Monday, March 21, 2016

Gulf regimes buying influence in Washington DC think tanks

"By 2014, the Gulf money in Washington had become unmistakable. The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), for example, had opened a towering, gleaming new office downtown, financed with a $1 million donation from the United Arab Emirates.
The New York Times, that year, published an investigation on foreign government funding at think tanks, which the paper found had risen dramatically. It identified millions in donations going to many of Washington's most influential institutions, which were "producing policy papers, hosting forums and organizing private briefings for senior United States government officials that typically align with the foreign governments’ agendas."  The Times investigation detailed several incidents in which donations from foreign governments had seemed to directly influence think tank behavior:
  • Saleem Ali, a former visiting scholar at the Brookings center in Qatar, said he had been told not to write critically of the Qatari government. 
  • Emails between the Center for Global Development and the Norwegian government seemed to indicate a quid pro quo in which Norway would "donate" to CGD, which in turn would help persuade US government officials to increase funding for global forest protection efforts by $250 million. 
  • The Japanese government gave to CSIS, which now sponsors Japanese officials as "visiting scholars" who are granted access to US government officials by way of CSIS events and preexisting relationships. 
  • The United Arab Emirates, also a CSIS donor, got its ambassador to the US invited to participate on a public panel alongside then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey, whom the ambassador grilled about US commitments to the UAE."