Jamestown Foundation
Formation1984; 40 years ago (1984)
FounderWilliam W. Geimer
Type501(c)(3) organization
HeadquartersWashington, D.C., U.S.
Peter Mattis
Websitejamestown.org Edit this at Wikidata

The Jamestown Foundation is a Washington, D.C.-based conservative[1][2] defense policy think tank.[3] Founded in 1984 as a platform to support Soviet defectors, its stated mission today is to inform and educate policy makers about events and trends, which it regards as being of current strategic importance to the United States. Jamestown publications focus on China, Russia, Eurasia, and global terrorism.

Founding and mission

The Jamestown Foundation was founded in 1984 after Arkady Shevchenko, the highest-ranking Soviet official ever to defect when he left his position as Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations, defected in 1978. William Geimer, an American lawyer, had been working closely with Shevchenko, and established the foundation as a vehicle to promote the writings of the former Soviet diplomat and those of Ion Pacepa, a former top Romanian intelligence officer; with the help of the foundation, both defectors published bestselling books.[4][5] Central Intelligence Agency Director William J. Casey helped back the formation of the Jamestown Foundation, agreeing with its complaints that the U.S. intelligence community did not provide sufficient funding for Soviet bloc defectors.[6][7] The foundation, initially also dedicated to supporting Soviet dissidents, also aided defecting intellectuals from the Eastern Bloc in disseminating their ideas in the west.[8]


Board of directors

In the past, Jamestown's board of directors has included Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor to U.S. President Jimmy Carter.[9] Jamestown's current board includes Michael Carpenter, the managing director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Carpenter previously served in the Pentagon as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and in the White House as a foreign policy advisor to current President Joe Biden (when Biden was vice president under Barack Obama) as well as on the National Security Council as Director for Russia. Jamestown's board also includes Michael G. Vickers, who previously served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and whose role at the Central Intelligence Agency during the Soviet–Afghan War was famously featured in George Crile's 2003 book Charlie Wilson's War. [10]

As of 2021, the foundation's current board includes General Michael V. Hayden; Bruce Hoffman; Matthew Bryza; Robert Spalding, who acted as an architect of US-China strategy while serving on the National Security Council in the Donald Trump administration; Michelle Van Cleave; Arthur Waldron; and Timothy J. Keating,[11] while Jamestown's fellows included Vladimir Socor;[12] Janusz Bugajski; Paul Goble; Michael Scheuer (who claims to have been fired for criticizing the United States' relationship with Israel),[13] Thomas Kent, the former president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; Willy Wo-Lap Lam, a Hong Kong-based China specialist; Jacob Zenn, a leading expert on Boko Haram; and Stephen Ulph,[14] a leading expert on Jihadist ideology.


In September 2023, Peter Mattis was named Jamestown president, succeeding Glen E. Howard, who served at the position for 20 years.[15]


Its primary focus is on China, Eurasia, Russia, and global terrorism. As of 2023, its main publications are China Brief[16], Eurasia Daily Monitor,[17] Terrorism Monitor, and Militant Leadership Monitor[18]. Previous publications included Eurasia Security Trends, Fortnight in Review, North Korea Review, Russia and Eurasia Review, Russia's Week, Spotlight on Terror, North Caucasus Weekly, (formerly Chechnya Weekly)[19] and Recent From Turkey[20] and Terrorism Focus. Along with these publications, Jamestown produces occasional reports[21] and books.[22]

Since 1990s the Foundation issued Prism: a monthly on the post-Soviet states.[23]

Nikolai Getman collection

The foundation hosted Russian artist Nikolai Getman's paintings of Gulag camps. Getman was imprisoned for eight years by the Soviet regime for participating in anti-Soviet propaganda as a result of a caricature of Joseph Stalin that one of his friends had drawn on a cigarette box. He survived, and for four decades he secretly labored at creating a visual record of the Gulag system.[24] In September 2009, the Jamestown Foundation transferred the Getman collection to The Heritage Foundation.[25]


In 2007, the Russian government said the think tank was spreading anti-Russian propaganda by hosting a debate on violence in the Russian republic of Ingushetia. According to a statement by the Foreign Ministry of Russia: "Organisers again and again resorted to deliberately spreading slander about the situation in Chechnya and other republics of the Russian North Caucasus using the services of supporters of terrorists and pseudo-experts. Speakers were given carte blanche to spread extremist propaganda, incite ethnic and inter-religious discord."[26] In response, Jamestown Foundation president Glen Howard said that Russia was "intimidated by the power of the free word and this goes against the state manipulation of the media in Russia."[26]

On 8 December 2011, Ambassador Daniel Benjamin, State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator for the Obama administration, gave the keynote address at Jamestown's Fifth Annual Terrorism Conference where he praised Jamestown for its research and analysis of terrorism issues.[27]

The Jamestown Foundation was criticized by the Right Web project (now the "Militarist Monitor" project) based at the Institute for Policy Studies for alleged links to the CIA and for advancing a right-wing, neoconservative agenda.[6][7]

In 2020, the office of the Prosecutor-General of Russia said that Jamestown Foundation's publications sought to fan separatism in some Russian regions and posed a security threat. It described the Foundation as an "undesirable organisation", which could result in the organization being banned in Russia under the Russian foreign agent law.[28]


  1. ^ Shinkman, Paul (23 January 2019). "Russians' Confidence in Putin Drops". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on 4 January 2022. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  2. ^ "'Sangorians' take a page from insurgent playbook in fight against Taliban". France 24. AFP. 18 June 2021. Archived from the original on 4 January 2022. Retrieved 4 January 2022.
  3. ^ "Chinese Stealth Fighter Could Rival U.S.'s Best: Report". ABC News. Archived from the original on 27 February 2021. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  4. ^ Shipler, BY David K. (7 December 1986). "AFTER THEY DEFECT..." The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 9 September 2022.
  5. ^ Jamestown Foundation, Origins Archived 3 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b "Jamestown Foundation". Institute for Policy Studies. 28 May 2013. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  7. ^ a b Tsygankov, Andrei P. (2009). Russophobia : Anti-Russian Lobby and American Foreign Policy (First ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 24, 36. doi:10.1057/9780230620957. ISBN 978-0-230-62095-7. Archived from the original on 7 January 2022. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
  8. ^ "Who aids East bloc defectors in the US?". Christian Science Monitor. 2 July 1986. ISSN 0882-7729. Archived from the original on 19 April 2021. Retrieved 19 April 2021.
  9. ^ "Brzezinski Joins Jamestown Foundation Board". Jamestown. Archived from the original on 31 October 2020. Retrieved 4 November 2020.
  10. ^ "Board Members - The Jamestown Foundation". jamestown.org. Archived from the original on 26 April 2009. Retrieved 23 November 2011.
  11. ^ "Board Members". Archived from the original on 28 August 2008.
  12. ^ "Jamestown Fellows". Archived from the original on 28 August 2008.
  13. ^ Lonergan, Kenneth (15 January 2012). Lobby Hero. doi:10.5040/9781580818490.
  14. ^ "Towards a Curriculum for the Teaching of Jihadist Ideology". The Jamestown Foundation. Archived from the original on 23 December 2010. Retrieved 31 December 2010.
  15. ^ "PRESS RELEASE—Jamestown Foundation Names Peter Mattis as New President". Jamestown. Retrieved 10 September 2023.
  16. ^ "China Brief". Jamestown. Retrieved 24 May 2023.
  17. ^ "Eurasia Daily Monitor". Jamestown. Retrieved 24 May 2023.
  18. ^ "Militant Leadership Monitor". Jamestown. Retrieved 24 May 2023.
  19. ^ "North Caucasus Weekly - The Jamestown Foundation". jamestown.org. Archived from the original on 24 June 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
  20. ^ "Turkey - The Jamestown Foundation". jamestown.org. Archived from the original on 27 June 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
  21. ^ "Recent Reports". jamestown.org. Archived from the original on 2 February 2011.
  22. ^ "Books" webpage Archived 23 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine, jamestown.org.
  23. ^ Prism: A Monthly on the Post-Soviet States. Volumes
  24. ^ Getman Archived 13 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 9 November 2010
  25. ^ "Heritage Exhibits Haunting 'Gulag Collection'". The Heritage Foundation. Archived from the original on 15 January 2011.
  26. ^ a b "Moscow criticises US think-tank over debate". Reuters. 7 December 2007. Archived from the original on 1 February 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  27. ^ Benjamin, Daniel (8 December 2011). "Al-Qaida After Bin Laden". U.S. State Department. Archived from the original on 5 January 2012.
  28. ^ Soldatkin, Vladimir; Balmforth, Tom (8 April 2020). Tattersall, Nick (ed.). "Russia moves to ban 'undesirable' U.S. research group". Yahoo News. Reuters. Archived from the original on 18 April 2020. Retrieved 10 April 2020.