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Royal Institute of International Affairs
This is a forum for the political elite - presidents, prime ministers and others. “The Chatham House rule” states..... “when a meeting is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity or the affiliation of speakers, nor that of any other participant may be revealed; nor may it be mentioned that the information was received at a meeting of the Institute.” It will not release the names of individual members, although both James Callaghan and Lord Carrington are honorary presidents. Major global companies and banks fund it, along with the long suffering British taxpayer! Corporate members include B.P., Shell, Barclays Bank, Lloyds TSB, Nat West Bank, Morgan Guaranty Trust, Warburg Dillon Read, RTZ, Unilever, The Economist, CBS, NBC, ABC, Channel 4 TV, ITN, the Financial Times, the Guardian, the Independent, Daily Telegraph, The Times, Reuters, New York Times, Washington Post, BBC Radio, even Amnesty International and the African National Congress. Sounds great – such a diversity of organisations coming together – so why all the secrecy?
Council on Foreign Relations
Funded largely by the Rockefeller Foundation, the CFR is a major force in the U.S.A. behind economic globalisation that first became very active during the last war, issuing many confidential memoranda to the U.S. government. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was closely associated with it – literally. When governor of New York state, he had a town house next door to its headquarters in New York City. At that time, it set out a vision of huge areas of the globe (a “Grand Area”) that it was perceived would be necessary to come under effective U.S. economic and military control, in order to ensure materials for U.S. industries, following the defeat of Germany and Japan. It called for centralised world wide financial institutions and was a major force that led to the Bretton Woods conference in New Hampshire USA in 1944, which set up the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development now known as the World Bank. A CFR brainchild, the Marshall Plan helped Europe reconstruct after World War 2, but it also ensured the Americanisation of Europe as European political and economic elites became wedded to their American counterparts with no significant economic or political development taking place without U.S. approval. Today many meetings are forums where foreign diplomats can freely express their ideas to council members - “...Participants are assured that they may speak openly, as it is the tradition of the Council that others will not attribute or characterise their statements in public media or forums or knowingly transmit them to persons who will.” Familiar line? Even major summits of international importance are staged in secret such as the Middle East/North Africa Economic Summit co-chaired by Bill Clinton (CFR member) and Boris Yeltsin in Casablanca in 1994 - no mainstream media reports on that. The council claims “.....no affiliation with the U.S. government...” but it just so happens that Clinton and almost all his cabinet members were apparently listed as CFR members. Other members are David Rockefeller , Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vice President Dick Cheney, Jesse Jackson, Pat Buchanan, Katherine Graham (publisher of the Washington Post) and a number of other well known presenters and newspeople in ABC, CBS, and NBC (e.g. Dan Rather, Robert McNeil, Jim Lehrer, Tom Brokaw, and David Brinkley). There are many others including Alan Greenspan head of the Federal Reserve Bank, previous head Paul Volcker, plus the usual array of big corporate bosses from Chrysler, Coca Cola, General Motors, Ford, AT&T, American Express, Exxon, Shell, Mobil, etc.
The Group of Thirty
Founded in 1978, this has become the world’s leading international financial consultative group, comprised of 30 leading figures from economic and financial arenas. It describes itself as a non political organisation that explores issues of business practice and public policy, suggesting measures to improve the functioning of the international financial system… (for bankers and big business etc. rather than the population as a whole?) Members include Deputy Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King, Stanley Fischer – Deputy managing Director of the IMF , the Governors of the Bank of France and the Bank of Japan. The Chairman is Jacob Frenkel who recently took over from former US Federal Reserve boss Paul Volcker. Frenkel is chairman of international merchant bankers Merrill Lynch and a former Governor of the Bank of Israel. 
In reality, there are many more organisations and many possible links between them. For example, the US funded “British American Project for the Successor Generation” has been responsible, since the 1980s, for recruiting young up and coming British politicians and media people and taking them on expenses paid trips to the US to educate them in the virtues of the “American dream” . The message is – stick with us boys and girls and you will go far… And many have done just that, for example Neil Kinnock, Blair, Mandelson, Mo Mowlam, George Robertson plus various Labour party advisers and policy makers, not to mention Radio 4 “Today” programme presenter James Naughty and BBC 2 Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman. 
Of all these secretive private forums you might say, so what – it’s essential that top people get together to discuss and plan global affairs - what right has anyone to impugn any improper motives on their part – they are doing the best they can for us all. If that’s really the case, why the secrecy? And look at the evidence out there all around us. In a world where more than one billion people live in absolute poverty let’s take a careful look at what the outcome of all this really is.
“Trans-national corporations are the most tyrannical and totalitarian institutions society has yet devised.” Professor Noam Chomsky
A great feature of centralisation of power and the erosion of democracy and the power of nation states, is the trans-national corporation (TNC). These have largely been a development of the last 50 years or so. A constant drive to cut costs, maximise profits and expand markets and market share has led to buy outs, take-overs and amalgamations that have produced ever larger conglomerates. Today Corporations pretty much determine the basics of modern life. Corporate elites decide what most of us will read, what we see in cinemas, theatres and on TV, what subjects are public issues acceptable for discussion and debate, what ideas our children are taught in the classroom, how our food will be grown processed and marketed, what consumer products will be made with what technologies, whether or not we have widely available affordable health care, how work will be defined organised and compensated, what forms of energy will be available to us, how much toxic contamination there will be in our air water soil and food, who will have enough money to run an election campaign and who will not…
A typical TNC straddles state boundaries with manufacturing operations spread throughout the world – its head office, where major decisions are taken, is located in a particular state, but TNC’s today have no loyalty to any state. They can effectively dictate to governments, as they rush around the globe to locate their operations, in the third world in states with the cheapest labour, the least stringent employment and environmental laws, or in the developed world, where they can extract the largest subsidies and tax free incentives.
Highly subsidised grain production in the U.S.A., and EU food surpluses are sold to third world countries, undercutting local production, creating dependence and destroying the livelihood of local producers. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is a global body of appointees which emerged in 1997 out of GATT (the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade). Armed with supra-national legislative and judicial powers, it has a mandate to press forward with the elimination of barriers to the free movement of goods and capital. The section of the GATT agreement setting it up, ran to 2000 pages, ensuring few would have had the chance to study what the real implications were, before national legislatures ratified it.
Member countries must ensure that their laws comply with a mass of obligations and “international standards”. One member country can seek redress against another, if it considers that the law of another deprives it of the benefit it expects to receive from the new trade rules. In reality it is a TNC’s charter - such initiation is very likely to come from a TNC believing itself to be disadvantaged by a particular law in one country, and can find another country dependent on its presence, to put forward its case. For example Austria found itself unable to operate a ban on the import of tropical hardwoods from unsustainable sources, the U.S. is being forced to lower its requirements for the protection of dolphins in tuna fishing, the EU is facing demands to stop giving preferential treatment to small banana producers on Caribbean islands, which are highly dependent on banana exports, and also to lift a ban on beef from cattle from the U.S.A. raised with growth hormones, and now Canada is facing a challenge over a ban on the import of dangerous pesticides containing lindane. A panel of just 3 so called experts decide on disputes initially, with no right of appeal beyond the WTO itself.
The WTO, the European Union “single market”, NAFTA, APEC etc. are all based on the sacrosanct principle of “free trade”, but free trade is not fair trade. Many now see it for what it is - the freedom for the rich and strong to exploit the poor and weak, as more and more states are forced under these new rules, to remove tariffs designed to protect smaller local producers, local markets and the livelihoods of people associated with them and dependent on them. A most recent example is India where domestic production of edible vegetable oil has been virtually wiped out with the import of subsidised US soya oil and palm oil from Malaysia, following the dramatic lowering of import duties.
People are now recognising that, globally, “free trade”, still hailed as the means to promote beneficial growth, trade and employment, has in fact ravaged the environment and destroyed traditional manufacturing industries and communities throughout the West. It has also helped spawn ghettos, slums and shanties in cities throughout Latin America, Asia and Africa, by creating conditions that force people off the land, as wealthy elites and big corporations have taken over the means of production. For example, in the last 15 years or so, Indonesia has become very popular with big corporations, especially sportswear manufacturers such as Adidas and Nike. Wages are rock bottom and work conditions often atrocious because of weak union organisation and a lack of safety and environmental standards under a corrupt military dictatorship.
The WTO free trade rules actually operate to the detriment of all reasonable employment, environmental and safety standards because such standards are considered to be obstacles to free trade - i.e. if one country adopts higher standards that restrict another country from exporting goods or produce that undermine them, based on industry that is more polluting, more dangerous and has lower paid jobs. It is regarded as “protectionist” to try to give preference to local businesses that hire local people at a decent living wage, produce things that local people need, pay their full share of local taxes, play by local rules and contribute to the livelihood and well being of the community.
This process is driven and promoted by TNC’s and the political establishment that supports them. It is also promoted by academics, universities and colleges which are increasingly funded by big business - not to mention numerous “foundations” and “think tanks” which are almost entirely funded by the same interests. It is claimed that TNCs create employment – they do provide work for a few - but at the same time they have been a part of a process that has destroyed large numbers of jobs and livelihoods based on small to medium sizes enterprises. In fact they destroy far more jobs, than they create. This entire process of opening up markets to so called free trade and unrestricted movement of capital is somewhat deviously referred to as “deregulation”. It is NOT… it is re-regulation in favour of TNCs., witness the mass of rules and regulations incorporated in the WTO.
The mass media is under corporate ownership, ensuring that the corporate agenda is vigorously promoted. The pharmaceutical industry has a vested interest in drugs, which are often ineffective or have serious side effects. Alternative proven successful treatments for cancer are suppressed in favour of drug based therapies with horrible side effects and little real success. There are constant efforts to get regulations imposed on alternative therapies which are in reality designed to make it near impossible to license these products and so drive them off the market, even though they have been in safe use for years. Then there are mass vaccination programmes – a real money spinner if a government can be persuaded to promote one - in spite of the fact that their effectiveness may be very questionable and the vaccines themselves may have serious side effects in some cases – e.g. measles mumps rubella. And then the food chain - big corporations having control over our most fundamental needs – from the ownership of seed companies to supermarkets, they decide what we eat (or in some cases in the third world whether we eat at all) – add to that the latest macabre twist of seeking to patent seeds and to genetically modify them along with plants and animals, in order, it seems, to begin to take control of the very building blocs of life itself. They claim that genetically modified crops are needed to feed the world, yet they ignore the little understood dangers and risks of cross pollination. They ignore also the fact that, in third world countries in particular, the real problem is poverty – the food is there but people can’t afford to buy it! There are radical technologies for non polluting power generation, such as zero point energy and cold nuclear fusion waiting for funding and development but these have been debunked and suppressed for years .
Corporate power manifests itself in almost every sphere of life nowadays. Control of energy supplies, in particular oil – any state such as Iran, Iraq or Libya which has tried to take control over its own oil resources, has faced severe backlashes from the US and Britain and the big business interests they represent. Here in Britain, our utilities no longer belong to the state, and are now in the hands of private corporations, many of which have since become foreign owned through take-overs and mergers. And of course they stand to increase their profits the more water gas and electricity we consume. Even some of our railway operators are foreign owned - e.g Connex South Central is owned by a French corporation. These principles are dramatically extended in the latest WTO promotion - GATS (the General Agreement on Trade and Services). Services include schools, health care, rubbish collection, libraries, water, gas and electricity. The object is to remove restrictions and internal government regulations considered to be “barriers to trade” in the area of service delivery. Privatisation of such facilities in poor countries has serious consequences – with TNCs seeking to profit from supplying water, health and education, poor people who can’t afford much are losing out. Water privatisation in Puerto Rico saw poor communities going without water whilst US military bases and tourist facilities had unlimited supplies. All these services in a truly democratic society are something in which the people have a say - they are called public services. A most effective way to completely undermine democracy is to hand them all to private power, because private power is basically unaccountable. You can’t really find out what’s going on inside a private corporation – they just tell you that it’s commercially confidential. If you can transfer the public arena into private hands, you can have elections in which the outcome makes no difference.
In his book
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