A question that few Americans want to ask because for the most part they do not care…..but they should for foreign policy will effect us all in some way.
Think tanks and lobbyists control everything in DC….especially foreign policy.
In a piece of news that shocked the mainstream media, but which shocked no one familiar with the academic industry writ large, retired US Army general John Allen was forced to resign as president of the Brookings Institution after it was revealed the FBI was investigating him for lobbying on behalf of the Qatari monarchy.
Of course, the real news, scarcely noted by the Washington Post, New York Times, or any other purported paper of record, is that Allen was only really in trouble because he hadn’t fulfilled the pro forma legal requirements for those lobbying the US government on behalf of a foreign agent or government.
The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), under which such activities are regulated, includes several exceptions that allow for such activities without declaring a conflict of interest. Think tanks, a misnomer if ever there was one, operate under an “academic exception” that allows for engagement in “bona fide religious, scholastic, academic, or scientific pursuits or the fine arts.”
Anyone who has ever picked up one of the many deadly dull social science journals where actual, bona fide empirical academic work is done knows this constitutes perhaps a fraction of what think tanks almost daily churn out.
Rather think tank commentary, touted as objective analysis, is regularly featured or cited by publications and outlets as apparently diverse as the Wall Street Journal and NPR.
Of course, think tanks are hardly alone. As Ben Freeman, a specialist on foreign influence on US policy, has documented, such democratic bastions of liberal values as the UAE and Saudi Arabia donate hundreds of millions, even billions, to universities around the country.
If they churn out crap on the behest of any foreign government then they should be held accountable and register as a foreign agent.
Department of Justice’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Unit issued guidance indicating that think tanks and non-profits doing work at the behest of a foreign government likely have an obligation to register under FARA.
In a new Advisory Opinion — the FARA Unit’s public, though heavily redacted, responses when organizations ask if they should register or not — the Chief of the FARA Unit argues that the unnamed organization in question should register under FARA as its work for foreign principals included outreach to policymakers in the defense community, facilitating “meetings and new partnerships in the United States, particularly with U.S. government officials,” and has agreed to prepare a study that would “foster bilateral exchange and cooperation between” a foreign government and the United States.
As the Chief argues, each of these actions constitutes “political activity” under the FARA statute, defined as attempts to “influence any agency or official of the United States or any section of the public within the United States with reference to . . . the domestic or foreign policy of the United States.”
There is your answer….Think tanks is one of the controlling agents of American foreign policy.
When I left college I was offered a position with a think tank….I refused because they give a conclusion they want and I was to fit the research to fit that conclusion. (BTW that refusal on my part made it possible for me to never get a gig with a think tank….I would not play ball).
Time for these people to be held up to the light.
Wake Up! Pay attention!
I Read, I Write, You Know
“lego ergo scribo”