Good morning and welcome to Think Tanked, a daily reporting blog by Allen McDuffee.
As I began planning and exploring the possibility of launching a blog about think tanks, I had to be certain this wasn't just a good idea only in my mind, so I asked a lot of people a lot of question and spent countless hours monitoring media accounts of think tanks.
A recent editorial in the UK's News & Star argued that
Think tanks, in case anyone was wondering, are bodies of academics who answer the questions nobody asked. Governments listen to them – in preference to thinking for themselves.
Perhaps think tanks work differently in the UK, but the role of think tanks in the development of policy and political ideas, while under-reported and understudied, is a highly influential one in the U.S.
Recently, former Bush speechwriter David Frum was fired from asked to be an intern at denied a pony from (only two people know why he departed) the conservative American Enterprise Institute for, in part, showing how the recently-passed health care bill presented by Obama was straight out of the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s. The case for the invasion of Iraq was planned by governmental and private sector neo-conservatives at the Project for the New American Century well before September 11, 2001. The State Department’s motto of “Smart Power” was developed at the Center for Strategic and International Studies over the course of a few years. And Michele Flournoy and Kurt Campbell, the co-founders of the relatively new Center for a New American Security, are now senior Obama administration appointees at the Pentagon and the State Department.
Just these few examples suggest that it might be more accurate to say that somebody is asking the questions think tanks answer, but who and why? Just as important: which think tanks are choosing to answer them? And what are the relationships between governments and think tanks?
These are just a few of the guiding questions for Think Tanked.
Several times a day, you'll find: original reporting from think tank briefings; reports on the development of new ideas; interviews with think tank scholars; updates and summaries of the releases of think tank reports, briefs, articles and books; reviews of books published by think tanks scholars; personnel changes; daily round-ups of think tank output; video from briefings, and a whole lot more.
One last thing: Think Tanked is currently running in Beta, which means there are still some bugs to work out. The full-blown launch will be in the weeks to come. Feedback is great and appreciated, as are comments on individual blog posts so I know what kinds of posts you all like and don't like--it'll all make Think Tanked a better place.