Think Tanks and the US Power Elite


The US power elite is involved in many ways in the dispute over global domination, its exercise and defense.

The precarious balance of forces in the bipolar world in which we lived after World War II prevented US imperialism from imposing its absolute hegemony world-wide. That was based on the nuclear blackmail it threatened after its genocidal bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Later, a tense arms race would arrive, promoted by the so-called “balance of terror”. According to this notion, which the forerunner power in the production of weapons would cause an imbalance in the international arena. The one with the most and deadliest weapons would be able to destroy the other.

Losing all hope that the end of the Cold War would open the way to a world without wars, an unstoppable arms race along the roads of neoliberal globalization has arrived. It has shaped imperialism into the dark reality it is today: the most powerful, brutal and ruthless hegemonic superpower in the history of humanity, bearing the greatest dangers to the survival of our species.

Today, we live in a uni-polar world, with one single superpower imposing its selfish interests on the rest of the world. This shows that it is the predatory nature of the prevailing capitalist order that causes most evils. There is a vital need to replace it with a new, just, and humane order.

In the struggle for global domination, the US government, far from taking the limited opportunities open through disarmament and peaceful coexistence, has based the pillars of its economy on a growing dependence on war situations.

It is in this context that Think Tanks (TTs) become important in the United States. These are public or private academic and study institutions staffed by personalities  fully identified with the US capitalist system. They produce political and ideological documents intended to provide US governments with weapons for their confrontation with the world they seek to dominate.

They are part of a system that produces ideological content for the defense of imperialist interests. Their mission includes propagating ideas useful to the US capitalist system by spreading its doctrines in books, magazines, and other media. To do this they have billion-dollar budgets.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) founded in 1921 by the Rockefeller economic group, is considered to be the first existing think tank. It had the task of providing the governing authorities (of either of the two parties in the US political scheme) with new ideas in foreign policy and the training of specialists and leaders.

Nearly 4,000 citizens work at the CFR, some with much more objective perspectives than the usual extreme right. Among them there are names as notorious as George Soros, the billionaire magnate of global financial speculation.

Its main publication is the journal Foreign Affairs which publishes academic papers containing their views on foreign policy.

According to surveys of academics and experts carried out annually for the Think Tanks Index in 2015, the Brookings Institution ranked as the most important TT in the world for eight consecutive years. The list also included the CFR, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the RAND Corporation, the Heritage Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

In the United States of America there are 11 think tanks specialized in political and economic matters; forty-nine in foreign affairs and international security; sixteen on the environment, science and technology; and twelve on the arts and humanities.

Most of them are registered as “non-profit” entities, but some are funded by the government or by legal or business organizations; others obtain funds from their research work on specific projects. In countries other than the United States, the TT Index registers Chatham House and the International Institute for Strategic Studies in the United Kingdom, and the Bruegel in Belgium.

Like their namesakes in war, think tanks are intended to demolish their opponents through a display of apparent superiority of resources that does not always correspond to reality.

This article was translated from the Spanish by Walter Lippmann for the invaluable CubaNews.

Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana.