Thursday September 19, 2013
For many years, I regarded “think tanks” as a godsend. As a news reporter chasing deadlines, I’d regularly call their “experts” for quotes. Usually, they could give me a few succinct lines that appeared to lend a story some intellectual heft.
Then I started asking: who do these “experts” really represent? Can outfits financed by major corporations be independent?
Security and Defence Agenda (SDA) describes itself as a “neutral platform” for discussing military matters. Analysts with the Brussels-based think tank appear happy nonetheless to sound a bellicose note that chimes with the interest of those weapons manufacturers funding their activities.
Shada Islam, SDA’s “strategic advisor”, appeared on Euronews recently, where she argued that “several surgical strikes” should be undertaken against Syria (the interview was conducted before the US-Russia deal on removing Syria’s chemical weapons). Referring to Bashar Assad, the Syrian president, Islam said: “We have an international treaty which bans the use of chemical weapons. If this man has really used them, we have a moral treaty obligation to act. If the West, if the international community, does not act, turns a blind eye to the use of poison gas, what message are we sending to other despots and dictators?”