In Profile : The Heritage Foundation

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24 June 2015
Since 1982 the Heritage Foundation, the most influential conservative think tank in the United States, has channelled as much as $1 million to right-wing organisations in Britain and other Western European countries, with the aim of influencing domestic political affairs.

In one case large sums were paid through a former Central Intelligence Agency contract employee to undisclosed third parties.

The British groups financed by Heritage were closely linked to senior figures in Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party. In one case, the Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies, where the foundation provided start-up capital and the overwhelming bulk of continued financial support, the result is a virtual Heritage satellite.

The International Democratic Union was a collection of conservative party leaders from thirty countries, was set up in 1983 to hold biannual gatherings to coordinate strategies, particularly in foreign policy. Jeffrey Gayner, Heritage’s counsel for international relations set about establishing a common international agenda for the right.

In 1982 President Reagan appointed the Foundation’s president, Edwin Feulner, Jr., as chair of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. That commission evaluates programs of the U.S. Information Agency, including Voice of America, Fulbright scholarships and the National Endowment for Democracy.

Feulner attended the London School of Economics and the University of Edinburgh, and maintained close personal links to British conservatives.

Heritage alumnus John O’Sullivan, editor of the foundation’s journal, Policy Review, from 1979 to 1983 and later a policy adviser to Thatcher, wrote key sections of the Conservative Party’s election manifesto, The Next Moves Forward.

Heritage funding of British projects was evident as early as 1979, and became more systematic in 1982, when U.S. and British conservatives were alarmed by the growing influence of the peace movement. In 1982, Heritage disseminated a so-called backgrounder titled Moscow and the Peace Offensive, in which it called on the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and its affiliated public support organisations to spread information concerning the links . . . between known Communist front groups and the independent peace groups. The campaign to prevent the deployment of cruise missiles on British soil was accompanied by a steady acceleration of Heritage funding.

Britain was the target of more than 95% of Heritage’s international funding operations. Three main recipients were identified for 1982, 1983 and 1985 :

The Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies, which received a total of $427,809, more than any other group, U.S. or foreign.
The International Freedom Fund Establishment (IFFE), which took in $140,000;
The Coalition for Peace through Security (CPS), which accepted a $10,000 grant in 1982 and, according to some evidence, may have received additional funds that were never declared. BBC television’s un-transmitted Secret Society series obtained a letter from the C.P.S. thanking Heritage for a further grant of $50,000 in October 1982.

Three other British groups were given token amounts :
The Social Affairs Unit
The International Symposium of the Open Society
An organisation listed simply as Aneks

Founded in 1979, the year Thatcher came to power, Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies, stated its goals thus :

“To assess the impact of political change in Europe and North America on defence and strategic issues. In particular, to study the domestic political situation in NATO countries and how this affects the NATO posture.”

It declared that it would put most of its effort into publications, seminars and conferences. In an interview in February with InterNation, Gayner denied that there is any formal connection between Heritage and the institute. But the IEDSS was, in fact, set up with foundation funds.
Heritage president Feulner chairs the institute’s board.

Richard V. Allen, Reagan’s first national security adviser, a Heritage distinguished fellow and head of the foundation’s Asian Studies Centre advisory council, is also a board member.

Frank Shakespeare, chair of the foundation’s board of trustees and the Reagan Administration’s Ambassador to the Vatican, was a founding member of the IEDSS’s advisory council.
Frost says that Stephen Haseler came up with the idea for the IEDSS. One of the earliest prominent defectors to Britain’s Social Democratic Party, which broke away from the Labour Party in 1981, Haseler was also a Heritage scholar and a member of the editorial board of Policy Review. According to Frost, Haseler :

saw the need for a broad-based international institute and persuaded Ed Fuelner that this was a good idea.

Feulner then agreed to support the good idea, to the tune of 60,000 pounds, then $132,870. The second crucial participant in setting IEDSS priorities was Sir Peter Blaker, a senior Tory who, according to Frost, saw the implications of an upsurge in peace movement activity, which was a movement of concern to him. Blaker is an important figure in British defence circles. From 1979 to 1983 he was a junior official in Thatcher’s Defence Ministry, and in 1983 he headed a secret ministerial group on Nuclear Weapons and Public Opinion, which generated films and literature against Britain’s Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

Another senior Tory Member of Parliament involved with the I. E. D. S. S.  is Ray Whitney, who served on the institute’s board from 1979 to 1984. Whitney is also a junior minister in the Thatcher government and preceded Blaker as chair of the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Committee in Parliament. In the late 1970s Whitney headed a secret Foreign Office body called the Information Research Department, which conducted covert propaganda activities, including some directed against British leftists. He appears to have taken a more direct role than Blaker in the smear campaign against the peace movement. In April 1983, as preparations began for a general election, Tory Defence Minister Michael Heseltine released a letter purporting to prove communist domination of the CND. And of the Labour Party. One of Heseltine’s chief sources was Whitney. Our colleague Ray Whitney, he commented at the time, has added a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the political motivations of C.N.D.

IEDSS publications also regularly attacked the C.N.D. Its first monograph, Protest and Perish, an assault on E.P. Thompson’s Protest and Survive, accused Thompson of furthering the arms race by destabilising NATO and the bloc system. Great Britain and NATO : A Parting of the Ways?, also published in 1982, declared that Britain could face civil war if a Labour government took office, and warned that NATO could not entrust secrets to a governing party under the sway of a pro-Soviet faction. Further publications assailed the presence of the churches in the peace movement and the teaching of peace studies in British universities. Co-author of the last of those was Caroline Cox, a former director of the Center for Policy Studies and, since becoming a baroness, in 1982, a leading spokeswoman for the Conservative Party in the House of Lords. Most of this propaganda was made possible by grants from the Heritage Foundation.

Although both Gayner and Frost downplayed the connection in interviews, there is little likelihood that the I.E.D.S.S., whose 1986 budget, according to Frost, was 125,000 pounds, then $184,000, could survive without Heritage backing. According to its year-end financial report for 1985, the institute’s total income from donations in 1984 and 1985 amounted to $185,611 at year-end exchange rates. Figures logged with the I.R.S. show that Heritage gave I. E. D. S. S. $91,165 in 1982; $185,371 in 1983; and $151,273 in 1985. At least one other private U.S.  foundation specialising in ultraconservative causes has also funded I. E. D. S. S. A spokesman for the John M. Olin Foundation, where Heritage trustee William E. Simon is in charge of grants, confirmed that it had given I. E. D. S. S.  $20,000 in 1986. Frost declined to reveal how much the institute had received from Heritage last year, but did say, O.K., in 1986 they were still our biggest source of funds. He is visibly rattled by the topic of Heritage funds : If you’re seen as having this connection, he told InterNation, people might take less notice of you. And, he added, the media becomes suspicious.

The Coalition for Peace through Security was also created by Heritage dollars, with the declared intention of making one-sided disarmament a millstone around the neck of any politician advocating such a course of action for Britain.

The Heritage-CPS relationship was cemented in the Autumn 1981, when the group’s three founders visited Washington and agreed to embark on the task of educating public opinion in Britain. For it’s founding conference in London, in March 1982, the CPS brought over assorted luminaries of the New Right in the United States, including Paul Weyrich, co-founder of Heritage and president of the Free Congress Foundation; and Morton Blackwell, then a White House aide and assistant to direct-mail wizard Richard Viguerie.

They discussed ways in which U.S. conservative fund-raising and opinion-forming techniques could be used in Britain.Thatcher sent a message of welcome, telling the organisation, I wish every success to your efforts, as I consider this a matter vital to our security and the preservation of peace. Links between the CPS and the IEDSS are close. Sir Peter Blaker is involved with both groups, and the two cooperated in the publication and distribution of Protest and Perish. Their methods differ, however. Although its literature claims the CPS is committed to the spirit of our British tradition of fair play, the group plays dirty in its campaign to smear nuclear disarmers as Soviet puppets, according to CND vice chair Bruce Kent. Among its tactics, Kent claims, are heckling and disruption of CND meetings, often by flying a banner reading C.N.D. = K.G.B. CPS activists shattered a two-minute silence at a rally commemorating the bombing of Hiroshima by playing God Save the Queen full blast over loudspeakers.

The third and most enigmatic of the British groups funded by Heritage is the International Freedom Fund Establishment, which is not registered in Britain either as a company or a charity. Heritage has sent at least $140,000 earmarked for this group to Brian Crozier, a fixture on the far right of British politics, who was identified as a CIA contract employee by The New York Times in December 1977. Crozier is the former head of the Institute for the Study of Conflict, which was heavily endowed by the ultraconservative U.S. funder Richard Mellon Scaife in the 1970s. In 1981 an aide to Scaife reported that the institute had set up solid working relationships with the Heritage Foundation and that its research into political and psychological warfare, revolutionary activities, insurgency operations and terrorism is consistently used by the Thatcher government.

Crozier insisted that his only connection with Heritage was as an adjunct scholar. He described himself as a freelance risk analyst, and the IFFE as a contact or checking point that handles funds for a number of organisations, which he declined to name. In a second conversation, two days later, Crozier said, The IFFE is a clearinghouse, and that is all. He then acknowledged arranging for the transfer of Heritage funds but again refused to respond to questions about the eventual beneficiaries. This is a private matter, he said. Heritage vice president Herb Berkowitz, when asked to comment, described the IFFE. as a networking operation. We support them, and he [Crozier] does the work. He also acknowledged that Heritage had sent Crozier an additional $50,000 last year. The money, Berkowitz said, goes to scholars, writers and research institutes; some might be affiliated with political parties . . . he makes the decision. When asked if Crozier told Heritage who they were, Berkowitz replied, I do not think he reports back to us in detail. He should.

Smaller amounts of money fund other European groups and individuals, including economist Friedrich von Hayeck [SIC] of the University of Freiburg, in West Germany, and conservative economic research institutes in Paris and Rome. Heritage works closely with such conservative groups as the Hans Seidel Foundation in West Germany, the international arm of Franz-Josef Strauss’s Christian Social Union; and the Club de l’Horloge in France, with which it co-sponsored a May 1986 conference in Nice called La Deculpabilisation de l’Occident getting rid of the West’s guilt. The foundation has also reached into Africa and Asia.According to the foundation’s 1985 annual report, Stuart Butler, director of domestic policy studies, twice visited South Africa that year to advise the business community how to use the free market to dismantle racial apartheid. Heritage has tried to rally support for Zulu Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, for whom it hosted a dinner in Washington last November.

In an interview with InterNation, Heritage’s vice president, Burton Yale Pines, predicted, Maybe the next step will be to organise some kind of Conservative International. He suggested this could take the form of an alliance of as many as twenty like-minded groups in the United States, Britain, France, West Germany, Japan and other countries. In the past six years the Heritage Foundation has been a major force behind the Reagan revolution. The Administration comes to an end in 1989, but the Heritage Foundation will do its best to see that the principles of Reaganism have a continuing effect on politics far beyond the borders of the United States.

US Public Diplomacy to support Intermediate Nuclear Force deployment in 1983
From Public Diplomacy : Lessons from the Past. Nicholas J. Cull, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. April 2007

In 1975 the Soviet Union began deployment of intermediate nuclear forces (INF) in Eastern Europe in the form of the SS20 missile. As NATO had no equivalent missiles in place, Moscow had gained a strategic advantage in the Cold War.

For the purposes of deterrence and to stimulate serious arms reduction talks the US needed a counter deployment but faced mounting public opposition to nuclear weapons in Western Europe.
In 1979 NATO decided to pursue a twin track policy seeking an arms reduction agreement while deploying its own INFs in Europe. It fell to the Reagan administration in 1983 to accomplish the deployment of ground launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) and the Pershing II ballistic missile. The Campaign was to manage a supporting public diplomacy campaign the Reagan White House convened a small inter-agency group under the chairmanship of Peter H. Dailey, Reagan’s advertising manager in the 1980 election and his ambassador to Ireland.

The core of the administration’s strategy was to accept that arguments in support of the deployment from the United States would be counter productive and that the case was best made by local voices in European politics and the media. To this end USIA convened a small committee of private citizens including the British financier Sir James Goldsmith, and two media moguls, Rupert Murdoch and Joachim Maitre (of Axel Springer Publishing in Hamburg) with a view to both raising private sector finance and getting the message into the European press. This committee met Reagan for lunch and was briefed by Dailey.

The real master stroke in the INF campaign was the selection of a new US ambassador to NATO, David M. Abshire.

Abshire was the founder of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC and already had a special relationship with the European think tank circuit and defence journalists. He also knew senior people in the European peace movement. He, in turn, recruited an experienced USIA man, Stanton Burnett (then Minister Counsellor for Information in the US Embassy in Rome) and a colleague from CSIS named Mike Moody to run his campaign, and began to call in favours and rekindle old relationships in the cause of deployment.

The core of his argument was that the Soviet deployment of the SS20’s in 1975 was the real disruption to peace rather than America’s plan.

In June 1983 Vice President Bush made a European tour and obtained the necessary agreements for the deployments, which went ahead everywhere planned except the Netherlands. While follow-up polls showed that the INF deployments were unpopular with the wider population, Europeans were apparently convinced of the sincerity of the American approach to arms reduction and attached far more significance to other issues of the day like social and economic concerns. The point was that the opinion had shifted enough to allow the missiles to be deployed. The Americans had made a move which compelled the Soviets to negotiate and in retrospect now looks like the winning play in the Cold War confrontation. Abshire received the Distinguished Public Service Medal for his service around the deployment.

This campaign is notable for it’s carefully strictly limited objective (tolerance of INF deployment rather than nurturing a love of the Reagan administration), careful selection of the audience (European opinion makers rather than a un-winnable mass audience) and careful selection of a credible messenger (Abshire) who was already known to the target audience. It is notable that the Reagan administration was not concerned that its public diplomacy be seen to be effective by a domestic American audience, nor that any credit be seen to accrue to the administration as a result. The focus remained getting the vital missiles into place. Abshire’s was doubtless helped by the fact that he had a good case springing from the prior deployment of Soviet missiles, and credibility given to US statements of intent to negotiate once the missiles were in place.

Rightweb Profile of Heritage
Media Transparency Profile
Total Grants to Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies :
2-10-1995 $5,000 To support a conference on the United Nations The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.
1-1-1995 $25,000  The New Atlantic Initiative  John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.
12-29-1992 $17,500 To support the publications program The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.
6-17-1992 $17,500 To support the publications program The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.
11-26-1991 $25,000 To support its publications program. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.
11-15-1990 $25,000 To support the Institute’s 1990-91 publications program. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.
10-9-1989 $25,000 To support the Institute’s publications program. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.
6-27-1988 $25,000 General research activities. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, Inc.
1-1-1987 $20,000 To support a series of Occasional papers John M. Olin Foundation, Inc.

This was subsequent to the $427,809 paid by the Heritage Foundation. The Internation report also stated that :
The IEDSS 1986 budget was £125,000, then $184,000
According to its year-end financial report for 1985, the institute’s total income from donations in 1984 and 1985 amounted to $185,611 (at year-end exchange rates).
Heritage gave IEDSS $91,165 in 1982
$185,371 in 1983 and
$151,273 in 1985.

At least one other private U.S. foundation specialising in ultraconservative causes has also funded I. E. D. S. S.  A spokesman for the John M. Olin Foundation, where Heritage trustee William E. Simon is in charge of grants, confirmed that it had given I. E. D. S. S. $20,000 in 1986. The report also added :
Frost declined to reveal how much the institute had received from Heritage last year, but did say, O.K., in 1986 they were still our biggest source of funds. He is visibly rattled by the topic of Heritage funds: If you’re seen as having this connection, he told InterNation, people might take less notice of you. And, he added, the media becomes suspicious.

Publishing and funding cease in 1995 as the New Atlantic Initiative emerged.

Two worlds of international relations contextualises IEDSS amongst other think tanks

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