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."