Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Fmr. Sec. of State Pompeo to Give Speech at Taiwan Think Tank

Here is more from the South China Morning Post:

Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, a vocal supporter of Taiwan, will visit the self-ruled island next week in a trip that is certain to rile Beijing.

Pompeo and his wife are due to arrive in Taiwan on March 2, and meetings are planned with government, business and academic leaders during the four-day trip, the Taiwanese foreign ministry said on Monday.

He is expected to meet President Tsai Ing-wen, attend a banquet hosted by Vice-President William Lai Ching-te, and visit legislative speaker Yu Shyi-kun and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, according to the ministry statement.

Pompeo will also give a speech at the Prospect Foundation, a government-funded think tank.


The Prospect Foundation was founded in 1997 and is dedicated to the study of foreign policy and international relations, particularly in the area of East Asian security.

In related news, the Biden Administration has sent former defense and national security officials, including some high-level think tankers, to Taiwan in a show of support.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Ukrainian Lobbyists Flood US Think Tanks

Here is more from Ben Freeman, a Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft:

As tensions with Russia reach a boiling point, lobbyists from Ukraine are working feverishly to shape the U.S. response. Firms working for Ukrainian interests have inundated congressional offices, think tanks, and journalists with more than 10,000 messages and meetings in 2021, according to an analysis of Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, filings for a forthcoming report from the Quincy Institute.

Think tanks were contacted more than 1,100 times by Ukraine’s agents, and more than half of these were directed at one in particular: the Atlantic Council. This extraordinary outreach included multiple meetings with Atlantic Council scholars, like ex-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst, who has advocated for a more militarized approach to Russia amid the Ukraine crisis.

The Atlantic Council has also launched “UkraineAlert” which publishes daily pieces on deterring Russia. A recent article, “Survey: Western public backs stronger support for Ukraine against Russia,” notes the survey in question was commissioned by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and Yalta European Strategy, which Pinchuk founded; however, the article does not mention that the foundation is a large contributor to the Atlantic Council, donating $250,000-499,000 a year, or that Pinchuk himself — the second wealthiest man in Ukraine — sits on the international advisory board of the Atlantic Council.


Freeman notes that after the Atlantic Council, the Heritage Foundation was the second most contracted think tank by Ukraine's agents.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Think Tank Quickies (#438)

  • Liberty University president says that getting people elected is the goal of the school's think tank, previously known as the Falkirk Center.
  • Taiwanese cash funding think tanks to push for war with China?
  • William Gorham, Urban Institute founder, dies at 91.
  • Silverado Policy Accelerator: "Combines expertise of a traditional think tank with the dynamism of a venture approach."
  • Sen. Joe Manchin's ties to conservative think tank land.
  • New RAND report: A Guide to extreme competition with China.
  • French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer heads a think tank tasked with combating what the minister calls "US-imported wokeism."
  • International Crisis Group: Why the UNSC stumbles in responding to coups.
  • McGann on how think tanks stay relevant in today's world.
  • "I always felt that universities are sometimes better than think tanks because their students, their engagement, their fresh and changing ideas."

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Cato Targeted by Euro Leaders Over Ukraine

Here is more from Politico:

Nearly 90 former European leaders and experts wrote to the Cato Institute claiming that two fellows’ stances on Ukraine have provided Russia with rhetorical ammo throughout the yearslong standoff.

“In a most recent commentary by DOUG BANDOW … he called Western Ukrainians ‘less Slavic peoples.’ In 2014, Doug Bandow called Ukraine a ‘fake country’ and defended Russian influence over it,’” they wrote.

“In his book, ‘Gullible Superpower’ … Cato Institute’s TED GALEN CARPENTER presented some of the propagandist arguments generated by the Kremlin in its information warfare against the USA and the West,” the signatories continued.


Politico notes that a recent blog post by Cato President Peter Goettler and Board Chair Bob Levy says that the think tank "reaffirms its steadfast support for the liberty, human rights, and self-determination of the people of Ukraine - and indeed of people in Russia and around the world."

Monday, February 14, 2022

New FARA Advisory Opinions Address Think Tanks

Here is more from Politico:

NEW FARA ADVISORY OPINIONS FOCUS ON NONPROFITS: The Justice Department this week released another batch of Foreign Agents Registration Act advisory opinions, several of which touched on the FARA statute’s exemption for nonprofits, think tanks, charitable organizations, and academic and religious institutions, an issue rarely addressed by the letters, which guide lawyers advising lobbyists on whether or not they need to register as foreign agents.

— Taken with DOJ’s plans to offer up new FARA regulations, the focus on nonprofit activity in the latest batch of opinions signals that “the Justice Department does not appear inclined to carve out — at this time — exceptions for nonprofits as a group,” Brandon Van Grack, a former head of the FARA Unit now a the law firm Morrison & Foerster, said in an interview. “I think the big takeaway is that there is no special treatment for nonprofits.”

 — Van Grack noted that there is still uncertainty surrounding nonprofits’ obligations to register under FARA in certain situations, in part because DOJ is wary of creating exceptions that foreign governments and organizations could exploit, but argued that on the whole there was “nothing in the content of the analysis that necessarily jumped out as surprising” or that broke new ground.


As has been noted, nearly all think tanks currently consider themselves qualified for FARA's exemption for "bona fide" religious, academic, or scientific pursuits.

Think Tank Watch will be watching closely to see if any think tanks start registering under FARA.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Heritage Foundation Tries Reset Amid Competiton From Trump Allies

Here is more from the Washington Post:

The Heritage Foundation has long shaped mainstream Republican policy in Washington. It drafted much of Ronald Reagan’s agenda to slash federal spending and launched a ferocious campaign to repeal Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

But in recent months, the venerable think tank in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol has revamped its leadership after its former president, Kay Coles James, was subject to a torrent of criticism from a prominent conservative cable host. Heritage replaced James with a Texas firebrand more determined to fight pandemic restrictions, “critical race theory” in schools, and “teaching transgenderism to kindergartners,” bending the institution toward issues that have resonated with former president Donald Trump and his allies.

The leadership changes mark a retreat from traditional but stodgy fiscal and foreign policy issues in favor of the hot-button education and vaccine debates that increasingly defined the Republican Party in the era of Trump. The change also comes as Heritage is struggling to compete for right-wing dollars while new think tanks are cropping up around town, including several launched by such Trump acolytes as former White House budget chief Russ Vought and top domestic policy aide Brooke Rollins.


Kevin Roberts, who previously led the Texas Public Policy Foundation, is the new president of the Heritage Foundation.  He said that his top three priorities at Heritage are "education, education, and education."

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Think Tank Quickies (#437)

  • Tesla says Chinese think tank report on its Shanghai production is inaccurate.
  • Norm Eisen on one of the most important papers he's ever published for Brookings. 
  • Goldman Sachs launches green finance group with Chinese think tank.
  • FARA and lessons for think tanks.
  • Conservative think tanks destroying the planet?
  • India's Pakistan policy: How think tanks are shaping foreign relations.
  • Why Special Counsel John Durham subpoenaed the Brookings Institution.
  • Vice: "Meet the obscure think tank powering Trump's biggest lies."
  • Turkey white-washing its reputation via Washington think tanks?
  • Jonathan Turley: "Brookings appears so often in accounts related to the Russian collusion scandal that it could be Washington's alternative to the Kevin Bacon parlor game.  It appears that many of these figures are within six degrees of Brookings."

Monday, February 7, 2022

Think Tanker Gets Himself in Hot Water in Move to Georgetown University

Here is more from the Washington Post:

An incoming Georgetown Law administrator, who last week apologized for a series of now-deleted tweets about President Biden’s promise to nominate a Black woman for the Supreme Court, has been placed on administrative leave, the law school’s dean said Monday.

Ilya Shapiro, vice president and director of the Robert A. Levy Center for Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, was set to take over the law school’s Center for the Constitution as executive director Tuesday. He was also hired as a senior lecturer.


The National Review has said that Georgetown should not fire Shapiro.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

CAP Staffers Threatening to Strike Over Salary

Here is more from HuffPost:

Workers at the Center for American Progress are considering going on strike amid a fight over salaries at the liberal think tank.

The staff union held a vote Tuesday in which its members overwhelmingly rejected CAP management’s latest pay offer. Employees’ latest contract expired at the end of last year but was extended for a month to give both sides more time to bargain.

The vote by staffers on Tuesday allowed that extension to expire ― along with its agreement not to go on strike. Union leaders said the vote gives them the green light to escalate the dispute however they see fit, including carrying out a work stoppage.

The salary floor at the Center for American Progress is currently $40,000, the equivalent of around $19 per hour for a 40-hour workweek. [CAP Union president Marissa Alayna] Navarro said lower-level staffers are struggling to cover rent and other necessities in pricey Washington, D.C. The union recently conducted a staff survey and found that more than half of union members spend at least 40% their paychecks on housing, she said.


The Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU), which represents other think tanks, says that the salary minimum at CAP is below other comparable left-leaning think tanks, according to the article.  

The salary minimum at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) is $50,000, it is $51,700 at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), and it is $53,558 at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). 

According to 2019 tax documents, then CAP president Neera Tanden made $367,617 annually.  The next eight highest-ranking officials made between $171,242 to $235,984 annually.

In related news, New America's staff union, New America United (NAU), has just requested that the think tank's leadership voluntarily recognize their union.

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Hudson Launches Center for Peace and Security in the Middle East

Here is more from the Hudson Institute:

Hudson Institute launched its Center for Peace and Security in the Middle East today, which will be dedicated to bolstering American interests in this pivotal region so that the U.S. can prevail in the new era of great power competition.

Under the leadership of Hudson Senior Fellow Dr. Michael Doran, this policy initiative will bring together leading regional experts to focus on: strengthening allies, Israel first and foremost; containing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions; defeating Iranian forces and proxies; and weakening Russian and Chinese efforts to assert influence in the region.

Joining him at the Center are Hudson Senior Fellow Jonathan Schachter, a specialist in Israeli-American relations and Middle East security and a former adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Adjunct Fellow Ezra Cohen, a former Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security and Director for Defense Intelligence at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence; Visiting Fellow Mohammed Khalid Alyahya, a specialist in Middle Eastern foreign policy and former editor-in-chief of Al Arabiya English; Adjunct Fellow Robert Greenway, President and Executive Director of the Abraham Accords Peace Institute and a former senior director at the National Security Council under President Donald J. Trump; Research Fellow Ahmad Hashemi, a former official in the foreign ministry of Iran; Research Fellow and prominent Middle East expert Rania Kisar; and Research Associate William Lombardo.


The announcement does not say where funding for the new center is coming from.