Thursday, 22 May 2003

The masters of the universe

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".

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