Center for Strategic and International Studies

Acronym/Code: CSIS

Updated: 9/89

Categories:Education, Political

Background: The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a right-wing, neoconservative think tank which was founded in 1962. Ray S. Cline was a cofounder. (36) Until 1986, CSIS was affiliated with Georgetown University. (2) Its first fulltime staff member was Richard V. Allen, a conservative Republican who was President Reagan’s first National Security Adviser. (2) CSIS describes itself as "an independent insitution for public policy research in the field of foreign and national security affairs." It focuses on "the issues and challenges that confront the United States in advancing its global interests and discharging its global responsibilities."(1) It claims to be anonpartisan institution of international, interdisciplinary scholars. (1)

However, Timothy S. Healy, president of Georgetown University, examined its affiliate and decided that CSIS was academically somewhat less credible than it claimed to be. Apparently, CSIS has no library, its faculty are seen more often on television than in the classroom (over 4,000 appearances in 1985), and its publications have a reputation (by academic standards) of being superficial. (2) CSIS has been called "a parking lot for former government big shots," and a "conservative propaganda machine," particularly for the policies of the Reagan administration. (2) Most CSIS senior fellows do not teach classes, but do draw handsome salaries (up to $70,000). (2)

The formal affiliation between Georgetown and CSIS ended on July 1, 1987. (1) An article in the London Tribune quotes a Washington Post article saying that Georgetown severed the relationship because of the strong identification CSIS had with the Reagan administration on arms control, Central America, and South Africa. The University was also disturbed because large contributions to CSIS come from some of the biggest defense contractors. (2)

Funding: Early funding for CSIS came from the Scaife Fdn and from conservative philanthropist Justin Dart. (2) Between 1973 and 1981, Richard Scaife, who is a member of the CSIS advisory board, donated $5. 3 million to CSIS. (6)

The breakdown of the CSIS income of $9,043,491 from 1986 is: 40 percent, foundation grants; 34 percent corporate contributions; 11 percent individual contributions; 6. 5 percent federal contracts; 5 percent endowment income; and 3. 5 percent income from conferences, publications, and royalties. (1)

Support was received from 61 foundations, and no single gift exceeded $500,000. Corporate donations came from 180 companies. Of this The Lynde and Harry Bradley Fdn, the Andrew Mellon Fdn, the J. Howard Pew Freedom Trust, the Prince Trusts, Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz and the C. V. Starr Fdn each gave grants of over $250,000. (1) Among those giving grants between $100,000 and $249,000 are the Sarah Scaife Fdn, the Hewlett Fdn, the Institute for Intl Relations, the Ing. Olivetti & Co, S. p. A. , and the Toyota Motor Corp. (1) Other traditional supporters of the Right, The Smith Richardson Fdn, the John M. Olin Fdn, and the Samuel R. Nobel Fdn, gave grants between $50,000 and $99,000. (1)

The budget for 1987-1988 is $8. 5 million. (1)

Activities: The CSIS focus on national security and "advancing the global interests" of the U.S. made it a favorite of the Reagan administration. The center specializes in studies of crisis management, with an emphasis on how the U.S. should manage crises in other countries. There is little question that it influenced policy during the Reagan administration. (2) For example, the CSIS group on Strategy and Arms Control, headed by Robert Kupperman, held regular discussions on the role of arms control in the prevention of nuclear war, alternative approaches to arms control negotiations, and strengths and weaknesses of the U.S. deterrence posture. These discussions were attended by Rep. Les Aspin, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jeff Bingaman from the Senate Armed Services Committee, and chief of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Kenneth Adelman. (1) A recent article in the Journal of Commerce notes that CSIS has sent an unsolicited suggestion to the Bush administration promoting the creation of an assistant to the president to integrate international economic policy with domestic and other foreign policies. (8)

CSIS activities are centered around media promotion of its conservative, anticommunist policies and strategies. In 1985, the Center logged in 4,100 media appearances. It looks upon international incidents as opportunities to present its analyses and viewpoints to the public. (2) For example, during the three days after the U.S. bombing of Libya, three CSIS fellows appeared on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour. The director of the CSIS Soviet program appeared on ABC, NBC, and McNeil-Lehrer news programs and on ABC’s "Nightline."(2) Robert H. Kupperman, CSIS director of science and technology, appeared on BBC, CBS "Nightwatch," CNN, Natl Public Radio and was quoted in a number of national weekly news magazines. (2) During the six weeks following the bombing, CSIS fellows had a total of 650 media contacts presenting their expertise and analysis to the public. (2)

A 1985 article from UPI cites Zbigniew Brzezinski and Robert Kupperman of CSIS among the "experts" on terrorism who placed the blame for the attempted assassination of the Pope in 1981 on the Soviets. (4)

The CSIS staff are regularly used by the British media for "independent" comment on international affairs. In 1988, Michael Ledeen, who was heavily involved in the Iran-Contra affair, was interviewed as a CSIS expert on the Middle East. (9)

In 1985, two CSIS scholars, Georges A. Fauriol and Eva Loser, released a background report on the Guatemalan presidential elections. The study avoided details about the Guatemalan government atrocities, citing a few human rights violations, but blaming them on the guerilla movement. The report credited General Efrain Rios Montt’s regime–which tallied 15,000 civilian deaths in 17 months–with "revitalization of the rural environment."(5) In 1988, CSIS released another Fauriol study,"The Third Century: U.S. Latin American Policy Choices for the 1990s." This study presents a more sophisticated overview of the political situation than earlier CSIS studies. It suggests diplomatic solutions, but retains the possibility of intervention, if needed. (37)

CSIS produces a large volume of books and reports in the areas of defense, economics and energy, governance, national and international security, refugee policy, and regional studies. The latter includes Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, the USSR and Eastern Europe, and Western Europe and the NATO Alliance. (3) The quality of scholarship in the CSIS documents has been questioned. A Washington Post article quotes one of the Institute’s own scholars as saying in reference

to CSIS publications,"I was appalled by the complete lack of scholarship."(2)

During his administration, President Reagan chose CSIS as a favorite site for speeches attacking those who opposed his plans for aid to the Nicaraguan contras. (2) In return, CSIS became a major media defender of the administration and ofparticipants in the Iran-Contra affair. George Carver of CSIS stated on the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour that the "23-count indictment of North et. al. doesn’t allege the violation of a single criminal statute–that it isn’t a criminal charge but rather is a bill of attainder."(7)

CSIS has become institutionalized in the arena of public policy. (2) Not only do numerous members of Congress sit on its advisory board, but it also gives frequent seminars, briefings, and colloquia to members of Congress on topical issues. (1,2) CSIS scholars are often requested to testify formally before Congress. In 1987, James Schlesinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Amos A. Jordan, David M. Abshire and Robert Hunter testified before the Senate Armed Services and Senate Foreign Relations committees on the strategic consequences of U.S. foreign policy choices. (1)

Government Connections: Admiral Thomas Moorer (ret. ) was head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a member of Team B, a group assembled in the mid-1970s by then-CIA director George Bush to study Soviet military capabilities and intentions. The Team B findings laid the foundation for the revitalization of the Committee on the Present Danger. (11)

Richard V. Allen served on President Richard Nixon’s foreign security staff. (11) He resigned from government to join Overseas Companies of Portugal where he became the Washington advocate for white rule in South Africa. He later became involved in the Robert Vesco investment scandal. (11) Allen became President Reagan’s first National Security Adviser and in that position was a core member of the group that shaped foreign policy for the administration. (11) Over a series of rather murky events that again tarnished his image, Allen lost his job as National Security Adviser. However, he remained in the administration as a member of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. (11)

Lloyd Bentsen was Michael Dukakis’ vice presidential running mate in the 1988 Presidential election. Sam Nunn is the chairman of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee. William French Smith was Attorney General of the United States in the first term of the Reagan administration. (20)

Edward Luttwak is considered an expert on counterterrorism and served as a consultant to the Department of Defense. (1,11)

Zbigniew Brzezinski was head of national security in the Carter administration. (11) He was also the chairman of the Trilateral Commission, an international organization composed of members of governments and industrialists. (11)

Henry Kissinger was National Security Adviser and Secretary of State during the Nixon administration. He urged detente with the Soviets, but was a major figure in the U.S. policies in Vietnam. (11) Kissinger was selected by President Reagan to head the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America (The Kissinger Commission).

Michael Ledeen was involved with Col. Oliver North in the Iran-Contra affair. Their work together involved the development and dissemination of disinformation. (30) Ledeen has been described as a broker in an Iran-Contra related deal between the U.S. and Iran. (30) He took a leave from CSIS to join the Reagan administration as an adviser to North on the National Security Council and was on the planning group that led to the creation of the State Department’s Office of Public Diplomacy. (30)

Private Connections: Sen. Sam Nunn, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, Rep. Thomas Foley, Sen. Ernest Hollings, and Sen. J. Bennett Johnston are on the 1987-1988 advisory board for elected officials of the Coalition for a Democratic Majority. The Coalition is composed of members of the conservative wing of the Democratic Party and itpromotes the policy of "peace through strength."(34,35)

Conservative columnist George Will is on the board of directors of the Committee for the Free World, a neoconservative group that conducts anticommunist media campaigns. (10,29)

Admiral Thomas Moorer was a director of the National Strategy Information Center, a conservative think tank specializing in military strategy. (12) He has been on the board of the ultra-hawk American Security Council (ASC). The ASC runs the Coalition for Peace Through Strength, a lobby group that has more than 190 Congressional members. (13) Moorer is on the advisory board of Accuracy in Media, a right-wing media watchdog group and was on the board of Western Goals, a group that focused on uncovering communist sympathizers in the U.S. (14,15)

Ray Cline was a founding member of the Committee on the Present Danger, an anti-Soviet group that promoted the policy of containment militarism. (11) Cline served on the board of the Consortium for the Study of Intelligence, a decade-long project of the military strategy think tank, the National Strategy Information Center (NSIC). (16) Cline was also a close associate of Maj. Gen. John K. Singlaub and was involved with the activities of Singlaub’s U.S. Council for World Freedom and its parent organization, the World Anti-Communist League. (15)

Morris Liebman was a cofounder of the National Strategy Information Center. (17) He is also a member of the Center for International Relations. (38)

Arnaud de Borchgrave is the editor-in-chief of the Unification Church-owned Washington Times. (18) He also attended many of the NSIC colloquia of the Consortium for the Study of Intelligence. (16) He was an active promoter of the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund during its short lifetime. (19) De Borchgrave has been an endorser of several anticommunist ads sponsored by the Committee for the Free World. (28)

William E. Simon is or was a trustee of the conservative think tank, the Heritage Fdn. (21) He is president of the Olin Fdn, a major funder of rightwing groups. (22). He is or was on the Council for National Policy, an exclusive and secretive rightwing policy development group. (23) Simon is a member of the elite, conservative, lay-Catholic group, the Knights of Malta-an anticommunist group very active in Central America. (24) He headed the short-lived Nicaraguan Freedom Fund, a group founded specifically to provide assistance to the Nicaraguan contras. (19) He also served on the advisory committee for AmeriCares, the major recipient of contra funds from the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund. AmeriCares not only supported the contras, but has been implicated in manipulation of the internal politics of Nicaragua. (25,26) Simon was a board member of the Friends of the Democratic Center in Central America (PRODEMCA), another member of the contra-support network. (27) Simon has been connected with other rightwing groups including the media watchdog, Accuracy in Media; the think tank, the American Enterprise Institute; and the lobby group, Committee for the Free World. (27,28)

Leo Cherne is chairman of the Intl Rescue Committee, a group that assists refugees who are victims of "totalitarianism."(32) He is honorary chair of Freedom House, a neoconservative group that studies governments to determine whether or not they are "democratic," and he has been involved with the A. Philip Randolph Institute’s South African project. (31,33)

Richard V. Allen was a founding member of the Committee on the Present Danger. (11)

Misc:Comments: CSIS president, Amos Jordan noted that CSIS has developed an extraordinary network on Capitol Hill. He said of the Congress,"They don’t want a book or a typical scholarly tome… that is heavily footnoted, and narrowly focused. What they want is to have ideas translated into their idiom."(2) U.S. Addre

ss: CSIS, 1800 K Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20006.

Principals: The 1987-1988 Board of Trustees members were: chair, Anne Armstrong, former ambassador to Great Britain; vice chairmen, Maurice R. Greenberg, head of the C. V. Starr Fdn and David Abshire, chancellor of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). (1) Board members were: Dwayne O. Andreas, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Theodore A. Burtis, William P. Clark, W. Graham Claytor, Jr. , Robert W. Galvin, Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. , John H. Gutfreund, Timothy S. Healy, Amos A. Jordan, Robert L. Kirk, Henry A. Kissinger, Morris I. Leibman, Leonard H. Marks, Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, USN (ret. ), James R. Schlesinger, Frank A. Ahrontz, and Togo Dennis West, Jr. (1)

The 1987-1988 Advisory Board included: chairman, Paul A. Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board; cochairmen, Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA) and Rep. Richard B. Cheney (RWY); and vice chairmen, John R. Stevenson and R. James Woolsey, counsel for CSIS. (1) Among the members were: Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-TX); Rep. Don Bonker (D-WA); Leo Cherne, exec dir of The Research Institute of America; Sen. William Cohen (R-ME); Arnaud de Borchgrave, editor-in-chief of the Washington Times; Sen. Robert Dole (R-KS); Rep. Dante Fascell (D-FL); Rep. Thomas S. Foley (D-WA); Sen. Jake Garn (R-UT); Rep. Newt L. Gingrich (RGA); Sen. John Glenn (D-OH); Sen. Albert Gore (D-TN); Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC); Sen. J. Bennett Johnston (D-LA); Sen. Nancy Landon Kassebaum (R-KS); Rep. Robert J. Lagomarsino (RCA); Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI); Sen. James A. McClure (R-ID); Edmund Muskie, former Senator and presidential candidate from Maine; Ronald Palmer, ambassador to Mauritius; Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-RI); Sen. William V. Roth, Jr. (R-DE); Richard Scaife; William French Smith, attorney general in the Reagan administration; Rep. Samuel Stratton (D-NY); Mae Sue Talley, private sector coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean of the U.S. Agency for Intl Development, Department of State; Sen. Paul Trible (R-VA); Sen. John Warner (R-VA); George F. Will, and Mortimer B. Zuckerman. (1) William Simon serves as an international business councillor. (1)

David Abshire is the chancellor; Amos A. Jordan is the president and CEO. (1) Other officers include Douglas M. Johnston, Jr, exec vice pres and chief operating officer; Christa D. Konrad vice pres; William J. Taylor, Jr. , vice pres of political-military affairs; John Yochelson, vice pres of corporate affairs; Richard D. Chesire, vice pres of development; and R. James Woolsey, counsel. (1)

Notable senior advisers were: Ray S. Cline, former deputy director of the CIA; Ernest Graves, former director of the Defense Security Assistance Agency and the U.S. Atomic Energy Committee; Robert H. Kupperman, chief scientist for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; and Adm. Thomas H. Moorer, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (1)

Edward N. Luttwak, consultant to the Department of Defense served as a senior research scholar and Michael A. Ledeen was a senior associate. (1)