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Friday, June 17, 2011

Bilderberg 2011: The Rockefeller World Order and the "High Priests of Globalization"

Bilderberg 2011: The Rockefeller World Order and the "High Priests of Globalization"

by Andrew Gavin Marshall

To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair. Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn't go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing.[1]

- Denis Healey, 30-year member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group

The ‘Foundations’ of the Bilderberg Group

The Bilderberg Group, formed in 1954, was founded in the Netherlands as a secretive meeting held once a year, drawing roughly 130 of the political-financial-military-academic-media elites from North America and Western Europe as “an informal network of influential people who could consult each other privately and confidentially.”[2] Regular participants include the CEOs or Chairman of some of the largest corporations in the world, oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, and Total SA, as well as various European monarchs, international bankers such as David Rockefeller, major politicians, presidents, prime ministers, and central bankers of the world.[3] The Bilderberg Group acts as a “secretive global think-tank,” with an original intent to “to link governments and economies in Europe and North America amid the Cold War.”[4]

In the early 1950s, top European elites worked with selected American elites to form the Bilderberg Group in an effort to bring together the most influential people from both sides of the Atlantic to advance the cause of ‘Atlanticism’ and ‘globalism.’ The list of attendees were the usual suspects: top politicians, international businessmen, bankers, leaders of think tanks and foundations, top academics and university leaders, diplomats, media moguls, military officials, and Bilderberg also included several heads of state, monarchs, as well as senior intelligence officials, including top officials of the CIA, which was the main financier for the first meeting in 1954.[5]

The European founders of the Bilderberg Group included Joseph Retinger and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. Prince Bernhard had, incidentally, been a member of the Nazi Party until 1934, three years prior to his marrying the Dutch Queen Juliana, and had also worked for the German industrial giant, I.G. Farben, the maker of Zyklon B, the gas used in concentration camps.[6] On the American side, those who were most prominent in the formation of the Bilderberg Group were David Rockefeller, Dean Rusk (a top official with the Council on Foreign Relations who was then the head of the Rockefeller Foundation), Joseph Johnson (another Council leader who was head of the Carnegie Endowment), and John J. McCloy (a top Council leader who became Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank in 1953 and was also Chairman of the Board of the Ford Foundation).[7]

The fact that the major American foundations – Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford – were so pivotal in the origins of the Bilderberg Group is not a mere coincidence. The foundations have, since their founding at the beginning of the 20th century, been the central institutions in constructing consensus among elites, and creating consent to power. They are, in short, the engines of social engineering: both for elite circles specifically, and society as a whole, more generally. As Professor of Education Robert F. Arnove wrote in his book Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism:

Foundations like Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford have a corrosive influence on a democratic society; they represent relatively unregulated and unaccountable concentrations of power and wealth which buy talent, promote causes, and, in effect, establish an agenda of what merits society’s attention. They serve as “cooling-out” agencies, delaying and preventing more radical, structural change. They help maintain an economic and political order, international in scope, which benefits the ruling-class interests of philanthropists and philanthropoids – a system which... has worked against the interests of minorities, the working class, and Third World peoples.[8]

These foundations had been central in promoting the ideology of ‘globalism’ that laid the groundwork for organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg Group to exist. The Rockefeller Foundation, in particular, supported several organizations that promoted a ‘liberal internationalist’ philosophy, the aim of which:

was to support a foreign policy within a new world order that was to feature the United States as the leading power – a programme defined by the Rockefeller Foundation as ‘disinterested’, ‘objective’ and even ‘non-political’... The construction of a new internationalist consensus required the conscious, targeted funding of individuals and organizations who questioned and undermined the supporters of the ‘old order’ while simultaneously promoting the ‘new’.[9]

The major foundations funded and created not only policy-oriented institutes such as think tanks, but they were also pivotal in the organization and construction of universities and education itself, in particular, the study of ‘international relations.’[10] The influence of foundations over education and universities and thus, ‘knowledge’ itself, is unparalleled. As noted in the book, Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism:

The power of the foundation is not that of dictating what will be studied. Its power consists in defining professional and intellectual parameters, in determining who will receive support to study what subjects in what settings. And the foundation’s power resides in suggesting certain types of activities it favors and is willing to support. As [political theorist and economist Harold] Laski noted, “the foundations do not control, simply because, in the direct and simple sense of the word, there is no need for them to do so. They have only to indicate the immediate direction of their minds for the whole university world to discover that it always meant to gravitate to that angle of the intellectual compass.”[11]

The major philanthropic foundations created by America’s ‘robber baron’ industrialists and bankers were established not to benefit mankind, as was their stated purpose, but to benefit the bankers and industrialist elites in order to engage in social engineering. Through banks, these powerful families controlled the global economy; through think tanks, they manage the political and foreign policy establishments; and through foundations, they engineer society itself according to their own designs and interests. Through these foundations, elites have come to shape the processes, ideas and institutions of education, thus ensuring their continued hegemony over society through the production and control of knowledge. The educational institutions train future elites for government, economics, sciences, and other professional environments, as well as producing the academics that make up the principle component of think tanks, such as the Bilderberg Group.

Foundations effectively “blur boundaries” between the public and private sectors, while simultaneously effecting the separation of such areas in the study of social sciences. This boundary erosion between public and private spheres “adds feudal elements to our purported democracy, yet it has not been resisted, protested, or even noted much by political elites or social scientists.”[12] Zbigniew Brzezinski, foreign policy strategist, former director of the Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg member and co-founder with David Rockefeller of the Trilateral Commission, wrote that the blurring of boundaries “serves United States world dominance”:

As the imitation of American ways gradually pervades the world, it creates a more congenial setting for the exercise of the indirect and seemingly consensual American hegemony. And as in the case of the domestic American system, that hegemony involves a complex structure of interlocking institutions and procedures, designed to generate consensus and obscure asymmetries in power and influence.[13]

In 1915, a Congressional investigation into the power of philanthropic foundations took place, named the Walsh Commission, which warned that, “the power of wealth could overwhelm democratic culture and politics.”[14] The Final Report of the Walsh Commission “suggested that foundations would be more likely to pursue their own ideology in society than social objectivity.”[15] In this context, we can come to understand the evolution of the Bilderberg Group as an international think tank aimed at constructing consensus and entrenching ideology among the elite.

At their first meeting, Bilderbergers covered the following broad areas, which remained focal points of discussion for successive meetings: Communism and the Soviet Union; Dependent areas and peoples overseas; Economic policies and problems; and European integration and the European Defense Community.[16]

Nearly every single American participant in the Bilderberg meetings was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Among the notable American members of the Bilderberg Group in its early years were David Rockefeller, Dean Rusk, John J. McCloy, George McGhee, George Ball, Walt Whitman Rostow, McGeorge Bundy, Arthur Dean, and Paul Nitze. As Political Scientist Stephen Gill wrote, “Prominent in the American section were the network of Rockefeller interests.”[17]

Certainly, while Rothschild interests have remained in the Bilderberg Group, as evidenced by Edmond de Rothschild having been a member of the Steering Committee, and Franco Bernabe, Vice Chairman of Rothschild Europe being a current Steering Committee member,[18] the Rockefeller interests seem to be most dominant. Not only is David Rockefeller sitting as the single individual of the Member Advisory Group of the Steering Committee, but close Rockefeller confidantes have long served on the Steering Committee and been affiliated with the organization, such as: Sharon Percy Rockefeller; George Ball, a long-time leader in the Council on Foreign Relations, who was Undersecretary of State for Economic Affairs in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations; Henry Kissinger, long-time Rockefeller aide and American imperial strategist; Zbigniew Brzezinski, who co-founded the Trilateral Commission with David Rockefeller; Joseph E. Johnson, former U.S. State Department official and President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; John J. McCloy, former Chairman the Council on Foreign Relations (superceded by David Rockefeller), former Assistant Secretary of War, Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank (where he was superceded by David Rockefeller), former Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, Chairman of the Ford Foundation, and President of the World Bank; and James Wolfensohn, former President of the World Bank and Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation.

One current Steering Committee member, who is representative of not only a continuation of Rockefeller interests, but also of the continuing influence and role of the major foundations is Jessica T. Matthews. She is President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who had served on the National Security Council under Zbigniew Brzezinski, was a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (at which David Rockefeller remains as Honorary Chairman), is a member of the Trilateral Commission, is a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, and has served on the boards of the Brookings Institution, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Joyce Foundation.

Bilderberg and the European Union

Joseph Retinger, one of the founders of the Bilderberg Group, was also one of the original architects of the European Common Market and a leading intellectual champion of European integration. In 1946, he told the Royal Institute of International Affairs (the British counterpart and sister organization of the Council on Foreign Relations), that Europe needed to create a federal union and for European countries to “relinquish part of their sovereignty.” Retinger was a founder of the European Movement (EM), a lobbying organization dedicated to creating a federal Europe. Retinger secured financial support for the European Movement from powerful US financial interests such as the Council on Foreign Relations and the Rockefellers.[19] Important to note is that following World War II, the CFR’s main finances came from the Carnegie Corporation, Ford Foundation and most especially, the Rockefeller Foundation.[20]

Apart from Retinger, the founder of the Bilderberg Group and the European Movement, another ideological founder of European integration was Jean Monnet, who founded the Action Committee for a United States of Europe (ACUE), an organization dedicated to promoting European integration, and he was also the major promoter and first president of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the precursor to the European Common Market.[21]

Declassified documents (released in 2001) showed that “the US intelligence community ran a campaign in the Fifties and Sixties to build momentum for a united Europe. It funded and directed the European federalist movement.”[22] The documents revealed that, “America was working aggressively behind the scenes to push Britain into a European state. One memorandum, dated July 26, 1950, gives instructions for a campaign to promote a fully-fledged European parliament. It is signed by Gen William J Donovan, head of the American wartime Office of Strategic Services, precursor of the CIA.” Further, “Washington's main tool for shaping the European agenda was the American Committee for a United Europe, created in 1948. The chairman was Donovan, ostensibly a private lawyer by then,” and “the vice-chairman was Allen Dulles, the CIA director in the Fifties. The board included Walter Bedell Smith, the CIA's first director, and a roster of ex-OSS figures and officials who moved in and out of the CIA. The documents show that ACUE financed the European Movement, the most important federalist organisation in the post-war years.” Interestingly, “the leaders of the European Movement - Retinger, the visionary Robert Schuman and the former Belgian prime minister Paul-Henri Spaak - were all treated as hired hands by their American sponsors. The US role was handled as a covert operation. ACUE's funding came from the Ford and Rockefeller foundations as well as business groups with close ties to the US government.”[23]

The European Coal and Steel Community was formed in 1951, and signed by France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Newly released documents from the 1955 Bilderberg meeting show that a main topic of discussion was “European Unity,” and that “the discussion affirmed complete support for the idea of integration and unification from the representatives of all the six nations of the Coal and Steel Community present at the conference.” Further, “A European speaker expressed concern about the need to achieve a common currency, and indicated that in his view this necessarily implied the creation of a central political authority.” Interestingly, “a United States participant confirmed that the United States had not weakened in its enthusiastic support for the idea of integration, although there was considerable diffidence in America as to how this enthusiasm should be manifested. Another United States participant urged his European friends to go ahead with the unification of Europe with less emphasis upon ideological considerations and, above all, to be practical and work fast.”[24] Thus, at the 1955 Bilderberg Group meeting, they set as a primary agenda, the creation of a European common market.[25]

In 1957, two years later, the Treaty of Rome was signed, which created the European Economic Community (EEC), also known as the European Community. Over the decades, various other treaties were signed, and more countries joined the European Community. In 1992, the Maastricht Treaty was signed, which created the European Union and led to the creation of the Euro. The European Monetary Institute was created in 1994, the European Central Bank was founded in 1998, and the Euro was launched in 1999. Etienne Davignon, Chairman of the Bilderberg Group and former EU Commissioner, revealed in March of 2009 that the Euro was debated and planned at Bilderberg conferences.[26]

The European Constitution (renamed the Lisbon Treaty) was a move towards creating a European superstate, creating an EU foreign minister, and with it, coordinated foreign policy, with the EU taking over the seat of Britain on the UN Security Council, representing all EU member states, forcing the nations to “actively and unreservedly” follow an EU foreign policy; set out the framework to create an EU defence policy, as an appendage to or separate from NATO; the creation of a European Justice system, with the EU defining “minimum standards in defining offences and setting sentences,” and creates common asylum and immigration policy; and it would also hand over to the EU the power to “ensure co-ordination of economic and employment policies”; and EU law would supercede all law of the member states, thus making the member nations relative to mere provinces within a centralized federal government system.[27]

The Constitution was largely written up by Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, former President of the French Republic from 1974 to 1981. Giscard d’Estaing also happens to be a member of the Bidlerberg Group, the Trilateral Commission, and is also a close friend of Henry Kissinger, having co-authored papers with him.

The Treaty, passed in 2009, created the position of President of the European Council, who represents the EU on the world stage and leads the Council, which determines the political direction of the EU. The first President of the European Council is Herman Van Rompuy, former Prime Minister of Belgium. On November 12, 2009, a small Bilderberg meeting took place, hosted by Viscount Etienne Davignon (Chairman of the Bilderberg Group), and including “international policymakers and industrialists,” among them, Henry Kissinger. Herman Von Rompuy “attended the Bilderberg session to audition for the European job, calling for a new system of levies to fund the EU and replace the perennial EU budget battles.”[28] Following his selection as President, Van Rompuy gave a speech in which he stated, “We are going through exceptionally difficult times: the financial crisis and its dramatic impact on employment and budgets, the climate crisis which threatens our very survival; a period of anxiety, uncertainty, and lack of confidence. Yet, these problems can be overcome by a joint effort in and between our countries. 2009 is also the first year of global governance with the establishment of the G20 in the middle of the financial crisis; the climate conference in Copenhagen is another step towards the global management of our planet.”[29]

As indicated from leaks of the recent 2011 Bilderberg meeting in Switzerland, the euro-zone is in a major crisis, and Bilderberg members are struggling to keep the house of glass from shattering to pieces. One major subject discussed at this year’s meeting, according to Bilderberg investigative journalist, Daniel Estulin (who reportedly has inside sources in the meetings who leak information, which has proved quite accurate in the past), the Bilderberg meeting discussed the situation of Greece, which is likely to only get worse, with another bailout on the horizon, continuing social unrest, and a possible abandonment of the euro. The problems of Greece, Ireland and the wider global economy as a whole were featured in this year’s discussions.[30] Representatives from Greece this year included George Papaconstantinou, the Greek Minister of Finance, among several bankers and businessmen.[31]

Among the EU power players attending this years meeting was the first President of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, who was appointed as President following an invitation to a private Bilderberg meeting in November of 2009, at which he gave a speech advocating for EU-wide taxes, allowing the EU to not rely exclusively upon its member nations, but have its “own resources.”[32] Van Rompuy, who previously stated that, “2009 is also the first year of global governance,” is no surprise guest at Bilderberg. Other key EU officials who attended this year’s meeting were Joaquín Almunia, a Vice President of the European Commission; Frans van Daele, Chief of Staff to European Council President Van Rompuy; Neelie Kroes, a Vice President of the European Commission; and of course, Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank.[33]

As with each meeting, there is the official list of participants, and then there are those participants who attend, but whose names are not listed in any official release. At this year’s meeting, some reports indicate that attendees whose names were not listed included NATO Secretary-General Anders Rasmussen, which is not surprising considering that the NATO Secretary-General has generally been present at every meeting; Jose Luis Zapatero, Spanish Prime Minister; Angela Merkel, German Chancellor; Bill Gates, Co-Chairman of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and former Microsoft CEO; and Robert Gates, the outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense.[34] The Guardian also reported that these “unofficial guests” were spotted at the conference or had their attendance ‘leaked’.[35] Angela Merkel has reportedly attended meetings in the past, which would make her current attendance less than surprising.[36]

At the recent meeting, EU officials were discussing the need for the EU to undertake a “massive power grab” in the face of the massive economic crisis facing Europe and indeed the world. Without such a power grab, the euro and indeed the Union itself would likely collapse; a scenario anathema to everything the Bilderberg group has tried to achieve in its 57-year history. The aim, put simply, would be to have the EU police itself and the nations of the Union, with the ability to punish nations for not following the rules, and as one Bilderberger reportedly stated at the meeting, “What we are heading towards a form of real economic government.”[37] Now while this statement cannot be independently verified, there is much documentation within the public record that several of the European attendees at the meeting could have easily made such a statement.

Prior to the meeting, European Central Bank President, Jean-Claude Trichet, “said governments should consider setting up a finance ministry for the 17-nation currency region as the bloc struggles to contain a region-wide sovereign debt crisis.” Trichet asked: “Would it be too bold, in the economic field, with a single market, a single currency and a single central bank, to envisage a ministry of finance of the union?” Further in line with this thought, and with the ideas laid out in the Bilderberg meeting in favour of a ‘power grab’, Trichet said he supports “giving the European Union powers to veto the budget measures of countries that go ‘harmfully astray,’ though that would require a change to EU Treaties.” Such a finance ministry would, according to Trichet, “exert direct responsibilities in at least three domains”:

They would include "first, the surveillance of both fiscal policies and competitiveness policies" and "direct responsibilities" for countries in fiscal distress, he said. It would also carry out "all the typical responsibilities of the executive branches as regards the union's integrated financial sector, so as to accompany the full integration of financial services, and third, the representation of the union confederation in international financial institutions."[38]

Last year, Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme endorsed such an idea of a ‘European Economic Government’ when he stated:

The idea of strengthened economic government has been put on the table and will make progress. In the end, the European Debt Agency or something like it will become a reality. I’m convinced of this. It’s about Europe’s financial stability and it’s not an ideological debate about federalism. I myself am a federalist. But more integration and deeper integration are simply logical consequences of having a single currency.[39]

This is of course, not surprising, considering that Leterme’s predecessor is Herman van Rompuy, the current Bilderberg participant and EU President, a strong-headed advocate of an ‘economic government’ and ‘global governance.’ The plans for an ‘economic government’ require the strong commitment of both France and Germany, which may explain Merkel’s reported appearance at Bilderberg. In March of 2010, the German and French governments released a draft outline that would “strengthen financial policy coordination in the EU.” The plan, seen by German publication Der Spiegel, “calls for increased monitoring of individual member states' competitiveness so that action can be taken early on should problems emerge.” Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker stated in response to the plan, “We need a European economic government in the sense of strengthened coordination of economic policy within the euro zone.”[40] In December of 2010, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble stated that, “In 10 years we will have a structure that corresponds much stronger to what one describes as political union.”[41]

As reported by the German press in early 2011, Germany and France were split on several aspects of such an ‘economic government.’ However, as Merkel stated, “We have obviously been discussing the issue of an economic government for a long time,” and that, “What we are currently envisioning goes yet another step in this direction.” Yet, the differences between the two approaches are mainly as follows:

France would prefer to see the European Council, which comprises the heads of state and government of the EU's member states, turned into a kind of economic government. Since only euro-zone member countries would be involved initially, French Finance Minister [and past Bilderberg participant] Christine Lagarde has dubbed the project "16 plus."

The Germans are focused on completely different things. Their preference would be to see the current rescue fund replaced by the so-called European Stability Mechanism in 2013. According to this arrangement, in return for any help, cash-strapped countries would have to subject themselves to a strict cost-cutting regimen.[42]

Mario Draghi is the current President of the Bank of Italy, as well as a board member of the Bank for International Settlements – the BIS (the central bank to the world’s central banks). In an interview posted on the website of the BIS in March of 2010, Mario Draghi stated that in response to the Greek crisis, “In the euro area we need a stronger economic governance providing for more coordinated structural reforms and more discipline.”[43] Mario Draghi also attended the 2009 conference of the Bilderberg Group.[44] Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mario Draghi has been backed by the euro-area finance ministers to be the successor to Jean-Claude Trichet at the European Central Bank, who is due to step down in October of 2011.[45]

Certainly, the objective of a ‘European economic government’ will continue throughout the coming years, especially as the economic crisis continues. As Dominique Strauss-Kahn, outgoing Managing Director of the IMF and long-time Bilderberg participant stated, “crisis is an opportunity.”[46] Bilderberg, while not omnipotent by any means, will do all in its ability to prevent the collapse of the euro or the ending of the European Union. Bilderberg has, after all, from its very beginning, made ‘European integration’ one of its central objectives. In an official biography of Bilderberg-founder and long-time Chairman Prince Bernhard, the Bilderberg Group was credited as “the birthplace of the European Community.”[47]

Regime Change at the IMF?

Christine Lagarde, the French Finance Minister who has been pivotal in the process towards drafting and proposing a ‘European economic government’, is also considered the front-runner for the job of Managing Director of the IMF. The Managing Director of the IMF is always in attendance at Bilderberg meetings, except for this year, considering outgoing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn is facing sexual assault charges in New York; yet, the top job is usually set aside for those who have been invited to at least one meeting of the Bilderberg Group. While the race has yet to finish, perhaps it is noteworthy that Christine Lagarde attended a Bilderberg meeting in 2009.[48] Could this make her the supreme choice, or is there a surprise in the near future?

A Place for China in the New World Order?

Investigative journalist Daniel Estulin’s report of inside sources in this year’s meeting indicated a rather extensive discussion on the role of China, which is hardly surprising, considering this has been a central topic of discussion in meetings for a number of years. China emerged in discussions on Pakistan, as China has become increasingly Pakistan’s closest economic and strategic ally, a trend that is continuing as America continues to spread the Afghan war into neighbouring Pakistan. China is also a major player in Africa, threatening the West’s stranglehold over the continent, in particular through the World Bank and IMF. Most importantly, however, and not unrelated to its role in Pakistan and Africa, China has become the greatest economic competitor for the United States in the world, and as the IMF even admitted recently, its economy is expected to surpass that of the United States by 2016. Bilderberg paid attention to this issue not simply as a financial-economic consideration, but as a massive geopolitical transition in the world: “the biggest story of our time.”[49]

What made the discussion on China at this year’s meeting unique was that it actually included two attendees from China for the first time ever. The two guests were Huang Yiping, a prominent economics professor at Peking University (China’s Harvard), and Fu Ying, China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs.[50] This is especially unusual and telling of the importance of the discussion at hand, considering that Bilderberg is exclusively a European and North American (Atlantic) organization, and in the past, when Bilderberg memebers David Rockefeller and Zbigniew Brzezinski suggested Japan be allowed to join in 1972, the European rejected the proposition, and instead the Trilateral Commission was formed in 1973 to integrate the elites of Western Europe, North America, and Japan. The Trilateral Commission eventually expanded the Japanese section of the group into a ‘Pacific Asian Group’ in 2000 to include not only Japan, but South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

In 2009 the G20 was endowed with the task of ‘managing’ the global economic crisis – to include the ‘emerging’ economic giants, notably China and India – and as Bilderberg member Jean-Claude Trichet stated, this marked “the emergence of the G20 as the prime group for global economic governance.”[51] That same year the newly-appointed European Union President Herman van Rompuy declared to be “the first year of global governance.” No surprise then, that also in 2009, China and India were invited as official members of the Trilateral Commission.[52] This indicates a growing role for India and especially China in global affairs, and participation in Bilderberg meetings emphasizes the aim to not alienate China from the established institutions, ideologies and systems of global power, but to more fully integrate China within that system. The aim of the global elite, perhaps best represented by Bilderberg, is not to allow for the collapse of the American empire and the rise of a new one; rather, it is to manage the collapse of American hegemony into an entirely new system of global governance. This ‘big idea’ is not possible without the participation of China, and thus, as Bilderberg has long been saturated with the ideology of ‘global governance,’ it cannot be seen as too surprising to see China invited. Perhaps the surprise should be that it simply took this long.

Is Bilderberg Building a Global Government?

Jon Ronson wrote an article for the Guardian paper in which he managed to interview key members of the Bilderberg Group for an exposé on the organization, attempting to dismantle the “conspiracy theories” surrounding the secrecy of the meetings. However, through his interviews, important information regarding the social importance of the group continued to emerge. Ronson attempted to contact David Rockefeller, but only managed to reach his press secretary who told Ronson that the “conspiracy theories” about Rockefeller and “global think-tanks such as Bilderberg in general” left David Rockefeller “thoroughly fed up.” According to his press secretary, “Mr. Rockefeller's conclusion was that this was a battle between rational and irrational thought. Rational people favoured globalisation. Irrational people preferred nationalism.”[53]

While dismissing “conspiracy theories” that Bilderberg “runs the world,” Ronson did explain that the Bilderberg members he interviewed admitted, “that international affairs had, from time to time, been influenced by these sessions.” As Denis Healey, a 30-year member of the Steering Committee, himself pointedly explained:

To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair. Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn't go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing... Bilderberg is a way of bringing together politicians, industrialists, financiers and journalists. Politics should involve people who aren't politicians. We make a point of getting along younger politicians who are obviously rising, to bring them together with financiers and industrialists who offer them wise words. It increases the chance of having a sensible global policy.[54]

Will Hutton, the former Editor of the Observer, who had been invited to Bilderberg meetings in the past, once famously referred to the group as “the high priests of globalization.”[55] Hutton has said that “people take part in these networks in order to influence the way the world works,” and to create, as he put it, “the international common sense” of policy. The Chairman of the Bilderberg Group, Viscount Etienne Davignon, stated that, “I don't think (we are) a global ruling class because I don't think a global ruling class exists. I simply think it's people who have influence interested to speak to other people who have influence.”[56]

G. William Domhoff is a professor of Psychology and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and has written about the Bilderberg Group. In an interview, he discounted the notion that the study of such groups is relegated to the realm of conspiracy theory, and instead explained that he studies “how elites strive to develop consensus, which is through such publicly observable organizations as corporate boards and the policy-planning network, which can be studied in detail, and which are reported on in the media in at least a halfway accurate manner.”[57]

Bilderbergers have long been advocates of global governance and ‘global government,’ and ‘crisis’ is always an excellent means through which to advance their agendas. Just as the Greek crisis has stepped up calls for the formation of a ‘European economic government,’ an idea which has been sought out for much longer than Greece has been in crisis, so too is the global economic crisis an excuse to advance the cause of ‘global economic governance.’ Outgoing Managing Director of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, stated in May of 2010 that, “crisis is an opportunity,” and he called for “a new global currency issued by a global central bank, with robust governance and institutional features,” and that the “global central bank could also serve as a lender of last resort.” However, he stated, “I fear we are still very far from that level of global collaboration.”[58] Unless, of course, the world continues to descend into economic and financial ruin, as any astute economic observer would likely warn is taking place.

Following the April 2009 G20 summit, “plans were announced for implementing the creation of a new global currency to replace the US dollar’s role as the world reserve currency.” Point 19 of the communiqué released by the G20 at the end of the Summit stated, “We have agreed to support a general SDR allocation which will inject $250bn (£170bn) into the world economy and increase global liquidity.” SDRs, or Special Drawing Rights, are “a synthetic paper currency issued by the International Monetary Fund.” As the Telegraph reported, “the G20 leaders have activated the IMF's power to create money and begin global ‘quantitative easing’. In doing so, they are putting a de facto world currency into play. It is outside the control of any sovereign body.”[59] The Washington Post reported that the IMF is poised to transform “into a veritable United Nations for the global economy”:

It would have vastly expanded authority to act as a global banker to governments rich and poor. And with more flexibility to effectively print its own money, it would have the ability to inject liquidity into global markets in a way once limited to major central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve... the IMF is all but certain to take a central role in managing the world economy. As a result, Washington is poised to become the power center for global financial policy, much as the United Nations has long made New York the world center for diplomacy.[60]

While the IMF is pushed to the forefront of the global currency agenda, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) remains as the true authority in terms of ‘global governance’ overall. As the IMF’s magazine, Finance and Development, stated in 2009, “the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), established in 1930, is the central and the oldest focal point for coordination of global governance arrangements.”[61] Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank (ECB) and long-time Bilderberg participant, gave a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in April of 2010 in which he explained that, “the significant transformation of global governance that we are engineering today is illustrated by three examples”:

First, the emergence of the G20 as the prime group for global economic governance at the level of ministers, governors and heads of state or government. Second, the establishment of the Global Economy Meeting of central bank governors under the auspices of the BIS as the prime group for the governance of central bank cooperation. And third, the extension of Financial Stability Board membership to include all the systemic emerging market economies.[62]

In concluding his speech, Trichet emphasized that, “global governance is of the essence to improve decisively the resilience of the global financial system.”[63] The following month, Trichet spoke at the Bank of Korea, where he said, “central bank cooperation is part of a more general trend that is reshaping global governance, and which has been spurred by the global financial crisis,” and that, “it is therefore not surprising that the crisis has led to even better recognition of their increased economic importance and need for full integration into global governance.” Once again, Trichet identified the BIS and its “various fora” – such as the Global Economy Meeting and the Financial Stability Board – as the “main channel” for central bank cooperation.[64]

For more on ‘Global Government’ and the global economic crisis, see: Andrew Gavin Marshall, “Crisis is an Opportunity”: Engineering a Global Depression to Create a Global Government, Global Research, 26 October 2010.

Rockefeller’s Dream

David Rockefeller celebrated his 96th birthday during last weekend’s Bilderberg meeting, and is one of if not the only remaining original founders of the group in 1954. If the Bilderberg Group represents the “high priests of globalization,” then David Rockefeller is the ‘Pope’.

James Wolfensohn represents the importance of the Rockefellers to not only America, but to the whole process of globalization. James D. Wolfensohn, an Australian national, was President of the World Bank from 1995-2005, and has since founded and leads his private firm, Wolfensohn & Company, LLC. He has also been a long-time Steering Committee member of the Bilderberg Group, and has served as an Honorary Trustee of the Brookings Institution, a major American think tank, as well as a Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Wolfensohn’s father, Hyman, was employed by James Armand de Rothschild of the Rothschild banking dynasty, after whom James was named. His father taught him how to “cultivate mentors, friends and contacts of influence.”[65] Wolfensohn rose quickly through the financial world, and as his father had lived in service to the Rothschild’s – the dominant family of the 19th century – James Wolfensohn lived in service to the Rockefellers, arguably the dominant family of the 20th century. On the event of David Rockefeller’s 90th birthday, James Wolfensohn, speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations, stated:

[T]he person who had perhaps the greatest influence on my life professionally in this country, and I’m very happy to say personally there afterwards, is David Rockefeller, who first met me at the Harvard Business School in 1957 or ‘58... [At the beginning of the 20th century] as we looked at the world, a family, the Rockefeller family, decided that the issues were not just national for the United States, were not just related to the rich countries. And where, extraordinarily and amazingly, David’s grandfather set up the Rockefeller Foundation, the purpose of which was to take a global view.

... So the Rockefeller family, in this last 100 years, has contributed in a way that is quite extraordinary to the development in that period and has given ample focus to the issues of development with which I have been associated. In fact, it’s fair to say that there has been no other single family influence greater than the Rockefeller’s in the whole issue of globalization and in the whole issue of addressing the questions which, in some ways, are still before us today. And for that David, we’re deeply grateful to you and for your own contribution in carrying these forward in the way that you did.[66]

David Rockefeller has been even less humble (but perhaps more honest) in his assertion of his family’s and his own personal role in shaping the world. In his 2002 book, Memoirs, David Rockefeller wrote:

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. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as 'internationalists' and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure--one world, if you will. If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.[67]

As if this admission was not quite enough, at a 1991 meeting of the Bilderberg group, David Rockefeller was quoted as saying:

We are grateful to the Washington Post, The New York Times, Time Magazine and other great publications whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost 40 years. It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years. But the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government. The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto-determination practiced in past centuries.[68]

So, happy 96th birthday, Mr. David Rockefeller! But I am sorry to say (or perhaps not so sorry) that while the mainstream media have “respected their promises of discretion,” the new media – the alternative media – have not. As you said yourself, “It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years,” it seems that the “lights of publicity” are now descending upon your “plan for the world,” making it all the more difficult to come to pass. Indeed, “the world is more sophisticated,” but not because the world is ‘ready’ for your plan, but because the world is getting ready to reject it. While national sovereignty certainly has problems and is hardly something I would consider ‘ideal’, the “supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers” is about the worst scenario one could imagine. So as a birthday present to you, Mr. Rockefeller, I promise (and I am sure that I am speaking for a great many more than simply myself) that I will continue to expose your “plans for the world,” so that your dream – and our nightmare – will never become a reality. The light will shine, and in due time, the people will be ready to follow its path.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG). He is co-editor, with Michel Chossudovsky, of the recent book, "The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century," available to order at Globalresearch.ca. He is currently working on a forthcoming book on 'Global Government'.


[1] Jon Ronson, Who pulls the strings? (part 3), The Guardian, 10 March 2001:

[2] CBC, Informal forum or global conspiracy? CBC News Online: June 13, 2006:

[3] Holly Sklar, ed., Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. (South End Press: 1980), 161-171

[4] Glen McGregor, Secretive power brokers meeting coming to Ottawa? Ottawa Citizen: May 24, 2006:

[5] Stephen Gill, American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission (Cambridge University Press: New York, 1990), page 129.

[6] Bruno Waterfield, Dutch Prince Bernhard 'was member of Nazi party', The Telegraph, 5 March 2010:

[7] Joan Roelofs, Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (New York: State University of New York Press, 2003), page 52.

[8] Robert F. Arnove, ed., Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad (Indiana University Press: Boston, 1980), page 1.

[9] Inderjeet Parmar, “‘To Relate Knowledge and Action’: The Impact of the Rockefeller Foundation on Foreign Policy Thinking During America’s Rise to Globalism 1939-1945,” Minerva (Vol. 40, 2002), page 246.

[10] Ibid, page 247.

[11] Robert F. Arnove, ed., Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad (Indiana University Press, 1980), page 319.

[12] Joan Roelofs, “Foundations and Collaboration,” Critical Sociology, Vol. 33, 2007, page 480

[13] Ibid, page 481.

[14] Ibid, page 483.

[15] Erkki Berndtson, “Review Essay: Power of Foundations and the American Ideology,” Critical Sociology, Vol. 33, 2007, page 580

[16] Joan Roelofs, Foundations and Public Policy: The Mask of Pluralism (New York: State University of New York Press, 2003), page 52.

[17] Stephen Gill, American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission (Cambridge University Press: New York, 1990), pages 131-132.

[18] Bilderberg Meetings, Former Steering Committee Members, BilderbergMeetings.org:
http://bilderbergmeetings.org/former-steering-committee-members.html; Steering Committee:

[19] Holly Sklar, ed., Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. (South End Press: 1980), 161-162

[20] CFR, The First Transformation. CFR History:

[21] William F. Jasper, Rogues' gallery of EU founders. The New American: July 12, 2004:

[22] Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Euro-federalists financed by US spy chiefs. The Telegraph: June 19, 2001:

[23] Ibid.

[24] Bilderberg Group, GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN CONFERENCE. The Bilderberg Group: September 23-25, 1955, page 7:


[25] Who are these Bilderbergers and what do they do? The Sunday Herald: May 30, 1999:

[26] Andrew Rettman, 'Jury's out' on future of Europe, EU doyen says. EUobserver: March 16, 2009:

[27] Daily Mail, EU Constitution - the main points. The Daily Mail: June 19, 2004:

[28] Ian Traynor, Who speaks for Europe? Criticism of 'shambolic' process to fill key jobs. The Guardian, 17 November 2009:

[29] Herman Van Rompuy, Speech Upon Accepting the EU Presidency, BBC News, 22 November 2009:

[30] Daniel Estulin, Bilderberg Report 2011, DanielEstulin.com, 14 June 2011:

[31] Bilderberg Meetings, Bilderberg 2011: List of Participants, BilderbergMeetings.org, June 2011:

[32] Bruno Waterfield, EU Presidency candidate Herman Van Rompuy calls for new taxes, The Telegraph, 16 November 2009:

[33] Bilderberg Meetings, Bilderberg 2011: List of Participants, BilderbergMeetings.org, June 2011:

[34] PrisonPlanet, Exclusive: Unnamed Bilderberg Attendees Revealed, Gates Violates Logan Act, Prison Planet, 11 June 2011:

[35] Charlie Skelton, Bilderberg 2011: The opposition steps up, The Guardian, 11 June 2011:

[36] SwissInfo, World’s Powerful Bilderberg Group Meets In St Moritz, EurasiaReview, 9 June 2011:

[37] Daniel Estulin, Bilderberg Report 2011, DanielEstulin.com, 14 June 2011:

[38] Bloomberg, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet calls for Euro Finance Ministry, The Economic Times, 3 June 2011:

[39] Daniel Hannan, European economic government is inevitable, Telegraph Blogs, 17 March 2010:

[40] Spiegel, Plans for European Economic Government Gain Steam, Der Spiegel, 1 March 2011:

[41] ANDREW WILLIS, Germany predicts EU 'political union' in 10 years, EU Observer, 13 December 2010:

[42] Peter Müller and Michael Sauga, France and Germany Split over Plans for European Economic Government, Der Spiegel, 3 January 2011:

[43] Mario Draghi: “We need a European economic government” – interview in Handelsblatt, The Bank for International Settlements, March 2010:

[44] Bilderberg Meetings, Participants 2009, BilderbergMeetings.org, May 2009:

[45] Ecofin: Finance Ministers Back Mario Draghi To Lead ECB, The Wall Street Journal, 16 May 2011:

[46] Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Concluding Remarks by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, at the High-Level Conference on the International Monetary System, Zurich, 11 May 2010:


[47] Stephen Gill, American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission (Cambridge University Press: New York, 1990), pages 131-132.

[48] Bilderberg Meetings, Participants 2009, BilderbergMeetings.org, May 2009:

[49] Daniel Estulin, Bilderberg Report 2011, DanielEstulin.com, 14 June 2011:

[50] Bilderberg Meetings, Bilderberg 2011: List of Participants, BilderbergMeetings.org, June 2011:

[51] Jean-Claude Trichet, Global Governance Today, Keynote address by Mr Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, 26 April 2010:

[52] The Trilateral Commission, About the Pacific Asian Group, May 2011:

[53] Jon Ronson, Who pulls the strings? (part 2), The Guardian, 10 March 2001:

[54] Ibid.

[55] Mark Oliver, The Bilderberg group, The Guardian, 4 June 2004:

[56] BBC, Inside the secretive Bilderberg Group, BBC News, 29 September 2005:

[57] Chip Berlet, Interview: G. William Domhoff, New Internationalist, September 2004:

[58] Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Concluding Remarks by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, at the High-Level Conference on the International Monetary System, Zurich, 11 May 2010:


[59] Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The G20 moves the world a step closer to a global currency. The Telegraph: April 3, 2009:


[60] Anthony Faiola, A Bigger, Bolder Role Is Imagined For the IMF, The Washington Post, 20 April 2009:

[61] Amar Bhattacharya, A Tangled Web, Finance and Development, March 2009, Vol. 46, No. 1:

[62] Jean-Claude Trichet, Global Governance Today, Keynote address by Mr Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, at the Council on Foreign Relations, New York, 26 April 2010:

[63] Ibid.

[64] Jean-Claude Trichet, Central bank cooperation after the global financial crisis, Video address by Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, at the Bank of Korea International Conference 2010, Seoul, 31 May 2010:


[65] Michael Stutchbury, The man who inherited the Rothschild legend, The Australian, 30 October 2010:

[66] James D. Wolfensohn, Council on Foreign Relations Special Symposium in honor of David Rockefeller’s 90th Birthday, The Council on Foreign Relations, 23 May 2005:

[67] David Rockefeller, Memoirs (Random House, New York: 2002), pages 404 - 405.

[68] Gordon Laxer, “Radical Transformative Nationalisms Confront the US Empire,” Current Sociology (Vol. 51, Issue 2: March 2003), page 141.

Andrew Gavin Marshall is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Andrew Gavin Marshall

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bizzaro Capitalism: Funding Hyperempire through Aggression

Dissident Voice: a radical newsletter in the struggle for peace and social justice

Bizzaro Capitalism

Funding Hyperempire through Aggression

War is a racket.

– US Marine Major General Smedley Butler

Imagine an unbidden exterminator comes by your house and begins to disinfect and kill pests around your house. You arrive home later to find your cat is dead, and your baby is turning green and a green slime is oozing from the corner of her mouth. You rush her to the hospital which is overrun with patients whose properties have received unrequested extermination treatments. While waiting in queue your daughter dies from a severe allergic reaction to the chemicals used by the exterminators.

There are other deaths, but some victims manage to recover from the harm caused by the exterminators.

Weeks later, the exterminator bills you and the others since, they claim, the pests were eradicated. How would you react?

Now take the above scenario and apply an analogy a thousand fold more bizarre and outrageous. Recently, a United States congressman had the chutzpah to ask Iraq to repay the United States for aggressing and occupying (still ongoing) it. As if the Iraqi resistance needed more reasons to continue than the over one million lives snuffed out, the 4 million or so Iraqis made refugees, the outbreak of disease and infant malformations, a destroyed infrastructure, a destroyed economy, etc…

The US got Japan, Germany, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia to pay for Persian Gulf Slaughter Phase 1. It wasn’t enough as the US economy has tanked even worse since then.

Republican representative Dana Rohrabacher has come up with a novel proposal for raising more money for the cash-strapped USA: charge the victims of US aggression.

“Once Iraq becomes a very rich and prosperous country… we would hope that some consideration be given to repaying the United States some of the mega-dollars that we have spent here in the last eight years,” said Rohrabacher to journalists at the US embassy in Baghdad.

“We were hoping that there would be a consideration of a payback because the United States right now is in close to a very serious economic crisis and we could certainly use some people to care about our situation as we have cared about theirs.”

Rohrabacher pleads economic difficulty. If one pays no mind that Iraq was a victimized country and that usually aggressor countries are required to pay reparations to those they aggress (not the other way around), why should a country experiencing far greater economic travails be expected to bail out a larger economy?

There is no need to comment on how the US cares for Iraq’s situation. It was pretty clear that the US only cared about securing the oil; everything else was left to the looters and pillagers (US troops among them).

However, Rohrabacher does not stop at Iraq: “If the Libyans for example are willing to help pay, compensate the United States, for what we would spend in helping them through this rough period, that’s one way to do it.”

One supposes Hamid Karzai will receive a bill from Rohrabacher’s Congressional accountants soon.

And why stop there? Viet Nam has been getting off scot-free from their victimization in the 1960s-70s. There should also be a bill in the mail to South Korea, and there will also be one for North Korea when the US finally brings “democracy” there. Add Haiti, Panama, the menacing colossus of Grenada, and myriad others.

Heck, why not bill the Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island for introducing them to colonialism, capitalism, and … well, they have a few prosperous casinos…

An invasion of oil-rich Venezuela should result in a hefty bill that could help keep the USS State of Finances afloat a little longer.

And what is good for hyper-empire should also be good for Americans steadfast allies. Israel’s Knesset will be hoping Palestinians give some consideration to repaying some of the mega-dollars spent on their occupation in the last half-century plus…

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: kim@dissidentvoice.org. Read other articles by Kim.

This article was posted on Saturday, June 11th, 2011 at 8:49am and is filed under Capitalism, Iraq, Military/Militarism, War Crimes.

AIPAC From the Inside: Part I and Part II: Regime Change, and the Spy Charges

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The Dreyfuss Report

AIPAC From the Inside: Part II: Regime Change, and the Spy Charges

In Part I of my interview with Keith Weissman, the former American Israel Public Affairs Committee official, he spoke of his background, how he joined AIPAC, and how AIPAC worked in the 1990s and early 2000s to isolate and embargo Iran.

In Part II, Weissman – who is speaking out for the first time, in depth, since he and a colleague, Steve Rosen, were indicted on espionage-related charges – talks about the battle inside AIPAC over regime change in Iran, and about the FBI and Justice Department charges against him.

Both parts appear at TehranBureau, one of the very best sites for news and analysis about Iran. You can read both Part I and Part II.

AIPAC from the Inside | Part 1: Isolating Iran

11 Jun 2011 23:138 Comments

Keith Weissman on joining AIPAC, the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, and the BTC pipeline.

weissman.jpg[ feature ] In August 2005, two lobbyists with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, were indicted on charges of illegally conspiring to collect and disseminate classified secrets to journalists and to Israeli diplomats. The case, in which the two men were charged under a World War I-era espionage law along with Larry Franklin, a midlevel Iran analyst at the Department of Defense, was intimately linked to efforts by the AIPAC officials and others to improperly influence U.S. policy toward Iran, said prosecutors, and it caused a political firestorm in Washington. However, in 2009, the case fell apart, and the Justice Department withdrew all charges.

Now, for the first time, one of the two AIPAC officials, Keith Weissman, is speaking out. In a series of extended interviews with Tehran Bureau, Weissman tells his story. He's come forward, he says, because he's concerned that if a confrontation between the United States, Israel, and Iran leads to war, it will be a disaster -- one that Weissman fears will be blamed on the American Jews.

"The reason why I want to tell this story now is, we may be going down a path, helped along by the American Jewish community, and maybe even Israel, that is going to be worse even than the one we're on now - some sort of military confrontation with Iran. That worries me. Because they will be able to blame [it] on the Jews, to a great extent," says Weissman, who worked at AIPAC from 1993 until 2005, much of that time as the group's deputy director of foreign policy. Though Weissman disagrees sharply with those who say that AIPAC played a critical role in pushing for the 2003 U.S. decision to invade Iraq, he believes a war with Iran -- which he says "would be the stupidest thing I ever heard of" -- might well be blamed on AIPAC's leaders and their constituents. "What the Jews' war will be is Iran," he says. "Not Iraq."

Although Weissman's comments might seem startling to those who don't know him, they're part and parcel of who he is, he says. From his days in college at the University of Chicago in the late 1970s, Weissman was in sympathy with a wide range of progressive causes, and, unusually for a man who'd end up working at AIPAC, he sported a "Free Palestine" bumper sticker on his car back then. (Last month, at a conference held by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank founded with support from AIPAC, I mentioned to Steve Rosen that I'd talked to Weissman. "Of course!" replied Rosen, who knows that I usually write for progressive publications. "He thinks just like you do!") During much of his tenure at AIPAC, Weissman served as a kind of unofficial liaison to various Palestinian officials, diplomats, and academics. Later, when he became AIPAC's chief Iran specialist, he insists that he quietly did what he could to steer the group away from direct calls for regime change in Iran, even though AIPAC was working hard to push the United States into ever stronger action against the Islamic Republic, including diplomatic isolation and tough sanctions to dissuade Iran from pursuing its nuclear program and supporting Hamas, Hezbollah, and other anti-Israel groups.

"What the Iranians feared most, and what the neoconservatives wanted most, was a policy of propaganda, of assisting groups against the government, to foster regime change," says Weissman. "I kept AIPAC away from that."

Back in 1978, as a history student at U.C., Weissman made his first and only visit to Iran, aided in parts by grants from the Department of Defense and from the Pahlavi Foundation, the then Shah's family fund. He flew to Kabul, traveled over land to Mashhad and then to Tehran, coincidentally arriving just as the first rumblings of the revolution that would topple the Shah were getting under way. "In Mashhad, they put us the floor of a dorm that was under construction at the edge of the city. Apparently, a week before we got there, we'd been scheduled to be in a dorm downtown, and before we got there the school had exploded in riots, and the school was shut down for final exams, and they put us in this dorm on the outskirts," he recalls.

Among Weissman's friends and acquaintances who were traveling back and forth to Iran at the same time were Zalmay Khalilzad, later a RAND Corporation analyst and, more recently, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, and Harold Rhode, a polyglot Middle East specialist who worked at the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment, an in-house think tank. That office was run by Andrew Marshall, a neoconservative strategist and acolyte of Bernard Lewis, a British academic and historian of the Ottoman Empire who is currently a professor at Princeton University. Though friends for a time, Weissman and Rhode had a falling-out. Says Weissman:

"[Lewis] was one of Harold Rhode's advisers. Harold was very close to him, and Lewis helped him get a job at the Pentagon, where he worked for Andy Marshall. We stopped speaking to each other in the early 1980s. I don't know what it was. I certainly wasn't an ardent Zionist, and I felt that Harold had adopted a very racist posture toward Middle Eastern people."

Later, Rhode would be a key player during the run-up to the war in Iraq, as an official working alongside Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith at DOD. When the espionage case built around Franklin, Rosen, and Weissman erupted in 2004, Rhode would be one of several U.S. officials who were forced to hire legal counsel in the face of the FBI investigation, according to Weissman. Rhode, along with Michael Ledeen, who was then a neoconservative strategist at the American Enterprise Institute, was part of a quixotic effort to enlist a discredited wheeler-dealer, Manucher Ghorbanifar, in an ill-starred regime change plan for Iran in the early 2000s.

After his visit to Tehran, Weissman traveled to Israel and Egypt, and then returned to the United States, teaching in colleges around Chicago, where he struck up a casual acquaintance with Rashid Khalidi, the Palestinian scholar. When his wife, who'd been an attorney with Sidley and Austin in Chicago, landed a job at the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Weissmans settled in the Washington area. Needing a job, Weissman started networking.

"Eventually somebody set me up with a guy at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the deputy there, Rob Satloff, just back from Oxford, and he was working for Martin [Indyk], and I gave my resume to him," recalls Weissman. "And a couple of weeks later I get a call from a guy named Jack Lew. Jack Lew had [been] the legislative director for the speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill." Indyk, the vice president for policy at the Brookings Institution, served as AIPAC's deputy director of research in the early 1980s and helped found the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) in 1985. Jacob (Jack) Lew is today President Obama's director of the Office of Management and Budget. Satloff is now the executive director of WINEP.

"And there were a couple of Jewish financial guys, philanthropists, who were really pissed off because they thought that the media were pro-Arab, pro-Palestinian, and they wanted to set up a small publication, a place that translated stuff, that provided journalists with mostly translated stories from the Middle East, Middle East Week. And they hired someone to do Hebrew, and they hired me to do Arabic," says Weissman. "It was really fun, and I got to know lots of people. Jack [Lew] was the overall editor."

"This is right when the [Oslo] peace talks started, people coming in and out of Washington, and I got to know all these Arabs, Arab journalists, Israelis, and I was this left-wing Jewish guy, who became friends with Akiva Eldar, Hisham Melham, Raghida Dergham, who wrote from the U.N. for Al-Hayat. I got to know all these people! I got to learn a lot. And because of Rashid Khalidi, who for the first year was an adviser to the Palestinian delegation, I got very friendly with a lot of the Palestinians, with Said Hammad, who was the number two there, and I got to know Saeb Erekat."

Middle East Week folded, and after a stint working for a small publication called Middle East Insight, Weissman found himself without a job. But soon afterward, despite, or perhaps because of, his connections with Arab and Palestinian figures, Weissman landed an opportunity to work at AIPAC.

"I was unemployed for six months. The last month of unemployment, I get a call from Rafi Danziger, [AIPAC's] director of research, who I knew, who says, 'How'd you like to come work at AIPAC?' He said, 'People are leaving, and we'd like to combine their salaries and give it to you.' And my title would be chief Middle East analyst," he recalls.

"And the week after I started at AIPAC, Oslo happens. And here I am, this left-wing guy, I find myself at AIPAC. It was unbelievable. Imagine the reaction from my friends, my family! And I didn't know anyone there, except for Rafi Danziger, I didn't know much about them, I mean, I knew they were the pro-Israel lobby, that's about it. I hadn't paid them much attention, and I didn't agree with their position. But I got hired by them the week that the Israeli-Palestinian talks break out! I said to Rashid [Khalidi], 'Would you rather have me there, or someone who doesn't know anything about the Palestinians?' No one else had the entrée that I had. I went to meetings and lunches where me and Jerry Siegel, this radical, left-wing professor, were the only non-Arab, non-Palestinians there. Bernard Lewis's son worked down the hall from me, Michael Lewis, actually a wonderful person. He used to joke that he kept a file on everyone in my Rolodex! But it was really an asset to have that entrée. I could call up Faisal Husseini, Saeb Erekat, and it was quite fun.

"I could get information that no one else could get about the Palestinians. I became very close to Steve Rosen, who was my boss. He liked me. And he liked that I was able to go places that no one else could go. He thought that was a great addition to the work."

Though the advent of Oslo raised hopes among Israelis and Palestinians alike that a peace accord might work, inside AIPAC there was strong discontent with Oslo and its implications, and a lot of sympathy for hardliners in Israel, including Benjamin Netanyahu, the bitterest opponent of Oslo and its backers, including Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister. As M. J. Rosenberg, a former AIPAC official, has documented, AIPAC moved steadily to the right from the 1980s onward. According to Weissman, that happened mostly because the group's biggest donors were right-wing American Jews who identified with Likud rather than the Labor Party and other liberal Israelis. Many of its donors and some its staff split from AIPAC during the Rabin-Oslo era to work with more right-wing groups such as the Zionist Organization of America, says Weissman. After Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli extremist opposed to giving up the occupied territories, an increasingly right-leaning Israel and AIPAC moved more and more into sync. As Weissman tells the story:

"So Rabin is shot. I mean, he won Oslo in the Knesset by one vote! You could imagine that in America there was similar opposition [to Oslo].... AIPAC had spent the last 15 years helping the Likud, so you've got people there that were sucking at the teat of Likud, that was how they viewed things. That's why so many people left AIPAC. A lot of them went to join ZOA and a lot of them also contributed to the work of Daniel Pipes. When Rabin came in, they had taken their money and left, and there was a lot of turmoil. At the time, I remember, they'd send me around the country, to fundraisers, with a lot of older people, and I would be yelled and screamed at, 'I can't believe you're doing this!' Donors were leaving, taking the money, and that's really their bread and butter, the lay leadership. AIPAC's donors were very active in the organization. Very. They were major elements in making policy, in determining the agenda, who the leadership was.

"AIPAC did not have a lot of people who you would call Labor, the Israeli Labor Party. The ideological war that went on, over the AIPAC agenda, was unbelievable. I was involved in creating the annual AIPAC agenda. I used to write it. And then it would be debated in a meeting, right before the policy conference. You wouldn't believe what went on, people getting up, denouncing this and that, they would put things in the policy agenda to make sure that no money went to the Palestinian Authority, to move the American embassy to Jerusalem.

"I tried my best to sell the peace process. But I tried to sell it in the context of what AIPAC was, that this was the way that Israel could become a permanent Middle East country. But the ideological war inside the Israel lobby, collectively, was extremely bitter -- and very close, you know, the tally of votes was very close. I would argue that while most American Jews are probably center-left, the rich ones, the ones who give to organizations, the ones who are involved in politics, tend to be more to the right. Those are the ones who were close to the Israeli government when it was run by the Likud."

Rabin, in his last years, was angry at AIPAC's obstructionism, says Weissman. (According to M. J. Rosenberg, in New York Rabin met with liberal Jewish donors and asked them to help finance what become the Israel Policy Forum as a very small but not ineffective counterweight to AIPAC.)

"Because of AIPAC, with the assistance of the right wing in Israel, who -- even though they weren't the majority in Israel then -- they'd come over and have very close contacts with AIPAC's leaders, prominent financiers, and donors, in order to influence policy.... It was all because of the money that would go from the American Jewish community to politicians in the United States. The pro-Israel bloc in Congress has nothing to do with parties. It had to do with friendship and loyalty. I learned this over time. This is the secret of AIPAC's power, its ability to fund campaigns. When people got together, they'd find ways, even if they'd given a ton of money to AIPAC, they'd still find ways to get money to candidates, Republican or Democrat."

In the mid-1990s, Weissman began to work on issues related to Iran. Before that, at AIPAC, Iran was "an afterthought," he said. But as German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and President Bill Clinton began to discuss ideas about isolating and reducing trade with Iran -- at the time, according to Weissman, the United States was Iran's biggest trading partner and Germany was second -- AIPAC saw an opening to start working on Iran, and from that the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) emerged. According to Weissman, it was originally designed by AIPAC to be focused solely on Iran, but Libya was added to the mix during the legislative process.

"I started to work on Iran in 1995. We had a new legislative director named Brad Gordon, who'd worked for [then Senator] Rudy Boschwitz [of Minnesota], and he'd been at the CIA for a while and worked on Iran, so he had a clue. We found a little-known, much-ridiculed law that [then Senator] Al D'Amato [of New York] had supported. D'Amato was Mr. Ass-Kissing of all the Orthodox in New York. Right before this, I'd been invited to lunch by the executive director of AIPAC, a guy named Neil Sher. He took us to lunch and he said, 'I'm thinking about what we can do about Iran. Maybe we could, like, model something on the Arab boycott.' Now, the Arab boycott is what is called a secondary boycott, and it's illegal under world trade rules. It's not allowed, and don't forget, one of the victories for Israel during Oslo was the ending of the Arab boycott by the Arab League. 'Why don't we try to find something, or invent some laws?' And there was this law that D'Amato had proposed a year earlier that would sanction anybody who bought Iranian oil.

"It opened up a whole world for me. Going from a guy working on, you know, talking to the Palestinians, I became a star! On Iran! And we began to work closely with D'Amato's staff, and we formulated the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act."

With Weissman's help, Rosen and a host of congressional staffers got the ball rolling on ILSA. AIPAC helped convince Clinton to cancel a deal that Conoco had struck with Iran, even though doing so angered Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, then Iran's president, who backed the Conoco arrangement. "Rafsanjani still says, to this day, that canceling that deal ruined relations, and I believe him," says Weissman. "We [AIPAC] became the bitter enemies of the oil companies." ILSA passed overwhelmingly.

With the victory in 1997 of Mohammad Khatami's reformist candidacy, however, the Clinton administration backed away from AIPAC's hard line and sought to develop an opening to the new Iranian government. Weissman says that he never believed that talking to Iran's reformists would work, in the end, and that power instead remained in the hands of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the hardliners around him. AIPAC, meanwhile, was dismayed by the tentative opening to Iran that began in the late Clinton years. The organization concentrated a lot of its work then on trying to isolate Iran economically, in part by pushing Congress and the White House to support an oil pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan that bypassed Iran and ran through Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea. Ironically, despite the enmity between AIPAC and the oil industry, the group would manage to work closely with the oil companies, especially BP -- and, surprisingly, AIPAC would even pocket financial contributions from the oil companies for its work facilitating what became the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline.

Formally launched in 1998 and completed in 2005, the 1,100-mile long BTC pipeline was a $4 billion project that crossed Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey, with BP, Chevron, and other U.S. companies as major shareholders. From the start, it was controversial politically, not least since the three transit countries viewed the pipeline as a geopolitical counterbalance to both Iran and Russia, and for that reason they each wanted U.S. backing. And the oil companies, still angry at AIPAC for its role in creating ILSA and blocking the Iran-Conoco deal, realized that they'd be better off cooperating with the group than confronting it.

Not only did AIPAC and the oil companies cooperate, but according to Weissman the oil companies actually funded the group's work and AIPAC officials gave John Browne, then BP's chief executive, a guided tour of Washington's Holocaust Museum. During these years, one of Weissman's main preoccupations was the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan deal:

"So we get ILSA. It passes overwhelmingly. That same year I brought some Conoco guys to AIPAC's policy conference, where half the House and half the Senate usually attend, and they knew that night that they would never win anything against us. So they began to cooperate. A lot of the oil companies realized, 'We're not gonna beat these guys in Congress, so we might as well try to tailor their activities, where we at least have some room to work.' And I was the go-between. I was the guy. I mean, BP still credits me with being the guy who greased the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, because of my work with them. That was originally designed as an anti-Iran project.

"I also became the guy who was reaching out to the Iranian Jewish community here. AIPAC thought that the Iranian Jewish community thought our way, and that they'd be a great source of funds. So I began to go regularly to Los Angeles, to have meetings with Iranian Jews. The guy from Qualcomm was one of the guys we talked to, people in Bel Air and Beverly Hills. I got to know a whole cross section of them, I appeared on Persian radio, and you know what's funny? I got a call one day from [BP].

"During the Khatami period, when Clinton was reaching out to Iran, they had a lot of support from the Iranian business community, exporters, against sanctions. I can't remember how many oil conferences I spoke at, telling them that ILSA wasn't so bad for them, which went over like a lead balloon. But I got a free education in the oil business, from BP and so on. Every time somebody from BP would come to town, their chief economist, their chief geologist, I would always get an hour with them. They'd give us money, like $10,000 or whatever. What they did was very smart. They turned me into someone who saw the world through their eyes. They started, BP, and then Amoco, giving AIPAC money. You know what? One time Steve Rosen guided John Browne through the Holocaust Museum. John Browne, the head of BP. His mother was actually Jewish. He grew up with her, alone. So he was coming to the United States and he really wanted to go to the Holocaust Museum. So we cooked up this thing, we would have Steve Rosen and Browne and his mother tour the Holocaust Museum together. It was great!"

Even Prince Bandar ibn Sultan, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States, and Adel al-Jubeir -- then the Saudi embassy spokesman and currently the ambassador -- welcomed AIPAC's work in helping to support the BTC pipeline and isolating Iran, its Persian Gulf rival, economically. Remembers Weissman:

"Prince Bandar used to send us messages. I used to meet with Adel al-Jubeir a couple times a year. Adel used to joke that if we could force an American embargo on Iranian oil, he'd buy us all Mercedes! Because Saudi [Arabia] would have had the excess capacity to make up for Iran at that time."

End of Part 1

Part 2: Wrangling over Regime Change

Keith Weissman on resisting the regime change agenda, espionage charges, and making a living.

baghdad.jpg[ feature ] With the election of George W. Bush, the events of 9/11, and the invasion of Iraq, Iran became front and center for Weissman at AIPAC. "Iran came back in a big way after the invasion of Iraq, because you had all these guys running around saying, 'Next stop Tehran!' and all that," says Weissman. Many within AIPAC, and some of Israel's top Iran-watchers, wanted to push hard for Iraq-style regime change in Iran, too, beginning with overt and covert support for dissidents, minority groups, and exile militia such as the Mojahedin-e Khalgh (MKO).

"You should see the people who crawled out of the woodwork to talk to me! I talked to monarchists, to socialists, to communists, everybody. And they all wanted AIPAC to support regime change," remembers Weissman. "Israel was also trying to unduly influence the United States, too. They were sending a lot of Iranian exiles to the United States from Europe to give talks, purporting to be Iranian leaders. A lot of times, I remember, when I went to Israel Uri Lubrani would take me to meet these people who were stashed in various hotels all over Tel Aviv and he would always make me switch cabs on the way, that kind of thing! This culture of regime change was very strong, very powerful, inside elements in Israel, and the Pentagon, the neoconservatives, a lot of pundits here."

But Weissman says that AIPAC and other organized Jewish groups in the United States avoided direct calls for regime change, and he takes credit for restraining AIPAC in that regard. "A Jewish organization would not so much get up and say, 'We want regime change.' They might say, 'We need to contain Iran,'" says Weissman.

"[Support for regime change] was the personal opinion of many people in AIPAC, but it never uttered the words 'regime change.' And I think my efforts were part of the reason why they never did," he says, adding: "How would it look anyway? This is what makes it so stupid! The American Jewish community choosing the next government of Iran? Helping to change the next government of Iran? How can that government have any legitimacy? It's completely ridiculous. And I think the arguments that I raised against it convinced AIPAC, no matter what they personally thought, they realized that what I was saying was right."

It was at this time that the AIPAC-Franklin espionage controversy erupted. What happened and why? Perhaps the full story of the Rosen-Weissman case, Franklin's involvement, and what role was played by AIPAC and by Israel will never be known. So far, it's never been proven that either of the two AIPAC officials either received or passed on any classified documents, either to Israeli intelligence or anyone else. According to Weissman, they merely engaged in what every Washington insider does, namely, meeting with and sharing gossip with U.S. officials, embassy officials, and journalists. Franklin, the Pentagon Iran analyst, never gave Rosen or Weissman any actual documents, Weissman says, though he did try to get the support of AIPAC and a handful of neoconservative outsiders for the Pentagon's battle with the State Department over policy toward Iran.

There's a clear difference between spying and trading information, of course. If the FBI and the Justice Department had evidence that Franklin, Rosen, or Weissman were engaged in classical espionage, they presumably would have said so, and charged them accordingly. Had Rosen and Weissman conspired with the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service, in a scheme to ferret out U.S. secrets, and had that scheme been uncovered by the FBI, then the two AIPAC officials would have been charged with spying. But there's no evidence that anything like that happened. Instead, if Rosen and Weissman simply met with Franklin -- and other U.S. officials -- and then shared what they learned with Israeli embassy officials and others, including think tank types, then it's hard to argue that any laws were broken. That's what Rosen and Weissman's lawyers argued, and in any event the case was eventually dropped.

So what does Weissman think was going on? He believes that U.S. law enforcement officials, including the FBI, and CIA officials were so angry over the role of neoconservatives in backing the war in Iraq that they launched an investigation that sought to link Wolfowitz, Feith, and other Jewish Pentagon officials to Israeli intelligence, AIPAC, and a panoply of neocons at the American Enterprise Institute, the Hudson Institute, and other think tanks in Washington.

"I don't think it had that much to do with Iran," says Weissman. "It had to do with Iraq." The FBI and the CIA believed, according to Weissman, that neoconservatives, AIPAC, and others were responsible for the Iraq debacle, and that they were out for payback. "This investigation was part of a much larger effort aimed at neoconservatives and AIPAC, not just Steve Rosen. Everybody in Doug Feith's office had to hire an attorney: [David] Schenker, Rhode, Michael Rubin, Mike Makovsky, all those people had to hire attorneys." They were being investigated, Weissman says, especially because many of them had ties to and contacts with Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi wheeler-dealer who led the Iraqi National Congress (INC) and who was a principal advocate for regime change in Iraq from the 1990s onward. "They were being investigated because of Chalabi," he says.

Chalabi and AIPAC did have relations before the invasion of Iraq, of course. But Weissman was highly skeptical of Chalabi. "Chalabi came to AIPAC in the late 1990s," he recalls. "I'll never forget sitting across the table from him, and he said, 'If I ever become president of Iraq, one of the first things I'll do is to recognize Israel.' And I think to myself, 'The second thing you'll do is, you'll get a bullet in the back of your head.' And I walked out of the room. I knew he was a complete idiot. Or a liar."

But he adds: "There were a lot of contacts between the Jewish community and the INC. In 2000, 2001, the INC spoke at the AIPAC policy conference. So there were links between the Jewish community groups and the Iraqi exiles, and also between the neocons and the Iraqi exiles." But Weissman insists that even so, the FBI and the Justice Department erred in believing that the contacts amounted to anything like espionage or a national security threat that required an FBI inquiry. Instead, he says, the FBI launched an investigation to go after what they saw as a conspiracy to support war in Iraq and, after that, regime change in Iran. Personally, Weissman believes that both the war in Iraq and regime change in Iran were wrongheaded. "I think that they were all bad policies, policies that a lot of people in the U.S. government badly wanted to discredit," he says.

The FBI's investigation of AIPAC, including Rosen and Weissman, apparently went back to at least 1999, half a decade before the inquiry became public and charges were filed against Franklin and the two AIPAC officials. And although the CIA wasn't overtly involved in the FBI investigation, Weissman says that there is clear evidence that the CIA was indirectly involved.

"Don't forget, the head of the office that was investigating us had just come back there from two years helping the CIA with counterintelligence," says Weissman. That was David Szady, the FBI's assistant director for counterintelligence from 2001 to 2006. During the period of the run-up to the war in Iraq, the CIA itself was virtually at war with the Pentagon, clashing over a wide range of intelligence issues. At the Defense Department, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, along with Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary, and Doug Feith, the head of the Pentagon's policy shop, argued forcefully that Saddam Hussein was in league with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups and that Iraq maintained an aggressive program to develop and stockpile weapons of mass destruction. At the CIA, however, there was a great deal of skepticism over Iraq's purported involvement with terrorism and WMD. And the fact that Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith -- along with a passel of other DOD officials, including Rhode, Schenker, Rubin, and Makovsky -- had allied with Richard Perle and other neoconservatives at the American Enterprise Institute alarmed the CIA.

Not only that, but since the early 1980s many CIA and FBI officials believed that Israel and AIPAC were engaged in gray-area espionage to acquire U.S. secrets and to obtain and pass around leaked information from classified files, says Weissman, citing a long list of past allegations. "I think the FBI counterintelligence people were just so frustrated that they could never bring a case against these people," he says.

And then the invasion of Iraq brought things to a head. "Now remember, at this time Iraq started to go really bad," says Weissman. "So by then a lot of these agencies were saying, 'We told you so. We gotta stop these guys. They're bringing us down. The Arab world is against us. They're destroying American interests everywhere.' They're seeing all this stuff, they remember that after 9/11 the United States had the sympathy of the world, and they focused the blame on the neocons."

Weissman doesn't dispute that the FBI, CIA, and others were correct in blaming the neocons for the debacle in Iraq. "I do," he says. "I agree with them."

To the extent that the Rosen-Weissman case was about Iran, not Iraq, it had to do with Franklin's efforts to win support from AIPAC and others for a tougher U.S. policy toward Iran.

feith_and_franklin.jpg"Larry Franklin was the Pentagon Iran analyst," says Weissman. He was a fellow traveler with the neoconservatives, often appearing in the front row of the audience at American Enterprise Institute events on Iraq, sitting alongside Harold Rhode and other DOD officials. According to Weissman, Franklin (pictured whispering to Feith) was one of a handful of U.S. officials who felt that after what they saw as the successful toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iran was next on the list, not least because Iran was interfering in Iraq in a way calculated to undermine the U.S. presence there. "At that time American triumphalism was ridin' high! And all those guys could see was Iranian interference with Iraq, backing of elements that were killing Americans. All they could see was an unpopular regime that was doing things that harmed American interests," says Weissman.

"One of the things that Larry came to realize, during the wars between the Pentagon and the CIA, was that they were the only ones who wanted to go after Iran. The Pentagon viewed the State Department [as] panty-waists who were gonna appease [Iran], always trying to undercut whatever the Pentagon did. Larry got the idea that he would bring AIPAC into that, trying to enlist AIPAC's help in support of a much tougher policy toward Iran than the administration was pursuing at that time."

So far, Weissman says, Secretary of State Colin Powell had been able to steer American policy away from a showdown with Iran. "The neocons were so frustrated about this," Weissman says. "They hated Powell more than they hated anybody."

By 2004, Weissman says, the Bush administration hadn't settled on a concrete policy toward Iran. "The White House never did anything about this because there was so much fighting about Iran. They were trying to write a policy document about Iran from the first day they started in power to, oh, the first day I met Larry Franklin in '03. And they never actually wrote one, because neither side could ever agree."

Continues Weissman: "Larry thought he needed more ammunition in his holster, in his belt, to move the administration away from Powell and closer to Rumsfeld-Cheney. And he must have thought that AIPAC could help because of our power in Congress. So he sought us out. He pushed for the meeting and he asked a mutual friend of ours to set it up."

That friend, Weissman says, was Michael Makovsky, who worked in the Department of Defense. Currently, Makovsky is the project director at the Bipartisan Policy Center, an organization that has taken a hawkish position on policy toward Iran. Makovsky's brother, David Makovsky, is a top official at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

For his part, Weissman was on Powell's side. "There's no question that I agreed with Powell's set of beliefs, that we should try to encourage dialogue, to see if we could build on cooperation over Iraq," he says. "I thought that Powell was right." In response to Franklin's entreaties, he says, neither he nor AIPAC provided any help.

"He wanted us to push for the creation of a document that would become U.S. policy," says Weissman. "The Pentagon was writing a draft of it, the State Department was writing a draft of it. The State Department finished its draft in the summer of '02. The Pentagon was still writing its draft in the spring of '03, right around the time of Iraq, and they were using Iran and Iraq as part of their ideological bombardment against what Powell wanted."

At the time, Weissman remembers, Iran was being especially cooperative with the United States. "There was a period of time, right after the war, when the Iranians though that they really were next," he says. "Remember, they asked if they could help pick up the downed pilots, there were whispers that there might be something to build on."

Ironically, Iran also sent to the United States the rough outline of a proposal for improved relations, often described as the Grand Bargain approach, in which Iran promised to suspend its nuclear program and modify its Middle East policies in exchange for recognition and security guarantees from the United States. The proposal, prepared by Sadegh Kharrazi, an Iranian diplomat, was forwarded to the United States through the offices of the Swiss ambassador. The arrival of the Kharrazi memo coincided exactly with Rosen's and Weissman's second meeting with Larry Franklin. "The second time we met Larry Franklin, Rosen and I had to cut the lunch a little short because we were meeting with the Swiss ambassador, who was bringing the Kharrazi initiative with him."

Weissman isn't sure if the Iranian proposal was legitimate or not, that is, whether it was written with the concordance of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, or whether it was more of a freelanced peace offering from an Iranian faction. Since then, there has been a lot of debate about the proposal, though most analysts believe that at the very least it was worth a formal U.S. response. Instead, it was ignored. Soon afterward, Weissman believes, the whole thing was overtaken by events. "In a matter of weeks, when the United States got more and more bogged down in the insurrection in Iraq, [Iran] started to realize that they could tweak us anytime they wanted, in Iraq," he says. "And probably did."

Weissman believes that at the time, and to this day, Iran is less concerned about a U.S. attack than it is about an aggressive American policy aimed at toppling the regime through support to dissident groups and ethnic minorities and propaganda beamed into Iran.

Weissman says that Iran was alarmed at the possibility that the United States might engage in overt and covert efforts to instigate opposition inside Iran. He says that many in AIPAC, especially among its lay leadership and biggest donors, strongly backed regime change in Iran. "That was what Larry [Franklin] and his friends wanted," he says. "It included lots of different parts, like broadcasts, giving money to groups that would conduct sabotage, it included bringing the Mojahedin[-e Khalgh], bringing them out of Iraq and letting them go back to Iran to carry out missions for the United States. Harold Rhode backed this.... There were all these guys, Michael Ledeen, 'Next stop Tehran, next stop Damascus.'"

But when Franklin asked Weissman for help, he turned him down. "We didn't do anything. We chose not to do anything. I told Rosen it was a terrible idea, and it wouldn't work, and all it would do would be to make more trouble."

Unbeknownst to Rosen and Weissman, of course, their contacts with Franklin were being monitored by the FBI.

At the end of our interview, I asked Weissman how he managed to operate at AIPAC for so long with so many contradictions in his head. He was sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, and he had Palestinian and other Arab friends, yet he worked for an organization that single-handedly undermined the possibility that Palestine might emerge as a nation. Ideologically, he was much closer to Israeli doves and to progressives within the Labor Party, yet he was employed by a group that was hand in glove with the Likud and other far-right elements in Israel. And he was opposed to the war in Iraq and to confrontation with Iran, yet his bosses at AIPAC hobnobbed with Ahmed Chalabi and joined with neoconservatives to push for a showdown with Iran.

"They were doing it out of patriotism," Weissman says, even as he disagrees with their choices. "They thought they were doing it for the right reasons."

And Weissman? Why didn't he just quit, and do something else? It turns out that sometimes the simplest explanation is the one that rings most true. It was a job. "Well," he says. "Two kids in college. I finally got up to over a hundred thousand dollars. I got to work on issues that I liked, and I was able to have some influence. I was listened to. I was able to keep AIPAC away from the Iraqi opposition in the 1990s, and to keep AIPAC away from regime change later on. Those were the things I liked, and those were the things I thought I did good on."

Finally, he says, "And I was looking for another job when all this happened."

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