Think Tanks in the United States and Russia. Intellectual lobbying
Material posted: Publication date: 04-05-2013

Analyzing American foreign and domestic policy, Russian analysts and political scientists often talk about the foundations, committees and associations. However, in America there are organizations that are more influential than funds and committees – Think Tanks (Thought Centers).

Such Centers appeared in the USA in the early 20th century and set themselves the task of studying public opinion, national and geopolitical issues, scientific and industrial developments. The first Center became The Brookings Institution, founded in 1918. The Center's mission included the study of the economy, international relations, and issues of government. The Brookings Institution and is still considered one of the most respected Think Tanks. Suffice it to say that the President is Strobe Talbott, a close friend of bill Clinton and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of state. Part of the Centers financed by the government based on the placement of orders for research and development, but most of the Centers are on the money of sponsors. Legally Centers are non-profit organizations, free tax, and is not limited to the raising and expenditure of Finance. Moreover, the activities of the Centres during political campaigns does not qualify under the election law.

Mental Centers can be divided into political, commercial and research-lobbying. Of course, often there is a mixture of all three types. In the last decade, the Centres have increasingly been criticised for their bias and prejudice. However, it can be argued that it is in the depths of the Thinking Centers of the developing new economic model, the concept of national development and national security. In terms of change of power every 4 or 8 years Centres are places of application of forces of professionals from policy analysts, came from business and law enforcement agencies. But they are only the managers of the Centers, but real research by scientists around the world. However, the political Centres have increasingly come under criticism and more often heard questions about the legality of the activities of the Centres. With a light hand journalists of New York Times employees of these Centers are called "prophets" ( preachers ).



In the United States... "Phony institutes where ideologues, preachers portray themselves as academics, where money is flowing like blood from the arteries. And all this with one purpose – to somehow support meaningless and vociferous advertising of politicians", - so described the political Thinking of the Centers of independent American journalist John Jackman.

Mental Centers are the perfect place to work for political "pensioners" and strategists of all stripes. Journalist Joel Achenbach conducted an investigation for the Washington Post. For a story assignment, he decided to get a job in one of these Centers in Washington. While receiving the Director-"academic," right told him that the Center's employees are white men from 50 years and older and Joel should immediately understand what values are supported here.

For the 2004 election, 47% of political comments were made to "independent analysts" of the 25 leading think tanks. It should be noted that according to the calculations of the Democratic party strategist Rob Stein, the conservative centers received from sponsors of 295 million dollars, and democratic only 75 million.

Development and support of think tanks actively started from 70-ies. Then Supreme court justice Lewis Powell sent a letter to the Chamber of Commerce of the USA with an appeal to find the Finance to create the Centers, which were supposed to bring conservative values to the professors and students. The result was The Heritage Foundation (annual turnover of approximately $ 36 million); Manhattan Institute for Policy Research (annual turnover of 10 million); The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (annual turnover not published, however, it is known that Philip Morris annually transfers $100,000 and Exxon more than $200 000); The Hoover Institution (turnover not advertised). Over the years, the Board of Directors of the Centers were well known businessmen and politicians – from Steve Forbes to Ronald Reagan.

Intelligence Centers prepare documents and conduct research for major corporations, political parties, members of the Senate and of Congress. After the tightening of the legislation on elections, when various political organizations had limited advertising expenditure of the candidates, the Thinking Centers have become one of the main sources of support in addition to election campaign funds. Not doing advertising, the Centers actively influence the media as "independent experts". In contrast to these universities and research organizations, Mental Centers were often accused of "adjusting" the results of the studies under extended abstracts. As stated by the American writer Jonathan Rowe, "these guys don't think they make judgments". However, sociological research and development Centers such as the American Council on Science and Health (American Council on Science and Health), Center for research on population and security (Center for Research on Population and Security), the Federation of American scientists ( Federation of American Scientists), etc. greatly influenced the policy of the White House for the last 50 years.

In Russia... no matter How funny, but in Russia there is an analogue of American Think Tanks . All funds effective and not very political, social, and - frankly - the private opinions, institutions without students and teachers – many of them will be part of Think Tanks . A significant difference only that the Russian Centers usually do not bother conducting any research, awarding grants and other Funded often from the Kremlin or subordinate commercial actors, their task is to direct "brainwashing" the public. Correctly noted columnist of the St. Petersburg magazine "the City" Mikhail Zolotonosov: " I finally remembered where intonation Pavlovsky, his melodious pathos: she borrowed directly from Patriarch Alexy II. Transfer Pavlovsky -- this is worship, or rather, the black mass".

Own media commentators-experts – there's nothing you can do about it. Well-known commentator like better is considered to be unknown. In fact, journalists, sometimes without any external pressure, support strategists at think tanks, not much delving into the words of the speaker.

Here and is a fundamental divide between American partisan Centers and their Russian counterpart. The U.S. Centers almost all of the money spend on the engagement of intellectuals, promoting values that I believe in and argue for the media its position. In Russia, it is the preachers doing your own PR , not paying attention to the audience and not performing any research. Hypotheses several preachers presented as questions and answers of national importance. Not accidentally, one of the Russian "thinkers" to the question about the involvement of students in scientific and social activities, said that "students here are not needed. We have quite different tasks".


The lobbying and Development

But the lion's share of American think tanks are lobbying the institutions. Literally every major Corporation has "its own" Think Tank. It is and institutions to study the impact of mobile phones on children, centers for the study of automotive fuel, toothpaste, quality of newsprint and so Many of them appeared to struggle with the corporations, and for many years conducted "subversive activities". Over time, some Centres were under the influence most of these corporations and turned into a powerful lobbying structure. Here worked the "rule" cognac - the longer the exposure, the higher the price. Institutions, existing since 50-ies, have greater political weight than yesterday created structures. In this respect an interesting story of two Centers in California ( Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and Energy Resources International ), dealing with nuclear energy. In the 70-ies, speaking on the side of the then government, they did prove to the population the danger of such stations. Tellingly – and have proven for 20 years California re-buy electricity to neighboring States. But now the energy situation is so critical that those centres justify the need for construction of reactors in California. In the early 90s in the Russian advertising began to be used all sorts of "independent institutions dentistry, research surgery centers", etc. is Not known whether these institutions are in reality, but if so, in many ways they are similar to their American counterparts.

Of course, in every industry there are. In the military field in the U.S. it is worth noting the activities of American Defense International . The company employs former White House officials, the Pentagon and the U.S. Congress. Among the clients of the Center most of the military companies of America and the manufacturers of military technologies from around the world. Saab , Beretta and General Atomics - are not the major clients of the Centre. As Chairman of the Board of Directors of van HIPP (Van Hipp Jr.) lobbying for his services he was directly called "economic benefactor and Ambassador to official Washington" of South Carolina. Most influential with this Centre can only bet The Institute for Homeland Security (The ANSER Institute). Founded in the year 58, with the participation of The RAND Corporation (development of space technologies and concepts of national security), ANSER Institute after the events of 2001 by the direct order of President Bush engaged in the development of national security strategy, counter-terrorism and external threats to the United States. It should be noted that, of course, such Centers do not only lobbying, but also the development of a national strategy. At the head of the Institute is the former Director of the CIA for science and technology Ruth Davis (Dr. Ruth A. David) which, according to Director Tenet is one of the best analysts of the Agency.

In Russia, too, there are various Centers that claims the development of a national strategy. For example, the national strategy Council, the Institute of regional problems, the Institute of political studies , etc. However, even a cursory glance at the activities of these Centers is enough to understand that it is not about strategy, but about lobbying technologies. Part of the problem is that there is no place to bring researchers and analysts, and partly in the fact that very few former government officials, maintaining its hardware and political influence. In the conditions of Russian reality the most political resignations are accompanied by comments such as "dismissed for incompetence". Therefore, the most active apparatchiks fall into the "lagoons" - institutions of three people, where there is no purpose (and no possibility) to develop a national strategy, and have a burning desire to earn money using old ties. Perhaps the real Think Tank in Russia was the team of the former Advisor of Russian President Andrey Illarionov. Although in form it was not a profit center, but in fact, it was one of the few places where they tried to develop a new economic doctrine of Russia.


Geopolitics and "Russian way"

A separate item in the USA there are Centres engaged in research and development in the field of foreign policy. In all the countries of Europe after the termination "cold war" were developed by Mental Centers on studying the situation and formulating a strategy US influence in these countries. The American Academy in Berlin (American Academy in Berlin) headed by Henry Kissinger, United States Institute of Peace (United States Institute of Peace) deals with the problems of the Balkans and the Middle East, the Institute "Open Republic" (Open Republic Institute) deals with the problems of economic interaction between East and West. And, of course, separately, there are American Centers, who see their mission in the development of democracy around the world. After the Orange revolution in Ukraine in Russia, much criticised "American funds" that funded the revolution. Actually it was the Think Tanks that have implemented the strategy developed 20 years ago. The principle of work abroad is simple and effective. Research and development funded by the Centre and conducted by local scientists. The centers come from the fact that researchers themselves conduct development rather believe in their own results and conclusions than in the "preaching" of the American oracles. And local media will be happy to contact local experts, and the audience trusts them much more.

Thus, the American Mental Centers 60 years ago set the task to create in US a community of experts and to prepare the audience to the opinions of independent analysts. And I must say that in most cases, the strategy has been successful. Of course, some Centres became over time, agenda-driven, but most are quite justified respect. In Russia at the moment is formed in advance community engaged experts, independence of judgment, which often cannot be and speeches. In financial terms, the Russian Centres do not yet have a good credit history and the level of public confidence of independent commentators because of this extremely low. The only way this organization truly independent think tanks, the search for private financing and carrying out of numerous researches by scientists from different organizations. It is clear and common system of grants brings glory to the independent Institute research Center, and experts the trust of the audience.


T. Pascal

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