Ideas. Action. Impact. The Washington Institute for Near East Policy The Washington Institute: Improving the Quality of U.S. Middle East Policy

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Mission & History

“In war and in peace, the Institute’s efforts to articulate a coherent and realistic view of U.S. national interests has assisted policymakers, in and out of government, to make informed decisions about the Middle East.”  –President Bill Clinton

“Your hard work and commitment to the spread of freedom strengthen our Nation and help make the world a safer and more peaceful place.”  –President George W. Bush

Our Mission

The mission of The Washington Institute is to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them.

The Washington Institute is a 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax deductible.

History

In 1985, a small group of visionary Americans committed to advancing U.S. interests in the Middle East founded The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The founders envisioned an institution that would reject romantic notions of what outside observers want the Middle East to be, and instead embrace what the region actually is.

Their mission was simple yet powerful: to inject the power of ideas and the discipline of scholarship into the making of U.S. Middle East policy. (In the spirit of policy relevance, they chose the term "Near East" rather than the more popular "Middle East" because they wanted the Institute's name to reflect the U.S. State Department's own geographic designation). The founders understood that American interests in the region emanate from a handful of core ideas: security, peace, prosperity, democracy, and stability. But they also recognized that these interests can be best advanced through policies rooted in inquiry, debate, and research. Most of all, the founders envisioned an institution that would reject romantic notions of what outside observers want the Middle East to be, and instead embrace disinterested assessments of what the region actually is.

The Washington Institute accesses the policy process from many angles: the written word, the spoken word, and personal contact. The Institute's senior research staff includes experts on a wide array of political, military, security, and economic issues that cover every corner of the Middle East. They speak the region's languages, have lived and worked there, and often hail from the region itself. We are proud of the long list of Institute "alumni" who have gone on to serve in virtually every arm of government that plays a role in Middle East policymaking -- including the National Security Council, State Department, Pentagon, and intelligence community.

Every business day, Institute scholars and associates are quoted in major American or international media, appear on the op-ed pages of elite newspapers, or are interviewed on network television and radio news programs. Interpreting the complexities of the Middle East for both general and elite audiences is one of our most important functions.

And Institute publications -- from policy briefs to full-length monographs -- are widely recognized as "must-reading" for officials, diplomats, and journalists in Washington and around the world. They provide "instant analysis" of breaking events as well as thoughtful, long-range assessments of trends in the shaping of future policy.

Through all of these avenues of access, the Institute seeks to inject dispassionate, research-driven analysis -- supported by fact and expertise -- into the making of U.S. Middle East policy.

We are proud of the long list of Institute alumni who have gone on to serve in virtually every arm of government that plays a role in Middle East policymaking.

 Originally, the organization's research agenda focused on Arab-Israeli relations, political and security issues, and overall U.S. Middle East policy. In the 1990s, prompted by the fall of the Soviet Union, the first Gulf War, and changes within the regional strategic make-up, the Institute's research breadth grew, this time to include a special focus on Turkey and the rise of Islamic politics as the dominant leitmotif for understanding political trends across the "expanded" post-Soviet Middle East.

In the post-September 11 era, the Institute's research agenda is once again undergoing an expansion. This growth is driven by the emergence of the Middle East as the central U.S. foreign policy concern, as well as by the daunting multiplicity of regional issues that today affect America's most profound security interests. In addition to an ongoing focus on our traditional research areas, the Institute is dedicating new resources to assist the U.S. government in understanding and countering the destructive elixir of Islamist extremism, terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction -- particularly nuclear weapons. Each one of these ingredients is dangerous; two combined are menacing; all three working in concert are potentially cataclysmic.

Our hope is to see the emergence of a more peaceful, secure, and prosperous Middle East. American leadership -- animated by the power of ideas and the talents of those dedicated individuals who can transform them into sound, workable policies -- will bring us closer to that reality.