Think tanks are often mentioned in journalist’s reports regarding political decisions and legislative changes in the US. These institutions affect the US government by conducting researches and publishing reports that help government policymakers with their choices. In addition, experts formerly employed by think tank institutions often proceed to work for the president’s administration. This paper aims to examine ways in which think tanks affect government policy in the US.
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The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines think tanks as an establishment “organized to study a particular subject … provide information, ideas, and advice.” The primary objective of functioning for these institutions is to connect academic research and knowledge with policymaking. The reports that think tanks offer to policymakers are ruinously written; thus providing an in-depth analysis of an issue and possible solutions.
The organizations in question exist not only in the US, for instance in the United Kingdom the most well-known think tank in Britain’s Royal United Services Institute (T.S.). It can be argued that the usage of action tanks in governmental affairs is beneficial because they provide extensive information on a particular subject.
There is a large number of think tanks within the US, and in Washington in particular. Thus, one may argue that these institutions affect policymaking in the US. According to Yaqub “previous administrations have relied on the research and ideas generated by such organizations to formulate policy.” The author emphasizes that many have criticized think tanks for their involvement in politics. The Bush administration had three significant positions taken by former think tank employees – Vice President, Defense Secretary, and Secretary of State (Yaqub). The Obama administration clearly stated that governmental decisions are discussed using empirical research.
Other administrations utilized think tanks’ human resources as well. McGann states that in recent year’s presidents tended to replace middle-range executives with people who formerly worked for think tank organizations. Moreover, officials that leave the administration often become part of a think tank establishment. Obama’s administration had two officials who worked for a think tank prior. McGann refers to these institutions as “shadow government” because of the large scale of their involvement in political affairs.
However, the new administration does not rely on think tanks to the same extent as the previous one (Yaqub). It can be argued that because of such involvement of think tanks and the practice of hiring such people, the US government has officials who can base their decisions on research and evidence.
Think tanks affect policymaking in two ways, by preparing reports and by supplying the government with experts. Little describes the impact that the establishments in question have on policymaking as enormous. More specifically, think tanks have shaped security policies and strategy in the US. While there is no way to precisely trace the impact of think tanks on a particular policy, it is possible to observe their actions and reports. For instance, Little states that Council on Foreign Relations’ publication Preventative Priorities Survey for 2015 may have highlighted crucial aspects, that were later reflected in the 2015 US National Security Strategy (16). The similarities between the two documents imply that the Council on Foreign Relations may have shaped the government’s policy on security.
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Overall, there is a large number of think tanks in the US. The officials from these establishments worked for administrations of Bush and Obama. In addition, their reports such as the Preventative Priorities Survey for 2015 affect strategies that the US officials create for their departments. Thus, think tanks affect US policymaking by providing both expert opinion on a subject and employees for governmental organizations.
McGann, John. “The think tank factor in recent US politics.” Aspenia. 2016. Web.
Peter, Little. “Think Tanks and Influence on US Foreign Policy: The People and the Ideas.” Defense Technical Information Center, 2016. Web.
“Think tank.” Merriam-Webster. Web.
T. S. “What do think-tanks do?” The Economist. 2017. Web.
Yaqub, Nadeem. “What’s Behind the ‘Think Tanks’ That Influence US Policy?” VOA. 2018. Web.