long project on China's information influence operations.
  • US think tank rankings based on search engine performance.
  • Question: "Why did Rome fall?  Wrong answers only."  Max Abrahms answers: There weren't enough think tanks supplying empirically-based foreign policy advice.
  • US military contractors have been enlisting think tanks for years to sell armed drones overseas.
  • Jason Stahl, author of think tank book, resigns from university position.
  • How one think tank poisoned Australia's climate debate.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Committee Advising Biden on Tech Has Close Ties to Think Tanks

Scores of think tankers are advising the Joe Biden campaign, and more are joining every month.  Here is the latest from the New York Times:


One of Mr. Biden’s closest aides joined the campaign from Apple, while others held senior roles at firms that consulted for major tech companies. And a nearly 700-person volunteer group advising the campaign, the Innovation Policy Committee, includes at least eight people who work for Facebook, Amazon, Google and Apple, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times. Other committee members have close ties to the companies, including economists and lawyers who have advised them, and officials at think tanks funded by them.


Here is a recent Think Tank Watch piece on how Biden's think tankers got rich.  Here is another piece on the think tankers advising Joe Biden on the economy.  Here is a Foreign Policy piece on the team of 2,000+ people, including think tankers, advising Biden on foreign policy.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Brookings Will Not Hold In-Person Events for Remainder of 2020

Most think tanks have not held in-person events since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and many are starting to announce that they will not host any for the rest of the year.

The Brookings Institution has just announced that it will continue mandatory telework and public events will remain webinar-only through at least Jan. 4, 2021.  The think tank began mandatory telework on March 13.

Here is a Think Tank Watch post from early June on the end of in-person think tank events.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Study: Think Tank Experts Are More Hawkish Than Professors

This is from a working paper by Richard Hanania of Columbia University and Max Abrahms of Northeastern University:

We argue that experts are more hawkish the closer they are to power, both figuratively and literally, and show this through the first study to use survey methods to inquire into the foreign policy preferences of think tank analysts and fellows (think tank employees, or TTEs) relative to professors who are experts in international relations. We find that TTEs are 0.47 standard deviations more hawkish than professors as calculated based on a standard survey measuring militant internationalism (MI). Controlling for self-described ideology mitigates this effect although it remains statistically significant. Among professors, those who have worked for the federal government are higher on MI, as are TTEs located closer to Capitol Hill. Differing levels of regional expertise generally cannot explain these differences, except perhaps in the case of Iran.

The full report can be found here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Researcher Who Provided Info. for Steele Dossier Linked to Brookings

Here is more from the New York Times:

Not long after the early 2017 publication of a notorious dossier about President Trump jolted Washington, an expert in Russian politics told the F.B.I. he had been one of its key sources, drawing on his contacts to deliver information that would make up some of the most salacious and unproven assertions in the document.

The F.B.I. had approached the expert, a man named Igor Danchenko, as it vetted the dossier’s claims. He agreed to tell investigators what he knew with an important condition, people familiar with the matter said — that the F.B.I. keep his identity secret so he could protect himself, his sources and his family and friends in Russia.

Born in Ukraine, Mr. Danchenko, 42, is a Russian-trained lawyer who earned degrees at the University of Louisville and Georgetown University, according to LinkedIn. He was a senior research analyst from 2005 to 2010 at the Brookings Institution, where he co-wrote a research paper showing that, as a student, President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia appeared to have plagiarized part of his dissertation.

The Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece saying that when the movie of the Trump-Russia conspiracy is made, it will feature "top Democrats and Brookings Institution officials who would be flattered if you ended up thinking of them as Steele dossier conspirators as some now wish to portray them."

Real Clear Investigations notes that Danchenko collaborated with Fiona Hill on at least two policy papers during his five years at Brookings.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece on Hill, a Brookings scholar and Russia expert who served in the Trump Administration.