Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Has Heritage Foundation Become a Pacifist Think Tank?

Here is more from the New York Times, in a piece entitled "Why the Once-Hawkish Heritage Foundation Opposed Aid to Ukraine":

Hours before the House voted this month to approve $40 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, lobbyists affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, the prominent conservative think tank, were privately pressing Republicans to oppose the measure.

For years, the group advocated a hawkish foreign policy, enthusiastically backing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, more recently, criticizing President Barack Obama for “always” seeking “to find the absolute minimum level of military power he can get away with.”

But more recently, its lobbying arm has embraced the anti-interventionist fervor that defined President Donald J. Trump’s foreign policy and has swept the Republican Party.


In a tweet, E.J. Fagan, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Illinois, said "I might have read more Heritage Foundation reports than any person who hasn't worked there...It's hard to overstate what a seismic change Heritage becoming pro-Russian is.  They've ditched Ronald Reagan and fully bought into Donald Trump." 

In another tweet, Joseph Collins, Director of the Center for Complex Operations at the National Defense University (NDU), said that "returning to the GOP's isolationist roots, the Heritage Fndtn follows the MAGA mob...Glad to have quit them 2 yrs ago."

Friday, May 27, 2022

Think Tank's Lobbying Arm Helped Coin Term "Ultra-MAGA"

Here is more from the Washington Post:

Biden’s attempt to appropriate the “MAGA” brand as a political attack was hardly accidental. It arose from a six-month research project to find the best way to target Republicans, helmed by Biden adviser Anita Dunn and by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a liberal group.

The polling and focus group research by Hart Research and the Global Strategy Group found that “MAGA” was already viewed negatively by voters — more negatively than other phrases like “Trump Republicans.”


The Center for American Progress Action Found (CAPAF) is the sister lobbying arm of the think tank Center for American Progress (CAP).

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Coinbase Launches an In-House Crypto Think Tank

Here is more from The Block:

Crypto exchange Coinbase is launching a new crypto-focused, in-house think tank. 

The think tank will work with academic institutions and other think tanks to conduct research. The first partnership of this kind is with the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center, which conducts surveys for the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Defense.

The first survey in partnership with Coinbase will focus on the "adoption of and sentiments toward crypto" in U.S. households. The think tank will also work with crypto leaders and policymakers, starting with its first project on crypto and the climate.

Launching today is also the first Monthly Insights Report, which focuses on providing real-time analysis of market movements in crypto and traditional finance. 

Named the "Coinbase Institute," the think tank consists of an in-house team led by Hermine Wong and Dr. Cesare Fracassi.


Coinbase Institute, which officially launched on May 18, describes itself as a "global crypto-native think tank ground in evidence-based research." 

Its advisory board currently consists of five members: Christian Catalini of MIT, Marco Di Maggio of Harvard, Manju Puri of Duke, Nagpurnanand Prabhala of Johns Hopkins, and Vikramaditya Khanna of the University of Michigan.

In 2021, Coinbase reportedly was the biggest-spending lobbying blockchain company, with expenses over $1.3 million.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post on cryptocurrency think tanks gaining influence in Washington.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Mike Pompeo to Join Hudson Institute's New China Center

Here is more from the Hudson Institute:

Hudson Institute launched its new China Center, which will be dedicated to crafting policy responses to keep America’s strategic focus on China and foster a national and global dialogue rooted in the values of freedom and democracy.

Under the leadership of Hudson Senior Fellow Dr. Miles Yu, who previously served as the senior China policy and planning advisor at the State Department, this policy initiative will bring together leading China experts, policy makers, and national leaders to solidify and extend the non-partisan national consensus on America’s approach to China.

Hudson Distinguished Fellow and former Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo will serve as the chair of the Center’s advisory board.


Hudson already has a number of other policy centers, including the Center for Peace and Security in the Middle East, the Center for Defense Concepts and Technology, the Center for the Economics of the Internet, the Center for Religious Freedom, and the Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research.  In 2019 Hudson founded a Japan Chair. 

Besides Miles Yu and Michael Pompeo, four others are currently listed as "experts" within the China Center: David Asher, John Lee, Nadia Schadlow, and Nury Turkel.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

New AV Startup Leans on Atlantic Council

Here is more from Politico:

Applied Intuition, which specializes in software for autonomous vehicles, is building out its footprint in D.C. 

The company is also set to hold a one-day symposium tomorrow with the Atlantic Council that is expected to draw a number of high-profile guests, including incoming CIA chief technology officer Nand Mulchandani, former Pentagon policy chief Michèle Flournoy, venture capitalist and Applied Intuition investor Marc Andreessen and Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), who chairs the House Armed Services cyber subcommittee.

Applied Intuition is part of a team led by General Dynamics competing to replace the Army’s M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle, and earlier this year was selected for a blanket purchase agreement from the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center to provide AI and autonomy test and evaluation services.


Here is a link to the May 17 symposium, which was entitled Nexus 22.

In related Atlantic Council news, the think tank recently held its annual awards ceremony in Washington, DC, featuring Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, former secretaries of state Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, and Ukrainian Eurovision winner Jamala.

Update: Politico has some additional reporting about the Atlantic Council's award ceremony: BRAND MANAGEMENT MESS: The Atlantic Council last week awarded Claudio Descalzi, CEO of Italian energy giant Eni, a "distinguished leadership" award at a black-tie gala, for "leading an example-setting effort to wean Italy off Russian gas." Fast-forward a week and Eni, which is 32 percent owned by the Italian state, has opened a second rubles account for Russian gas payments. After the European Commission said Tuesday that opening the account "goes beyond what we said was allowed," the executive’s Economy Commissioner, Paolo Gentiloni, an Italian, said the account “does not constitute a violation of sanctions.”

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Think Tank Quickies (#445)

  • Thomas Wright of Brookings joins the NSC.
  • Amanda Howe, most recently a nominee to be an assistant EPA administrator, will be COO at CAP.
  • Max Bergmann has left CAP to join CSIS as its new director of the Europe program.
  • Dr. Sue Mi Terry becomes new Director of the Wilson Center's Asia Program.
  • Heather Hurlburt, formerly at New America, will be the chief of staff to USTR Katherine Tai.
  • Nina Jankowicz, a scholar on disinformation at the Wilson Center, is joining DHS's new Disinformation Governance Board.
  • Kevin Whitaker, a former US ambassador to Colombia, is joining Atlantic Council as a nonresident senior fellow.
  • Paul Ray is the new director of the Heritage Foundation's Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies.
  • Ashley Towshend is joining Carnegie Endowment for International Peace as a senior fellow for Indo-Pacific security.  He's currently the director of foreign policy and defense at the United States Studies Center (USSC) in Sydney, Australia.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Biden Team Conducting Hour-Long Phone Meetings on Russia with Think Tanks

Here is more from Politico:

Another sign that the Blob is regrouping comes in the form of the regular hour-long phone meetings on Ukraine and Russia that the Biden administration has been conducting since February with leading Washington think-tanks, including the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Atlantic Council, the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), and the German Marshall Fund. The briefers from the administration have included National Security Council official Eric Green and Defense Department official Laura K. Cooper.

What’s the aim of these sessions? According to one participant, it’s possible to ask pointed questions, but “the whole point is to carry water for the administration. They’re buttering up the think-tank community. They want it to defend them publicly. They send follow up emails that reinforce the cycle of affirmation.”

NSC official Amanda Mansour is responsible for email blasts to the participants that contain what is called “notable commentary” relating to Ukraine and Russia that fortifies the administration’s stances. These Washington think-tanks — in particular the Atlantic Council and CEPA — play a role in both influencing administration policy and the public perception of it.


The White House often holds private meetings and phone calls with the think tank community on a wide variety of issues, including foreign policy, defense, economics, taxes, labor, and technology.