A recent New York Times piece, “Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks,” cast a critical eye on the funding a number of U.S. think tanks have received from foreign governments and called into question the ability of such organizations to remain independent in the face of foreign interests.
In a Letter to the Editor, IPS Co-Founder Marc Raskin defended the Institute’s 50-year policy of rejecting government funding:
As a former co-director of a Washington think tank, I can empathize with those who are the subject of “Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks.” In fact, when Richard J. Barnet and I founded the Institute for Policy Studies in 1963, we were so concerned about the pressure to accept money from any government (including the United States) that we inserted a prohibition against it in the institute’s bylaws. We had left jobs in the Kennedy administration to create the institute expressly because we saw a need for independent voices that could freely critique government policies.
There have been many times when staff members have pleaded for exceptions for some particularly enlightened government or another. I have always held firm. And today, while we do not have a “gleaming new glass and steel headquarters not far from the White House,” we can look with pride at 50 years of speaking truths to power.
Washington, Sept. 8, 2014