How the Council on Foreign Relations Controls Conservative Republicans

Tea Party Economist

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I sent a stripped-down version of my movie review of 2016 to my Tea Party Economist list. I knew it would outrage some of them.

Why did I do it? To make sure D’Souza sees it. The list is large. Someone will send it to him. I want him to know that the Old Right isn’t buying his thesis that Obama’s agenda is somehow uniquely wrong because it is anti-colonialist. Obama is a defender of the American Empire as Bush was. His agenda is that of one of the factions of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is not in bed with the neocons, meaning big on Israel, but the dominant foreign policy objectives of the CFR were pro-oil and therefore pro-Arab long before 1948, let alone the late 1960s, when the neocons showed up.

In domestic policy, his rhetoric is Democrat. But this is nothing new. The domestic policies of both CFR wings are the same: the maintenance of the American Empire, what President Eisenhower in his Farewell Address (1961) called the military-industrial complex. He should have called it the military-industrial-oil-banking-AIPAC complex. This is why Clinton had the Homeland Security legislation in reserve, and why Bush presented it to Congress when the nation was in hysteria over 9-11.

I have discussed Council on Foreign Relations Team A vs. Team B for 35 years. I have seen two anti-CFR people get through the screening.

The only exception to the vetting process over the last 80 years was Barry Goldwater. When he got the nomination, the eastern wing of the Republican Party walked out of the convention, and it would not provide the money to let him win. The media turned against him overwhelmingly. The Council on Foreign Relations members understood exactly what he meant in terms of a threat to them, and they torpedoed his campaign. They cared not at all that Lyndon Johnson would win. That was irrelevant to them. It is equally irrelevant to them today whether Obama wins or loses. He is expendable. So is Romney.


Ronald Reagan also seems to be an exception. Here was one case in which the elite really did have trouble suppressing his candidacy. He was too good with the media, and he had already proven twice that he could win in California. There were no real leaders in the Republican Party in early 1980 – before Volcker’s recession – who were capable of beating Carter.

Reagan trounced George Bush in the primaries. He told his supporters in the “Reagan Right” that he would not select Bush as his running mate. Yet he reversed himself at the Republican National Convention. Not only did he put Bush on the ticket, he turned the White House over to James Baker III, Bush’s senior advisor, then as now. Baker became Reagan’s Chief of Staff. Bush became the Presidential nominee in 1988. He needed the VP position. No one since Herbert Hoover had been elected President without having been a governor, a U.S. Senator, VP, or a victorious general. As soon as Bush was inaugurated in 1989, he appointed Baker as his Secretary of State. Bush had been a Skull & Bones member at Yale. He was married into the family of Brown Brothers Harriman, the international private banking firm. He was a CFR member.

Reagan’s initial cabinet contained only one person who could be regarded as a philosophical conservative, James Watt, the Interior Secretary. He was fired two years later. His replacement, William Clark, was conservative. He was pushed out by Michael Deaver. He lasted two years.

I have discussed the CFR’s vetting process here.

The story of the CFR is well known to those of us who have been in the conservative wing of the party for over 50 years. It has been over half a century since Dan Smoot wrote The Invisible Government (1960). In late 1964, Robert Welch of the John Birch Society shifted his entire life’s work from anti-Communism to anti-conspiracy, and forced the restructuring of the Birch Society’s magazine, American Opinion. The story of the CFR/Federal Reserve alliance has been known to the hard-core Right for a generation. But it is still not known to the standard conservative, who came into the movement in 1980 or later.


This is why any attempt to warn conservatives about the latest Republican Party presidential campaign is always regarded by them as an attack from the Left. They think of themselves as being on the far Right, and they cannot abide by any criticism based on the history of Republican politics, basic economics, CFR influence, or anything else. They just assume that the criticism has to come from somebody on the Left, because they have been trained to think that the national conservatives within the Republican Party’s leadership do not share with Democrat liberals the same background, ideology, social networks, and screening. They are outraged by criticism. Why? Because they perceive that such criticism has an unstated implication: they have been taken in. No one wants to hear this.

D’Souza made a movie about Obama as anti-colonialist. This is utterly irrelevant in American foreign policy. Franklin Roosevelt was an anti-colonialist. He was an anti-British colonialist. He used World War II to replace British colonialism. Harry Truman completed the process. The Council on Foreign Relations supported this replacement. It still does. Truman’s recognition of the state of Israel had serious opponents in the Council on Foreign Relations, most notably his Secretary of State, George C. Marshall. Obama is extending a pre-Israel (1948), non-neoconservative (post-1965) American agenda in foreign policy. D’Souza ignores all this in his movie. So what if Obama is anti-British colonialism? It has been gone for 50 years. The main theme of his movie is utterly irrelevant. It is simply a neocon propaganda film well within the orbit CFR opinion against the big-oil wing.

The standard Republican conservative, being ignorant of the history of American foreign policy since 1947, is blissfully unaware of this.

Here is an example that I received from one subscriber.

I am deeply offended by your liberal Mafia remarks. Your opinions are far from fact and in fact are B.S. right out of the liberal handbook. Sickening, misleading, untruthful and disgusting. America is not stupid as you seem to think. Look in the mirror!

I have been told this for over 40 years. In high school, I was taught by a very conservative civics teacher, who was legendary in Southern California. He was the most conservative public school high school teacher in the region. About a decade after I graduated from his class, I was a teaching assistant at the University of California, Riverside. One of his recent graduates had been in one of my sections. I knew nothing about this. Later, the teacher told me that this student had informed him that I was a communist. This was at about the time that I was writing my book on Marx, Marx’s Religion of Revolution.

The student could not comprehend the meaning of communism. He could not comprehend the difference between the Old Right and conservatism. At that point, neoconservatism was only about three or four years old, so he probably was not familiar with that strand of political theory.

The conservative movement has always been filled with naïve people. People are attracted to a fringe movement, rarely because of their understanding of the mainstream, but only because they don’t like the mainstream, and they are determined to take a stand against it. The subtleties of the political philosophy or economic theories of the group they joined are lost on them. They got excited. They committed. And they now send their money to the Republican Party, because it seems to be fighting all those terrible liberals. The thought that the two parties have been completely vetted at the top by the same group of elite deal-doers, who in fact are very famous people, does not occur to them. The fact that, at the top of American politics, the limits of discussion have been set by the same group of a few thousand people, is lost on them.


When you realize that the process is international, as described in the book by David Rothkopf, Superclass, it seems beyond belief. How is it that approximately 6,000 people control virtually all of the agenda for the Western nations? Your typical conservative probably would believe this with respect to the internationalist connections of the elite. They would blame the impotent UN. But they seem to feel that this elite did not begin the screening process of the present leaders of both political parties three decades or four decades earlier. These people say that they do not trust the Ivy League, yet it never occurs to them that virtually everybody they are asked to vote for as President is a graduate of one of two or possibly three Ivy League universities. It never occurs to them that there is cause and effect in education. It never occurs to them the Ivy League universities are really, truly as good as the critics think they are with respect to their ability to set the terms of discussion, meaning the exclusion of the fringes on both the right and left, among those people who graduated from the system.

So, the political charade goes on. It will continue to go on until the day that the federal government does not have the ability to write the checks any longer. At that point, all over the world, the superclass will find that they have lost legitimacy in the eyes of the people, and they have lost the ability to control what happens at the local level.

The key to this is a combination of money and intellectual screening at the university and graduate school level. The elite defines the extreme limits of acceptable discussion. The elite leaders do not attempt to tell people what they ought to believe inside these limits. They do define what constitutes extremism and therefore what constitutes an unacceptable list of assumptions and policies within the network of the good old boys. Communism is out. It has always been out. Libertarianism is obviously out. Conservatism was out until Reagan was elected. There were a few early conservatives who got inside the gates, the most famous being William F. Buckley. Buckley got inside the gates early. He got into Yale, and he was tapped to join Skull and Bones. Then he went into the CIA. So, he was vetted very early.

To get into the inner sanctum, you have to abandon extremism. Whether you are from the Right or the Left, the extreme positions are not acceptable. People who have spent their lives trying to get into the inner ring understand the limits, and they accept them. This is how the limits of acceptable discourse are imposed on the people who formulate policy, advise presidents, and write for the establishment media outlets. None of this is understood by the average conservative in the Republican Party. I think it is much more understood by the far left members of the Democratic Party. People on the far left believe in politics, and they learn how the game is played early in their lives. Conservatives do not.

So, it is easier for the CFR to control the terms of discourse on the Right than on the Left, or so it seems most of the time. The far Left did get sucked in by Obama’s rhetoric in 2008. It is highly unlikely that they will be sucked in again. They will probably vote for him. I doubt that they will vote for Romney. They will not vote the same enthusiasm this time. Voting to keep Guantanamo Bay filled with prisoners for another four years is probably not high on their list of political mobilization.

Conservatives think Guantanamo is great. So, anybody who thinks Guantanamo should be shut down, as I do, is perceived automatically as somebody on the Left. This is because there has been a long tradition within the conservative movement to suppress civil rights. People who got into the movement, and have spent time in the movement, assume that the suppression of civil rights is okay. This is why Bush was able to get the Patriot Act passed, when Clinton did not have the courage to introduce it to Congress. It is easier to get conservatives to vote for something like this than it is to get Democrats to vote for it. Of course, in a time of crisis, most politicians will vote for anything that suppresses civil liberties.


If the followers of Ron Paul will ever make any difference, they are going to have to spread out and burrow in. They are going to have to go back to their hometowns, get active in local politics, and spend the next 25 years or even 50 years figuring out how the local system runs, and then taking it over. This has to be a bottom-up transformation. There is no possibility of capturing power at the top of either party. To capture control of either party will require fringe people to go to the local county level and to spend at least a generation, and maybe two generations, building a political network that will enable them to control the terms of discourse at the top. They have to do an end run around Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. This will not be easy.

September 3, 2012

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit He is also the author of a free 31-volume series, An Economic Commentary on the Bible.

Copyright © 2012 Gary North