Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Manhattan Institute

Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.

The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research is a conservative think tank based in New York. Founded in the mid-1970s as the International Center for Economic Policy Studies, the institute sharpened its focus on economic, social, and anti-crime policies, eventually becoming an important source of ideas for the administration of New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the 1990s. A 1999 New York Times article described the think tank as home for "a range of species on the right-hand side of the political spectrum: market conservatives, social conservatives, old-style aristocratic conservatives, libertarians, as well as a few registered Democrats and a self-described liberal or two."[1]

The institute produces briefs, commentaries, and policy papers on a host of mostly domestic-oriented issues. According to its website, it operates "six policy centers, which study and promote reform in areas ranging from health care, higher education, legal policy, urban development, immigration, energy, and the economy."[2] Some of its more prominent scholars have included Tamar Jacoby, Heather Mac Donald, Myron Magnet, Steve Malanga, Sol Stern, and Abigail Thernstrom.

The institute publishes theCity Journal, a quarterly magazine on politics and culture whose ideas were once praised by the neoconservative writer John Podhoretz for having made New York "a civilized place again."[3] It convenes a "Young Leaders" circle for "young professionals in the New York metropolitan area interested in free-market ideas and public policy." It organizes evening lectures and cocktail parties with "such leading thinkers as David Brooks, Shelby Steele, William Kristol, and Steve Forbes" for aspiring young conservatives.[4] It also operates a special "Inter-American Policy Exchange" designed to export its ideas to Latin America.[5]

Much of Manhattan's work addresses New York's racial divides. According to Right Wing Watch, "Many of the Center's writers attribute the socio-economic problems of the black community to an overriding sense of victimization, a reliance on government social programs, and a culture adverse to education and individualist social advancement. Accordingly, they contend that government programs such as welfare and affirmative action reinforce the community's sense of dependence and victimization." Many of the Institute's fellows also oppose "government programs intended to accommodate immigrant concerns, such as bi-lingual education."[6]

The institute is well known for advocating the "broken windows" theory of crime and public order, an approach to crime prevention developed by senior fellow George Kelling that relies heavily on an intense police presence. Many institute fellows have strongly supported the New York Police Department's (NYPD) controversial "stop and frisk" policy, which critics and even a federal judge have argued unfairly targets non-white New Yorkers for police harassment. Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald, for example, has credited the policy with "saving lives," charging critics with ignoring "black-on-black crime" and arguing that if anything, "The stop rate for blacks is actually lower than their violent crime rate would predict."[7]

Several writers associated with the institute comment on foreign policy and counterterrorism, particularly those who write for City Journal. One contributing editor to the journal is Judith Miller, a hawkish journalist previously known for peddling Ahmed Chalabi's false intelligence about Iraq's fictitious nuclear weapons program and later for being jailed after refusing to disclose her meeting with Lewis "Scooter" Libby during the 2005 "Plamegate" scandal. From her perch at the institute, Miller has variously championed the Obama administration's targeted assassination program,[8] defended the NYPD's counterterrorism investigations of "ethnic communities" and Muslims not suspected of any crime,[9] and expressed "profound skepticism" about a Russian-orchestrated deal to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons stocks.[10]

Hoover Institution fellow Victor Davis Hanson, another City Journal contributing editor, also has a long track record of hawkish foreign policy advocacy. Like Miller, Hanson staunchly advocated many of the Bush administration's more controversial foreign policy decisions and counterterrorism policies, once deriding the "popular media" for "reduc[ing] the Bush-Cheney administration nearly to the status of war criminals, people who had trumped up nonexistent threats in service to a police state desperate to invent enemies."[11] An unrepentant champion of the Iraq war, Hanson has credited the war with helping to "avoid another September 11" and blasted its critics as "defeatists" and leftists beset by "anti-Americanism and romanticization of the Third World."[12] Vice President Dick Cheney chose the Manhattan Institute as his venue for a 2006 speech in New York promoting the war.[13]

History and Influence

The International Center for Economic Policy Studies (ICEPS) was founded in the mid-1970s as a forum for Anglo-American ideologues and operatives who promoted "free market" and socially conservative philosophies. It changed its name to the Manhattan Institute in 1978.

The co-founders were William Casey and Antony G.A. Fisher. Casey, a Wall Street speculator who later became President Ronald Reagan's CIA chief, served as the first chairman of ICEPS. A longtime conservative, Casey is best known for drawing up the founding papers for the National Review and serving as the founding director of the National Strategy Information Center. Fisher, a British economist and devotee of University of Chicago economists Friedrich von Hayek and Milton Friedman, served as chairman of the Institute for Economic Affairs in London and became a close adviser to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The organization has had considerable influence on conservative policymakers. Summarizing the institute's strategy, institute President Lawrence Mone said in a 2002 speech to the conservative Philanthropy Roundtable: "We make sure we have the right messenger; people like Charles Murray, George Kelling, and Peter Huber, and then, we market our message to the right people through our books, forums, and City Journal. It takes time, and it takes money, but in the end we know we are making a difference."[14]

To turn "intellect into influence," the institute employs a three-step strategy. "The first vehicle," Mone explained, "is an aggressive book-publishing and marketing program, which redefines debates on national issues." Rather than publishing books itself, as do many think tanks, the institute demands that its scholars "pass the 'market test' of commercial trade houses." Secondly, the institute publishes the quarterly magazine City Journal, which is aimed at New York elites. And thirdly, the institute holds "Manhattan Forums," which "bring together cross-sections of the nation's elites-from the worlds of government, business, journalism, and philanthropy."[15]

The institute's influence is reflected in part through homages from high-profile Republican figures. In 2006, presidential hopefuls Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Rudy Giuliani both spoke before Manhattan Institute audiences. Giuliani, who as mayor of New York City tapped the Manhattan Institute for a host of policy ideas, consistently praised the think tank, including in a statement featured on the institute’s website: "Many of the institute's emblematic ideas—from the notion that low taxes encourage businesses to the concept that police should be treated with respect—were originally greeted with skepticism but have since been embraced by well-run cities everywhere. Congratulations on a quarter-century of making a difference."[16]

That same year, Vice President Dick Cheney delivered a major foreign policy speech on the Iraq War at the Manhattan Institute. In his introductory marks, Cheney commended the institute as a "place of tremendous creativity, of original thinking, and of intellectual rigor." He continued: "The scholars of the Manhattan Institute have shown, time and again, the power of good ideas to shape public policy and to have an impact on the lives of people here in New York and across the nation. I congratulate you for building such a fine reputation, and for maintaining it over the years."[17]

President Bush also chose the Manhattan Institute as the location for his 2006 speech on restoring the line-item veto to the presidency. Bush thanked the Manhattan Institute for supporting "pro-growth economic policies-policies that really send a clear signal that we are still the land of dreamers and doers and risk-takers."[18] Bush had previously visited the Manhattan Institute to deliver a major policy speech in 2002. The institute enjoyed strong connections with the George W. Bush administration. For a short period, John J. DiIulio, a senior fellow of the institute, was head of the administration's Office for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Funding and Leadership

The Institute has enjoyed the support of several corporations and right-wing foundations over the years. According to Right Wing Watch, "Major contributors include Exxon Mobil, Chase Manhattan, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Lilly Endowment, Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Sarah Scaife Foundation, Roe Foundation, [and the] Smith Richardson Foundation."[19] As of its 2011 tax filings, it had nearly $15 million in net assets.[20]

From 1985 through 2005, the Manhattan Institute received $18.9 million from foundations such as the Sarah Scaife Foundation, Smith Richardson Foundation, Bradley Foundation, Olin Foundation, Earhart Foundation, Carthage Foundation, William Donner Foundation, and Gilder Foundation. Other major grants came from foundations including the John Templeton Foundation, William Simon Foundation, Castle Rock Foundation, Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation, Walton Family Foundation, Jaquelin Hume Foundation, and Claude Lambe Foundation.

The Manhattan Institute's Board of Trustees is led by Paul Singer, a hedge fund billionaire and major funder of Republican causes and neoconservative think tanks, including the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Its president is Lawrence Mone. The board includes a host of investors and attorneys, including Third Point LLC founder Daniel Loeb, a backer of the controversial pressure group the Emergency Committee for Israel. Weekly Standard editor William Kristol is another prominent member.[21] Past trustees have included former Project for the New American Century director Mark Gerson, former American Enterprise Institute chairman Bruce Kovner, and conservative columnist Peggy Noonan.  


Share RightWeb

Please note: IPS Right Web neither represents nor endorses any of the individuals or groups profiled on this site.


[1] Janny Scott, "Promoting Its Ideas, the Manhattan Institute Has Nudged New York Rightward," New York Times, May 12, 1997, http://www.nytimes.com/1997/05/12/nyregion/promoting-its-ideas-the-manhattan-institute-has-nudged-new-york-rightward.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm.

[2] Manhattan Institute, "About the Manhattan Institute," http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/about_mi_30.htm.

[3] John Podhoretz, "Renaissance Mag," New York Post, November 17, 2010, http://nypost.com/2010/11/17/renaissance-mag/.

[4] Manhattan Institute, "About the Manhattan Institute," http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/about_mi_30.htm.

[5] Manhattan Institute, "Inter-American Policy Exchange," http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/iape.htm.

[6] Right Wing Watch, Manhattan Institute profile, http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/manhattan-institute-policy-research.

[7] Heather Mac Donald, "The great stop-and-frisk fraud," New York Daily News, May 26, 2013, http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/great-stop-and-frisk-fraud-article-1.1354173.

[8] Judith Miller, "Is the war on terror over?" FoxNews.com, April 30, 2012, http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/04/30/is-war-on-terror-over/.

[9] Judith Miller, "New York City Is Safer Ten Years After 9/11, Thanks to the NYPD," City Journal, Summer 2011, http://www.city-journal.org/2011/21_3_terrorism-threat.html.

[10] Judith Miller, "Sarin, germs and the Syria deal," New York Daily News, September 23, 2013, http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/sarin-germs-syria-deal-article-1.1462977.

[11] Victor Davis Hanson, "The Ripples of 9/11" City Journal, September 6, 2011, http://www.city-journal.org/2011/eon0906vdh.html.

[12] Victor Davis Hanson, "The Fruits of Appeasement," City Journal, Spring 2004, http://www.city-journal.org/html/14_2_the_fruits.html.

[13] Dick Cheney, "Vice President's Remarks on Iraq and the War on Terror at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research," Address to Manhattan Institute, January 19, 2006.

[14] Lawrence J. Mone, "How Think Tanks Achieve Public Policy Breakthrough," May 29, 2002, www.manhattan-institute.org/html/lm_pr_address.htm.

[15] Lawrence J. Mone, "How Think Tanks Achieve Public Policy Breakthrough," May 29, 2002, www.manhattan-institute.org/html/lm_pr_address.htm.

[16] Manhattan Institute, “About the Manhattan Institute,” http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/about_mi_30.htm

[17] Dick Cheney, "Vice President's Remarks on Iraq and the War on Terror at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research," Address to Manhattan Institute, January 19, 2006.

[18] George W. Bush, Transcript: " President Bush Delivers Remarks on the Line-Item Veto," Washington Post, June 27, 2006, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/27/AR2006062700688.html.

[19] Right Wing Watch, Manhattan Institute profile, http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/manhattan-institute-policy-research.

[20] Guidestar.org, Manhattan Institute profile, 2011 990, http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2012/132/912/2012-132912529-09698731-9.pdf.

[21] Manhattan Institute, Board of Trustees, http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/trustees.htm

Share RightWeb

Manhattan Institute Résumé

Contact Information

Manhattan Institute for Policy Research
52 Vanderbilt Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 599-3494
Website: http://www.manhattan-institute.org/



About (as of 2013)

"For over 30 years, the Manhattan Institute has been an important force in shaping American political culture and developing ideas that foster economic choice and individual responsibility. We have supported and publicized research on our era's most challenging public policy issues: taxes, health care, energy, the legal system, policing, crime, homeland security, urban life, education, race, culture, and many others. Our work has won new respect for market-oriented policies and helped make reform a reality."

Board of Trustees (as of 2013)

  • Lawrence J. Mone, President       
  • Paul E. Singer, Chairman
  • Michael J. Fedak     
  • Dietrich Weismann 
  • Charles H. Brunie   
  • Clifford S. Asness
  • Andrew Cader         
  • Ann J. Charters       
  • Ravenel Curry         
  • Timothy G. Dalton, Jr.         
  • Sean M. Fieler         
  • Kenneth M. Garschina      
  • Kenneth B. Gilman 
  • Maurice R. Greenberg       
  • Fleur Harlan
  • Roger Kimball          
  • William Kristol          
  • Daniel Loeb 
  • Rebekah Mercer     
  • Brian Miller   
  • Jay H. Newman       
  • Rodney Nichols      
  • Nick Ohnell  
  • Robert Rosenkranz
  • Nathan E. Saint-Amand, MD        
  • Thomas W. Smith   
  • Donald G. Tober      
  • Bruce G. Wilcox      
  • Kathryn S. Wylde     


Manhattan Institute News Feed

NYC poised to close notorious Rikers jail complex by 2026 - ABC NewsPublic Advocate Debate; Byford MTA Drama; Vision Zero Oversight; & More: The Week Ahead in New York Politics, October 21 - Gotham GazetteStudy finds short-term improvements for Connecticut's medical retirement benefits, possible long-term problems persist - Yankee InstituteThe backlash to the Rikers Island jail replacement plan, explained - Vox.comThiessen: Warren's nomination would turn the election into an existential threat to the economy - Stockton RecordBernie Sanders' plans would put half of U.S. on gov't payrolls: Study - The Washington TImesLowry: Andrew Yang, snake oil salesman | News - AberdeenNews.comRich Lowry: Andrew Yang, snakeoil salesman - Salt Lake TribuneCause of poverty decline in NYC fuzzier than de Blasio claims - PoliticoLiz Warren’s No. 1 problem: the US economy is doing well - New York Post The Little-Known Reform That Could Improve States' Fiscal Health - Economics21Justice Democrats-Endorsed Candidate Wants to Disarm Police - Washington Free BeaconNew York ferries, a big success? - WorkBoatWho Killed Civil Society? The Rise of Big Government and Decline of Bourgeois Norms - City JournalMarc A. Thiessen: Warren would pose existential threat to the economy - Huntington Herald DispatchCan the U.S. Hit the Reset Button with China? - National ReviewPanel Video: Health Care for Illegal Immigrants - Immigration Blog'Who Killed Civil Society?' - Hillsdale CollegianChinatown Attacks and Homelessness, Mental Health - Spectrum News NY1Family of Parkland Shooting Victim Objects to Her Image Being Used in 'March For Our Lives' Protests - Newsweek

Right Web is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

The Right Web Mission

Right Web tracks militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy.

For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

A series of escalations in both word and deed have raised fears of U.S.-Iranian military confrontation, either direct or by proxy. It is urgent that cooler heads prevail – in European capitals as in Tehran and Washington – to head off the threat of a disastrous war.

Vladimir Putin excels at taking advantage of mistakes made by Russia’s adversaries to further his country’s interests. Donald Trump’s Iran policy has given Putin plenty of opportunity to do that.

The Trump administration’s claims about purported Iranian threats have been repeated by credulous reporters and TV news programs far and wide.

This is the cartoon that the international edition of the New York Times should have run, at least as regards U.S. policy toward Iran.

The assault on Tripoli by Khalifa Haftar, Libya’s renegade general and leader of the self-anointed Libyan National Army (LNA), has forced an indefinite postponement of key UN peace efforts in the country even as the Trump White House announced that the president recognized Haftar’s “important” role in fighting terrorists.

With all eyes focused these days on Donald Trump and his myriad crimes, John Bolton’s speeches are a reminder that even worse options are waiting in the wings.

Advocates of cutting U.S. aid to Israel rather than using it as leverage must understand how this aid works, how big a challenge it represents for advocacy, and how to make a potentially successful argument against it.