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Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy
By Murray N. Rothbard
Businessmen or manufacturers can either be genuine free enterprisers or statists; they can either
make their way on the free market or seek special government favors and privileges. They
choose according to their individual preferences and values. But bankers are inherently inclined
Commercial bankers, engaged as they
are in unsound fractional reserve credit, are, in the free
market, always teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Hence they are always reaching for
government aid and bailout.
Investment bankers do much of their
business underwriting government bonds, in the United
States and abroad. Therefore, they have a vested interest in promoting deficits and in forcing
taxpayers to redeem government debt. Both sets of bankers, then, tend to be tied in with government
policy, and try to influence and control government actions in domestic and foreign affairs.
In the early years of the 19th
century, the organized capital market in the United States was
largely confined to government bonds (then called "stocks"), along with canal companies and
banks themselves. Whatever investment banking existed was therefore concentrated in government
debt. From the Civil War until the 1 890s, there were virtually no manufacturing
corporations; manufacturing and other businesses were partnerships and had not yet reached the
size where they needed to adopt the corporate form. The Only exception was railroads, the
biggest industry in the U.S. The first investment banks, therefore, were concentrated in railroad
securities and government bonds.
The first major investment banking
house in the United States was a creature of government
privilege. Jay Cooke, an Ohio-born business promoter living in Philadelphia, and his brother
Henry, editor of the leading Republican newspaper in Ohio, were close friends of Ohio U.S.
Senator Salmon P. Chase. When the new Lincoln Administration took over in 1861, the Cookes
lobbied hard to secure Chase the appointment of Secretary of the Treasury. That lobbying, plus
the then enormous sum of $100,000 that Jay Cooke poured into Chase’s political coffers,
induced Chase to return the favor by granting Cooke, newly set up as an investment banker, an
enormously lucrative monopoly in underwriting the entire federal debt.
Cooke and Chase then managed to use
the virtual Republican monopoly in Congress during the
war to transform the American commercial banking system from a relatively free market to a
National Banking System centralized by the federal government under Wall Street control. A
crucial aspect of that system was that national banks could only expand credit in proportion to
the federal bonds they owned—bonds which they were forced to buy from Jay Cooke.
Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy, by Murray N. Rothbard
Jay Cooke & Co. proved enormously influential in the post-war Republican administrations,
which continued their monopoly in under-writing government bonds. The House of Cooke met
its well-deserved fate by going bankrupt in the Panic of 1874, a failure helped along by its great
rival, the then Philadelphia-based Drexel, Morgan & Co.
After 1873, Drexel, Morgan and its
dominant figure J.P. Morgan became by far the leading
investment firm in the U.S. If Cooke had been a “Republican” bank, Morgan, while prudently
well connected in both parties, was chiefly influential among the Democrats. The other great
financial interest powerful in the Democratic Party was The mighty European investment
banking house of the Rothschilds, whose agent, August Belmont, was treasurer of the national
Democratic party for many years.
The enormous influence of the
Morgans on the Democratic administrations of Grover Cleveland
(1884-88, 1892-96), may be seen by simply glancing at their leading personnel. Grover
Cleveland himself spent virtually all his life in the Morgan ambit. He grew up in Buffalo as a
railroad lawyer, one of his major clients being the Morgan-dominated New York Central
Railroad. In between administrations, he became a partner of the powerful New York City law
firm of Bangs, Stetson, Tracey, and MacVeagh. This firm, by the late 1 880s, had become the
chief legal firm of the House of Morgan, largely because senior partner Charles B. Tracey was
J.P. Morgan's brother-in-law. After Tracey died in 1887, Francis Lynde Stetson, an old and close
friend of Cleveland's, became the firm's dominant partner, as well as the personal attorney for
J.P. Morgan. (This is now the Wall St. firm of Davis, Polk, and Wardwell.)
Grover Cleveland's cabinets were
honeycombed with Morgan men, with an occasional bow to
other bankers. Considering those officials most concerned with foreign policy, his first Secretary
of State, Thomas F. Bayard, was a close ally and disciple of August Belmont; indeed, Belmont's
son, Perry, had lived with and worked for Bayard in Congress as his top aide. The dominant
Secretary of State in the second Cleveland Administration was the powerful Richard Olney, a
leading lawyer for Boston financial interests, who have always been tied in with the Morgans,
and in particular was on the Board of the Morgan-run Boston and Maine Railroad, and would
later help Morgan organize the General Electric Company.
The War and Navy departments under
Cleveland were equally banker-dominated. Boston
Brahmin Secretary of War William C. Endicott had married into the wealthy Peabody family.
Endicott’s wife’s uncle, George Peabody, had established a banking firm which included J.P.
Morgan’s father as a senior partner; and a Peabody had been best man at J.P.’s wedding.
Secretary of the Navy was leading New York City financier William C. Whitney, a close friend
and top political advisor of Cleveland’s. Whitney was closely allied with the Morgans in running
the New York Central Railroad.
Secretary of War in the second
Cleveland Administration was an old friend and aide of
Cleveland’s, Daniel S. Lamont, previously an employee and protégé of William C. Whitney.
Finally, the second Secretary of the Navy was an Alabama Congressman, Hilary A. Herbert, an
attorney for and very close friend of Mayer Lehman, a founding partner of the New York
mercantile firm of Lehman Brothers, soon to move heavily into investment banking. Indeed,
Mayer’s son, Herbert, later to be Governor of New York during the New Deal, was named after
The great turning point of American
foreign policy came in the early 1 890s, during the second
Cleveland Administration. It was then that the U.S. turned sharply and permanently from a
foreign policy of peace and non-intervention to an aggressive program of economic and political
expansion abroad. At the heart of the new policy were America’s leading bankers, eager to use
the country’s growing economic strength to subsidize and force-feed export markets and
investment outlets that they would finance, as well as to guarantee Third World government
bonds. The major focus of aggressive expansion in the 1 890s was Latin America, and the
principal Enemy to be dislodged was Great Britain, which had dominated foreign investments in
that vast region.
In a notable series of articles in
1894, Bankers' Magazine set the agenda for the remainder of the
decade. Its conclusion: if "we could wrest the South American markets from Germany and
England and permanently hold them, this would be indeed a conquest worth perhaps a heavy
Long-time Morgan associate Richard
Olney heeded the call, as Secretary of State from 1895 to
1897, setting the U.S. on the road to Empire. After leaving the State Department, he publicly
summarized the policy he had pursued. The old isolationism heralded by George Washington's
Farewell Address is over, he thundered. The time has now arrived, Olney declared, when "it
behooves us to accept the commanding position... among the Power of the earth." And, "the
present crying need of our commercial interests," he added, "is more markets and larger markets"
for American products, especially in Latin America.
Good as their word, Cleveland and
Olney proceeded belligerently to use U.S. might to push
Great Britain out of its markets and footholds in Latin America. In 1894, the United States Navy
illegally used force to break the blockade of Rio de Janeiro by a British-backed rebellion aiming
to restore the Brazilian monarchy. To insure that the rebellion was broken, the U.S. Navy
stationed war-ships in Rio harbor for several months.
During the same period, the U.S.
government faced a complicated situation in Nicaragua, where
it was planning to guarantee the bonds of the American Maritime Canal Company, to build a
canal across the country. The new regime of General Zelaya was threatening to revoke this canal
concession; at the same time, an independent reservation, of Mosquito Indians, protected for
decades by Great Britain, sat athwart the eastern end of the proposed canal. In a series of deft
maneuvers, using the Navy and landing the Marines, the U.S. managed to bring Zelaya to heel
and to oust the British and take over the Mosquito territory.
In Santo Domingo (now the Dominican
Republic) France was the recipient of the American big
stick. In the Santo Domingo Improvement Company, in 1893, a consortium of New York
bankers purchased the entire debt of Santo Domingo from a Dutch company, receiving the right
to collect all Dominican customs revenues in payment of the debt. The French became edgy the
following year when a French citizen was murdered in that country, and the French government
threatened to use force to obtain reparations. Its target for reparations was the Dominican customs
revenue, at which point the U.S. sent a warship to the area to intimidate the French.
But the most alarming crisis of
this period took place in 1895-96, when the U.S. was at a hair’s
breadth from actual war with Great Britain over a territorial dispute between Venzuela and
British Guiana. This boundary dispute had been raging for forty years, but Venezuela shrewdly
attracted American interest by granting concessions to Americans in gold fields in the disputed
Apparently, Cleveland had had
enough of the “British threat,” and he moved quickly toward war.
His close friend Don Dickinson, head of the Michigan Democratic Party, delivered a bellicose
speech in May 1895 as a surrogate for the President. Wars are inevitable, Dickinson declared, for
they arise out of commercial competition between nations. The United States faces the danger of
numerous conflicts, and clearly the enemy was Great Britam. After reviewing the history of the
alleged British threat, Dickinson thundered that “we need and must have open markets
throughout the world to maintain and increase our prosperity.”
In July, Secretary of State Olney
sent the British an insulting and tub-thumping note, declaring
that "the United States is practically sovereign on this continent, and its fiat is law upon the
subjects to which it confines its interposition." President Cleveland, angry at the British rejection
of the note, delivered a virtual war message to Congress in December, but Britain, newly
occupied in problems with the Boers in South Africa, decided to yield and agree to a
compromise boundary settlement. Insultingly, the Venezuelans received not a single seat on the
agreed-upon arbitration commission.
In effect, the British, occupied
elsewhere, had ceded dominance to the United States in Latin
America. It was time for the U.S. to find more enemies to challenge.
The next, and greatest, Latin
American intervention was of course in Cuba, where a Republican
Administration entered the war goaded by its jingo wing closely allied to the Morgan interests,
led by young Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt and by his powerful Boston
Brahmin mentor, Senator Henry Cabot Lodge. But American intervention in Cuba had begun in
the Cleveland-Olney regime.
In February 1895, a rebellion for
Cuban independence broke out against Spain. The original U.S.
response was to try to end the threat of revolutionary war to American property interests by
siding with Spanish rule modified by autonomy to the Cubans to pacify their desires for independence.
Here was the harbinger of U.S. foreign policy ever since: to try to maneuver in Third
World countries to sponsor "third force" or "moderate" interests which do not really exist. The
great proponent of this policy was the millionaire sugar grower in Cuba, Edwin F. Atkins, a close
friend of fellow-Bostonian Richard Olney, and a partner of J.P. Morgan and Company.
By the fall of 1895, Olney
concluded that Spain could not win, and that, in view of the "large and
important commerce between the two countries" and the "large amounts of American capital" in
Cuba, the U.S. should execute a 180-degree shift and back the rebels, even unto recognizing
Cuban independence. The fact that such recognition would certainly lead to war with Spain did
not seem worth noting. The road to war with Spain had begun, a road that would reach its logical
conclusion three years later.
Ardently backing the pro-war course
was Edwin F. Atkins, and August Belmont, on behalf of the
Rothschild banking interests. The House' of Rothschild, which had been long-time financiers to
Spain, refused to extend any further credit to Spain, and instead under-wrote Cuban
Revolutionary bond issues, and even assumed full obligation for the unsubscribed balance.
During the conquest of Cuba in the Spanish-American War, the United States also took the
occasion to expand its power greatly in Asia, seizing first the port of Manila and then all of the
Philippines, after which it spent several years crushing the revolutionary forces of the Philippine
An Aggressive Asian Policy
The late 1890s also saw a new turn
in the United States' attitude toward the Far East. Expanding
rapidly into the Pacific in pursuit of economic and financial gain, the U.S. government saw that
Russia, Germany, and France had been carving up increasing territorial and economic
concessions in the near corpse of the Chinese imperial dynasty. Coming late in the imperial game
of Asia, and not willing to risk large scale expenditure of troops, the U.S., led by Olney and
continued by the Republicans, decided to link up with Great Britain. The two countries would
then use the Japanese to provide the shock troops that would roll back Russia and Germany and
parcel out imperial benefits to both of her faraway allies, in a division of spoils known
euphemistically as the "Open Door." With Britain leaving the field free to the U.S. in Latin
America, the U.S. could afford to link arms in friendly fashion with Britain in the Far East.
A major impetus toward a more aggressive policy in Asia was provided by the lure of railroad
concessions. Lobbying heavily for railroad concessions was the American China Development
Company, organized in 1895, and consisting of a consortium of the top financial interests in the
U.S., including James Stillman. of the then Rockefeller-controlled National City Bank; Charles
Coster, railroad expert of J.P. Morgan and Co.; Jacob Schiff, head of the New York investment
bank of Kuhn, Loeb and Co.; and Edward H. Harriman, railroad magnate. Olney and the State
Department pressed China hard for concessions to the ACDC for a Peking-Hankow Railway and
for a railway across Manchuria, but in both cases the American syndicate was blocked. Russia
pressured China successfully to grant that country the right to build a Manchurian railway; and a
Belgian syndicate, backed by France and Russia, won the Peking-Hankow concession from
It was time for sterner measures.
The attorney for the ACDC set up the Committee on American
Interests in China, which soon transformed itself into the American Asiatic Association,
dedicated to a more aggressive American policy on behalf of economic interests in China. After
helping the European powers suppress the nationalist Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, the U.S.
also helped push Russian troops out of Manchuria. Finally, in 1904, President Theodore
Roosevelt egged Japan on to attack Russia, and Japan succeeded in driving Russia out of
Manchuria and ending Russia's economic concessions. Roosevelt readily acceded to Japan's
resulting dominance in Korea and Manchuria, hoping that Japan would also
protect American economic interests in the area.
Theodore Roosevelt had been a
Morgan man from the beginning of his career. His father and
uncle were both Wall Street bankers, both of them closely associated with various Morgandominated
railroads. Roosevelt's first cousin and major financial adviser, W. Emlen Roosevelt,
was on the board of several New York banks, including the Astor National Bank, the president of
which was George F. Baker, close friend and ally of J.P. Morgan and head of Morgan's flagship
commercial bank, the First National Bank of New York.' At Harvard, furthermore, young
Theodore married Alice Lee, daughter of George Cabot Lee, and related to the top Boston
Brahmin families. Kinsman Henry Cabot Lodge soon became T.R.'s long-time political mentor.
Throughout the 19th century, the Republicans had been mainly a high-tariff, inflationist party,
while the Democrats had been the party of free trade and hard money, i.e., the gold standard. In
1896, however, the radical inflationist forces headed by William Jennings Bryan captured the
Democratic presidential nomination, and so the Morgans, previously dominant in the Democratic
Party, sent a message to the Republican nominee, William McKinley, through Henry Cabot
Lodge. Lodge stated that the Morgan interests would back McKinley provided that the Republicans
would support the gold standard. The deal was struck.
William McKinley reflected the
dominance of the Republican Party by the Rockefeller/Standard
Oil interests. Standard Oil was originally headquartered at Rockefeller's home in Cleveland, and
the oil magnate had long had a commanding influence in Ohio Republican politics. In the early 1
890s, Marcus Hanna, industrialist and high school chum of John D. Rockefeller, banded together
with Rockefeller and other financiers to save McKinley from bankruptcy, and Hanna became
McKinley's top political adviser and chairman of the Republican National Committee. As a
consolation prize to the Morgan interests for McKinley's capture of the Republican nomination,
Morgan man Garret A. Hobart, director of various Morgan companies, including the Liberty
National Bank of New York City, became Vice-President.
The death of Hobart in 1899 left a
"Morgan vacancy" in the Vice-Presidential spot, as McKinley
walked into the nomination. McKinley and Hanna were both hostile to Roosevelt, considering
him "erratic" and a "Madman," but after several Morgan men turned down the nomination, and
after the intensive lobbying of Morgan partner George W. Perkins, Teddy Roosevelt at last
received the Vice-Presidential nomination. It is not surprising that virtually Teddy's first act after
the election of 1900 was to throw a lavish dinner in honor of J.P. Morgan.
Teddy Roosevelt and the "Lone Nut"
The sudden appearance of one of the
"lone nuts" so common in American political history led to
the assassination of McKinley, and suddenly Morgan man Theodore Roosevelt was President.
John Hay, expansionist Secretary of State whom Roosevelt inherited from McKinley, had the
good fortune of having his daughter marry the son of William C. Whitney of the great Morgan connected
family. TR's. next Secretary of State and former Secretary of War was his' old friend
Elihu Root, personal attorney for J.P. Morgan. Root appointed as his Assistant Secretary a close
friend of TR's, Robert Bacon, a Morgan partner, and in due course Bacon became TR's Secretary
of State. TR's first appointed Secretary of the Navy was Paul Morton, vice-president of the
Morgan-controlled Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad, and his Assistant Secretary was
Herbert L. Satterlee, who had the distinction of being J.P. Morgan's son-in-law.
Theodore Roosevelt's greatest
direct boost to the Morgan interests is little known. It is wellknown
that Roosevelt engineered a phony revolution in Columbia in 1903, creating the new state
of Panama and handing the Canal Zone to the United States. What has not been fully disclosed is
who benefited from the $40 million that the U.S. government paid, as part of the Panama
settlement, to the owners of the old bankrupt Panama Canal Company, a French company which
had previously been granted a Colombian concession to dig a Panama canal.
The Panama Canal Company's
lobbyist, Morgan-connected New York attorney William Nelson
Cromwell, literally sat in the White House directing the "revolution" and organizing the final
settlement. We now know that, in 1900, the shares of the old French Panama Canal Company
were purchased by an American financial syndicate, headed by J.P. Morgan & Co., and put
together by Morgan's top attorney, Francis Lynde Stetson. The syndicate also included members
of the Rockefeller, Seligman, and Kuhn, Loeb financial groups, as well as Perkins and Saterlee.
The syndicate did well from the
Panama revolution, purchasing the shares at two-thirds of par
and selling them, after the revolution, for double the price. One member of the syndicate was
especially fortunate: Teddy Roosevelt's brother-in-law, Douglas E. Robinson, a director of
Morgan's Astor National Bank. For William Cromwell was named the fiscal agent of the new
Republic of Panama, and Cromwell promptly put $6 million of the $10 million payoff the U.S.
made to the Panamian revolutionaries into New York City mortgages via the real estate frim of
the same Douglas E. Robinson.
After the turn of the century, a
savage economic and political war developed between the
Morgan interests on the one hand, and the allied Harriman-Kuhn, Loeb-Rockefeller interests on
the other. Harriman and Kuhn, Loeb grabbed control of the Union Pacific Railroad and the two
titanic forces battled to a draw for control of the Northern Pacific. Also, at about the same time, a
long-lasting and world-wide financial and political "oil war" broke out between Standard Oil,
previously a monopolist in both the crude and export markets outside of the U.S., and the burgeoning
British Royal Dutch Shell-Rothschild combine.
And since the Morgans and
Rothschilds were longtime allies, it is certainly sensible to
conclude—though there are no hard facts to prove it—that Teddy Roosevelt launched his savage
anti-trust assault to break Standard Oil as a Morgan contribution to the worldwide struggle.
Furthermore, Mellon-owned Gulf Oil was allied to the Shell combine, and this might well
explain the fact that former Morgan-and-Mellon lawyer Philander Knox, TR's Attorney-General,
was happy to file the suit against Standard Oil.
Roosevelt's successor, William
Howard Taft, being an Ohio Republican, was allied to the
Rockefeller camp, and so he proceeded to take vengeance on the Morgans by filing anti-trust
suits to break up the two leading Morgan trusts, International Harvester and United States Steel.
It was now all-out war, and so the Morgans in 1912 deliberately created anew party, the
Progressive Party, headed by former Morgan partner, George W. Perkins. The successful aim of
theProgressive Party was to bring Theodore Roosevelt out of retirement to run for President, in
order to break Taft, and to elect, for the first time in a generation, a Democratic President. The
new party was liquidated soon after.
Supporters of Roosevelt were
studded with financiers in the Morgan ambit, including Judge
Elbert Gary, chairman of the board of U.S. Steel; Medill McCormick of the International
Harvester family, and Willard Straight, Morgan's partner. In the same year, Straight and his heiress
wife, Dorothy Whitney, founded the weekly magazine of opinion, The New Republic,
symbolizing the growing alliance for war and statism between the Morgans and various of the
more moderate (i.e. non-Marxist) progressive and socialist intellectuals.
Morgan, Wilson and War
The Morgan-Progressive Party ploy
deliberately insured the election of Woodrow Wilson as a
Democratic President. Wilson himself, until almost the time of running for President, was for
several years on the board of the Morgan-controlled Mutual Life Insurance Company. He was
also surrounded by Morgan men. His son-in-law, William Gibbs McAdoo, who became Wilson's
Secretary of the Treasury, was a failing businessman in New York City when he was bailed out
and befriended by J.P. Morgan and his associates. The Morgans then set McAdoo up as president
of New York's Hudson and Manhattan Railroad until his appointment in the Wilson
Administration. McAdoo was to spend the rest of his financial and political life securely in the
The main sponsor of Wilson's run
for the Presidency was George W. Harvey, head of Morgan controlled
Harper & Brothers publishers; other major backers included Wall Street financier and
Morgan associate Thomas Fortune Ryan, and Wilson's college classmate and Morgan ally, Cyrus
H. McCormick, head of International Harvester.
Another close friend and leading
political adviser of Wilson was New York City banker George
Foster Peabody, son of the Boston Brahmin and a Morgan banker. A particularly fascinating
figure in Wilson's fateful foreign policy was "Colonel" Edward Mandell House, of the wealthy
House family of Texas, which was deeply involved in landowning, trade, banking, and railroads.
House himself was head for several years of the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway, financed by
the House family in collaboration with Morgan-associated Boston financial interests, particularly
of the Old Colony Trust Company. The mysterious House, though never graced with an offical
government post, is generally acknowledged to have been Wilson's all-powerful foreign policy
adviser and aide for virtually his entire two terms.
By 1914, the Morgan empire was in
increasingly shaky financial shape. The Morgans had long
been committed to railroads, and after the turn of the century the highly subsidized and regulated
railroads entered their permanent decline. The Morgans had also not been active enough in the
new capital market for industrial securities, which had begun in the 1 890s, allowing Kuhn-Loeb
to beat them in the race for industrial finance. To make matters worse, the $400 million Morganrun
New Haven Railroad went bankrupt in 1914.
At the moment of great financial
danger for the Morgans, the advent of World War I came as a
godsend. Long connected to British, including Rothschild, financial interests, the Morgans
leaped into the fray, quickly securing the appointment, for J.P. Morgan & Co., of fiscal agent for
the warring British and French governments, and monopoly underwriter for their war bonds in
the United States. J.P. Morgan also became the fiscal agent for the Bank of England, the
powerful English central bank. Not only that: the Morgans were heavily involved in financing
American munitions and other firms exporting war material to Britain and France. J.P. Morgan
& Co., moreover, became the central authority organizing and channeling war purchases for the
two Allied nations.
The United States had been in a
sharp recession during 1913 and 1914; unemployment was high,
and many factories were operating at only 60% of capacity. In November 1914, Andrew
Carnegie, closely allied with the Morgans ever since his Carnegie Steel Corporation had merged
into the formation of United States Steel, wrote to President Wilson lamenting business
conditions but happily expecting a great change for the better from Allied purchases of U.S.
Sure enough, war material exports
zoomed. Iron and steel exports quintupled from 1914 to 1917,
and the average profit rate of iron and steel firms rose from 7.4% to 28.7% from 1915 until 1917.
Explosives exports to the Allies rose over ten-fold during 1915 alone. Overall, from 1915 to
1917, the export department of J.P. Morgan and Co. negotiated more than $3 billion of contracts
to Britain and France. By early 1915, Secretary McAdoo was writing to Wilson hailing the "great
prosperity" being brought by war exports to the Allies, and a prominent business writer wrote the
following year that "War, for Europe, is meaning devastation and death; for America a bumper
crop of new millionaires and a hectic hastening of prosperity revival ."
Deep in Allied bonds and export of
munitions, the Morgans were doing extraordinarily well; and
their great rivals, Kuhn-Loeb, being pro-German, were necessarily left out of the Allied wartime
bonanza. But there was one hitch: it became imperative that the Allies win the war. It is not
surprising, therefore, that from the beginning of the great conflict, J.P. Morgan and his associates
did everything they possibly could to push the supposedly neutral United States into the war on
the side of England and France. As Morgan himself put it: "We agreed that we should do all that
was lawfully in our power to help the Allies win the war as soon as possible."
Accordingly, Henry P. Davison,
Morgan partner, set up the Aerial Coast Patrol in 1915, to get
the public in the mood to search the skies for German planes. Bernard M. Baruch, long-time
associate of the extremely wealthy copper magnates, the Guggenheim family, financed the
Businessmen's Training Camp, at Plattsburgh, New York, designed to push for universal military
training and preparations for war. Also participating in financing the camp were Morgan partner
Willard Straight, and former Morgan
partner Robert Bacon. In addition to J.P. Morgan himself, a
raft of Morgan-affiliated political leaders whooped it up for immediate entry of the U.S. into the
war on the side of the Allies: including Henry Cabot Lodge, Elihu Root, and Theodore
In addition, the National Security
League was founded in December, 1914, to call for American
entry into the war against Germany. The NSL issued warnings against a German invasion of the
U.S., once England was defeated, and it called all advocates of peace and non-intervention, "pro-
German," "dangerous aliens," "traitors," and "spies."
The NSL also advocated universal
military training, conscription, and the U.S. buildup of the
largest navy in the world. Prominent in the organization of the National Security League were
Frederic R. Coudert, Wall Street attorney for the British, French, and Russian governments;
Simon and Daniel Guggenheim; T. Coleman DuPont, of the munitions, family; and a host of
prominent Morgan-oriented financiers; including former Morgan partner Robert Bacon; Henry
Clay Prick of Carnegie Steel; Judge Gary of U.S. Steel; George W. Perkins, Morgan partner,
who has been termed "the secretary of state" for the Morgan interests; former President Theodore
Roosevelt; and J.P. Morgan himself.
A particularly interesting founding
associate of NSL was a man who has dominated American
foreign policy during the 20th century: Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War under William H.
Taft and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Secretary of State under Herbert Hoover. Stimson, a Wall
Street lawyer in the Morgan ambit, was a protege of Morgan's personal attorney Elihu Root, and
two of his cousins were partners in the Morgan-dominated Wall Street utility stock market and
banking firm of Bonbright & Co.
While the Morgans and other
financial interests were beating the drums for war, even more
influential in pushing the only partially reluctant Wilson into the war were his foreign policy
Svengali, Colonel House, and House's protege, Walter Hines Page, who was appointed Ambassador
to Great Britain. Page's salary in this prestigious influential post was handsomely
subsidized through Colonel House by copper magnate Cleveland H. Dodge, a prominent adviser
to Wilson, who benefited greatly from munitions sales to the Allies.
Colonel House liked to pose as an
abject instrument of President Wilson's wishes. But before and
after U.S. entry into the war, House shamelessly manipulated Wilson, in secret and traitorous
collaboration with the British, to push the President first into entering the war and then into
following British wishes instead of setting an independent American course.
Thus, in 1916, House wrote to his
friend Frank L. Polk, Counselor to the State Department and
later counselor to J.P. Morgan, that "the President must be guided" not to be independent of
British desires. Advising British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour on how best to handle Wilson,
House counselled Balfour to exaggerate British difficulties in order to get more American aid,
and warned him never to mention a negotiated peace. Furthermore, Balfour leaked to Colonel
House the details of various secret Allied treaties that they both knew the naive Wilson would
not accept, and they both agreed to keep the treaties from the President.
Similarly, soon after the U.S.
entered the war, the British sent to the U.S. as personal liaison
between the Prime Minister and the White House the young chief of British military intelligence,
Sir William Wiseman. House and Wiseman quickly entered a close collaboration, with House
coaching the Englishman on the best way of dealing with the President, such as "tell him only
what he wants to hear," never argue with him, and discover and exploit his weaknesses.
In turn, Britain's top intelligence
agent manipulated House, constantly showering him with
flattery, and established a close friendship with the Colonel, getting an apartment in the same
building in New York City, and travelling together abroad. Collaborating with House in his plan
to manipulate Wilson into pro-British policies was William Phillips, an Assistant Secretary of
State who had married into the Astor family.
Collaborating with House in
supplying Wiseman with illegal information and working with the
British agent against Wilson were two important American officials. One was Walter Lippman, a
young socialist who had been named by Morgan partner Willard Straight as one of the three editors
of his New Republic, a magazine which, needless to say, led 'the 'parade of progressive and
socialist intellectuals in favor of entering the war on the side of the Allies.
Lippmann soon vaulted into
important roles in the war effort: assistant to the Secretary of War;
then secretary of the secret group of historians called The Inquiry, established under Colonel
House in late 1917 to plan the peace settlement at the end of the war. Lippmann later left The
Inquiry to go overseas for American military intelligence.
Another important collaborator with
Wiseman was businessman and scholar George Louis Beer,
who was in charge of African and Asian colonial matters for The Inquiry. Wiseman secretly
showed British documents on African colonies to Beer, who in turn leaked Inquiry reports to
The plans of Colonel House and his
biased young historians of The Inquiry were put into effect
at the peace settlement at Versailles. Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia were cruelly
dismembered, thus insuring that Germany and Russia, once recovered from the devastation of
the war, would bend their energies toward getting their territories back. In that way, conditions
were virtually set for World War II.
Not only that: the Allies at
Versailles took advantage of the temporary power vacuum in Eastern
Europe to create new independent states that would function as client states of Britain and
France, be part of the Morgan/Rothschild financial network, and help keep Germany and Russia
down permanently. It was an impossible task for these new small nations, a task made more
difficult by the fact that the young historians managed to rewrite the map of Europe at Versailles
to make the Poles, the Czechs, and the Serbs dominant over all the other minority nationalities
forcibly incorporated into the new countries. These subjugated peoples—the Germans,
Ukrainians, Slovaks, Croats, Slovenes, etc—thus became built-in allies for the revanchist dreams
of Germany and Russia.
American entry into World War I in April 1917 prevented negotiated peace between the warring
powers, and drove the Allies forward into a peace of unconditional surrender and
dismemberment, a peace which, as we have seen, set the stage for World War II. American entry
thus cost countless lives on both sides, chaos and disruption throughout central and eastern
Europe at war's end, and the consequent rise of Bolshevism, fascism, and Nazism to power in
Europe. In this way, Woodrow Wilson's decision to enter the war may have been the single most
fateful action of the 20th century, causing untold and unending misery and destruction. But
Morgan profits were expanded and assured.
The Fortuitous Fed
The massive U.S. loans to the
Allies, and the subsequent American entry into the war, could not
have been financed by the relatively hard-money, gold standard system that existed before 1914.
Fortuitously, an institution was established at the end of 1913 that made the loans and war
finance possible: the Federal Reserve System. By centralizing reserves, by providing a
government-privileged lender of last resort to the banks, the Fed enabled the banking system to
inflate money and credit, finance loans to the Allies, and float massive deficits once the U.S. entered
the war. In addition, the seemingly odd Fed policy of creating an acceptance market out of
thin air by standing ready to purchase acceptance at a subsidized rate, enabled the Fed to
rediscount acceptance on munitions exports.
The Federal Reserve was the
outgrowth of five years of planning, amending, and compromising
among various politicians and concerned financial groups, led by the major financial interests,
including the Morgans, the Rockefellers, and the Kuhn, Loebs, along with their assorted
economists and technicians.
Particularly notable among the
Rockefeller interests were Senator Nelson W. Aldrich (R.-R.I.),
father-in-law of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and Frank A. Vanderlip, vice-president of Rockefeller's
National City Bank of New York. From the Kuhn, Loebs came the prominent Paul Moritz
Warburg, of the German investment banking firm of M.M. Warburg and Company. Warburg
emigrated to the United States in 1902 to become a senior partner at Kuhn, Loeb & Co., after
which he spent most of his time agitating for a central bank in the United States.
Also igniting the drive for a
Federal Reserve System was Jacob H. Schiff, powerful head of
Kuhn, Loeb to whom Warburg was related by marriage. Seconding and sponsoring Warburg in
academia was the prominent Columbia University economist Edwin R. A. Seligman, of the
investment banking family of J. & W. Seligman and Company; Seligman was the brother of
The Morgans were prominently
represented in the planning and agitation for a Central Bank by
Henry P. Davison, Morgan partner; Charles D. Norton, president of Morgan's First National
Bank of New York; A. Barton Hepburn, head of Morgan's Chase National Bank; and Victor
Morawetz, attorney and banker in the Morgan ranks and chairman of the executive committee of
the Morgan-controlled Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad.
While the establishment of the
Federal Reserve System in late 1913 was the result of a coalition
of Morgan, Rockefeller, and Kuhn, Loeb interests, there is no question which financial group
controlled the personnel and the policies of the Fed once it was established. (While influential in
framing policies of the Fed, Federal Reserve Board member Warburg was disqualified from
leadership because of his pro-German views.) The first Federal Reserve Board, appointed by
President Wilson in 1914, included Warburg; one Rockefeller man, Frederic A. Delano, uncle of
Franidin D. Roosevelt, and president of the Rockefeller-controlled Wabash Railway; and an
Alabama banker, who had both Morgan and Rockefeller connections.
Overshadowing these three were
three definite Morgan men, and a university economist,
Professor Adolph C. Miller of Berkeley, whose wife's family had Morgan connections. The three
definite Morgan men were Secretary of the Treasury McAdoo; Comptroller of the Currency John
Skelton Williams, a Virginia banker and long-time McAdoo aide on Morgan railroads; and
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Charles S. Hamlin, a Boston attorney who had married into a
wealthy Albany family long connected with the Morgan-dominated New York Central Railroad.
But more important than the composition of the Federal Reserve Board was the man who
became the first Governor of the New York Federal Reserve Bank and who single-handedly
dominated Fed policy from its inception until his death in 1928. This man was Benjamin Strong,
who had spent virtually his entire business and personal life in the circle of top associates of J.P.
Morgan. A secretary of several trust companies (banks doing trust business) in New York City,
Strong became neighbor and close friend of three top Morgan partners, Henry P. Davison,
Dwight Morrow, and Thomas W. Lamont. Davison, in particular, became his mentor, and
brought him into Morgan's Bankers Trust company, where he soon succeeded Lamont as vice-president,
and then finally became president. When Strong was offered the post of Governor of
the New York Fed, it was Davison who persuaded him to take the job.
Strong was an enthusiast for
American entry into the war, and it was his mentor Davison who
had engineered the coup of getting Morgan named as sole underwriter and purchasing agent for
Britain and France. Strong worked quickly to formalize collaboration with the Bank of England,
collaboration which would continue in force throughout the 1920s. The Federal Reserve Bank of
New York became foreign agent for the Bank of England, and vice versa.
The main collaboration throughout
the 1920s, much of it kept secret from the Federal Reserve
Board in Washington, was between Strong and the man who soon became Governor of the Bank
of England, Montagu Collet Norman. Norman and Strong were not only fast friends, but had
important investment banking ties, Norman's uncle having been a partner of the great English
banking firm of Baring Brothers, and his grandfather a partner in the international banking house
of Brown Shipley & Co., the London branch of the Wall Street banking firm of Brown Brothers.
Before coming to the Bank of England, Norman himself had worked at the Wall Street office of
Brown Brothers, and then returned to London to become a partner of Brown Shipley.
The major fruit of the
Norman-Strong collaboration was Strong's being pressured to inflate
money and credit in the U.S. throughout the 1920s, in order to keep England from losing gold to
the U.S. from its inflationary policies. Britain's predicament came from its insistence on going
back to the gold standard after the war at the highly overvalued pre-war par for the pound, and
then insisting on inflating rather than deflating to make its exports competitively priced in the
world market. Hence, Britain needed to induce other countries, particularly the U.S., to inflate
along with it. The Strong-Norman-Morgan connection did the job, setting the stage for the great
financial collapse of 1929-1931.
As World War I drew to a close,
influential Britons and Americans decided that intimate postwar
collaboration between the two countries required more than just close cooperation between
the central banks. Also needed were permanent organizations to promote joint Anglo-American
policies to dominate the postwar world.
The Round Table
In England, Cecil Rhodes had
launched a secret society in 1891 with the aim of maintaining and
expanding the British Empire to re-incorporate the United States. After the turn of the 20th
century, the direction, organization, and expansion of the society fell to Rhodes's friend and
executor, Alfred Lord Milner. The Milner Group dominated domestic planning in Britain during
World War I, and particularly the planning for post-war foreign and colonial policy. The Milner
Group staffed the British delegation of experts to Versailles. To promote the intellectual agitation
for such a policy, the Milners had also set up the Round Table Groups in England and abroad in
The first American to be asked to
join the Round Table was George Louis Beer, who came to its
attention when his books attacked the American Revolution and praised the British Empire of the
18th century. Such loyalty could not go unrewarded, and so Beer became a member of the Group
about 1912 and became the American correspondent of Round Table magazine. We have seen
Beer's pro-British role as colonial expert for The Inquiry. He was also the chief U.S. expert on
colonial affairs at Versailles, and afterward the Milner Group made Beer head of the Mandate
Department of the League of Nations.
During the war, Beer, Anglophile
Yale historian George Burton Adams, and powerful Columbia
University historian James T. Shotwell, an important leader of The Inquiry and head of the
National Board for Historical Services, which emitted deceptive propaganda for the war effort,
formed a secret society to promote Anglo-American collaboration. Finally, led by Beer for the
United States and the head of the Round Table group in England, Lionel Curtis, the British and
U.S. historical staffs at Versailles took the occasion to found a permanent organization to agitate
for an informally, if not formally, reconstituted Anglo-American Empire.
The new group, the Institute of
International Affairs, was formed at a meeting at the Majestic
Hotel in Paris on May 3O, 1919. A six-man organizing committee was formed, three Milnerites
from Britain, and three Americans: Shotwell; Harvard historian Archibald C. Coolidge, head of
the Eastern European desk of the Inquiry, and member of the Morgan-oriented Boston financial
fmaily; and James Brown Scott, Morgan lawyer who was to write a biography of Robert Bacon.
The British branch, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, set up a committee to supervise
writing a multi-volume history of the Versailles Peace Conference; the committee was financed
by a gift from Thomas W. Lamont, Morgan partner.
The American branch of the new
group took a while to get going. Finally, the still inactive
American Institute of International Affairs merged with a defunct outfit, begun in 1918, of New
York businessmen concerned with the postwar world, and organized as a dinner club to listen to
foreign visitors. This organization, the Council on Foreign Relations had as its honorary
chairman Morgan lawyer Elihu Root, while Alexander Hemphill, chairman of Morgan's
Guaranty Trust Company, was chairman of its finance committee. In August 1921, the two
organizations merged into the new Council on Foreign Relations, Inc., a high-powered
organization embracing bankers, lawyers, and intellectuals.
While varied financial interests
were represented in the new organization, the CFR was Morgandominated,
from top to bottom. Honorary president was Elihu Root. President was John W.
Davis, Wilson's Solicitor-General, and now chief counsel for J.P. Morgan & Co. Davis was to
become Democratic Presidential candidate in 1924. Secretary-Treasurer of the new CFR was
Harvard economic historian Edwin F. Gay, director of planning and statistics for the Shipping
Board during the war, and now editor of the New York Evening Post, owned by his mentor,
Morgan partner, Thomas W. Lamont.
It was Gay who had the idea of
founding Foreign Affairs, the CFR's quarterly journal, and who
suggested both his Harvard colleague Archibald Coolidge as the first editor, and the New York
Post reporter Hamilton Fish Armstrong as assistant editor and executive director of the CFR.
Other prominent officials in the new CFR were: Frank L. Polk, former Under-Secretary of State
and now lawyer for J.P. Morgan & Co; Paul M. Warburg of Kuhn, Loeb; Otto H. Kahn of Kuhn,
Loeb; former Under-S ecretary of State under Wilson, Norman H. Davis, a banking associate of
the Morgans; and as vice-president, Paul D. Cravath, senior partner of the Rockefeller-oriented
Wall Street law firm of Cravath, Swaine, and Moore.
After World War II, the Council on
Foreign Relations became dominated by the Rockefeller
rather than by the Morgan interests, a shift of power reflecting a general alteration in financial
power in the world at large. After World War II, the rise of oil to prominence brought the
Morgans and Rockefellers—once intense rivals—into an Eastern Establishment of which the
Rockefellers were the senior, and the Morgans the junior, partners.
Rockefeller, Morgan, and War
During the 1930s, the Rockefellers
pushed hard for war against Japan, which they saw as
competing with them vigorously for oil and rubber resources in Southeast Asia and as
endangering the Rockefellers' cherished dreams of a mass "China market" for petroleum
products. On the other hand, the Rockefellers took a non-interventionist position in Europe,
where they had close financial ties with German firms such as I.G. Farben and Co., and very few
close relations with Britain and France. The Morgans, in contrast, as usual deeply committed to
their financial ties with Britain and France, once again plumped early for war with Germany,
while their interest in the Far East had become minimal. Indeed, U.S. Ambassador to Japan,
Joseph C. Grew, former Morgan partner, was one of the few officials in the Roosevelt
Administration genuinely interested in peace with Japan.
World War II might therefore be
considered, from one point of view, as a coalition war: the
Morgans got their war in Europe, the Rockefellers theirs in Asia. Such disgruntled Morgan men
as Lewis W. Douglas and Dean G. Acheson (a protégé of Henry Stimson), who had left the early
Roosevelt Administration in disgust at its soft money policies and economic nationalism, came
happily roaring back into government service with the advent of World War II. Nelson A.
Rockefeller, for his part, became head of Latin American activities during World War II, and
thereby acquired his taste for government service.
After World War II, the united
Rockefeller-MorganKuhn, Loeb Eastern Establishment was not
allowed to enjoy its financial and political supremacy unchallenged for long. "Cowboy" Sun Belt
firms, maverick oil men and construction men from Texas, Florida, and southern California,
began to challenge the Eastern Establishment "Yankees" for political power. While both groups
favor the Cold War, the Cowboys are more nationalistic, more hawkish, and less inclined to
worry about what our European allies are thinking. They are also much less inclined to bail out
the now Rockefeller-controlled Chase Manhattan Bank and other Wall Street banks that loaned
recklessly to Third World and Communist countries and expect the U.S. taxpayer—through
outright taxes or the printing of U.S. dollars—to pick up the tab.
It should be clear that the name of
the political party in power is far less important than the
particular regime's financial and banking connections. The foreign policy power for so long of
Nelson Rockefeller's personal foreign affairs adviser, Henry A. Kissinger, a discovery of the
extraordinarily powerful Rockefeller-Chase Manhattan Bank elder statesman John J. McCloy, is
testimony to the importance of financial power. As is the successful lobbying by Kissinger and
Chase Manhattan's head, David Rockefeller, to induce Jimmy Carter to allow the ailing Shah of
Iran into the U.S .—thus precipitating the humiliating hostage crisis.
Despite differences in nuance, it
is clear that Ronald Reagan's originally proclaimed challenge to
Rockefeller-Morgan power in the Council of Foreign Relations and to the Rockefeller-created
Trilateral Commission has fizzled, and that the "permanent government" continues to rule regardless
of the party nominally in power. As a result, the much-heralded "bipartisan foreign
policy" consensus imposed by the Establishment since World War II seems to remain safely in
David Rockefeller, chairman of the
board of his family's Chase Manhattan Bank from 1970 until
recently, established the Trilateral Commission in 1973 with the financial backing of the CFR
and the Rockefeller Foundation. Joseph Kraft, syndicated Washington columnist who himself
has the distinction of being both a CFR member and a Trilateralist, has accurately described the
CFR as a "school for statesmen," which "comes close to being an organ of what C. Wright Mills
has called the Power Elite— a group of men, similar in interest and outlook, shaping events from
invulnerable positions behind the scenes." The idea of the Trilateral Commission was to
internationalize policy formation, the commission consisting of a small group of multinational
corporate leaders, politicians, and foreign policy experts from the U.S., Western Europe, and
Japan, who meet to coordinate economic and foreign policy among their respective nations.
Perhaps the most powerful single
figure in foreign policy since World War II, a beloved adviser
to all Presidents, is the octogenarian John J. McCloy. During World War II, McCloy virtually ran
the War Department as Assistant to aging Secretary Stimson; it was McCloy who presided over
the decision to round up all Japanese-Americans and place them in concentration camps in
World War II, and he is virtually the only American left who still justifies that action.
Before and during the war, McCloy,
a disciple of Morgan lawyer Stimson, moved in the Morgan
orbit; his brother-in-law, John S. Zinsser, was on the board of directors of J.P. Morgan & Co.
during the 1940s. But, reflecting the postwar power shift from Morgan to Rockefeller, McCloy
moved quickly into the Rockefeller ambit. He became a partner of the Wall Street corporate law
firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hope, Hadley & McCloy, which had long served the Rockefeller
family and the Chase Bank as legal counsel.
From there he moved to become
Chairman of the Board of the Chase Manhattan Bank, a director
of the Rockefeller Foundation, and of Rockefeller Center, Inc., and finally, from 1953 until 1970,
chairman of the board of the Council on Foreign Relations. During the Truman Administration,
McCloy served as President of the World Bank and then U.S. High Commissioner for Germany.
He was also a special adviser to President John F. Kennedy on Disarmament, and chairman of
Kennedy's Coordinating Committee on the Cuban Crisis. It was McCloy who "discovered"
Professor Henry A. Kissinger for the Rockefeller forces. It is no wonder that John K. Galbraith
and Richard Rovere have dubbed McCloy "Mr. Establishment."
A glance at foreign policy leaders
since World War II will reveal the domination of the banker
elite. Truman's first Secretary of Defense was James V. Forrestal, former president of the
investment banking firm of Dillon, Read & Co., closely allied to the Rockefeller financial group.
Forrestal had also been a board member of the Chase Securities Corporation, an affiliate of the
Chase National Bank.
Another Truman Defense Secretary
was Robert A. Lovett, a partner of the powerful New York
investment banking house of Brown Brothers Harriman. At the same time that he was Secretary
of Defense, Lovett continued to be a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation. Secretary of the Air
Force Thomas K. Finletter was a top Wall Street corporate lawyer and member of the board of
the CFR while serving in the cabinet. Ambassador to Soviet Russia, Ambassador to Great
Britain, and Secretary of Commerce in the Truman Administration was the powerful multi-millionaire
W. Averell Harriman, an often underrated but dominant force with the Democratic Party
since the days of FDR. Harriman was a partner of Brown Brothers Harriman.
Also Ambassador to Great Britain
under Truman was Lewis W. Douglas, brother-in-law of John
J. McCloy, a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, and a board member of the Council on
Foreign Relations. Following Douglas as Ambassador to the Court of St. James was Walter S.
Gifford, chairman of the board of AT&T, and member of the board of trustees of the Rockefeller
Foundation for almost two decades. Ambassador to NATO under Truman was William H.
Draper, Jr., vice-president of Dillon, Read &Co.
Also influential in helping the
Truman Administration organize the Cold War was director of the
policy planning staff of the State Department, Paul H. Nitze. Nitze, whose wife was a member of
the Pratt family, associated with the Rockefeller family since the origins of Standard Oil, had
been vice-president of Dillon, Read & Co.
When Truman entered the Korean War,
he created an Office of Defense Mobilization to run the
domestic economy during the war. The first director was Charles E. ("Electric Charlie") Wilson,
president of the Morgan-controlled General Electric Company, who also served as board
member of the Morgans' Guaranty Trust Company. His two most influential assistants were
Sidney J. Weinberg, ubiquitous senior partner in the Wall Street investment banking firm of
Goldman Sachs & Co., and former General Lucius D. Clay, chairman of the board of Continental
Can Co., and a director of the Lehman Corporation.
Succeeding McCloy as President of
the World Bank, and continuing in that post throughout the
two terms of Dwight Eisenhower, was Eugene Black. Black had served for fourteen years as
vice-president of the Chase National Bank, and was persuaded to take the World Bank post by
the bank's chairman of the board, Winthrop W. Aldrich, brother-in-law of John D. Rockefeller,
The Eisenhower Administration
proved to be a field day for the Rockefeller interests. While
president of Columbia University, Eisenhower was invited to high-level dinners where he met
and was groomed for President by top leaders from the Rockefeller and Morgan ambits, including
the chairman of the board of Rockefeller's Standard Oil of New Jersey, the presidents of
six other big oil companies, including Standard of California and Socony Vacuum, and the
executive vice-president of J.P. Morgan & Co.
One dinner was hosted by Clarence
Dillon, the multi-millionaire retired founder of Dillon, Read
& Co., where the guests included Russell B. Leffingwell, chairman of the board of both J.P.
Morgan & Co. and the CFR (before McCloy); John M. Schiff, a senior partner of the investment
banking house of Kuhn, Loeb & Co.; the financier Jeremiah Milbank, a director of the Chase
Manhattan Bank; and John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
Even earlier, during 1949,
Eisenhower had been introduced through a special study group to key
figures in the CFR. The study group devised a plan to create a new organization called the
American Assembly—in essence an expanded CFR study group—whose main function was
reputedly to build up Eisenhower's prospects for the Presidency. A leader of the "Citizens for
Eisenhower" committee, who later became Ike's Ambassador to Great Britain, was the multimillionaire
John Hay Whitney, scion of several wealthy families, whose granduncle, Oliver H.
Payne, had been one of the associates of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. in founding the Standard Oil
Company. Whitney was head of his own investment concern, J. H. Whitney & Co., and later
became publisher of the New York Herald Tribune.
Running foreign policy during the
Eisenhower Administration was the Dulles family, led by
Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who had also concluded the U.S. peace treaty with Japan
under Harry Truman. Dulles had for three decades been a senior partner of the top Wall Street
corporate law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, whose most important client was Rockefeller's
Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. Dulles had been for fifteen years a member of the board
of the Rockefeller Foundation, and before assuming the post of Secretary of State was chairman
of the board of that institution. Most important is the little-known fact that Dulles's wife was Janet
Pomeroy Avery, a first cousin of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
Heading the super-secret Central
Intelligence Agency during the Eisenhower years was Dulles's
brother, Allen Welsh Dulles, also a partner in Sullivan & Cromwell. Allen Dulles had long been
a trustee of the CFR and had served as its president from 1947 to 1951. Their sister, Eleanor
Lansing Dulles, was head of the Berlin desk of the State Department during that decade.
Under-Secretary of State, and the
man who succeeded John Foster Dulles in the spring 1959, was
former Massachusetts Governor Christian A. Herter. Herter's wife, like Nitze's, was a member of
the Pratt family. Indeed, his wife's uncle, Herbert L. Pratt, had been for many years president or
chairman of the board of Standard Oil Company of New York. One of Mrs. Herter's cousins,
Richardson Pratt, had served as assistant treasurer of Standard Oil of New Jersey up to 1945.
Furthermore, one of Herter's own uncles, a physician, had been for many years treasurer of the
Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research.
Herter was succeeded as
Under-Secretary of State by Eisenhower's Ambassador to France, C.
Douglas Dillon, son of Clarence, and himself Chairman of the Board of Dillon, Read & Co.
Dillon was soon to become a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Perhaps to provide some balance for
his banker-business coalition, Eisenhower appointed as
Secretary of Defense three men in the Morgan rather than the Rockefeller ambit. Charles B.
("Engine Charlie") Wilson was president of General Motors, member of the board of J.P. Morgan
& Co. Wilson's successor, Neil H. McElroy, was president of Proctor & Gamble Co. His
board chairman, R.R. Deupree, was also a director of J.P. Morgan & Co. The third Secretary of
Defense who had been Under-Secretary and Seceretary of the Navy under Eisenhower, was
Thomas S. Gates, Jr., who had been a partner of the Morgan-connected Philadelphia investment
banking firm of Drexel & Co. When Gates stepped down as Defense Secretary, he became
president of the newly formed flagship commercial bank for the Morgan interests, the Morgan
Guaranty Trust Co.
Serving as Secretary of the Navy
and then Deputy Secretary of Defense (and later Secretary of
the Treasury) under Eisenhower was Texas businessman Robert B. Anderson. After leaving the
Defense Department, Anderson became a board member of the Rockefeller-controlled American
Overseas Investing Co., and, before becoming Secretary of the Treasury, he borrowed $84,000
from Nelson A. Rockefeller to buy stock in Nelson's International Basic Economy Corporation.
Head of the important Atomic Energy Commission during the Eisenhower years wsa Lewis L.
Strauss. For two decades, Strauss had been a partner in the investment banking firm of Kuhn,
Loeb & Co. In 1950, Strauss had become financial adviser to the Rockefeller family, soon also
becoming a board member of Rockefeller Center, Inc.
A powerful force in deciding
foreign policy was the National Security Council, which included
on it the Duller brothers, Strauss, and Wilson. Particularly important is the post of national
security adviser to the President. Eisenhower's first national security adviser was Robert Cutler,
president of the Old Colony Trust Co., the largest trust operation outside New York City. The
Old Colony was a trust affiliate of the First National Bank of Boston.
After two years in the top national
security post, Cutler returned to Boston to become chairman
of the board of Old Colony Trust, returning after a while to the national security slot for two
more years. In between, Eisenhower had two successive national security advisers. The first was
Dillon Anderson, a Houston corporate attorney, who did work for several oil companies.
Particularly significant was Anderson's position as chairman of the board of a small but
fascinating Connecticut firm called Electro-Mechanical Research, Inc. Electro-Mechanical was
closely associated with certain Rockefeller financiers; thus, one of its directors was Godfrey
Rockefeller, a limited partner in the investment banking firm of Clark, Dodge & Co.
After more than a year, Anderson
resigned from his national security post and was replaced by
William H. Jackson, a partner of the investment firm of J. H. Whitney & CO. Before assuming
his powerful position, Dillon Anderson had been one of several men serving as special hushhush
consultants to the National Security Council. Another special adviser was Eugene Holman,
president of Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company of New Jersey.
We may mention two important
foreign policy actions of the Eisenhower Administration which
seem to reflect the striking influence of personnel directly tied to bankers and financial interests.
In 1951, the regime of Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran decided to nationalize the British-owned
oil holdings of the Anglo-Iranian Oil company. It took no time for the newly established
Eisenhower Administration to intervene heavily in this situation. CIA director and former
Standard Oil lawyer Allen W. Dulles flew to Switzerland to organize the covert overthrow of the
Mossadegh regime, the throwing of Mossadegh into prison, and the restoration of the Shah to the
throne of Iran.
After lengthy behind-the-scenes
negotiations, the oil industry was put back into action as
purchasers and refiners of Iranian oil. But this time the picture was significantly different.
Instead of the British getting all of the oil pie, their share was reduced to 40 percent of the new
oil consortium, with five top U.S. oil companies (Standard Oil of New Jersey, Socony-
Vacuum—formerly Standard Oil of N.Y. and now Mobil—Standard Oil of California, Gulf, and
Texaco) getting another 40 percent.
It was later disclosed that
Secretary of State Dulles placed a sharp upper limit on any
participation in the consortium by smaller independent oil companies in the United States. In
addition to the rewards to the Rockefeller interests, the CIA's man-on-the-spot directing the
operation, Kermit Roosevelt, received his due by quickly becoming a vice-president of Mellon's
Gulf Oil Corp.
The Guatemalan Coup
Fresh from its CIA triumph in Iran,
the Eisenhower Administration next turned its attention to
Guatemala, where the left-liberal regime of Jacob Arbenz Guzman had nationalized 234,000
acres of uncultivated land owned by the nation's largest landholder, the American-owned United
Fruit Company, which imported about 60 percent of all bananas coming into the United States.
Arbenz also announced his intention of seizing another 173,000 acres of idle United Fruit land
along the Caribbean coast. In late 1953, Eisenhower gave the CIA the assignment of organizing a
counter-revolution in Guatemala. With the actual operation directed by former Wall Street
corporate lawyer Frank Wisner of the CIA, the agency launched a successful invasion of
Guatemala, led by exiled Army Colonel Castilo Armas, which soon overthrew the Arbenz
regime and replaced it with a military junta. The Arbenz land program was abolished, and most
of its expropriated property was returned to the United Fruit Company.
Allen W. Dulles had financial
connections with United Fruit and with various sugar companies
which had also suffered land expropriation from the Arbenz regime. For several years, while a
partner at Sullivan & Cromwell, he had been a board member of the Rockefeller-controlled J.
Henry Schroder Banking Corporation. Members of the board of Schroder during 1953 included
Delano Andrews, Sullivan & Cromwell partner who had taken Dulles's seat on the board; George
A. Braga, president of the Manati Sugar Company; Charles W. Gibson, vice-president of the
Rockefeller-affiliated Air Reduction Company; and Avery Rockefeller, president of the closely
linked banking house of Schroder, Rockefeller, & Co. Members of the board of Manati Sugar, in
the meanwhile, included Alfred Jaretski, Jr., another Sullivan & Cromwell partner; Gerald F.
Beal, president of J. Henry Schroder and chairman of the board of the International Railways of
Central America; and Henry E. Worcester, a recently retired of executive of United Fruit.
United Fruit, furthermore, was a controlling
shareholder in International Railways, while, as in
the case of Beal, the board chairmanship of the railway had long been held by a high official of
Schroder. The close ties between United Fruit, Schroder, and International Railways may also be
seen by the fact that, in 1959, the board chairman of the railway became James McGovern,
general counsel for United Fruit. International Railway, in fact, carried most of United Fruit's
produce from the interior to the port in Guatemala. In addition, Dulles's close associate and
fellow trustee of the Council of Foreign Relations in this period, and former treasurer of the
CFR, was Whitney H. Shepardson, formerly vice-president of International Railways.
Not only that: Robert Cutler, national security
adviser to the President at the time of the coup
against Arbenz, had himself very close ties to United Fruit. Cutler's boss at Old Colony Trust,
chairman of the board T. Jefferson Coolidge, was also, and more importantly, board chairman at
United Fruit. Indeed, many members of the board of United Fruit, a Boston-based company,
were also on the board of Old Colony or its mother company, the First National Bank of Boston.
Furthermore, during the period of planning the Guatemalan coup, and up till a few months before
its success in 1954, the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs was John Moors
Cabot, a well-known antiArbenz hawk. Cabot's brother Thomas D., was an executive of United
Fruit and a member of the board of the First National Bank of Boston.
The Council on Foreign Relations played an
important role in the Guatemalan invasion. It began
in the fall of 1952, when Spruille Braden, a former Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-
American Affairs and then consultant for United Fruit, led a CFR study group on Political Unrest
in Latin America. Discussion leader at the first metting of the CFR-Braden group was John
McClintock, an executive of United Fruit. Former leading New Dealer and Assistant Secretary of
State Adolf A. Berle, Jr., a participant in the study group, recorded in his diary that the U.S.
should welcome an overthrow of the Arbenz government, and noted that, "I am arranging to see
Nelson Rockefeller (himself Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs during
World War II) who knows the situation and can work a little with General Eisenhower."
In the actual Guatemalan operation, President
Eisenhower himself was a CFR member, as were
Allen Dulles, John M. Cabot and Frank Wisner, the man in charge of the coup and the CIA's
deputy director for plans. Of the twelve people in the U.S. government identified as being
involved at the top level in the Guatemalan affair, eight were CFR members or would be within a
few years. These included, in addition to the above, Henry F. Holland, who succeeded Cabot in
the assistant secretary of state slot in 1954; Under-Secretary of State Walter Bedell Smith, a
former director of the CIA; and Ambassador to the UN Henry Cabot Lodge.
Paving the way for the coup was a public report,
issued in December 1953 by the Committee on
International Policy of the National Planning Association on the Guatemalan situation. Head of
the Committee was Frank Altschul, secretary and vice-president of the CFR and a partner of the
international banking house of Lazard Freres, as well as a director of the Chase National Bank
and president of the General American Investor Corp., a firm largely controlled by Lehman
Brothers. The Altschul report, signed by twenty-two committee members of whom fifteen were
CFR members, warned that "Communist infiltration in Guatemala" was a threat to the security of
the Western Hemisphere and hinted that drastic action would probably be necessary to deal with
Of those involved in the drastic action,
Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, while at Sullivan &
Cromwell, had once represented United Fruit in negotiating a contract with Guatemala. Under-
Secretary of State Walter Bedell Smith, after leaving the government, became director of United
Fruit, as did Robert D. Hill, who participated in the Guatemala operation as Ambassador to Costa
Rica. Furthermore, future president of Guatemala, Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes, noted that his own
cooperation in the coup against Arbenz was obtained by Walter Turnbull, a former executive at
United Fruit, who came to him along with two CIA agents.
JFK and the Establishment
When John F. Kennedy assumed the office of
President, the first person he turned to for foreign
policy advice was Robert A. Lovett, partner of Brown Brothers, Harriman, even though Lovett
had backed Richard Nixon. Kennedy asked Lovett to take his pick of any of three top jobs in the
Cabinet—State, Defense, and Treasury—but the ill and aging Lovett demurred. It was at Lovett's
urging, however, that Kennedy chose as Secretary of State Dean Rusk, president of the
Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy, by Murray N. Rothbard
Rockefeller Foundation, a post he had acquired because of the strong backing of John Foster
Dulles. Under-Secretary of State was Chester Bowles, a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation;
Bowles was soon replaced by corporate lawyer George Bail, who was later to become a senior
managing partner at Lehman Brothers.
For Secretary of Defense Kennedy chose Robert S.
McNamara, President of Ford Motor
Company. One influential force in the McNamara appointment was the backing of Sidney J.
Weinberg, partner of the investment banking firm of Goldman, Sachs, & Co., and powerful fundraiser
for the Democratic Party. Weinberg was a member of the board of Ford Motor Company.
Perhaps even more important was the intimate Ford connection with the investment banking
house of Lehman Brothers, which had long carried great weight in the party; at that time, five
high-ranking Ford executives sat on the board of the One William Street Fund, a mutual fund
recently established by Lehman Brothers.
Secretary of the Air Force was Eugene Zuckert,
chairman of the board of the small Pittsburgh
firm, the Nuclear Science and Engineering Corp., controlled by the powerful Lehman Brothers.
Before going to this firm, Zuckert had been a member of the Atomic Energy Commission;
former ABC Commissioner Gordon Dean, who had preceded Zuckert as chairman of the board
of Nuclear Science and Engineering, was also a partner of Lehman Brothers.
General counsel of the Defense Department, and
soon to become Secretary of the Army, was
Wall Street corporate lawyer Cyrus Vance, later to become Secretary of State under Carter.
Vance's law firm—Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett—represented Lehman Brothers and
Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. Moreover, Vance had married into New York's wealthy W & J
Sloane family; his father-in-law, John Sloane, had served as a director of the United States Trust
Secretary of the Treasury in the Kennedy Cabinet
was C. Douglas Dillon, of Dillon, Read and
the Rockefeller Foundation. Dillon saw no problem in serving for eight years as Ambassador to
France and as a State Department official during the Eisenhower Era, and then segueing to the
Democratic Kennedy Cabinet. Like Lovett, he too was chosen even though he had been a big
contributor to the Nixon effort of 1960.
In the powerful post of National Security
Adviser, Kennedy selected Harvard Dean McGeorge
Bundy, who had been part of a high-powered foreign policy team advising Thomas B. Dewey in
the 1948 campaign, a virtually all-Rockefeller dominated team headed by John Foster Dulles and
including Dulles's brother Allen, C. Douglas Dillon, and Christian Herter. After that, Bundy
worked for the Council on Foreign Relations.
Bundy had been born into the wealthy Boston
Brahmm Lowell family, his mother having been a
Lowell. His father Harvey H. Bundy, was a partner in Boston's top law firm of Choate, Hall &
Stewart, a high official of the Foreign Bondholders Protective Council, and a director of the
Merchants National Bank of Boston. McGeorge's brother, William, a high CIA offical, was
married to the daughter of former Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and his sister Katherine
married into the socially prominent Auchinchloss family, the family of Jacqueline Kennedy.
The strong Rockefeller influence on Kennedy foreign policy is best seen in the fact that the new
President continued Allen W. Dulles as head of the CIA. It was at the urging of Dulles that
Kennedy decided to go ahead with the CIA's previously planned and disastrous Bay of Pigs
invasion of Cuba. Fidel Castro's regime had recently nationalized a large number of American-owned
sugar companies in Cuba. It might be noted that Dulles's old law firm of Sullivan &
Cromwell served as general counsel for two of these large sugar companies, the Francisco Sugar
Co. and the Manati Sugar Co., and that one of the board members of these firms was Gerald F.
Beal, president of the Rockefeller-oriented J. Henry Schroder Bank, of which Dulles had once
been a director.
Not only that. John L. Loeb of the Loeb, Rhoades
investment bank, whose wife was a member of
the Lehman banking family, owned a large block of stock in the nationalized Compania
Azucarera Atlantica del Golfo, a big sugar plantation in Cuba, while one of the directors of the
latter company was Harold F. Linder, vice-chairman of the General American Investors
Company, dominated by Lehman Brothers and Lazard Freres investment bankers. Linder was
appointed head of the Export-Import Bank by President Kennedy.
After the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Dulles was
replaced as head of the CIA by West Coast industrialist
John A. McCone, who also had the capacity to serve the administrations of either party with
equal ease. Under-Secretary of the Air Force under Truman and head of the Atomic Energy
Commission under Eisenhower, McCone was president of the Bechtel-McCone Corporation, and
represents the first major incursion of the international Bechtel construction interests into
American politics. McCone was also a board member of the California Bank of Los Angeles,
and of the Rockefeller-dominated Standard Oil Company of California.
The CIA was also heavily involved about this
time in the short-lived Katanga secession
movement in the old Belgian Congo. One of the largest of the American companies in Katanga,
and a major backer of the secession movement, was the Anglo-American Corporation of South
Africa, one of whose partners was mining magnate Charles W. Engelhard. Engeihard's
investment banker was Dillon, Read, the family firm of Kennedy's Secretary of the Treasury, C.
We have seen that Mr. Establishment, the
Rockefeller-oriented John J. McCloy, served as
Kennedy's special adviser on disarmament. When the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency was created in the fall of 1961, its first head was William C. Foster, former Under-
Secretary of State and Defense under Truman. In between, Foster had served as a high official of
the Olin Mathieson Chemical Corp., and then board chairman of the Rockefeller-dominated
United Nuclear Corp. Foster was also a director of the CFR.
Kennedy continued Rockefeller's Eugene Black as
head of the powerful World Bank. When
Black reached retirement age in 1962, he was replaced by George D. Woods, chairman of the
board of the prominent investment bank, First Boston Corporation. Woods had many
connections with the Rockefeller interests, including being a director of the Chase International
Investment Corp., of the Rockefeller Foundation, and of other Rockefeller-dominated concerns.
Two important foreign policy actions of the Kennedy Administration were the Cuban Missile
Crisis and the escalation of the war in Vietnam. Kennedy was advised during the Cuban missile
crisis by an ad hoc group called the Ex Comm, which included, along with his official major
foreign policy advisers, Robert A. Lovett and John J. McCloy. In the Vietnam War, Kennedy
brought in as Ambassador to South Vietnam the Boston Brahmin and Morgan-oriented Henry
Cabot Lodge, who had been Eisenhower's Ambassador to the United Nations and who had run
for Vice-President on the Nixon ticket in 1960. Virtually the last foreign policy act of John F.
Kennedy was to give the green light to Lodge and the CIA to oust, and murder, South
Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem.
LBJ and the Power Elite
Lyndon Johnson's foreign policy was dominated by
his escalation of the Vietnam conflict into a
full-scale (if undeclared) war, and of the increasing splits over the war among the financial
power elite. Johnson retained the hawkish Rusk, McNamara, McCone, and Lodge in their posts.
As newly minted Vietnam doves were ousted from foreign policy positions, they were replaced
by hawks. Thus, William Bundy became Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs, at
the same time becoming a director of the CFR. On the other hand, the increasingly critical W.
Averell Harriman was ousted from his post of Under-Secretary of State.
Cyrus Vance continued as Johnson's Secretary of
the Army; when he rose to Deputy Secretary of
Defense, he was replaced by Vance's old friend and roommate at Yale, Stanley R. Resor. Resor
was a partner in the major Wall Street law firm of Debevoise, Plimpton, Lyons, & Gates, and
was the brother-in-law of economist and banker Gabriel Hauge, president of the Manufacturers
Hanover Trust, and treasurer of the CFR.
Resor had married into the Pillsbury flour
family of Minneapolis, which had long been
connected with the holding company, the Northwest BanCorporation. After Vance retired as
Deputy Secretary of Defense to return to law practice, he was replaced by Johnson's hard-line
Secretary of the Navy Paul Nitze, former partner of Dillon, Read, whose wife was a member of
the Rockefeller-connected Pratt family.
One important meeting at which it was decided to
escalate the Vietnam War was held in July
1965. The meeting consisted of Johnson, his designated foreign policy and military officials, and
three key unofficial advisers: Clark M. Clifford, the chairman of the President's Foreign
Intelligence Advisory Board, and an attorney for the duPonts and the Morgan-dominated General
Electric Co.; Arthur H. Dean, a partner in Rockefeller-oriented Sullivan & Cromwell and a
director of the CFR; and the ubiquitous John J. McCloy.
Shortly after the meeting, a distinguished
national committee of power elite figures was formed
to back President Johnson's aggressive policies in Vietnam. Chairman of the committee was
Arthur H. Dean; other members were Dean Acheson; Eugene Black, who, after retiring as head
of the World Bank, returned to be a director of Chase Manhattan; Gabriel Hauge of
Manufacturers' Trust and the CFR; David Rockefeller, president of the Chase Manhattan Bank
and a vice-president of the CFR; and two board members of AT&T, William B. Murphy and
James R. Killian, Jr. Indeed, of the 46 members of this pro-Vietnam War committee, 19 were
prominent businessmen, bankers or corporate lawyers. Later, when Johnson needed to raise taxes
to supply more funds for the war effort, he selected thirteen businessmen to head the lobbying
A fascinating aspect of the Johnson
Administration was the heavy influence of men connected
with the powerful Democratic investment banking house of Lehman Brothers. Johnson's first
Under-Secretary of State, George Ball, who left because of increasing disillusionment with the
Vietnam War, would later become a key partner of Lehman Brothers. Johnson's most influential
unofficial adviser was long-time and personal legal and financial adviser, Edwin L. Weisl, a New
York attorney who was a senior law partner to Cyrus Vance at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett. Not
only was this law firm the general counsel to Lehman Brothers, but Weisl himself was dubbed
by Fortune magazine as "Lehman's eighteenth partner." Weisl had great influence at Lehman and
occasionally sat in on partners' meetings. He was also reputed to be the closest friend of senior
partner Robert Lehman, and sat on the board of the Lehman-controlled One William Street Fund.
Another very close and influential Johnson
adviser, and a consistent hard-liner on Vietnam, was
his old friend Abe Fortas, a Washington lawyer and veteran New Dealer. During the Johnson
years, Fortas served as director, vice-president, and general counsel for the Texas-based
Greatamerica Corp., a giant holding company controlling several insurance companies, Braniff
Airways, and two banks, including the First Western Bank and Trust Co. of California.
During the same period, Fortas was also a
director and vice-president of the large Federated
Department Stores. Both Federated and Greatamerica had close ties with Lehman Brothers. Fred
Lazarus, Jr., a top official of Federated, sat on the board of the Lehman-controlled One William
Street Fund, along with Edwin Weisi. And the only two non-Texans on the board of
Greatamerica Corp. were William H. Osborn, Jr., of Lehman Brothers, and Gustave L. Levy, a
partner in the closely allied Wall Street investment bank of Goldman, Sachs & Co. Goldman,
Sachs was the senior banking adviser for the Murchison Texas oil interests, a group with whom
Lyndon Johnson was personally allied.
Finally, after Henry Cabot Lodge retired as the
hawkish Ambassador to South Vietnam in 1967,
he was replaced by Ellsworth Bunker. Bunker, who had been president of the National Sugar
Refining Company, served as ambassador to various countries in the Eisenhower Administration,
and then Ambassador to the Organization of American States under Johnson. Bunker was
connected to John L. Loeb, the Lehman kinsman who headed the investment banking firm of
Carl M. Loeb, Rhoades & Co. Loeb placed Bunker on the board of Curtis Publishing Co., after
he obtained control of that firm for Loeb, Rhoades. Loeb also installed Bunker's son, John, as
president of Curtis. Furthermore, Ellsworth Bunker's younger brother, Arthur, had served as
director of the Lehman Corporation, and of Lehman's One William Street Fund until his death in
While Bunker had served Johnson as Ambassador to
the OAS, he continued to sit on the board of
the National Sugar Refining Company. In late 1965; Bunker played a crucial role in Johnson's
massive U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic, an intervention into a Dominican civil war to
prevent a victory by left-wing forces who would presumably pose a dire threat to American
sugar companies in the republic. As President Johnson's emissary to the Dominican Republic just
after the invasion, Bunker played a decisive role in installing the conservative Hector Garcia-
Godoy as president.
Increasingly, however, the power elite became
divided over the morass of the Vietnam War.
Under the blows of the Tet offensive in January 1968, Robert McNamara had become
increasingly dovish and was replaced as Secretary of Defense by hard-liner Clark Clifford, with
McNamara moving gracefully to take charge of the World Bank. But, on investigating the
situation, Clifford too became critical of the war, and Johnson called a crucial two-day meeting
on March 22, 1968, of his highly influential Senior Informal Advisory Group on Vietnam,
known as the "Wise Men," made up of all his key advisors on foreign affairs.
Johnson was stunned to find that only Abe Fortas
and General Maxwell Taylor continued in the
hard-line position. Arthur Dean, Cabot Lodge, John J. McCloy, and former General Omar
Bradley took a confused middle-of-the-road position, while all the other elite figures such as
Dean Acheson, George Ball, McGeorge Bundy, C. Douglas Dillon, and Cyrus Vance had swung
around to a firm opposition to the war.
As David Halberstam put it in his The Best and
the Brightest, these power elite leaders "let him
(Johnson) know that the Establishment—yes, Wall Street—had turned on the war... It was
hurting the economy, dividing the country, turning the youth against the country's best
traditions." LBJ knew when he was licked. Only a few days afterward, Johnson announced that
he was not going to run for re-election and he ordered what would be the beginnings of U.S.
disengagement from Vietnam.
The foreign-policy aims of the Nixon
Administration had a decided Rockefeller stamp. Secretary
of State William P. Rogers was a Wall Street lawyer who had long been active in the liberal
Dewey-Rockefeller wing of the New York Republican Party. Indeed, Thomas E. Dewey was the
main backer of Rogers for the State Department post.
Dewey's entire political career was beholden to
the Rockefeller interests, as was dramatically
shown one election year when, in an incident that received unaccustomed publicity, Winthrop W.
Aldrich, Rockefeller kinsman who was president of the Chase National Bank, literally ordered
Governor Dewey into his Wall Street offices and commanded him to run for re-election. The
governor, who had previously announced his retirement into private practice, meekly obeyed.
Furthermore, Roger's law partner, John A. Wells, had long been one of Nelson Rockefeller's top
political aides and had served as Nelson's campaign manager for President in 1964.
Second-tier posts in the Nixon State Department
went to financial elite figures. Thus, the
following men were successively Under Secretaries of State (after 1972, Deputy Secretaries) in
the Nixon White House: Elliot L. Richardson, partner of a Boston Brahmin corporate law firm
and a director of the New England Trust Co., and a man whose uncle, Henry L. Shattuck, hd
long been a director of the New England Merchants National Bank and of the Mutual Life
Insurance Co. of New York.
John N. Irwin II, partner of a Wall St. law firm
(Patterson, Belknap & Webb) long associated
with the Rockefeller interests, and whose wife was a sister of the Watson brothers family of
Kenneth Rush, president of Union Carbide Corp.,
and a director of the Bankers Trust Co. of New
York. Robert S. Ingersoll, chairman of the board of Borg- Warner Corp. and a director of the
First National Bank of Chicago.
Also, the Deputy Under-Secretary of State for
Economic Affairs under Nixon was Nathaniel
Samuels, a partner in the investment banking house of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., and a director of the
Rockefeller-controlled International Basic Economy Corp.
Henry A. Kissinger
But of course the dominant foreign policy figure
in both the Nixon and Ford Administrations
was not Will-jam Rogers but Henry A. Kissinger, who was named national security adviser and
soon became virtually the sole force in foreign policy, officially replacing Rogers as Secretary of
State in 1973.
Kissinger was virtually "Mr. Rockefeller." As a
Harvard political scientist, Kissinger had been
discovered by John J. McCloy, and made director of a CFR group to study the Soviet threat in
the nuclear age. He was soon made director of a special foreign policy studies project of the
Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and from there became for more than a decade Nelson Rockefeller's
chief personal foreign policy adviser.
Only three days before accepting the Nixon
Administration post, Rockefeller gave Kissinger
$50,000 to ease the fiscal burdens of his official post. Nixon and Kissinger re-escalated the
Vietnam War by secretly bombing and then invading Cambodia in 1969 and 1970; they could be
sure of compliance from Ellsworth Bunker, whom Nixon retained as Ambassador to South
Vietnam until the end of the war.
Apart from the Vietnam War, the Nixon
Administration's major foreign policy venture was the
CIA-led overthrow of the Marxist Allende regime in Chile. U.S. firms controlled about 80
percent of Chile's copper production, and copper was by far Chile's major export. In the 1970
election, the CIA funnelled $1 million into Chile in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat Allende.
The new Allende regime then proceeded to nationalize large U.S .-owned firms, including
Anaconda and Kennecott Copper and the Chile Telephone Co., a large utility which was a
subsidiary of ITT (International Telephone and Telegraph Co.).
Under the advice of Henry Kissinger and of ITT,
the CIA funneled $8 million into Chile over the
next three years, in an ultimately successful effort to overthrow the Allende regime. Particularly
helpful in this effort was John A. McCone, the West Coast industrialist whom Johnson had
continued in charge of the CIA. Now a board member of ITT, McCone continued in constant
contact by being named a consultant to the CIA on the Chilean question. President Nixon
continued Johnson holdover Richard Helms as head of the CIA, and Helm's outlook may have
been influenced by the fact that his grandfather, Gates W. McGarrah, had been the head of the
Mechanics and Metals National Bank of New York, director of Bankers Trust, and chairman of
the board of the powerful Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Of the $8 million poured into Chile by the CIA,
over $1.5 million was allocated to Chile’s
largest opposition newspaper, El Mercurio, published by wealthy businessman Augustin
Edwards. Edwards was also, not coincidentally, vice president of Pepsico, a company headed by
President Nixon’s close friend Donald M. Kendall. The transaátion was arranged at a quiet
breakfast meeting in Washington, set up by Kendall, and including Edwards and Henry
Kissinger. After the successful overthrow of Allende by a military junta in September 1973, the
man who became the first Minister of Economy, Development, and Reconstruction was
Fernando Leniz, a high official of El Mercurio who also served on the board of the Chilean subsidiary
of the Rockefeller-controlled International Basic Economy Corporation.
Richard Nixon also established, for the first
time, diplomatic relations with Communist China.
Nixon was urged to take this step by a committee of prominent businessmen and financiers
interested in promoting trade with and investments in China. The group included Kendall;
Gabriel Hauge, chairman of Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co.; Donald Burnham, head of
Westinghouse; and David Rockefeller, chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank.
The first envoy to China was the veteran elite
figure and diplomat, David K.E. Bruce, who had
married a Mellon, and who had served in high diplomatic posts in every Administration since
that of Harry Truman. After Bruce became Ambassador to NATO, he was replaced by George
H.W. Bush, a Texas oil man who had served briefly as Ambassador to the United Nations. More
important than Bush’s Texas oil connections was the fact that his father, Connecticut Senator
Prescott Bush, was a partner at Brown Brothers, Harriman.
The Trilateral Commission
In July 1973 a development occurred which was to
have a critical impact on U.S. foreign—and
domestic— policy. David Rockefeller formed the Trilateral Commission, as a more elite and
exclusive organization than the CFR, and containing statesmen, businessmen, and intellectuals
from Western Europe and Japan.
The Trilateral Commission not, only studied and
formulated policy, but began to place its people
in top governmental posts. North American secretary and coordinator for the Trilaterals was
George S. Franklin, Jr., who had been for many years executive director of the CFR. Franklin
had been David Rockefeller's roommate in college and had married Helena Edgell, a cousin of
Rockefeller. Henry Kissinger was of course a key member of the Trilaterals, and its staff director
was Columbia University political scientist Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was also a recently
selected director of the CFR.
President Ford continued Kissinger as his Secretary of State and top foreign policy director.
Kissinger's leading aide during the Ford years
was Robert S. Ingersoll, Trilaterálist from Borg-
Warner Corp. and the First National Bank of Chicago. In 1974, Ingersoll was replaced as Deputy
Secretary of State by Charles W. Robinson, a businessman and Trilateralist.
Ambassador to Great Britain—and then moved to
several other posts—was Elliot Richardson,
now a Trilateralist and a director of the CFR. George Bush, Trilateralist, was retained as
Ambassador to China, and then became director of the CIA. He was replaced as Ambassador by
Thomas S. Gates, Jr., head of the Morgans' flagship bank, Morgan Guaranty Trust Co.
Meanwhile, Robert McNamara continued to head the
World Bank. Becoming head of the
Export-Import Bank in 1875 was Stephen M. DuBrul, Jr., who had had the distinction of being a
partner of both Lehman Brothers and Lazard Freres.
James Earl Carter and his administration were
virtually complete creatures of the Trilateral
Commission. In the early 1970s, the financial elite was looking for a likely liberal Southern
governor who might be installed in the White House. They were considering Reubin Askew and
Terry Sanford, but they settled on the obscure Georgia governor, Jimmy Carter. They were aided
in their decision by the fact that Jimmy came highly recommended.
In the the first place, it must be realized that
“Atlanta” has for decades meant Coca-Cola, the
great multi-billion dollar corporation which has long stood at the center of Atlanta’s politico-economic
power elite. Jimmy Carter’s long-time attorney, close personal friend, and political
mentor was Charles Kirbo, senior partner at Atlanta’s top corporate law firm of King &
King & Spalding had long been the general
counsel to Coca-Cola, and also to the mighty
financial firm, the Trust Co. of Georgia, long known in Atlanta as “the Coca-Cola bank.” The
long-time head and major owner of Coca-Cola was the octogenerian Robert W. Woodruff, who
had long been highly influential in Georgia politics. With Kirbo at his elbow, Jimmy Carter soon
gained the whole-hearted political backing of the Coca-Cola interests.
Financial contributors to Carter’s race in the
1971 Democratic primary for governor were: John
Paul Austin, powerful chairman of the board of Coca-Cola; and three vice-presidents of Coke,
including Joseph W. Jones, the personal assistant to Robert Woodruff. If Pepsi was a Republican
firm, Coke had long been prominent in the Democratic Party; thus, James A. Farley, long-time
head of the Democratic National Committee, was for thirty-five years head of the Coca-Cola
In 1971, Carter was introduced to David
Rockefeller by the latter's friend J. Paul Austin, who
was to become a founding member of the Trilateral Commission. Austin was long connected
with the Morgan interests, and served as a director of the Morgan Guaranty Trust Co., and of
Morgan's General Electric Co. Other early political backers of Jimmy Carter were the Gambrell
brothers, David and E. Smyth, of a family which was a major stockholder in Rockefeller-controlled
Eastern Air Lines. The Gambrell law firm, indeed, served as the general counsel for
Eastern. They, too, aided in forming the Carter-Rockefeller connection.
During the same period, Carter was also introduced to the powerful Hedley Donovan, editor-inchief
of Time magazine, who was also to be a founding Trilateral. Rockefeller and Donovan
liked what they saw, and Carter was also recommended to the Trilaterals by the Atlanta
Committee of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Jimmy Carter was invited to become a member of
the Trilateral Commission shortly after it was
formed, and he agreed enthusiastically. Why did the Trilaterals appoint an obscure Georgia
governor with admittedly no knowledge of foreign affairs? Ostensibly because they wanted to
hear the views of a Southern governor. Far more likely, they were grooming him for the
Presidency and wanted to instruct him in trilateralism. Carter took instruction well, and he wrote
later of the many happy hours he spent sitting at the feet of Trilateral executive director and
international relations expert Zbigniew Brzezinski.
What the unknown Carter needed more than even
money for his 1975-1976 campaign for
President was extensive and favorable media exposure. He received it from the Trilateralinfluenced
Establishment media, led by Time's Hedley Donovan and Trilateral syndicated columnists
Joseph Kraft and Carl Rowan.
Major New York Carter backers, who served on the
Wall Street Committee for Carter or hosted
gatherings on his behalf, included Roger C. Altman, partner of Lehman Brothers, the chairman
of which, Peter G. Peterson, was a Trilateral member; banker John Bowles; C. Douglas Dillon,
of Dillon, Read, who also served as a member of the international advisory board of the Chase
Manhattan Bank; and Cyrus Vance, aTrilateral founder and vice-chairman of the CFR.
Furthermore, of the six national finance
directors of Jimmy Carter's costly pre-convention race
for the Presidential nomination, three were high officials at Lehman Brothers, one was a vice-president
of Paine, Webber, another was a vice-president of Kidder, Peabody, and a sixth was the
venerable John L. Loeb, senior partner of Loeb, Rhodes, & Co., and a Lehman by marriage.
Other prominent business fund-raisers for Carter's election campaign included Walter
Rothschild, who had married a member of the Warburg family of Kuhn, Loeb & Co., and Felix
Rohatyn, a partner of Lazard Freres.
The Carter Administration proved to be
Trilateral through and through, especially in foreign
affairs. Trilateral members holding high posts in the Carter Administration included:
• President, James Earl Carter;
• Vice-President Walter ("Fritz") Mondale;
• National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski;
• Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who was now chairman of the board of the Rockefeller
Foundation. Vance's law firm of Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett had long served as general
counsel for Lehman Brothers and Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. Vance himself
served up to 1977 as a director of IBM, the New York Times Co., and Lehman's One
William Street Fund. It perhaps also helped Vance's cause that Simpson, Thacher &
Bartlett was the New York general counsel for Coca-Cola Co.
• Deputy Secretary of State, Warren Christopher. This Los Angeles corporate lawyer had
no diplomatic experience whatever for this high post, but his law firm of O'Melveny and
Myers was a prominent one, and he acted as the Los Angeles attorney for IBM~ More
important was the fact that Christopher was the only Trilateral Commission member from
the Western half of the United States.
• Under-Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, Richard Cooper. This Yale professor was
also on the board of the Rockefeller-controlled J. Henry Schroder Banking Corporation.
• Under-Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science, and Technology, Lucy Wilson
Benson. Mrs. Benson had been a lotig time president of the League of Women Votes and
highly active in Common Cause; she was also a board member of the Lehman-oriented
Federated Department Stores.
• Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Richard Holbrooke.
• Ambassador at Large, Henry D. Owen, of the Brookings institution and the CFR.
• Ambassador at Large for the Law of the Sea Treaty, Elliot Richardson.
• Ambassador at Large for Non-Proliferation Matters (nuclear weapons negotiations),
Gerald C. Smith, head of the U.S. delegation at the SALT talks under Nixon, Washington
attorney at Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, and North American Chairman of the Trilateral
• Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young.
• Chief Disarmament Negotiator, Paul C. Warnke, senior partner of Clark Clifford's
influential Washington law firm.
• Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, C. Fred Bergsten, of the
Brookings Institution, consultant to the Rockefeller Foundation, and a member of the
editorial board of the CFR's prestigious quarterly journal, Foreign Affairs.
• Ambassador to Communist China, Leonard Woodcock, formerly head of the United
Automobile Workers. It is interesting to note that it was under the Carter-Woodcock
aegis that, one week after the first establishment of formal ambassadorial relations with
Communist China, China signed an agreement with Coca-Cola giving it exclusive cola
sales in that country.
• Secretary of Defense, Harold Brown. This physicist was president of the California
Institute of Technology— the only Trilateral college president—and also served on the
board of IBM and of Schroders, Ltd., the Rockefeller-controlled British parent company
of J. Henry Schroder Bank of New York.
• Deputy to the Director of the CIA, Harvard Professor Robert R. Bowie.
• Secretary of the Treasury, W. Michael Blumenthal, head of Bendix Corp., a director of
the CFR, and a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation.
• Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, Paul A. Volcker. Volcker was named chairman
by President Carter at the suggestion of David Rockefeller. Small wonder, since Volcker
had been an executive at the Chase Manhattan Bank, and was a director of the CFR and a
trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation.
• And finally, White House Advisor on Domestic and Foreign Policy, Hedley Donovan,
formerly editor-in-chief of Time magazine.
One of the first important Carter foreign policy actions was the negotiation of the Panama Canal
treaty, giving the Canal to Panama, and settling the controversy in such a way that U.S. taxpayers
paid millions of dollars to the Panama government so they could repay their very heavy loans to
a number of Wall Street banks.
One co-negotiator of the treaty was Ellsworth
Bunker, who bad been engaged in fruitless
negotiations since 1974. The treaty was not concluded until Carter added as co-negotiator the
Trilateralist Sol Linowitz, a senior Washington partner of the Wall Street corporate law firm of
Coudert Brothers, and a board member of Pan-Am Airways, the Marine Midland Bank of New
York, and Time, Inc.
The Marine Midland Bank itself held part of two
bank consortium loans to Panama.
Furthermore, no fewer than 32 Trilaterals were on the boards of the 31 banks participating in a
$115 million 10-year Eurodollar Panama loan issued in 1972; and 15 Trilaterals were on the
boards of fourteen banks participating in the $20 million Panama promissory note issued in the
Another crucial foreign policy action of the
Carter regime was the President's reluctant decision
to admit the Shah of Iran into the U.S., a decision that led directly to the Iran hostage crisis and
the freezing of Iranian assets in the U.S.Carter was pressured into this move by the persistent
lobbying of David Rockefeller and Henry Kissinger, who might well have realized that a hostage
crisis would ensue. As a result, Iran was prevented from pursuing its threat of taking its massive
deposits out of Chase Manhattan Bank, which would have caused Chase a great deal of financial
difficulty. In politics, one hand washes the other.
Kissinger, by the way, was scarcely put back in
the shadows when he left government office in
1977. He quickly became a director of the CFR, a member of the executive committee of the
Trilateral Commission, and chairman of the International Advisory Board of the Chase
While Ronald Reagan's early campaigning included
attacks on the Trilateral Commission, the
Trilateralists have by now been assured that the Reagan Administration is in safe hands.
The signal was Reagan's choice of Trilateralist George Bush, who had also become a director of
the First International Bank of London and Houston, as Vice-President of the United States, and
of Reagan's post-convention reconciliation visit to Washington and to the home of David
Reagan's most influential White House aides,
like James A. Baker, had been top campaigners for
Bush for President in 1980. The most influential corporate firm in the Reagan Administration is
the California-based Bechtel Corporation. Bechtel vice-president and general counsel Caspar
Weinberger, a Trilateralist, is Secretary of Defense, and fellow top Bechtel executive George
Shultz, former board member of Borg-Warner Corp, General American Transportation Corp.,
and Stein, Roe & Farnham Balanced Fund, is Secretary of State.
Trilateralist Arthur F. Burns, former Chairman
of the Fed, is ambassador to West Germany, Paul
Voicker has been reappointed as head of the Fed, and Henry Kissinger is at least partially back as
head of a Presidential Commission to study the question of Central America.
It is hard to see how the Trilateralists can lose in the 1984 elections. On the Republican ticket
they have George Bush, the heir apparent to Ronald Reagan; and in the Democratic race the two
front-runners, Walter Mondale and John Glenn, are both Trilateralists, as is Alan Cranston of
California. And, as a long shot, John Anderson of the "National Unity Party" is also a Trilateral
member. To paraphrase a famous statement by White House aide Jack Valenti about Lyndon
Johnson, the Trilateralists and the financial power elite can sleep well at night regardless of who
wins in 1984.
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