1982: World Policy Institute Formally Formed

In 1982, the organization formally became the World Policy Institute, changing its name to reflect its new policy focus. In 1983, Sherle Schwenninger founded World Policy Journal, together with Jerry Sanders and Robert Johansen, as a vehicle for disseminating ideas. Jerry Sanders was the first managing editor of the journal. The Institute also published a series of World Policy Papers through the 1990s and organized an ongoing speaking program. Among its central ideas was that peace and economics are closely intertwined. In the 1980s, WPI’s Security Project summarized a unified economic-diplomatic-military strategy for progressives in post-Reagan America. From 1985 to 1987, World Policy Journal articles were translated for President Mikhail Gorbachev by the Russian Institute for US and Canada Studies. The Journal’s close contacts with Russian reformists enabled it to cover the coming of Gorbachev, glasnost and perestroika, and the unraveling of the Cold War, like no other publication. During the 1980s, the Institute’s American Priorities in a New World Era project – a group that included participants Robert Reich, Carl Sagan, Jessica Matthews, and Stan Greenberg – began studies which resulted in a series of polls and a 1990 book. A Greenberg poll carried out during the last throes of Cold War as Gorbachev was coming to power, asked the U.S. public if economic or military strength was more important. An overwhelming majority – two-thirds—said that the economy was most important. That poll profoundly informed Bill Clinton’s “It’s the Economy, Stupid” campaign strategy.

A great deal of the Institute’s influence was exercised through World Policy Journal, which heralded the rise of the importance of geo-economics over geo-political military conflicts. It argued the limits of the United States’ ability to control a variety of civil wars and revolutions. WPJ was also known for its coverage of the rise of Japan, particularly writings by Walter Russell Mead. During this time, the Journal was awarded numerous recognitions for its coverage of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of the Cold War and of the world economy.