What would make nations that are notoriously hostile to freedom, diversity, women's rights, and, in short, everything the West believes in, donate billions of dollars to fund, of all things, liberal American universities?
The answer seems clear enough: elite universities produce American leaders, and foreign money buys power and influence over those very same future leaders. Foreign entities buy that influence by ensuring that what they are indoctrinated into believing is beneficial to the donors, if detrimental to the U.S.
That's why a recent news story concerning Joe Biden proves so disturbing:
China, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Turkey have poured millions of dollars into the University of Delaware since the school launched the Biden Institute, President Joe Biden's domestic policy think tank led by his sister ... . Since the Biden Institute was established in 2017, the University of Delaware has received $6,704,250 in funding from China, $23,610,996 from Saudi Arabia, $2,513,646 from Oman and $1,673,847 from Turkey, according to data from the U.S. Department of Education.
Keep in mind, every one of these "generous donors" is either explicitly or implicitly hostile to Western civilization and everything it stands for.
But perhaps this story concerning the University of Delaware is an aberration? Perhaps other universities are not so utterly compromised by donations from hostile foreign powers?
Foreign Money Buys Power and Influence
In fact, it's the rule, not the exception, as made abundantly clear by a blockbuster report published in 2020 by the Trump Department of Education. It thoroughly documented the "purchased" influence foreign nations have on America's most prestigious universities and, as a result, on what America's current and upcoming generations of analysts and policymakers will think and believe.
Among those "gifts" were more than a whopping $3 billion from the Muslim Brotherhood's number one state backer, Qatar, which also runs the Arabic language propaganda network, Al Jazeera. More than $1.1 billion came from the chief disseminator of "radical" Islamic ideology, Saudi Arabia. And nearly $1.5 billion came from that one Communist nation fond of spying on America, China.
As the 2020 report explained,
[A]t least some of these foreign sources are hostile to the United States and are targeting their investments (i.e., 'gifts' and 'contracts') to project soft power, steal sensitive and proprietary research, and spread propaganda.
'Hostile Donations' At Work
As one example of how these "hostile donations" work, in March 2019, an event described as a "Three-Day Anti-Israel Hate-Fest" was sponsored by the University of North Carolina's Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies and the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies — both recipients of big bucks from nations that hate Israel.
Following this event, the Department of Education warned the Consortium, in a letter dated August 29, 2019, to stop misusing federal grants by advancing "ideological priorities." According to the letter:
The Duke-UNC CMES appears to lack balance as it offers very few, if any, programs focused on the historic discrimination faced by, and current circumstances of, religious minorities in the Middle East, including Christians, Jews, Baha'is, Yadizis (sic), Kurds, Druze, and others. Also, in your activities for elementary and secondary students and teachers, there is a considerable emphasis placed on the understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism, or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East. This lack of balance of perspectives is troubling.
Similarly, a 2018 report found that "elite U.S. universities took more than half a billion dollars" from Saudi Arabia in gifts and donations between 2011 and 2017. As far back as 2005, Georgetown and Harvard each received $20 million "to support Islamic studies on their respective campuses."
Here, again, the question arises: Why would a nation such as Saudi Arabia become a leading financial supporter of America's liberal arts? Those same arts don't exist at home, where the Saudi regime treats women like chattel, insists that all Muslims are obligated to hate all non-Muslims, and arrests and tortures Christians for "plotting to celebrate Christmas."
Indoctrination in Falsehoods
The answer should be clear enough: to influence what students are taught about the Middle East and Islam.
The Department of Education's expose (section E.5) on Georgetown University's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding "exemplifies how foreign money can advance a particular country's worldview within U.S. academic institutions." As such, it is worth quoting at length:
[T]he Center could advance Islamic ideology in a fashion that belittles opposition, threatens academic integrity, and improperly influences future civil servants. The Center also received criticism for deceptively labeling itself as pluralistic; according to critics, the 'Christian' studies portion of the Center was a 'misnomer' as there was no Christian representation. ...
This donation empowered the Saudi Arabian government to advance a particular narrative about Islamic society to the West via a legitimate Western institution like Georgetown University. ...
The Saudi Arabian government had successfully impacted American foreign policy thinking through money alone. The Saudi Arabian government invested significantly into the dissemination of its favored ideological views at Georgetown University and several other U.S. academic institutions.
Prince Alwaleed has made considerable international donations and has conducted similar soft power operations by creating Islamic studies centers at the University of Cambridge and Edinburgh University located in the United Kingdom, for examples. Prince Alwaleed's controversial and political past, ranging from anti-Zionism to handsomely rewarding Saudi Arabians who participated in Yemen bombing raids, shadows him and his donations.
Raking In Foreign 'Gifts'
The report further adds that, while raking in and failing to report on these billions in foreign "gifts," these same universities "depend on direct and indirect subsidies from U.S. taxpayers, including through federal student loans that have encumbered Americans with staggering debt loads, to operate." Even so, "the evidence suggests institutional decision-making is generally divorced from any sense of obligation to our taxpayers or concern for our American national interests, security, or values."
In all spheres of life, education is an indicator of the potential for success. Its opposite, ignorance — or worse, indoctrination in falsehoods — is an indicator of potential failure. The reason U.S. foreign policy, from China to the Middle East, has tended towards disaster may be because — in addition to the elixir of wishful thinking — policymakers and the advisors and analysts on whom they rely are products of programs in which benefactors are hostile to the United States.
As for the Biden family, here is yet another example of how it exploits its patriarch's political clout and presidency at the expense of the American people.
Raymond Ibrahim is the Judith Friedman Rosen Fellow at the Middle East Forum.