Slowly folks begin to realize that most of our geopolitical experts advocate war because its their job to do so. They’re just working their rice bowls. For today’s lesson see this excerpt from “Danger Room What’s Next in National Security Think-Tanks and the Reporters Who Heart Them“, Nathan Hodge, Wired, 18 December 2009:
The relationship between reporters and think tanks used to be, well, pretty simple. You called up defense expert X for a quote on, say, cost overruns on a stealth fighter jet, and if you were lucky, you’d get something lively. (Free tip to aspiring defense wonks: Try more pop-culture references.) You could attend one of their conferences, listen to one of their panels and perhaps pick up half a sandwich.
Now it’s nearly 2010: Print is dying, newsrooms are shrinking and the media industry is generally in the toilet. The relationship between reporters and think-tanks, at least in the national-security arena, is starting to shift. Think tanks are starting to become full-time patrons of the news business, and they are bankrolling book projects, blogs and even war reporting.
The Center for a New American Security, for instance, has funded a string of first-rate defense reporters through its Writers in Residence Program. The latest launch: The Fourth Star, by Washington Post reporter Greg Jaffe and former New York Times reporter David Cloud. CNAS also signed up New York Times reporters Thom Shanker and Eric Schmitt to work on a joint book project, titled Counterstrike. Longtime Post reporter Tom Ricks, who published The Gamble this year, is a senior fellow at CNAS. (Ricks worked on Fiasco, his previous bestseller, while in residence at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.)
CNAS isn’t the only refuge for national-security reporters these days. New York Times military correspondent Michael Gordon, co-author of Cobra II, is listed as a senior fellow at the Institute for the Study of War. James Mann, author of The Rise of the Vulcans and a bunch of other noteworthy books, was senior writer-in-residence the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Think tanks have hired some excellent in-house military affairs bloggers. And for-profit publications are pairing up with the non-profits on projects like Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, billed as a partnership with the New America Foundation.
Other articles about our geopol experts working their rice bowls
- “How the Afghan Surge Was Sold“, Nathan Hodge, Wired, 3 December 2009
- “The Think Tank Arm of the Military-Industrial Complex“, Matthew Yglesias, 3 December 2009
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