Founded in 2019, the Quincy Institute is a Washington-based foreign-policy think tank that brings together scholars, activists, and former officials of both left and right, most of whom have little in common but a belief that the U.S. should be more accommodating of murderous dictators. Among the crimes its fellows and affiliates have attempted to deny or to whitewash are Bashar al-Assad’s gassing of his own subjects, China’s brutal campaign against the Uighurs, and even the Bosnian-Serb leader Radovan Karadzic’s mass-murder of Muslims. The institute also has its share of committed Israel-haters, such as Steven Walt and John Mearsheimer, the professors who believe a malicious “Israel lobby” pulls the strings of U.S. foreign policy; Lawrence Wilkerson, the former adviser to Colin Powell and Bernie Sanders who has exhibited a “dangerous obsession with American policymakers who happened to be Jewish”; and Trita Parsi, a professional apologist for the Islamic Republic of Iran, who frequently blames the Jewish state for the Middle East’s problems.
In an investigation into Quincy, Armin Rosen reveals that Parsi is at the center of things:
The institute’s titular director and president is Andrew Bacevich, [but its] IRS document identifies Trita Parsi, head of the National Iranian American Council until 2018, as another one of Quincy’s co-founders and as its executive vice-president. The tax-exemption application lists Parsi’s estimated compensation at $275,000 a year, compared with $50,000 for Bacevich—a fair indication of who is actually running Washington’s weirdest and most intriguing foreign-policy shop.
“The guy is basically an ideologue, and he is pushing a very focused agenda, but the agenda has to do with representing a perspective of a certain wing of the Iranian government,” Hussein Ibish, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute, said . . . of Parsi. “Why anyone would make him the executive vice-president of a supposedly American foreign-policy association doesn’t make any sense. It is to announce that you are compromised from the outset, that you are basically nonserious, and that you don’t understand the implications of what you are doing.”
In . . . 1997, Parsi wrote a kind of open letter to Kenneth Timmerman, a former journalist and founder of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran: “Your organization is nothing else but a façade, a façade to make it seem as if Iranians support the U.S. and Israel’s stance towards the IRI [Islamic Republic of Iran]. By your name, I suspect that you are a Jew.”
And while Stephen Wertheim, the director of Quincy’s Grand Strategy Program, has become a frequent presence on the New York Times opinion page, it’s worth wondering how many well-placed essays it takes to bury something like Sarah Leah Whitson, then Quincy’s director for research and policy, tweeting that the Israeli experience of living under coronavirus lockdowns was “missing a tablespoon of blood.”