Carnegie Think Tank Wants to Go Global

By Monisha Bansal | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

( - Feeling "dwarfed" on the national scene, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace is seeking to expand its international presence, a move it believes will change how think tanks operate.

"It's more than a little bit odd that when everything from small business to terrorism to social activism to religion is globalizing - not to mention big business which has globalized for years and years - that our sector, those apprised to bridge government and business and academia and find policy solutions to big problems, has stayed largely national," the group's president, Jessica Mathews, said Tuesday.

Carnegie announced plans to open three new centers in Lebanon, Belgium, and China. It already has one in Russia, established in 1993.

"With operations in Moscow, Beijing, Beirut, Brussels and Washington, the Carnegie Endowment will not only change its nature, but is also likely to alter the way think tanks operate and can be effective in a global marketplace of ideas where a single national outlook is bound to be overly restrictive," the group said in a statement.

Speaking in Washington D.C., Mathews said an international approach would "advance core U.S. national interests," as "more and more issues have moved beyond the scope of national policy."

James Gaither, chairman of the Carnegie Endowment Board of Trustees, added, "There is no better way to address the grave problems that confront the world than through sustained contact and engagement with people around the world.

"With America now the remaining super power, it is clear that we cannot isolate ourselves from events overseas," he said. "It is more crucial than ever that our policy researchers collaborate with their counterparts overseas to address global and regional crises and to seize opportunities to make the world more secure."

"We need to learn and listen. You can't do that sitting in Washington listening to yourself," said Gaither.

Mathews admitted that Carnegie had become "dwarfed" by its larger competitors - the American Enterprise Institute, the Brookings Institution, and the Heritage Foundation.

Khristine Brookes, director of media services at the Heritage Foundation, told Cybercast News Service that Carnegie's project "won't change the way we operate at all, because Heritage has been very active in the global marketplace of ideas for the last 30 years."

"The Heritage Foundation has always focused its research and attention on the people who make U.S. policy in Washington, D.C." she said. "As such, we've never sought to expand our operations beyond our headquarters here on Capitol Hill."

At the same time, Brookes said, Heritage has also been operating an office in Moscow for more than a decade. That office "acts as a listening post for us," she said, adding that "listening to international voices" would continue to be vital to Heritage's research.

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