Center for Strategic and International Studies

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The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) is a private organisation headquartered in Washington, D.C. According to its web site, it has "been dedicated to providing world leaders with strategic insights on — and policy solutions to — current and emerging global issues. CSIS is led by John J. Hamre, formerly deputy secretary of defense, who has been president and CEO since April 2000." CSIS's Middle East task force includes, among others, Democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman, Republican Senator John McCain and his National Security Assistant Anthony Cordesman. [1]

Origins and history

CSIS was founded at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in 1962 by Admiral Arleigh Burke and David Abshire. According to the Washington Post it began as "a $120,000-a-year, seven-man operation based in a Georgetown townhouse". [2]

For some time CSIS had an office on the Georgetown campus, although it was administratively and financially independent of the faculty and administration of the University. Indeed according to a 1979 article students were barely aware of its presence, with a student newspaper commenting that, 'It is less familiar to most students than the terrain of the Sea of Tranquillity. Few have heard about it and among those few, misconceptions are abound.' [3]

Several of the principals were "Cold Warriors" and made a little industry out of finding "communist influence" around the world. During the war against Nicaragua, CSIS produced several documents "proving" a communist plot, etc. For many years, CSIS was also seen as a think tank where right-wing "officials-in-waiting" could wait until their next appointment in government.

During the 1970s CSIS was known for its hard-line Cold Warriors, and it is certain that many of the fellows or staff were former intelligence officials. There is no secret about this, several of them made no secret about it. When president Jimmy Carter installed Admiral Stansfield Turner as CIA director, many of the expunged operatives who had been involved in the murky side of the CIA moved to CSIS. When Reagan reappointed Casey as director of the CIA in 1980s many of the CSIS fellow migrated back to the CIA or other intelligence agencies.

CSIS is dominated by members with strong ties to the government and private industry. Sam Nunn, CSIS Chairman of the Board of Trustees, served as U.S. Senator from Georgia for 24 years (1972-1996) and is currently on the boards of top US corporations and a law firm.


CSIS personnel in the 1970s included its founder David Abshire, and most notably Henry Kissinger and Ray Cline, a former Deputy-Director of the CIA. Other members included the terrorlogists Walter Laqueur and Michael Ledeen; a former CIA official Penelope Hartland-Thunberg; William Hyland, a former director of intelligence at the State Department; and Edward Luttwak, a consultant to Senator Howard Baker on SALT. [3]

1976 Italian Conference

In early 1976, three months before the Italian election, CSIS held a conference on the 'Communist threat' to Italy. Panellists included William E. Colby, Ray Cline, John Connally, Clare Booth Luce, and Claire Sterling. A day after the conference the New Republic published an article by Claire Sterling and Michael Ledeen claiming that the Italian Communist Party had recieved secret funding from the Soviets. The New Republic was published by Robert J. Myers, a friend of Ray Cline. Myers appeared with Cline a January 1978 congressional hearing on the CIA and the media where he stated: "The reciprocal relationship between the CIA and the American press has been of value to both parties and often to the individuals themselves whose careers may have mutually benefited by such connections." The article was also republished just before the elections by the Rome Daily American (which was funded by the CIA). Claire Sterling and Michael Ledeen even appeared on Italian television on the night of the election. They featured as commentators from 4pm to 2am on Channel 1 which was controlled by the Christian Democrat Party - the main recipient of CIA funds in Italy. [3]

The CSIS conference on Italy also led to activism back in the U.S. As a result of the conference a political action committee was set up called Citizens' Alliance for Mediterranean Freedom. The group took out adverts in major U.S. papers urging Americans to write to any relatives in Italy and urge them to vote against the Communists. The group's executive director Bill Gill warned American journalists against talking to the Italian media, which he claimed was "Infiltrated by the Communists". Instead he suggested they consult Claire Sterling or Ray Cline if they needed information on Italian politics. [3]

Propaganda Role in the Chile Coup

CSIS provided propaganda materials used by the CIA to destabilise the Government of Chile in the run up to the 1973 coup. CSIS's director of Latin American studies James Theberge provided reports which were published in Chilean military journal and in El Mercurio. On 27 February 1973 an El Mercurio headline read: 'Chile Gives Haven to Extremist Network' and included several quotes from a forthcoming book by Theberge. The article claimed that a Korean Communist training camp had been relocated from Cuba to Chile with Allende's approval. That same year CSIS co-published with the Institute for the Study of Conflict, The Stability of the Caribbean. The book was edited by the CIA affiliated British journalist Robert Moss, and included contributions from James Theberge and the head of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Brian Crozier. [3]

In 1974 James Theberge appeared before a Congressional Sub-Committee hearing on the U.S. and Chile during Allende's rule. Accompanied by Robert Moss he read his article 'Kremlin's Hand in Allende's Chile', which he had prepared for a CSIS conference also attended by Moss. The first line of his article quoted a 'brilliant Peruvian Communist' who happended to have been on the CIA payroll since 1950 and had worked on propaganda operations in Mexico with Willliam F. Buckley. [3]

Lobbying for USA influence on European policy

In 2003 the CSIS created a Declaration proposing "that US officials attend the highest-level European inter-governmental meetings", reports John Laughland, writing in Scoop Business. Laughland writes that CSIS's Declaration

proposed that US government officials be given the right to sit in on the European Union's inter-governmental conference and on meetings of its other executive bodies so that the USA can keep an eye on the direction Europe is taking. ... American politicians are now so seriously worried that the European Union might be emerging as some kind of independent force that they are trying to work out a way of preventing this from ever happening.

Laughland reports that the Declaration was signed by the following people: Madeleine K. Albright, Harold Brown, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Frank Charles Carlucci III, Warren Christopher, William Sebastian Cohen, Bob Dole, Lawrence Sidney Eagleburger, Stuart Eizenstat, Alexander Haig, Lee H. Hamilton, John Hamre, Sam Nunn, Paul O'Neill, Charles S. Robb, William Roth, and James Rodney Schlesinger:

That makes four former Secretaries of State, one former National Security Adviser, two former Secretaries for Defense, a former Secretary of the Treasury, a former Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, a former Director of the CIA, and three Senators.[4]


  • 19 November 2003, entitled Iraq: Too Uncertain To Call:
    • The report - contradicting many claims by the US administration - is based on briefings by Paul Bremer, the US de facto governor of Iraq; military commanders, unnamed intelligence officers and David Kay, the American who leads the hunt for Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction. It says attacks on Americans by Sunni Iraqis will continue "until the day the US leaves".
    • The report makes clear that there is no long-term future for the US military in Iraq: "Some Sunnis and others will always treat the US as "antibody" and cannot even get intelligence up to the point where [it] will stop all attacks."
    • The report is all the more devastating because of the unusual level of access provided to its author, Dr Anthony Cordesman, a specialist on Iraq. He concludes that US soldiers are dying because of the ideological approach of the administration, and "four years into office, the Bush national security team is not a team".
    • The report concludes that there is an overall problem with the US administration's advocacy of "democracy" in the Middle East. "It is largely advocating undefined slogans, not practical and balanced specifics. It was often seen as showing contempt for Arab societies, or as a prelude to new US efforts at regime change.

Board of Trustees, Expert, and Senior associates

Sam Nunn, Chairman David M. Abshire, Vice Chairman; Cofounder Anne Armstrong*, Chairman
Betty Stanley Beene Reginald K. Brack William E. Brock
Harold Brown Zbigniew Brzezinski William Sebastian Cohen
Ralph Cossa Douglas N. Daft Richard Fairbanks
Michael P. Galvin* John J. Hamre* Ben W. Heineman
Carla Anderson Hills Ray L. Hunt Henry Kissinger
Kenneth G. Langone Donald B. Marron E. Stanley O'Neal
Felix G. Rohatyn Charles A. Sanders James R. Schlesinger
William A. Schreyer* Brent Scowcroft Murray Weidenbaum
Dolores D. Wharton Frederick B. Whittemore R. James Woolsey, Jr.
Amos A. Jordan, (Emeritus) Leonard H. Marks, (Emeritus) Robert S. Strauss, (Emeritus)
Peter F. Krogh
* = Member of the Executive Committee

As of 2015, Thomas J. Pritzker was named Chairman of the CSIS Board of Trustees. [5]

Board of trustees member E Neville Isdell is also Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Coca Cola[6] alongside Sam Nunn [7].

Isdell's biography goes on to report that he is also...

'chairman of the U.S.-Russia Business Council and chairman of the board of trustees of the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF). He is a member of the board of trustees of the United States Council for International Business and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is also a member of the Corporate Advisory Board of the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS. Isdell serves on the board of directors of SunTrust Banks Inc. and the Commerce Club and as a trustee of Emory University. He is a lifetime trustee of Pace Academy'.

Nunn's biography describes him as Co-Chairman and CEO of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (since 2001), a Director of ChevronTexaco Corporation, Dell Inc., General Electric Company, Internet Security Systems Inc. and Scientific-Atlanta Inc. Nunn's previous involvements include serving as partner in the law firm of King and Spalding (1997 to 2003) and serving as a member of the United States Senate (1972 to 1996).

CSIS Experts (Feb. 2005 webview)

Alexander C. Huang Alexander T. J. Lennon Amy Coughenour-Betancourt
Anthony Cordesman Anthony T. Bryan Armand B. Peschard-Sverdrup
Arnaud de Borchgrave Bates Gill Bonnie Glaser
Brian Latell Bulent Aliriza Carola McGiffert
Celeste Wallander Charles D. Vollmer Charles Doran
Christian Beckner Christopher Sands Cory Welt
Daniel Benjamin David Abshire David J. Smith
Derek Mitchell Dong-bok Lee Dwight Mason
Edward B. Atkeson Edward Luttwak George Handy
Georges Fauriol Georgeta Pourchot Gerrit W. Gong
Harlan Ullman Henrietta Holsman Fore Howard J. Wiarda
Huma Malik Ilona Teleki J. Stephen Morrison
J.W. Beagles Jacqueline M. Miller James Mann
Jane Skanderup Janusz Bugajski Jennifer G. Cooke
Jim LeBlanc Joel Wit Jon B. Alterman
Julianne Smith Keith Bush Kurt Campbell
Lee S. Wolosky Lloyd Vasey Lowell R. Fleischer
Luis E. Giusti Miguel Diaz Mona Yacoubian
Peter DeShazo Philip McLean Pierre Chao
Ralph Cossa Ranan Lurie Richard Burt
Richard Fairbanks Robert Ebel Robert Einhorn
Robert L. Barry Robin Niblett Sarah Mendelson
Shireen Hunter Sidney Weintraub Simon Serfaty
Stanton H. Burnett Suk-woo Kim Teresita C. Schaffer
Thomas K. Lee Tsuneo Watanabe William Clark, Jr.
William T. Breer Yoshihiro Sakai Yuki Tatsumi




1800 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: 202 887-0200
FAX: 202 775-3199


  1. CSIS About
  2. James Lardner, 'Thick & Think Tank', The Washington Post, 21 September 1982.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Fred Landis, 'Georgetown's Ivory Tower for Old Spooks', Inquiry, 30 September 1979. pp. 7-9.
  4. John Laughland, "All News Is Lies: Becoming The 51st State", Scoop, 30 May 2003, accessed January 2009.
  5. CSIS About us,, accessed 25 February 2016
  6. Coca Cola Company E Neville Isdell Accessed 18th January 2008
  7. Coca Cola Company Sam Nunn Accessed 21st January 2008