Conservative research think tank, The Heritage Foundation, has received its biggest donation ever: $26 million.
The family of its longtime funders, Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis, made the contribution to advance foreign policy and defense studies. The Davis Institute for International Studies is named after them.
James Carafano, vice president of the institute’s foreign policy and defense wing, says the money will allow his research teams to grow.
“They’ll draw on the endowment to sustain current programs,” he said in an interview with The Hill. “We’re focused on three major things, which is protection of American sovereignty, pressing the case for economic freedom and foreign policy, and making a strong national defense.”
The grant amounts to about a third of its annual budget of $82.4 million.
“We are grateful beyond words for the Davis family’s commitment to fostering the continuing research and development of policy proposals best calculated to spread the march of freedom, opportunity and prosperity around the globe,” said Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint in a statement. He resigned from the Senate last year after serving for South Carolina.
Military action in Syria, the latest issue on the foreign policy front, has been one The Heritage Foundation has said it opposes.
Carafano recently outlined five reasons why attacking Syria would be a bad idea: a vital U.S. interest wasn’t at stake, missile attacks would make Obama look weaker, it wouldn’t be wise, it isn’t justified and it would distract the U.S. from other priorities.
Its position on Syria is largely different from the interventionist attitude the foundation had three decades ago. During the 1980s, analysts helped craft the Reagan Doctrine, which provided support to anti-communist regimes during the Cold War.
Heritage’s former president, Edwin Feulner, says the two who inspired this hefty donation helped advance those goals under former President Reagan.
“I remember vividly traveling to the then-Soviet Union and China with Shelby and Kathryn trying to advance freedom in those communist countries,” Feulner said. “We also traveled together to chisel away pieces of the Berlin Wall after it fell, a goal that they worked tirelessly to achieve.”