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The Jamestown Foundation is a Washington, D.C.marker-based think tank, originally founded in 1984 as a platform to support Soviet dissidents. Today its stated mission is to "inform and educate" policy makers about events and trends which it regards as being of current "strategic" importance to the United Statesmarker. Its website claims that "utilizing indigenous and primary sources, Jamestown’s material is delivered without political bias, filter or agenda." However it has been accused of being an anti-Russian, agenda-driven relic of the Cold War. The Jamestown Foundation claims on its website that it acquires its information through official or intelligence sources.

Founding and mission

The Jamestown Foundation was founded in 1984 after Arkady Shevchenko, the highest-ranking Sovietmarker official ever to defect when he left his position as Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, defected in 1978. 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 Romanianmarker intelligence officer; with the help of the foundation, both defectors published bestselling books. The CIA Director William J. Casey, a leading figure in 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. The foundation, initially also dedicated to supporting Soviet dissidents, enabled the defectors from the Eastern Bloc to earn extra money by lecturing and writing.

According to its website: "The mission of the Jamestown Foundation is to inform and educate policy makers and the broader 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. Utilizing indigenous and primary sources, Jamestown’s material is delivered without political bias, filter or agenda. It is often the only source of information which should be, but is not always, available through official or intelligence channels, especially in regard to Eurasia and terrorism." It claims to have "contributed directly to the spread of democracy and personal freedom in the former Communist Bloc countries."

Current activities

Currently, its primary focus is on Chinamarker, Eurasia, Russiamarker and global terrorism. As of 2008, its publications are Eurasia Daily Monitor, Global Terrorism Analysis, China Brief, North Caucasus Weekly (formerly Chechnyamarker Weekly) and Recent From Turkey. Previous publications included Eurasia Security Trends, Fortnight in Review, North Koreamarker Review, Russia and Eurasia Review, Russia’s Week, Spotlight on Terror, Terrorism Focus and Terrorism Monitor.

As of 2008, the foundation’s current board included James H. Burnley IV and Frank Keating, while the Jamestown's fellows included David Satter, Michael Scheuer (let go in 2009, he claims he was fired because of his criticism of the U.S.-Israeli relations) and Vladimir Socor.

Criticism

It has been alleged that the Jamestown Foundation is a neoconservative agenda driven think-tank with ties to the CIA and United States government. Numerous publications have accused it of being an anti-Russian organization. An article by the Voltaire Network concludes that "...the Jamestown Foundation is only an element in a huge machine, which is controlled by Freedom House and linked to the CIA. In practice, it has become a specialized news agency in subjects such as the communist and post-communist states and terrorism. Although it publishes high quality information on issues that can be checked up, it does not hesitate to launch the most blatant imputations on the rest, thus providing neo-conservative think tanks with a world image that matches their ghosts and justifies their policy." Philby Burgess writing for The eXile commented: "Most of the bitterly anti-Russian journalists who publish with these rightwing lobbies are from the small countries surrounding Russia, and they are animated by a deep hatred of their former conqueror."

In 2007 Moscow accused the think tank of spreading anti-Russian propaganda by hosting a debate on violence in the Russia's turbulent Ingushetiamarker region. According to a statement by the Foreign Ministry of Russiamarker: "Organisers again and again resorted to deliberately spreading slander about the situation in Chechnya and other republics of the Russian North Caucasus using the services of supporters of terrorists and pseudo-experts. Speakers were given carte blanche to spread extremist propaganda, incite ethnic and inter-religious discord." The Jamestown Foundation responded by saying that Russia felt threatened by it and was trying to intimidate it. Foundation president Glen Howard claimed that "they're intimidated by the power of the free word and this goes against the state manipulation of the media in Russia."

References

  1. Policy Recommendations for a Political Solution in Georgia's Region of South Ossetia
  2. The Jamestown Foundation: A News Agency Made to Measure Voltaire Network
  3. Vladimir Socor: Hound for Hire The Exile
  4. Moscow criticises US think-tank over debate Reuters
  5. Wisdom or temptation in Central Asia? The Russia Journal
  6. Origins
  7. Board Members
  8. Lobby? What Lobby?
  9. Jamestown Fellows


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