last updated: March 23, 2005
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The mission of the Jamestown Foundation is “to inform and educate policy makers and the broad policy community about events and trends in those societies which are strategically or tactically important to the United States and which frequently restrict access to such information.” The organization prides itself on using “indigenous and primary sources,” and it claims that its material is “delivered without political bias, filter, or agenda.” (1)
Founded in 1984, the foundation was initially dedicated to supporting Soviet dissidents and defectors. Today, the foundation has three program areas: China, Russia/Eurasia, and Terrorism. Its print and online publications include: Chechnya Weekly, China Brief, Eurasia Daily Monitor, North Korea Review, Spotlight on Terror, Terrorism in Focus, and Terrorism Monitor. These replaced previous publications: Eurasia Security Trends, Fortnight in Review, Monitor, Prism, Russia and Eurasia Review, and Russia’s Week. (1) (2)
Glen Howard is the current president of the foundation. He previously worked at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) as an analyst, and has served as a consultant for the Department of Defense, National Intelligence Council, and “major oil companies operating in Central Asia and the Middle East.” He is currently the Executive Director of the American Committee for Peace in Chechnya, an organization based at Freedom House. Jamestown publishes and distributes its material, some written by ACPC board members. (3) (4) (6)
Other principal staff members include Evgueni Novikov, director of International Terrorism Program; Richard Fisher, China Brief editor; Peter Rutland, Russia & Eurasia Review editor; and Larry Uzzell, Chechnya Weekly editor. Jamestown Foundation’s “senior fellows” include the following: Vladimir Socor (Eurasia), Evgenii Novikov (terrorism), Stephen Ulph (terrorism), Willy Law (China), David Satter (Eurasia), and Roger McDermott (Eurasia).
The foundation’s 17-member board includes Chairman Clinton I. Smullyan and Vice Chairman R. James Woolsey. The other members are Zbigniew Brzezinski, Barbara Buchanan, Jams H. Burnley, Peter C. Cook, Diana Denman, Willem deVogel, Edward O. Gaylord, James G. Gildwitz, Patrick W. Gross, Ralph W. Hauenstein, James Hauslein, Artemis Joukowsky, Woody Peterson, and Arthur Waldron. Vice President Dick Cheney and Marcia Carlucci, wife of Frank Carlucci, are former board members. Willem de Vogel, a recent addition to the board, was a former director of Computer Associates International, Inc. and he and others were under investigation for profiting from insider trading—this company eventually settled out of court. (1) (4) (9) (24)
Origins and History
William Geimer, a leading cold warrior close to the Reagan administration, founded the Jamestown Foundation after Arkady Shevchenko, the Soviet undersecretary general of the United Nations defected. Geimer had been working closely with Shevchenko, and established the foundation as a vehicle to promote the writings of the former Soviet diplomat and those of Ion Pacepa, a former top Romanian intelligence officer. With the help of Geimer and the foundation, both defectors published bestselling books.
CIA Director William J. Casey, a leading figure in right-wing national security organizations, helped back the formation of the Jamestown Foundation, agreeing with its complaints that the U.S. intelligence community did not provide sufficient funding of Soviet bloc defectors. (5) The new organization enabled the defectors to earn extra dollars—in addition to their stipends from the CIA—by lecturing and writing.
According to the foundation, it “rapidly became the leading source of information about the inner workings of closed totalitarian societies.” At first, the policy institute focused on the Soviet bloc, but its attention later expanded to China and more recently the Middle East. It boasts that its analysis “contributes significantly to policymakers engaged in addressing today’s new and emerging threats, including that from international terrorists.” (1)
Eulogizing Geimer, who died in 2002, longtime Jamestown board member and former Central Intelligence Agency director R. James Woolsey observed: "He had an enormous impact on our national security efforts. As the Soviet Union began to collapse, Bill was one of the first to foresee that the instability brought about by that dissolution might result in rogue groups more difficult to deal with and potentially more of a threat to freedom than the USSR, which is precisely the situation we face with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida."
In the 1990s, James Woolsey took on the case of former KGB major Viktor Sheymov, who believed that the CIA had not adequately compensated him for his intelligence work. Woolsey managed to arrange a secret settlement with the CIA in this case. (5)
One can get a feel for at least part of the intended audience of the foundation just by looking at what other organizations post to their sites. For example, the neoconservative Center for Security Policy has highlighted various publications dealing with Russia’s attempts to control old Soviet republics such as Georgia and Ukraine—the main message being that Russia needs to be kept in check in order to prevent it from becoming a superpower again. Two other prominent themes involve Russia’s developing alliance with China and how China perceives Russia’s involvement with NATO and Washington as threatening. (8)
The focus on totalitarianism as the main threat to U.S. national security coincides with that of the neoconservative political camp. Since the Cold War’s end, the Jamestown Foundation has become increasingly linked to neocon-driven institutions and leading figures, including the Center for Security Policy and Freedom House.
Among the authors of the institute's publications are Freedom House’s Nina Shea, the National Institute for Public Policy’s Keith Payne, the Hoover Institute’s John Dunlop, the Heritage Institution’s John Tkacik, American Enterprise Institute’s Nicholas Eberstadt, Hudson Institute’s Laurent Murawiec, and the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin’s former editor Gary Gambill.
Regarding China, Arthur Waldron and John Tkacik have each respectively led alarmist calls about the new China threat. For his part, Waldron has criticized “China’s directionless transition.” He charges that China has followed a dangerous path of instituting economic reform, whereas it should have followed the Russian model of first “introducing freedom and democracy.” He advocates that the United States keep China in check if it “misbehaves” with regard to Taiwan, and implies that China is a terrorism-enabling country because it has failed to exert sufficient pressure on North Korea. Similarly, Tkacik recommends “prescribing Beijing with some of its own medicine”—meaning that it should use the same heavy-handed threats against North Korea that it uses mistakenly against Taiwan. (13) (14) (15) (16) (17)
Jamestown’s post 9/11 emphasis on terrorism and Islamic totalitarianism is seen in articles by Murawiec and Gambill, among others. Murawiec, like Daniel Pipes, forecasts the imminent turn to Wahhabism in Egypt. Murawiec depicts the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, with its 5,000-6,000 professors, as if it were the next bastion of Islamic fundamentalism. Gambill, who was the former editor of the Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, a publication of the Middle East Forum and the U.S. Committee for a Free Lebanon, dedicates his report to Iraq and Syria—attempting to link the two through the terrorism of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. (18) (19) (20)
Although the Jamestown Foundation does not explicitly state its foreign policy agenda, it does through its forums and publications align itself with the neoconservatives’ agenda with respect to Taiwan-China, counterterrorism/Middle East issues, and Russia. Like the neoconservatives, the institute equates evil and totalitarianism—and believes that U.S. foreign and military policy should be committed to “root out evil.”
All are regarded as national security threats to the United States. But unlike the neoconservative policy institutes, the Jamestown Foundation is not as strident and careless with the facts. With regard to Osama bin Laden, for example, the foundation posted a full transcript of his November 2004 speech before the U.S. elections, and his statement was identical to that which Al-Jazeera printed, which is the most authentic version. The same cannot be said of the Middle East Media Research Institute, a neoconservative organization that has consistently mistranslated much of the Arab and Middle Eastern press to serve its pro-Israeli, pro-American position. (10) (11) (12)
Between 1985 and 2003, Jamestown Foundation received close to $3.5 million from such right-wing foundations as Smith Richardson and two of the Richard Mellon Scaife foundations--Carthage and Sarah Scaife--which together contributed over $2.9 million of this amount. (21)
The Capital Research Center, a conservative research organization, reports that the Starr Foundation gave two grants to Jamestown in 1997 and 1998: $200,000 and $100,000, respectively. Also in 1998, Archer Daniels Midland, the agribusiness giant, gave the foundation $5,000. (22) (23)
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Jamestown Foundation Résumé
- American Committee for Peace in Chechnya
- Center for Security Policy
- Project for a New American Century
- Freedom House
- Dick Cheney
- Nicholas Eberstadt
- Laurent Murawiec
- Keith Payne
- Nina Shea
- John Tkacik
- Arthur Waldron
- R. James Woolsey
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(1) The Jamestown Foundation: About Us
(2) The Jamestown Foundation: Publications
(3) The Jamestown Foundation: Staff: Glen Howard
(4) “Board Members,” Jamestown Foundation
(5) Charles Lane, “Court to Hear Arguments of CIA Spies: Former Soviet-Bloc Couple Sued Agency for Breach of Clandestine Deal.” The Washington Post, January 10, 2005
(6) Charity Navigator: Jamestown Foundation
(7) Congressional Record: In Memory of Cold War Hero William G. Geimer—Hon. Frank R. Wolf
(8) The Center for Security Policy: Russia Article and Report Archive
Actual Jamestown articles may be found at:
(9) InterNet Bankruptcy Library: Class Action Reporter, Monday, October 27, 2003, Vol. 5, No. 211
(10) The Jamestown Foundation: Bin Laden's Address to America ahead of the U.S. Presidential Elections, November 3, 2004
(11) Al-Jazeera: Full transcript of bin Ladin's speech, November 1, 2004
(12) MEMRI TV: Osama bin Laden's Speech on the Eve of the 2004 US Elections, Clip No. 312, October 29, 2004
(13) Arthur Waldron, “ China ’s Directionless Transition: A Commentary.” China Brief, February 20, 2004
(14) Arthur Waldron, “China 2001 vs USSR 1981: How Much Will Change in China ?” China Brief, July 12, 2001
(15) John Tkacik, “History's Implications for Taiwan's Constitution.” China Brief, October 28, 2004
(16) John J. Tkacik, Jr., “Taiwan Nukes, North Korean Nukes.” China Brief, January 6, 2004
(17) John Tkacik, “Taiwan’s Presidential Countdown: What Does it Mean for the United States?” China Brief, May 6, 2003
(18) Gary Gambill, “How Significant is Syria ’s Role in Iraq ?” Terrorism Monitor, October 07 , 2004
(19) Laurent Murawiec, “The Saudi Takeover of Al-Azhar University .” Terrorism Monitor, December 4 , 2003
(20) Charlie Rose, Interview with Faysal Mekdad, The Charlie Rose Show, February 15, 2005
(21) Media Transparency: Jamestown Foundation
(22) Capital Research Center: Organization Report: Jamestown Foundation
(23) Capital Research Center: Organization Report: Starr Foundation
(24) The Jamestown Foundation: About the Foundation: Principals and Staff
(25) The Jamestown Foundation: Authors