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.

Friday, April 29, 2022

Think Tank MEI Promoting Middle East Objectives Without Disclosing Conflicts of Interest

Here is more from Dr. Ben Freeman, a Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft:

Firas Maksad of the Middle East Institute...dubbed the [US's abandoning of the Middle East] a “crisis” in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in March calling on Biden to renew the U.S.’s “commitment to regional defense by publicly affirming a strategic alliance” with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, or both countries will continue to cozy up to Beijing and Moscow.

Maksad’s MEI colleagues, Bilal Saab and Karen Young, kept up the drumbeat in early April with a Foreign Policy article arguing for a new U.S. “strategic defense framework with the Gulf Arab states.” The article followed an MEI policy memo accusing the United States of being supportive of Iran’s expansionism which, amongst other issues, purportedly pushed Saudi Arabia and the UAE closer to China and Russia.

Noticeably absent from these documents and media appearances clamoring for more U.S. military entanglements with Saudi Arabia and the UAE is any acknowledgement that MEI’s biggest funders are the UAE and Saudi Arabia. In fact, in 2017, leaked emails revealed a $20 million “secret” grant from the UAE to MEI.

Maksad also has personal ties to Saudi and Emirati money as Responsible Statecraft has previously pointed out. Maksad is the Managing Director of Global Policy Associates which, prior to RS’s  reporting, listed Teneo as one of the firms’ clients. Teneo, incidentally, is registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act to represent multiple Saudi and Emirati interests.

 

Among other things, Dr. Freeman notes that media outlets have an obligation to acknowledge these potential conflicts of interest.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Evelyn Farkas to Become New Executive Director of McCain Institute

Here is more from a press release:

The McCain Institute at Arizona State University and ASU President Michael M. Crow have announced that Evelyn Farkas has been named the institute’s new executive director. Farkas will begin her new position at the Washington, D.C.-based McCain Institute on May 2.

Farkas brings decades of American foreign policymaking to the McCain Institute. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, she previously served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, and executive director of the congressional Commission on the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism, among many other senior national security positions in the U.S. government. 

 

Amb. Mark Green previously held the executive director position, which he left after being tapped to run the Wilson Center. 

After Green left, Amb. Josette Sheeran, a Founding Trustee of the McCain Institute, joined the institute's leadership team in the newly created position of Executive Chairman at the McCain Institute.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

For 1st Time Africa Programs at US's Top Think Tanks All Being Run by Africans

Here is more from The Africa Report:

Although he could not attend, the informal meeting was a dream come true for Aloysius Ordu, the director of the Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) at the Brookings Institution. Long accustomed to being one of the only Africans in the room, [Aloysius Ordu, the director of the Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) at the Brookings Institution], suddenly finds himself surrounded by a half-dozen diaspora thinkers who have taken charge of Africa programmes in Washington over the past 18 months.

The Nigerian-born Ordu is the de facto dean of the new group, having joined AGI in August 2020. Since then, French-Senegalese politician Rama Yade and Congolese-born Mvemba Dizolele have taken over the Africa programmes at the Atlantic Council and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), respectively.

Over the same period, three others have been tapped to start new Africa programmes from scratch: Nigerian economist Zainab Usman at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Cameroon native Joseph Sany at the US Institute of Peace; and Morocco-born Intissar Fakir, who heads the new programme for North Africa and the Sahel at the Middle East Institute.

In addition to Ordu and his predecessors at Brookings, the Zambian-born Monde Muyangwa has led the Africa programme at the congressionally chartered Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars since 2014. Muyangwa, however, is leaving the Wilson Center to take over as the top official for Africa at the US Agency for International Development.

The Center for Global Development (CGD) also has a top African fellow, with Liberia’s former public works minister W. Gyude Moore, who joined the think tank as a fellow in 2018. The CGD, however, does not organise its programmes by geography but instead by area of focus.

 

Here is a 2020 report from South Africa-based Institute for Security Studies (ISS) entitled "Think Tanks in Africa: A Widely Untapped Resource."  Here is more on think tanks in Africa from Africa Portal.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Think Tank Quickies (#444)

  • Lachlan Murdoch helps launch the Centre for the Australian Way of Life at right-leaning Institute of Public Affairs.
  • Heritage Action created a new PAC, the Sentinel Fund, to bolster grassroots support for Republicans running for Congress. 
  • Anastasiia Lapatina, a journalist with the Kyiv Independent, accepted into the 2022 Hertog War Studies Program, a two-week academic program at the Institute for the Study of War.
  • CAP is trying out different hybrid models for its think tank staff to return to work before settling on anything more permanent.
  • When emotion is king, do think tanks still matter?
  • Cato Institute analyzes Heritage Foundation report outlining complaints against "Big Tech."
  • Many think tanks don't have a good track record in terms of intern pay in the foreign policy field.  Neither do university's when it comes to adjunct professor pay.
  • PIIE chief Adam Posen: A two-decade backlash against globalization poses risk to America.
  • The Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy's American head, Paul Haenle, now resides in Singapore.
  • Virtually everything the Niskanen Center publishes falls under a Creative Commons license.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Carnegie Forced to Close its Moscow Center

After 28 years, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace was forced to close its Moscow Center at the direction of the Russian government, according to the think tank.  Here is more from a Carnegie statement:

“We regret the Russian government’s decision to close our Moscow center and believe this step will only deepen Russia’s international isolation,” said Tino Cuéllar, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The Carnegie Endowment was the first independent think tank to open in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union and since then consistently set the standard for objective policy analysis in Russia. As an institution dedicated to advancing international cooperation and peace through independent analysis and innovative strategic thinking, we remain true to our principles and steadfast in our commitment to the mission we’ve had for more than a century. Our worldwide network of scholars, including leading experts from Russia and other states of the former Soviet Union, will continue to tackle the urgent issues facing this region and the world.”

 

The Moscow Times notes that the Russian government shuttered the think tank after claiming that they had "discovered violations of Russian legislation," but didn't provide further details.

Besides its Washington, DC headquarters and Moscow Center, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace also has Carnegie Europe (in Brussels), Carnegie India (in New Delhi), Carnegie China, and the Malcolm H. Kerr Carnegie Middle Easter Center (in Lebanon).

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Russia Declares Think Tank Chatham House "Undesirable"

Here is more from Barron's:

Russia said that it will add the UK think tank Chatham House to a blacklist of "undesirable" international organisations, calling it a threat to national security.

While the Russian announcement did not give any specific reason, it comes following Britain's strong support to Kyiv following the launch of Russia's military operation in Ukraine.

Chatham House is the informal name for The Royal Institute of International Affairs, a respected, more than century-old research institute in London that focuses on international affairs and is widely cited by media.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's chief of staff Andriy Yermak and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba have recently taken part in events organised by Chatham House.

It recently held a webinar titled "Aggression against Ukraine: Holding Russia accountable".

 

Several other thinks tanks were already on Russia's undesirable list, including the Atlantic Council and the German Marshall Fund (GMF).

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Why Are Most Think Tanks Awful at Predictions?

Think tanks and think tank scholars are often criticized for being isolated within a "groupthink" bubble which leads to stale, inside-the-box thinking.  One example, as highlighted in The Atlantic, comes from their COVID predictions:

In the Great Recession that started in 2008, the housing market crashed, state- and local-government budgets were decimated, and the federal government’s rescue efforts were in many ways too little too late. Early on in the pandemic, think tanks, journalists, columnists, and economists all leaned heavily on the preceding recession to try to understand just how bad things were going to get. “There was an awful lot of last-war-type thinking,” Jason Furman, the Harvard economist and former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, told me. Although looking to the past is normally a good rule of thumb for forecasters, this overreliance missed how different the Great Recession and the pandemic-induced recession were from each other.

In August 2020, the Aspen Institute released a report warning that 30 million to 40 million people in the United States were at risk of eviction, a number equivalent to roughly one in 10 Americans. But in December 2021, Princeton’s Eviction Lab found that in the 31 cities where it had collected data, all but one recorded fewer eviction filings than the historical average. Not only was the prediction startlingly off base—evictions actually declined.

 

There are countless examples of think tanks getting it wrong, and Think Tank Watch will continue to document those cases.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Big Tech Increases Funding to Think Tanks

Here is more from the Financial Times:


The world’s largest technology companies are pouring money into the biggest foreign policy think-tanks in the US, as they seek to advance the argument that stricter competition rules will benefit China.

Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple are behind an increase in funding to four of Washington’s most prestigious research groups: the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Center for a New American Security, Brookings and the Hudson Institute.

Total donations from Big Tech companies to the four think-tanks have risen from at least $625,000 in 2017-18 to at least $1.2mn in 2019-20, according to a Financial Times analysis of financial disclosures. These figures could be as high as $1.2mn in 2017-18 to $2.7mn in 2019-20.

 

Other tech giants are also increasingly funding think tanks.  Here is a recent Think Tank Watch post on Amazon's funding of think tanks.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Think Tank Quickies (#443)

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene does not like think tanks.
  • A Texas bill signed last year - written by the head of a think tank opposed to climate action, then passed by lawmakers - directs the state to boycott financial groups that divest from fossil fuels.
  • Bill Browder calling for think tanks to sever ties with Russian oligarchs.
  • Micah Zenko: "Every Russia-Ukraine conflict wargame I'm aware of [USG or think tanks] began with a devastating Russian cyberattack that turns out the lights and causes mass panic. An assumption taken for granted which turned out to be wrong."
  • New report on women's representation at European think tanks.
  • Chinese think tank looks at long-term impact of Russia's recent actions.
  • International consortium of think tanks launch the "Europe is Asia's Century" in Bucharest.
  • Ex-CDC director, Tom Frieden, recently charged with sexual abuse, hired by think tank CFR.
  • SCMP: Think tanks should play a bigger role in Hong Kong's governance.
  • What's the point of think tank awards?  (When you have to ask...)

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Hoover Inst. Warning: Digital Yuan May Undo Dollar

The Hoover Institution has published a new report entitled "Digital Currencies: The US, China, and the World at a Crossroads," arguing that the Chinese government's introduction of a digital yuan as a domestic alternative to paper currency poses a threat to the US dollar's global dominance.

The report, which had 31 contributors, was edited by Darrell Duffie and Elizabeth Economy, both senior fellows at the think tank.

Other contributors include Jared Cohen, CEO of Jigsaw; Lauren Gloudeman, director for China at Eurasia Group; Niall Ferguson, author of The Ascent of Money; Stuart Levey, CEO of Diem Networks; Sigal Mandelker, general partner at Ribbit Capital; H.R. McMaster, a former National Security Adviser under President Trump; Evan Medeiros, a former NSC staffer; and Matthew Pottinger, former Deputy National Security Adviser under Trump.

The report and the working group that produced it were launched with support of Hoover and its project on China's Global Sharp Power, co-chaired by Larry Diamond and Glenn Tiffert.

A grant from the Smith Richardson Foundation provided the principal financial support for the work.  The Atlantic Council's GeoEconomics Center shared data with the group on the status of central bank digital currency projects around the world.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Atlantic Council Scholar Leaving to Become CEO of Atlantik-Brücke

Here is more from an Atlantik-Brücke press release:

Julia Friedlander, 37, will take over as CEO of Atlantik-Brücke on June 1, 2022. Friedlander is currently C. Boyden Gray Senior Fellow and Director of the Economic Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. She is an expert on transatlantic economic relations, EU economic policy, and financial regulation and sanctions. Previously, Julia Friedlander served as an advisor at the U.S. Treasury Department and the White House, among other positions. Julia is a native New Yorker who studied at Princeton and Johns Hopkins University. She lived in Germany for two years on a DAAD scholarship. Julia Friedlander takes over the position from Dr. David Deißner, who has led Atlantik-Brücke’s operations since 2017. Deißner is leaving Atlantik-Brücke to pursue a new role in the business community.

 

Atlantik-Brücke is currently headquartered in Berlin, Germany.

The news comes as Dr. Michael Green, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), was recently tapped to become CEO of the University of Sydney's United States Studies Centre (USSC).

Friday, April 8, 2022

Billionaire Building Community for Think Tankers to Work, Live

Billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, a German-American investor and philanthropist, is creating a new type of community for the think tank world.  Here is more from the New York Times:

[Near the Getty Center] Berggruen plans to construct what he half-jokingly describes as a “secular monastery,” a campus where scholars affiliated with the think tank that he founded, the Berggruen Institute, will live, work, cogitate. The 450-acre property, known informally to Berggruen and his staff as Monteverdi (they haven’t decided on an official name), will be centered around a building designed by a group that includes the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron, famed for the Bird’s Nest Olympic venue in Beijing. According to Berggruen, he purchased the land in 2014 for $15 million. But he has yet to break ground on the project, which has drawn resistance from nearby residents. If completed, this spot overlooking Los Angeles will become the de facto seat of what might be called an empire of the mind.

The son of the late Heinz Berggruen, one of postwar Europe’s most celebrated art dealers and collectors, the 60-year-old Berggruen grew up in France and made his fortune in America. For a time, he was known as the “homeless billionaire” because he didn’t have a fixed address and lived out of luxury hotels. In the late 2000s, dissatisfied with his career in finance, Berggruen began privately studying philosophy and political theory with a couple of U.C.L.A. professors. Soon after that, he established the Berggruen Institute. A prolific networker, Berggruen has recruited so many prominent names to the institute’s roster of supporters and advisers — Eric Schmidt, Reid Hoffman, Arianna Huffington and Fareed Zakaria are among those listed on the organization’s website — that it has been described as his own personal Davos.

The institute employs around 30 people, has some 40 fellows worldwide and maintains offices in Los Angeles, Beijing and Venice. It publishes a magazine, Noema (ancient Greek for “thinking”), that covers politics, technology, climate change, culture and much else. In addition to the institute, Berggruen recently bought through his charitable trust a palace in Venice that he plans to turn into a center for the arts. His name also appears on the institute’s annual $1 million Berggruen Prize for Philosophy and Culture. Last year’s recipient was Peter Singer, the moral philosopher and bioethicist.

 

Here is a previous Think Tank Watch post about the Berggruen Institute, which was founded in 2010.  According to Forbes, Berggruen's current net worth is $2.9 billion.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Google Spots Russian Hacker Group Targeting Think Tanks

Here is more from Google:

In early March, Google’s Threat Analysis Group (TAG) published an update on the cyber activity it was tracking with regard to the war in Ukraine. Since our last update, TAG has observed a continuously growing number of threat actors using the war as a lure in phishing and malware campaigns. Government-backed actors from China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, as well as various unattributed groups, have used various Ukraine war-related themes in an effort to get targets to open malicious emails or click malicious links.

COLDRIVER, a Russian-based threat actor sometimes referred to as Calisto, has launched credential phishing campaigns, targeting several US based NGOs and think tanks, the military of a Balkans country, and a Ukraine based defense contractor. However, for the first time, TAG has observed COLDRIVER campaigns targeting the military of multiple Eastern European countries, as well as a NATO Centre of Excellence. These campaigns were sent using newly created Gmail accounts to non-Google accounts, so the success rate of these campaigns is unknown. We have not observed any Gmail accounts successfully compromised during these campaigns.

 

Russia has been targeting US-based and other think tanks for years.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Think Tank Quickies (#442)

  • Andrey Batlistsky is leaving his position at Moscow State Institute of International Relations, saying he hopes the institute "will provide [the] government and people of Russia unbiased analysis."
  • Former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro joins Atlantic Council as a distinguished fellow.
  • South Korea's President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol sending delegation to US to meet with think tanks, others.
  • BlackRock Investment Institute is the Wall Street firm's "global think tank."
  • New Third Way report: "Red State Murder Problem."
  • Think tank and college rankings are a fool's game: Columbia ranked No. 2, but professor is dubious.
  • Rebecca Bill Chavez, an Obama alum, will be new president and CEO of the Inter-American Dialogue.
  • Legal docs tie Quincy Institute scholar Amir Handjani to a spy operation targeting critics of a UAE monarch.
  • Meet the Socialism Research Center (run by Justin Haskins) at the Heartland Institute.
  • New resource for those wanting to build a think tank.

Friday, April 1, 2022

Hong Kong Think Tank Closes After 16 Years

Here is more from SCMP:

The Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, a Hong Kong think tank set up by a close aide of former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, will close by the end of March, the Post has learned.

Analysts said its exit underscored the limited room for think tanks to develop in a city where policymaking had been dominated by officials.

The centre was founded in March 2006 by Norman Chan Tak-lam, who ran Tsang's campaign to become city leader the previous year.

 

In 2019, Hong Kong think tank SynergyNet closed after 17 years in operation from lack of funds and an "unfavorable environment" for think tanks.

In 2020, German think tank Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom closed its Hong Kong office following China's imposition of a new national security law on the territory.

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Kenya Think Tank Scores $15 Million Gift from MacKenzie Scott

The African Population and and Health Research Center (APHRC), a think tank based in Kenya, has just received a $15 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott and husband Dan Jewett.

Scott and Jewett have been giving away billions of dollars, and while think tanks have received a bit of that cash, they have been largely ignored by the duo.

In February, Scott gave $15 million to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice research organization that describes itself as an "action-oriented think tank."

As Think Tank Watch reported last year, other think tanks that have received money from them include the Roosevelt Institute and Urban Institute.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Ally of NYC Mayor to Launch New Think Tank

Here is more from Politico:

Tom Allon, publisher of local political website City & State, is raising money for a think tank that will align with the centrist agenda of a Democratic politician Allon counts as a longtime friend — though he vowed independence from the mayor.

A memo to potential donors, obtained by POLITICO, said the organization “anticipates evaluating a number of concrete policy ideas that were part of incoming NYC Mayor Eric Adams campaign platform and putting them through a rigorous academic analysis to assess their financial viability and ability to implement.” One such policy plan is the goal to make the city a global capital for cryptocurrency.

The think tank, which Allon is calling Five Boros Institute, is being established as a “non-profit, non-partisan clearinghouse for great urban policy ideas and pragmatic solutions to chronic problems,” according to a four-page memo.

In an interview, Allon said he has raised $250,000 so far, and hopes to amass up to $1.5 million from private funders for the outfit's annual budget. He said he plans to release the names of donors once the organization launches in early May.

 

Already in existence is the Five Borough Institute (5BI), a research and educational organization whose mission is to "encourage the development and implementation of sound  progressive public policies."

Monday, March 28, 2022

Think Tank Quickies (#441)

  • A Beijing think tank offered a frank review of China's technological weaknesses.  Then the report disappeared
  • CSIS launches new site for translating, interpreting, and analyzing Chinese Communist Party documents.  The project is funded by support from the Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York.
  • China "spy think tank" (CICIR) predicts Russia sanctions will backfire.
  • Council on Geostrategy signs MoU with Ukrainian Prism, a think tank.
  • RUSI got access to Russian internal intelligence polling.
  • What think tanks are thinking about European defense and security.
  • Edward Snowden not a big fan of the think tank crowd.
  • Former Brookings scholar Emily Horne leaves NSC; White House is considering adding Brookings scholar Thomas Wright as a senior director for strategy at the NSC.
  • How well are women represented at think tank events?
  • Should think tankers be able to speak/read in the language of the foreign regions they cover?

Thursday, March 24, 2022

China Coercing Think Tanks to Alter References to Taiwan

Here is more from Foreign Policy:

Two scholars at the German Marshall Fund (GMF) released a sweeping new report on a massive pressure campaign by China to coerce international organizations and even US-based think tanks into altering their language and references to Taiwan in conferences and studies.

GMF report authors Bonnie Glaser and Jessica Drun list examples, including an instance when the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the Stimson Center "bowed to [Chinese] pressure" on how they reference Taiwan on their websites "to avoid being barred from participation in UN conferences and losing access to the UN and its affiliated agencies, which are essential to their work.

 

The new GMF report, which was supported financially by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US (TECRO), can be found here.  

In its 2021 fiscal year, the think tank received between $100,000 and $999,999 from TECRO.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

CSIS Scholar to Lead Australian Think Tank

Dr. Michael Green, a Georgetown University professor and Japan expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), will become the new head of the University of Sydney's United States Studies Centre (USSC), according to The Australian.

USSC board members have privately voiced concerns about the "new direction" of the think tank.  Among other things, some are upset about the hiring of a US citizen for the post rather than an Australian.

Board members include American Dr. Gordon Flake, the founding CEO of the Perth USAsia Centre at The University of Western Australia.  Flake was previously the Executive Director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, a scholar at the Atlantic Council, and a director at the Korea Economic Institute of America.

Dr. Bates Gill, another American, was CEO os USSC from 2012-2015.  He was also the Director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), as well as Freeman Chair in China Studies at CSIS.  US journalist James Fallows once held the USSC Chair in US Media.

USSC has previously been criticized for adopting an anti-Trump position, with critics saying the think tank was dominated by left-wing academics, according to the paper.

Green has been a vocal critic of Trump, but USSC has not completely shut itself off from supporters of the former US president.  Last year, USSC named former Trump chief of staff Mick Mulvaney as a non-resident senior fellow.

CSIS recently announced a new Australia Chair, which is headed by Charles Edel, who was formerly a senior fellow at USSC.

USSC was jointly established in 2006 by then-Prime Minister John Howard as a joint venture among the Australian government, the New York-based American Australian Association, and the University of Sydney.  

At that time, it received a $25 million endowment.  Now, close to half of its funding comes from student tuition fees, and another 30% comes from member contributions.  Only around 3% comes from corporations.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Mininum Salaries Raised to $48K at CAP After Union Negotiations

Here is more from the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU):

The more than 90 members of the Center of American Progress (CAP) Union overwhelmingly voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement, raising salaries for employees in all job classifications as well as codifying other workplace improvements. This agreement is the third union contract for employees of CAP, who formed a union with the Nonprofit Professional Employees Union (NPEU) in 2016.

Here is what the new contract includes:

  • Increases to all job classifications’ minimum salaries, with an organization salary floor of $48,000 in the first year of the contract, $49,000 in the second year, and $50,000 in the final year of the contract.

  • Guaranteed annual raises of 2.5% for those making less than $68,000 and guaranteed annual raises of 2% for those making over $68,000.

  • A 360-review process at mid-year and end-year performance reviews.

  • A minimum of four weeks for severance pay, which includes health/dental coverage for three months. 

  • Procedures to limit overtime work.

  • Provisions to encourage internal hiring.

  • Credit for union members’ contributions to a work product, including by being listed as an author, co-author, or included in the acknowledgements.

 

Workers at CAP has been threatening to strike amid a fight over salaries at the liberal-leaning think tank. 

Update: Here is a Politico piece entitled "The 20-somethings Scaring Liberal Think Tanks," which notes that left-leaning think tanks, fearful of bad PR, are embracing staff unions.

It notes, among other things, that staff at New America has recently formed a union and the think tank is expected to formally recognize it.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Think Tank Quickies (#440)

  • Kenneth Weinstein, a distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute and former president and CEO of the think tank, is now a senior adviser at Brunswick Corp.
  • CSIS identifies North Korea base likely intended for ICBMs.
  • Third Way launches Sheild PAC to defend moderate Democrats.
  • Higher Education plays a key role in diversifying think tanks and public policy research.
  • Scholars from USIP, Quincy Institute, and Sejong Institute want to try something different for North Korea.
  • Halifax Security Forum, a pro-democracy think tank and conference organizer, began a video campaign tied to the Olympics to shame China for its human rights abuses. 
  • Yale to evaluate policies on gifts and donors.
  • New Lines Institute for Strategy and Policy, a think tank "working to enhance US foreign policy based on a deep understanding of the geopolitics of the different regions of the world and their value systems" that was founded in 2019 by Dr. Ahmed Alwani.
  • Flashback: CSIS's new project trying to poll North Koreans who live in North Korea.
  • Update on the Brookings cafeteria; Brookings Cafeteria podcast ends 8.5 year run.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

AEI Being Ignored by Republicans?

Here is more from National Review:

But one longstanding bastion of mainstream conservative thought, the American Enterprise Institute, has been moving in a different direction, according to hawkish foreign-policy hands. Under the think tank’s new foreign-policy director, they say, AEI has distanced itself from the rest of the movement’s approach.

Kori Schake, a former State Department and Pentagon official, took the reins of the think tank’s storied foreign- and defense-policy arm in 2019 amid a period of change. She took the job under then-newly appointed AEI president Robert Doar, a welfare-policy expert without a foreign-policy background, following a successful stint at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. Around Washington, she is a generally well-regarded expert on defense issues.

But two years into her tenure, hostility to Schake’s stances is percolating in some conservative circles. The critics take issue with her defenses of the Iran nuclear deal, opposition to sanctions to kill Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline, and criticism of Republicans for speaking out against critical race theory in the military. “What she’s done is genuinely made the Hill ambivalent about AEI,” a senior congressional Republican staffer told National Review. “No one pays attention to their events, and no one reads their newsletters.” Several other Republican aides echoed that sentiment during interviews about their interactions with AEI, with one senior staffer saying that AEI research gets a “presumption of denial” when it comes across his desk.

 

AEI was founded in 1938 and had revenues of $43.5 million in 2020.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Competing Think Tank-Led Letters on How to Address No-Fly Zone in Ukraine

Here is more from Politico:

A group of 78 experts signed an open letter opposing a no-fly zone in Ukraine, adding heft to the argument against putting U.S. troops in direct engagement with Russians.

“[G]oing to war with Russia, a nuclear peer of the United States, would expose Americans to vast and unnecessary risks. A war that expands beyond Ukraine’s borders could also inflict damage across Europe and weaken America’s NATO allies. We call upon the administration to avoid such a gambit and continue to use appropriate diplomatic means and economic pressure to end the conflict,” wrote the experts, led by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s STEPHEN WERTHEIM and the American Institute for Economic Research’s WILLIAM RUGER.

This letter comes just two days after an Atlantic Council-led group of 27 experts openly advocated for a “limited no-fly zone” in Ukraine — an argument the new grouping of experts take head on. “Some of those calling for even a ‘limited’ no-fly zone admit that they are willing to see the United States and its NATO allies wage war against Russia in defense of Ukraine,” reads the letter. “A no-fly zone would expand the war, not stop it.”

 

The Atlantic Council-led letter has since added more signatories.  The think tank gets a large chunk of its funding from European countries, including NATO members.

Tom Enders, the former Airbus CEO and current president of the German Council on Foreign Affairs, recently made the case for a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over western Ukraine.

In other think tank/Ukraine news, the Institute for the Study of War issued a warning that recent Russian statements could be part of an effort to lay the groundwork for Moscow's use of chemical or biological attacks in Ukraine.

In a NYT op-ed, Wang Huiyao, president of the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing think tank that advises the Chinese government, said that "we are now in an escalatory spiral and mounting pressure on Vladimir Putin will likely make the situation more dangerous."

Monday, March 14, 2022

DoD's Internal Think Tank Violated Federal Rules

Here is more from Politico:

The Pentagon’s internal think tank violated a series of federal rules in awarding contracts, according to an investigation by the DoD inspector general, including failing to establish oversight measures to ensure it was getting what it paid for.

The Office of Net Assessment, which conducts long-term assessments of trends to help the military prepare for future conflicts, did not follow a series of guidelines, according to the report, including using contracting officers with the proper clearances. The multiple failures led to the inappropriate approval of at least $10 million in contracts, the IG found.

The office also didn’t follow oversight guidelines on the projects. “Without established and documented surveillance measures for ONA service contracts, ONA may not have received all services outlined in contractor’s statements of work,” the report concluded.

 

The Office of Net Assessment (ONA) was founded in 1973 and provides long-term comparative assessments of trends, key competitions, risks, opportunities, and future prospects of US military capability to the Secretary of Defense and Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Think Tank Quickies (#439)

  • Third Way urging fellow Democrats to respond to Capitol riot with "the size, scope, and seriousness of a presidential campaign."
  • Andre Perry Twitter thread on how think tankers can write for impact. 
  • What would happen if Davos disappeared? And would anyone miss think tanks if they disappeared?
  • New America seeking program manager for its #ShareTheMicInCyber project. "A first-of-its kind program, the project, will create a fellowship, research and event series, all designed to provide cybersecurity professionals from diverse backgrounds with an opportunity to conduct policy analysis, explore critical cyber security issues, and explore questions on diversity and the human side of cybersecurity."
  • Former DC mayor Anthony Williams and Alice Rivlin of Brookings formulated a goal to increase DC's population by 100,000.
  • An explanation of why scientists continue to publish poor studies. 
  • Why bridging the gap between policymakers and academics is so hard.
  • Why research papers have so many authors.
  • Think tank resorts: For some developers and hoteliers, it's no longer enough to build a hotel - you have to create an ideas community.
  • The Fog of Peace (via Vanity Fair): "Reagan created USIP in 1984, as a sop to the anti-nuclear movement.  Before long, Congress gave it a new, $111 million building just off the Mall, making it untouchable.  So how's the mission going?"

Monday, March 7, 2022

Trump Not Invited to AEI's Annual Meeting

Here is more from the Washington Times:

A private gathering of big Republican Party donors and conservative leaders will include a top Biden White House official and several critics of former President Donald Trump but not Mr. Trump, according to a report. 

The former president was not invited to the off-the-record event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative-leaning think tank, CBS News reported.

Among the expected attendees: Biden economic adviser Brian Deese; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican; Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican; Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican; and Sen. Tim Scott, South Carolina Republican. It was not clear whether former Vice President Mike Pence will attend.

AEI’s annual World Forum will be held this week at The Cloister at Sea Island, Georgia. Past attendees have included billionaire executives from manufacturing, energy and financial companies, according to the report.

 

In the past, picketers have greeted attendees of AEI's meeting.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Polish Think Tank Opens Washington Office

Think Tank Watch has learned that the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) has opened an office in Washington, DC.   

Here is more about the history of PISM from Wikipedia:

PISM was established by the Parliament of the Republic of Poland in 1947.  In 1972, the institute gained the right to confer doctoral degrees, of which the first recipient was Jerzy Robert Nowak.  In 1993, the institute was closed and an “Office of International Studies – Institute of International Affairs” was created under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1996 the institute was reactivated, this time under the name Polish Institute of International Affairs. PISM is funded principally from the Polish state budget and it works closely with the Polish foreign and defense ministries.

 

PISM has already been collaborating with other think tanks, such as the Heritage Foundation.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Fmr. Sec. of State Pompeo to Give Speech at Taiwan Think Tank

Here is more from the South China Morning Post:

Former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, a vocal supporter of Taiwan, will visit the self-ruled island next week in a trip that is certain to rile Beijing.

Pompeo and his wife are due to arrive in Taiwan on March 2, and meetings are planned with government, business and academic leaders during the four-day trip, the Taiwanese foreign ministry said on Monday.

He is expected to meet President Tsai Ing-wen, attend a banquet hosted by Vice-President William Lai Ching-te, and visit legislative speaker Yu Shyi-kun and Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, according to the ministry statement.

Pompeo will also give a speech at the Prospect Foundation, a government-funded think tank.

 

The Prospect Foundation was founded in 1997 and is dedicated to the study of foreign policy and international relations, particularly in the area of East Asian security.

In related news, the Biden Administration has sent former defense and national security officials, including some high-level think tankers, to Taiwan in a show of support.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Ukrainian Lobbyists Flood US Think Tanks

Here is more from Ben Freeman, a Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft:

As tensions with Russia reach a boiling point, lobbyists from Ukraine are working feverishly to shape the U.S. response. Firms working for Ukrainian interests have inundated congressional offices, think tanks, and journalists with more than 10,000 messages and meetings in 2021, according to an analysis of Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, filings for a forthcoming report from the Quincy Institute.

Think tanks were contacted more than 1,100 times by Ukraine’s agents, and more than half of these were directed at one in particular: the Atlantic Council. This extraordinary outreach included multiple meetings with Atlantic Council scholars, like ex-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst, who has advocated for a more militarized approach to Russia amid the Ukraine crisis.

The Atlantic Council has also launched “UkraineAlert” which publishes daily pieces on deterring Russia. A recent article, “Survey: Western public backs stronger support for Ukraine against Russia,” notes the survey in question was commissioned by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation and Yalta European Strategy, which Pinchuk founded; however, the article does not mention that the foundation is a large contributor to the Atlantic Council, donating $250,000-499,000 a year, or that Pinchuk himself — the second wealthiest man in Ukraine — sits on the international advisory board of the Atlantic Council.

 

Freeman notes that after the Atlantic Council, the Heritage Foundation was the second most contracted think tank by Ukraine's agents.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Think Tank Quickies (#438)

  • Liberty University president says that getting people elected is the goal of the school's think tank, previously known as the Falkirk Center.
  • Taiwanese cash funding think tanks to push for war with China?
  • William Gorham, Urban Institute founder, dies at 91.
  • Silverado Policy Accelerator: "Combines expertise of a traditional think tank with the dynamism of a venture approach."
  • Sen. Joe Manchin's ties to conservative think tank land.
  • New RAND report: A Guide to extreme competition with China.
  • French Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer heads a think tank tasked with combating what the minister calls "US-imported wokeism."
  • International Crisis Group: Why the UNSC stumbles in responding to coups.
  • McGann on how think tanks stay relevant in today's world.
  • "I always felt that universities are sometimes better than think tanks because their students, their engagement, their fresh and changing ideas."