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ABSTRACT ON THE TRILATERAL COMMISSION
 

Thesis:  The Trilateral Commission has historically and continues
to advocate, advise on, and author structures and policies of,
international cooperation and economic interdependence; this interdependence
and cooperation is managed by the Commission to protect and expand
the regional and global interests of Transnational capital.

I.  The Trilateral Commission occupies a unique niche in the
web of international organizations, by virtue of its membership
and its mission.

Sklar, Holly, ed. Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission
and Elite Planning for World Management. Boston: South End
Press, 1980.

Trilateral Commission. Trilateral Commission Task Force
Reports 1-7: the Triangle Papers.  New York: New York University
Press, 1977.

Trilateral Commission. Trilateral Commission Task Force
Reports 9-14: the Triangle Papers.  New York: New York University
Press, 1978.

II.  The Trilateral Commission, as an association of the 'elites'
of Western Europe, the United States and Canada, and Japan,  functions
in an unofficial advisory role to the IBRD (World Bank), the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD), and the European Union (EU).

Gill, Stephen. American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Sklar.

Trilateral Commission. (Both)

III.  The goals and the role of the Trilateral Commission
are changing in light of the decline of the Communist Bloc, and
the growth of international cooperation, integration, and interdependence.

Gill.

Sklar.

Stubbs, Richard and Underhill, Geoffrey R.D. Political
Economy and the Changing Global Order. London: Macmillan,
1994.

Trilateral Commission (Both)

IV. The transition of the Trilateral Commission from an interest
group representing economic, governmental, and academic 'elites'
from the trilateral regions, to a model for the management of
regional and global cooperation through IGOs and INGOs in a post-national
framework can be extrapolated given the stated objectives of the
Trilateral Commission, within the context of an emergent new transnational,
regionally based arrangement.

 The Trilateral Commission officially coalesced in July 1973,
as an international organization comprised of the 'elites' of
Western European, American and Canadian, and Japanese international
business and banking, government, academia, media, and conservative
labor, with a preponderance of members drawn from the interlocking
directorates of large transnational corporations.  The brainchild
of Carter Administration National Security Advisor and former
Columbia University Professor Zbignew Brzezinski and strenuously
promoted by David Rockefeller,  the Trilateral Commission was
an outgrowth of previous associations of 'elite'-oriented international
organizations such as the New York based Council on Foreign Relations
and the European Bilderberg group; however, the Trilateral Commission
differs significantly from these earlier organizations in that
Atlanticism was supplanted by Trilateralism
with the introductory inclusion of Japanese interests into the
so-called 'club of advanced nations.'  Trilateralism
began as a response of American hegemonic elites, to the increasing
economic clout of both Japan and western Europe, and the developing
nations, vis-a-vis American hegemony in the context of
the economic crises of the early 1970s, combined with the inherited
Atlanticist perception of the threat of Communism in general;
and specifically as a response to the economic emergency originating
with the abandonment of the Bretton Woods system, President Nixon's
protectionist New Economic Program, and the OPEC oil embargo of
1973.

However, The Trilateral Commission has not limited itself
to the circumscribed role indicated by its origins; on the contrary,
the mission of the Trilateral Commission has remained evolutionary
and amorphous, but consistently centered around the goals of promoting
an economic and political reality- growing interpenetration
and interdependence, among the major industrialized countries,
and indeed on a global scale.  The Trilateral Commission
has historically and continues to advocate, advise on, and author
structures and policies of, international cooperation and economic
interdependence; this interdependence and cooperation is managed
by the Commission to protect and expand the regional and global
interests of Transnational capital.

 The Trilateral Commission occupies a unique niche in the
web of international organizations, by virtue of its membership
and its mission.  The Trilateral Commission is unlike most INGOs,
in that it brings together the 'elite' leaders of various and
diverse industries, corporations, governments,  and other influential
ventures in the developed Western capitalist states; and rather
than operating as an organization of one specific interest group,
industry, or cause, instead concerns itself with broad issues
of import in the spheres of economic and political security for
the 'Western Industrialized Democracies'.  In fact, the Trilateral
Commissioners make up

[A]n 'international establishment'.  Such an establishment
which has grown in importance since 1945, consists of the intersecting
domestic establishments of a range of capitalist countries.  This
can be said to be the ultimate source of the strength of the Commission,
in that the parts interact synergistically to produce a greater
whole.  This whole has been enlarged since the foundation of the
Commission.  The membership partly reflects the twin processes,
transnationalization of economy and state, since many members
are associated with transnational fractions of capital and corresponding
elements of the state...

Furthermore, this approach has led to some criticism, from
both the right and the left, of the Trilateral Commission in that
an organization of influential individuals representing interests
of the ruling classes of the developed capitalist nations necessarily
reflects a conspiratorial style.  However,

Is the Trilateral Commission a conspiracy?  No more than the
laws of capitalism conspire to assert themselves.  The Trilateral
Commission is the executive advisory committee to transnational
finance capital.  As Richard Falk has pointed out: The vistas
of the Trilateral Commission can be understood as the ideological
perspective representing the transnational outlook of the multinational
corporation, which seeks to subordinate territorial
politics to non-territorial economic goals.

 Therefore, the mission of the Trilateral Commission, in its
own estimation, at its most basic level, is to promote policies
worldwide which limit nationalism, protectionism, and national
sovereignty in favor of a structure allowing fluid mobility of
transnational capital.

The ideology of the Trilateral Commission concentrates on
preserving the dominant position of the 'Western Industrialized
Democracies' in the global economy through the advocacy of policies,
coordinated between the industrialized trilateral nations, which
advance capitalist interdependence and enrich the transnational
and multinational corporations involved in international finance.

 The Trilateral Commission, as an association of the 'elites'
of Western Europe, the United States and Canada, and Japan,  functions
in an unofficial advisory role to the IBRD (World Bank), the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development (OECD), and the European Union (EU).  The Trilateral
Commission empirically exerted influence on the World Bank and
the IMF in order to advance the Trilateralist ideology of capitalist
managed interdependence and cooperation.  In fact, the first Triangle
Paper(The reports of the Trilateral Commission), entitled
Towards a Renovated World Monetary System was dedicated
to the revision of the IMF as it was chartered in the 1944 Bretton
Woods Agreement, after the post-war monetary system formally
broke down in August 1971, when the United States declared that
the U.S. dollar was no longer convertible into gold or indeed
any other reserve asset. In fact though,

[i]t was no mere coincidence that the Commission was first
and foremost concerned with the international monetary system.
The formation of the Commission was a direct response to the
threat which the trilateralists saw in Nixon's approach to the
monetary crisis of the early 1970s.  And the trilateralists immediately
utilized the IMF, the center of the monetary system's operation,
as a vehicle for implementing trilateralist policy toward Third
World nations such as Jamaica.  The Commission makes it quite
clear that they are talking about reform and change within the
IMF itself.

Furthermore, the actual influence of the Trilateral Commission
on the IMF was demonstrated, not by policy and structural recommendations,
but through the application of those recommendations.  The chairmen
of the Trilateral Commission, in the foreword to the collection
of Triangle Papers, expressed both the philosophy underpinning
Trilateral management

of the IMF and the actual steps taken to realize the concrete
goals contained within the Trilateral proposals.

[I]t has often been possible to achieve a broad consensus
among members... This consensus was possible because of some convictions
shared by all members -- particularly the conviction that the cooperation
of all three regions is essential to assure the smooth management
of interdependence; cooperation based not on coercion and arm-twisting
but on mutuality of interest, and indeed on the longer-term interests
of mankind.  The trilateral countries bear a particular responsibility
in this context. Their resources and power give them a special
role in global politics...  It is with this philosophy that the
reports and recommendations reprinted in this volume should be
read.  Some of the suggestions contained in these reports have
meanwhile become reality. The seventh report... recommended that
a 'Third Window' be established by the World Bank which would
annually provide $3 billion in additional concessional lending
to developing countries... and it appears the trilateral report
played a role in gaining acceptance for this idea... The first
report... recommended the coordinated and joint sale of official
gold holdings into private markets, with 'capital gains' to be
used for development assistance... the proposal was regarded as
'quixotic' at the time, but it is being partially realized in
the current IMF sale of a portion of its gold... That governments
and international organizations have reacted positively to suggestions
by the Trilateral Commission conveyed to them through our members
is one indication of the value which our work has had so far.

 The policies of the OECD conform to Trilateral Commission
dictated strategies.  The Trilateral Commission exists, to a certain
degree, in order to fuse the potentially divergent policy alternatives
faced by an international organization into a coherent, mutually
acceptable position;  this is usually accomplished through back-channel
networking and informal negotiation prior to official proceedings
in order to circumvent the frequently difficult consensus-building
procedures of international organizations like the OECD:

[A]s an international organisation expands in size and the
scope of its agenda widens, agreement among the parties involved
becomes increasingly difficult.  In the case of the Trilateral
cooperation and coordination of positions in order to maintain
the international public goods of open trade and a stable international
monetary system, moving from the 'big seven' of the summits to
the OECD (more than twenty nations) adds successively diminishing
amounts to the benefits (utility) received by each member, and
leads to progressively less cooperation.  This argument is based
on the application of game theory, where it is assumed that the
numbers of votes a country holds in an international organization
determines its power to affect outcomes (decisions).  What this
argument fails to take account of however, is the effect of coordination
of positions, and the importance of agenda-setting procedures
which may occur informally, outside of the public decision-making
forums.  This may have the effect of creating a power bloc of
countries with relatively congruent interests and concepts of
a particular issue, thus enlarging their collective potential.
If this latter point is acknowledged, there is a strong incentive
for the 'Trilateral' countries to cooperate if they are able to
identify a collective interest in doing so.  From this viewpoint,
informal organisations such as the Trilateral Commission may be
necessary for coordination of positions vis-a-vis other
groupings...  Thus the interests of states, expressed in terms
of their policy preferences, may only rarely coincide. However,
transnational coalitions of interest can influence states to adopt
coordinated positions.

Therefore, the Trilateral Commission functions to set the
agenda and coordinate interests within the OECD, in order to avoid
the otherwise inevitable clashes of states and special interests.

 The evolution of the European Union reflects the Trilateral
Commission influenced ideology of the ruling elites of Western
Europe.  As an introduction, the genesis of both the Trilateral
Commission and the European Community are attributed to the Atlantic
ideology of the Bilderberg group:

At the governmental level, the OEEC, formed under the United
States Economic Cooperation Act of 2 April 1948, and its successor,
the OECD, became official counterparts, these, of course, are
only elite bodies in a vast series of international governmental,
political, culture and economic interactions and exchanges which
have formed the substance of relations between the Atlantic countries.
Nonetheless, Bilderberg is credited in Alden Hatch's biography
of Bernhard as the birthplace of the European Community, as well
as generally serving to maintain alliance cohesion during the
difficult years of the 1950s and 1960s when the Atlantic Alliance
was in the process of formation, considerable achievements by
any standards.

 Furthermore, since European membership in the Trilateral
Commission is restricted to nationals of countries either already
participating, or soon to join, in the European Union both Trilateral
interest and influence in the EU can be inferred. Therefore, the
forerunners of the Trilateral Commission, as well as the Commission
itself, served to forward the formation of the European Union
because an open regional market is favorable to transnational
capital.

 The goals and the role of the Trilateral Commission changed
in light of the decline of the Communist Bloc, and the growth
of international cooperation, integration, and interdependence.
The Trilateral Commission constantly redefines its goals and
missions to the changing realities of global economics and politics.
The Trilateral Commission's adaptability in the application of
its overall principles for transnational capitalist development
is demonstrated in the Commission's response to the decline of
the Communist Bloc, in that the Commission perceptively recommended
increased cooperation between the East and West, for the sake
of integrating the Communist countries into the framework of trilateral
Capitalism.

 The collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Soviet Union demanded
a redefinition of objectives and function of the Trilateral Commission.
The Trilateral Commission had, from its inception until the late
1970s, concentrated on security relative to the Communist bloc
through increasing the economic cooperation and interdependence
among the trilateral nations in order to outpace the eastern bloc
in the context of the Cold War.  In the 1977 Triangle Paper,
Collaboration with Communist Countries in Managing Global Problems:
An examination of the Options, confrontation was eschewed
in favor of a desire to exploit any opportunities in relations with the
Communist countries for cooperative management of certain international
problems.  Our concern has not been with security matters... The
purpose has been to see whether there are prospects for easing
the tasks of global management, in an increasingly crowded world,
by drawing a Soviet and/or Chinese partner in the process... our
main goal in seeking East-West cooperation is to manage the world's
problems more effectively.  Communist cooperation could be important
in dealing with some of the problems.

The Trilateral Commission was, at first tentatively, in favor
of cooperation with the Communist bloc as a preliminary step towards
incorporating Communist countries into the transnational capitalist
system of interdependency.  In the decade of the 1980s, this policy
of exploring cooperative options with the Communist bloc meant
that the Commission continues to review prospects for East-West relations
after the Brezhnev era and appeared to conclude that the future
Soviet leadership would be more outward looking, less conservative,
more cosmopolitan, and more aware of the benefits of global economic
interdependence.  In this light it was significant that David
Rockefeller led a business delegation to the Soviet Union in 1986
and thereafter the Soviet Union announced that it was to permit
49 percent foreign ownership in Soviet enterprises and joint ventures...
These developments led one astute observer of the Soviet scene
to suggest certain policies of the new leadership of the Soviet
Union, when compared with those of their predecessors, appeared
to harmonize with a number of characteristic Trilateral Commission
preferences.

The transition of Trilateral Commission policy towards the
Communist Bloc, from one of opposition to one of cooperation,
presaged the dissolution of Communist regimes, and represented
the beginning of integration into the Trilateralist framework
of international and transnational capitalist interdependence
for the formerly Communist states of Eastern Europe and the Soviet
Union.

 The tremendous growth of international organizations and
its attendant increased international cooperation and decreased
national sovereignty called for a reevaluation of the Trilateral
Commission's goals and mission.  Since one of the primary goals
of the Trilateral Commission is the decrease of international
trade barriers, in the context of regional market structures,
the European Union, the Uruguay Round of GATT , as well as the
implementation of the NAFTA arrangement all fit within the Trilateral
ideology, which aims to revitalize and maximize profit for transnational
corporations.  For instance, the 17-19 April 1983 Rome plenary
session of the Trilateral Commission evaluated the progress on
GATT in a speech by Paul Volcker (soon reappointed Chairman
of the Federal Reserve), the Commission [also] had reports on
progress of the GATT.  Edmund Wellenstein argued that the GATT
Ministerial Meeting of 29 November 1982 'contributed to pushing
national policies in the right direction, away from short-term,
short-sighted, beggar-thy-neighbor actions'.  Therefore,
the Trilateral Commission has largely succeeded in passing international
agreements and strengthening the international organizations which
administer them, in order to coordinate national policies to concentrate
on pursuing the long-term goals of increased economic interdependence,
and the commensurate decline in nationalist, protectionist measures
which arise out of national sovereignty, economic self-interest,
and political self-determination, to the detriment of transnational
corporations.  Therefore, with many of the original Trilateral
Commission objectives either completed or rapidly coming to completion,
the Trilateral Commission will redefine its role further to advance
the hegemonic interests of the concentrated capital inherently
represented in Trilateral Commissioners, in a global, regionally-based
system much of their own devising.

 The transition of the Trilateral Commission from an interest
group representing economic, governmental, and academic 'elites'
from the trilateral regions, to a model for the management of
regional and global cooperation through IGOs and INGOs in a post-national
framework can be extrapolated given the stated objectives of the
Trilateral Commission, within the context of an emergent new transnational,
regionally based arrangement. The success of the Trilateral Commission
in promoting its international agenda depended on the alliance
of common interlocking interests of advanced capitalist states,
in an informal, but still weighty policy planning group.  The
evolution of supra-national regional groupings of states fits
within the Trilateral Commission doctrine of reducing national
barriers, and furthermore would increase the manageability
of political and economic affairs; in that regional representation
to international organizations through 'elites' would foster a
stable transfer of resources and capital for the transnational
corporations, as well as mitigating (in the perspective of Trilateral
Commissioners), through elite consensus-building, the democratic
pitfalls of organizations dominated by developing countries, such
as the General Assembly of the United Nations. Therefore, with
the Trilateralist-aided boom in international coordination is
supplemented by the inclusion of representatives of many important
international organizations within the Commission, which could
only increase as international coordination becomes the rule and
international organizations increase their mandates further.

 In conclusion, the Trilateral Commission has exerted and
continues to exercise a considerable measure of influence over
the emergence of a global system based on the expansion of economic
possibilities for transnational capital.  The Commission's expansive
mission has evolved on the vanguard of international coordination,
cooperation, and interdependence, with a long-term view of planning
perspective on the potentialities of regional organization.

Bibliography

Gill, Stephen. American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Sklar, Holly, ed. Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission
and Elite Planning for World Management. Boston: South End
Press, 1980.

Stubbs, Richard and Underhill, Geoffrey R.D. Political
Economy and the Changing Global Order. London: Macmillan,
1994.

Trilateral Commission. Trilateral Commission Task Force
Reports 1-7: the Triangle Papers.  New York: New York University
Press, 1977.

Trilateral Commission. Trilateral Commission Task Force
Reports 9-14: the Triangle Papers.  New York: New York University
Press, 1978.