The Revolving Door Between the USG and Wonkdom Turns Yet Again

A few weeks ago I did a post noting William Burns’ move from the State Dept to the Carnegie Endowment, and I quoted an even earlier post arguing that there is systemic pro-government bias in the US nonproliferation think tank world.

Well, now the revolving door is swinging around the other way to carry Jon Wolfsthall of CNS from think-tankdom back into government; in his case to be Senior Director for Arms Control and Nonproliferation at the National Security Council.  See the announcement here.

What’s the point of my bringing attention to this revolving door between the USG and arms control think tanks? The point is to show how close the connections are between the two, so readers can see that they should not view the work of these think tanks as objective, or independent. They are all, to one degree or another, dependent on the USG for patronage, favor, and access and it is incredulous to think that this dynamic does not influence their work – from the subjects that they choose to work on, to their actual analysis.

So the next time you see a piece written by someone at Carnegie, or CNS, or IISS, or ISIS, bear this in mind.

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3 Comments on “The Revolving Door Between the USG and Wonkdom Turns Yet Again”

  1. yousaf says:

    Interesting — that’s a full 360 revolution through the revolving door: Jon was at Biden’s office before he came to CNS at Monterey. (Jon and I started there at about the same time).

    It’s one thing to have government and NatSec types in think-tanks but I think one ought to be even more careful — in general — when they revolve through educational institutions, because there could be a tendency to stifle full and open academic debate or publishing.

    If anyone wants input on what it’s like to be a student or employee at CNS/Monterey my earlier offer of assistance still stands:

    https://armscontrollaw.com/2013/04/29/public-service-announcement/

  2. Johnboy says:

    I don’t much mind that the wonks prostitute themselves for money and privilege – hey, that’s the oldest profession there is, and those wonks do love to parade their professionalism.

    Nah, I don’t mind that so much as the unbridled and utterly unwarranted arrogance that so often goes with it.

    Yeah, we all know what you are, so what’s with the I-know-it-all attitude?

    After all, everyone knows that the most highly prized whores are those who are best at playing pretendies….


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