Council on Foreign Relations

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The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an influential foreign policy membership organization founded in 1921 and based at 58 East 68th Street (corner Park Avenue) in New York City, with an additional office in Washington, D.C. Through its membership, meetings, and studies, it has been called the most powerful agent of United States foreign policy outside the State Department. It publishes the bi-monthly journal Foreign Affairs. It has an extensive website, featuring links to its think tank, The David Rockefeller Studies Program, other programs and projects, publications, history, biographies of notable directors and other board members, corporate members, and press releases.

Of the 43 Council on Foreign Relations directors in 2014, 28 were Jews or had Jewish spouses. Of the 55 Council on Foreign Relations think tank members, 31 are Jews or have Jewish spouses. Jews are only 2% of the US population.[1]

History

Early History

The earliest origin of the Council stemmed from a working fellowship of about 150 scholars, called "The Inquiry", tasked to brief President Woodrow Wilson about options for the postwar world when Germany was defeated. Through 1917-18, this academic band, including Wilson's closest adviser and long-time friend Col. Edward M. House, as well as Walter Lippmann, gathered discreetly at 155th Street and Broadway in New York City, to assemble the strategy for the postwar world. The team produced more than 2,000 documents detailing and analyzing the political, economic, and social facts globally that would be helpful for Wilson in the peace talks. Their reports formed the basis for the Fourteen Points, which outlined Wilson's strategy for peace after war's end.

These scholars then traveled to the Paris Peace Conference, 1919 that would end the war; it was at one of the meetings of a small group of British and American diplomats and scholars, on May 30, 1919, at the Hotel Majestic, that both the Council and its British counterpart, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA), formerly known as Chatham House in London, were born. Although the original intent was for the two organizations to be affiliated, they became independent bodies, yet retained close informal ties.

Banking interests

The Americans who subsequently returned from the conference became drawn to a discreet club of New York financiers and international lawyers who had organized previously in June 1918 and was headed by Elihu Root, JP Morgan's lawyer; this select group called itself the Council on Foreign Relations. They joined this group and the Council was formally established in New York on July 29, 1921, with 108 founding members, including Elihu Root as a leading member and John W. Davis, the chief counsel for J. P. Morgan & Co. and former Solicitor General for President Wilson, as its founding president. Davis was to become Democratic presidential candidate in 1924 .

Other members included John Foster Dulles, Herbert Lehman, Henry Stimson, Averell Harriman, the Rockefeller family's public relations expert, Ivy Lee, and Paul M. Warburg and Otto H. Kahn of the law firm Kuhn, Loeb.

The Council initially had strong connections to the Morgan interests, such as the lawyer, Paul Cravath, whose pre-eminent New York law firm (later named Cravath, Swaine & Moore) represented Morgan businesses; a Morgan partner, Russell Leffingwell, later became its first chairman. The head of the group's finance committee was Alexander Hemphill, chairman of Morgan's Guaranty Trust Company. Harvard economist Edwin F. Gay, editor of the New York Evening Post, owned by Morgan partner Thomas W. Lamont, served as Secretary-Treasurer of the organization. Other members related to Morgan included Frank L. Polk, former Under-Secretary of State and attorney for J.P. Morgan & Co. Former Wilson Under-Secretary of State Norman H. Davis was a banking associate of the Morgans. Over time, however, the locus of power shifted inexorably to the Rockefeller family. Paul Cravath's law firm also represented the Rockefeller family.

Edwin Gay suggested the creation of a quarterly journal, Foreign Affairs. He recommended Harvard colleague Archibald Coolidge be installed as the first editor, along with his New York Evening Post reporter, Hamilton Fish Armstrong, as assistant editor and executive director of the Council.

Even from its inception, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was a regular benefactor, making annual contributions, as well as a large gift of money towards its first headquarters on East 65th Street, along with corporate donors. In 1944, the widow of the Standard Oil executive Harold I. Pratt donated the family's four-story mansion on the corner of 68th Street and Park Avenue for council use and this became the CFR's new headquarters, known as The Harold Pratt House, where it remains today.

Several of Rockefeller's sons joined the council when they came of age; David Rockefeller joined the council as its youngest-ever director in 1949 and subsequently became chairman of the board from 1970 to 1985; today he serves as honorary chairman.The major philanthropic organization he founded with his brothers in 1940, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, has also funded the Council, from 1953 to at least 1980.

Another major support base from the outset was the corporate sector; around 26 corporations provided financial assistance in the 1920s, seizing the opportunity to inject their business concerns into the weighty deliberations of the academics and scholars in the Council's ruling elite. In addition, the Carnegie Corporation contributed funds in 1937 to expand the Council's reach by replicating its structure in a diminished form in eight American cities.

John J. McCloy became an influential figure in the organization after the Second World War, and he held connections to both the Morgans and Rockefellers. As assistant to Secretary of War (and JP Morgan attorney) Henry Stimson during World War II, he had presided over important American war policies; his brother-in-law John Zinsser was on the board of directors of JP Morgan & Co. during that time, and after the war McCloy joined New York law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hope, Hadley & McCloy as a partner. The company had long served as legal counsel to the Rockefeller family and the Chase Manhattan bank. McCloy became Chairman of the Board of Chase Manhattan, a director of the Rockefeller Foundation and Chairman of the Board of the CFR from 1953 to 1970. President Harry Truman appointed him President of the World Bank and U.S. High Commissioner to Germany. He served as a special adviser on disarmament to President John F. Kennedy and chaired a special committee on the Cuban crisis. He was said to have had the largest influence on American foreign policy of anyone after World War II. McCloy's brother-in-law, Lewis W. Douglas, also served on the board of the CFR and as a trustee for the Rockefeller Foundation; Truman appointed him as American ambassador to Great Britain.

Influencing US Foreign Policy

Beginning in 1939 and lasting for five years, the Council achieved much greater prominence with government and the State Department when it established the strictly confidential War and Peace, funded entirely by the Rockefeller Foundation. The secrecy surrounding this group was such that the Council members (total at the time: 663) who were not involved in its deliberations were completely unaware of the study group's existence.

It was divided into four functional topic groups: economic and financial, security and armaments, territorial, and political. The security and armaments group was headed by Allen Dulles who later became a pivotal figure in the CIA's predecessor, the OSS. It ultimately produced 682 memoranda for the State Department, marked classified and circulated among the appropriate government departments. As an historical judgment, its overall influence on actual government planning at the time is still said to remain unclear.

In an anonymous piece called "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" that appeared in Foreign Affairs in 1947, CFR study group member George Kennan coined the term "containment." The essay would prove to be highly influential in US foreign policy for seven upcoming presidential administrations. 40 years later, Kennan explained that he had never meant to contain the Soviet Union because it might be able to physically attack the United States; he thought that was obvious enough that he didn't need to explain it in his essay. William Bundy credited the CFR's study groups with helping to lay the framework of thinking that led to the Marshall Plan and NATO. Due to new interest in the group, membership grew towards 1,000.

Dwight D. Eisenhower chaired a CFR study group while he served as President of Columbia University in New York City. One member later said, "Whatever General Eisenhower knows about economics, he has learned at the study group meetings". The CFR study group devised an expanded study group called "Americans for Eisenhower" to increase his chances for the presidency. Eisenhower would later draw many Cabinet members from CFR ranks and become a CFR member himself. His primary CFR appointment was Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. As an attorney for Standard Oil and a longtime board member of the Rockefeller Foundation, Dulles maintained strong ties to the Council and to the Rockefellers. Dulles gave a public address at the Harold Pratt House in which he announced a new direction for Eisenhower's foreign policy: "There is no local defense which alone will contain the mighty land power of the communist world. Local defenses must be reinforced by the further deterrent of massive retaliatory power." After this speech, the council convened a session on "Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy" and chose a Harvard scholar, Henry Kissinger, to head it. Kissinger spent the following academic year working on the project at Council headquarters. The book of the same name that he published from his research in 1957 gave him national recognition, topping the national bestseller lists.

On 24 November 1953, a study group heard a report from political scientist William Henderson regarding the ongoing conflict between France and Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh forces, a struggle that would later become known as the First Indochina War. Henderson argued that Ho's cause was primarily nationalist in nature and that Marxism had "little to do with the current revolution." Further, the report said, the United States could work with Ho to guide his movement away from Communism. State Department officials, however, expressed skepticism about direct American intervention in Vietnam and the idea was tabled. Over the next twenty years, the United States would find itself allied with anti-Communist South Vietnam and against Ho and his supporters in Vietnam War.

The Council served as a "breeding ground" for important American policies such as mutual deterrence, arms control, and nuclear non-proliferation.

A four-year long study of relations between America and China was conducted by the Council between 1964 and 1968. One study published in 1966 concluded that American citizens were more open to talks with China than their elected leaders. Kissinger had continued to publish in Foreign Affairs and was appointed by President Nixon to serve as National Security Adviser in 1969. In 1971, he embarked on a secret trip to Beijing to broach talks with Chinese leaders. Nixon went to China in 1972, and diplomatic relations were completely normalized by President Carter's Secretary of State, another Council member, Cyrus Vance.

In November 1979, while chairman of the CFR, David Rockefeller became embroiled in an international incident when he and Henry Kissinger, along with John J. McCloy and Rockefeller aides, persuaded President Jimmy Carter through the State Department to admit the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, into the US for hospital treatment for lymphoma. This action directly precipitated what is known as the Iran hostage crisis and placed Rockefeller under media scrutiny for the first time in his public life.

Criticism

The Council has been the subject of scrutiny outside the media, partly due to the number of high-ranking government officials in its membership, its secrecy clauses, and the large number of aspects of American foreign policy that its members have been involved with, beginning with Wilson's Fourteen Points. Many organizations, such as the John Birch Society, believe that the CFR plans a one-world government. Wilson's Fourteen Points speech was the first in which he suggested a worldwide security organization to prevent future world wars.

"For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents ...to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it."

David Rockefeller, "Memoirs" autobiography (2002, Random House publishers), page 405

Some believe that the CFR is working towards a North American Union, a joining of the three governments of Canada, Mexico and the USA. They point to a CFR task force which was headed by professor Robert Pastor, head of North American Studies at American University, which produced a report called "Building a North American Community" on cooperation within North America. Pastor authored a 2001 book, Towards a North American Community: Lessons from the Old World for the New. Plans allegedly center on a 10-lane superhighway which would run from Mexico to Canada. Assistant Secretary of Commerce David Bohigian says that there is no truth to the rumors. Senator Kit Bond, who is a member of committees that would have to authorize funding for a NAFTA superhighway, has said that there are no plans for a North American Union and the theories are not valid. However, Rep. Ron Paul has said that Congress has provided "small amounts" of money to study the feasibility of such a highway. Paul also suggested that because the funding constituted "just one item in an enormous transportation appropriations bill... most members of Congress were not aware of it." Rep. Virgil Goode introduced a resolution, with 21 co-sponsors, to prohibit the building of a NAFTA superhighway and an eventual North American Union with Canada and Mexico. The resolution was sent to committee.

In 2005, CFR task force co-chairman Pastor testified in Congress in front of the Foreign Relations Committee: "The best way to secure the United States today is not at our two borders with Mexico and Canada, but at the borders of North America as a whole". The CFR task force he headed called for one border around North America, freer travel within it, and cooperation among Canadian, Mexican and American military forces and law enforcement for greater security. It called for full mobility of labor among the three countries within five years, similar to the European Union. He also appeared at a CFR forum called "The Future of North American Integration in the Wake of the Terrorist Attacks" on October 17, 2001, discussing the prospect of North American integration in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Conservative commentator Phyllis Schlafly wrote of the 2005 report, "This CFR document, called 'Building a North American Community,' asserts that George W. Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin 'committed their governments' to this goal when they met at Bush's ranch and at Waco, Texas on March 23, 2005. The three adopted the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America and assigned 'working groups' to fill in the details". The document advocated allowing companies to recruit workers from anywhere within North America and called for large loans and aid to Mexico from the US. It called for a court system for North American dispute resolution and said that illegal aliens should be allowed into the United States Social Security system through the Social Security Totalization Agreement. The report called for a fund to be created by the US to allow 60,000 Mexican students to attend US colleges. The report says the plan can be carried out within five years. Other members of the task force included former Massachusetts governor William Weld and immigration chief for President Clinton, Doris Meissner.

Pastor wrote in Foreign Affairs:

"The U.S., Mexican, and Canadian governments remain zealous defenders of an outdated conception of sovereignty even though their citizens are ready for a new approach. Each nation's leadership has stressed differences rather than common interests. North America needs leaders who can articulate and pursue a broader vision... Countries are benefited when they changed these [national sovereignty] policies, and evidence suggests that North Americans are ready for a new relationship that renders this old definition of sovereignty obsolete."

Quotes

At the end of the war of 1914, it became clear that the organization of the Round Table Group system had to be greatly extended. Once again the task was entrusted to Lionel Curtis who established, in Britain and each dominion, a front organization to the existing Round Table Group. This front organization, called the Royal Institute of International Affairs, had as its nucleus in each area the existing submerged Round Table Group. In New York it was know as the Council on Foreign Relations, and was a front for J.P. Morgan and Company in association with the very small American Round Table Group. The American organizers were dominated by the large number of Morgan "experts" who had gone to the Paris Peace Conference and there became close friends with the similar group of British "experts" which had been recruited by the Milner group. In fact, the original plans for the Royal Institute of International Affairs and the Council on Foreign Relations were drawn up in Paris.

Carroll Quigley, 1966, Tragedy and Hope.

See also

References

External links

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