A different kind of “think tank” (or “think tanks”, as they say in Russia) can be compared with architectural offices or urban offices. If the city develop the project, if any building is built according to the architectural plan, what does that say about the world in General? There should be a space, which is the idea, where ideas are produced, where people are able to take into account many circumstances.
A place for discussion
“Think tank and” represent something like the universal machines of thought, attracting people of different intellectual nature. They integrate achievements of various fields, which distinguishes these structures from research institutes and universities. Here you can see a purely academic researchers, former diplomats, former journalists, former intelligence officers. Each “think tank” — a kind of network, half-closed, in which intellectuals intensively communicate. Not so important, what conclusions are made as a result of this communication in the conference report or study; more important, given a certain intelligent system of coordinates. It includes a set of concepts and terms in which the debate is conducted, a certain order, which allows to discuss the questions and decipher the answers. There is a saying: “according to the rules of Chatham house. Chatham house is one of the oldest and most prestigious “think tank s”. He has made rules that allow people to talk openly and properly and thus nothing to fear, as the conversations remain within the community. No one can tell exactly who said what. Thus publish the contents and conclusions of the discussions. This allows the participants to feel more confident.
It is very important that discussions on such platforms enough application that offers a specific solution: the required such a contract, the Union on any grounds, these parameters of foreign policy. About the fate of the world can argue and philosophically, but that’s not our approach. One of applied measurements — help in conflict resolution. Of course, people have always lived in times of confrontation, as said Heraclitus, “war is the father of all”, but the current confrontation in comparison with previous epochs of change. In many ways, they are associated with fatigue and a huge number of biases against each other. There is not a very structured thing out of the many conflicts which require thought and discussion. “Think Tank and” try to settle the conflict, to find a nonviolent solution to the conflict through the understanding of nature.
The Russian experience
Is it possible in reality? I think at some extent, succeeds. In my opinion, the history of the Middle East, Syria is an example of that system of negotiations and discussions leading to any result. Is this the extent of the participation of the Valdai club. In the February conference “middle East dialogue” was attended by a large number of foreign and Russian experts and journalists. Came adviser to the current President of Syria busana of Shaaban, which attracted a full house. The huge contribution made scientific Director of the Institute of Oriental studies Vitaly Naumkin. The conference was very useful. Is that Vitaly Naumkin began to work directly with the special envoy of the UN Secretary General to Syria Staffan de Mistura. This is a good example of the practical result of a dialogue at the site “think tank”.
Works “Valdai club” and on improving relations between the EU and Russia or between the EU and the Eurasian Economic Union. During our European initiative, we organized meetings in Rome, Brussels and St. Petersburg. Our partner in Rome was the Italian Institute of international Affairs (IAI), and in Brussels the European policy Centre (EPC). Joint observations had a certain response and resonance. In Brussels, the event was attended by representatives of the European Commission, in Rome — a large number of career diplomats.
Can you talk about the role of the Soviet academic institutes like the Institute of USA and Canada in the preparation of the policy of detente and end of cold war. The legendary meeting between Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik in 1986, cook and academics, such as Georgy Arbatov. The Institute of USA and Canada participated in the development of ideas. In Soviet times there was a certain circle of people, offering solutions to current international problems.
Finding a common language
An example of how “think tanks and” trying to resolve long-term conflicts ongoing for many years, the dialogue between India and Pakistan under the title “Track Two”. He organized the Indian and Pakistani “think tanks”, is among experts, journalists, NGOs. To say that the conflict is resolved, of course not, but the way is paved for negotiations, there is some joint program. Another example is South Africa. In the mid 1980-ies in Washington, the Carnegie Foundation began to conduct an intensive dialogue about the problems this country is experiencing a difficult racial conflict. The participants of the dialogue were leaders from South Africa and immigrants, their communication in the end contributed to the resolution of conflicts.
The previous President of Brazil, Luiz inácio Lula for 10 years successfully ruled the country. His program was the result of a kind of “think tank and” left — wing intellectuals, grouped around the figure of Lula. This brain trust formed the program, which ensured high economic growth. Remember Zbigniew Brzezinski, who in 1981 resigned from the Carter administration and began working at the Center for strategic and international studies (CSIS), has prepared many of the principles of Poland’s transition to a market economy. The same CSIS recently received gratitude from Barack Obama for addressing some cyber-security issues. A lot of stories.
The mind is more important than loyalty
“Think tank and” often accused of political loyalty to the authorities, and this means that their Analytics would be obtained as specified. Most experts of the Valdai club, are foreigners. From us, no one requires that they were loyal to the Russian political regime. Loyal to be not forbidden, but it is not forbidden to be critical. The main thing that was a high intellectual level. This is the first time. The second question which is often asked to answer: “can Russia exist independent of the government’s influential “think tank”? Our world is complex and closepersonal, people are moving from diplomatic agencies in research and Vice versa. Here everything is interconnected. It is important not to confuse the experts with the darlings of the media, especially TV shows where govarivali and hype is necessary.
At a certain level of intellectual development, the question of political loyalty in General is removed. Don’t feel loyal to analysts and experts have been someone particularly need. It is important that they be independent and impartial. Relations political consultant and the client resemble the relationship of therapist and client. It is impossible to prevent too great proximity, it is harmful impact on their own psychological condition. Perhaps there are organizations that are working to please the boss, but in the long term it is very difficult, because the failures will be visible. I don’t think we have something to distort. We may be mistaken (which is a big danger), but this misconception is not a function of political loyalty.
People who are in power, can listen or not to listen to the advice of experts, to trust or not to trust, but still they are in the proposed coordinate system.
Waiting for that “think tank and” the future? These sites will continue to think, to talk, to define conceptual boundaries for General discussion, but important is the idea of using modern communication technologies to development cooperation. The existence of social networking “think tank s” would accelerate the exchange of information, the intensity and perhaps depth, but also this would add some order. An intense panel discussion in semi-closed social network makes to structure judgments and to develop certain tags that allow you to understand more clearly the coordinates, in which the unfolding ideas and thinking necessary for decision-making.
The author is an expert of the international discussion club “Valdai”. The club was established in 2004, in its work took part more than 900 representatives of the world scientific community of the 62 States.
The authors ‘ point of view, articles which are published in the section “Opinions” may not coincide with ideas of editorial.