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Foreign Lobbies, Influence Peddling, and Think Tanks w/ Ben Freeman – Parallax Views (06/29/2021)

On this edition of Parallax Views, the issue of how politics on Capitol Hill is effected by foreign lobbies, influence peddling, and think tanks with connections to the defense industry are important but oft underdiscussed topics. Joining us to unravel these matters is Ben Freeman, Director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy. We discuss the Foreign Agents Registration Act and its history as well as the role of Saudi lobbying on the Republican Party and Qatari lobbying on the Democratic Party. Additionally, we discuss the need for transparency when it comes to foreign lobbies and Ben explains why these issues should matter to average American citizens and voters. The American-Israel Public Affairs Committee is also discussed.

But we do not stop at the issue of foreign lobbies. We also discuss the topic of the military industrial complex and Ben’s updating of that term to the military industrial congressional think tank complex. What is the role of the defense industry and weapons manufacturing in influencing U.S. policy? In discussing think tanks we are able to tie foreign lobbies back into the conversation because both foreign lobbies and defense contractors play a huge role in the funding of political think tanks in America. Given that experts at many think tanks are featured on various media outlets it is important to be transparent about who is funding these think tanks and how it may influence the agenda of those think tanks. In regards to think tanks we tackle the question of how trust can be restored in think tanks and, moreover, why it is important for that trust to be restored.