A Guide to Think Tanks and Iran

Compiled by the U.S. News & World Report library staff

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Compiled by the U.S. News & World Report library staff

Brookings Institution


Founded in 1927, the Brookings is an "independent, nonpartisan research organization that addresses current and emerging policy issues while offering practical approaches to solving them to policymakers as well as the general public." Experts on Iran include Kenneth Pollack, author of The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America. He estimated that preventive strikes would merely set Iran's nuclear program back two to four years and would likely result in retaliation. He has advocated that the U.S. policy toward Iran be more like the Teddy Roosevelt adage: "I would much prefer to see the U.S. speak softly and carry a big stick," Pollack says.

Funding: A nonprofit and scientific organization, Brookings is designated as a 501(c)(3) under the Internal Revenue Code. Gifts and grants account for 61 percent of operating revenues.

Board members and notable supporters include Board President Strobe Talbott; Harvard economist Lawrence Summers; Michael H. Jordan, CEO and chairman of EDS; Lawrence K. Fish, chairman of Citizens Financial Group, and Teresa Heinz.

Committee on the Present Danger
Originally founded in 1950 and reincarnated in 2004 for a third time, the Committee on the Present Danger is "dedicated to protecting and expanding democracy by supporting policies aimed at winning the global war against terrorism and the movements and ideologies that drive it." Its bipartisan membership includes former high-level political leaders and diplomats, scholars, and think-tankers who advocate a strong approach to the war on terrorism and lobbying for peaceful regime change by reconnecting with the Iranian people. Released in January 2006, the CPD's position paper on Iran argued that the United States must develop policies to cultivate regime change in Iran through tactics such as opposition support and increased sanctions directly targeting Iran's leadership and not its people.

Funding: CPD is incorporated as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. According to CPD, its "activities are wholly financed by voluntary contributions."

Board members and notable supporters include cochairs George Shultz, former secretary of state, and James Woolsey, former CIA director; Kenneth Adelman, former director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives; Kenneth R. Timmerman, executive director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, and Commentary magazine editor Norman Podhoretz.

Council on Foreign Relations
Founded in 1921, the Council on Foreign Relations is an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for government officials, business executives, academics and scholars, and journalists "in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries." In September 2006, CFR hosted an event where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad held a question-and-answer session with 19 CFR members. Experts on Iran include Ray Takeyh, author of The Guardians of the Revolution: Iran and the World,  Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic (pending) and , and Vali Nasr ,author of The Shia Revival, Democracy in Iran, and The Islamic Leviathan.

Funding: Its 2006 campaign drive netted just under $30 million in grants and contributions from individuals, including council members, corporations, and foundations.

Board members and notable supporters include Thomas Pickering, R. James Woolsey, Madeleine Albright, Fouad Ajami, and Tom Brokaw.

Foundation for Democracy in Iran
Established in 1995, the Foundation for Democracy in Iran works "to promote democracy and internationally recognized standards of human rights in Iran." The Foundation for Democracy in Iran has aggressively advocated aid to help Iranian opposition groups bring down the regime. "This regime is not going to change its behavior, so we must help Iranians to change the regime," wrote Executive Director Kenneth Timmerman in an article that appeared on FrontPageMag.com in 2006.



Corrected on 6/30/11: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified Jill Abramson of the New York Times as on the board of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.