The Hudson Institute is a conservative American think tank based in Washington, D.C. It was founded in 1961 in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, by futurist, military strategist, and systems theorist Herman Kahn and his colleagues at the RAND Corporation.
|Founded||July 20, 1961|
|Founder||Herman Kahn, Max Singer, Oscar M. Ruebhausen|
|Legal status||501(c)(3) nonprofit organization|
|United States of America|
|Services||To promote the discussion and exchange of ideas on issues related to national security, human rights, foreign policy, economics, and domestic policy.|
|John P. Walters|
|Sarah May Stern|
|Subsidiaries||Hudson Analytical Services Inc|
In January 2021, John P. Walters was appointed president and CEO of the Hudson Institute. Walters succeeded Kenneth R. Weinstein who had been CEO since June 2005 and was named president and CEO in March 2011.
Hudson Institute was founded in 1961 by Herman Kahn, Max Singer, and Oscar M. Ruebhausen. In 1960, while employed at the RAND Corporation, Kahn had given a series of lectures at Princeton University on scenarios related to nuclear war. In 1960, Princeton University Press published On Thermonuclear War, a book-length expansion of Kahn's lecture notes. Major controversies ensued, and in the end, Kahn and RAND had a parting of ways. Kahn moved to Croton-on-Hudson, New York, intending to establish a new think tank, less hierarchical and bureaucratic in its organization. Along with Max Singer, a young government lawyer who had been a RAND colleague of Kahn's, and New York attorney Oscar Ruebhausen, Kahn founded the Hudson Institute on 20 July 1961. Kahn was the Hudson's driving intellect and Singer built up the institute's organization. Ruebhausen was an advisor to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller.
Hudson's initial research projects largely reflected Kahn's personal interests, which included the domestic and military use of nuclear power and scenario planning exercises about present policy options and their possible future outcomes. Kahn and his colleagues made pioneering contributions to nuclear deterrence theory and strategy during this period.
Hudson's detailed analyses of "ladders of escalation" and reports on the likely consequences of limited and unlimited nuclear exchanges, eventually published as Thinking About the Unthinkable in 1962 and On Escalation: Metaphors and Scenarios in 1965, were influential within the Kennedy administration, and helped the institute win its first major research contract from the Office of Civil Defense at the Pentagon.
Kahn did not want Hudson to restrict itself to defense-related research, and along with Singer recruited a full-time professional staff with widely different academic backgrounds. Hudson Institute regularly involved a broad range of outside notables in their analytic projects and policy deliberations. These included French philosopher Raymond Aron, African-American novelist Ralph Ellison, political scientist Henry Kissinger, conceptual artist James Lee Byars, and social scientist Daniel Bell. Hudson's focus expanded to include geopolitics, economics, demography, anthropology, science and technology, education, and urban planning.
Kahn eventually expanded the use of scenario planning from defense policy work to economics, and in 1962 became the first analyst to predict the rise of Japan as the world's second-largest economy. Hudson Institute's publications soon became popular in Japan and Kahn developed close ties to numerous politicians and corporate leaders there.
Hudson Institute used scenario-planning techniques to forecast long-term developments and became renowned for its future studies. In 1967, Hudson published The Year 2000, a bestselling book, commissioned by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Many of the predictions came to pass, including technological developments like portable telephones and network-linked home and office computers.
In 1970, The Emerging Japanese Superstate, elaborating Kahn's predictions on the rise of Japan, was published. After the Club of Rome's controversial 1972 report The Limits to Growth produced widespread alarm about the possibility that population growth and resource depletion might result in a 21st-century global "collapse", Hudson responded with an analysis of its own, The Next 200 Years, which concluded, instead, that scientific and practical innovations were likely to produce significantly better worldwide living standards. Maintaining this optimism about the future in his 1982 book The Coming Boom, Kahn argued that pro-growth tax and fiscal policies, an emerging information technology revolution, and breakthrough developments in the energy industry would make possible a period of unprecedented prosperity in the Western world by the early 21st century. Kahn was among the first to foresee unconventional extraction techniques like hydraulic fracturing.
Within 20 years, Hudson had become an international think tank with offices in Bonn, Paris, Brussels, Montreal and Tokyo. Other research projects were related to South Korea, Singapore, Australia and Latin America.
Following Kahn's sudden death on July 7, 1983, Hudson was restructured. Actively recruited by the City of Indianapolis and the Lilly Endowment, Hudson relocated its headquarters to Indiana in 1984. In 1987, Mitch Daniels, a former aide to Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and President Ronald Reagan, was appointed CEO of Hudson Institute.
Daniels recruited new scholars and experts to the institute. William Eldridge Odom, former Director of the National Security Agency, became Hudson's director of national security studies; economist Alan Reynolds became director of economic research. Technologist George Gilder led a project on the implications of the digital era for American society.
In 1990, Daniels left Hudson Institute to become Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Eli Lilly and Company. He was succeeded as CEO by Leslie Lenkowsky, a social scientist, and former consultant to Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. Under Lenkowsky, Hudson put an emphasis on domestic and social policy. In the early 1990s, the institute did work on education reform and applied research on charter school and school choice.
At the initiative of Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, Hudson designed the "Wisconsin Works" welfare-to-work program that was adopted nationwide in the 1996 federal welfare-reform legislation signed by President Bill Clinton. In 2001, President George W. Bush's initiative on charitable choice was based on Hudson's research into social-service programs administered by faith-based organizations.
Other Hudson research from this period included 1987's "Workforce 2000", the best-selling think tank study of its day, which predicted the transformation of the American labor market and workplace arising from diversification and computerization, the "Blue Ribbon Commission on Hungary" (1990) and "International Baltic Economic Commission" (1991–93), which contributed to the adoption of market-oriented reforms in the newly independent states of Eastern Europe, and the 1997 follow-up study "Workforce 2020".
After the September 11 attacks, Hudson focused its efforts on international issues such as the Middle East, Latin America and Islam. On 1 July 2004, Hudson relocated its headquarters to Washington, DC, and focused its research on national security and foreign policy issues.
In 2016, Hudson moved from its McPherson Square headquarters to a custom-built office space on Pennsylvania Avenue, near the U.S. Capitol and the White House. The new LEED-certified offices were designed by FOX Architects. The Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe presided over the opening of the new offices.
Hudson offers two annual awards, the Herman Kahn Award and the Global Leadership Awards. Past Hudson Institute honorees include United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Vice President Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney, Joseph Lieberman, Benjamin Netanyahu, David Petraeus, and Shinzo Abe.
During the presidency of Donald Trump, the Hudson Institute was supportive of the administration. Vice President Michael Pence used the think tank as his venue for a major policy speech on China on 4 October 2018. In 2021, it was announced that former Secretary of State under Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo was joining the institute. It was reported that this would "provide him a platform to remain involved in policy discussions ahead of a possible 2024 presidential bid." Sarah May Stern, chair of Hudson's board of trustees, said of Pompeo that he had an "exemplary record of public service". The Hudson Institute was also joined by Elaine Chao, Secretary of Transportation in the Trump administration.
In January 2021, Ken Weinstein, former president and CEO of Hudson Institute, became the first Walter P. Stern Distinguished Fellow. In 2020, he was nominated by Donald Trump to be ambassador of Japan.
The Hudson Institute has been criticised for pushing a climate denial agenda and accepting $7.9m from anonymous donors.
The New York Times commented on Dennis Avery's attacks on organic farming: "The attack on organic food by a well-financed research organization suggests that, though organic food accounts for only 1 percent of food sales in the United States, the conventional food industry is worried." Another employee at the think tank, Michael Fumento, was revealed to have received funding from Monsanto for his 1999 book Bio-Evolution. Monsanto's spokesman said: "It's our practice, that if we're dealing with an organization like this, that any funds we're giving should be unrestricted." Hudson's CEO and President Kenneth R. Weinstein told BusinessWeek that he was uncertain if the payment should have been disclosed. "That's a good question, period," he said.
The New York Times accused Huntington Ingalls Industries of using the Hudson Institute to enhance the company's argument for more nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, at a cost of US$11 billion each. The Times alleged that a former naval officer was paid by Hudson to publish an analysis calling for more funding. The report was delivered to the House Armed Services subcommittee without disclosing that Huntington Ingalls had paid for part of the report. Hudson acknowledged the misconduct, describing it as a "mistake".
The institute, which publishes frequent reports on China, has received funding from the Taiwanese government. Critics note that although the funding is declared in its financial returns "none of their researchers disclose the potential conflict of interest between Taiwanese funding and advocating for more U.S. security guarantees for and trade with Taiwan."
The institute has also received funding from the Pentagon. The group has recently pushed for “lead-ahead advancements like stealth aircraft” to compete with China and a greater focus on cyber warfare capabilities. The group received a $356,263 contract directly from the Pentagon this year to produce a “final report/brief” on aircraft defense. In 2020, it was paid nearly half a million dollars to produce reports and workshops on behalf of the Defense Department.
The Hudson Institute has various centers and programs: