2002: US thinktanks give lessons in foreign policy

US thinktanks give lessons in foreign policy

Brian Whitaker reports on the network of research institutes whose views and TV appearances are supplanting all other experts on Middle Eastern issues

guardian.co.uk, Monday 19 August 2002 13.24

BST Article history A little-known fact about Richard Perle, the leading advocate of hardline policies at the Pentagon, is that he once wrote a political thriller. The book, appropriately called Hard Line, is set in the days of the cold war with the Soviet Union. Its hero is a male senior official at the Pentagon, working late into the night and battling almost single-handedly to rescue the US from liberal wimps at the state department who want to sign away America’s nuclear deterrent in a disarmament deal with the Russians.
Ten years on Mr Perle finds himself cast in the real-life role of his fictional hero – except that the Russians are no longer a threat, so he has to make do with the Iraqis, the Saudis and terrorism in general.

In real life too, Mr Perle is not fighting his battle single-handed. Around him there is a cosy and cleverly-constructed network of Middle East “experts” who share his neo-conservative outlook and who pop up as talking heads on US television, in newspapers, books, testimonies to congressional committees, and at lunchtime gatherings in Washington.

The network centres on research institutes – thinktanks that attempt to influence government policy and are funded by tax-deductible gifts from unidentified donors.

When he is not too busy at the Pentagon, or too busy running Hollinger Digital – part of the group that publishes the Daily Telegraph in Britain – or at board meetings of the Jerusalem Post, Mr Perle is “resident fellow” at one of the thinktanks – the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Mr Perle’s close friend and political ally at AEI is David Wurmser, head of its Middle East studies department. Mr Perle helpfully wrote the introduction to Mr Wurmser’s book, Tyranny’s Ally: America’s Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein.

Mr Wurmser’s wife, Meyrav, is co-founder, along with Colonel Yigal Carmon, formerly of Israeli military intelligence – of the Middle East Media Research Institute (Memri), which specialises in translating and distributing articles that show Arabs in a bad light.

She also holds strong views on leftwing Israeli intellectuals, whom she regards as a threat to Israel (see “Selective Memri”, Guardian Unlimited, August 12, 2002).

Ms Wurmser currently runs the Middle East section at another thinktank – the Hudson Institute, where Mr Perle recently joined the board of trustees. In addition, Ms Wurmser belongs to an organisation called the Middle East Forum.

Michael Rubin, a specialist on Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, who recently arrived from yet another thinktank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, assists Mr Perle and Mr Wurmser at AEI. Mr Rubin also belongs to the Middle East Forum.

Another Middle East scholar at AEI is Laurie Mylroie, author of Saddam Hussein’s Unfinished War Against America, which expounds a rather daft theory that Iraq was behind the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing.

When the book was published by the AEI, Mr Perle hailed it as “splendid and wholly convincing”.

An earlier book on Iraq Saddam Hussein and the Crisis in the Gulf which Ms Mylroie co-authored with Judith Miller, a New York Times journalist, became the New York Times’s No 1 bestseller.

Ms Mylroie and Ms Miller both have connections with the Middle East Forum. Mr Perle, Mr Rubin, Ms Wurmser, Ms Mylroie and Ms Miller are all clients of Eleana Benador, a Peruvian-born linguist who acts as a sort of theatrical agent for experts on the Middle East and terrorism, organising their TV appearances and speaking engagements.

Of the 28 clients on Ms Benador’s books, at least nine are connected with the AEI, the Washington Institute and the Middle East Forum.

Although these three privately-funded organisations promote views from only one end of the political spectrum, the amount of exposure that they get with their books, articles and TV appearances is extraordinary.

The Washington Institute, for example, takes the credit for placing up to 90 articles written by its members – mainly “op-ed” pieces – in newspapers during the last year.

Fourteen of those appeared in the Los Angeles Times, nine in New Republic, eight in the Wall Street Journal, eight in the Jerusalem Post, seven in the National Review Online, six in the Daily Telegraph, six in the Washington Post, four in the New York Times and four in the Baltimore Sun. Of the total, 50 were written by Michael Rubin.

Anyone who has tried offering op-ed articles to a major newspaper will appreciate the scale of this achievement.

The media attention bestowed on these thinktanks is not for want of other experts in the field. American universities have about 1,400 full-time faculty members specialising in the Middle East.

Of those, an estimated 400-500 are experts on some aspect of contemporary politics in the region, but their views are rarely sought or heard, either by the media or government.

“I see a parade of people from these institutes coming through as talking heads [on cable TV]. I very seldom see a professor from a university on those shows,” says Juan Cole, professor of history at Michigan University, who is a critic of the private institutes.

“Academics [at universities] are involved in analysing what’s going on but they’re not advocates, so they don’t have the same impetus,” he said.

“The expertise on the Middle East that exists in the universities is not being utilised, even for basic information.”

Of course, very few academics have agents like Eleana Benador to promote their work and very few are based in Washington – which can make arranging TV appearances , or rubbing shoulders with state department officials a bit difficult.

Those who work for US thinktanks are often given university-style titles such as “senior fellow”, or “adjunct scholar”, but their research is very different from that of universities – it is entirely directed towards shaping government policy.

What nobody outside the thinktanks knows, however, is who pays for this policy-shaping research.

Under US law, large donations given to non-profit, “non-partisan” organisations such as thinktanks must be itemised in their annual “form 990” returns to the tax authorities. But the identity of donors does not need to be made public.

The AEI, which deals with many other issues besides the Middle East, had assets of $35.8m (£23.2m) and an income of $24.5m in 2000, according to its most recent tax return.

It received seven donations of $1m or above in cash or shares, the highest being $3.35m.

The Washington Institute, which deals only with Middle East policy, had assets of $11.2m and an income of $4.1m in 2000. The institute says its donors are identifiable because they are also its trustees, but the list of trustees contains 239 names which makes it impossible to distinguish large benefactors from small ones.

The smaller Middle East Forum had an income of less than $1.5m in 2000, with the largest single donation amounting to $355,000.

In terms of their ability to influence policy, thinktanks have several advantages over universities. To begin with they can hire staff without committee procedures, which allows them to build up teams of researchers that share a similar political orientation.

They can also publish books themselves without going through the academic refereeing processes required by university publishers. And they usually site themselves in Washington, close to government and the media.

Apart from influencing policy on the Middle East, the Washington Institute and the Middle East Forum recently launched a campaign to discredit university departments that specialise in the region.

After September 11, when various government agencies realised there was a shortage of Americans who could speak Arabic, there were moves to beef up the relevant university departments.

But Martin Kramer, of the Washington Institute, Middle East Forum and former director of the Moshe Dayan Centre at Tel Aviv university, had other ideas.

He produced a vitriolic book Ivory Towers on Sand, which criticised Middle East departments of universities in the US.

His book was published by the Washington Institute and warmly reviewed in the Weekly Standard, whose editor, William Kristol, was a member of the Middle East Forum along with Mr Kramer.

“Kramer has performed a crucial service by exposing intellectual rot in a scholarly field of capital importance to national wellbeing,” the review said.

The Washington Institute is considered the most influential of the Middle East thinktanks, and the one that the state department takes most seriously. Its director is the former US diplomat, Dennis Ross.

Besides publishing books and placing newspaper articles, the institute has a number of other activities that for legal purposes do not constitute lobbying, since this would change its tax status.

It holds lunches and seminars, typically about three times a week, where ideas are exchanged and political networking takes place. It has also given testimony to congressional committees nine times in the last five years.

Every four years, it convenes a “bipartisan blue-ribbon commission” known as the Presidential study group, which presents a blueprint for Middle East policy to the newly-elected president.

The institute makes no secret of its extensive links with Israel, which currently include the presence of two scholars from the Israeli armed forces.

Israel is an ally and the connection is so well known that officials and politicians take it into account when dealing with the institute. But it would surely be a different matter if the ally concerned were a country such as Egypt, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia.

Apart from occasional lapses, such as the publication of Mr Kramer’s book, the Washington Institute typically represents the considered, sober voice of American-Israeli conservatism.

The Middle East Forum is its strident voice – two different tones, but mostly the same people.

Three prominent figures from the Washington Institute – Robert Satloff (director of policy), Patrick Clawson (director of research) and Mr Rubin (prolific writer, currently at AEI) – also belong to the forum.

Daniel Pipes, the bearded $100,000-a-year head of the forum is listed as an “associate” at the institute, while Mr Kramer, editor of the forum’s journal, is a “visiting fellow”.

Mr Pipes became the bete noire of US Muslim organisations after writing an article for the National Review in 1990 that referred to “massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and not exactly maintaining Germanic standards of hygiene”.

Since he usually complains vigorously when the words are quoted outside their original context, readers are invited to view the full article at http://www.danielpipes.org. He is also noted for his combative performances on the Fox News channel, where he has an interesting business relationship. Search for his name on the Fox News website and, along with transcripts of his TV interviews, an advert appears saying “Daniel Pipes is available thru Barber & Associates, America’s leading resource for business, international and technology speakers since 1977”.

The Middle East Forum issues two regular publications, the Middle East Quarterly and the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, the latter published jointly with the United States Committee for a Free Lebanon.

The Middle East Quarterly describes itself as “a bold, insightful, and controversial publication”.

Among the insights in its latest issue is an article on weapons of mass destruction that says Syria “has more destructive capabilities” than Iraq, or Iran.

The Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, which is sent out by email free of charge – but can never-the-less afford to pay its contributors – specialises in covering the seamy side of Lebanese and Syrian politics. The ever-active Mr Rubin is on its editorial board.

The Middle East Forum also targets universities through its campus speakers Bureau – that in adopting the line of Mr Kramer’s book, seeks to correct “inaccurate Middle Eastern curricula in American education”, by addressing “biases” and “basic errors” and providing “better information” than students can get from the many “irresponsible” professors that it believes lurk in US universities.

At a time when much of the world is confused by what it sees as an increasingly bizarre set of policies on the Middle East coming from Washington, to understand the neat little network outlined above may make such policies a little more explicable.

Of course these people and organisations are not the only ones trying to influence US policy on the Middle East. There are others who try to influence it too – in different directions.

However, this particular network is operating in a political climate that is currently especially receptive to its ideas.

It is also well funded by its anonymous benefactors and is well organised. Ideas sown by one element are watered and nurtured by the others.

Whatever outsiders may think about this, worldly-wise Americans see no cause for disquiet. It’s just a coterie of like-minded chums going about their normal business, and an everyday story of political life in Washington.



911InvestigationVids on 4 Dec 2011

CNN September 16, 2001 …. Espionage? Richard Perle has been accused of spying for Israel on multiple occasions over a period of 4 decades, getting away the whole time with criminal activities. 9/11 is what happens when you let very powerful criminals get away with past terrorism and treason. Perle calls out the Anthrax attacks that happen weeks later, with a smile. When Perle was working for Senator Scoop Jackson, he was investigated by the Justice Department and found to have violated US policies relating to unlawful transmission of sensitive classified US information to Israel. Caught SPYING!!!!!!

“An FBI summary of a 1970 wiretap recorded Perle discussing classified information with someone at the Israeli embassy,” writes Paul Findley (They Dare To Speak Out, Chicago, Ill, Lawrence Hill Books 1989).”He came under fire in 1983 when newspapers reported he received substantial payments to represent the interests of an Israeli weapons company. Perle denied conflict of interest, insisting that, although he received payment for these services after he had assumed his position in the Defense Department, he was between government jobs when he worked for the Israeli firm.”

In other words, Richard Perle is an Israeli spy.

Perle should be expatriated immediately — or made to share a cell with Jonathan Pollard, the spy who spent 18 months collecting and selling classified American intelligence to Israel from his position in U.S. Naval Intelligence. So pleased were the Israelis with the information passed on to them, two of the four government officials who had dealt with Pollard were promoted (Col. Aviem Sella, Pollard,s primary contact, was given full control of a major Israeli Air Force base). So arrogant are the Israelis that Sharon asked Bush to pardon and release Pollard.

In sworn testimony to attorneys on Aug. 8, Sibel Edmonds described a Pentagon where key personnel helped pass defense secrets to foreign agents or provided them names of knowledgeable officials who were vulnerable to blackmail or co-option.

And firmly rooted in this espionage program in the 1990s, according to Edmonds’ deposition, were two men who, with the election of George W. Bush as president in 2000, found themselves in the Pentagon: Douglas Feith, who would head the Office of Special Plans, and Richard Perle, who would become chairman of the Defense Advisory Board.

“They were 100 percent directly involved,” Edmonds told Military.com. “They were not in the Pentagon [in the late 1990s] but they had their people inside the Pentagon.” One of those people, she said, was Larry Franklin, an Air Force officer assigned to the Office of Special Plans who, in 2003, passed classified information to representatives of the American Israel Public Affairs Office, or AIPAC. By then Feith was leading the OSP.

Edmonds cautioned that she does not know if these practices are continuing, since she was fired by the FBI in April 2002 after pressing for an investigation into an attempt by a colleague to recruit her for an organization that was itself a target of FBI surveillance.

Perle, today a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and board member for or adviser to other think tanks, including the National Institute for Neareast Affairs and the Center for Security Policy, emphatically denied Edmonds’ claims in an interview with Military.com.

“This woman is a nutcase. Certifiable,” Perle said. “She makes wild accusations. She was fired from her job, and has been on a vendetta against … imagined demons ever since.” Perle is a double agent SPY that needs to go to prison for life, instead he is raised to a position of authority and allowed to call real facts “demons”. Perle is a foreign spy demon backstabber double agent and he needs to pay for his crimes against America, going back to 1970. Scumbags and criminals are chosen and elected to high positions in America because they are corrupt and will favor specific interests, even if they are counter to American beliefs and law.

News & Politics

9/11 Richard Perle – The Next Attack Will Be Entirely Different …. Chemical And Biological



When he is not too busy at the Pentagon, or too busy running Hollinger Digital – part of the group that publishes the Daily Telegraph in Britain – or at board meetings of the Jerusalem Post, Mr Perle is “resident fellow” at one of the thinktanks – the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

Mr Perle’s close friend and political ally at AEI is David Wurmser, head of its Middle East studies department. Mr Perle helpfully wrote the introduction to Mr Wurmser’s book, Tyranny’s Ally: America’s Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein.




Dick Perle, the Prince of Darkness, as he’s known in DC circles, principal architect of the Project for a New American Century.

mispistoleros 1 month ago 3

So who was behind the Anthrax attack that led to the quick signing of the “Patriot Act”?

saadasim 1 month ago 2

Does it no surprise anyone that their has not been one terrorist attack in the USA in the last ten years no suicide bombers nothing yet there is “terrorists” everywhere. it`s obvious to anybody that can think this is all propaganda fucking evil murdering neocon scum

EddieHitler1000 1 month ago

Perle is a member of the Israhell Synagogue of Satan and a bonifide sociopath and psychopath. Look at the dark circles under his eyes. Please God, send this demoniac the worst possible debilitating disease known. He’s responsible for the deaths of untold numbers of innocents around the world.

goohgulliscia 1 month ago

Perle is an enemy of the US and it’s ppl. He was busted giving sensitive secret documents to Israel. He should’ve been charged with treason and executed. It amazing that he can get busted and nothing happens to him. When the revolution comes to the US and the military uphold their oath, make sure you don’t forget this pos traitorous filth and his commrades of infiltrators and criminals

SouthernCross33 1 month ago


There has been a coup by Israel of the U.S govt at some stage and it was likely at the time of the JFK assasination….Bush snr is thought to have organised it. Looking at Perle gives me the creeps as he is a slimy Israeli spy, they’re getting scared now though. Thanks for posting this.

OneOfTheWatched 1 month ago



“An FBI summary of a 1970 wiretap recorded Perle discussing classified information with someone at the Israeli embassy,” writes Paul Findley (They Dare To Speak Out, Chicago, Ill, Lawrence Hill Books 1989).”He came under fire in 1983 when newspapers reported he received substantial payments to represent the interests of an Israeli weapons company. Perle denied conflict of interest, insisting that, although he received payment for these services after he had assumed his position in the Defense Department, he was between government jobs when he worked for the Israeli firm.”



2 responses to “2002: US thinktanks give lessons in foreign policy



    emmarebhorn on 2 May 2007

    Richard Perle, as Assistant Secretary of Defense, was interviewed by KRON-TV in 1986. He was asked to defend his belief that the USSR had tested a nuclear weapon in defiance of the Threshold Test Ban Treaty. When asked why he had ignored the opinions of government seismologists–all of whom rejected the possibility that the USSR was in violation of the treaty–he answered “I did not much care what their answer was.” For an eerie echo of Perle’s anti- expert stubbornness, see this 2002 pre-Iraq war article from the Mirror (UK): http://www.mirror.co.uk/catchall/tm_method=full%26objectid=12377231%26siteid=

    Also, can some one do a stunning mashup of this NPR interview with Perle (10/12/2006)? In it, he is challenged about his assertion that Iraq had ties to Al Queda. He answers “I frequently hear people say that there’s no evidence, and that’s simply wrong. I’ve seen the evidence…I’ve looked at the evidence and I’ve come to a different conclusion.”

    Richard Perle, everyone, drawing his own conclusions: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6475810

    News & Politics


    ress on 18 Jan 2007

    We must not allow anyone to push us into a war with Iran.

    Wesley Clark told Arianna Huffington about the push for war on Iran, “How can you talk about bombing a country when you won’t even talk to them?” said Clark. “It’s outrageous. We’re the United States of America; we don’t do that.”

    “When we asked him what made him so sure the Bush administration was headed in this direction, he replied: “You just have to read what’s in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers.””

    “For Clark, this is the biggest foreign policy issue facing the U.S. “I’m worried about the surge,” he said. “But I’m worried about this even more.””, Huffington wrote on her blog.

    In his article, Eric Alterman warns about the push for President Bush to attack Iran. About Wesley Clark’s concern that the attack is being pushed by “New York money people,” Alterman writes, “I agree with Clark, but I agree that he also said what he said badly, though not anti-Semitically.”

    Alterman warns, “The Bush administration is clearly attempting to create a pretext to attack Iran” … [this would result in] inciting worldwide terrorist attacks against Americans and their properties around the world, including inside the United States … this being the Bush administration, you can count on it being done incompetently and dishonestly.”

    “Criticize the neocons for what they are actually doing — or even use the word “neocon” — and you’re an anti-Semite. That means they get to keep doing it even if it means they are acting on behalf of what they believe are Israel’s interests … rather than America’s.”

    “We saw during the Lieberman primary that The Weekly Standard actually does care more about what’s good for Israel than for America — they said American Jews should behave that way, and so do Newsweek’s embarrassingly crazy Rabbi Gelman and Mona Charen and a few others. If anyone on earth thinks Marty Peretz cares more about the fate of the goyim in America than the heroes in Israel, I’ve never met him or her … if you read this excellent New York Times Magazine piece on Abe Foxman, you’ll get a small inkling of how the system works.”

    On Bloggingheads, Alterman said, “Wesley Clark, used probably some incautious language, when he said that New York money men, which many people interpret to mean Jews, were pushing us to war with Iran. However, Jews, in New York, who have a lot of money, are in fact pushing us to war with Iran. It was a factually true statement. AIPAC is pushing us to war with Iran. AIPAC is the reason that no Democrats are coming out strongly against war with Iran. AIPAC’s funding is extremely wealthy American Jews and AIPAC is pushing for war with Iran. So, when people go to Democratic politicians and they say “listen, I don’t want you gettin’ out in front and opposing war with Iran, particularly since you have national aspirations,” they don’t say it in the New York Times.” – Wesley Clark and the anti-Semitism charge

    News & Politics


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