May 18, 2011

The Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) was founded in 1963 as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization with seed money (derived from a fortune made in cosmetics sales under the Faberge trade name) from the Samuel Rubin Foundation. Samuel Rubin (1901-1978) was a Russian Bolshevik and the father of Cora Weiss, who headed the Samuel Rubin Foundation from its inception and is currently the principal financier of IPS. Weiss' husband, Peter, is Chairman of the IPS Board of Trustees. He is also a member of the National Lawyers Guild and the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee, both of which were created as Communist Party fronts. The Weisses selected Richard J. Barnet and Marcus Raskin to be the first co-directors of IPS, with the aim of transforming the United States by altering public attitudes, changing laws, and reversing foreign policy through an Academy that reached every nexus of the national nervous system.

Throughout its history, IPS has committed itself to the task of advancing leftist causes. It worked with agents of the Castro regime and championed environmentalist and anti-war positions in the 1960s and 1970s; it declared against the Reagan administration's efforts to roll back communism in the 1980s; it joined the vanguard of what IPS hailed as the "anti-corporate globalization movement" in the 1990s; and it furnished policy research assailing the U.S.-led war in Iraq during the George W. Bush administration.

IPS’s Washington, DC headquarters quickly became a resource center for national reporters and a place for KGB agents from the nearby Soviet embassy to convene and strategize. Cora Weiss headed one of the IPS's most successful forays -- into Riverside Church in Manhattan. She was invited there in 1978 by the Reverend William Sloane Coffin to run the church's Disarmament Program, which sought to consolidate Soviet nuclear superiority in Europe -- in the name of "peace." In 1982 Weiss helped organize the largest pro-disarmament demonstration ever held. Staged in New York City, the rally was attended by a coalition of communist organizations. During her decade-long tenure at Riverside, which became home to the National Council of Churches, Weiss regularly received Russian KGB agents, Sandinista friends, and Cuban intelligence agents. Weiss became infamous for her role in the psychological warfare conducted against U.S. prisoners-of-war held in the infamous "Hanoi Hilton" during the Vietnam War.

Beginning in 1964 (and continuing to the present day), IPS held seminars designed to persuade U.S. congressmen and their assistants to support socialist ideals. These included "Housing and Property" seminars that pushed for preferential mortgage-lending policies favoring blacks and other minorities who were underrepresented among homeowners. One such seminar in 1969 – which brought together speakers from big-city tenants councils, neighborhood legal services, FHA insurance, savings-and-loans entities, and the Shannon and Luchs Realty Company – was among the earliest in a long chain of events that would eventually lead to the U.S. housing crisis four decades later. Also in 1969, IPS conducted "Experimental Education" seminars for federal legislators and their aides; a notable guest speaker at these events was Bill Ayers.

The Liberation News Service, which became a news source for hundreds of "alternative" publications nationwide (with Marxist-oriented perspectives), was founded in 1967 with IPS assistance.

The Center for Security Studies was a 1974 IPS spinoff and strove to compromise the effectiveness of U.S. intelligence agencies. The mastheads of two anti-FBI and anti-CIA publications, Counterspy and the Covert Action Information Bulletin, were heavy with IPS members.  

The Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) was begun in 1971 by IPS fellow Joe Stork, who is now a Director with Human Rights Watch. The magazine Mother Jones was founded in 1975 by the IPS spinoff, Foundation for National Progress. In These Times, established in 1976 as a leftwing tabloid, was financed by IPS until 1982.  

Also spawned by IPS were: (a) the North American Congress on Latin America, created in 1966 as a New Left intelligence-gathering agency; (b) the Holland-based Transnational Institute, a major source of anti-American, anti-capitalist literature; (c) the Institute for Food and Development Policy (a.k.a. Food First), which has spent years finding fault with the quality of America's food gifts to the Third World and helped give rise to Medea Benjamin’s organization, Global Exchange; (d) the Data Center in Oakland, a major database that cross-indexes the annual reports of more than 1,000 corporations to detect any signs of incipient monopoly; (e) the Institute for Southern Studies, which has compiled a similar database on more than 400 Southern corporations; (f) the Council on Economic Priorities, which received IPS money with a view to exposing corporate skullduggery and passing judgment on companies' social conscience; and (g) the Interfaith Council on Corporate Responsibility.

In 1978 Brian Crozier, the director of the London-based Institute for the Study of Conflict, once said: “The IPS is the perfect intellectual front for Soviet activities which would be resisted if they were to originate openly from the KGB.”

IPS has long been linked, either through funding or through its leadership, to many of the Left's most prominent anti-war groups in the United States. Among these are the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE); Fellowship of Reconciliation; Promoting Enduring Peace; and Business Executives for National Security. Moreover, IPS is a member organization of the United for Peace and Justice anti-war coalition, and it endorsed a May 1, 2003 document titled "10 Reasons Environmentalists Oppose an Attack on Iraq," which was published by Environmentalists Against War. In 2003 it was reported that IPS, in conjunction with the National Organization for Women, was making some of its Washington DC office space available (at no charge) to the feminist antiwar organization Code Pink, headed by Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans.

IPS has consistently tried to derail American efforts to combat Communism. In 1985, for instance, as President Reagan pressed Congress to fund the Contras in Nicaragua, IPS fellow Peter Kornbluh arranged for Senators John Kerry and Tom Harkin to fly to Managua to meet with Communist Sandinista leaders. Convinced by the Kerry-Harkin report on the allegedly happy atmosphere in Managua, Congress denied the funds, though it reversed itself a few weeks later when Sandinista President Daniel Ortega met with his Soviet friends in the Kremlin.  

The consistently anti-American positions adopted by IPS are frequently expressed in tandem with condemnations of Israel. In February 2005, for instance, IPS Fellow Phyllis Bennis published a commentary depicting the United States as a cynical manipulator seeking only to extract favorable deals for its ally, Israel, no matter how negatively they might affect Palestinians. Bennis further denounced Israel for its efforts to “demolish Palestinian homes"; its "assassination policy" (a reference to the targeted killings of Palestinian terrorist leaders); and its "land-grab known as the Apartheid Wall" (a reference to the anti-terror security fence designed to stem the tide of suicide bombers from the West Bank). 

Central to the IPS worldview is the think tank's unyielding opposition to free markets particularly, and to capitalism broadly. Viewing capitalism as a breeding ground for “unrestrained greed,” IPS seeks, through its reports and programs, to provide a corrective to "unrestrained markets and individualism." One such initiative is the Global Economy Project, overseen by Sarah Anderson and IPS Director John Cavanagh, which seeks to: (a) undercut the Free Trade Area of the Americas; (b) foment grassroots resentment against the World Trade Organization; (c) incite opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement; and (d) promote "economic alternatives" to globalization.

In their 2004 book Alternatives to Economic Globalization: A Better World Is Possible, John Cavanagh and Jerry Mander (President of the IPS Board of Directors and a longtime critic of globalization) contend that capitalism is "a system in crisis," and they appeal to "an alliance of leading activists, scholars, economists, researchers, and writers" to take up the ideological cudgel against globalization.

In Target America -- James L. Tyson's 1981 expose of the Soviet Union's massive "propaganda campaign designed to weaken and demoralize America from the inside"[1] -- the author stated that IPS fellow Saul Landau had "figured prominently" in "anti-intelligence activity and elsewhere in the work of the Far-Left Lobby." Tyson revealed that Landau, in a letter to a friend in Cuba, once wrote: "I think that at age 40 the time has come to dedicate myself to narrower pursuits, namely, making propaganda for American Socialism ... we cannot any longer just help out third world movements and revolutions, although obviously we shouldn't turn our backs on them, but get down to the more difficult job of bringing the message home." On other occasions, Landau advocated on behalf of "Revolutionary Socialism."[2] Now an author and filmmaker, Landau remains an IPS senior fellow to this day.

IPS professes an unquestioning faith in the righteousness of the United Nations, as evidenced by its "New Internationalism" project, which was introduced in 1996 and is directed by Phyllis Bennis. Working in concert with the Congressional Black Caucus and the Progressive Caucus, this project seeks to hamstring American foreign policy and bring it under the control of the UN. In recent years, this IPS project has condemned NATO military intervention in the former Yugoslavia; denounced the "unilaterally imposed" U.S.-British no-fly-zones in Iraq; sought to spark public opposition to pre-war economic sanctions against Iraq; attempted to align U.S. policy toward Israel more closely with the ritually critical stance of the UN; and impugned unilateralism in combating terror, viewing it as hostile to the function of the United Nations.  

A corollary of the New Internationalism campaign advises European nations to assume a more assertive role in the Middle East. Toward that, IPS contends, European nations must "challenge more directly U.S. control of the diplomatic process." Underlying this proposal is the core IPS belief that the United States is itself a rogue nation that poses a grave threat to international peace and stability. Phyllis Bennis made this point succinctly in a July 2004 article wherein she asked, "Haven't we -- and the rest of the world -- had enough of Washington's rogue behavior?"   

Similar sentiments are purveyed by the Institute's in-house team of scholars, which in recent years has featured such radical activists as Noam Chomsky, Barbara Ehrenreich, Gore Vidal, Norman Birnbaum, and Richard Falk. 

One of the more notable figures in IPS history is Robert Borosage, who served as the organization's Director from 1979 to 1988. 

Financial support for IPS comes from such foundations as the Ford Foundation, the Ploughshares Fund, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Arca Foundation, the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, the Compton Foundation, the Educational Foundation of America, the Energy Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Foundation for Deep Ecology, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Tides Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Turner Foundation, and many others.