Showing posts with label Think tanks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Think tanks. Show all posts

January 30, 2008

Think Tanks and U.S. Foreign Policy

Fortunately, right-wing tanks have been more successful at shifting the political landscape than those in the center or left, in part, because they are far better at attracting funds but more importantly, because American Interests are best served by them.

U.S. Foreign Policy is influenced and shaped by a complex array of informal networks and Think Tanks that extend American Power and interests through the design and augmentation of a consensus consistent with, America’s worldview. Collectively they form a foremost source of ideas that are often weighted in the Washington policy making apparatus. In some ways, we may refer to them as both official and unofficial lobby groups and/or professional pressure groups that exert intellectual force on elected officialdom on a variety on issues.

Apart from creating a common worldview amongst their own, that is, those who share similar political and ideological viewpoints, they also enhance relationships between business and Government through more than common interfacing. They actually steer policy through meetings and research projects. Apart from operating on a trans-national platform, they also lubricate intellectual understandings and perceptions within a globalized world. Many a conspiracy theory has flourished because of there very existence for their essential qualities dictates that associations are often guarded, almost secretive.

Interestingly, and as a example and quasi-addendum to this post. After taking on some wider reading about neo-conservatism I stumbled across many an article that referred to its exponents and there collective actions as an “informal network” and/or “influential group in Washington”, “largely responsible for the push toward war in the Middle East”.

More precisely, I would venture to suggest that the neoconservative establishment is a political movement more so than a Think Tank group or network, formal or otherwise. One that concededly, but not to suggest, of detriment to the U.S., has gained traction in both Bush presidencies and the Reagan administration earlier.

Critics, particularly of liberal ranks have oft criticized neocons of being part of the pro-Israeli lobby for American Middle East policy. While some Jewish interests are, present within neocons judgment, this accusation, apart from being disparaging, is not accurate. Joshua Maravchick in an excellent 2007 article, “The Past Present and Future of Neo-conservatism” says, “that the “neoconservatives” in question were in reality a group of Jews who were attempting to divert U.S. policy in the interests of Israel. This particular bit of slander ignored, among other things, the fact that the neoconservative position on the Middle East conflict was exactly congruous with the neoconservative position on conflicts everywhere else in the world, including places where neither Jews nor Israeli interests could be found—not to mention the fact that non-Jewish neoconservatives took the same stands on all of the issues as did their Jewish confrères."

Some praiseworthy Think tanks and lobbies that impact U.S. Foreign Policy:

Heritage Foundation – “Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institute - a think tank - whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.” It was the architect of the 1980’s Reagan doctrine and supportive of the policies of George W. Bush.

Rand Corporation - Conducts research and provides analysis to address challenges that face the United States and the world. Originally a scientific advisory service to the U.S. armed services, it now develops systems analysis to commercial organizations as well. Most of its work relates to national security an issue of which most is highly classified.

The Center for Strategic and International Studies – Seeking to “advance global security and prosperity in an era of economic and political transformation by providing strategic insights and practical policy solutions to decision makers.” It looks to the future to anticipate change.

The Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee - Providing the Secretary of Defense with advice on issues important to strategic planning. Its former chairperson, Richard Perle was a key figure in George W. Bush’s policies and is also "... a core representative of the neoconservative political faction; playing a "central role in championing the war in Iraq and an aggressive war on terror centered on the Middle East in the wake of 9/11."

American Israeli Public Affairs Committee - For more than half a century, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has worked to help make Israel more secure by ensuring that American support remains strong. From a small pro-Israel public affairs boutique in the 1950s, AIPAC has grown into a 100,000-member national grassroots movement described by The New York Times as "the most important organization affecting America's relationship with Israel."

Project for the New American Century – “Established in the spring of 1997, the Project for the New American Century is a non-profit, educational organization whose goal is to promote American global leadership.” I for one won't argue with that...

Bilderberg Group – “…a group of influential people, mostly politicians and business people, whose existence and activities are private, and due to its secretive nature is the subject of numerous conspiracy theories. The group meets annually at five-star resorts throughout the world, normally in Europe, although sometimes in America or Canada.”

Bohemian Grove – “An all male membership includes many prominent business leaders, government officials (its membership has included every U.S. president since the Kennedy’s), and senior media executives. As a measure of the club's exclusivity, it is reported the waiting list for membership is from 15 to 20 years .. An initiation fee of $25,000 as of 2006 is required in addition to yearly membership dues. Elected members are allowed to prorate the initiation fee into equal annual payments until they reach the age of 45.”

Carlyle Group - A Washington, D.C. based global private equity investment firm with more than $74.9 billion of equity capital under management. It specializes in politically sensitive areas such as aerospace, and mainly has interests in military contracts.

These networks certainly influence a climate of opinion and ideas however indirectly; but they do not actually write the script for policy makers. Thus it could be argued that the influence of think tanks maybe sometimes, overstated. Nevertheless, they represent an important component of the decision making process as, ideas factories. Fortunately, right-wing tanks have been more successful at shifting the political landscape and impacting policy than those in the center or left, in part, because they are far better at attracting funds but more importantly, because American Interests are best served by them.

Comments welcome...