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Tri, tri and tri again
Trilateral thinking, Mary Robinson and the secret rulers of the world
Eamonn McCann, 05 Jul 2001
There was a series on Channel 4 some weeks ago about the “Secret Rulers of the World”, featuring former Coventry City goalkeeper David Icke and other unusual persons who believe that our planet is controlled by members of the Alien community.
Icke, to be specific, believes that the world is run by 12-foot lizards from outer space who have transmogrified themselves into Kris Kristofferson, George W. Bush and other key leaders of the cold-blooded conspiracy.
More moderate theorists affect scorn for the ex-Highfield Road netminder and his like, and argue that the real Secret Rulers of the World are cabals of financiers, politicians and spooks organised within the Elders of Zion or the Bilderberg Group or the Trilateral Commission or some other sulphurously eerie outfit. I’ve always thought these theories loony, too, albeit marginally less loony than lizardly conjecture. But this is not to deny that the Trilateral Commission, for instance, is an interesting organisation.
I’ve drawn attention before in this space to the fact that, a quarter of a century ago, the youngest and the only female member of the Executive Committee of the Trilateral Commission was young Irish human rights lawyer, Mary Robinson. She wasn’t the only future president around the Trilateral’s top table. Others included Mario Soares of Portugal and Jimmy Carter of the US.
The Commission, according to its own website, was set up in 1973 to lobby for the coordination of politics and economics in the US, Japan and Western Europe. Membership was by invitation only, the invitees selected by an ad-hoc committee headed by David Rockerfeller of the Chase Manhattan Bank, which initially bankrolled the operation, and a Polish-American intellectual and White House insider with a penchant for global theorising, Zbigniew Brzezinski. All of the 325 people initially selected were, according to the Commission, “distinguished citizens with a variety of global leadership responsibilities”.
The Commission was remarkably prescient in identifying Robinson, Soares and Carter in 1973 as people with global leadership responsibilities. Soares was a former member of the Portuguese Communist Party living in exile in Paris. Carter was big in Democratic politics in Georgia but figured on nobody’s list of likely next presidents.
From its emergence, members of the Commission met regularly with powerful figures in the United States, some of the meetings set up, according to the Commission itself, by Henry Kissinger, himself a founding member of the organisation. Robinson took part in at least one discussion of global economic policy in the Oval Office with US President Gerald Ford. A photograph shows her animatedly addressing the president across the table, hand raised as if in admonishment. It must all have been a thrilling experience for a woman not yet 30, and have left a lasting impression on her.
What intruiged me when I first mentioned Robinson and the Trilateral Commission was not that there was anything necessarily sinister afoot but that I could find no mention of the matter in any profile or potted history as she began her rise towards the Irish presidency. Despite the obvious resonances of power and influence, she appears to have made no mention of it in her highly personalised 1990 election campaign. Two fully-fledged biographies touch on the affair only fleetingly.
After penning a couple of pieces on Robinson and the Commission, I put it out of mind. Robinson was moving on to other, more accessible things anyway. She won the presidency as a Labour Party nominee, with the help of a mixum-gatherum of “progressive” elements. She was later to show a certain disrespect for the office and for the people who had put her there by decamping before completing her stint to become UN Commissioner for Human Rights, based in Geneva.
She threatened last year to leave that post, too, for reasons which she has never spelt out, but was persuaded to change her mind. She is still regarded as a possible successor to Kofi Annan when he retires as UN Secretary General.
Now I read that “Robinson gets peace prize of £96,000”. The accolade in question is the Felix Houphouet Boigny Peace Prize. The late Mr. Houphouet Boigny was the first president of the Ivory Coast. I’d never heard of his prize until now.
The story told that, “Mrs. Robinson was the unanimous choice of a jury chaired by former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger.
“Another jury member, the former Portuguese president Mario Soares, said Mrs. Robinson had been chosen for ‘the ensemble of her activities...’
“Past winners (of the Houphouet Boigny prize) include former US president Jimmy Carter”.
Probably means nothing.
George W. Bush’s “point-man” in the North, as the New York Times calls him, Richard Haass, will have read the cuttings before arriving for his first visit to Belfast on June 21st. Perhaps he will have felt alarm at suggestions that one of the parties he was scheduled to meet, Sinn Fein, was intent on establishing a “North Korean style socialist dictatorship” (Daily Telegraph) or “an all-Ireland workers’ Republic” (Irish Independent). But if he was, he will have been relieved by more credible reports in the local media.
Almost certainly, his attention was drawn to a full-page interview by Robert McMillen with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in the Irish News on June 16th. McMillen’s first question was: “With the departure of Bill Clinton and the arrival of George W. Bush, isn’t American influence on the wane?”
Adams didn’t think so. Irish-American Bush supporters had assured him that “It’ll be alright, we’ll sort it out”. And so, it seemed, they had. “George W. Bush, when he came in, in his public utterances, was very positive and constructive. He didn’t put a foot wrong in terms of what was required”.
In one perspective, this was a remarkable statement, at least in its timing. Bush had attended the NATO summit in Brussels a few days earlier. European political leaders were still fuming at his refusal to reconsider his rubbishing of the Kyoto Treaty or to hold off on implementation of his multi-billion dollar “Son of Star Wars” plan for a missile defence shield.
In the weekend that was in it, there were few party leaders in Europe praising Bush for not putting a foot wrong.
Of course, and obviously, it wasn’t the impact of Bush’s policies on global politics which Adams had had in mind. He’d been referring solely to what he saw as the Bush administration’s sure-footedness in relation to the North.
One implication of this, however, is that Sinn Fein isn’t consciously seeking anything in the North which it believes George W. Bush would disapprove of, and sees no connection between the interests of the people it represents in the North and the interests of people world-wide who are struggling in various ways against global capitalism.
Further confirmation that Sinn Fein isn’t aiming at anything that Washington need worry about came in the Andersonstown News on the weekend of Haass’s arrival. Mairtin O Muilleoir, a former Sinn Fein councilllor, now a well-regarded journalist and an enthusiastic advocate of his party’s position, launched a spirited attack on the SDLP for allegedly having disparaged the achievements of the Catholic community in west Belfast. They’d gotten their comeuppance on polling day, Mairtin observed, reasonably enough.
West Belfast had a shining future, he continued, because west Belfast is a “world-class community”, and “world-class companies locate in world-class communities”.
Looking at the pattern of industrial development in the Republic, I’m not sure that this proposition stands up. But at any rate, a project designed to make working-class communties attractive to multi-national companies won’t have struck Mr. Haass as anything to be concerned about.
As for the defeated SDLP candidates, Mairtin slyly suggested that, ”Perhaps we should send them on a junket to visit the great Comeback Cities of the world: Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Barcelona and even Dublin so that they can see for themselves how regeneration is based on putting people first”.
Barcelona, from this distance, may be fair enough. Olympics, Rivaldo, chic, cred and great weather. But Boston, Chicago, Pittsburg? Has something astonishing been happening over there that the rest of the world hasn’t noticed? The last piece of footage I saw from Chicago was about the spread of soup-kitchens.
And how many Dubliners agree that the “regeneration” of their city over the last 15 years has been based on putting people first?
I reckon Mr. Haas will have concluded, accurately, that that all those stories about Sinn Fein really being a leftist party out for a fundamental transformation in class-divided society are comfortably wide of the mark.