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The Harmful Effects of the Possible Cato Takeover on Foreign Policy Debate

Justin Logan details [1] the implications of a Koch takeover of the Cato Institute for foreign policy debate:

So what does all of this mean for foreign policy? The implications seem clear. Given the Koch brothers’ stated desire to turn Cato into a research arm of Americans for Prosperity, Cato’s foreign policy would in the best case be abolished and in the worst case would be influenced by people like John Hinderaker, who was nominated to Cato’s board despite calling himself a “neocon” and describing George W. Bush as “a man of extraordinary vision and brilliance approaching to genius.” Other neoconservative Republican partisans like Charles Krauthammer have served as keynote speakers at recent Koch confabs. To the extent Cato had foreign policy output at all, it would be used to ratify the foreign-policy decisions made by the Republican political elite. The quality of those decisions in recent decades has been terrible, and I, for one, could not act in such a role.

This seems to be the consensus of everyone associated with Cato, and I don’t doubt that Logan is right about what the takeover would mean for Cato’s work on foreign policy. The end of the Institute’s independence would be an enormous loss for anyone interested in the causes of liberty and peace, and it is particularly the damage to the latter that is most worrisome. U.S. foreign policy is as militarized today as it has been at almost any point in my lifetime, and there are few signs of it getting any less so in the near future. That is why it is so important to have an independent, credible organization that consistently opposes policies of perpetual war.

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2 Comments To "The Harmful Effects of the Possible Cato Takeover on Foreign Policy Debate"

#1 Comment By cfountain72 On March 6, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

Amen Daniel…not sure where the venom is coming from. As I have commented elsewhere on this site, there is simply no other think tank with the same combination of DC access, advocacy for free markets, civil rights, and non-interventionist beliefs. Even those who disagree with them on climate change, or gay marriage, or CitizensUnited, or drug legalization probably recognize the value of a voice like CATO’s in Washington.

Peace be with you.

#2 Comment By Chespirito On March 6, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

I disagree radically with Cato on many issues but the their work on foreign policy is sterling. (What they do on criminal justice and civil liberties and IP law is also first rate.) If their fo-po squad gets purged and replaced with Hinderaker and Krauthammer drones it will be just a tremendous loss for our public discourse and our foreign policy.