The Center for the National Interest is a non-partisan  Washington, D.C.-based public policy think tank. The Center was established by former U.S. President Richard Nixon on January 20, 1994, as the Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom. The group changed its name to The Nixon Center in 1998. In 2001 the Center acquired The National Interest, a bimonthly journal, in which it tends to promote the realist perspective on foreign policy. The Center's President is Dimitri K. Simes. The organization has a bi-partisan board of directors, but its writings have been deemed to lean "slightly to moderately conservative." According to the 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report (Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, University of Pennsylvania), the Center is number 43 (of 60) in the "Top Think Tanks in the United States". According to the 2019 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, the center is number 46 (of 107) in the "Top Think Tanks in the United States". In 2006 it had an annual budget of $1.6 million.
In March 2011, the center was renamed the Center for the National Interest (CFTNI or CNI). The change was due to a conflict between leadership of the Center and the Richard Nixon Family Foundation and was part of "a long-running battle over former President Richard Nixon’s complicated legacy," with Foundation members criticizing the Center's president for "attacking their party’s presidential candidate, John McCain, for his denunciations of Russia’s invasion of Georgia," and "discomfort at the Center over the Foundation’s obsession with re-litigating Watergate and its legacy." Despite its seperation from the Nixon Foundation, the Center's leadership expressed its desire to "continue its forward-looking application of Nixon's foreign policy principles to today's international environment."
In 2016, the think tank hosted Donald Trump's first major foreign policy address, leading to one of its fellows being fired for criticizing the organization's decision in an op-ed article. The Trump campaign's interactions with Simes and the Center became part of the 2017-2019 Special Counsel investigation. The Mueller report ultimately found no evidence of wrongdoing by Simes or the Center, but the investigation reportedly hurt the think tank financially.
The center has a staff of approximately twenty people supporting seven main programs: Korean Studies, Energy Security and Climate Change, Strategic Studies, US-Russia Relations, U.S.-Japan Relations, China and the Pacific, and Regional Security (Middle East, Caspian Basin and South Asia).
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- ^ "Time to Accept North Korea As a Nuclear Weapons State? – Center for the National Interest". cftni.org. Retrieved 2020-10-29.