Homeland security chief Tom Ridge has been tapping into the collective wisdom of the think tank community of late as he works to bring the new Department of Homeland Security into being.
Ridge stopped by the Center for the Study of the Presidency before the holidays for a nearly two-hour advice fest with about 20 representatives of Washington's ideas factories. The group plans to meet roughly every six weeks for the foreseeable future.
"We sensed they were on overload from the think tanks," said Gilbert A. Robinson, CSP's counselor. So "we made a proposal to them. We said we'll have a homeland security roundtable, and if the governor [Ridge] opens it and we get participation from other top deputies at future meetings, we'll try to get all the think tanks together."
"They seized it with alacrity, said it would help them organize things and put them in an orderly context," Robinson said.
Among those joining Ridge at the CSP conference: Arnaud de Borchgrave from the Center for Strategic and International Studies; Ellen Laipson, the Henry L. Stimson Center; John O. Marsh Jr., the National Center for Technology and Law; Jessica Tuchman Mathews, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Robert C. Orr, the Council on Foreign Relations; and Michael Scardaville, the Heritage Foundation. ANSER, Rand Corp., the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the George C. Marshall Institute and several other policy organizations were also represented. CSP President David M. Abshire chaired the meeting.
Ridge took copious notes on pocket note cards and stayed 30 minutes after the meeting's designated end, according to Robinson. He also asked participants to follow up by sending him a one- or two-page summary of their work.
GREENING GOD: A holy alliance may be in the making between the world's religious faithful and advocates of environmentalism and sustainable development, according to Gary Gardner of the Worldwatch Institute.
Not just in the United States, where last year the National Council of Churches joined the Sierra Club in producing television ads opposing drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but in Pakistan in 2001 where Muslim clergy in the North-West Frontier Province were enlisted in an environmental awareness campaign, and in Thailand, where environmentalist monks have worked to preserve forests.
"The quickening of religious interest in environmental issues suggests that a powerful new political alignment may be emerging," wrote Gardner in "Invoking the Spirit: Religion and Spirituality in the Quest for a Sustainable World." His paper is both a catalogue of recent examples of such partnerships and a call to fellow environmentalists to look more actively for common ground with the world's religious.
The two groups have not always been allies. "There's been a basic animosity between the world of science and the world of faith, going back to the Enlightenment," Gardner said. And in the United States, "uneasiness between the two groups continues today," he wrote.
But this needn't be the case, Gardner argues. Religious and environmental groups "essentially are interested in improving the world . . . they both see some intrinsic value to nature . . . and both have some interest in curbing the excessive consumption that drives many industrial societies."
In case these moral and philosophical commonalities aren't enough to convince the average enviro that religious groups would make good teammates, Gardner lists some of the latter's more worldly benefits: "impressive" real estate holdings and a community network that could include up to 90 percent of the planet's inhabitants.
PEOPLE: Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr. has rejoined the libertarian Cato Institute as a senior fellow, after a four-year stint running the Heritage Foundation's Center for International Trade and Economics. The reason for the return: "Personal. My Heritage job mainly consisted of managing people and projects. . . . There was little time for me to write on my own. At Cato, I will have maximal flexibility and time to write," O'Driscoll said.
Departing Michigan governor John Engler (R) will serve as a distinguished fellow at the Council on Competitiveness, maintaining an office at the council's D.C. headquarters.
The National Security Archive at George Washington University has hired Meredith Fuchs as general counsel. Fuchs comes from Wiley Rein & Fielding, where she was a partner.
Stephen Crawford has joined the National Governors Association's Center for Best Practices as director of the Employment and Social Services Policy Studies division. Crawford comes from the National Policy Association, where he was vice president.
Elizabeth Dahl is the new executive director of the Constitution Project, replacing Virginia E. Sloan, who becomes president and serves on the board's executive committee. Dahl has been serving as deputy director and chief of staff.
TO CLARIFY: In our Dec. 17 column, we wrongly attributed full credit for the book "Alternatives to Economic Globalization" to the Institute for Policy Studies. Though IPS head John Cavanagh co-chaired the drafting committee, the book was a work of the International Forum on Globalization.
And Institute for International Economics senior fellow Adam S. Posen did the stand-up thing and alerted us that he has tweaked IIE's think tank citations study (cited in our Sept. 24 column) in response to friendly fire from other economic types. The top three tanks and scholars didn't change, but the truly curious can check out the updated data at www.iie.com/study/study.htm.