by Murray N. Rothbard
This first appeared in World Market Perspective (1984) and later as a monograph published by the Center for libertarian Studies (1995). Afterword By Justin Raimondo.
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 1910.
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 family; 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 Morgan-dominated, 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-Secretary 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 place.
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 within 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, Jr.
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 multi-millionaire 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 Secretary 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 was 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 hush-hush 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 anti-Arbenz 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 meeting 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 this menace.
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 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 fund-raiser 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 Co.
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 Brahmin 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 official, 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. Engelhard’s investment banker was Dillon, Read, the family firm of Kennedy’s Secretary of the Treasury, C. Douglas Dillon.
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.
Justin Raimondo, author of An Enemy of the State: the Life of Murray N. Rothbard and other books, is editor of Antiwar.com.
Copyright © 2005 Ludwig von Mises Institute
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