The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS) is a Jerusalem-based think tank that was founded in 1984 by Robert J. Loewenberg, a U.S. citizen and former professor at Arizona State University. At one time considered to be a mildly influential think tank closely tied to Israel's right-wing Likud Party as well as many U.S. neoconservatives, IASPS has appeared to be largely defunct in recent years. Until 2005, IASPS also had an official address in the United States and filed tax forms with the IRS. However, since then, it has apparently not filed any U.S. tax forms.
As of mid-2011, among the most recent material posted on IASPS's site was an August 2010 article titled "The Mosque." The article, which carried Loewenberg's initials RJL, included a number of enigmatic claims and referred to arcane entities like the "Speech Elite community" in an effort to argue that the West is in effect being taken over by Islamists. It stated: "Frank Gaffney posted an interview with [Glenn] Beck this week. These two, excellent men, disclose the scope of the problem such men (conservatives, but still participants in the Speech Elite community) face—and, too, participate in. … Such men as I have mentioned, know even if only intuitively, this order, in its two phases—the coming Completion of the first or passive phase which is typically to be followed by the active phase (totalitarian dictatorship and murder), is the looming Muslim purpose in the World State. This, now the Caliphate side by side with the Western Elites, has introduced its Avatar. Of course this is the Brotherhood's Mosque. The core of Islam.Here is the response Beck and Gaffney must focus—even if they will not themselves accept what this focus is really. The focus is this: There can be no Muslims in America. Geert Wilders is quite right, and the Swiss have already moved in this direction (and the Swiss response is especially relevant as you will see here in a moment). … But here in America, where the scales are plainly tilting toward the worst possible 'alternative,' I mean the Convergence of Islam and Western Elites, what we have in fact accelerated with the America President, a literal incarnation of the substance this Convergence, tells anyone who is prepared even to listen, the alternative has at least to be focused. This is the opportunity of the Mosque; and the responsibility of men such as Gaffney and Beck, with others."
Many IASPS publications have attacked President Barack Obama. IASPS contributors have called Obama a tyrant or dictator, claim he was "born a Muslim and schooled as one," and that "We should not be surprised if he proves to be the last president."
Additionally, the IASPS website directs readers to the equally obscure website of a group called SANE Works for US (aka Society of Americans for National Existence). SANE's website, however, is a password-protected members only website. Founded by anti-Muslim activist David Yerushalmi, SANE has served as a key institutional vehicle for promoting anti-sharia legislation in U.S. states. As of mid-2011, the most recent content on its homepage was a "Backgrounder" from March 2011 that criticized the Tennessean newspaper for criticizing a SANE proposal to criminalize the practice of sharia law. "The Tennessean newspaper lies, the left-progressives join hands with the Muslim Brotherhood sharia advocates and all shed crocodile tears wishing for the demise of good law, good sense, and this nation's national existence."
IASPS's principal claim to fame is its 1996 publication entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm." During the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, observers noted that many of the publication's recommendations, which were intended for the Israeli government, appeared to be serving as a blueprint for the "war on terror" objectives promoted by certain policymakers in George W. Bush's administration. The paper's recommendations pressed Israel's then-incoming Likud government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu to scrap the peace process in favor of a hardline posture aimed at attacking states like Syria and Iraq. Several people associated with the production of the report—including Douglas Feith, David Wurmser, and Richard Perle—years later obtained posts in the Bush administration.
The study group that produced "A Clean Break" included eight individuals representing a number of neocon think tanks. Perle, with the American Enterprise Institute, served as "study group leader"; James Colbert represented the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs; Feith was a partner at the Feith and Zell Associates law firm; Jonathan Torop represented the Washington Institute for Near East Policy; and David Wurmser and Loewenberg represented IASPS. Three of these individuals were tapped to serve in the Bush administration: Feith became deputy undersecretary of defense for policy; Perle was chosen to be chairman of the Defense Policy Board; and Wurmser became Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Some Bush administration officials appeared to be particularly sensitive to accusations of affiliation with "A Clean Break." In 2004, Feith responded to a Washington Post article by writing a letter to the editor in which he denied direct authorship. He wrote: "David Wurmser, as the group's rapporteur, drafted the report. There were no coauthors, and the discussion participants were not asked to clear the final text of the paper." He added: "[The report's] introductory paragraph said, 'The main substantive ideas in this paper emerge from a discussion in which prominent opinion makers, including [myself] participated.' Thus, there is no warrant for attributing any particular idea, let alone all of them, to any one participant."
The "Clean Break" report argued that a "focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq [was] an important Israeli objective in its own right." It advocated working closely with "Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll back" regional threats, and using "Israeli proxy forces" based in Lebanon for "striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon." If that should "prove insufficient, [Israel should strike] at select targets in Syria proper." Further, "Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, even rolling back Syria." This would create a "natural axis" between Israel, Jordan, a Hashemite Iraq, and Turkey that "would squeeze and detach Syria from the Saudi Peninsula." This "could be the prelude to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East, which could threaten Syria's territorial integrity."
Activities and Personalities
Though the institute no longer publicly lists its staff—the list is now in a Members-Only section of a partnered website—Robert J. Loewenberg was the last known president, with William R. Van Cleave serving as co-director of the institute's Research in Strategy division. Loewenberg continues to infrequently pen articles for the IASPS website. Van Cleave, a former U.S. government official, has been associated with the Hoover Institution, Ariel Center, and the International Institute of Strategic Studies. He was also a member of "Team B" in the mid-1970s and was on the executive committee of the original Committee on the Present Danger, founded in 1976.
The institute appears to have had a one time two main divisions: Economic Policy Research and Research in Strategy. It also hada Hebrew-language portal on its website that looped back to its English site. The site advertised an "Institute Fellows" program to "assist Knesset members with economic research and help develop economic reform policies based on their research," though it appears that the program has not been run since 2003.
IASPS hosted a seminar in 2004 entitled "The Convergence of Western Elites and Islam." Reflecting on the anti-Bush demonstrations at the Republican National Convention, then-IASPS adjunct scholar D.Y. Anaximander, based in Jerusalem, warned of a world "now marked by the convergence of terrorist Islam and Western elites (represented at this moment by the Democrat candidate for president of this country) are such that we must be grateful—it is horrifying to say—that we were attacked by Muslims. Although the effectual arm of the Western Elites, in media, the Hollywood crowd, the professors, responded immediately in fellowship with the protesters (who announced their solidarity with the Muslims and could not say 'We are the terrorists' fast enough even to satisfy arch-Hate Master Noam Chomsky-he is the Jewish anti-Semite leader of the liberal Jewish Legions within the Western Elites), Americans could not be herded quickly: the Muslim assault was too vile and too evil. America would strike back. The Elites had to wait. They have waited for such an opportunity as they have today in New York City. The opportunity is golden. It is not going to be missed."
IASPS's unorthodox policy analysis is not exclusively focused on the Middle East; it has also produced studies on various African countries, Taiwan, and the Caspian region. The institute's Caspian Project, for example, produced a study titled "The Real Energy Solution is Not in Iraq." Published in March 2003 and authored by IASPS fellow Vladimir Socor, the report argued that a number of current trends "add urgency to the goal of bringing Caspian oil and gas westward, directly to consumer markets." One of these trends "concerns the need to pacify and reorder the Middle East. The effort is only beginning with the U.S.-led war to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction. It will be a protracted effort, which may well require further operations against terrorist groups and rogue-state WMD proliferators elsewhere in the Middle East in the years ahead. The effort is also likely to entail nation-building as a stabilizing factor. Only then can the sources of volatility subside in the region. Meanwhile volatility may even increase if radical anti-Western elements in the region react spasmodically in the initial stages of the anti-terrorist, anti-rogue-WMD operations."
Remarkably, despite its almost quixotic rhetoric, IASPS has at times enjoyed legitimacy and access to government elites. For example, in January 2002, IASPS's Africa Oil Policy Initiative Group hosted a forum on "African Oil: A Priority for U.S. National Security and African Development" at the University Club in Washington, DC. At the event, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Walter Kansteiner III spoke on the importance of identifying alternatives energy sources, while figures within the institute argued that "turning Africa can help turn the kaleidoscope that will reset misalliances and unseat misrule driven by oil and murder."
A July 2006 IASPS op-ed written by Loewenberg framed the war in Lebanon by stating "Israel cannot survive a Palestinian State because its Elites and Political Classes are wedded to the World State (also known as democracy or the Open Society). Israel's policy today, well understood by the World's Elites and Political Classes, and not understood at all by anyone else, including the Jews of Israel and the United States, is this: blast away at Lebanon, a terrorized quasi-state of Christians and Muslims. When this goes on long enough to get the Western orders to stop Israel, the war will stop. Money will be rewarded. Conferences will be convened."
IASPS has received hefty donations from a number of prominent U.S. foundations. From 1997 to 2004, IASPS received $685,000 from two key right-wing foundations, the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. Work supported by these donations included projects on U.S.-Russian-Caspian affairs, on strategic resources and geostrategic policy, and a 1997 conference titled "Israel: The Advanced Case of Western Afflictions." As of 2005, however, total revenue had dropped significantly. The organization's 2005 Form 990 claimed total revenue of $10,290, down from $866,522 in 2001. As of mid-2011, IASPS had not filed any new Form 990s since 2005.