Since the war broke out in February, ISW has been the elite media’s go-to think tank for information and analysis.

The Institute for the Study of War has neoconservative roots and is run and staffed by pretty extreme hawks. Over the years it has gotten funding from various corners of the arms industry—General Dynamics, Raytheon, lesser known defense contractors, and big companies, like General Motors, that aren’t known as defense contractors but do get Pentagon contracts.

The president and founder of the Institute for the Study of War is Kimberly Kagan, a military historian who is married to Frederick Kagan, who is also a military historian and does work for ISW. Frederick is a well-known neoconservative, though not as well-known as his brother Robert. In the 1990s, Robert Kagan, along with Bill Kristol (who is on ISW’s board), founded the Project for a New American Century, which in the view of some observers played an important role in convincing George W. Bush to invade Iraq. Robert Kagan’s wife, Victoria Nuland, is the state department official who very publicly supported Ukraine’s 2014 Maidan Revolution—the overthrow of pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovych, which led Russia to seize Crimea and give military support to secessionist rebels in the Donbass.

The Kagan-Kristol Project for a New American Century was funded by arms makers, thanks largely to the work of Lockheed Martin executive Bruce P. Jackson , who became a director of Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Jackson had earlier organized the US Committee to Expand NATO, which successfully lobbied for what its name suggests it lobbied for.  

ISW, like some other highly ideological think tanks, exerts its influence along two main paths: (1) explicitly opining about policies;  (2) doing reporting and analysis that is ostensibly objective but may implicitly favor certain policies.

In the case of the Ukraine War, ISW’s reporting and analysis activities have been extraordinary. The Institute issues daily battlefield updates, complete with maps of three regions of Ukraine that show shifts in territorial control. These summaries are intelligently and crisply written and cover a lot of ground efficiently.

Board Members

  1. General Jack Keane (US Army, Retired), Chairman, Institute for the Study of War; President, GSI, LLC.
  2. Dr. Kimberly Kagan, Founder & President, Institute for the Study of War is the founder and president of the Institute for the Study of War.
  3. The Honorable Kelly Craft, Former US Ambassador to UN and Canada
  4. Dr. William Kristol, Director, Defending Democracy Together
  5. The Honorable Joseph I. Lieberman, Senior Council, Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman, LLP
  6. Kevin Mandia, Chief Executive Officer & Board Director, Mandiant
  7. Jack D. McCarthy, Jr., Senior Managing Director & Founder, A&M Capital
  8. Bruce Mosler, Chairman, Global Brokerage, Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.
  9. General David H. Petraeus (US Army, Retired), Member, KKR & Chairman, KKR Global Institute
  10. Dr. Warren Phillips, Lead Director, CACI International
  11. Colonel William Roberti (US Army, Retired), Managing Director, Alvarez & Marsal


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