By Pepe Escobar (Asia Times Online Co, Ltd.)
May 22, 2003
It may be instructive to learn what US Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld and the "Prince of Darkness" Richard Perle were
doing last weekend. From May 15 to 18 they were guests at the Trianon Palace
Hotel, close to the spectacular Versailles palace near Paris, for the annual
meeting of the Bilderberg club. Depending on the ideological prism applied,
the Bilderberg club may be considered an ultra-VIP international lobby of
the power elite of Europe and America, capable of steering international
policy from behind closed doors; a harmless "discussion group"
of politicians, academics and business tycoons; or a capitalist secret society
operating entirely through self interest and plotting world domination.
The Bilderberg club is regarded by many financial and business
elites as the high chamber of the high priests of capitalism. You can't
apply for membership of such a club. Each year, a mysterious "steering
committee" devises a selected invitation list with a maximum 100 names.
The location of their annual meeting is not exactly secret: they even have
a headquarters in Leiden, in the Netherlands. But the meetings are shrouded
in the utmost secrecy. Participants and guests rarely reveal that they are
attending. Their security is managed by military intelligence. But what
is the secretive group really up to? Well, they talk. They lobby. They try
to magnify their already immense political clout, on both sides of the Atlantic.
And everybody pledges absolute secrecy on what has been discussed.
The Bilderberg mingles central bankers, defense experts, press
barons, government ministers, prime ministers, royalty, international financiers
and political leaders from Europe and America. Guests this year, along with
Rumsfeld and Perle (US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
is also a member) included banker David Rockefeller, as well as various
members of the Rockefeller family, Henry Kissinger, Queen Beatrix of the
Netherlands, Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos of Spain, and high officials
of assorted governments. The Bilderberg does not invite - or accept - Asians,
Middle Easterners, Latin Americans or Africans.
Some of the Western world's leading financiers and foreign
policy strategists attend Bilderberg, in their view, to polish and reinforce
a virtual consensus, an illusion that globalization, defined under their
terms - what's good for banking and big business is good for everybody else
- is inevitable and for the greater good of mankind. If they have a hidden
agenda, it is the fact that their fabulous concentration of wealth and power
is completely dissociated from the explanation to their guests of how globalization
benefits 6.2 billion people. Some of the club's earlier guests went on to
become crucial players. Bill Clinton in 1991 and
Tony Blair in 1993 were invited and duly "approved"
by the Bilderberg before they took office.
There are innumerable shady, still unexplained connections between the
early Bilderberg club and the Nazis, via Prince Bernhard of
the Netherlands, the father of Queen Beatrix, who founded the club
in Bilderberg in 1954 (the name is taken from a Dutch hotel), aiming to
"increase understanding between Europe and North America". Bernhard
was a member of Adolf Hitler's SS. One of the founding members of the
Bilderberg is Otto Wolff von Amerongen - who actively improved
business links between Germany and the Soviet bloc and served on 26 boards
of directors, including Deutsche Bank. Few people know him - and perhaps
for some good reason: he has been linked to the Nazi's theft of Jewish
holdings before and during World War II.
Rumsfeld is an active Bilderberger. So is
General Peter Sutherland from Ireland, a former European
Union commissioner and chairman of Goldman Sachs and BP.
Rumsfeld and Sutherland served together in 2000 on the board of Swiss energy
company ABB. And ABB happened to have sold two light-water nuclear reactors
to North Korea. At the time, of course, North Korea was not an active member
of the "axis of evil".
This year, the Bilderberg meeting in Versailles conveniently
merged into the G8 meeting of finance ministers in Paris, a 20-minute car
ride from Versailles, on May 19. The procedure is traditional: what happens
in the Bilderberg is usually a preview of what is later discussed at the
full G8 gathering, which this year will be held from June 1 to 3 at Evian-les-Bains
in the French Alps.
On Bilderberg's first full working day on May 15, French President
Jacques Chirac delivered a welcoming speech, trying to bury the bitter divisions
among the guests over the war on Iraq by emphasizing that the US and Western
Europe are longtime allies. But Chirac's gracious hosting may not have been
enough to soothe the hawks in the US administration still miffed at "pacifist"
An influential Jewish European banker reveals that the
ruling elite in Europe is now telling their minions that the West is on
the brink of total financial meltdown; so the only way to save their
precious investments is to bet on the new global crisis centered around
the Middle East, which replaced the crisis evolving around the Cold War.
According to a banking source in the City of London connected
to Versailles, what has transpired from the 2003 meeting is that American
and European Bilderbergers have not exactly managed to control their split
over the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, as well as over Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's hardline policy against the Palestinians.
As the Bilderbergers were chattering away, Sharon all but rejected Bush's
Middle East road map, already endorsed by the other members of the so-called
quartet: the United Nations, the European Union and Russia. This road map,
as it stands, is over: even the presence of US Secretary of State Colin
Powell - who stopped by Versailles to brief the Bilderbergers - was not
enough to persuade Sharon to even discuss the dismantling of Israeli settlements
in Palestinian territory.
American imperial adventures are usually rehearsed at Bilderberg
meetings. Europe's elite were opposed to an American invasion of Iraq
since the 2002 Bilderberg meeting in Chantilly, Virginia. Rumsfeld himself
had promised them it wouldn't happen. Last week, everybody struck back at
Rumsfeld, asking about the infamous "weapons of mass destruction".
Most of Europe's elite do not believe American promises that Iraq's oil
will "benefit the Iraqi people". They know that revenues from
Iraqi oil will be used to rebuild what America has bombed. And the debate
is still raging on what kind of contracts which rewarded Bechtel and Halliburton
will "benefit" Western Europe.
Europe's elite, according to those close to Bilderberg, are
suspicious that the US does not need or even want a stable, legitimate
central government in Iraq. When that happens, there will be no reason
for the US to remain in the country. Europe's elite see the US establishing
"facts on the ground": establishing a long-term military presence
and getting the oil flowing again under American control. This could go
on for years, as long as the Americans can guarantee enough essential services
to prevent the Iraqi people from engaging in a war of national liberation.
It was also extremely hard at the Versailles meeting to forge
a consensus on the necessity of a European Union army totally independent
of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The US establishment,
of course, is against the EU army. But so are some Europeans, starting with
anti-army cheerleader Lord Robertson, NATO's secretary general. Europe's
elite can't stand US domination of NATO any more. Some Europeans suggest
a separate force, but controlled by NATO. Americans argue that a separate
EU force would dissolve NATO's role as the UN's world army. And Americans
insist that NATO is no longer confined to the defense of Europe: its troops
now could go anywhere in the world, directed or not by the UN Security Council.
The impasse remains.
All these crucial developments were discussed behind closed
doors. The Trianon Palace Hotel in Versailles was closed to the public and
all non-Bilderberg guests had to check out. Part-time employees were sent
home. The ones who remained were told that they would be fired if caught
revealing anything about the meeting. They couldn't speak to any Bilderberger
unless spoken to. They couldn't look anybody in the eye. Armed guards completely
isolated and cordoned off the hotel. Some members of the American corporate
press were there - but the public will never know about it: Bilderberg news
is not fit to print - or broadcast. No journalists from any media controlled
by Bilderberg multinational tycoons such as Rupert Murdoch were or will
be allowed to report it. Even if they somehow managed to crash the party.
There's no business like (private) elite business.
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