Friday, July 29, 2022

Atlantic Council Ends Ties with $4.5 Million Koch Initiative

Here is more from Politico:

The Atlantic Council is parting ways with a Charles Koch-funded foreign policy strategy initiative after staff at the Washington think tank raised concerns about the arrangement and the initiative’s position on U.S. policy toward Russia.

Koch, who is a major funder of conservative, libertarian and philanthropic initiatives, provided the Council with a $4.5 million grant in 2020. The money was designed to set up the New American Engagement Initiative, a national security effort that planned to use the funds to support scholars and their efforts, which was housed under the Council’s Scowcroft Center for Security and Strategy.

In March 2021, the initiative co-director, Mathew Burrows, and Emma Ashford, a senior fellow with the effort, penned an article that argued the U.S. should not center its approach to Russia around human rights. Nearly two dozen Atlantic Council staffers, including several former ambassadors, responded in a letter disassociating themselves with the article. At the time, some Atlantic Council experts suggested to POLITICO that Ashford and initiative co-director Chris Preble — two alumni of the Koch-funded Cato Institute — were brought on because of Koch money.


The initiative is now moving to the Stimson Center, another Washington, DC-based think tank which has taken Koch money in the past.  In 2021, it received $112,180 from the Charles Koch Institute.

As part of the New American Engagement Initiative, another $10 million in Koch grants was given to Center for the National Interest, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and RAND Corporation.

Here is a Vox piece on the significance of the Atlantic Council/Stimson move.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch piece on the uproar that the Koch money brought to the Atlantic Council.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Think Tank Quickies (#448)

  • Stacey Abrams paid over $700k by liberal think tank (Roosevelt Institute) seeking to "center race in every policy decision."
  • ProPublica: "Right-wing think tank Family Research Council in now a church in the eyes of the IRS."
  • Ory Rinat, who directed digital strategy at the Heritage Foundation, launched Urban Legend to help run influencer campaigns.
  • Roshan Patel: "Lord give me the confidence of someone who takes a Harvard online class and adds it to their LinkedIn education section."
  • Matthew Yglesias: "In America of course we only have two parties that need to be biggish tents, but we should reorganize our think tank sector to have flagship institutes for each of these."
  • Think tanks and advocacy groups called on Congress to reconsider a $6 billion plan to make new engines for the F-35 fighter jet.
  • "Did you know that there are library think tanks designed to convince Big Publishers that libraries are profitable and they should let libraries buy their books?"
  • Charles Gasparino: "I'm launching a new think tank...the Paulie Walnuts Institute."
  • Milena Rodban: "Super predictable formula...someone who spent a couple years at a think tank moves to a consulting firm, publishes book (heavily leaning on think tank creds) advocating for the need for something the consulting firm wants clients to buy, then spends a year talking that up."

Monday, July 25, 2022

Trump-Aligned Think Tanks Gaining in Power

When a number of former Trump Administration officials left the White House and various executive branch agencies, they quietly formed and joined several think tanks that have operated largely under-the-radar.

But with talk of the 2024 elections, including a possible Trump announcement ramping up, many are starting to play a more influential role in shaping the policy debate.

Here is more from Axios:

The advocacy groups who have effectively become extensions of the Trump infrastructure include the Center for Renewing America (CRA), the America First Policy Institute (AFPI), and the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI).

Other groups — while not formally connected to Trump’s operation — have hired key lieutenants and are effectively serving his ends. The Heritage Foundation, the legacy conservative group, has moved closer to Trump under its new president, Kevin Roberts, and is building links to other parts of the “America First” movement.

During the Trump administration, many conservatives perceived the group as sliding into irrelevance as they were detached from Trump and his movement. Recently though, some former Heritage allies watched in horror when the group broke with GOP hawks and opposed Congress’ $40 billion aid package to Ukraine for its fight against Russia.

Roberts has developed a closer personal relationship with Trump than his predecessor did. Trump even visited Amelia Island in Florida to speak to Heritage’s annual leadership conference in April. In addition to courting Trump, Roberts has also opened his door to the “New Right” — individuals and organizations whose views differ dramatically from many of the Bush era conservative policies Heritage has traditionally supported.

Roberts said in an interview to Axios he plans to spend at least $10 million collaborating with at least 15 conservative groups to build a database of personnel for the next Republican administration. He was careful to say the list is intended to support whoever is the GOP nominee, but he has appointed a former top Trump personnel official, Paul Dans, to run the operation, and a glance down the list of allied organizations shows it is heavy on stalwart Trump allies.

Tellingly, the Conservative Partnership Institute has signed onto the Heritage effort.  The Trump-blessed think tank America First Policy Institute did not sign onto the Heritage initiative, preferring instead to promote its standalone personnel project. This, too, will have a strong Trumpian flavor.

AFPI is run by Trump’s former Domestic Policy Council director Brooke Rollins. More than half a dozen Trump Cabinet officials are affiliated with AFPI and Trump loyalists fill the group from top to bottom.

Rollins brought in Michael Rigas to lead AFPI’s 2025 personnel project. Rigas ran Trump’s Office of Personnel Management — the federal government’s HR department.  [Earlier this summer, AFPI launched the “American Leadership Initiative,” led by Rigas, to identify positions to cut or fill ahead of any new right-leaning administration.]


Axios notes that James Sherk, a former Heritage Foundation staffer who worked in Trump's Domestic Policy Council, helped prepare what became known as the "Schedule F" order which would potentially make it easier to fire tens of thousands of US federal employees.  Sherk is now at AFPI and published a lenghty report called "Tales from the Swamp" recounting ways that federal bureaucrats resisted implementing Trump policies.

Axios notes that CPI is a "who's-who" of Trump's former administration and the "America First" movement and has become the "hub of the hard right" in Washington.  It was founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint, the former head of the Heritage Foundation.  Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows joined CPI in 2021.

Here is a bit more on CPI from Axios:

The group’s senior staff includes Edward Corrigan, who worked on the Trump transition team’s personnel operation; Wesley Denton, who served in Trump’s Office of Management and Budget; Rachel Bovard, one of the conservative movement’s sharpest parliamentary tacticians; and attorney Cleta Mitchell, who was a key player in Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

The group runs its operations out of a brownstone a short walk from the Capitol building and the Supreme Court. They recruit, train and promote ideologically vetted staff for GOP offices on Capitol Hill and the next Republican administration. The ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus meets at CPI headquarters.

CPI's goal is to have at least 300 fully vetted "America First" staffers to supply GOP congressional offices after the midterms.  These new staffers would theoretically gain valuable experience to use on Capitol Hill but also incubate for a Trump administration in 2025.


Among other things, Axios notes that Russ Vought, the former head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) who founded CRA, could get a significant role in any future Trump Administration. 

In the final week of the Trump Administration, Vought met with Trump and shared his plans to start CRA and Trump gave Vought his blessing.  The CRA team now includes Kash Patel, Mark Paoletta, Ken Cuccinelli, and Jeffrey Clark, whom Trump attempted to install as Attorney General to help him remain in office

Beginning this year, Vought plans to release a series of policy papers detailing plans to dismantle the "administrative state," according to Axios.

On July 26, former President Donald Trump will return to Washington, DC - his first time since leaving office - to deliver the keynote address for AFPI's America First Agenda Summit.  AFPI is often described as "the White House in waiting."

Here is more on AFPI from Politico:

Under the Vision 2025 framework, Rollins and her team grew AFPI into a think tank with more than 150 employees, including 17 former senior White House staffers who include former Cabinet members like Small Business Administrator Administrator Linda McMahon and acting Homeland Security chief Chad Wolf, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry. It also includes past senior administration officials like [Larry] Kudlow and even football coach-turned-Trump ally Lou Holtz. In all, there are 22 policy centers within AFPI focused on issues like “The Center for Election Integrity,” and the “Center for Media Accountability.”

The group has filed lawsuits against “big tech” and vaccine mandates. And in a sign of its fundraising power, it has an operating budget of $25 million, although funding sources for the nonprofit are publicly unknown, as those disclosure forms have not yet been released.

A newly published organizational agenda, provided to POLITICO in advance by AFPI, outlines the nonprofit’s focus in 10 areas, among them: “Make the Greatest Economy in the World Work for All Americans;” “Give Parents More Control over Their Children’s Education;” “Finish the Wall, End Human Trafficking, and Defeat the Drug Cartels;” “Make It Easy to Vote and Hard to Cheat;” “Provide Safe and Secure Communities so All Americans Can Live Their Lives in Peace;” and “Fight Government Corruption by Draining the Swamp.”

Trump has been supportive of the organization. He hosted a black tie gala fundraiser for AFPI at Mar-a-Lago last November and his PAC, Save America, donated $1 million. Some of the names on the organization’s roster — including Conway, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and pastor Paula Cain-White — remain in Trump’s orbit.


Politico notes that CPI and the Heritage Foundation "recently shored up their own plans" for the next conservative-led administration, with the 2025 Presidential Transition Project

Meanwhile, this evening, Trump's former vice president, Mike Pence, will deliver remarks on his proposed conservative agenda at the Heritage Foundation.  

In a piece entitled "Trumpism's New Washington Army," The Economist writes that "like-minded wonks and former Trump Administration officials are busy building think tanks and advocacy organization to provide the policies and, crucially, the personnel for a new Republican right." 

It notes that American Compass is among the "new think tanks that have sprung up" to translate ideas into policy.  It also knows that America First Legal, founded by former Trump aide Stephen Miller, is challenging the Biden Administration in court, mostly over any loosening of immigration rules.

The Economist also notes that Trump has helped raise money for CRA, which reportedly has been busy developing many of the policy and administrative plans that would likely form the foundation for a second-term Trump Administration.

It adds that two Silicon Valley-based philanthropies, the Hewlett Foundation and the Omidyar Network, have earmarked millions of dollars for organizations to develop alternatives to market-friendly policies.  American Affairs, American Compass, and American Moment have secured some of these grants.

In other related think tanks news, here is a new Washington Post piece on how Trump helped "revolutionize" the Claremont Institute from a "minor academic outfit to to a key Washington player" that is now facing blowback for standing by lawyer John Eastman after he counseled Trump over overturning the 2020 election.

Update: Former Trump aide Peter Navarro is asking Trump not to speak at the AFPI event on July 26 because he believes the think tank is insufficiently devoted to Trumpism.

Friday, July 22, 2022

Think Tankers Attend Private Meeting on North Korea Hosted by US Strategic Command

Here is more from the Wall Street Journal:

In late May, dozens of U.S. intelligence officials, military officers and security analysts gathered in Omaha, Neb., to assess the escalating nuclear threat from North Korea as the regime develops new tactical nuclear weapons.

The previously unreported event was the first at the headquarters of U.S. Strategic Command, the arm of the Pentagon charged with deterring America’s rivals, to focus solely on North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s nuclear program, according to a spokesman for the organization.

The North Korea meeting on May 23-24 was coordinated by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which advises the president on national security, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, which provides information on foreign militaries to the U.S. military. 


Those that attended include Markus Garlauskas, a former national intelligence officer for North Korea at the ODNI, who is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Another attendee was Ankit Panda, a Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Chief of Tax Foundation to Take New Role at Think Tank

Here is more from Bloomberg Tax:

Scott Hodge, the longtime president and CEO of the Tax Foundation, is stepping down to take a new role at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the group said Monday.

Hodge has served in the top job for 22 years, growing the nonprofit from a six-person shop to an organization with nearly three dozen tax policy professionals. He has spearheaded initiatives such the taxes and growth dynamic tax modeling program and the state business tax climate index, the foundation said.

Hodge will transition to a new position as president emeritus and senior policy adviser. The Tax Foundation has launched a search for a new president and CEO and has posted information about the role on its website.

The Tax Foundation, founded in 1937, has an annual operating budget of $6.3 million.  In 2020, Mr. Hodge made $347,300 for running the think tank.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Think Tank Quickies (#447)

  • In the lead-up to the war last year, Ukraine's lobbyists made 10,000+ contracts with Congress, think tanks, and journalists.  "Think tanks have basically become lobbyists but with nonprofit status."
  • Is Brookings a liberal think tank or a big-money lobbyist?
  • Former President Donald Trump is returning to Washington for the first time since he left office to give a speech at the America First Policy Institute, which is led by senior Trump officials. 
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) slams foreign influence at Brookings.
  • Manhattan Institute serves as a haven for "cancelled" scholars.
  • Tom Donilon, chair of BlackRocks's think tank, to co-chair State Departments' Foreign Affairs Policy Board.
  • Asia Times: Neocon think tanks are driving Biden's Ukraine policy.
  • Daniel Bessner: "I spent the spring reading what many think tanks in DC have been saying about the future of US foreign policy and US-China relations."
  • CNAS report highlighting key insights from a strategic-operational wargame examining a US-China conflict over Taiwan in 2027.
  • Alex Kisling, former director of strategic communications at Atlantic Council, will be VP of comms at CSIS.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

In Rare Move, Left-Leaning Scholar Moves to Conservative AEI

Here is more from Politico:

Ruy Teixeira is one of Washington’s most prominent left-leaning think-tank scholars, a fixture at the Center for American Progress since the liberal organization’s founding in 2003. But as of August 1, he’ll have a new professional home: The American Enterprise Institute, the longtime conservative redoubt that over the years has employed the likes of Newt Gingrich, Dinesh D’Souza, and Robert Bork.

Teixeira, whose role in the Beltway scrum often involved arguing against calls to move right on economic issues, insists his own policy views haven’t changed — but says the current cultural milieu of progressive organizations “sends me running screaming from the left.”

To hear Teixeira tell it, CAP, and the rest of Washington’s institution-based left, stopped being a place where he could do the work he wanted. The reason, he says, is that the relentless focus on race, gender, and identity in historically liberal foundations and think tanks has made it hard to do work that looks at society through other prisms. It also makes people nervous about projects that could be accused of giving short shrift to anti-racism efforts.


The article notes that AEI has become known as a "safe-space" for anti-Trump conservatives, and has been taking in scholars who have "run afoul of institutional shibboleths elsewhere."  Politico notes a few examples:

Recent additions include former Princeton classics professor Joshua Katz, who was stripped of tenure and fired this year for a long-ago sexual relationship with an undergrad, something he contends is actually about him being a conservative who slammed anti-racist campus protests; Chris Stirewalt, the Fox News analyst who infuriated Trump by calling Arizona for Joe Biden and subsequently lost his job; Thomas Chatterton Williams, the cultural critic who drafted the controversial 2020 “Harper’s Letter” criticizing purported hostility to free speech on the left; and Klon Kitchen, a former Heritage Foundation fellow who published a sharp criticism of his former employer over its stance on Ukraine. They’ve also lured a couple veterans of the historically liberal Brookings Institution.


The group of new AEI scholars, as well as others the think tank has hired, are likened to "an island of misfit toys." 

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, which notes that Teixeira thinks CAP is "being warped by a junior staff for whom identity politics is everything," says that the incident shows signs of "political and cultural sickness," and says that AEI bringing Teixeira on board is a sign of "conservative vigor."

Monday, July 18, 2022

Uber Hoped to Influence 1,850 Stakeholders, Including Think Tank Experts

Here is more from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ):

Now, a new leak of records reveal the inside story of how [Uber] executives muscled into new markets, then managed the fallout, spending gobs of cash on a global influence machine deployed to win favors from politicians, regulators and other leaders, who were often eager to lend a hand.

The records, the Uber Files, were obtained by The Guardian newspaper and shared with ICIJ and 42 other media partners. The cache includes emails, text messages, company presentations and other documents from 2013 to 2017, when Uber was barging into cities in defiance of local laws and regulations, dodging taxes and seeking to grind into submission the taxi industry, most prominently, but also labor activists.

To spread its message, Uber and an advisory firm compiled lists of more than 1,850 “stakeholders” — sitting and former public officials, think tanks and citizens groups — it hoped to influence in 29 countries and the European Union, the documents show.


While the majority of those targeted were politicians and public officials, reporting reveals that 91 officers, executives, or board members at think tanks, consumer groups, interest groups, and trade associations were targeted by Uber. 

Here is more from The Guardian which provides one specific example:

In Germany, where authorities were clamping down on Uber’s breaches of regulations in 2014, Prof Justus Haucap, a leading economist at Düsseldorf University’s Institute for Competition Economics (DICE), agreed to produce a study on “consumer benefits from a liberalisation of the German taxi market”.

The study was conducted in collaboration with a consultancy arm of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), described by Uber executives in internal emails as “the thinktank that has greatest sway with the current [German] government”, for what the leak suggested was a fee of €48,000 plus VAT.


Also, Axios just noted that Uber paid $100,000 for a paper written by an economist at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER).

Uber is certainly no stranger to think tanks.  Several years ago, for example, Uber leadership engaged with the Urban Institute and other groups to develop a "research-informed categorization system to classify users’ reports of incidents of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and sexual assault to better inform them of the nature and scope of these experiences on their platform and how to address them."

Uber donated between $50,000 and $100,000 to Urban Institute in each of the following years: 2016, 2017, and 2019.  In 2020 it donated between $100,000 and $250,000.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Australian Think Tank Opens Branch in Washington, DC

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a think tank established in 2001 by the Australian government and partially funded by the country's Department of Defense, officially opened a Washington, DC office on July 13.

In 2021, on ASPI's 20th year of operation, it had announced it was going to open its first international office in Washington.  Last year was also the 70th anniversary of the US-Australia alliance, and the two countries have been working on closer defense and security ties.

Here is more about what ASPI had to say about the new DC office:

ASPI will further strengthen our relationship by becoming a more active participant in the lively Washington DC think tank debate about defence and national security. A feature of the Washington think tank environment is that it houses individuals who have held and will go on to hold senior policy positions in Presidential administrations. The think tanks are often the source of new policy ideas and are designed to be able to experiment, develop and explain policy to promote innovation in Government.

The Washington DC office will operate as a branch and be an integral part of ASPI in Canberra; as such, the business model will mirror ASPI’s which has been successfully developed over twenty years. This has been built on empirically grounded original research, a capacity for policy innovation and an ability to shape real-world policy outcomes. It will operate under the existing ASPI Charter and governance framework, adopting in country compliance practices where applicable.


ASPI already has connections with other think tanks in the US.  One example is the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which gave ASPI $9,000 in 2020 for work on a joint Executive Program on International Security.

US-Australia think tank ties have been ramping up recently, with a number of Australian scholars coming to the US and US scholars going to think tanks in Australia.

ASPI has published many reports that are critical of the Chinese government, and the Chinese have even threatened to sue the think tank.

Here is a piece from China's CGTN entitled "Understanding ASPI - the Anti-China 'Think Tank."

Corporations that have funded ASPI include Amazon Web Services Australia, Google Australia, Facebook, Microsoft, and Oracle Corp. Australia.

Recent funders from the defense industry include: BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Boeing Australia, Lockheed Martin Australia, QinetiQ Australia, Rafael Australia, and Thales Australia.

The US Department of Defense and US Department of State are also major funders of ASPI.  Other governments that have given to the think tank include: Canada, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Think Tankers Involved in New Group to Help Stabilize US-China Relations

A new group has formed to help stabilize the US-China relationship, and several think tankers are involved in its founding.

Founder of the group, Maurice Greenberg, who is chairman of CEO of C.V. Starr & Co. Inc., is a board member of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and serves as honorary vice chairman.  The think tank's Maurice R. Greenberg Chair in China Studies was established in 1997.

Dr. John Hamre, President and CEO of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is one of the founding members of the new group.

Ms. Francis Townsend, President of the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), is also a founding member.  Townsend is a trustee on the Board of the Atlantic Council, CSIS, and McCain Institute.  She is also on the Board of CFR and is a member of Aspen Strategy Group, a program of the Aspen Institute.

Founding members, Carla Hills and William Cohen are both Counselors and Trustees at CSIS.  And yet another founding member, Kenneth Langone, is a Trustee at CSIS.

Amb. J. Stapleton Roy, another founding member, was a Distinguished Fellow at the Wilson Center's Kissinger Institute on China and the United States from Aug. 2013 to March 2022.

Friday, July 8, 2022

China Report Launch at Quincy Inst. Makes Waves Among China Hawks

Here is more from National Review:

A current State Department official said that it is “dangerous” for Washington to attempt to maintain its military dominance in East Asia as a means of deterring a Chinese attack on Taiwan. That official, Rachel Esplin Odell, accused the U.S. of making war with China more likely and instead advocated a cooperative approach to dealing with Beijing on issues such as climate change, during a webinar hosted by her former employer, the controversial Quincy Institute think tank. 

Critics complain that Quincy is soft on the Chinese Communist Party’s malign behavior and generally unsympathetic to human-rights concerns resulting from the Uyghur genocide and the quashing of freedom in Hong Kong.  During her tenure there, Odell led a letter writing campaign to urge that congressional China-focused legislation be watered down.

Although she specified that she was speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the Department [of State] her comments and the new report make for a remarkable public repudiation of long-standing US policy and some tenants of the Biden Administration's own approach.


The topic during the above-mentioned July 6 event was a new Quincy Institute (QI) paper entitled "Active Denial: A Roadmap to a More Effective, Stabilizing, and Sustainable US Defense Strategy in Asia," the culmination of a multi-year study by three members of QI's East Asia Program and seven external partners.

The study was spearheaded by Odell, when she was formerly a research fellow at QI.  She has been a foreign affairs analyst at the US State Department since Aug. 2021.

The other authors of the report include:

  • Eric Heginbotham, Principal Research Scientist at MIT
  • John Culver, a former National Intelligence Officer for East Asia, and retired CIA senior analyst
  • Eric Gomez, Director of Defense Policy at the Cato Institute 
  • Brian Killough, Major General, U.S. Air Force (ret.); Former Deputy Commander, Pacific Air Forces 
  • Steven Kosiak, Budget, former Associate Director for Defense and International Affairs, Office of Management and Budget
  •  Jessica Lee, Senior Research Fellow at QI
  • Brad Martin, Senior Policy Research at RAND Corporation
  • Mike Mochizuki, Professor at George Washington University
  • Michale Swaine, Director of the East Asia Program at QI


In related QI news, a national security expert announced this week that he has resigned from the think tank over its stance on the Russia-Ukraine war.

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch report on the 2019 founding of QI.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

NatSec Expert Resigns From Quincy Institute Over Ukraine

National security expert Joe Cirincione has resigned as a Distinguished Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft over what he says is the think tank's views on the Russia-Ukraine war.

In a follow-up interview, Cirincione said, “You cannot find a word on the website or in the analysis about the horrors and crimes that Russia is doing. If the US were doing this, there would be a river of posts denouncing that behavior.”

Most think tanks do not have take a single position on an issue, but rather house scholars and experts who generally take similar positions on an issue.  

While there does not appear to be an explicit institutional position on Ukraine that the think tank advocates for on its website, it did sign its name to a March letter to President Joe Biden urging him to "maximize" efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

Among other things, the letter calls for a rejection of steps that would lead to a direct clash between Russia and the US and NATO militaries, such as a no-fly zone.  It also says the US should signal its willingness to ease or lift sanctions in exchange for a diplomatic solution that is acceptable to Ukraine.  

It also called for the US to be prepared for direct talks with Russia and be prepared for a range of new security arrangements.

In April, President and Chairman of the Board of the think tank, Andrew Bacevich, wrote a piece entitled "The Ukraine War is Ballooning America's Military Industrial Complex."

In a March 25 piece, several Quincy Institute scholars wrote that a protracted war in Ukraine is highly undesirable, and the US and its allies should try to support the Ukrainian government to achieve a diplomatic settlement.

The report added that the US should not adopt "maximalist" objectives, such as regime change in Moscow or the "complete and decisive" defeat of Russia.  The report also calls for sanctions to build up Ukraine's negotiating leverage.

In June, another Quincy Institute scholar, William Hartung, noted that the US expanding its goal in the conflict from helping Ukraine defend itself to "weakening Russia" is a "dangerous escalation."  Hartung co-wrote a piece in April entitled "How Pentagon Contractors Are Cashing in on the Ukraine Crisis."

In March, Quincy researcher Taylor Giorno wrote a piece entitled "Risk of Weapons Vanishing As Over 20 Countries Send Arms to Russia."  And in May, board member Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote a piece denouncing any type of long proxy war with Russia.

Cirincione previously served more than 12 years as the president of the Ploughshares Fund, a grant-making foundation focused on nuclear nonproliferation and conflict resolution.

He has also previously served as vice president for national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress (CAP), as well as director for nonproliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Cirincione's resignation reminds Think Tank Watch of last year's internal debate within Atlantic Council that spilled out into the open.  That debate also involved US-Russia relations.

Update: Cirincione told Politico that for months he had tried to change the think tank's position, which he argued "cast blame on the US and NATO for a war driven entirely by Russian President Vladimir Putin."

Retired Major Gen. Paul Eaton announced his resignation in June from Quincy Institute's board.

Politico also notes that Quincy CEO Lora Lumpe said that organization regrets Cirincione's decision to resign but that its staff have not argued that Putin does not bear responsibility for the war.

“Joe has made it clear that he disagrees with the priority that our staff experts have put on reaching a diplomatic resolution to end this war; we have heard Joe’s concerns, but believe that any US policy that risks significant escalation, including bringing the United States into the war with a nuclear-armed Russia, should be avoided,” Lumpe said.

Update: Quincy has now publicly responded to Cirincione leaving the think tank. 

And Mother Jones has a new piece on the incident entitled "America's Top Anti-War Think Tank is Fracturing Over Ukraine."

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Amy Liu Tapped as Interim President of Brookings to Help Stabilize Think Tank

Ms. Amy Liu, the current Vice President and Director of Brookings Metro and the Adeline M. and Alfred I. Johnson Chair in Urban and Metropolitan Policy, will become Interim President of the Brookings Institution effective July 7.

The announcement comes as the think tank took another major reputational hit after former Brookings president John Allen resigned amid an FBI foreign lobbying probe. 

After Allen's departure, Ted Gayer became the acting president of Brookings, but he is leaving after 13 years to run the Niskanen Center.

Meanwhile, Alan Berube, senior fellow and deputy director of Brookings Metro, will serve as interim vice president and director of Brookings Metro.

In a statement, Brookings said that as interim president, Liu, who has been with the think tank for more than 25 years, will "focus on ensuring organization stability as the search for a permanent president gets underway."