Earlier today, NR published a piece I wrote about the relationship between the American Enterprise Institute’s storied foreign-policy shop and Congressional Republican offices. I cited multiple GOP national-security staffers working across both houses of Congress pointing to a potential rift between the conservative think tank and some hawkish Republicans. This dynamic, they said, has been driven by AEI defense-policy director Kori Schake’s heterodox foreign-policy views, a complaint that she pushed back against in an interview with me.
It’s a newsworthy topic with implications for the conservative foreign-policy conversation. The piece, which quotes Schake’s defenses of her team’s work and academic freedom extensively, has brought an ongoing debate out into the open, eliciting a range of reactions.
One of these responses is a statement issued to me by Eric Sayers, an AEI non-resident fellow focusing on the Indo-Pacific. He points to Schake’s elevation of China policy work within her shop, and objects to the way in which Hill staffers voiced their criticism of AEI’s foreign policy work:
I moved over to AEI as a nonresident fellow a year ago to work with Kori both because she is a fabulous human being and because she wanted to build out a foreign and defense policy shop even more focused on full-spectrum competition with China. I consider this to be the most important mission for the nation and therefore where think tanks should be placing a preponderance of their resources. Since then she has continued to hire new staff with unique skills to this end and give us space to speak, write, convene, brief, and background in whatever way necessary to move the Washington needle on Asia policy. As a result, it’s no exaggeration to say AEI as an institution and the various individuals that now make it up are in the middle of all the most important discussions about China policy. This is in many ways because of Kori’s leadership and vision not in spite of it. If a few individuals have tactical issues with her foreign policy views that is grounds for a debate, not an attempted career lynching through off the record quotes.