By Ben Freeman
‘Experts’ from [weapons] industry-funded think tanks are flooding the media, pushing for more arms without disclosing their benefactors.
“To be brutal about it, we need to see masses of Russians fleeing, deserting, shooting their officers, taken captive, or dead. The Russian defeat must be an unmistakably big, bloody shambles. …to the end, with the utmost urgency, the West should give everything that Ukraine could possibly use,” argues Prof. Eliot Cohen in The Atlantic.
What neither Cohen, who also famously pushed for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, nor The Atlantic, acknowledge in the article is that most of the weapons Cohen mentions in the article — including long-range missiles, F-16s, and even F-35s — are made by funders of Cohen’s employer, the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
While this might seem like a glaring conflict of interest that, at the very least should be disclosed in the article, a new Quincy Institute brief that I authored, “Defense Contractor-Funded Think Tanks Dominate Ukraine Debate,” shows that this article isn’t an exception; it’s the norm. [The United States’] top foreign policy think tanks are awash in funding from the [weapons] industry. They’ve dominated the media market related to the Ukraine war, and they seldom if ever disclose that many of the weapons they’re recommending the U.S. give to Ukraine are made by their funders.
In short, when you hear a think tank scholar comment on the Ukraine war, chances are you’re hearing from someone whose employer is funded by those who profit from war, but you’ll probably never know it. That’s because 78 percent of the top-ranked foreign policy think tanks receive funding from the defense [weapons] sector.
These and other think tanks that receive considerable defense [military] sector funding have publicly advocated for more militarized U.S. responses to the Ukraine war and, compared to their counterparts at think tanks that accept little or no defense [weapons] sector funding, have dominated the media landscape related to the Ukraine war.
Media outlets were, similarly, not transparent about the conflicts of interest of the experts they were citing. In fact, none of the media mentions analyzed in the brief were accompanied by disclosures of defense [weapons] industry funding of think tanks that were, at times, recommending policies that could financially benefit their funders.
— Ben Freeman, a Research Fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, wrote this piece for Space Alert!