Rockefeller, Morgan, and War

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This article
is excerpted from Wall
Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy
, chapter 8, “Rockefeller,
Morgan, and War” (1984; 2011).

During the
1930s, the Rockefellers pushed hard for war against Japan, which
they saw as competing with them vigorously for oil and rubber
resources in Southeast Asia and as endangering the Rockefellers’
cherished dreams of a mass “China market” for petroleum products.
On the other hand, the Rockefellers took a noninterventionist
position in Europe, where they had close financial ties with German
firms such as I.G.
Farben and Co.
, and very few close relations with Britain
and France.

The Morgans,
in contrast, as usual deeply committed to their financial ties
with Britain and France, once again plumped early for war with
Germany, while their interest in the Far East had become minimal.
Indeed, US ambassador to Japan Joseph C. Grew, former Morgan partner,
was one of the few officials in the Roosevelt administration genuinely
interested in peace with Japan.

World War
II might therefore be considered, from one point of view, as a
coalition war: the Morgans got their war in Europe, the
Rockefellers theirs in Asia. Such disgruntled Morgan men
as Lewis W. Douglas and Dean G. Acheson (a protégé
of Henry Stimson), who had left the early Roosevelt administration
in disgust at its soft-money policies and economic nationalism,
came happily roaring back into government service with the advent
of World War II. Nelson A. Rockefeller, for his part, became head
of Latin American activities during World War II, and thereby
acquired his taste for government service.

After World
War II, the united Rockefeller–Morgan–Kuhn, Loeb eastern Establishment
was not allowed to enjoy its financial and political supremacy unchallenged
for long. “Cowboy” Sun Belt firms, maverick oil men and construction
men from Texas, Florida, and southern California began to challenge
the eastern Establishment “Yankees” for political power. While both
groups favor the Cold War, the Cowboys are more nationalistic, more
hawkish, and less inclined to worry about what our European allies
are thinking. They are also much less inclined to bail out the now
Rockefeller-controlled Chase Manhattan Bank and other Wall Street
banks that loaned recklessly to Third World and Communist countries
and expect the US taxpayer – through outright taxes or the
printing of US dollars – to pick up the tab.

It should
be clear that the name of the political party in power is far
less important than the particular regime’s financial and banking
connections. The foreign-policy power for so long of Nelson Rockefeller’s
personal foreign affairs adviser, Henry A. Kissinger, a discovery
of the extraordinarily powerful Rockefeller–Chase Manhattan
Bank elder statesman John J. McCloy, is testimony to the importance
of financial power – as is the successful lobbying by Kissinger
and Chase Manhattan’s head, David Rockefeller, to induce Jimmy
Carter to allow the ailing shah of Iran into the US – thus
precipitating the humiliating hostage crisis.

Despite differences
in nuance, it is clear that Ronald Reagan’s originally proclaimed
challenge to Rockefeller-Morgan power in the Council of Foreign
Relations and to the Rockefeller-created Trilateral Commission
has fizzled, and that the “permanent government” continues to
rule regardless of the party nominally in power. As a result,
the much-heralded “bipartisan foreign policy” consensus imposed
by the Establishment since World War II seems to remain safely
in place.

David Rockefeller,
chairman of the board of his family’s Chase Manhattan Bank from
1970 until recently, established the Trilateral Commission in 1973,
with the financial backing of the CFR and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Joseph Kraft, syndicated Washington columnist who himself has the
distinction of being both a CFR member and a Trilateralist, has
accurately described the CFR as a “school for statesmen,” which
“comes close to being an organ of what C. Wright Mills has called
the Power Elite – a group of men, similar in interest and outlook,
shaping events from invulnerable positions behind the scenes.”

The idea
of the Trilateral Commission was to internationalize policy formation,
the commission consisting of a small group of multinational corporate
leaders, politicians, and foreign-policy experts from the United
States, Western Europe, and Japan, who meet to coordinate economic
and foreign policy among their respective nations.

Perhaps the
most powerful single figure in foreign policy since World War
II, a beloved adviser to all presidents, is the octogenarian John
J. McCloy. During World War II, McCloy virtually ran the War Department
as assistant to aging Secretary Stimson; it was McCloy who presided
over the decision to round up all Japanese Americans and place
them in concentration camps in World War II, and he is virtually
the only American left who still justifies that action.

Before and
during the war, McCloy, a disciple of Morgan lawyer Stimson, moved
in the Morgan orbit; his brother-in-law, John S. Zinsser, was
on the board of directors of J.P. Morgan & Co. during the
1940s. But, reflecting the postwar power shift from Morgan to
Rockefeller, McCloy moved quickly into the Rockefeller ambit.
He became a partner of the Wall Street corporate law firm of Milbank,
Tweed, Hope, Hadley & McCloy, which had long served the Rockefeller
family and the Chase Bank as legal counsel.

From there
he moved to become chairman of the board of the Chase Manhattan
Bank, a director of the Rockefeller Foundation, and of Rockefeller
Center, Inc., and finally, from 1953 until 1970, chairman of the
board of the Council on Foreign Relations. During the Truman administration,
McCloy served as president of the World Bank and then US high commissioner
for Germany. He was also a special adviser to President John F.
Kennedy on disarmament, and chairman of Kennedy’s Coordinating Committee
on the Cuban Crisis. It was McCloy who “discovered” Professor Henry
A. Kissinger for the Rockefeller forces. It is no wonder that John
K. Galbraith and Richard Rovere have dubbed McCloy “Mr. Establishment.”

A glance
at foreign-policy leaders since World War II will reveal the domination
of the banker elite. Truman’s first secretary of defense was James
V. Forrestal, former president of the investment banking firm
of Dillon, Read & Co., closely allied to the Rockefeller financial
group. Forrestal had also been a board member of the Chase Securities
Corporation, an affiliate of the Chase National Bank.

Another Truman
defense secretary was Robert A. Lovett, a partner of the powerful
New York investment banking house of Brown Brothers Harriman.
At the same time that he was secretary of defense, Lovert continued
to be a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation. Secretary of the
Air Force Thomas K. Finletter was a top Wall Street corporate
lawyer and member of the board of the CFR while serving in the
cabinet. ambassador to Soviet Russia, ambassador to Great Britain,
and secretary of commerce in the Truman administration was the
powerful multimillionaire W. Averell Harriman, an often-underrated
but dominant force with the Democratic Party since the days of
FDR. Harriman was a partner of Brown Brothers Harriman.

Also ambassador
to Great Britain under Truman was Lewis W. Douglas, brother-in-law
of John J. McCloy, a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, and
a board member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Following Douglas
as ambassador to the Court of St. James was Walter S. Gifford, chairman
of the board of AT&T, and member of the board of trustees of
the Rockefeller Foundation for almost two decades. Ambassador to
NATO under Truman was William H. Draper Jr., vice president of Dillon,
Read & Co.

Also influential
in helping the Truman administration organize the Cold War was
director of the policy-planning staff of the State Department,
Paul H. Nitze. Nitze, whose wife was a member of the Pratt family,
associated with the Rockefeller family since the origins of Standard
Oil, had been vice president of Dillon, Read & Co.

When Truman
entered the Korean War, he created an Office of Defense Mobilization
to run the domestic economy during the war. The first director
was Charles E. (“Electric Charlie”) Wilson, president of the Morgan-controlled
General Electric Company, who also served as board member of the
Morgans’ Guaranty Trust Company. His two most influential assistants
were Sidney J. Weinberg, ubiquitous senior partner in the Wall
Street investment-banking firm of Goldman Sachs & Co., and
former general Lucius D. Clay, chairman of the board of Continental
Can Co., and a director of the Lehman Corporation.

McCloy as president of the World Bank, and continuing in that
post throughout the two terms of Dwight Eisenhower, was Eugene
Black. Black had served for 14 years as vice president of the
Chase National Bank, and was persuaded to take the World Bank
post by the bank’s chairman of the board, Winthrop W. Aldrich,
brother-in-law of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

The Eisenhower
administration proved to be a field day for the Rockefeller interests.
While president of Columbia University, Eisenhower was invited to
high-level dinners where he met and was groomed for president by
top leaders from the Rockefeller and Morgan ambits, including the
chairman of the board of Rockefeller’s Standard Oil of New Jersey,
the presidents of six other big oil companies, including Standard
of California and Socony-Vacuum, and the executive vice president
of J.P. Morgan & Co.

One dinner
was hosted by Clarence Dillon, the multimillionaire retired founder
of Dillon, Read & Co., where the guests included Russell B.
Leffingwell, chairman of the board of both J.P. Morgan & Co.
and the CFR (before McCloy); John M. Schiff, a senior partner
of the investment-banking house of Kuhn, Loeb & Co.; the financier
Jeremiah Milbank, a director of the Chase Manhattan Bank; and
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

Even earlier,
during 1949, Eisenhower had been introduced through a special
study group to key figures in the CFR. The study group devised
a plan to create a new organization called the American Assembly
– in essence an expanded CFR study group – whose main
function was reputedly to build up Eisenhower’s prospects for
the presidency. A leader of the “Citizens for Eisenhower” committee,
who later became Ike’s ambassador to Great Britain, was the multimillionaire
John Hay Whitney, scion of several wealthy families, whose granduncle,
Oliver H. Payne, had been one of the associates of John D. Rockefeller,
Sr. in founding the Standard Oil Company. Whitney was head of
his own investment concern, J.H. Whitney & Co., and later
became publisher of the New York Herald Tribune.

“It should
be clear that the name of the political party in power is far
less important than the particular regime’s financial and banking

Running foreign
policy during the Eisenhower administration was the Dulles family,
led by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, who had also concluded
the US peace treaty with Japan under Harry Truman. Dulles had
for three decades been a senior partner of the top Wall Street
corporate-law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, whose most important
client was Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company of New Jersey. Dulles
had been for 15 years a member of the board of the Rockefeller
Foundation, and before assuming the post of Secretary of State
was chairman of the board of that institution.

Most important
is the little-known fact that Dulles’s wife was Janet Pomeroy
Avery, a first cousin of John D. Rockefeller Jr. Heading the supersecret
Central Intelligence Agency during the Eisenhower years was Dulles’s
brother, Allen Welsh Dulles, also a partner in Sullivan &
Cromwell. Allen Dulles had long been a trustee of the CFR and
had served as its president from 1947 to 1951. Their sister, Eleanor
Lansing Dulles, was head of the Berlin desk of the State Department
during that decade.

of State, and the man who succeeded John Foster Dulles in the
spring 1959, was former Massachusetts governor Christian A. Herter.
Herter’s wife, like Nitze’s, was a member of the Pratt family.
Indeed, his wife’s uncle, Herbert L. Pratt, had been for many
years president or chairman of the board of Standard Oil Company
of New York. One of Mrs. Herter’s cousins, Richardson Pratt, had
served as assistant treasurer of Standard Oil of New Jersey up
to 1945. Furthermore, one of Herter’s own uncles, a physician,
had been for many years treasurer of the Rockefeller Institute
for Medical Research.

Herter was
succeeded as Undersecretary of State by Eisenhower’s ambassador
to France, C. Douglas Dillon, son of Clarence, and himself chairman
of the Board of Dillon, Read & Co. Dillon was soon to become
a trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation.

Perhaps to
provide some balance for his banker-business coalition, Eisenhower
appointed as secretary of defense three men in the Morgan rather
than the Rockefeller ambit. Charles B. (“Engine Charlie”) Wilson
was president of General Motors, member of the board of J.P. Morgan
& Co. Wilson’s successor, Neil H. McElroy, was president of
Proctor & Gamble Co. His board chairman, R.R. Deupree, was also
a director of J.P. Morgan & Co.

The third
secretary of defense, who had been undersecretary and secretary
of the Navy under Eisenhower, was Thomas S. Gates Jr., who had
been a partner of the Morgan-connected Philadelphia investment-banking
firm of Drexel & Co. When Gates stepped down as defense secretary,
he became president of the newly formed flagship commercial bank
for the Morgan interests, the Morgan Guaranty Trust Co.

Serving as
Secretary of the Navy and then Deputy Secretary of Defense (and
later secretary of the Treasury) under Eisenhower was Texas businessman
Robert B. Anderson. After leaving the Defense Department, Anderson
became a board member of the Rockefeller-controlled American Overseas
Investing Co., and, before becoming Secretary of the Treasury,
he borrowed $84,000 from Nelson A. Rockefeller to buy stock in
Nelson’s International Basic Economy Corporation.

Head of the
important Atomic Energy Commission during the Eisenhower years
was Lewis L. Strauss. For two decades, Strauss had been a partner
in the investment banking firm of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. In 1950,
Strauss had become financial adviser to the Rockefeller family,
soon also becoming a board member of Rockefeller Center, Inc.

A powerful
force in deciding foreign policy was the National Security Council,
which included on it the Dulles brothers, Strauss, and Wilson.
Particularly important is the post of national-security adviser
to the President. Eisenhower’s first national security adviser
was Robert Cutler, president of the Old Colony Trust Co., the
largest trust operation outside New York City. The Old Colony
was a trust affiliate of the First National Bank of Boston.

After two years
in the top national-security post, Cutler returned to Boston to
become chairman of the board of Old Colony Trust, returning after
a while to the national-security slot for two more years. In between,
Eisenhower had two successive national security advisers. The first
was Dillon Anderson, a Houston corporate attorney, who did work
for several oil companies. Particularly significant was Anderson’s
position as chairman of the board of a small but fascinating Connecticut
firm called Electro-Mechanical Research, Inc. Electro-Mechanical
was closely associated with certain Rockefeller financiers; thus,
one of its directors was Godfrey Rockefeller, a limited partner
in the investment banking firm of Clark, Dodge & Co.

After more
than a year, Anderson resigned from his national security post
and was replaced by William H. Jackson, a partner of the investment
firm of J.H. Whitney & Co. Before assuming his powerful position,
Dillon Anderson had been one of several men serving as special
hush-hush consultants to the National Security Council. Another
special adviser was Eugene Holman, president of Rockefeller’s
Standard Oil Company of New Jersey.

We may mention
two important foreign-policy actions of the Eisenhower administration
which seem to reflect the striking influence of personnel directly
tied to bankers and financial interests. In 1951, the regime of
Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran decided to nationalize the British-owned
oil holdings of the Anglo-Iranian Oil company. It took no time for
the newly established Eisenhower administration to intervene heavily
in this situation. CIA director and former Standard Oil lawyer Allen
W. Dulles flew to Switzerland to organize the covert overthrow of
the Mossadegh regime, the throwing of Mossadegh into prison, and
the restoration of the Shah to the throne of Iran.

lengthy behind-the-scenes negotiations, the oil industry was put
back into action as purchasers and refiners of Iranian oil. But
this time the picture was significantly different. Instead of the
British getting all of the oil pie, their share was reduced to 40
percent of the new oil consortium, with five top US oil companies
(Standard Oil of New Jersey, Socony-Vacuum – formerly Standard
Oil of NY, and now Mobil – Standard Oil of California, Gulf,
and Texaco) getting another 40 percent.

It was later
disclosed that Secretary of State Dulles placed a sharp upper
limit on any participation in the consortium by smaller independent
oil companies in the United States. In addition to the rewards
to the Rockefeller interests, the CIA’s man-on-the-spot directing
the operation, Kermit Roosevelt, received his due by quickly becoming
a vice president of Mellon’s Gulf Oil Corp.


N. Rothbard
(1926–1995) was dean of the Austrian
School, founder of modern libertarianism, and chief academic
officer of the Mises Institute.
He was also editor — with Lew Rockwell — of The
Rothbard-Rockwell Report
, and appointed Lew as his
literary executor. See
his books.

Best of Murray Rothbard

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