Wednesday February 7, 2018
Countering Russia has become a lucrative industry in Washington. In recent years, the think tank business has exploded. But who funds these organizations, who works for them and what are the real agendas at play?
From the start, let’s be clear, the term "think tank" essentially amounts to a more polite way of saying "lobby group." Bar a few exceptions, they exist to serve – and promote – the agendas of their funders.
However, particularly in the United States, the field has become increasingly shady and disingenuous, with lobbyists being given faux academic titles like "Senior Non-Resident Fellow" and "Junior Adjunct Fellow" and the like. And this smokescreen usually serves to cloud the real goals of these operations.
Think tanks actually originate from the Europe of the Dark Ages. That's 9th-century France, to be precise. But the modern American movement is modeled on British organizations from around a millennium later, many of which, such as "RUSI (1831)," still exist today. The concept was possibly brought to America by the Scottish-born Andrew Carnegie. And his "Carnegie Endowment for International Peace" (1910) is still going strong.
Yet, the real boom in the "think tank" industry came with the era of globalization. With a 200-percent rise in numbers since 1970. And in recent years, they’ve become more transnational, with foreign states and individuals sponsoring them in order to gain curry favor in Washington.