Jimmy Carter, Trilateralist, Entering Hospice

“[The] nation-state as a fundamental unit of man’s organized life has ceased to be the principal creative force. International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state.” —Zbigniew Brzezinski (1969)

Former president Jimmy Carter has accepted hospice care at his house. Carter was a one-term president from 1977-1981. He was defeated in the 1980 election by Ronald Reagan. While many regard Carter as a failed president, this judgment obscures a significant period of intensive consolidation of corporate state power. Carter was not only one of the early and most influential members of the Trilateral Commission, but his administration was comprised of several members of that elite organization.

The Trilateral Commission in 1973. Founders Rockefeller and Brzezinski are siting to the left of Gerald Ford, also a member.

Carter was a member of the Trilateral Commission, a non-governmental organization (NGO) founded in 1973 by David Rockefeller, then chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank, and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Rockefeller created the organization to coordinate policy development and political cooperation between North America, Europe, and Asia (including the Pacific Rim countries).

Carter was invited to join the Trilateral Commission in 1973 and became a member in 1974. Governor of George from 1971 to 1975, he was seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party. As a member, he attended meetings and contributed to the organization’s research and publications.

In 1975, the Trilateral Commission published The Crisis of Democracy, a report written by members of the Commission’s Task Force on the Governability of Democracies. The report was intended to address what the authors saw as a crisis in democratic governance in the United States and other Western countries.

One author of the report (the Europe chapter) was Michel Crozier, a French sociologist and political scientist. Crozier was associated with the idea of managerialism, which advocates applying managerial techniques to government operations. Another author was Samuel P. Huntington (the North American chapter), a Harvard professor also favorable to technocratic arrangements.

The report argued that the post-World War II era of economic growth had created a sense of entitlement among citizens, who were now demanding more from their governments than they were able to deliver. The authors suggested that this demand for more government services and greater participation in the political process was leading to a breakdown in the ability of democratic governments to govern effectively.

The report proposed several solutions to this crisis, including the need for greater cooperation between government and business, the need for greater technocratic expertise in government, and the need for greater control over the media to ensure that public opinion was not manipulated by special interests. In other words, The Crisis of Democracy reflected the anti-democratic and elitist attitude of its members, advocating for a greater role for technocrats and business leaders in the political process, while reducing the role of ordinary citizens. 

In 1976, Carter announced his candidacy for the presidency and while his membership in the Trilateral Commission became an issue in the campaign, the media downplayed the significance of his membership and the organization and Carter went on to defeat Gerald Ford (also a member of the Commission), who had been vice-president under Nixon. 

Following his election, Carter appointed several members of the Trilateral Commission to his administration, including Walter Mondale as vice president and Zbigniew Brzezinski as his national security advisor (Mondale would run for president in 1984). Brzezinski had been director of the Commission during the publication of The Crisis of Democracy. Brzezinski was a key architect of the Carter administration’s policy of supporting Islamist rebels in Afghanistan to draw the Soviet Union into that country. (See Sowing the Seeds of Terrorism? Capitalist Intrigue and Adventurism in Afghanistan. see also Hell on Earth or Earthly Heaven? The Totalitarian Threats Facing the West.)

Several other members of the Commission also served in the administration: Cyrus Vance served as Secretary of State from 1977 to 1980. James Schlesinger served as Secretary of Energy in 1977 before serving as Secretary of Defense from 1977 to 1979. Michael Blumenthal served as Carter’s Secretary of the Treasury from 1977 to 1979. Andrew Young served as Carter’s Ambassador to the United Nations from 1977 to 1979.

There were other politicians and policymakers who were members of the Trilateral Commission, most famously George H.W. Bush fame, who was a member of the Commission before he became vice president under Ronald Reagan in 1981. Bush was a member of the Trilateral Commission from 1973 to 1979, He served US Ambassador to the United Nations during this time, as well as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Readers may remember when Bush mentioned the phrase “new world order” in a speech to a joint session of Congress on September 11, 1990. The speech was given in the context of the Gulf War, which had just begun. In the speech, Bush discussed the need for international cooperation and for the United States to play a leading role in shaping a new world order after the end of the Cold War.

“We stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment,” he said. “The crisis in the Persian Gulf, as grave as it is, also offers a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective—a new world order—can emerge.”

Other members worth noting include Antony Blinken, Secretary of State under Biden, Jeffrey Epstein, former hedge fund manager (convicted of human trafficking in 2008), Larry Fink, BlackRock CEO since 1988 (also CFR board member and WEF trustee), Henry Kissinger, a former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor, and Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve (under both Carter and Reagan).

Paul Wolfowitz, Defense Secretary under George W. Bush and president of the World Bank, was also a member. Wolfowitz was associated with the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative think tank that operated from 1997 to 2006 known for its advocacy of a more aggressive foreign policy and a more robust military posture for the United States.

The PNAC’s most famous publication was a 2000 report entitled Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century, which argued for increased defense spending, the development of new military technologies, and a more interventionist foreign policy. The report was influential in shaping the foreign policy priorities of the administration of President George W. Bush, several members of which had been associated with the PNAC prior to taking office. (See War Hawks and the Ugly American: The Origins of Bush’s Middle East Policy; Christian Neo-Fundamentalism and US Foreign Policy.)

Several members of the Trilateral Commission were also associated with the Project for the New American Century, including Paul Wolfowitz, who served as a member of the PNAC’s board of directors. Other prominent members of the Trilateral Commission who were also associated with the PNAC included Richard Perle, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and William Kristol.

They may come and go like Jimmy Carter, and George Bush before him, but these are the people who run the world. And they do it in the open. You only have to allow yourself to see it.

Published by

Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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