FOREIGN INFLUENCE TRANSPARENCY INITIATIVE

While investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 election regularly garner front-page headlines, there is a half-billion-dollar foreign influence industry working to shape U.S. foreign policy every single day that remains largely unknown to the public. The Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative is working to change that anonymity through transparency promotion, investigative research, and public education.

RECENT PUBLICATIONS

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REPORT

Japan's Influence in America

by Cassandra Stimpson and Ben Freeman

FITI analyzed every Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Supplemental Statement filed in 2019 by firms working on behalf of clients in Japan. This report presents the findings of this analysis.

Japan's Influence in America
REPORT

Report: U.S. Government and Defense Contractor Funding of America’s Top 50 Think Tanks

by Ben Freeman

In an effort to move towards greater transparency of think tank funding in America, this report analyzes U.S. government and defense contractor funding at the top fifty think tanks in America, as ranked by the University of Pennsylvania’s Global Go To Think Tank Index, based on criteria like the quality and reputation of the think tank’s research and the reach of its publications. The analysis includes all U.S. government and defense contractor funding received by these think tanks from 2014-2019. This analysis builds upon a previous report released by FITI in early 2020, “Foreign Funding of Think Tanks in America,” and points towards a simple policy recommendation: think tanks should be required, by law, to publicly disclose their funders.

Report: U.S. Government and Defense Contractor Funding of America’s Top 50 Think Tanks
REPORT

Report: The Qatar Lobby in Washington

by Ben Freeman

In June 2017, member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) severed diplomatic ties and blockaded Qatar, citing the country's ties to terrorist organizations. This damaged Qatari-U.S. relations, but only ten months after the blockade began, Trump met with the Emir of Qatar in the Oval Office.
This report investigates the Qatar Lobby and the work that it did in those ten months between 2017-2018 to mend its relationship with the U.S.

Report: The Qatar Lobby in Washington

LATEST NEWS

A Washington Echo Chamber for a New Cold War

by Cassandra Stimpson and Holly Zhang

To walk that tightrope (along with the defense contractors that will benefit financially from the further militarization of the region), Japan spends heavily to influence thinking in Washington. Recent reports from the Center for International Policy’s Foreign Influence Initiative (FITI), where the authors of this piece work, reveal just how countries like Japan and giant arms firms like Lockheed Martin and Boeing functionally purchase an inside track on a think-tank market that’s hard at work creating future foreign-policy options for this country’s elite.

Transition 2020: Biden's defense landing team under fire for lack of progressives

William Hartung and Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative quoted

"Most of the biggest challenges we face — from Covid to climate change to racial and economic inequality — are not military in nature, suggesting that a substantial shift from high levels of Pentagon spending to other security priorities writ large is in order," said William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the left-leaning Center for International Policy.

But like most of the others on the team, they come from think tanks or consulting firms heavily financed by leading defense companies, including CSIS, New America and the Center for a New American Security.

Those think tanks, which are largely considered center-left, are among the top 10 recipients of defense industry donations, according to a study published last month by the Center for International Policy.

Congress Moves to Block UAE Weapons

"Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative" mentioned

The Center for International Policy’s Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative is out with a new report today unwinding Japan's “massive influence operation in the U.S.” and Tokyo’s heavy emphasis on securing advanced American weapons. The report tracks 51 different firms registered as foreign agents that were paid $32 million in 2019 by the Japanese government.

Canada’s Laws About Foreign Agents Haven’t Caught Up to the Modern World

Ben Freeman quoted

The U.S. law, first created in 1938 out of a fear of Nazi propaganda, is too broad, Mr. Freeman said. It requires registration for anyone doing non-commercial activities, notably political activities, at the request of a “foreign principal,” which can even be an individual, Mr. Freeman said. And he argued the U.S. needs more transparency, such as disclosure of foreign donations to think tanks.

EXPERTS

Ben Freeman

Director, Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative
ABOUT

Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative

While investigations into Russian influence in the 2016 election regularly garner front-page headlines, there is a half-billion-dollar foreign influence industry working to shape U.S. foreign policy every single day that remains largely unknown to the public. The Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative is working to change that anonymity through transparency promotion, investigative research, and public education.


The Initiative believes that promoting transparency is the best tool for highlighting the impact – potentially for both good and ill – of foreign influence on American democracy. To this end, it works to devise policy solutions to increase the incentives for agents to properly register and report the work they are doing on behalf of foreign powers and to make the details of such contracts and work publicly available.


FITI also seeks to highlight how advocacy campaigns implemented on behalf of foreign powers have successfully influenced U.S. foreign policy, particularly lobbying that promotes a more militarized U.S. foreign policy. Finally, the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative is dedicated to increasing public education about the role foreign powers play within American democracy. Efforts to accomplish this goal include collaborating with journalists to highlight corruption in the foreign influence industry and working with policymakers to devise solutions that minimize the ill effects of undue foreign influence.

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The Baraza, a CIP blog, is a never-ending and global town hall meeting on U.S. foreign policy.
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