`Think Tanks’ and National Security


24 July 2009
"Noravank" Foundation

Gagik Harutyunyan

In modern age the security of civilazational-national and state
structures, mainly their efficiency and compatibility, is more than
ever determined by the quantity and the quality of intellectual
resources of those systems, their capabilities on organization and
reasonable usage in accordance with their interests. It is also known
that besides traditional scientific-educational structures, institutes
of academic character and higher education institutions the special
research centres are also considered to be important factor of
intellectual resources’ organization. It is remarkable that in the West
those `think-tanks’ are often called `thought fabrics’, organizations
`generating national interests’ or `creating ideologies’ and thus they
acquire more dynamic sense. It is also characteristic that within the
structure of established `think tanks’ the educational centres, which
aim is to reinforce national elite with ideologically, creatively and
professionally well-placed personal, can be found.

Structure and aims of classical `think tanks’
The purpose of the classical `think tanks’ (it is traditionally assumed
that such `think tanks’ were created after World War II and acquired in
the societies the institutional status of `think tanks’) is the
presentation in the context of national security (NS) of the new ideas,
long-term projects, concepts, various strategic and tactical
elaborations and expert consulting to state-political (often even
spiritual) structures and the companies, which present the national
capital. For example, American RAND Corporation elaborated the notions
of `information war’, `net-centric informational system’, their further
conceptual development and transformation into applied technologies. It
is supposed that due to such elaborations the US take a leading stand
in global plane.

The efficient activity of `think tanks’ can be carried out in the
communities where the following conditions are available:

realizing of the importance of the intellectual resources factor in
state and political and economic systems in the context of the NS; the
will and ability to provide that sphere with all the necessary
the determination of the direction of the activity of the `think tanks’
by the state and political system in accordance with the national
interests2 as well as the organizational capability of the system to
implement the results of the work of `think tanks’ in practice;
the availability of the appropriate academic and higher educational
environment, which nourishes the `think tanks’;
the availability of efficient mechanisms providing the inter-relations
of the links `think tanks’ 93 state, national capital ` academic and
higher educational science.
As a rule `think tanks’ of this or that state constitute a network and
work in accordance with mutual complementary principles. It is true
that such collaboration is rather efficient and very often it has
synergetic effect.

Let us mention that the creation of the `think tank’ systems is rather
laborious and long-lasting process, which demands the formation of
appropriate `schools’ and traditions, implementation of various methods
of creative personnel preparation (e.g. American RAND prefers to
promote gifted researchers from the school) and, which is we think most
important, the acknowledgment of the necessity of such `think tanks’ by
the society.

We can also state that the `think tank’ system was established and it
received the most developed and institutional character in the United
States. At the same time almost in all established countries there are
similar structures, which have features characteristic for their

According to the expert approaches the level of the strength of the
`think tank’ system is the most important indicator of the NS of that
society. Even if we consider this statement from the formal point of
view it is reasonable. The intellectual resources are one of the most
important components of informational security (IS), and the ignoring
of the IS20factor in the informational age makes the NS system of any
society extremely vulnerable.

Soviet and post-Soviet realias
Speaking about the issues of organization of Armenian intellectual
resources one should not forget about the Soviet scientific system, in
which the research institutes working in the RA were included.

A number of organizations worked in the USSR, which having the
peculiarities characteristic of the Soviet system, in one way or
another carried out the activity characteristic of the `think tank’. In
some cases academic institutes played the role of such structures. One
of them is the Institute of the USA and Canada, which works till now.
Those `think tanks’, being situated mainly in Moscow, directly worked
for the political authorities of the state ` `the centre’, the absolute
monopolist in the sphere of home and foreign policy. The authorities of
the Soviet republics simply carried out the directives of the `centre’.
They had no need to have such `think tanks’ and even if they had they
could not have such structures. Thus, with the exception of rare cases
there was no culture of the organization or the creation and activity
of `think tank’-alike structures in the Soviet republics3. In this
context the studies in the line of the Armenian Diaspora took the
special place: the `centre’ realized their importance and, naturally,
the `orders’ regarding this sphere were sent to Yerevan.

Think tanks in the 3rd republic
After the collapse of the USSR the Soviet scientific system also
collapsed. It is suffice to mention that today in the 3rd republic
$20-30 million are assigned to the science, while in the 80s of the
last century the backing of that sphere was about $600 million4. At the
same time today there are about 30 think tanks-alike institutions,
which, however, receive orders and appropriate material backing from
other countries or international organizations. The activities of such
institutions are oriented on their clients and thus they are not always
in our interests. But this does not mean that we should ignore their
work and not to use it in the interests of our state. This mainly
regards the sociology and economic spheres, the complex analysis of
which may be useful. Quite different matter is that those results are
not always clear to the society.

Since 2000, when the economy of the republic began to recover, on the
initiative of separate representatives of some levels and elites of the
authorities the `think tanks’, which carried out national orders, have
been established. Let us mention that in the initial stage of their
activity there were many hostilities, among which the following should
be mentioned:

the distrust of state, national, political and business structures to
the intellectual, and particularly domestic intellectual production,
the unsatisfactory condition of the national science, especially in the
spheres, which are topical from the point of view of the NS, by which,
in its turn, unsatisfactory level of analytical community is determined,
the general deficit of the culture of the formation and management of
the `think tank’ structures by the political elite and expert community.
Today the situation improved partially, despite the fact that some
adverse circumstances (mainly unsatisfactory condition of the national
science) continue to be of permanent character. At the same time, the
observed progress can hardly be considered as satisfactory. Among the
existing problems the following can be distinguished:

the results of the elaborations of the `think tanks’ on objective or
subjective reasons do not influence essentially the activity of state
and political elite and the society, i.e. our `think tanks’ have not
turned into institutional structures yet;
theme orientation of the `think tanks’ working in the RA is sometimes
not optimal in the context of the national interests; their complex
activity can hardly be called coordinated one. In spite of their small
number `think tanks’ in the RA do not collaborate sufficiently and the
network style of their activity has not been formed yet;
the efficiency of the theoretical and practical elaborations carried
out in the context of the NS is determined by the importance of the
adoption and the implementation of the various methods, while the
acquisition and training of the appropriate personnel demand heavy
expenses and it is not always that you can get the state support,
The most part of the national capital representatives do not realize
the necessity and importance of the `think tanks’.
1This does not exclude the possibility that some `think tanks’ on a
definite stage of the formation and development may start to carry out
commercial projects on the basis of their innovational elaborations or
create for those projects appropriate branches and companies. Mainly, a
number of `strategy’ computer games, which are used now, are the result
of such an activity.

2It is remarkable that in analytical literature you can find the
opinion that `think tanks’ in some countries also pursue corporative
ends, which, in some cases, can be more preferable than the national

3It should be mentioned that there was quite different situation in the
sphere of natural sciences: due to separate persons and national
peculiarities there were scientific centres of all-USSR or sometimes
even world level in the Second republic.

4At the same time there is an impression that even those scares means
are not used properly mainly in the spheres of humanities. Sometimes
non-actual or even marginal studies are financed, meanwhile the study
of the fundamental problems of the Armeniancy scattered all over the
world had been ignored until recently when Ministry of Diaspora was
formed. It is remarkable that despite the cut of the amount of the
financing the number of those who acquires academic degrees has not
been cut. Today this process receives quite different, non-scientific

5Such realias in expert community are qualified as the expression of
the `importer’ psychology. But in the respect to the Armeniancy the
same distrustfulness is characteristic of the representatives of the
national and economic structures of the Diaspora.

Other issues of author

SYSTEM CHANGES [27.03.2009]
On the problems of information security [21.03.2007]
US-Iran: possible developments [01.03.2007]
New `Cold War’ and transformation of `deterring strategy’ [04.12.2006]

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