‘Think Tanks are a Groupthink Community Called The Blob’

The Ideas Letter: In an infamous profile several years back, Obama national security advisor Ben Rhodes sardonically dubbed the think tank community in Washington, D.C. “the Blob.” The name stuck, and it is now common usage to describe an institutional form of one-dimensional thinking. In this issue we feature Hans Kundnani, one of the sharpest analysts of the European scene and an erstwhile Germanist, who observes similar Blob-like tendencies in Berlin. Kundnani makes clear the regrettable implications of such same-song groupthink.

The Berlin Blob
Hans Kundnani at The Ideas Letter: The foreign policy establishment in many capitals tends to share a set of assumptions and reflexes, a form of groupthink dubbed “the Blob” (coined by Obama foreign policy advisor Ben Rhodes). These elites are, all too often, disconnected from public opinion in their countries, and in fact have more in common with the opinions of their counterpart Blobs elsewhere than their compatriots, a situation that is particularly acute in Berlin, argues Kundnani. 

“Whatever the reasons for it, German foreign policy think tankers apparently do not see it as their role to openly debate anything, let alone to challenge each other, contradict each other, and push each other. Rather, they seem to see it as their role to collectively defend the conventional wisdom of the moment, to criticize or even simply ridicule others who do not share it, and to reassure and support each other. This would make more sense if foreign-policy experts had a strong track record of success in the last few decades. But in Germany as much as the United States, they have made terrible errors of judgement that have had disastrous consequences.” 

More here.