American Enterprise Institute

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The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for Public Policy Research is a private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution, or "think tank", which does research and advocacy on issues of government, politics, economics, and social welfare. Its historic position supports free enterprise; in recent years, its positions have become more associated with those of the Republican Party (United States), the neoconservative movement and some libertarians. A substantial number of George W. Bush Administration officials had been associated with AEI, and, when that Administration ended, several returned to AEI, or, like Jack Goldsmith, went to AEI on leaving an Administration post.


A business group formed in 1938, the American Enterprise Association, became aware of Congressional proposals, in 1943, to continue wartime wage and price controls after World War II ended. The rationale was to avoid antoher depression. Its principals were concerned with the growth of the Federal government, and the need for policy research and advocacy.


In 1954,William J. Baroody moved from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the chance to AEI. He led the organization for 26 years, recruiting researchers and promoting AEI ideas. By the early 1960s, he had gotten some key economists to join the advisory board, including Milton Friedman, Paul McCracken, and Gottfried Haberler. He coined the Institute slogan, a challenge to the "liberal orthodoxy" of the 1960s:

"Competition of ideas is fundamental to a free society."

President Gerald Ford became a Distinguished Fellow, and brought with him others including When the voters prematurely retired President Gerald R. Ford in 1976, he became AEI's "distinguished fellow" and brought with him colleagues including: Arthur Burns, Robert Bork, Laurence Silberman, Antonin Scalia, James C. Miller III, John Snow, Rudolph Penner, and David Gergen.

Irving Kristol, the leader of the neoconservative movement joined the community, as well as Jeane Kirkpatrick and Ben Wattenberg.

Foreign policy

Especially in the later Republican administrations, the neoconservative thinkers at AEI promoted an interventionist foreign policy, called militaristic by some critics. Some of the key individuals of these views, as well as believers in extremely strong counterterrorism, possibly at the cost of civil liberties or budget, included including John Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and John Yoo. There was much crossover with the Project for the New American Century.

In 2003, the judicial Federalist Society, with AEI, created NGOWatch to monitor nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), especially those involved in policies at odds with AEI. It was later renamed Global Government Watch.

AEI vice-president Danielle Pletka has been quite visible in some controversies over the causes and cures of terror.

Some proponents of preventive war, including with Iran, left in 2008: Michael Ledeen, Joshua Muravchik, and Reuel Marc Gerecht. There are questions if AEI is having an internal reorganization of its thinking.