Council on Foreign Relations: Influencing American Government: Despite Promises of "Change," as Uttered by Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Now Barack Obama, Successive Presidential Administrations Have in Common the Fact That Important Posts Are Staffed by Individuals from the Same Small Organizations-Who Direct Our Nation's Policies

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Due to space limitations, this article includes only a sketch of the history of the CFR's impact on American government. For details and documentation, see the author's book The Shadows of Power (advertised on the inside back cover).--Editor

During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama consistently promised Americans "change." Such promises aren't new to the voting public. When Jimmy Carter ran for president, he said: "The people of this country know from bitter experience that we are not going to get ... changes merely by shifting around the same group of insiders." And top Carter aide Hamilton Jordan promised: "If, after the inauguration, you find a Cy Vance as Secretary of State and Zbigniew Brzezinski as head of National Security, then I would say we failed. And I'd quit." Yet Carter selected Vance as Secretary of State and Brzezinski as National Security Adviser; the "same group of insiders" had been shifted around; and Jordan did not quit.

Carter's administration was dominated by members of the Trilateral Commission, which had been founded by Brzezinski and David Rockefeller. In 1980, when Ronald Reagan was campaigning against Carter, he protested:

   I don't believe that the Trilateral Commission
   is a conspiratorial group, but
   I do think its interests are devoted to
   international banking, multinational
   corporations, and so forth. I don't
   think that any Administration of the
   U.S. Government should have the top
   nineteen positions filled by people
   from any one group or organization
   representing one viewpoint. No, I
   would go in a different direction.

Yet after his election, President Reagan picked 10 Trilateralists for his transition team, and included in his administration such Trilateralists as Vice President George Bush, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, U.S. Trade Representative William Brock, and Fed Chairman Paul Volcker. Yet the entire North American membership of the Trilateral Commission has never numbered much over 100.


The reason that presidential candidates' promises of "change" go largely unfulfilled once in office: they draw their top personnel from the same establishment groups--of which the Trilateral Commission is only one.

Chief among these groups is the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the most visible manifestation of what some have called the American establishment. Members of the council have dominated the administrations of every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt, at the cabinet and subcabinet level. It does not matter whether the president is a Democrat or Republican. As we will later see, Barack Obama is no exception to CFR influence.

Power Behind the Throne

In theory, America's government is supposed to be "of the people, by the people, for the people." While this concept rang true in early America, and many individuals still trust in it, the last century has seen the reality of power increasingly shift from the people to an establishment rooted in banking, Wall Street, and powerful multinational corporations. Syndicated columnist Edith Kermit Roosevelt, granddaughter of Teddy Roosevelt, explained:

   The word "Establishment" is a general
   term for the power elite in international
   finance, business, the
   professions and government, largely
   from the northeast, who wield most
   of the power regardless of who is in
   the White House. Most people are
   unaware of the existence of this "legitimate
   Mafia." Yet the power of the
   Establishment makes itself felt from
   the professor who seeks a foundation
   grant, to the candidate for a cabinet
   post or State Department job. It affects
   the nation's policies in almost
   every area.

Roosevelt added that this group's goal is "a One World Socialist state governed by 'experts' like themselves."

David Rockefeller, the longtime chairman (and now chairman emeritus) of the CFR, acknowledged the role of the establishment in trying to lead America in the one-world direction in his 2002 book Memoirs:

   For more than a century ideological
   extremists at either end of the
   political spectrum have seized upon
   well-publicized incidents such as my
   encounter with Castro to attack the
   Rockefeller family for the inordinate
   influence they claim we wield over
   American political and economic institutions. …