The United States Institute of Peace is a non-partisan, federal institution that was created by congress in 1984. USIP aims to prevent and end violent conflict around the world. USIP motto is “Think. Act. Teach. Train”. USIP is attempting to end violent conflict by research and analyzing conflict and then developing solutions that can be implemented in on-ground training. Specifically, their main goals are to “save lives,  increase the governments ability to deal with conflicts before they escalate, reduce government costs, and enhance our national security”. They are currently working in 30 countries including Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq. USIP also works to create lasting stability after conflict ends. General David W. Barno who was stationed in Afghanistan was quoted saying, USIP played a “tremendously useful behinds-the-scene role” in convening groups and organizing transition efforts in Afghanistan. USIP receives all their funding from the government and are prohibited from receiving private funding. This is done in hopes of preventing special interest groups from influencing USIP. Although I understand and agree with this, there is still the issue of the government influencing USIP’s actions. Interestingly, congress agreed to eliminate all funding in February 2011. I have not quite figured out how USIP is still existing without the funding but it seems to be doing so. The closest thing that I figured out was their contingency plan if funding was cut but it was last updated February 2011.

Partially because of USIP’s history being a government funding organization, I think I would personally not want to work in this type of think tank. I agree with many people’s previous post on how working for the government you would have to deal with more bureaucracy and restrictions. I think that being privately funded would be ideal. A real life example of why a privately funded think think would be better  is definitely for all science research, specifically stem cell research. If you worked with stem cell research your entire funding could be cut because it is the same as murder to the government.

If I had my own think tank I would want to work with renewable energy. Not only is renewable energy very necessary as our oil reserves dwindle, but it is also an exciting field of work. There is so much unrealized potential in renewable energy. Even everything we already know about renewable energy that if implemented could really improve our environment. Because of this I would want part of my think tank’s mission to be about generating knowledge and awareness in renewable energy.

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4 responses »

  1. Mike says:

    I like your think tank idea. I feel our dependence on oil has been talked about so much over the years that it is just old news to people and that they forget how serious it is. Renewable energy is the future. I believe it will be the next “age” (like the information/tech age) whose leading pioneers of the industry will be one of the most powerful nations. Energy changes need to be made soon, so a think tank dedicated to it now is a great idea.

  2. Jordi says:

    How are they still around? And, honestly, that sounds like such a good idea. If we spent even 1% on studying peace as we do on “defense” (in ” ” as it is much more about offense), what might we learn and accomplish. I know it is easy to dismiss as “hippie” or whatever, but I am not a pacifist. I am just saying that the conditions that can create sustained peace can be studied and possibly implemented just as much as the conditions of conflict and winning military conflicts.

  3. Jim says:

    I thought you highlighted a particularly interesting think tank in this post. I had not even considered that there might be organizations that were barred from taking private donations due to the possibilities of bias, but it makes sense that the government, like any organization might be concerned about this. I am also particularly interested in peace and I think that a lot of what we hear about peace, the ‘hippie’ stuff as Jordi calls it, has underlying premises that need to be drawn out (a job I imagine this think tank does a fair amount of). For instance I heard from many people “There is no just war”. Sounds compelling right? I’d like to believe that violence is inherently wrong, but surely a war to defend one’s nation, or to defeat possible genocide is just, right? I think what people mean, and what they don’t say, is that “It is not possible for two opposing sides to both be justified in any given war” and that is something I can buy.
    I think that in general it is easy to get caught up in the framing that goes on when it comes to big issues and we need to make sure that we truly understand the implications of the suppressed premises in the statements we make and are influenced by.
    (Sorry if this was only tangentially related to your post)

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