The Trilateral Commission:
Effect on the Middle East
Therefore, the gap between Algeria's President Boumediene's conception and that of Henry Kissinger's could hardly have been greater. They were diametrically opposed on the basic rules of the game of North/South economic exchanges. Each demanded a fundamental revision of the other's position. For Boumediene, structural change was a prerequisite for North-South cooperation; for Kissinger, cooperation was feasible only if the Third World exhibited political moderation. This moderation can only be construed as a desire by Kissinger and all the other trilateralists for the OPEC nations to return to their dependent status.
The mutual determination of the United States, on the one hand, and the seven Third World representatives, on the other, in standing by their divergent emphases brought the meeting to an impasse. The talks ended without agreement, a diplomatic setback for France, a deadlock so far as the United States was concerned, but something of a victory for the Third World coalition. So far as the developing countries were concerned, the stakes in Paris were the durability of the coalition as it had stood since the Sixth Special Session.
The Third World representatives in Paris wielded a power that was new for the developing countries. The forum was different from the United Nations, and their stand had an immediate impact that General Assembly resolutions lacked. They were able to exercise the kind of blocking power that had previously been only in the hands of the industrial countries.
The U. S. decision makers drew the conclusion after Paris that the conservative members of OPEC were going to join the radical ones in bidding for the political leadership of the Third World. Not only had the U. S. hard line failed to crack OPEC or the Group of 77, but it also as Roger Hansen states, "As long as the United States responded negatively to almost all developing country requests in almost all international conferences, the moderates with the Group of 77 had no hand to play." Kissinger now logically concluded that this was counterproductive. It was in the U. S. interest to allow the moderates to reenter the bidding.
Therefore, about a month after the collapse of the Paris talks, Kissinger declared that "Our thinking on the issue of raw materials...has moved forward." The United States was now ready to think about an international conference to discuss a broad range of North/South issues. Such a conference could be organized, as the Third World has proposed, into three or four commissions of equal status. This shift in U. S. policy opened the way to the North/South Conference, which eventually got underway in December, 1975. More generally, it constituted the first major turning point in North/South relations since the oil revolution.
The Third World succeeded, therefore, in bringing about a change in U. S. foreign policy in the Spring of 1975. The U. S. policy shift was tactical, to be sure, but it was attributable to a coherent Third World strategy of solidarity. The durability of the Third world coalition placed the United States in a diplomatically indefensible position from which it was obliged to retreat. The Third World triumph, limited as it was to an essentially procedural issue, the agenda of North/South relations to a new plateau by virtue of the explicit recognition that the international economic crisis entailed the entire issue of the relationship between rich and poor.
However, the power to stalemate a conference, even the power to shape the agenda, was not equivalent to the power to effect structural change in the international economic system. The developing countries recognized that innovations in international trade and augmentation of the flow of developmental resources implied negotiated agreements with the North according to Mortimer.
The Third World had gained the ground that it had, namely, a genuine recognition of the existence of a development crisis, through solidarity. By the spring of 1975, the North felt the cutting edge of a solidarity painstakingly honed by Third World conferences and other forms of collective advocacy. The commitment toward the resolution of certain Third World grievances taken at the Seventh Special Session, limited as it was, was the result of the pressure mounted through solidarity.
Solidarity is not tolerated by the major powers such as the United States. The aim of such governments is to divide and conquer so that weaker countries are subdued or overthrown. Organizations, likewise, are divided, thereby effectively undermining the ideals we, as a society cherish, namely life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness which is, guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States. I can only speak of the United States' Constitution.
For example, the rise in the bargaining power could not be tolerated by the trilateral regions. The commission's overriding concern is that trilateral nations remain the vital center of management, finance, and technology. Power and control for the world economy which would embrace and co-opt the Third World and gradually reintegrate the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and China according to Sklar.
Additionally, the trilateralists hope that the USSR will join the community of the developed nations in defending the global interests of the industrialized rich countries against those of the third world. Moreover, the trilateralists are confident that they can win the ideological and economic competition with the Soviet Union. They believe that the Soviet economy is declining and will reach a crisis state in the 1980s.
The debt dependency of the Third World nations is a profound concern to those nations. The international banking community gains billions of dollars in interest payments alone from countries which are caught in a vicious cycle of borrow and borrow again to pay back the interest the following year.
An analysis of the debt balance among the selected countries shows that during the peak years of OPEC's strength, namely prior to the fall of the Shah of Iran, while the debt was substantial, it mushroomed after the revolution started in Iran. The virtual shutdown of oil production by Iran greatly reduced if not precluded the payment of any monetary grants to non-oil producing countries within the Third World.
Indeed, the percentage of Gross National Product money given to the developing nations by the OPEC powers starting in 1974 vastly exceeded that of the industrialized nations. Within OPEC, the percentages range between 3 and 4 per cent of their Gross National Product. However, Iran gave 10 per cent of its GNP. The United States, on the other hand gave much less than 1 per cent according to Mossaver-Rahmani. Not only is this an embarrassment to the wealthy industrialized nations but the OPEC action dealt a blow to their banking institutions.
Moreover, if all of this activity was not enough, Iran advanced several huge loans to Britain and France during the 1970s in order to finance their balance of payments deficits, a problem normally regarded as a distinguishing feature of underdevelopment according to Girvan.
These events serve to reinforce the developed countries' desire to revert back to conditions as they stood prior to the rise of OPEC. The events which follow demonstrate how the trilateralists achieved this goal.
Government officials, influenced by trilateralists who comprise the majority of Jimmy Carter's ranking officials, are well aware that to divide and thereby conquer was an extremely effective tool to use in achieving their goals. Kissinger proposed that the United States attach a food and agricultural assistance program to its demands of oil price relief. In this way the United States would secure the leverage it needed to break the OPEC community.
Another measure the North used was to strengthen an agency of the United Nations known as UNCTAD (United Nations Conference of Trade and Development) so as to deem it an international decision maker. The debate on this turned into an all encompassing discussion of where the responsibility for the global economic problems of the day actually lay according to the trilateralists, and provided an opening for a reconsideration of the ever devising energy issue.
As a result of this action by the United States, Costa Rica and several other Latin American countries supported the North in this issue. They requested that the OPEC pricing polity be placed on the agenda. After an acrimonious intragroup of 77 discussion, Costa Rica withdrew its request. However, the North raised the issue again in its draft resolution. This action demonstrated the fragility of the Group of 77 in the face of oil costs. Moreover, this action occurred just before the June 1979 price meetings. The timing of this action was a strategic move on the part of the United States.
Another goal desired by the Third World coalition was the Common Fund. If such a fund could be funded, the Third World countries would definitely benefit. The Group of 77 submitted a draft of provisions for the Fund, calling for a "working capital of $3 billion ($1 billion subscribed by the member-states and $2 billion in borrowing authority) that would be used to finance...anticipated commodity arrangement" according to Mortimer on page 119 of his article.
However, the industrial states also drafted a proposal the results of which did not at all match the Group of 77's proposal. In November 1978 and in March 1979 two further negotiating sessions were held. The Third World states had to make vast concessions. Two funds were created. The first Common fund was endowed with $400 million while the second was endowed with $70 million plus a targeted voluntary contribution of $280 million. Clearly, this agreement was attributable to the limited power the Third World nations, including OPEC, had at this point.
Poor countries cannot afford to ignore their present needs. This creates a problem in maintaining unity, a weakness that the rich and powerful can exploit by offering slightly better terms in the existing system in exchange for abandoning challenges to the system itself according to Mortimer.
Clearly, governmental institutions will go to any lengths to maintain the status quo. Therefore, I would like propose another group of theories for consideration.
We know that Saudi Arabia was "cool" according to Mortimer of . some of the ideas proposed by OPEC. However, no one gives a valid reason for this. Some excuses are proposed and I feel that the casual reader might accept them. A more valid reason could be that the United States co-opted Saudi Arabia in the early 1970s. King Faisal's nephew assassinated him. This is not unknown. It is also not unknown that the nephew was educated in the United States. What is unknown is that in all probability the nephew was cleverly co-opted by the CIA in one of the numerous schemes they employ. Thereafter, Saudi Arabia succumbed to the pressure of the West to some extent while attempting to maintain an image of unity with the other OPEC nations.
|The CIA caused the Shah of Iran to be deposed due to pressure from the Trilateral Commission. The CIA placed a dictator into power.|
The Shah of Iran made mistakes, but we all make mistakes. He was trying to assist the Third World countries to experience a more prosperous existence. This, the trilateral powers could not accept. Two arguments can be proposed however, against this argument. Why did the oil prices continue to rise after the fall of the Shah? I surmise that not only do the wheels of government move slowly, but the other radical OPEC nations of Algeria and Libya exerted power over OPEC and the North. An image had to be maintained as well. If oil prices had plummeted after the fall of the Shah, people all over the world would have understood that the First World nations were responsible for his exile and eventual death. The First World nations seeking to prevent this knowledge, played a waiting game.
Additionally, the oil industry in the United States was enjoying the increased profits it made on the higher OPEC prices. There was no extreme need to drastically reduce oil prices right away.
An argument can be proposed as to why President Boumediene of Algeria, who was so radical, was not exiled from Algeria. Here again, we are dealing with a country whose population is only half the size of Iran's and is not strategically situated any more than is Saudi Arabia.
The power, therefore, of Iran was substantial. The monetary wealth of the country of Iran, which was either lent of given out in grants, was an extreme embarrassment to the Trilateral powers, not to mention the fact that had it continued, would have seriously undermined the transnational banking industry.
There, as we have observed with the Iran-Contra Scandal, the behind the scene activity which Congress may or may not have been aware, was being completed. The writers of Middle Eastern history are very quick to point out that in 1953, the Shah was brought into Iran by the CIA, deposing the existing government of that nation. Evidence exists however, to dispute this statement. However, now no one will admit that the CIA agents could easily have instigated unrest within this proud country in order to sµve the existing economic system for the North. Many other factors exist that would substantiate this claim, however the economic factor is a strong consideration in and of itself.
It appears that the First World powers have won through the auspices of the Trilateral Commission. The successful cooptation of some leaders of Third World nations and expulsion and/or deaths of others has led these nations into either being subdued to the stronger force or aligning with it. This procedure by the First World powers has made it possible to maintain the status quo for the present.
However, five variables exist to alleviate conditions as they stand now: (1) continued struggle by the people of the poor nations with the resulting media attention, (2) economic pressures against the international banking community; (3) democratic pressures against government leadership; (4) continued education for democratic societies; and (5) time. Nothing remains deadlocked and static in terms of political determinants. The seeds of destruction lie within the organism itself.
The First World should heed the needs of the Third World or it will be the First World which will grossly suffer.