Gerald Frost

“If you do not specify and confront real issues, what you say will surely obscure them. If you do not embody controversy, what you say will be an acceptance of the drift to the coming human hell.”

C. Wright Mills — The Causes of World War III

This historical and biographical and historical focus on Gerald Frost has several aspects to it which relate to issues on defence and intelligence and how aspects of state secrecy and the concept of ‘national security’ were used by the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies (IEDSS).

Its general theme is an overview of the output of the IEDSS in terms of the publications and other forms of documentation and public relations work it produced, mostly under Frost’s editorship, and related to issues of defence, intelligence, subversion, dissent, anti-communism and right-wing ‘national security’ propaganda.

Secondly, a supporting network composed of mostly right-wing think tanks is identified and examined in terms of which other IEDSS members and Frost had influential roles, such as the Social Affairs Unit and the Centre for Policy Studies. This also includes the more recent forms, and the types of activity these networks have adopted.

Thirdly, elements of both these aspects are related to the formation of the concept of the ‘Phantom Academy,’ which is also set out to offer some historical contextualisation.

Fourthly, the attempts to measure the effect of think tanks is itself measured.

Fifthly, the theoretical underpinnings of academic understanding of the function of think tanks (such as elite theory) is set out to is related to think tanks to examine how they have been comprehended in terms of social policy and theories of the state.

Sixthly, epistemic community theory is related to the New Atlantic Initative as a contemporary manefestation of the IEDSS together with an examination of Atlanticist elements of Frost and other IEDSS members engagement with organisations such as The Committee on the Present Danger and The European Atlantic Movement.

Speech Writing

The Bruges Group have a profile of Frost and still mentions his work for the IEDSS:

Gerald Frost is a senior journalist, author and speechwriter who has written widely about domestic and international politics. Gerry was Director of the London based Centre for Policy Studies from 1992 until 95 and head of the Institute of European Defence and Strategic Studies, which he founded in 1981. Gerald Frost has edited more than 70 books and monographs, and written widely in the international media. He is currently the editor of the Eurosceptic magazine Eurofacts.

Margaret Thatcher’s ‘Bruges speech’ of 1988 was used as a catalyst in the mobilisation and organisation of previously disparate elements, in the form of the Bruges Group. Members included Lord Harris of High Cross, former president of the Institute of Economic Affairs and first chairman of the group, Michael Shrimpton, Norman Lamont, and Professor Kenneth Minogue, a key economic adviser to Thatcher. The group’s financial backing came from her old supporter Sir James Goldsmith. The history of the group struggles to explain to us why the group was set up, it eventually became associated with the Conservative Party, and can be viewed as a gathering of the anti-European right-wing of the party, who wanted to sway the party, under John Major, against the ‘Maastricht Agenda’. But it was started in 1988 by an undergraduate student at the University of Oxford, Patrick Robertson who, according to Simon Usherwood’s (2004) Bruges as a Lodestone of British Opposition to the European Union, Collegium, No. 29, (p. 5):

“… left in November 1991 to work for the World Economic Forum, before later resurfacing as the director of Sir James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party in the1997 General Election and then as General Pinochet’s press advisor during his extradition proceedings in 1999.”

The list of Pinochet supporters includes the IEDSS’ Ray Whitney. After the death of Goldsmith in 1997, a new leadership for the Referendum Party consisting of the original inner circle which included Patrick Robertson together with Lord MacAlpine, Lady Annabel Goldsmith, John Aspinall and Edward Goldsmith (James’ older brother). Robertson is said to be an old business colleague of Lord Parkinson and a director of the British company Robertson and Associates lobbying for Chechnya’s oil wealth. He is also described as Goldsmith’s former PR impresario, who thought up the idea of a referendum on Europe with Christopher Monckton, according to the Independent in 1996, This also added that Robertson:

Later advised Neil Hamilton to ride out allegations of improper hospitality from Mohammed al-Fayed; Hamilton did and Major sacked him. Then wrote confidential memo to Jonathan Aitken suggesting that one more embarrassment could finish his career — and then promptly faxed it to a TV producer by mistake. Now a director of Taskforce Communications, which handled PR for wedding of Imran Khan and Jemima Goldsmith.

The IEDSS had published The irrelevance of Maastricht by former Encounter editor, Anthony Hartley in 1992.  Hartley had joined Robert Conquest and Peregrine Worsthorne in signing an open letter against intellectual enemies of American involvement in Vietnam. Criticism of America, they argued, “represents the impact of suspect information upon uncritical minds” according to his obituary.

Frost’s contributes to, as well as edits, Eurofacts, and these include: (2006) Will the Special Relationship survive Bush and Blair? which draws on a report from the Heritage Foundation’s Robin Harris, a former special adviser and speech writer to Margaret Thatcher (1981-90) author of the (1997) Margaret Thatcher: The Collected Speeches, now with Margaret Thatcher Center For Freedom based at the Heritage Foundation, in what is really an attack on Tony Blair’s failure to deal with the US because of an “obsession with Europe” and that this explains “why there was no worthwhile payback for Britain’s support for the war in Iraq”.

Frost and Andrew McHallam were the editors of several IEDSS publications such as their (1992) In Search of Stability: Europe’s Unfinished Revolution, published by Praeger and The New Authoritarians which attacked the Green Movement.  For Frost, writing in The Guardian, December 3, 1991 likened the movement to the Soviet Union:

McHallam goes to some lengths to explain that he believes the radical Green agenda is inherently collectivist because it could only be implemented through central controls of the kind which have destroyed freedom and depressed living standards in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Nor, as he points out have such methods enhanced the beauty of the environment; on the contrary, they have proved catastrophic.

Frost also countered criticisms that, with the end of the cold war the IEDSS had “simply been engaging in make-work instead of accepting the inevitability of our own demise,” with the idea that: “there has never been so much political change to access and so many security issues to analyse; that is our primary function”. He also rejected allegations that the IEDSS were ‘sinister’ and ‘playing the fool’.

These publications were part of a series of annual editions comprising papers published by the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies in the early 1990s, mostly involving its members and close associates such as Crozier. The period covered include the ‘collapse of communism’ (meaning the Soviet Union) and this is taken as indicative of a wider decline of collectivist ideas. The work includes:

* Communism: Why Prolong Its Death-Throes? by Brian Crozier * Retreat to Moscow: Gorbachev and the East European Revolution by Mark Almond * Czechoslovakia: Too Velvet a Revolution? by James De Candole * The Strange Death of Perestroika: Causes and Consequences of the Soviet Coup by John Gray * A Farewell to Arms Control: The Irrelevance of CFE by Christopher Coker * Pundits and Patriots: Lessons from the Gulf War by Philip Towle * Countering Proliferation: New Criteria for European Security by Keith Payne * National Pacifism: Germany’s New Temptation by Mark Almond * The Irrelevance of Maastricht: Redefining the Atlantic Community by Anthony Hartley

Frost edited another IEDSS collection, the (1991) Europe in Turmoil: The Struggle for Pluralism, this included:

* Gorbachev: Can the Revolution Be Remade? by George Urban * Soviet Foreign Policy under Gorbachev: New Political Thinking and Its Impact by Gerard Wettig * The Perception Mongers: Reflections on Soviet Propaganda by George Bailey * Unreasonable Sufficiency? Assessing the New Soviet Strategy by William Odom * The Secret Services: Is There a Case for Greater Openness? by Michael Mates * 1992: Its Security Implications by K. G. Robertson * Coming in from the Cold: The Evolution of French Defense Policy by Geoffrey Lee Williams * Less Important than Opulence: The British Conservatives and Defence by Christopher Coker

A (1995) European Community Studies Association Newsletter review of In Search of Stability: Europe’s Unfinished Revolution stated:

The authors are at a loss to explain the transition from communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The problem is, of course, that the generally bloodless, mostly nonviolent, astonishingly rapid collapse of state socialist regimes clashes with every belief about left totalitarianism conservatives have held since Lenin arrived at the Finland Station.

Previously it had noted that Brian Crozier’s contribution, was a “strange review of the state of the Communist parties in Western Europe and of their ties to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union:

I believe his aim — in 1992 — is to ring the alarm bell of domestic subversion. And yet, it is very difficult to see the miniscule and divided parties in Britain and Germany, or the withered party in France or the renamed party in Italy as anything besides dinosaurs or curiosities.

This is representative of works which are unaware of Crozier’s connections and propaganda work but can note that both Mark Almond and Crozier “go so far as to see the retreat of the Bolsheviks as a ruse to lull unsuspecting publics while the Reds lick their wounds and plan their returns.” It also adds that that he conservatives are left pining for the certainty of the “good old bad old days” and cannot accept the messiness of the post-communist era in that although the Communist Parties no longer had a monopoly of power: “yet ex- or reformed, post- or renamed Communists are in or near positions of power throughout the former Warsaw Pact.”

Protest and Perish

Frost’s letters were often sent from the ‘Reform Club, Pall Mall, SW1′, when not from the IEDSS’ address. A letter to the  Times, June 26, 1992,  from the President of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, Joseph Rotblat, (a participant in the Manhatten Project, who would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1995) summed up Frost’s position on President Reagan’s Star Wars programme as “a recipe for a new arms race”, which advocated that the “Trident deterrent will not become impotent, provided that no limit is put on the number of nuclear warheads deployed.”  In 1995, Rotblat was the subject of a smear campaign led by former Reagan Pentagon official-turned propagandist, Frank J. Gaffney, then with the Center for Security Policy, in the New York Times, and picked up by Eric Breindel’s ‘Pugwashing the Truth’ in the Weekly Standard, 1995, October 30.  The New York Times quoted Gaffney as stating:

“Fellow traveler is a loaded term […] But these are people who in the darkest days of the cold war were used shamelessly as vehicles for Soviet propaganda[…] You have to give them the benefit of the doubt and think they were simply dupes […] But it’s inconceivable in light of what we know about Soviet propaganda that this operation could be seen as anything other than, at the very least, an unwitting tool of the Kremlin, if not worse […] And to be giving them this incredible windfall, to say nothing of honor, at the very moment when their past is so clearly discredited, and their present is so irrelevant, is a peculiar outcome indeed”.

Gaffney went on to a position in the George W. Bush administration, and was one of 25 signatories of the, 1997 “Statement of Principles” from the Project for the New American Century.  Edwin Feulner, Jr, Midge Decter, former Executive Director, Committee for the Free World are members of the Center for Security Policy’s Advisory Council together with the usual array of Neocons.  Gaffney is a member of the Committee on the Present Danger, as is Frost.

Gaffney, who is part of the network that promote the IEDSS’s New Atlantic Initiative, also stated in his (1997) ‘Founding Act’ or ‘Final Act’ for NATO, The Washington Times, May 20, that one of the IEDSS’s main cold warrior:

Albert Wohlstetter must be spinning in his grave. The Clinton administration’s gross mismanagement of the NATO enlargement issue, and its ominous implications for the nation’s most important alliance, would infuriate Mr. Wohlstetter…

A protage of Richard Perle himself, Gaffney then adds that:

As Richard Perle — one of Mr. Wohlstetter’s most accomplished proteges — noted at a splendid congress of the New Atlantic Initiative held here over the weekend, the agreement reads like a Soviet document. This is, as the communists loved to say, “no accident, comrade.” After all, the principal author for the Russian side was an unreconstructed apparatchik and longtime KGB operative from the old Soviet Union, Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov.

Frost, together with the IEDSS’s Philip Towle and Iain Elliot, also wrote (1982) Protest and Perish, a respose to E. P. Thompson’s Protest and Survive, which had utself derived its title to parody the government leaflet (1980) Protect and Survive. Towle had previously written the (1979)The Invention of Peace: Reflections on War and International Order, with Michael Howard the founder of the Institute for Strategic Studies. For the IEDSS he also wrote (1988) MPs and defence a survey of parliamentary knowledge and opinion, and the (1988) Should the West arm Guerrillas? for the Council for Arms Control. Elliot had written the IEDSS’ (1988) Gorbachev and glasnost.

A natural target for the IEDSS, Thompson was prominent in CND and part of the ‘New Left’ who, in the mid-1980s, also wrote on opposition to the Reagan administration’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), the promoted of which was a main concern of the IEDSS. The editor of the Nation, from 1978 to 1995, Victor Navasky’s (2005) Protest and Survive, May 16, The Nation, notes that the magazine (which provided one of the few contemporary in-depth articles on IEDSS) devoted an edition to Thompson’s work on this theme:

The Nation invited him to send his warning to his American friends–and devoted an entire issue to his message: “We must protest if we are to survive. Protest is the only realistic form of civil defense.” […] A decade before the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the self-transformation of its satellite East European regimes, he wrote that even though only courageous dissidents will, in the first place, be able to take an open part, protesting “will provide those conditions of relaxation of tension which will weaken the rationale and legitimacy of repressive state measures, and will allow the pressures for democracy and détente to assert themselves in more active and open ways.”

Protest and Survive also had an introduction by Daniel Ellsberg: the former RAND Corporation employee who released the ‘Pentagon Papers’, his Pentagon study of government decision-making in the Vietnam War (see Edward Lansdale). Ironically, Thompson was a critic of the Labour governments, Soviet Union and aspects of the Trotsyist left so eagerly derided by the IEDSS. Although the original government leaflet seems to have been reluctantly released, Bryan D. Palmer’s (1994) E.P. Thompson: Objections and Oppositions, states that Thompson’s work sold 50,000 copies in less than a year and a further 36,000 when reproduced as part of a collection.

As Bruce Kuklick’s (2006) Blind Oracles: Intellectuals and War from Kennan to Kissinger, notes in its introduction, there is an intellectual history to The Pentagon Papers, which he describes as  a collective enterprise undertaken by men with backgrounds at RAND and the Kennedy School”. It is important to note that it was also a “multiauthored, forty-seven-volume book” that could be read to “uncover the academic presuppositions about war and history governing the thinking” of the US policy elite.  Inter alia they revealed the awareness, early on, that the Vietnam war would not likely be won, that continuing the war would lead to many times more casualties than was admitted publicly, and showed the deep cynicism by the military towards the public and their disregard for the loss of life and injury suffered by soldiers and civilians.

As with the Pentagon Papers, Protest and Survive was produced by ‘establishment’ figures.  The US version contained Thompson’s “A Letter to America,” and 11 other essays exploring the arms race, nuclear war, military bureaucracy and the prospects for peacemaking.  According to a contemporary review, in By Allen Tullos, Southern Changes, Vol. 4, No. 2, 1982, p. 4, Emma Rothschild opened her essay with the observation that “the United States may buy itself two things with its $1 trillion defense budget of 1981 to 1985. The first is an economic decline of the sort that comes about once or twice in a century. The second is a nuclear war.”  This also adds:

A former U.S. War Department analyst, Henry T. Nash, writes about his job with the Air Targets Division of the Air Force in the 1950s and 60s. He tells of the secrecy and professional competition existing in the bureaucratic preparation for mass homicide. Ambitious young analysts select and justify targets in the Soviet Union appropriate for receiving our nuclear warheads. If an analyst’s proposed target is selected for the official “Bombing Encyclopedia,” he may merit promotion and entree into even deadlier, more classified information.

Other contributors included Alva Myrdal, Dan Smith and Ron Smith, David Holloway, Mary Kaldor, Ken Coates and Bruce Kent.  Thompson’s obituary in (1994) Radical Philosophy, by Kate Soper noted of his work with European Nuclear Disarmament:

That the CIA and the KGB would both accuse each other of funding these activities only served to reaffirm the wisdom of pressing for a process of `citizens’ detente’ and for the adoption of a non-aligned position within the Western peace movement. This was to prove of critical importance, both in the impact it had on the politics and strategies of the latter, and in the space it opened up for trans-bloc dialogue between it and the independent peace initiatives and dissident groups in Eastern Europe.

Of note is the involvement of Vaclav Havel (who would later join the IEDSS’ New Atlantic Initiative), in Thompson’s dealings with Eastern European dissent, but Mary Kaldor argued in 1993 in the Independent that:

The peace movement challenged the notion of a nuclear balance. It was argued, most eloquently by E P Thompson in Protest and Survive, that it was not necessary to match each side’s nuclear arsenal, weapon for weapon, warhead for warhead, since both sides had sufficient to destroy the world several times over. When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, he used this argument and initiate a military build-down. His officials have testified to the influence of peace movement ideas on ‘new thinking’, including the link between peace and human rights, non- military forms of security and the Common European House.

Matthew Evangelista’s (2003) Unarmed Forces: The Transnational Movement to End the Cold War, p. 161 notes that Thompson’s activities included elite-level contacts, as represented most notably by the Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues, or the Palme Commission.

Bryan D. Palmer’s (1994) E.P. Thompson, (p. 132) states that:

Protest rallies surged into the millions across Western Europe (Thompson himself estimated that not since 1848 had demonstrations been so endemic to society and mass action so popular), discontent with the arms race swelled behind the Iron Curtain, and polls showed that anywhere from 25 to 68 per cent of the population of given West European countries opposed the basing of new American nuclear missiles.

Which gives us another indication of the symbolic significance of Thompson’s work, and the reaction by the IEDSS; and it is of note that propaganda arguing that no exponential arms race was taking place was also a feature of this.


Frost worked at most of the right-wing think tanks, including the Social Affairs Unit (an educational charity set up in 1980 to extend the IEA’s free market analysis into politics and social policy) and the Centre for Policy Studies in 1992 (taking over from David Willetts) when he left the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies. Most of these, fairly small organisations, have collaborated and have had over-lapping personnel. Some of Frost’s later pronouncements as director include a (1987) December 9, Wall Street Journal Op-ed column, in form of open letter to President Reagan (also written by the IEDSS’ Jean-Marie Benoist and Hans Huy) which held that agreement to eliminate intermediate-range missiles from Europe would seriously and adversely change balance of military and political forces within Europe in favor of the Soviet Union: a fairly basic IEDSS policy position in connection with US public diplomacy.

This matched a quarter-page advert in 1987, November 17, Washington Post warning of the dangers of the nuclear weapons deal between the US and the Soviet Union. The signatories included Lord Chalfont, Baroness Cox, Lord Orr-Ewing, Ray Whitney MP, Norris MacWhirter, David Regan, Roger Scruton, David Hart, who organised the controversial ‘committee for a free Britain’ adverts, and Frost, who is quoted by The Guardian (November 18, 1987) as insisting that the ad was placed by a ‘group of friends’ who got together and paid nearly £6000 from their own pockets.

Aspects of this network were characterised in Patrick Wright’s (1994) Every dogma has its day: Are the free market libertarians behind the Thatcherite reforms finally in retreat? in The Guardian, November 21, by paraphrasing Richard Cockett’s influencial (1994) Thinking the unthinkable: think tanks and the economic counter revolution; 1931 – 1983:

The historian of the free market think tanks, Richard Cockett, confirms that “an enormous sense of unreality” pervades the IEA, and yet it is no longer possible to dismiss the libertarian think-tanker as an obsessiveeconomics’ version of the anti-fluoridationistwhose eccentric ideas will never catch on. The word “privatisation” may have seemed unlikely in 1970, when it first appeared in a footnote of a paper by David Howell, who apologised for this “hideously clumsy” expression. As for student loans, 20 years ago that too was just a forlorn hope expressed in Free Nation, organ of the McWhirter brothers’ National Association for Freedom, which looked at the revolting Marxists in the new sociology departments and reckoned that a student loan system would make higher education “more responsible to the needs of the country”.

This could be related to Caroline Cox‘s work with the IEDSS: but to what extent were think tanks and groups dismissed along with such fringe notions? In general, we could fairly safely assume that awareness of the existence of think tanks, in the sense of public awareness, would have been very low then and arguably remains so today: the IEDSS is still generally unknown. Detailed analytical knowledge of how think tanks functioned, particularly when they themselves might (for a variety of reasons) seek to minimise their overt involvement, is not greatly evident; although it is evident in specific groups and individuals who had an awareness or involvement in campaigning groups whereby the role of think tanks or political action groups were explored in investigative journalism or other forms of critical enquiry. A key centre of this was located near the IEDSS’s offices 9 Poland Street. Described in the press as the centre for ‘the counter-civil service’, this base of left-wing organisations was set up by The Joseph Rowantree Trust (JRT)and housed Friends of the Earth, the Low Pay Unit, the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom (CPBF), Socialist Society, State Research, The Public Order Research Group, the Media Research Trust among many others.

Bose & Schachhuber (2000) show that Poland Street’s State Research and CPBF and others, were exposing SIS operations, and were engaged from the late 1970s in: an exposure of a “Press Plot Against CND” involving “systematic attempts to discredit disarmament groups by insinuating ‘KGB links'”; detailing how the Social Democratic Party had “tried to discredit the left by persuading the Sunday Times to smear Labour MPs”; screening banned films such as the ‘Zircon Project’, or ‘The Brutality of Wapping’ and also engaging in work around the Miner’s Strike. Several members of the group had been under arrest and surveillance, such as Crispin Aubrey and Duncan Campbell who, along with State Research, engaged in work which came into conflict with ‘national security’. The (1988) Zircon film, which was banned from being screened in a House of Commons meeting room with the censorship backed by Neil Kinnock, the leader of the opposition, touched on three themes: the lack of accountability to Parliament; the need for Britain to have its own intelligence-gathering satellite (and its dependence on the US); and unnecessary secrecy, building a picture of incompetence and self-delusion in government over issues of national security, compounded by the Spycatcher affair.

The Director of the NSA between 1985 and 1989 was lieutenant-general, William Odom, who is quoted in Mark Urban’s (1997) UK Eyes Alpha: The Inside Story of British Intelligence, as saying: ‘It’s a very uneven relationship, to put it mildly . . . the name of the British game is to show up with one card and expect to call all the shots.’ Odom wrote for the IEDSS and collaborated in the New Atlantic Initiative, discussed below.

Some broader appreciation of think tanks is said to have emerged with the fall of Mrs Thatcher and the subsequent reconfiguration evident on the right which we can relate to the emergence of what could be termed ‘New Labour’ think tanks or those with a submerged neo-conservative aganda, who aimed to emulate the relationship think tanks had with the Thatcher government (possibly without any real knowledge of what this was) and, certainly in the case of Demos, and the IPPR, efforts were made to merge with some of the leading lights of the IEA.

Philippa Sherrington’s (2000) British think tanks: advancing the intellectual debate? in the British Journal of Politics & International Relations, Volume 2, Issue 2, (p. 256-263), cites Cockett’s work as one of the first contributions to reflect a new academic concern. Sherrington’s view is that the purpose of think tanks is to advance the intellectual debate: “to provide some sense of distance and thus perhaps see the bigger picture.” She reviews Denham and Garnett’s (1998) British Think Tanks and the Climate of Opinion; two volumes of Kandiah and Seldon’s (1996) Ideas and Think Tanks in Contemporary Britain Volume; Stone’s (1996) Capturing the Political Imagination.:Think Tanks and the Policy Process and Stone, Denham, and Garnett’s (1998) Think Tanks across Nations: A Comparative Approach. For Sherrinton during the 1980s awareness of the role of British think tanks heightened, giving us a wave of publications in the 1990s. This increase in academic research on think tanks is attributed to an increase of interest in the role of non-state actors in society, in relation to the accountability and legitimacy of contemporary political structures. For Sherrington, the fact that issues of the role of non-state actors and the development of epistemic communities and policy networks are being explored illustrates progress. Yet this seems to have been bogged down in a ‘preoccupation with definition’:

Some think tanks have been referred to as ‘universities without students’; others as research organisations or advocacy coalitions. One task has been to try to differentiate between ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’—that is, to identify the level of autonomy from government. This was particularly pertinent in Britain as the term was first used when discussing the Cabinet Office’s Central Policy Review Staff.

The shift in attention had an initial focus on clearly ideologically orientated bodies. Methodologically, Denham and Garnett use detailed case studies to explore the importance of idea generation for influencing the climate of opinion. Generally, loose typologies are employed to identify organisational, ideological and financial distinctions between the organisations under study. Stone is said to offer a comparative examination (of American and British think tanks) which adopts a policy analysis framework, classifying think tanks in terms of agenda-setting, policy innovation and entrepreneurship, and knowledge communities; others are criticised because of reliance on the comments of interested observers. On several occasions the language used to describe think tanks seems diffuse: they influence the climate of opinion; they create an intellectually sympathetic environment; they create a cosy setting; they create an impression of influence rather than proof of influence. One more substantive observation, from Bakvis’ (1997) Advising the executive: think tanks, consultants, political staff and kitchen cabinets, in Weller, Bakvis and Rhodes’ (eds), The Hollow Crown: Countervailing Trends in Core Executives, in terms of what think tanks actually do, is that they ‘can play an important role in […] providing substance for the government’s mandate and in managing its agenda’. Whether these works represent something counter to mainstream sociology in providing a more complete picture of our society and the world is not affirmed.

Do think tanks contribute to the formation of a “political determinism,” i.e., a potentially autonomous state in today’s terms, and “military determinism” as well as “economic determinism,” how do think tanks relate to power structure research, which employs a range of empirical methods in an attempt to synthesize competing theoretical views. For William Domhoff’s (2006) Mills’s The Power Elite 50 Years Later, Volume 35, Number 6, Contemporary Sociology:

For anyone who thinks that there have been major changes in the nature and functioning of the corporate community, or that individualistic and relatively issueless political campaigns are something new, or that the current “high and mighty” are more arrogant or corrupted by power than in the past, re-reading [The Power Elite] is a sobering reminder that some things have not changed as much as many people might think due to our tendency to mythologize and romanticize the past. As for the more important matter of theoretical soundness, it appears that Mills was mostly right about the top levels of the power structure, but mostly wrong about the other levels of American society. Most of all, his synthesis of Max Weber, Karl Mannheim, Karl Marx, Franz Neumann, Harold Lasswell, and Progressive-Era historians underestimated the volatility and capacity for change within a capitalist society, including a possibility few, if any, social scientists anticipated: a successful corporate counterattack that would reverse the gains made by organized labor.

Domhoff argues that the deficiencies in Mills’ work have, thanks to subsequent research, been informed by the knowledge that the political directorate learns about policy issues and rubs shoulders with academic experts “through a corporate-financed network of foundations, think tanks, and policy-discussion groups”. Domhoff argues that Mills knew of these organizations through business sources, and did not give them the attention they deserved in terms of formulating new policies that are carried to government through a variety of clearly defined avenues, including corporate-backed politicians and appointments to government. Domhoff states that Mills compounded the problem of individual powerlessness (whereby people lack an organizational base and way to develop their own opinions and political trajectories) by overstating the role of the media in shaping public opinion. Domhoff has noticed that Mills did not predict the 1960s in terms of a totalisation of the incremental freedoms and short-lived cultural experimentation; but then he seems to argue that in the 1970s Mills’ predictive power comes back into play:

We know in detail about this decision to turn right because the issues were debated in think tanks like The Brookings Institution and policy-discussion forums like the Committee for Economic Development, where the majority said no to permanent wage and price controls, increased planning, and related liberal Keynesian policies. Instead, they advocated monetary policies that would cure inflation through throwing people out of work, cutbacks in the welfare state, deregulation of key business sectors, and continuing attacks on unions. The newly formed Business Roundtable, which gradually emerged as part of the anti-union offensive of the 1960s, took charge of the right turn. This, of course, brings us to the present moment, an almost unbroken march to the right on economic issues, along with an increasing concentration of the wealth and income distributions.

Think tanks, particularly the network of right-wing think tanks, can gather economic, political, and military sectors that are the potentially independent power bases of the power elite, or that seems to have been an aim as part of the process of producing the ‘policy-knowledge’. But, in reality, what type of person runs or joins a think tank: retired generals, disgruntled college lecturers? and what relation do the assembly of impressive names in a note paper/web site advisory board really have to the operation of the organisation. Thomas Medvetz’s (2006) Merchants of Expertise: Think Tanks in the U.S. Field of Power, uses the influence of Pierre Bourdieu by taking the field i.e., the system of intellectual production in which think tanks compete rather than the organization, as the basic unit of analysis.

For Medvetz the think tank sector in the US represents the creation and legitimation of a vantage point from which “hybrid intellectuals” participate in public debates. The think tank sphere is both dependent on and subordinate to institutions of political and economic power, and acts against the inclusion of independent intellectuals, in an attempt to marginalise the role of academic social science:

Think tanks are significant not only for what they produce, but also for what they preclude, an effect that is invisible if one looks only at their role in promoting specific policies.

Arguably, some of the mystique of the right-wing think tanks was punctured by Cockett’s work, whether this was unintentionally imbued by left-wing writers trying to scratch the surface from without is difficult to say. One aspect of the mystique of the right-wing think tanks is their connection to the US and the shadowplay of the intelligence services. When he was the director of the CPS Frost reviewed Brian Crozier’s memoir Free Agent for The Times (July 22, 1993) titled ‘Fighting the good fight’ adding that Crozier described his own role in the covert aspects of the East-West struggle as “making good for the failures of those in authority through personal initiative.” Frost also adds:

Many of those in the Foreign Office and, for that matter, in the US State Department viewed the problems presented by Soviet disinformation, forgeries, agents of influence and the like with extreme distaste. It was not the kind of thing which their background or training equipped them to deal with. As a result, the official reaction was sometimes to play down the significance of these aspects of Soviet behaviour or simply to pretend that such things did not occur. The FO’s information and research department set up by Christopher (now Lord) Mayhew, for which Crozier worked as a consultant, proved a triumphant exception to this rule.

Frost was the editor of (1997) Loyalty Misplaced, published by the Social Affairs Unit which included experts, such as Arthur Aughey, who dealt with what Frost, quoted in the (1997) Belfast News Letter, March 3, called the “overweening moral arrogance of the terrorist and his tendency to wallow in self-pity”. This adds that:

The core of Dr Aughey’s thesis is that only when Britain adopts a firm and steadfast policy on Northern Ireland will the IRA be forced to accept that it cannot succeed with its ‘Brits Out’ strategy. […] The public was also invited to join in attempts to establish a moral equivalence between the actions of the terrorists and the response of the State. All part, of course, of a well-orchestrated campaign to transform those convicted of violent crime into victims of circumstance. […] In Dr Aughey’s view, there is clearly a danger that the circumstances created by the Government, so as to include extremists in a comprehensive settlement of the Ulster question, can disorder the most robust of senses. He stresses that governments need resolution, not the sort of cynical political realism which comes close at times to the appeasement of the men of violence.

According to an (1996) Evening Standard (March 08) report Frost was ‘ousted’ from the Centre for Policy Studies (to be replaced by Tessa Keswick in 1995) only to find a home in the Social Affairs Unit, where he advanced such concepts as advocating the buying of shares in “arms manufacturers supplying the Third World”:

‘The ‘ethical investor’ takes for granted that a war in which modern weaponry is used will be more destructive than one in which primitive weapons are involved,’ he reasons. ‘It is an assumption not totally borne out by experience.’

According to Donald MacIntyre’s (1995) Head of Tory think-tank ousted in ‘palace coup’; Thatcher legacy: Right-wing group keen to reinstate radical influence, in the Independent (September 6) Frost’s departure followed a power struggle on the board in which the death of (Lord) Keith Joseph, described as one of Frost’s principal defenders, may have helped swing the balance. This also stated that one complaint against Frost is that he was partly to blame for a relative decline in the CPS’s profile compared to other think-tanks such as the Adam Smith Institute, the Social Market Foundation and Demos — and at a time when both main political parties were casting around for new manifesto ideas.

The CPS chairman, Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach, in a letter to the Guardian (September 5, 1995) maintained that Frost had resigned and that the CPS’ income had increased. A (1994) letter from Frost to Sir Patrick Sheehy of British American Tobacco, soliciting funds (and seemingly offering access) states that:

As you know the CPS is distinguished not only by its record in formulating the core of ideas behind the radical economic and political reforms of the 1980s, but also by its close yet informal relationship with the Conservative party and the Government.

This solicitation stands in some contrast to Frost’s (2008) Eurofacts essay The taxpayer is paying almost the entire cost of producing a commodity which the EU says is responsible for the deaths of millions.

More recently Frost has been troubled by the lifting of the ban on homosexuals in the armed forces, as the editor of Not Fit to Fight: Cultural Subversion of the Armed Forces in Britain and America, published by the Social Affairs Unit, which warned that: “The British Armed Services are threatened not by foreign powers, but from within,” according to The Times, October 15, 2007. Not that Frost has abandoned the Soviet Union.

The Caspian Information Centre

Jeremy Page’s (2005) U.K. team accused of election whitewash, in The Times, December 6, stated that a team of British politicians and academics, led by Lord Parkinson, was accused of “whitewashing a rigged election in the oil-rich Central Asian nation of Kazakhstan”. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, had sent 460 observers, and said that the election did not meet international democratic standards, pointing to “harassment, intimidation and detentions of campaign staff and supporters of opposition candidates”. Lord Parkinson’s seven-strong team, which also included Peter Lilley, calling itself a “British parliamentary group,” pre-empted the OSCE report with a much more positive assessment. One of the main opposition leaders: “They are lying […] This must have been funded by a large energy company or a front for the Kazakh government.”

The group was in fact organized by the Caspian Information Centre, which describes itself as a London-based non-profit think-tank. The centre’s director and sole employee, Gerald Frost, initially told The Times it had a single private corporate sponsor, but refused to identify it. He later named it as Typhoon Media International, based in Hong Kong, but denied it had interests in Kazakhstan. Its website says Typhoon is “best known for working on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and other gameshows in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The CIC’s verdict can still be found on their site under the heading of Monitoring role of OSCE criticised by independent experts. The mission comprised: Gerald Frost, CIC’s general director; Kenneth Minogue, Prof. Dennis O’Keefe, and David Ruffley, a Conservative MP.

The Phantom Academy

Frost is also the director of Institute of Economic Affair’s Trade and Development Unit and he is also the author of (2002) Antony Fisher: Champion of Liberty, a profile of the chicken farmer who founded the IEA (with Oliver Smedley) in 1955. According to a December 16 (2002) review of it by Ralph Harris, in The Independent, Fisher was a Christian Scientist who, after reading The Road to Serfdom, went in search of the Hayek at the LSE. He asked Hayek what could be done to resist this collectivism:

Believing with Keynes that public policy was shaped in the long run by principled intellectuals, Hayek recommended Fisher to shun politics. Instead, he should seek out scholars who would endeavour to restore understanding of the classical liberal tradition of Adam Smith and David Hume. Frost describes the unfolding of Hayek’s grand strategy as Seldon orchestrated a growing band of British, European and American economists, political scientists and historians to explore the application of free markets to goods and services long thought the preserve of state control.

The book (promoted by Institute of Economic Affairs) contains a ‘tribute’ from Conservative MP Oliver Letwin (p. 3):

Without Fisher, no IEA; without the IEA and its clones, no Thatcher and quite possibly no Reagan; without Reagan, no Star Wars; without Star Wars, no economic collapse of the Soviet Union. Quite a chain of consequences for a chicken farmer!

Little more than a hagiography, the book does mention (p. 31) that on arrival in the US in 1977 Fisher had a plan for a think tank that would explain the virtues of the free market to the mostly liberal (i.e. mildly socialist) New York City:

This was an idea Antony had discussed with Bill Casey, a New York lawyer with growing influence in the Republican Party and more widely in the American conservative movement. Again, the model was to be the Institute of Economic Affairs. Between them, Fisher and Casey – later to become Ronald Reagan’s campaign manager and subsequently his Director of the CIA – identified potential donors, and in 1977 set up a new body eventually called the Manhattan Institute.

In 1979 Fisher also co-founded the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, in San Francisco with James North. At the same time Fisher also ‘served conscientiously’ as a trustee of the Adam Smith Institute, and hosted parties at his London flat to which potential donors were invited. It makes no mention of Madsen Pirie, Eamonn Butler and his brother Stuart Butler’s connections to the Heritage Foundation. At this point the IEA is said to have funded Digby Anderson, to set up the Social Affairs Unit, as it was to to concentrate on critical evaluations of the welfare state and Fisher set up an organisation that would help create free-market think tanks world-wide: the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.

Richard Cockett’s (1995) Thinking the unthinkable, drawing on the records of the IEA (accessioned in the Hoover Institution Archives as a deposit in 1996) describes the IEA:

Two of the Institute’s most prominent advocates and contributors were Friedrich A. von Hayek (Antony Fisher’s main inspiration) and fellow Nobel laureate Milton Friedman, both of whom deposited their papers in the Hoover Archives. Other economists of international renown who have done so include Gottfried Haberler, Fritz Machlup, Schmölders, Gordon Tullock, and F. A. Harper, who invited Fisher to the United States in 1952 and whose Foundation for Economic Education gave him the model for the future IEA. Other related collections are those of philosopher Karl Popper, publisher Henry Regnery, and journalist Lawrence Fertig. Many of these figures were also members of the Mont Pèlerin Society, an organization of laissez-faire economists whose records we house as well.

James Hackett’s (2000) Lady Thatcher on missile defense, June 05, The Washington Times, stated that a House of Lords Missile Proliferation Study Group, which produced a (2000) report: “Coming into Range: Britain’s Growing Vulnerability to Missiles and Weapons of Mass Destruction,” and encouraged the US to create a global missile defense. Prepared under the leadership of Lord Chalfont, the study director was Gerald Frost and is something of a re-run of the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies work on Star Wars in the 1980s. The report was said to follow in the wake of the (1998) Rumsfeld Commission, with the sub text that “It is not in Britain’s interests,” the report finds, “for the leader of the Western Alliance the U.S. to be vulnerable to missile threats as a result of misplaced faith in the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and a flawed Cold War dogma.” Britain, it adds, should support a U.S. decision to “free itself from the constraints of the treaty.” Frost is also said to have argued that critics:

…fail to grasp that rogue states will target countries that are undefended instead of those that are defended. If Europe is included in a missile defense system, it could lead to a renewal of the Western Alliance. If not, it could wreck it.

In retrospect, the 9/11 attacks were on some of the most heavily defended emplacements the US had, the report is seen as “support from England”.

America and her friends‘ was the title of an article Frost wrote in 1991 for the National Review, which was something of a club house for fellow members of the IEDSS, and, in part, can be described as having the intention of moving Conservativism further towards the right. The National Review, could also be described as being influenced by Dwight Macdonald’s Politics, a production highly thought of in terms of journalism in the 1940s despite being a one-man operation; as with Irving Howe’s Dissent, and with Analysis, Frank Chodorov’s small broadsheet, which helped inspire William F. Buckley to create the National Review. Related publications such as Commentary, the New Criterion and the Weekly Standard have a comparatively small distribution.

It is possible, as with the wider cultural field, that the dissemination of these publications and their subsidy and promotion may have produced a somewhat deceptive inflated impression of their significance: in many respects they resemble small in-house newsletters. But with these magazines, and the organisations that surround and support them, there is a wider question of the compatibility of the ideas advanced in relation to how they can be adapted to policy. The style of abstraction appropriate to politics may not be appropriate to sociology: politics has factors of immediate concern, time limitations: how can long-range descriptions of tendencies be brought to bear on the immediate requirements of political problems? Are they just propaganda in the sense of distortions, denials and exaggerations for the purposes of influencing the reader towards particular ideological standpoints? When director of the CPS, Frost was quoted by the Independent (April 10, 1994) as stating: ”We’re all really second-hand dealers in ideas,” the provenance of the term can be found in Ralph Harris in the National Review (June 16, 1997) in an essay, The plan to end planning, touches on this with his remarks on the fifty-year span of the Mont Pelerin Society:

An objective observer at that first gathering in 1947 must surely have marveled at Hayek’s dream and mocked his tiny band of economists, philosophers, and historians cocooned in Switzerland, remote from the ugly realities throughout the rest of Europe. After all, their purpose was to launch an intellectual crusade aimed at reversing the rising tide of postwar collectivism already signaled by the swamping Labour majority that had swept Churchill aside in Britain. […] It was nothing less than to reconstruct the essential framework of a free society, with limited government under the rule of law, guaranteeing private property rights but permitting “the possibility of establishing minimum standards by means not inimical to initiative and functioning of the market.” In short, Hayek’s war aim was to reverse the tide of collectivism sweeping across Europe after 1945 from the Soviet Union westward to Britain, already being converted into a socialist laboratory. So did the whole enterprise amount — as a cynic might scoff — to a self-contradictory project of formulating a plan to end planning? And if so, the second question asks itself: Has the plan worked?

For Harris “planning” should mean “no more than seeking to act rationally with as much foresight,” although he does feel that the Western world was in the grip of a conspiracy:

The planning which those early Mont Pelerinians sought to dethrone referred to ambitious projects devised by politicians, financed from “public” money, and imposed by coercion on a defenseless public.

But while his recollection talks in rather conspiratorial terms of a private plan and Hayek’s ‘fellow plotters’, it argues that the change would be facilitated by the publication of Hayek’s (1949) essay, The Intellectuals and Socialism, and draws on a statement attributed to Keynes which argues that it is “the ideas of economists and philosophers (“both when they are right and when they are wrong”) that rule the world.” Hayek, Harris argues, deliberately defined “intellectuals” by going beyond academic knowledge to opinion, describing an intellectual group Hayek defined as:

“professional second-hand dealers in ideas” who are attracted to socialism by the benevolence of its intentions and the excitement of its sweeping Utopian aspirations.

The second hand dealers should be sold an anti-socialist utopia in a ‘war of ideas’:

The message of hope for all Mont Pelerinians was this: “Once the more active part of the intellectuals have been converted to a set of beliefs, the process by which these become generally accepted is almost automatic and irresistible.” This was the plan Hayek proposed setting in motion with the establishment of the Mont Pelerin Society. It was to be a kind of dispersed worldwide academy of uncompromising liberal scholars and students. It was a mobile, almost phantom academy. It had no base or permanent staff. Instead, over the next half-century, a growing number of carefully vetted members would meet in private conclave every year or two, at agreeable venues around the world

These conclaves would comprise the presentation of papers would be read, discussion, on what are perceived as “endemic disorders” of modern societies (inflation, monopoly, protectionism, trade-unionism, lobbying, and state “welfare,” the cumulative growth of government, taxation, regulation, and “all the other mischiefs to which “majoritarian democracy” is prey”). Here an ideological weltenshauung hoves into view which (although ‘freedom’ is said to be the focal point) serves to delimit possibility. There is also a lacuna in this formulation: the Society eschewed publicity. It wanted more “second-hand dealers in ideas” to spread its vision, but “their recruitment and re-education” would be undertaken “spontaneously” (in Hayekian terminology):

…by individual members through their lectures and writings or through the burgeoning of “think tanks” following the pioneering example of the Institute of Economic Affairs, established in 1957 by Antony Fisher, one of the minority of early business members of the Society.

To assess the success of Mont Pelerin and its ‘phantom academy’ Harris offers the overstatement of the “worldwide retreat from socialism” and asserts that:

the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of Reagan and Thatcher as trailblazers for radical market reforms around the world hardly require elaboration.

Americans are urged to judge the influence of the many MPS members surrounding President Reagan. And in Britain, Margaret Thatcher’s central reform of trade unions, state industries and monetary policy, were directly instructed in market analysis by “IEA publications shaped by Mont Pelerin principles”. The decisive role, he argues, was played by academics and journalists who engaged in a transformation of public opinion:

Final proof of the Iron Lady’s success was displayed in the recent British election, when “New Labour” won a landslide victory only by explicitly renouncing socialism and boasting it could make the “dynamic market economy” work better than the tired Conservatives could.

But why have the Conservatives grown so tired of such a vital mission, where is the eternal vigilance, surely this requires elaboration. The dynamic market economy does not extend to the funding of the costs of the phantom academy, with the input of Richard Mellon Scaife et al, its smooth functioning is based on inherited wealth, tax write-offs and largesse; but also this notion of a private conclave which if the curtain is pulled back to reveal the mechanism destroys the mystique that a revolution rather than a manipulation is taking place. Nowhere in Harris’ formulation do we have the placement of organisations such as the Congress for Cultural Freedom or the Information Research Department and their covert work, despite the fact that key players in these organisations formed the IEDSS which Frost founded. As Simmel put it in his (1906) The Sociology of Secrecy and of Secret Societies:

… secrecy procures enormous extension of life, because with publicity many sorts of purposes could never arrive at realization. Secrecy secures, so to speak, the possibility of a second world alongside of the obvious world, and the latter is most strenuously affected by the former. Every relationship between two individuals or two groups will be characterized by the ratio of secrecy that is involved in it. Even when one of the parties does not notice the secret factor, yet the attitude of the concealer, and consequently the whole relationship, will be modified by it.

The polemic arguments in defense of the MPS’ phantom academy are similar to the influence of religious sects which were the focus of Weber’s study of what constituted the ‘spirit’ of capitalism and in another sense they correspond to the dérivations and (in terms of the inner attitudes) the residues of Pareto. Indeed the formulation of the derivations and residues of the MPS dates to the 1940s and is theoretically based on much earlier theoretical work. According to Ellsworth Faris (1927) The Sect and the Sectarian, a sect may unite members who are moved by a wide variety of residues. But the secrecy that surrounded the MPS also reflects a tendency to “reify” institutions. We can also view the work of the MPS as yet another ‘dialogue with Marx’ in terms of its concentration on socialism, bureaucracy and autonomy—but what is the cost of this fixation. Indeed where is the criticism of the right: there seems to be no focus in their formulation of Capitalism under the Nazis. Originally published in Partisan Review, September, October 1942, it is interesting to bring in C. Wright Mills’ review of Franz Neumann’s Behemoth: The Structure and Function of National Socialism 1933-1944, on how he viewed capitalism at that time:

One of the generic errors of those who do not see the German economy as capitalistic is Marx’s view that capitalism is an anarchy of production. Of course, as Max Weber contended, modern Western capitalism is nothing of the sort. It is rationalized and planned. The more monopolization continues, the more capitalism is controlled and planned. “States” have interfered less in the mechanisms of laissez-faire than have monopoly capitalists. Many of those who would deny the advantages of capitalism to Germany do so within a definition of pre-twentieth century capitalism. However much this may help along the pleasant attitudes held of capitalism in other countries, it is not fair to the capitalists of Germany. […] To define “capitalism” as consisting of the “free competition” of a large number of independent entrepreneurs with freedom of contract and trade is, of course, to speak of the past. A more enduring trait, and therefore one better fitted to be seized upon in a definition, is the major institution of modern society: private property in the means of production. Now rapid technological change, requiring heavy investments, further augments the gobbling up of the little by the big and this monopolization eventuates in an extremely rigid economic structure. Powerful corporations demand guarantees and subsidies from the state. Thus, in the era of monopolization “the administrative act” and not “the contract” becomes “the auxiliary guarantee of property.” Intervention becomes central, and: “who is to interfere and on whose behalf becomes the most important question for modern society.”

The manner in which Nazi doctrine is shaped by the need to ensnare various strata is neatly illustrated by its inclusion of perverted Marxist elements. Although not necessarily to the liking of mainstream Conservatism, for the National Review (NR), the Reagan and Thatcher era was perceived (certainly in terms of symbolism) as being bound up and directed by the group around the NR and other key nodes which we could typify as mostly debating and publishing groups, political action committees focused on key sectors such as defence and security, economics and public policy. John O’Sullivan claims to have been a Thatcherite before Thatcher. Thatcher and Regan’s relationship (and myths woven around it) became intertwined as embodying the trans-Atlantic relationship: the ‘special relationship,’ dating back to the second world war which casts the British as the Greeks to the Americans as the Roman Empire— but the behind the scenes influence of think tanks is somewhat obfuscated in terms of being underplayed downplayed and overplayed.

Some theoretical observations

Many of the legislative initiatives and economic policies of the ‘Reagan Revolution’ were thought to be hatched by conservative think tanks in the 1970s and 1980s and in Britain a group of policy entrepreneurs with connections to to the right also sought to have a similar influence. Aspects of this influence in terms of policy-making being encouraged to move away from parliament is also under-explored—where do political parties get their ideas from. Some measurements indicate that think tank-like organisations are increasingly becoming political action committees. Forty American public policy groups have this in common: they seek to undermine the scientific consensus that humans are causing the earth to overheat. And they are all funded by ExxonMobil. Concerning labeling and attribution, more recently the most mentioned think tank in America, the Brookings Institution, was given no identification in 78% of the 229 citations examined. In another 17%, it was identified as being located in Washington, D.C. Twice it was referred to as “liberal,” twice as “non-partisan” and once as “centrist.” As regards the media generally for the third year in a row, conservative or right-leaning think tanks in 1997 provided more than half of major media’s think tank citations, according to FAIR’s third annual survey of major newspaper and broadcast media citations in the Nexis computer database. Think tanks of the right provided 53% of citations, while progressive or left-leaning think tanks received just 16% of total citations. Although I would advocate an analytical framework drawing on the work of C. Wright Mills.

It would be interesting to have an accessible account of how the influence of think tanks has been theorised and comprehended. This could touch upon actor network theory, but wold have to follow a specific and fairly extensive time period if an attempt to understand processes of innovation and knowledge-creation were to be followed. It would also have to develop a critical theory of power in organizations; but, one which offers the concept that networks are constituted in the entities that connect themselves in the network, and that both actor and network constitute, define and redefine each other. The power of the network is the network itself. Secondly, the politics of actor networks is to be found in the interest relations ‘where the different projects of different actors become mutually implicated’ (as put forward by Clegg, S. (1989) Frameworks of Power). What would we draw on for the analysis? This type of literature suggests that our knowledge of a network comes in part from the material artifacts it produces. There is an abundance of texts, programs and policies concerning hink tanks—which become the very resources for analysis of the political agency/action, and their fairly recent proliferation would seem to have some relation to the rise in awareness of an elite political class. The effort to persuade others to the views of the network are also accorded an important place in this view of politics and power relations, as Clegg put it (p 239).

Thus ‘documentation, reportage…formal discussion, argumentation, strategic planning, hierarchy and relationship formations serve as a means whereby meanings are inscribed in a network and, as such, represent the truths of that network.’

Domhoff’s (2007) power structure research offers a sophisticated methodological framework based on the idea that “power,” is for research purposes best understood as an underlying trait of a collectivity, such as an organization or a social class. This trait called “power” has to be studied with a number of different but overlapping indicators that together can overcome the individual weaknesses each one has. Within this context, power structure research is based on a combination of network analysis —more specifically, “membership network analysis,” as explained by R. L. Breiger (1974) The Duality of Persons and Groups, (Social Forces, Vol. 53, No. 2, p. 181-190.)—and content analysis, making use of four developed power indicators: what organization or class receives the most of what people seek for and value; what organization or class is over-represented in key decision-making positions; what organization or class wins in the decisional arena; and who is thought to be powerful by knowledgeable observers and peers. But what about sheer finagling, deception?

Gaetano Mosca is credited with developing the ‘Theory of Elitism’ and the doctrine of the ‘Political Class’ and is one of the three members constituting the Italian School of Elitists, the others being Vilfredo Pareto and Robert Michels. While Mosca’s work may seem outmoded, it is still of interest to the right, and any analysis of think tanks has to take into consideration the politicisation of theory in terms of what is ignored, disparaged or becomes a singular focus. Mosca’s contribution (usually described in terms of political science) is his observation that apart from ‘primitive’ forms, societies are ruled in fact, if not in theory, by a numerical minority— the ‘political class’. Although the theory is described as ‘elitist’, its basis is different from Mills’ conception in The Power Elite and elsewhere. Unlike Mills and others, Mosca aims was a general theory of political society—the Political Class. Mosca defined elites in term of the wielding of superior organisational skill. This organisational skill is shaped towards gaining political power in modern bureaucratic society. Mosca’s theory elites are not necessarily hereditary and individuals from lower classes can theoretically become part of the “elite”.

Mosca also offered the idea of “the circulation of elites,” exploring the dialectic of ongoing competition between elites, with one group replacing another over time. Academics seem unable to agree on how to define the term think tank McGann and Weaver (2000) define a think tank as, “… a policy research organization that has significant autonomy from government and from societal interests such as firms, interest groups, and political parties” (p. 5). Rich (2004) defines think tanks as, “independent, non-interest-based, nonprofit organizations that produce and principally rely on expertise and ideas to obtain support and to influence the policymaking process” (p. 11). I would challenge this emphasis on independence. The 2006 Political Quarterly’s (Volume 77, No. 2) trio of essays on think tanks were remarkably insufficient: Geoff Mulgan’s Thinking in Tanks: The Changing Ecology of Political Ideas, Andrew Denham and Mark Garnett’s What Works? British Think Tanks and the ‘End of Ideology and Justin Bentham’s The IPPR and Demos: Think Tanks of the New Social Democracy all offered very little of substance. Anthony Browne’s (2008) Spectator article: Britain needs US-style think tanks to counter the Left’s grip on universities seemed to return to the work of the IEDSS’s fantasy of universities somehow un-compliant with neo-liberalism, but bemoans the lack of money available to think tanks (so much for market values) except for the Royal United Services Institute (surely attributable to the war). Browne (Director Of Policy Exchange) seems to be engaging in some self-promotion: while noting that his rivals are struggling for funds his organisation is doing well (offering a claim of income of £3m). But the essay offers no evidence of what it claims to be happening in universities, indeed there is no mention of universities except for the glib observation that:

In Britain, top policy thinkers choose to work in universities; in the US they choose to work in think tanks. ‘Think tanks are more important than universities now,’ Frum told me, without a hint of immodesty. Even though I lead Policy Exchange, Britain’s (and arguably Europe’s) largest centre-right think tank, I wouldn’t dare to claim we are more important than a university.

And the unsubstantiated assertion that

“Universities are pretty much monopolised by the Left, and seem to rejoice in their lack of real-world impact.”

This does note (without comment) that in 2005, Lady Thatcher’s became a Patron of the Heritage Foundation, which now houses the new Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. Heritage still has the IEDSS’ Frank Shakespeare and Edwin J. Feulner. And there is no real comment on the think tanks as a propaganda project in terms of public diplomacy or their tendency to act as a business lobby or how only a lunatic would describe the Heritage Foundation’s output as objective. So why are organisations like Browne’s making money? Arun Kundnani the editor of Race & Class in a (2008) essay How are thinktanks shaping the political agenda on Muslims in Britain? argues that Policy Exchange, the Social Affairs Unit and the Centre for Social Cohesion are driving the political agenda on Muslims in Britain while think tanks on the left are largely silent on the matter. He singles out Browne who became policy director at Boris Johnson’s London mayoral team. There is also a section in the essay which puts forward the idea of a reviving or recasting of the cold war:

What Browne’s, Moore’s and Gove’s comments illustrate is the attempt to justify illberal policies in the name of defending ‘liberal’ western values against an alien ‘totalitarian’ threat. This is the paradoxical project that is now the major theme of centre-Right thinking on multiculturalism and the ‘war on terror’. Indeed, the debate on multiculturalism has become a part of what many regard as a new ‘cultural’ cold war to promote a ‘moderate’ (i.e. pro-western) Islam across the globe – and particularly in Europe. This is a model that has been endorsed by Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has spoken of a new cold war against ‘Muslim extremism’, fought through the ‘soft power’ of cultural influence. The role of thinktanks would then not only be to supply political parties with policy suggestions but also to popularise the idea of ‘Islamism’ as an existential threat to the West that requires a hardline, Cold War-style response. As Dean Godson, a research director at PX who has strong links to well-known Washington neoconservatives, wrote in 2006: ‘During the Cold War, organisations such as the Information Research Department of the Foreign Office would assert the superiority of the West over its totalitarian rivals. And magazines such as Encounter did hand-to-hand combat with Soviet fellow travellers. For any kind of truly moderate Islam to flourish, we need first to recapture our own self-confidence.’

It also adds that:

Encounter, of course, was covertly funded by the CIA. But Godson’s suggestion has been taken up with the launch of Standpoint magazine, published by another thinktank, the Social Affairs Unit (SAU). Its editor Daniel Johnson explicitly sees Standpoint as a 21st-century version of Encounter, except with Islamism replacing communism as the threat to western civilisation. By uniting around the formula of the ‘defence of the liberal West against the Islamists’, the magazine has been able to incorporate pro-Iraq war ‘liberal’ writers, such as Nick Cohen and Julie Burchill, with neoconservatives. Michael Gove serves on the magazine’s advisory board, as does Gertrude Himmelfarb (one of Gordon Brown’s favourite historians and wife and mother of the leading US neoconservatives Irving and William Kristol).

The references of the essay contain links to some of the debate over other think tanks’, such as Demos attitude to aspects of the debate:Martin Bright, ‘Hamas at Olympia’, New Statesman (10 July 2008). Nick Cohen, ‘Demos and IslamExpo’, Harry’s Place (16 July 2008). The Social Affairs Unit contains two former members of the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies, Antonio Martino and John O’Sullivan, which had strong ties to both the Congress for Cultural Freedom and the Information Research Department and Encounter. Policy Exchange is part of the Phantom Acadamy as part of the Stockholm Network

The Phantom epistemic community

Thomas Teichler’s (2007) “Think Tanks as an Epistemic Community: The Case of European Armaments Cooperation” a paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association in Chicago, asks what role think tanks play in terms of European armaments cooperation? The theoretical underpinnings of the essay are cognitive school or regime theory which would consider think tanks as part of an epistemic community. This theoretical position argues, that “think tanks share a body of consensual knowledge and provide it to policy makers who seek reducing the uncertainty of armaments cooperation”. He argues that there is no real examination of whether European think tanks form such an epistemic community. The work takes four organizations in three different countries as case studies to examine their discussion of the creation of the European Defense Agency from 2000 to 2005. The four think tanks are the Düsseldorfer Institut für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik (DIAS) and the Centrum für angewandte Politikforschnung (CAP) as university-based think tanks with a security and a EU focus respectively. The Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS) and Centre for European Reform (CER). His proposal is for a refinement of the notion of consensual knowledge, which takes into consideration how epistemic communities become involved in the political process. he argues that they don’t just disseminate consensual knowledge but act in a performative way.

By publishing about European armaments cooperation, think tanks participate in creating it, and I distinguish three sources of institutional fact that they draw on in this process.

The think tanks contribute to the construction of a social reality, they create institutional facts and say they make sense of them. Cognitive regime theory is interested in the processes by which consensual knowledge – the consensus shared by the members of the epistemic community – is accepted by policy makers and is acted upon. Experts are thus considered as “cognitive baggage handlers” and “gatekeepers” who control the entering of new ideas into political institutions, not unlike Harris’ metaphor of second-hand dealers. Javier Solana became the Head of the European Defense Agency (EDA) and Nick Withney, a British civil servant, its Chief Executive Officer. A Steering Board composed of the defense ministers of the participating Member States 19 acts as the decision-making body. Even at this point one begins to feel how (given a decent budget from an arm manufacturer, say Lockheed) easy it would be to influence such a set -up. The armaments industry is one of the actors that needs to be closely involved as it can supply know-how, innovation, technology but also financial and management resources. The EDA is considered to be in a “key position” regarding the control of procurement and research activities of a “networked security sector” in Europe. US firms are considered the benchmark for the competitiveness of European armaments companies, as it is against these firms that they have to prevail in export markets or with whom they team up in joint transatlantic projects. In an attempt to regard the groups as a community he views the apparant divergence of thought as just that, it is argued:

They are better considered as attempts to make sense of an ongoing development and thereby as a contribution to the construction of a common political reality. The accounts are partly overlapping, both complementing but also contradicting each other. This reflects an ongoing contest about the nature of the cooperation, the actors to be involved in it, their status, and interests. The lack of a body of homogenous knowledge is hence understood as an expression of diversity without which political debate and political life are not possible.

For a think tank to suceed it must operate under favourable constraints the authors feel that the reluctance of the academic community to ditch Keynesianism, and the relative declining electoral success of the Conservatives under Thatcher’s leadership, limit the validity of such claims. In a review of Denham and Garnett’s (1998) British Think Tanks and the Climate of Opinion; Kandiah Seldon’s (1996) Ideas and Think Tanks in Contemporary Britain; Kandiah and Seldon’s (1996) Ideas and Think Tanks in Contemporary Britain; Stone’s (1996) Capturing the Political Imagination. Think Tanks and the Policy Process; Stone, Denham and Garnett’s (1998) Think Tanks across Nations: A Comparative Approach, Phillipa Sherington observes that In the UK, the serach for some commonality of classification

…was eased by the ideological trends in the development of think tanks, and in particular the third wave. This refers to the emergence of institutes representing the views of the New Right, such as the Institute of Economic Affairs, the Centre for Policy Studies founded by Keith Joseph, and the Adam Smith Institute.

The Institute of Economic Affairs, the Social Market Foundation and the Institute for Public Policy Research are grouped together to represent a divergence of opinion. But what if we find individuals who are part of all these groups? Or funders? She argues that Diane Stone’s comparative examination of American and British think tanks differs conceptually from other writings. Adopting a policy analysis framework, she classifies thinktanks in terms of agenda -setting, policy innovation and entrepreneurship, and knowledge communities. Bakvis’ suggestion that, rather than ebbing away at the core executive, British think tanks ‘can play an important role in sustaining this capacity, both in providing substance for the government’s mandate and in managing its agenda’ Her observation that Whilst Demos in particular is not as ideologically identifiable as, say, the Institute of Economic Affairs, it has certainly enabled the reconstruction of this notion of ideological fellowship. ignores the involvement of IEA members and the Mezzanine’s incorporation of Civitas.

The New Atlantic Initiative

Frost and William E. Odom‘s (2000) The Congress of Prague: Revitalizing the Atlantic Alliance, was based on a May 1996 meeting at the Cernin Palace in Prague to “celebrate the achievements of Western civilization.” This was the first major public event staged by the New Atlantic Initiative, itself an offshoot of the IEDSS, where Frost remained a consultant director (described (p. 223) as “our first organizing home and which did so much to get us started”, IEDSS director, Andrew McHallam is specifically mentioned) and was published by the American Enterprise Institute —its president, Christopher DeMuth, and its scholars Richard Perle, Jeffrey Gedmin, and Irwin Stelzer are specifically mentioned.

(Lt. Gen) Odom is director of National Security Studies for the Hudson Institute and was director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988 and military assistant to Zbigniew Brzezinski — and had written for the IEDSS. and contributors include Christoph Bertram, Alun Chalfont, Pete du Pont, Vaclav Havel, Paul Johnson, Max M. Kampelman, Adrian Karatnycky, Lane Kirkland, Vaclav Klaus, Jon Kyl, William Luers, David McCurdy, Antonio Martino, and Margaret Thatcher. The collection is mostly concerned with the expansion of NATO.

The NAI seems part of a ‘Neo-Conservative International,’ indeed Frank Gaffney’s (1996) Birth of the New Atlantic Initiative, The Washington Times, May 16, stated that the NAI was “the most important new institution for the defense and expansion of freedom since the creation of NATO in 1949.” The work of the NAI can also be seen as an attempt to frame elite policy development in the aftermath of the end of the Cold War, and a right-wing response to the Clinton Administration and the Blair Administrations coming to power, together with the Baltic nations preparing themselves for membership in NATO, the European Union and other bodies: Gaffney, who is part of the network that promote the NAI also stated in (1997) ‘Founding Act’ or ‘Final Act’ for NATO? The Washington Times, May 20, that the IEDSS’s:

Albert Wohlstetter must be spinning in his grave. The Clinton administration’s gross mismanagement of the NATO enlargement issue, and its ominous implications for the nation’s most important alliance, would infuriate Mr. Wohlstetter…

This then adds that:

As Richard Perle – one of Mr. Wohlstetter’s most accomplished proteges – noted at a splendid congress of the New Atlantic Initiative held here over the weekend, the agreement reads like a Soviet document. This is, as the communists loved to say, “no accident, comrade.” After all, the principal author for the Russian side was an unreconstructed apparatchik and longtime KGB operative from the old Soviet Union, Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov.

The Conference was subsidised by the William H. Donner Foundation, the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the National Review Institute, Hollinger International, Pfizer International Inc., Möet Hennessy Louis Vuitton Inc., Forbes Magazine, Mr. Rupert Murdoch, and Mr. Conrad Black.

The IEDSS’s John O’ Sullivan is the founder and co-chairman and thanks Charles Powell, “my former colleague at Downing Street”; Louise Oliver from the Donner Foundation; Adrian Karatnycky of Freedom House, “who did much to make this a genuinely bipartisan enterprise”; and Peter Rodman of the Nixon Center and National Review. Frost is said to have drafted the document that produced the debate.

Attendees from the UK include: Anne Applebaum, Brian Beedham, Max Beloff, Conrad Black, Robert Conquest, Iain Duncan-Smith, Douglas Eden , Daniel Finkelstein, Dean Godson, Miriam Gross, Paul Johnson, Peter Mandelson , Anne McElvoy, Andrew McHallam, Kenneth Minogue, Roger Scruton, Michael Spicer, Alan Lee Williams.

Frost also edited the (1998) The Congress of Phoenix: Rethinking Atlantic Security and Economics, also published by the AEI, which was held under the auspices of the NAI on May 16-18, 1997, this had more of an AEI slant, although the attendees are much the same including Michael A. Ledeen, Paul Wolfowitz, Dan Quayle, Richard N. Perle, John McCain, Bruce P. Jackson, Douglas J. Feith and John Bolton.

The list is very similar to the attendees of the (2001) Britain and America: A Strategic Dialogue Participant List, held in London, January 12-13. The New Atlantic Initiative is sponsored and based at the American Enterprise Institute as part of its focus on European affairs which mostly features the work of the NAI’s Radek Sikorski. This AEI define the NAI’s objectives as:

…to strengthen Atlantic cooperation in the post-cold war world by bringing together Americans and Europeans to work toward common goals, including:

* The reinvigoration of Atlantic institutions of political cooperation and consultation.
* The admission of Europe’s fledgling democracies into the institutions of Atlantic defense and European economic cooperation, notably NATO and the European Union.
* The establishment of free trade between an enlarged European Union and the North American Free Trade Area as a complement to strengthening global free trade.

The NAI was funded by the John M. Olin Foundation, in 1995, via the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies and then in 1996 via a “trustee grant designated by Mr. James Piereson” to support the Prague conference of the New Atlantic Initiative and then by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation from 1999 onwards. The NAI has recieved 27 grants totaling $4,108,000.

The NAI had an impressive advisory board (including three members of the IEDSS)

The NAI also sponsors conferences, debates, and roundtable discussions in the U.S., Europe and in Israel and Jordan, according to Sourcewatch the NAI is an attempt to “carry the lobbying methods of AIPAC to Europe” and it aims to influence policy throughout Europe with an “initial emphasis of these foundations is to foster friendly relations vis-a-vis Israel, to scuttle attempts to impose sanctions, and to crack down on anti-semitism.” The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (run by ormer Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Dore Gold) gives a list of co-operating institutions as:

Ari Movement (Istanbul)
Atlantic Club of Bulgaria (Sofia)
Atlantic Council of the United Kingdom (London)
Bohemiae Foundation (Prague)
Center for Democracy and Human Rights (Podgorica)
Center for the New Europe (Brussels)
Centre for European Reform (London)
Civic Institute (Prague)
Freedom House
German Marshall Fund of the United States (Washington)
Hudson Institute (Washington)
Institute for Public Affairs (Bratislava)
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (Jerusalem)
Karamanlis Institute (Athens)
Paradigmes (Paris)
Project for the New American Century (Washington)
Slovak Atlantic Commission (Bratislava)
U.S. Committee on NATO (Washington)

Jim Lobe’s (2008) AEI Takes Care of Its Own …At Least at RFE/RL has presented the NAI as part of a network which encompasses the US neoconservative propaganda and public diplomacy work including Radio Free Europe (which has strong ties to the IEDSS and is headquartered in Prague) observed that:

Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum appealed in an April 22 op-ed for Congress to provide a lot more money for RFE/RL, whose budget, despite the addition of Radio Farda in the last couple of years, has dropped steadily since the end of the Cold War to some $75 million. Applebaum, herself an adjunct fellow at AEI, is married to Polish Defense Minister Radek Sikorski, who, in the run-up to the Iraq war, was the director of AEI’s “New Atlantic Initiative,” the very same program that was headed by [Jeffrey] Gedmin until he left immediately after 9/11 to head the Aspen Institute in Berlin, a think tank which, under his leadership, became a virtual AEI bridgehead in the heart of Germany. John O’Sullivan, the former National Review editor and columnist, was the founder and co-chair of the New Atlantic Initiative and now works as an editor with Gedmin at RFE/RL.

Gedmin was executive director of the NAI, a founder of Project for the New American Century, Director (2007-) Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. The NAI was chaired by Edward J. Streator, a former official in the US Embassy in London and a director of the Ditchley Foundation.

The Dangerous Committee

Frost is a member of The Committee on the Present Danger, along with R. James Woolsey, Joe Lieberman, Midge Decter, Rachel Ehrenfeld, Richard Fairbanks, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., Edwin Meese III, Laurie Mylroie, Michael Novak, Daniel Pipes, Norman Podhoretz, Edward Rowny, Jose Maria Aznar, Václav Havel and many others. Largely a neo-conservative organisation, it is devoted to “stiffen American resolve.” The CPD add on the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies web sit (also run by Lieberman and former CIA Director R. James Woolsey) that they are also “highlighting threats to basic human rights-in particular, women’s rights, gay rights, and freedom of religion.”

Laura Rozen’s (2004) The Resurrection, AlterNet, states that the Committee’s ‘real goals’ are:

They seem to be twofold: First, to broaden the “war on terror” in the American public mind beyond al-Qaeda, targeting a vast network of interlinked “Islamist-jihadist” terror groups worldwide, including Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and their state sponsors, and to think about this war on terror not just from the standpoint of the US as the potential victim, but of key US allies as being potential victims. The second goal appears to be to lobby influential American policymakers to support a US defense posture and weapons programs that Committee members believe would benefit the security of both the US and key allies, such as Israel.

Jerry Wayne Sanders (1983) Peddlers of Crisis: The Committee on the Present Danger and the Politics of Containment, documents the initial incarnations of the organisation to “examine the merchandising of fear in the United States.”


Frost is part of The European Atlantic Movement (TEAM) and can be seen at its November 2006 ‘seminar’ held at Rugby School on ‘Europe and the USA: New Leaders, New Opportunities.’ This included Pieter Vlieland (freelance journalist and broadcaster), Frost (still billed as ‘Director: Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies’), Geoffrey Lee Williams (‘Centre of International Studies, Cambridge, Senior Research Fellow, Atlantic Council’) and Alan Lee Williams (‘former MP served with FCO and Min. of Defence’) and Anis Rahman (‘an adviser to the Home Secretary on Race Equality and Community Affairs’).

A May 2006 event included : Stephen Haseler, Mark Spokes, The Federal Trust, Jim Donegan (First Secretary, Political Section, US Embassy), Dr Stephen Sizer, Laurence Smy, Richard Gowan, Foreign Policy Centre

The Patrons of TEAM are:

Sir Thomas Arnold

Mrs Juliet J d’A Campbell: Joined the Foreign Office straight from Oxford, eight years after the major reforms of 1949 which opened the Diplomatic Service to women. From 1967-70 she was part of the FO’s News Dept FO., previously in 1961 she became a junior member of Edward Heath’s Common Market negotiating team and the European integration department (1974-77). The European Community remained her speciality. She also held positions in Bangkok, The Hague, Paris and Jakarta. In addition, she had a spell of duty running the FCO’s Training Department the Royal College of Defence Studies (1981). The climax of her diplomatic career was the posting to Luxembourg as British Ambassador 1988-1991. Mistress of Girton College since 1992, and a trustee ‘changing faces.’

Professor Harlan Cleveland: Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in the late 1930s; an economic warfare specialist (in Washington, D.C.). He worked with the Allied Control Commission in Italy. Assistant Director for Europe of the Mutual Security Agency, he was the Washington-based supervisor of the Marshall Plan for European recovery in its fourth year, in 1965 (-69) was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson as U.S. Ambassador to NATO, serving in that post also under President Richard Nixon until May 1969. From 1974 to 1980 he developed and directed the Program in International Affairs of The Aspen Institute. Cleveland is a past president of the American Society for Public Administration and a long-time member of the American Political Science Association and of the Council on Foreign Relations. Among numerous board memberships, he has served as chairman (now honorary chairman) of The American Forum for Global Education, founding dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs in Minneapolis, and vice-chairman of The Atlantic Council. A director of the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation, a trustee of the American Refugee Committee, a director of the World Future Society, the Common Heritage Corporation and Global Action Plan, and a member of the U.S. Board of the International Leadership Center on Longevity and Society, The Western Behavioral Sciences Institute.

Professor Stephen Haseler

The Rt Hon Lord Healey, CH

Air Vice Marshal Tony Mason:

Dr Richard Mayne: A profile of A History of Wilton Park states that Mayne was a personal assistant to both Jean Monnet and to the first president of the EEC Commission, Walter Hallstein (below). He was also the Commission’s chief representative in London (1972-79) when Britain joined the EU. He translated Jean Monnet’s memoirs into English. Author of A History of Wilton Park (founded by Heinz Koeppler, who had worked in Britain’s wartime Political Intelligence, Wilton Park was used to turn German prisoners of war into spies). In addition to his work as an international civil servant in Luxembourg, Brussels, and Paris, for six years he was the Commission’s chief representative in London. He has also held several academic posts, including those of Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago. He is a Council member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House). As a journalist he was the Rome Correspondent of The New Statesman and Paris Correspondent of Encounter, of which he was later Co-Editor. He is also a Council member of the Federal Trust for Education and Research

The Rt. Hon. Lord Rupert Redesdale

Professor Eugene V Rostow

The Rt. Hon. Lord Templeman

The Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Director of Studies of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, from 1978-1990.

Walter Hallstein: (1901-1982) was a Law Professor and since 1950 was active in German and European politics, especially as Secretary of State in charge of Foreign Affairs in the Adenauer’s Government. From 1958 until 1967 he was the first president of the European Economic Community (EEC), from 1968 to 1974 president of the “International European Movement”.

John Kempe, CVO, MA Jennifer Schofield, MA Alan Schofield, BSc. Laurence Smy, MA

Antony Frost, (pres) Professor

The Lord Watson of Richmond: Chairman of CTN Communications and for over 10 years was European Chairman of Burson Marsteller, Chairman of the English Speaking Union, Chairman of the Council of Commonwealth Societies and a member of the Executive Committee of the Pilgrims. He is Co Chair of the Jamestown 1607-2007 British Committee. Additionally he is a member of the Prince of Wales Business Leaders’ Forum. A former President of the Liberal Party. He is British Chairman of the Königswinter Anglo- German Conference and President of the British German Association.

List of Publications

* Protest And Perish: A Critique Of Unilateralism(1982) Philip Towle et al.
* Europe Without America: Could We Defend Ourselves? (1983) Philip Towle, (Occasional Papers, 5.)
* Britain’s Undefended Frontier: A Policy For Ulster; The Report Of An Independent Study Group (1984), (European Security Studies, 2.)
* Occasional paper No 7: ‘Peace studies: a critical survey’ (1984) Caroline Cox and Roger Scruton.
* Occasional paper No 9: ‘Idealism, Realism and the Myth of Appeasement’ (1984) Jeane Kirkpatrick.
* Occasional paper No 13: ‘The Soviet connection’: ‘State sponsorship of terrorism’ (1985) Jillian Becker.
* Occasional paper No 14: ‘Neglect and betrayal: war and violence in modern sociology’ (1985) Donald Marsland.
* ‘Sociology courses infected with anti-NATO bias, says report’ 7 October (1985), IEDSS press release:.
* Occasional paper No 15: ‘World studies: education or indoctrination?’ (1985) Roger Scruton.
* “Curriculum activists” waging propaganda war in schools’ (1985) 11 December, IEDSS press release.
* SDI: The Case For The Defence, (1985) Alun Chalfont, 1985.
* Anti-Americanism: Steps On A Dangerous Path (1986) Stephen Haseler.
* Europe’s Neutral States: Partners Or Profiteers In Western Security? (1986) Stephan Kux.
* MPs and Defence: A Survey of Parliamentary Knowledge and Opinion (1988) Philip Towle.
* Bonn and Moscow: A Partnership in Progress? (1988) Robbin Frederick Laird.
* Decline without fall: Romania under Ceausescu (1988) Mark Almond.
* Coming In From The Cold: The Evolution Of French Defence Policy (1989) Geoffrey Lee Williams.
* Communism: Why Prolong Its Death Throes? (1990) Brian Crozier.
* The Perception Mongers: Reflections On Soviet Propaganda (1990) George Bailey.
* Options Foreclosed: The Cost of Avoiding a Strategic Review, by Alun Chalfont.
* Containing Nuclear Proliferation (1991) Lewis A. Dunn.
* The Strange Death Of Perestroika: Causes And Consequences Of The Soviet Coup (1991) John Gray.
* Countering Proliferation: New Criteria for European Security by Dr Keith Payne..
* National Pacifism: Germany’s New Temptation (1991) Mark Almond.
* Pundits And Patriots: Lessons From The Gulf War (1991) Philip Towle.
* The Irrelevance Of Maastricht: Redefining The Atlantic Community (1992) Anthony Hartley.
* New Criteria For European Security (1992) Keith B. Payne.
* At war with modernity: Islam’s challenge to the West (1992) David Pryce-Jones.
* After The Soviet Collapse: New Realities, Old Illusions (1992) The Report of a Study Group.
* Options Foreclosed: The Cost of Avoiding a Strategic Review (1992) Alun Chalfont.
* Ukraine. Back From the Brink (1995) T. Kuzio.
*A Tale of Two Europes by Lord Beloff, Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies, described as a “Historical, legal and political analysis of federalism, subsidiarity and the differences between the Anglo-Saxon and Continental traditions.
* A democratic deficit?: post-Soviet elections observed (1995) Christine Stone.
*Arms for oblivion: British defence policy in the 1990s (1994) Christopher Coker, James Sherr.
* At war with modernity: Islam’s challenge to the West (1994) David Pryce-Jones.
*The logic of diversity: thoughts on the structure of European defence (1992) Geoffrey Lee Williams
*NATO: the case for enlargement (1993) Svetslav Bombik et al.
*The new authoritarians: reflections on the Greens (1991) Andrew McHallam
*Options foreclosed: the cost of avoiding a strategic (1992) Alun Chalfont
*The politics of peace (1996) Stephen Haseler
*Prophets of doom: the security threat of religious cults (1996) Andrew Hubback
*Retreat to Moscow: Gorbachev and the East European revolution (1990)Mark Almond
*Serbia, still Europe’s pariah? (1996) Robert Thomas
*Terrorism: the failed response (1996) Geoffrey Lee Williams and Alan Lee Williams
*Ukraine, the unfinished revolution(1992) Taras Kuzio
*Wounded eagle: Albania’s fight for survival (1992) Marko Milivojevic

The ear of the public

Rosamund M. Thomas’ (1991) Espionage and Secrecy: The Official Secret Acts 1911-1989 of the United Kingdom, makes the observation (p. 63) that the ‘public’ is taken to include the press (‘the press is the ear of the public’) in the legal definition of the power to exclude the public from court proceedings in official secrets cases (that is, ‘in camera’ hearings), and mentions a 1979 case, the Attorney-General v. Leveller Magazine and others. The Leveller and other independent magazines such as Time Out, and the Labour party’s Tribune, were part of a small group of periodicals which would deal with the relevance of think tanks and other political action groups, such as Phil kelly’s (1981) An Unholy Alliance, The Leveller, No. 52 , which explores the Atlanticist connections of Encounter, Congress for Cultural Freedom, Committee for a Free World, Stephen Haseler, National Strategy Information Center, Institute for the Study of Conflict, Brian Crozier, Roy Godson, Committee on the Present Danger, Lord Chalfont, Melvin Lasky and Douglas Eden, but makes no direct mention of the IEDSS.

Thomas’ outline provides an outline of the modulation of the law (what we might term the political law) to prohibit public awareness of the findings of this type of ‘journalism of exposure’ that had entered into the mainstream press and had emanated from the radical, independent and underground press (unconfined by the D-Notice system) of the 1960s and 70s. In particular, Duncan Campbell’s work could be identified as an example of this, particularly in relation to the 1978 ABC trial (Aubrey, Berry and Campbell). Thomas notes that, apart from a prohibited public and press, these powers were extended to prohibit the sources of press stories, and what constituted contempt of court, and extended further with the creation of the prohibited place namely RAF Greenham Common.

The law was also extended to encompass a challenge to the argument for a public interest defence, closely associated with ‘whistle-blowing’ and the attempts at alerting the public to official malpractice. This climate increased the suspicion that government could use the Official Secrets Act to hide abuses of power, but it also aims to dissuade legitimate journalistic enquiry because of the public examples made. Such inquiry would include the relationship that think tanks like the IEDSS amd the individuals who gather round them, had to this process, such as Blaker with DS19 and the attempts to smear CND as part of a KGB plot or some other conspiracy theory engaged in by Frost and others. It is also important to note that the existence of MI6 was not acknowledged at this point.

Of more direct relevance to the IEDSS is the Sarah Tisdall case, where a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) clerical officer was jailed for leaking government documents to the Guardian in 1983. Thomas presents the facts of the Tisdall case (p. 73) thus: in 1983, the Guardian received (from an anonymous source) two secret MOD minutes: one relating to the delivery of Cruise missiles to RAF Greenham Common, concerning ‘Parliamentary and Public Statements’ that would be made before the media; and a separate minute dealing with the security arrangements at Greenham Common.

The Government did not request the return of the second document, and the newspaper destroyed this document three weeks after receiving it. The editor of the Guardian, Peter Preston declined to publish anything from this second minute, but other Guardian reports caused the postponement of the delivery of the missiles out of fear of protest (anti-nuclear demonstrations were increasing at the time). The Treasury Solicitor requested immediate delivery of the documents (written by the then Defence Secretary, Michael Heseltine and dealing with the arguments (largely obviation) that he would use in the House of Commons), which after tests led to the identification of Tisdall. As far as US public diplomacy was concerned the plans to site the missiles took place at the same time of Reagan’s invasion of Grenada.

The government were also involved in the Cathy Massiter (a former MI5 officer who exposed illegal tapping activities), Ian Willmore (who established collusion between Sir John Donaldson, the Master of the Rolls, Sir Geoffrey Howe and Michael Quinlan on the introduction of legal restrictions on the right to strike), Clive Ponting and the Peter Wright in the Spycatcher cases.

Lucinda Maer and Oonagh Gay’s (2008) Official Secrecy, sets out the historical background to the current laws on official secrecy. It also provides a brief summary of notable cases that have involved official information legislation and is provided to Members of Parliament in support of their parliamentary duties. This notes a (1985) article by Robert Pyper: ‘Sarah Tisdall, Ian Willmore, and the Civil Servant’s “Right to Leak”‘, Political Quarterly, Vol 56, (p. 73) which discussed the reasons why Tisdall leaked the information:

Public statements by Miss Tisdall at a later date show that she had two reasons for leaking the documents. The first was quite specific: Michael Hesteltine’s plans for dealing with the public relations aspects of the missiles’ arrival amounted, in Miss Tisdall’s words, to a decision that “he was not going to be accountable to Parliament that particular day”. He was going to leave the House of Commons in order to conduct a press conference at the base, before the Opposition had a chance to question him in detail about his statement. The second reason was her general disenchantment with government policies which were affecting her as a civil servant and as a voter.

Clearly many of the IEDSS members working in this area, particularly Blaker, (who worked with Hesletine in DS19) would have regarded their work in disinformation as being protected by this ever-covering veil of secrecy.

Pyper states that in August 1983 each of the forty Whitehall Permanent Secretaries received a letter from the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Robert Armstrong, in which he referred to the spate of leaked government documents (which had appeared during the general election campaign). Armstrong laid the blame for these leaks at the door of the Civil Service, and asked the Permanent Secretaries to exercise more vigilance:

“. . . we cannot allow this to go by default. It is a matter which requires positive action by all of us.”

Pyper also quotes an anonymous Permanent Secretary who felt that such leaks might be a manifestation of an official’s prior duty to the public and undermined the “ethos” of the Civil Service:

“The Civil Service is structually a part of our system: it is not in a direct relationship with the people you serve them through serving the government of the day.”

Pyper regards such views as reasonably well founded, but what is meant by ‘our’ here if it is not the people. Should we look at how theorists believe the state and the ‘permanent government’ actually operate and function: who ‘we’ might be.

Professor from the London School of Economics in public policy and government, Patrick Dunleavy’s (2007) Reinterpreting The Westland Affair: Theories Of The State And Core Executive Decision Making, Public Administration, Volume 68 Issue 1, (p. 29-60), applies four theories of the state to the analysis of a specific, although comparable policy crisis:

(1) The pluralist governmental politics model (stressing multiple actors with policy emerging from a complex sequence of individual decisions) essentially a power struggle between basically instrumental actors.

(2) The instrumental Marxist view (stressing the penetration of government by business interests and the closed, elite character of decision making).

(3) The new right account (stressing the role of ‘policy entrepreneurs’).

(4) The ‘symbolic politics’ interpretation (stressing the interaction of four ideologically resonant ‘games’: leadership challenges, leaking of government ‘secrets’, executive-Parliament relations, and mass media ‘battles’).

On (1) Dunleavy’s argument suggests some sort of model akin to a telephone exchange (complete with crossed wires) staffed by greedy bullies:

The policy process normally takes the form of a power struggle between basically instrumental actors. Individuals are motivated partly by diverse personal ambitions and commitments, and partly by role interests given by their agency positions (‘where you stand depends on where you sit’). Most actors’ behaviour is socialized, expressing not simple individual preferences but a complex of organizational, peer group and individual influences. In addition, goal displacement processes characteristically convert instrumental bases for action into strongly developed convictions (ideologies) that advancing agency or personal interests will itself serve the national interest. Instrumental behaviour is also disguised and constrained by routing inputs to the decision process through specified ‘action channels’, which are relatively long-standing arrangements governing the procedures to be used for tackling an individual ‘round’ of an issue. Each action channel can normally only be operated by some players and at some particular points in the decision process. The set-up of action channels and the rules of the game confer advantages and disadvantages on participants, particularly since different actors see the same issues in different lights, only some of which may be capable of being explicitly considered in the decision process.

His presentation of the governmental politics model accepts that there is empirical evidence of extensive networking between the business world and ministers but would deny that political or governmental actors adopted the stances they did because of financial or economic pressures or linkages acting upon them.

Model (2) “Orthodox Marxist accounts,” suggests a distanced, furtive, egotistically inward looking and dishonest model whereby we are never offered any distinctive account of the core executive because of the flaws and remoteness of the observations. The detailed institutional arrangements within the state apparatus are viewed as purely super structure with the people milling round too small to observe.

Oddly it argues that this stance has been strengthened by the (Marxist) tradition’s “well-known difficulties in analysing political leadership factors”. Some readers may well be of the opinion that middle-class British Marxism boils down to little more. Some central tenets of Marxism have been taken to imply that individual actors (such as political leaders) cannot shape social outcomes:

The basic premise which informs historical materialism is not in doubt: it is that men and women, organized in classes, are the collective actors of history, but that the play itself is very largely shaped by forces which are not greatly affected by any single will or by the will of small groups of people. . . . Individuals, singly and in [non-class] groups, can certainly make a difference to the ways in which class struggles work themselves out: but that difference, in classical Marxism, is not very great and certainly should not be taken as decisive.

In terms of the debate about who controls the state apparatus and what social interests it serves, the Marxist account is heavily dependent on Hall and Jacques (who of course represent a very narrow faction in terms of interpretation of Marxism), or returns to the orbit of the Miliband Poulantzas debate or a short dismissal (more “well-known difficulties”) of Mills:

The attempt to document this position and to offer empirical support for it in practice brings Marxist accounts into close approximation with ‘power elite’ studies, in the tradition inaugurated by C. Wright Mills (1956). Rather than undertake decisional research to produce a developed analysis of core executive operations, authors in both approaches have tended to retreat into detailing the narrow social background of political leaders and administrative elites.

The Thatcher administration, at the time of Dunleay’s analysis (on the Westland affair) where largely from the same school, most likely along with the forty mandarins. Dunleavy also draws on Robert Jessop’s (1982) The capitalist state, which it characterizes as the idea that formal representative institutions have increasingly been by-passed by shadowy ‘parallel power networks cross-cutting the formal organization of the state and exercising a decisive share in its activities,’ which should include the IEDSS, and the other organizations they had ties to. Except were are persuaded away from this view because of a tension between theoretical views and practical analysis is sometimes fudged by supposing that there are two ‘layers’ of historical evolution. The Marxist’s desire for a leaderless society seems to have conditioned them away from analysis of actual leaders, with their analysis tempered by liberals:

In Britain both Marxist and some liberal studies point to the creation of machinery with repressive functions in areas such as surveillance and news media manipulation by the intelligence services […]; the piecemeal emergence of a coordinated national police force deployed for combatting urban riots, major strikes and terrorism […]; and the highly insulated inner policy system controlling decisions about nuclear weapons, major defence systems and intelligence services […] The theory of authoritarian statism links these fragmented pieces of evidence about ‘parallel power
networks’ with claims that a politically dominant party-bloc has been created under the control of the core executive, in whose hands the administrative apparatus and political management of the populace are effectively unified: ‘Real power is rapidly becoming concentrated and centralized at the summits of the governmental and administrative system, and, indeed, is increasingly focused in the office of president/prime minister at the apex of the various administrative structures with the resultant appearance of a personalistic, presidential/prime ministerial system’.

Arguably the sociological essence of Marx’s understanding involves the unity of objective and subjective factors throughout history, and is an examination of the process by which people are both shaped by the world around them and at the same time react back upon the world to change it. In other words, ‘social structure; and ‘social action’ are intimately related, with each continuously affecting the other in a dynamic fashion.

The (3) policy entrepreneurs model (which mixes with Hall and Jacques involvement in Demos) is one where greedy bullies wish to paid to be the telephone exchange. Whereas one would assume that this model had some bearing on think tanks, Dunleavy states that this approach has been applied most by party leaders:

Within government, policy entrepreneurs are chiefly elected politicians who scan the horizons of their institutionally defined office, picking up and promoting ideas, problems and solutions which will have favourable consequences for their careers. Middle-ranking politicians badly want to be reelected or promoted, and to secure favourable publicity to these ends. Hence they are keen to associate themselves with new ideas or initiatives which attract attention. But they place little stress on following through or critically assessing these initiatives. This orientation can create ‘political hyperactivism’ which inflates public expenditures […]. Middle-rank politicians constantly on the look-out for opportunities to extend their reputations use public funds to launch initiatives, heedless of their long-term costs or cumulative drain on state revenues.

This draws on the work of Kenneth Minogue, something of a policy entrepreneur himself, with various right-wing think tanks.

Model (4) the symbolic politics approach is a twist on a elite theory interpretation of the core executive in which political leadership engages in media manipulation: here loud, greedy bullies wish to paid to dominate and manipulate the overall message going through the switchboard – the idea where we are led to believe that there is “someone” in charge of government and that there must be a reason for every governmental act. This quotes from Murray Jacob Edelman’s (1964) The symbolic uses of politics:

The public official who dramatizes his (sic) own competence is eagerly accepted in his own terms. The illusion is created that planning of consequences and of the future is possible in far greater degree than it demonstrably is. Because it is apparently impossible for men to admit the key role of accident, of ignorance, and of unplanned processes in their affairs, the leader serves a vital process by personalizing and reifying the processes. . . . Incumbents of high public office become objects of acclaim for the satisfied, scapegoats for the unsatisfied, and symbols of aspirations or of whatever is opposed. To them are constantly ascribed careful weighing of alternatives and soul-searching decisions. That the
premisses for decisions are largely supplied and screened by others and the decision itself frequently predetermined by subordinates’ decisions is not publicized. Decision making at the west levels is not so much literal policy making as dramaturgy.

Yinka Olusoga’s (2007) Personal and Social Education, Politics and Gesture, suggests that Edelman argued that American politics was symbolic: a constructed political spectacle engaging in a managerial pseudo-democracy, that did not benefit or represent the mass population, and was also designed to convince the majority people that they were participating in the process despite being reduced to passive consumers of ‘images’. Edelman’s four political areas that had been reduced to a symbolic level were:

  • The administrative system
  • Political leadership
  • Political settings
  • Political language

His “Referential symbols” were “economical ways of referring to the objective elements in objects or situations: the elements identified in the same way by different people.” With “condensation symbols” (based on emotion) being symbols that “evoke the emotions associated with the situation.” The hierarchical system of the administrative systems also leads to its ability to continue support with the elitist groups. The definition of terms such as: Social Problems, Political Leaders, Political Enemies, Political News, Political Language and Political Reality are attempts to cement reality into a Spectacle as a tactic and as a ‘Mystification Index.’

The emphasis on all these theoretical approaches are whether things were more or less than they seem with the veracity of appearances (and the inchoate nature of the process) diminishing as we approach the symbolic.

Edelman’s (2001) The Politics of Misinformation (p. 33), goes as far to state that “all governmental actions purposefully constructs a spectacle that is misleading […] publicized social problems often become seen as such because government and media portray them in that way, usually in an effort to help particular groups achieve their policy goals.” This type of analysis is also presented as evident in ‘national security’ – a symbol that generates fear of enemies of the state:

…every party or group with a serious interest in gaining power advocates large armaments expenditures and troop deployments. These expenditures boost the profits of the wealthy, maintain or enlarge economic and social inequalities, and serve as a symbol of respectable thinking. Support for them continues regardless of the diplomatic or military situation…

One example given (p. 8) of this process i

*Back to the The Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies


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