by Mark Anderson, 21st Century Wire:
The head of one of the world’s oldest elite foreign policy institutions in London is calling for the world’s pro-globalist think tanks to unite like never before, lest their neo-liberal world order dissolve in the populist tide that appears to be rising.
Chatham House Director Dr. Robin Niblett wrote an 11,000-word article entitled “Rediscovering a Sense of Purpose: The Challenge for Western Think Tanks” in Vol. 94, Issue 6 of Chatham House’s journal, International Affairs. In it, he declared: “To devise a common work [program], do think-tanks from across the world also need to possess a common sense of purpose? . . . . After something like a hundred years of think-tank experience, the answer is yes.”
Chatham House, also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is a member of the original array of gilded private institutes that arose and revolutionized the world of geo-politics in the early 20th century. Other major members include the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (shown to have been involved in apparently treasonous activities by the Reece Committee in the 1950s), along with the Brookings Institution, and, of course, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
Echoing the grave concerns expressed during early 2018 by CFR President Richard Haass to the International Relations Committee of the UK’s House of Lords, Dr. Niblett noted in his article that he’s apprehensive about the rise of “populist” politics, the implication being that think-tanks must either modify their mission or risk becoming increasingly irrelevant—possibly to the point of losing their grip on influencing government policy largely from “behind the throne,” something they’ve perfected ever since the eldest think tanks’ early but unsuccessful efforts to push the U.S. into the League of Nations—a failed forerunner of the United Nations.
The deeper challenge for Western think tanks is whether they can rediscover a sense of purpose that is as fit for the 21st Century as was that which mobilized their counterparts in the early 20th Century,” Niblett wrote, with noticeable nostalgia regarding the early days of stealthy power-brokering.
He added that, today, the world’s think tanks “need to stand for certain core principles of governance that have been shown by the experience of the last hundred years to offer the best prospects for sustainable security and prosperity.”
Exactly whose “sustainable security and prosperity” is at stake is never made clear, though the gilded investment class that undergirds these think tanks, and assuredly not the average citizen, is a safe bet. However, Niblett confesses that the age of the Internet, whatever its shortcomings, has generally enabled the citizenry to become better informed and therefore more skeptical of elite opinion.
Niblett put it as gingerly as he could: “Policy audiences appear less interested in the outputs of think tanks if they believe that these have no public resonance beyond the expert circles in which they were developed.”
Therefore, he added: “Think tanks have to apply a growing proportion of their resources to trying to mobilize popular engagement with their ideas. One approach has been to raise their public profile by commenting more on current policy developments, rather than analyzing their underlying drivers. The danger is that this blurs the line between think tanks and the media.”