Established in 1975 by former U.S. diplomats and peace activists, the Center for International Policy (CIP) is a nonprofit research-and-advocacy think tank whose founders sought “to build on the massive grassroots movements that helped end the Vietnam War, and to make sure the lessons of the war were not distorted or forgotten.” Working closely with allies in Congress—most notably, Representatives Tom Harkin and Don Fraser, who became co-chairs of CIP’s board—the Center, in its early years, campaigned to require the U.S. to evaluate the human-rights records of other nations’ governments when deciding how to allocate American foreign aid.
Focusing initially on Asia, CIP in the late 1970s launched an Indochina Program to promote the normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. In the ’80s, the Center turned its attention to ending the wars in Central America, where the Reagan Administration was backing the anti-communist regimes of Guatemala and El Salvador as well as the Contra (anti-communist) rebels in Nicaragua. And in the 1990s, CIP promoted reforms to U.S. intelligence agencies and sought to end America’s “counter-productive isolation of Cuba.” Indeed, prior to 9/11 the Center served as a close ally to Fidel Castro, spending a great deal of money lobbying to end U.S. travel restrictions and economic sanctions against Cuba.
Shortly after the start of the Iraq War in 2003, the public-relations firm Fenton Communications helped CIP establish a “war room” called the Iraq Policy Information Program (IPIP), whose task was to disseminate anti-George W. Bush foreign-policy messages to the media, and to provide guests who could drive home that same theme on radio and television talk shows. One noteworthy IPIP-affiliated speaker was the former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson, a vocal enemy of the Bush Administration.
Today, CIP uses advocacy, policy research, media outreach, and educational initiatives to promote “transparency and accountability” in U.S. foreign policy and global relations. Targeting “decision makers in government, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society,” the Center administers 8 major programs:
1) The Americas program publishes original research and materials that analyze how U.S. foreign policy impacts “human rights, militarization and violence, democracy, gender equality, and economic justice” in the Western Hemisphere.
2) The Arms and Security Project—rooted in the premise that America is far too militaristic in its dealings with other nations—seeks to promote “reforms in U.S. policies on nuclear weapons, military spending, and the arms trade.” Specifically, it advances the idea that: (a) “diplomacy and international cooperation are the most effective tools for protecting the United States”; (b) “the use of military force is largely irrelevant in addressing the greatest dangers we face, from terrorism, to nuclear proliferation, to epidemics of disease, to climate change, to inequities of wealth and income”; and (c) “the allocation of budgetary resources needs to be changed to reflect this reality.” In short, CIP believes that Pentagon spending should be slashed dramatically; that America’s nuclear arsenal should be cut sharply and rapidly; and that the U.S. should relinquish its “role as the world’s number-one arms-exporting nation.”
3) The Security Assistance Monitor program aims to promote greater oversight of U.S. arms sales and military aid to nations around the world.
4) Win Without War was established as a CIP project in 2002, to oppose the U.S. invasion of Saddam Hussein‘s Iraq as well as “the disastrous policies of the Bush/Cheney Administration.” Impugning “the over-militarization of our foreign policy” and “the doctrine of unilateral military preemption,” Win Without War is today focused on “rein[ing] in wasteful spending at the Pentagon,” “prevent[ing] a disastrous [U.S.] war with Iran,” and protecting “the rule of law in national security and foreign policy.”
5) The Avoided Deforestation Partners initiative is dedicated to “advancing U.S. and international climate and energy policies” along with “business solutions that include robust incentives to protect tropical forests.”
6) The “Mighty” program works to protect the natural environment by “conserving threatened landscapes like tropical rainforests, protecting oceans, and solving climate change.” Chaired by former U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman, this initiative is founded upon the axiom that the carbon emissions associated with human industrial activity contribute heavily to potentially catastrophic global warming.
7) The Cuba-United States Partnership (CUSP) program seeks to “educate the U.S. private sector about Cuba and its unique environmental, social and cultural heritage, needs and vulnerabilities”; promote “best practices for sustainable development that ensures the protection of Cuba´s environment, culture and communities”; and “engage a new generation of Cuban entrepreneurs and train them in sustainable business practices.”
8) The Global Progressive Hub program strives to help leftist leaders of all stripes “build a stronger U.S. activist base for progressive global values.”
CIP’s current board chairman is John Niles, who also serves as executive director of The Carbon Institute, an organization that seeks to “achieve a world where Earth’s carbon is sustainably managed.” Among CIP’s more prominent advisory board members are Mike Farrell and Dessima Williams.
Over the years, CIP has received funding from a host of sources including the Arca Foundation, the Barbra Streisand Foundation, the Colombe Foundation, the Compton Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Fund for Nonviolence, the Janelia Foundation, George Soros‘s Open Society Institute, the Ploughshares Fund, the Presbyterian Church (USA), Rockefeller Family and Associates, the Samuel Rubin Foundation, the Stewart R. Mott Foundation, the Tides Foundation, the Wallace Global Fund, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.