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Three Ways of Looking at a Think Tank Kerfuffle

Dan Drezner writes about what makes a recent disagreement amongst Atlantic Council fellows unusual, via his Washington Post column.

Ten days ago, the Atlantic Council’s Emma Ashford and Mathew Burrows published a policy brief arguing that U.S. foreign policy toward Russia should not prioritize human rights concerns at the expense of other strategic goals.

That is in and of itself not a big deal — think tank fellows write memos all the time. What was a big deal was how other Atlantic Council fellows reacted to it.

Last week, 22 of them released a brief statement asserting that Ashford and Burrows’s article “misses the mark” because it is “premised on a false assumption that human rights and national interests are wholly separate and that US policy toward Russia was and remains driven by human rights concerns principally.” One of the signatories penned an additional response that was longer than their original policy brief. A bunch of them anonymously criticized Ashford and Burrows to Politico’s Daniel Lippman.

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