Friday, March 31, 2023

ChaptGPT Creates New Think Tanks

Not that the world needs another think tank, but this week Think Tank Watch asked ChatGPT to create several different think tanks, including names and focus areas, and here is what it came up with:

Center for Sustainable Development and Innovation (CSDI)

  • Focus Area: The CSDI would be dedicated to researching and promoting sustainable development and innovation in various sectors, including energy, transportation, agriculture, and infrastructure. It would aim to provide policy recommendations, thought leadership, and practical solutions for policymakers, industry leaders, and civil society organizations. The CSDI could also focus on exploring the ethical, social, and economic implications of emerging technologies and trends, such as artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and circular economies. By bridging the worlds of academia, industry, and policy, the CSDI could serve as a catalyst for positive change and contribute to building a more sustainable and equitable future.

Center for Digital Ethics and Governance (CDEG)

  • Focus Area: The CDEG would be dedicated to researching and promoting ethical and responsible uses of digital technologies in various sectors, including government, business, and civil society. It would aim to provide policy recommendations, thought leadership, and practical guidance for decision-makers and stakeholders grappling with the challenges and opportunities presented by digital transformation. The CDEG could focus on issues such as data privacy, cybersecurity, digital democracy, and algorithmic accountability, among others. By convening diverse perspectives and engaging in collaborative, interdisciplinary research, the CDEG could help to build a more informed and responsible approach to the digital future.

Institute for Inclusive Growth and Development (IIGD)

  • Focus Area: The IIGD would be dedicated to researching and promoting inclusive economic growth and development in both developed and developing countries. It would aim to provide policy recommendations, thought leadership, and practical solutions for policymakers, business leaders, and civil society organizations. The IIGD could focus on issues such as income inequality, job creation, access to education and healthcare, and sustainable development, among others. By leveraging innovative research and partnerships, the IIGD could contribute to building more equitable and resilient societies, where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Center for Global Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution (CGPCR)

  • Focus Area: The CGPCR would be dedicated to researching and promoting peaceful conflict resolution and building sustainable peace in areas affected by conflict and instability around the world. It would aim to provide policy recommendations, thought leadership, and practical solutions for policymakers, NGOs, and international organizations. The CGPCR could focus on issues such as post-conflict reconstruction, transitional justice, peace negotiations, and reconciliation, among others. By bringing together diverse perspectives and experiences, the CGPCR could contribute to building more effective and sustainable peacebuilding strategies that address the root causes of conflict and promote inclusive and sustainable peace.

Center for Climate Action and Sustainability (CCAS)

  • Focus Area: The CCAS would be dedicated to researching and promoting climate action and sustainability in various sectors, including energy, transportation, agriculture, and urban planning. It would aim to provide policy recommendations, thought leadership, and practical solutions for policymakers, industry leaders, and civil society organizations. The CCAS could focus on issues such as climate adaptation, renewable energy, carbon pricing, and sustainable consumption and production, among others. By convening diverse stakeholders and engaging in interdisciplinary research, the CCAS could help to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon and sustainable future, while ensuring that the benefits are shared equitably.

Center for Technology and Society (CTS)

  • Focus Area: The CTS would be dedicated to researching and promoting the intersection of technology and society, with a focus on understanding the social and ethical implications of emerging technologies. It would aim to provide policy recommendations, thought leadership, and practical guidance for decision-makers and stakeholders grappling with the challenges and opportunities presented by technological innovation. The CTS could focus on issues such as artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnology, and the internet of things, among others. By engaging in critical inquiry and public dialogue, the CTS could help to shape the development of technology in ways that promote human flourishing and social welfare, while mitigating risks and harms.

Center for Civic Engagement and Democracy (CCED)

  • Focus Area: The CCED would be dedicated to researching and promoting civic engagement and democratic participation at the local, national, and global levels. It would aim to provide policy recommendations, thought leadership, and practical solutions for policymakers, civil society organizations, and citizens. The CCED could focus on issues such as voter turnout, political polarization, digital democracy, and youth engagement, among others. By fostering dialogue and collaboration among diverse stakeholders, the CCED could contribute to building more vibrant, inclusive, and resilient democracies that reflect the values and aspirations of all citizens.

Center for Sustainable Infrastructure (CSI)

  • Focus Area: The CSI would be dedicated to researching and promoting sustainable infrastructure systems that meet the needs of communities while minimizing negative environmental impacts. It would aim to provide policy recommendations, thought leadership, and practical solutions for policymakers, industry leaders, and civil society organizations. The CSI could focus on issues such as green infrastructure, smart cities, resilient infrastructure, and sustainable transportation, among others. By bringing together diverse stakeholders and engaging in collaborative research, the CSI could help to build more sustainable and livable communities that are resilient to the impacts of climate change and other environmental challenges.

Institute for Education Innovation (IEI)

  • Focus Area: The IEI would be dedicated to researching and promoting innovative and effective education practices that prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. It would aim to provide policy recommendations, thought leadership, and practical solutions for educators, policymakers, and other stakeholders in the education sector. The IEI could focus on issues such as personalized learning, teacher professional development, education technology, and education equity, among others. By leveraging cutting-edge research and engaging in cross-sector collaboration, the IEI could help to create more equitable and effective education systems that support lifelong learning and social mobility.

Center for Economic Justice (CEJ)

  • Focus Area: The CEJ would be dedicated to researching and promoting economic justice, with a focus on reducing inequality and promoting inclusive growth. It would aim to provide policy recommendations, thought leadership, and practical solutions for policymakers, civil society organizations, and businesses. The CEJ could focus on issues such as minimum wage policies, tax reform, wealth redistribution, and financial regulation, among others. By engaging in interdisciplinary research and advocacy, the CEJ could help to build more just and equitable economic systems that promote the well-being of all members of society.


ChatGPT declined to say which of these 10 think tanks would be the most profitable.

When asked to create the most creative think tank name it could, it came up with "Neoteric Nexus."

When asked what food should be served at these think tanks, here was ChaptGPT's response:

The type of food served at think tanks would depend on the event and the preferences of the attendees. For example, if the think tank is hosting a networking event or conference, it may be appropriate to serve a range of snacks, finger foods, and refreshments. These might include:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Cheese platters
  • Charcuterie boards
  • Mini sandwiches or wraps
  • Finger foods such as spring rolls, samosas, or chicken skewers
  • Desserts such as cookies or brownies
  • Coffee, tea, and other beverages

If the think tank is hosting a more formal event, such as a fundraising dinner or gala, the menu could be more elaborate and include multiple courses. It may also be appropriate to offer vegetarian or vegan options to accommodate attendees with dietary restrictions.

In general, it is important to consider the needs and preferences of the attendees when selecting the menu. Providing healthy, nutritious options can help to promote energy and productivity during the event, while also demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility.

Think Tank Watch also asked what foods would draw the largest crowds to these think tanks, and here is what it said:

It is difficult to predict with certainty what type of food would draw the largest crowds to a think tank event, as this can vary widely depending on the location, the audience, and the theme of the event. However, there are some types of food that tend to be popular and could be considered when planning an event:

  1. Comfort foods: Classic comfort foods like mac and cheese, grilled cheese, burgers, pizza, and fries are always a hit.

  2. International cuisine: Serving a variety of international foods can be a great way to cater to different tastes and interests. For example, you could offer Mexican street tacos, Korean BBQ, Indian curries, or sushi.

  3. Finger foods: Serving a variety of bite-sized finger foods, such as mini-quiches, sliders, or spring rolls, can be a great way to encourage mingling and networking while keeping things casual.

  4. Vegetarian and vegan options: Providing a range of vegetarian and vegan options can help to accommodate attendees with dietary restrictions and ensure that everyone feels included.

  5. Desserts: Desserts are always a popular choice, and you could consider offering a variety of sweet treats like cupcakes, cookies, or brownies, or even setting up a dessert bar with a range of toppings and mix-ins.

It noted that the key is to provide a variety of options.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Russian Spy Sought Employment at US Think Tanks

Here is more from the Washington Post:

As graduation approached in 2020, [GRU operative Sergey] Cherkasov flooded the field with applications for internships and other positions. Among those he targeted, according to the affidavit, were the United Nations as well as “U.S. think tanks, U.S. financial institutions, a U.S. media outlet and a position in the U.S. government.”

Even from Brazil, Cherkasov continued to find ways to tap into his Washington network. In late November 2021, as Russia was massing forces on the borders of Ukraine, Cherkasov filed a series of reports to his handlers about how senior officials in Washington were interpreting Moscow’s moves.

The affidavit cites emails that Cherkasov sent describing information gleaned from advisers at think tanks, some supposedly in contact with senior Biden administration officials including Secretary of State Antony Blinken.


No specific think tanks were named in the article, but over the years, numerous spies have tried to gain employment at various US think tanks.

US documents analyzed by Think Tank Watch suggest that Cherkasov was in touch with at least three different think tanks.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Think Tank Acted as Conduit for Anonymous Donations to Group Led by Supreme Court Justice's Wife

Here is more from the Washington Post:

A little-known conservative activist group led by Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, collected nearly $600,000 in anonymous donations to wage a cultural battle against the left over three years, a Washington Post investigation found.

The previously unreported donations to the fledgling group Crowdsourcers for Culture and Liberty were channeled through a right-wing think tank in Washington that agreed to serve as a funding conduit from 2019 until the start of last year, according to documents and interviews. The arrangement, known as a “fiscal sponsorship,” effectively shielded from public view details about Crowdsourcers’ activities and spending, information it would have had to disclose publicly if it operated as a separate nonprofit organization, experts said.

In 2019, anonymous donors gave the think tank Capital Research Center, or CRC, $596,000 that was designated for Crowdsourcers, according to tax filings and audits the think tank submitted to state regulators. The majority of that money, $400,000, was routed through yet another nonprofit, Donors Trust, according to that organization’s tax filings.

CRC, which bills itself as an “investigative think tank,” is dedicated to uncovering anonymously funded influence campaigns by unions, environmental groups and other left-leaning nonprofits. Among its trustees is Edwin Meese III, the conservative elder statesman and former attorney general in the Reagan administration. Its president is Scott Walter, a former aide to President George W. Bush.


CRC was founded in 1984 by Willa Johnson, a former senior vice president at the Heritage Foundation.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Think Tank Quickies (#469)

  • New ASPI report: China trumps US in key technology research. 
  • CSIS's translation project opens window on China's ambitions, fears.
  • Former Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is launching the Portman Center for Policy Solutions at the University of Cincinnati.
  • India's largest news agency quotes geopolitical experts and think tanks that do not exist?
  • Inside Heritage Foundation's plan for a 2025 GOP administration.
  • Ray Block joins RAND Corp. as inaugural Michael D. Rich Chair for Countering Truth Decay.
  • Former Afghan Ambassador to the US Adela Raz will be a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute.
  • Tevi Troy, a fellow at BPC, launched 1600 Lessons, an executive-coaching series that builds its lessons around presidential leadership.
  • Urban Ocean Lab: "A think tank for the future of coastal cities."
  • China Aerospace Studies Institute (CASI), a "think tank based out of the Air Force's Air University and the National Defense University that researches Chinese air power."

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

What Think Tank Does Ron DeSantis Love?

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a possible Republican presidential contender, has strong ties to the Claremont Institute, which has been described as "an influential conservative think tank that promotes foreign policy views broadly aligned with Donald Trump's."

In February 2023, DeSantis met with Claremont Institute President Ryan Williams and announced that Claremont, which is based in Upland, California, will expand its state activity to Florida.

The Claremont Institute, which has been called the "nerve center of the American right," praised DeSantis for providing "the first template for any red state in America" through his leadership.

At the think tank's 2021 annual gala, DeSantis was awarded the Claremont Institute's Statesmanship Award.  That was the same year the think tank opened the Claremont Institute's Center for the American Way of Life in Washington, DC.  Its executive director is Arthur Milikh.

In March 2023, DeSantis hosted a roundtable discussion "exposing the diversity, equity, and inclusion scam" in higher education, and participants included Scott Yenor of Claremont.  Yenor, who is Claremont's inaugural senior director of state coalitions, has been described as a "DeSantis-aligned researcher."

Claremont has provided fellowships to a number of prominent figures on the right, including Laura Ingraham, Ben Shapiro, Mark Levin, Mary Kissel, and Mark C. Johnson.  In 2019 it granted a fellowship to Pizzagate conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec.

Meanwhile, Claremont Institute senior fellow John Eastman aided former President Trump in his failed attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.  In 2019, Trump awarded Claremont with a National Humanities Medal.

Claremont was founded in 1979 by four students of Straussian political theorist Harry Jaffa, a professor emeritus at Claremont McKenna College and the Claremont Graduate University.  The think tank, however, has no affiliation with any of the Claremont Colleges.

The think tank, among other things, publishes the Claremont Review of Books (CRB), a quarterly review of policy and statesmanship.

Update: Vice has a new piece on the Claremont Institute entitled "Trump's Favorite Extreme Think Tank is Jumping Ship for DeSantis."

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The Think Tank Behind the Judicial Overhaul Now Dividing Israel

Here is more from the New York Times:

For years, Kohelet Policy Forum quietly churned out position papers, trying to nudge government policy in a more libertarian direction. Then, starting in January, it became more widely known as one of the principal architects of the judicial overhaul proposal that has plunged Israel into a crisis over the future of its democracy.

If the plan succeeds, it would be a stunning victory not only for the think tank, but also for the people behind it: two guys from Queens.

The first is Moshe Koppel, a 66-year-old mathematics Ph.D. who grew up in New York City and moved to Israel in 1980. He founded Kohelet in 2012 and has been drafting laws and producing conservative and libertarian policy papers with a roster of full- and part-time scholars that now numbers 160.

Kohelet is not required to disclose the names of individual donors, and for years Mr. Koppel has artfully deflected questions about funding.

But one source of money is a second New Yorker: Arthur Dantchik, a 65-year-old multibillionaire who has donated millions to Kohelet, according to people familiar with his philanthropic giving.


Mr. Dantchik has an estimated net worth of $7.2 billion.  It has previously been reported that Jeff Yass, whose estimated net worth is $28.5 billion, is a key donor to the think tank, although people familiar with Yass deny that.

Much of Mr. Dantchik's giving is channeled through the Reston, VA-based Claws Foundation, which lists Dantchik and Yass as two of its directors.  It has given to organizations such as the Cato Institute and Ayn Rand Institute.

Update: On March 24, the Washington Post (WaPo) published its own story about the Kohelet Policy Forum, calling it "little-known" and "secretive."  It notes that Kohelet is Israel's first American-style think tank, employing 160 researchers who court like-minded politicians with free research, bill, and conference invitations.

Soldiers and reservists opposed to Israel's judicial legislation demonstrated outside the think tank's Jerusalem headquarters, blocking the entrance will bags filled with fake cash and rallying under signs read "Kohelet is tearing us apart," according to the WaPo.

The article also notes that Kohelet helped draft the 2018 Nation-State Law, which, among other things, removed Arabic as an official language.

Kohelet also helped rewrite Israeli civic textbooks, removing sections on Palestinian history and emphasizing Israel's Jewish values over democratic ones, according to WaPo.

Kohelet was founded in 2012.

Friday, March 17, 2023

How a Think Tanker Brought the AUKUS Nuclear Sub Deal Together

Two think tankers were extremely influential in putting together the trilateral AUKUS security pact between the US, UK, and Australia.  Here are some more details from the Wall Street Journal about how the deal came together:

In April 2021, Australia’s top intelligence official went to Washington with an extraordinary proposal: the government in Canberra was looking to acquire nuclear-powered submarines.

Andrew Shearer, the director-general of Australia’s office of national intelligence, made the case in a meeting with Kurt Campbell, the White House coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, for sharing the tightly guarded capability. 

Scott Morrison, who was then serving as Australia’s prime minister, tapped Mr. Shearer, a longtime friend of Mr. Campbell’s, to reach out to the new Biden team. 

After the two men had breakfast at the Hay-Adams hotel on April 30, 2021, Mr. Shearer went to Mr. Campbell’s office at the Old Executive Office Building adjoining the White House and made his case in a 30-minute presentation. 


In 2016, Shearer joined the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) as a Senior Advisor on Asia Pacific Security.  He had previously been Director of Studies at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney.

Campbell, who also used to work at CSIS, co-founder the Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

Companies that will benefit from the deal include General Dynamics, Huntington Ingalls, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, Thales, and Rolls-Royce.

General Dynamics, Huntington Ingalls, Lockheed Martin, and BAE Systems are all donor to both CSIS and CNAS.

Lockheed Martin has been a client of The Asia Group, a boutique consulting firm that Campbell founded.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Think Tank Quickies (#468)

  • A number of helpful rules for attending Washington think tank events, via Politico.
  • The Daily Wire: Biden's FCC nominee works for a think tank funded by the telecom giants she was nominated to oversee.
  • New York Post: Left-wing think tank responsible for thousands of fake Russia stories.
  • Howard University opening research center for the DoD focusing on autonomous aircraft.
  • Hot think tank report from RAND Corp.: "Avoiding a Long War."
  • The role think tanks play in the US-Mexico relationship.
  • NYT piece quotes GMF's Bonnie Glaser praising Taiwanese diplomat Hsiao Bi-khim but neglects to disclose that Glaser's employer receives $100k - $999k per year from TECRO.
  • Is ECFR's "Atlas" the first think tank chatbot? 
  • E3G: "An independent climate change think tank with a global outlook."
  • Pic: The shifting narrative of global think tanks.
  • Video: Code Pink interrupts Brookings event.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Think Tank Flashback: WSEG

"Think Tank Flashback" is a new series where Think Tank Watch looks back at now-defunct think tanks.  Starting off is a little-known US government think tank.  Here is a description of this think tank from the National Archives:

The Weapon Systems Evaluation Group (WSEG) was a government think tank organization born in the early days of the newly-created National Military Establishment (NME) that later became the Department of Defense.  The WSEG performed operational research on defense matters from 1948 to 1976.  Very little is publicly known about the WSEG as its records were highly classified and difficult to declassify.  


The National Declassification Center (NDC) has much more information about the think tank.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

British Think Tanks Pivoting Hard to Tech

Here is more from Politico:

The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, the government advisory outfit set up by the former Labour Party British prime minister, now has more than 60 people working on tech policy on issues from digital governance to life sciences, artificial intelligence to digital infrastructure.

The institute hit the headlines last month when Blair teamed up with the former Conservative leader and ex-Foreign Secretary William Hague to push a proposal for everyone to be given a digital ID incorporating their passport, driving license, tax records, qualifications and right to work as the cornerstone of a “technology revolution.” 

The center-right think tank Onward, whose former Director Will Tanner is now Sunak’s deputy chief of staff, launched a science and technology "pillar" last August, which will be staffed by three dedicated researchers.

The free market Adam Smith Institute has a new hire working on a policy paper on the safety of artificial intelligence. The Centre for Policy Studies, a stalwart of SW1 policy wonk world which boasts Margaret Thatcher as one of its founders, appointed its first head of tech and innovation last July.


Funding by technology companies to think tanks has also increased exponentially over the years, with many of the major players such as Meta, Amazon Web Services, Google, Zoom, Twitter, and Microsoft donating millions to think tanks (often as part of de facto lobbying efforts).

Monday, March 13, 2023

How One Think Tank is Attracting New Talent

In USA Today, Carol "Rollie" Flynn and Tara Spencer of the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI) explain how a number of staffers have left since the COVID pandemic and what they are doing to retain employees and attract new talent.  Here are some excerpts:

  • The first employee departed in late summer of 2020 and four more had left by mid-2022. The Foreign Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan think tank in Philadelphia with a dozen full-time staffers, was losing some of our best employees. The departing employees liked working at FPRI and were committed to its mission, but they were being offered significantly higher salaries elsewhere, including from think tanks based in Washington, D.C.
  • In consultation with the staff, the Foreign Policy Research Institute took several bold moves to stem the departures and attract new talent. First, we formalized our work-from-home policy adopted during the pandemic. Employees who could perform their duties remotely were permitted to do so. There were a handful of jobs that required presence in the office, but most of the employees could work from home.
  • Last May, FPRI also added a four-day workweek option. Employees were given the option to work four days a week instead of five, as long as they worked the required 35 hours per week. We also adopted an unscheduled leave policy and stopped tracking vacation, sick days or personal time off. Employees could take leave whenever they wished as long as they let management know in advance and ensured that their duties were either completed or covered by other employees during their absence.
  • The majority of our team members work remotely outside of the Philadelphia area, including internationally. Employees communicate virtually by telephone, web meetings and through cloud-based platforms for brainstorming and project management. To help boost camaraderie and a positive culture, we also began holding two-day in-office retreats for all employees twice each year.


Dissatisfied with the containment strategy of John Foster Dulles and the Eisenhower Administration's foreign policy, Ambassador Robert Strausz-Hupe founded FPRI in 1955 with the support of the University of Pennsylvania and the Smith Richardson Foundation.  In 1957, the think tank began publishing Orbis, a quarterly journal.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Think Tank Quickies (#467)

  • New MIT research on the spread of retracted research in policy literature.
  • IISS held a closed-door event in Singapore with GCHQ head Sir Jeremy Fleming.
  • Brookings releases nine policy briefs on "great power competition."
  • Tony Abbott joins London-based climate think tank.
  • Cato Institute joins Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the ACLU, and others in backing moves to end qualified immunity. 
  • Boris Johnson does Atlantic Council.
  • GMF Asia runs an Indo-Pacific wargame in Tokyo.
  • Heritage Foundation wants to impeach DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
  • AEI Valentine's Day event on dating trends.
  • Pic: Bookmarks from the Cato Institute.

Friday, March 10, 2023

Niskanen Center the Most Interesting US Think Tank?

Following are some of Think Tank Watch's favorite lines from the Molly Ball piece in Time entitled "Niskanen Center, the Most Interesting Think Tank in American Politics."

In the piece, she notes that Niskanen is a "little-known" think tank that "may be the most interesting institution" in Washington, DC.

  • At Niskanen’s headquarters near Capitol Hill, a small team of wonks is busy cooking up unconventional proposals to address intractable problems. Want to solve climate change? Forget the Green New Deal and focus on building more electric transmission lines. Want to reduce incarceration? Don’t defund the police—give them funding to solve crimes. Want to improve access to health care? Slash outdated regulations to increase the supply of doctors.
  • In the wake of the Trump presidency, old ideological lines have melted away, and new space has opened for strange-bedfellows alliances. The Niskanen Center, a quirky eight-year-old policy shop with roots on the libertarian right, is both vanguard and driver of this underreported trend. Working outside, or between, the partisan silos in which most D.C. advocates are enmeshed, it’s gained a reputation on Capitol Hill for unorthodox policy ideas that can bridge left-right divides.
  • At a time of polarization, Niskanen has become a home for heterodox thinkers from left and right alike. In its D.C. office suite, a former Bernie Sanders campaign staffer is working on proposals to increase access to health-care and disability benefits by simplifying regulations; at the same time, a former staffer at the libertarian Cato Institute is mapping out new ideas for copyright reform. Niskanen’s head of immigration policy is a Republican former national-security lawyer; its head of climate previously worked for an environmental group that was accused of racism for supporting a revenue-neutral Washington state climate initiative. The influential center-left writer Matt Yglesias is a Niskanen fellow; the Times columnist Ezra Klein’s embrace of “supply-side progressivism” echoes many Niskanen ideas.
  • But on Capitol Hill, the Niskanen Center is widely seen as a breath of fresh air. The center’s lobbyists often cold-call congressional offices to explore potential collaboration. They seek to provide objective analysis and high-quality information, not spin.

Here is a 2015 piece from Think Tank Watch about the launch of the Niskanen Center.

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Semafor Slammed for Partnering With Chinese Think Tank

Here is more from Axios:

Semafor, the 5-month-old news startup, is drawing criticism in the U.S. for partnering with a think tank in China that is known to have close ties to the Chinese Communist Party. The group has in the past obscured those ties to Western audiences.

Why it matters: The collaboration is notable because the organization Semafor is partnering with — and its leader — has a track record of misleading Western audiences about its affiliation with the CCP.

What's happening: Semafor last week announced a new initiative called “China and Global Business” to serve as a platform for business leaders to discuss U.S.-China relations.

  • The partnership has been developed with a group called the Center for China and Globalization (CCG). The center's founder and director, Wang Huiyao, sits on the board of Semafor's initiative.
  • Semafor published a blog post Sunday evening with details about the partnership. The platform "will be exclusively underwritten by corporate partnerships with no financial contributions from our local Chinese partners or the Chinese government," CEO Justin Smith wrote. Smith is the former CEO of Bloomberg Media. Under his tenure, Bloomberg struck a partnership with another Chinese think tank that helped the company put on a marquee event in China.


Axios notes that CCG claims to be independent but was founded under the auspices of the Western Returned Scholars Organization.  "That group is directed by the United Front Work Department (UFWD), a bureau of the Chinese Communist Party focused on amplifying support for the party and marginalizing dissent."

Here is what Fox News had to say about Semafor's partnership.

CCG is based in Beijing and was founded by Dr. Henry Huiyao Wang and Dr. Mable Lu Miao in 2008.

Wang dropped out of an event at the Wilson Center back in 2018 after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) wrote to them about Wang's affiliation with the United Front.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Think Tank Third Way Warning About Third Party Ticket Spoiling 2024

Here is more from Politico:

A prominent Democratic think tank is raising alarms about a third-party ticket spoiling 2024 for Democrats and landing DONALD TRUMP back in the White House.

A new two-page memo from Third Way, obtained by Playbook, takes aim at the potential “unity ticket” being promoted by the centrist group No Labels. With tens of millions of dollars in financial backing, No Labels’ stated intention is to nominate a moderate alternative to potential extreme major-party nominees as an “insurance policy.”

But Third Way notes that No Labels has been cagey about what scenario would prompt it to move forward, including whether it would stand down if President JOE BIDEN seeks reelection. In any case, the memo argues, a third-party ticket would mainly peel off Democrats, ultimately boosting the former president who tried to steal an election and incited a riot on the Capitol.


A link to the memo can be found here.

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Michael Froman to be Next President of Council on Foreign Relations

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has announced that Michael Froman will replace Richard Haass to become the think tank's fifteenth president.

Froman, a former US Trade Representative (USTR) under President Barack Obama, currently serves as vice chairman and president for strategic growth at Mastercard

Froman is also a distinguished fellow at CFR and a former fellow at the German Marshall Fund (GMF).

Here is what Politico reported about the selection process:

CFR’s board unanimously approved of the former trade representative’s appointment in a Tuesday meeting.

But the expectation from six people in CFR’s community (none of them in the search committee) was that a woman would be named to lead the organization or someone who would increase the organization’s gender, racial or ethnic diversity.

MEGHAN O’SULLIVAN was considered for the post but dropped out of contention in part because she had an offer to lead Harvard University's Belfer Center, per someone familiar with the search.

The seven search committee members narrowed down an initial list of 120 nominees to “a diverse group of 27 candidates,” DAVID RUBENSTEIN, the chair of the board of directors, wrote to CFR’s 5,000 members Wednesday morning. 

A search committee member told NatSec Daily that they held countless meetings, either over Zoom or in person, as the 120-person field winnowed. The search committee read packets on each candidate and updated the board on decisions on why someone was kept in or taken out of the process.


Haass has been president of CFR since 2003 and he will be stepping down in June 2023.  His annual salary has recently topped $1.7 million.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Think Tank Quickies (#466)

  • Former Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) is joining the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) as a distinguished visiting fellow for public policy. 
  • Heritage Foundation to host summit celebrating its 50th anniversary.
  • The Heritage Foundation's Project 2025 is seeking to build a database of vetted people to hand over to a 2025 presidential transition.
  • Barbara Slavin has joined the Stimson Center as a distinguished fellow in the Middle East and North Africa program.  She was previously at the Atlantic Council.
  • Researchers at ASPI, a Canberra think tank that gets over half its funding from Australia's Department of Defense, found that a network working within China has used social media to undermine confidence in Australia's government and democracy.
  • What books are China's intellectual elites reading?  Check out recommended books from CICIR.
  • Elon University has a new student-led think tank, Phoenix Policy Institute, showcasing undergraduate research.
  • Feb. 22 webinar for undergraduates interested in working in the think tank sector.
  • Video from 1960s shows founders of the Hudson Institute predicting the 21st century.
  • Daily Caller: State Department funded think tank working to censor Americans.