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.