2063-9AM ANTI-AMERICAN THINK TANK: George Soros & Charles Koch Team Up To Oppose Trump With "Quincy Institute"
D.C.’s newest foreign policy think tank, funded by libertarian Charles Koch and left-wing George Soros, was co-founded by a nonprofit leader who was integral to the passage of the controversial Iran nuclear deal.
Trita Parsi and the group's other four co-founders, Andrew Bacevich, Stephen Wertheim, Eli Clifton, and Suzanne DiMaggio, are all pro-Iran deal advocates, as well as harsh critics of U.S. foreign policy and of Israel.
Parsi, the founder of the National Iranian American Council and an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, was a prominent and instrumental go-between for the governments of Iran and the U.S. during the nuclear deal negotiations.
The U.S. entered the controversial nuclear deal with the Iranian regime under the Obama administration in 2015, and President Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018, calling it “defective at its core.”
Proponents of the deal pointed to the limitations that it put on Iranian uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Opponents of the agreement said that it gave billions to the Iranian regime without addressing problems such as Iran’s support for international terrorism.
Parsi wrote in 2017 that he was consulted by the U.S. government during the Iran deal negotiations while in close communication with the Iranian regime, too.
“It wasn’t unusual for me to attend a briefing at the White House a few days before a round of negotiations and then have a two-hour conversation with the Iranian foreign minister in his private hotel room in the midst of negotiations a few days later,” Parsi said, referring to Javad Zarif.
The new Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, funded with $500,000 each from the libertarian and left-wing billionaires, says it is named for President John Quincy Adams, who said that America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”
The new think tank was announced earlier this week in an op-ed which said the new group “is one of the most remarkable partnerships in modern American political history” and that Koch and Soros believe “the United States must end its ‘forever war’ and adopt an entirely new foreign policy.”
Koch has given millions to right-leaning causes through the Charles Koch Institute, which also advocates a noninterventionist foreign policy. Soros, a strident critic of U.S. foreign policy, has given billions to left-wing causes around the world through his Open Society Foundations.
Soros also helped bankroll pro-Iran deal lobbying efforts, donating tens of thousands of dollars in an effort to promote the agreement. Soros' organizations donated to the Ploughshares Fund, which Obama foreign policy adviser Ben Rhodes credited as part of the "echo chamber" the administration created to convince Congress and the press to back the deal. Ploughshares has also funded Parsi's nonprofit organization.
Zarif, one of the most influential advocates for the Iran deal, has also reportedly spoken about his long-time relationship working with some Soros groups. Parsi slammed “Trump's sabotage of the Iran deal” earlier this year and has praised Zarif’s political acumen, painting him as a moderate alternative to extremists within the Iranian regime.
Parsi has long been dogged by claims that he and NIAC are working on behalf of Iran, accusations which he has denied. Parsi and NIAC filed a libel lawsuit, later thrown out by a federal judge, against writer Seid Hassan Daioleslam over his claims that Parsi and NIAC were agents of the Iranian regime.
Parsi's co-founders also have ties to the controversial agreement.
Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army colonel and professor at Boston University, was a signatory to a 2016 report prepared by Parsi’s group, which advocated for the Iran deal as a way to resolve tensions with Iran and stabilize the Middle East.
Stephen Wertheim, a professor at Columbia University, believes the Iran nuclear deal was "a major diplomatic achievement" and critiqued "neoconservative" groups who "trashed" the agreement.
Eli Clifton, a contributing editor at the left-wing foreign policy website Lobe Log and a fellow at liberal magazine The Nation, was harshly critical of Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal, and suggested last year that Trump withdrew at the behest of three wealthy Jewish donors, Sheldon Adelson, Bernard Marcus, and Paul Singer.
Clifton has come under criticism from conservatives for his work appearing on the pro-Palestinian Electronic Intifada website, although the site said that Clifton had not submitted articles to them. Since then, Clifton has approvingly shared links to the Electronic Intifada’s promotion of Al-Jazeera’s controversial anti-Israel documentary The Lobby.
Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is a foreign policy adviser for Vermont senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. DiMaggio directed New America’s U.S.-Iran Initiative, which published articles in favor of the Iran deal.
DiMaggio was a featured speaker at a pro-Iran deal town hall put on by Sanders in May 2018, along with Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione.
And DiMaggio recently defended Iran’s decision to breach the limits on nuclear fuel placed on it by the Iran deal.
“If you keep poking a bear, eventually it is going to hit back,” DiMaggio tweeted. “The nuclear deal was so thorough that it left Tehran with practically no bargaining chips if talks were to begin again. This move is a first step in creating leverage.”
There’s a new foreign policy action group in Donald Trump’s Washington.
there’s a new foreign policy action group in Donald Trump’s Washington. The Quincy Institute—founded by Boston University’s Andrew J. Bacevich, the Carnegie Endowment’s Suzanne DiMaggio, Columbia University’s Stephen Wertheim, Georgetown University’s Trita Parsi and journalist Eli Clifton — seeks to act as the whip hand for the forces arrayed in Washington seeking to change the foreign policy status quo. On Twitter, the leading neocon William Kristol has already denounced the emergence of the institute as heralding a return to the isolationism of the 1920s and 1930s.
But what is truly weakening America’s power and prestige in the world? Over the last thirty years, “America’s standing as a global leader has declined,” writes Bacevich in the Los Angeles Times, in his inaugural column with the institute. “It turns out in practice that credibility is less a function of using force than of demonstrating prudence.”
Much has been made of the group’s funding—groundbreaking pledges from both the conservative Charles Koch Institute and liberal billionaire George Soros. A number of its members, including Wertheim, can safely be described as left-wing realists. Bacevich has long been a conservative who became disaffected with the Republican party’s hawkish wing. His writings have decried what he views as the ostentatious new American militarism. But those familiar with the group’s finances and early approach say this outfit, unlike many traditional organizations in Washington, will not be inveterately hostile to the administration.
“I will work with anyone,” for the cause of foreign policy realism and a more secure world, one of the group’s co-founders told me, noting that some of the most prominent voices, philosophically aligned officials in the Trump White House, such as Senior Counselor Stephen Miller, are also some of the most controversial in the popular press. When it comes to Team Trump, however, Miller is something of an aberration, at least for now.
Proof positive: Trump recently called off airstrikes on Iran against the advice of much of his national security team. The president has sought informal counsel, such as from Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, to help craft his policy, finding his own cabinet officials lacking. That’s where Quincy could help come in, along with other think tanks. Today, for example, President Trump twice tweeted out his gratitude to the Center for the National Interest’s Senior Director for Korean Studies, Harry J. Kazianis, for praising his audacious approach to North Korea.
“Trump may come to realize that he can count on this diverse coalition, including the Quincy Institute, to back his moves to end endless wars,” a person closely familiar with the institute’s strategy told me. Bacevich, a conservative who’s backed Trump on several measures—such as on the president’s prudent approach to North Korea—is “well-positioned to help Quincy find its unique voice,” this person told me.
This could mean trouble for many of the policy shops that have dominated the early administration. The hawkish Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, the Security Studies Group and the Center for Security Policy—as well as establishment pillars the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy—all of whom have in varying ways sought to influence the administration, which has delivered a smorgasbord of victories to Iran hawks and champions of Sunni autocracy. Some of these outfits were quick to criticize Trump for his Korea moves this past Sunday, demonstrating that they remain frozen in a Cold War mindset.
Quincy will have a different approach, in line with Trump world stars such as Carlson and Rep. Matt Gaetz, a leading critic of the Yemen war. But the outfit will also be comrades in arms with those on the Hill who would seize Trump’s war powers where he’s gone astray, such as in Yemen. The goal, says one insider, is to “provide intellectual ammunition to him and those on the Hill on the left and right who want to push back against the primacist elite that dominates Washington today."
If Trump goes down in 2020, the group will likely pivot. A Democratic administration would likely confront Russia, and roll back progress on the Korean Peninsula. One leading Democrat, Sen. Cory Booker, has refused to commit to returning Barack Obama’s nuclear arrangement with Iran. Another candidate, Rep. Tim Ryan, proposes more decades of warfare in Afghanistan. “In its left-right configuration,” says National Interest editor Jacob Heilbrunn, “the new institute may be able to help make a fresh contribution to the mounting debate in Washington and elsewhere over America’s purpose.”
Curt Mills is the foreign affairs reporter at the National Interest, where he covers the State Department, National Security Council and the Trump Presidency.
George Soros, Charles Koch foundations help launch pro-peace think tank
Check out this post from TheHill
A pro-peace think tank funded by progressive donor George Soros’s and libertarian donor Charles Koch’s foundations will launch Wednesday.
The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft will focus on promoting peace and diplomatic agreement rather than war and military action in U.S. foreign policy. Soros’s Open Society Foundations and the Charles Koch Foundation, which usually are on the opposite sides of the aisle, are helping to fund the new think tank, according to a release from the institute.
“Transpartisan funding ensures both Quincy Institute’s independence and strengthens its ability to advance its pro-peace agenda with Democratic and Republican lawmakers and administrations,” the release said.
The institute will combat how “military intervention has become the default” within U.S. foreign policy and “peacemaking the rare exception” by turning militant-restraint theories into policy proposals. The think tank is named after former President John Quincy Adams for a speech he made as secretary of State in 1821.
“In a memorable address delivered two hundred years ago, Secretary John Quincy Adams warned that for America to go abroad ‘in search of monsters to destroy’ would put at risk everything that the nation professes to stand for,” Quincy Institute President Andrew Bacevich said in the release.
The Quincy Institute’s release cited a Pew Research study that found 62 percent of American respondents say the Iraq War wasn’t worth it, and 59 percent say the same about the Afghanistan War.
The institute will host an opening Capitol Hill reception Wednesday where Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaCalifornia Dems back Yang after he expresses disappointment over initial DNC lineupCongress must enact a plan to keep government workers safeSanders supporters launch six-figure ad campaign explaining why they're voting for BidenMORE (D-Calif.), the co-chair of the War Powers Caucus, will speak.
The Quincy Institute will start with four areas of focus, beginning with Ending Endless War, which will focus on how U.S. foreign policy has remained militarized. The next subject will be Democratizing U.S. Foreign Policy, which will study how the president has more power over war and peace than regular populations impacted by U.S. action.
As early as next year, the Middle East and East Asia topics will be covered in released reports, including subjects like how to remove troops from Afghanistan and how to encourage China to participate in climate change efforts.
The institute is made up of 14 founding staff and 40 nonresident fellows, including scholars, practitioners and journalists. An online publishing forum named Responsible Statecraft will display U.S. foreign policy news, opinions and analysis.
That Koch would impute a distaste for alliances to Adams is revealing. Alliances have been the mainstay of U.S. foreign policy since the end of World War II, ensuring more than seven decades of unprecedented peace and prosperity. The alliance structures and partnerships the United States has forged, embodied by institutions such as NATO and bilateral agreements with nations including Australia, Colombia, Japan and India, ensure global order, freedom of commerce, and human rights. Koch also complained about our “over 800 bases around the world,” as if these were agents of aggression and not projections of stability.
To advance its agenda of “restraint,” the institute has assembled a motley crew. There’s Trita Parsi, a lobbyist with questionable links to the Iranian regime who has made a career of soft-peddling its egregious human rights abuses and regional adventurism. Research director Eli Clifton blames three Jewish billionaires for President Trump’s decision to exit the Iran nuclear deal. The organization’s president, Andrew Bacevich, repeatsthe myth that the United States “assured Russia NATO would not expand” after the Cold War and that it is incorporation of the independent nations of Central and Eastern Europe into the defensive alliance, not Russian belligerence, that is to blame for the souring in Russo-American relations over the past decade. Bacevich has gone so far as to advocate quitting NATO — years before Trump ever entertained that rash idea.
Acolytes of the Quincy Institute worldview love to decry America’s “endless” or “forever war.” The group even has an “ending endless war” program. But the United States has not been engaged in any declared, sustained military ground campaign for more than a decade. (Koch erroneously says that the United States is involved in “dozens of wars.”) Such hyperbole about the occasional U.S. police action or counterterrorism operation obscures the very real war-making of our adversaries. If targeted strikes against terrorists in Afghanistan or two, tightly limited reprisal attacks on the genocidal Bashar al-Assad regime for using chemical weapons are defined as “endless war,” what exactly are the Russians doing in Ukraine and Syria? Or the Iranians in Iraq, Yemen and Syria? Or the Venezuelans, against their own people? What is China preparing for, with its building of militarized artificial islands in the South China Sea and its saber-rattling against Taiwan?
Think of the Quincy Institute as the Tulsi Gabbard of think tanks, a bizarre amalgam of far-left and far-right ideas, united by a shared isolationism and aversion to America acting as a force for good.
Which brings us back to George Soros. He used to believe that his adopted country could play such a beneficent role in the world, which is why he and his organizations so strongly supported democracy promotion and NATO enlargement. His new friends in the Quincy Institute deride such things as “meddling” and “warmongering.” This is the language we expect to hear from right-wing “America First” isolationists. It’s a disturbing portent to now see it being underwritten by the world’s most generous liberal philanthropist.