Listen to article
The Bilderberg recently held its latest assembly at a luxury hotel in Portugal as is the tradition. This rather mysterious annual assembly of Western political and business leaders has drawn the curiosity of many observers of international politics and finance but is protected from notoriety by the studied discretion of mainstream media about that conclave which takes place amidst tight security. The last edition was no exception and the hotel was literally cut off from the world by Portuguese police and anti-terrorist squads. It is hard to dispute the conclusion that the Bilderberg enjoys enough influence to bar public scrutiny and prevent leaks of its deliberations and decisions. The image it gives of itself is that of a yearly retreat for prominent people in diverse sectors to get to know each other, interact and assess current and future problems and threats to the world order, implicitly controlled by the wealthy, liberal Western powers to which its members belong. Those who have tried to investigate and understand the Bilderberg believe that it is indeed an oligarchic coven committed to the protection of the ruling interests of the USA and its allies and subordinates. One can infer that, as in all such private organisations, there are various levels of ‘membership’ or participation. There is a governing council, there are members and then there are guests, invited one or more times, perhaps to undergo some sort of interviews or vetting, to ensure that they can be trusted to carry out policies and strategies supported or adopted by the leadership. In that sense, the Bilderberg might be compared metaphorically (and satirically) with the Vatican Conclaves held to select a Pope among the Cardinals.
The list of attendees of the latest forum represents the usual mix of current, prospective and past national leaders, business tycoons, press lords, CEOs of the largest corporations and banks, foreign policy experts and the chairmen of the World Economic Forum, the European Parliament, Goldman Sachs and the Secretary General of NATO among others. Some of the well-known names include the former President of the EU Barroso who has now crossed the revolving door into Goldman Sachs; Josep Borrell the EU Foreign Minister; Albert Bourla, the Chair and CEO of Pfizer who evinces by his participation the deep involvement of the pharmaceutical giant with public policy-planning which helped it cash in hundreds of billions out of the COVID ‘one in a lifetime opportunity’; Henry Kissinger; General Cavoli the Supreme Commander of NATO in Europe and economic historian Niall Ferguson who can teach his colleagues how to draw lessons from British imperial conquests. The few participants of Indian origin include Ajay Agrawal, a Professor of Economics at the University of Toronto; Tarun Chhabra, Director for Technology at the US National Security Council and Shashank Joshi, the Defence Editor at the Economist; also Satya Nadella of Microsoft and the holder of the Tata Chair at the Carnegie Endowment, strategic analyst Ashley Tellis.
Founded in 1954 by the enigmatic Jewish-Polish political activist Joseph Retinger, under the patronage of Prince Bernhard of Lippe, husband of the Queen of Holland and a former Intelligence and SS officer of the Third Reich, the Bilderberg Group owes its name to the Dutch hotel in which its first session took place. Retinger was its architect and permanent secretary until his premature death in London in 1960. The original group included Prince Bernhard as chairman. David Rockefeller, chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank and British politician Denis Healey who would later become Labour Secretary. Rockefeller provided the link with the Council of Foreign Relations and subsequently with the Trilateral Commission (created in 1973) which are kindred organisations of equivalent influence, and he went public years later with his plan to bring the world together under a supra-national government made up of financial ad industrial elites. Bilderberg is de facto an agency of the semi-private support system set up to maintain US dominance and protect the interests of the corporate and institutional Western ruling class.
‘The purpose (of the Bilderberg gathering) was to stimulate understanding between Europe and the US as the Cold War developed, by bringing together financiers, industrialists, politicians and opinion formers. All discussions were to be strictly under Chatham House Rules (…) Healey, described the secretive Bilderberg meetings as the “brainchild” of Retinger’ (quoted from Wikipedia).
Retinger, who had built a vast network of high-level connections in Europe and America in the inter-war years passed for a Communist but operated as an Asset and agent of the British and American Intelligence Services even before the Second World War. During the great war of 1914-18, he had played a role in a clandestine diplomatic initiative aimed at bringing the Austro-Hungarian Empire out of the German alliance and into the Anglo-British ‘Entente’. In the following years, Retinger formed a strong personal relationship with Winston Churchill and the latter’s son-in-law, Duncan Sandys who was a promoter of the European political union under Anglo-Saxon leadership. It should also be noted that his other patron, Prince Bernhard after marrying then-Crown Princess Juliana of the Netherlands, worked for British Intelligence during World War II. Anecdotally, Ian Fleming, the future author of the James Bond novels, screened the Prince for admission into the Service. Bernhard incurred international disgrace when his role as a paid agent for US Defence contractors in Europe was revealed in 1976. Throughout his life, he had been a champion of Western dominance and in 1950 had reportedly conspired to keep newly independent Indonesia a Dutch protectorate under his personal regency.
Retinger worked for close cooperation between the USA and Europe but he kept good relations with the USSR under Stalin, given Poland’s dependence on Moscow. It is clear, however, that the Bilderberg is a pillar of the Atlantic Alliance. Detractors argue that this unelected and unaccountable lobby does play a leading role in crafting Western policies and in selecting dependable leaders in all the nations where it has a sway. Some of those critics, who qualify as whistleblowers, point out the names of several presidents, prime ministers, cabinet members and heads of international organisations and multi-national corporations who were invited to Bilderberg shortly before they reached their respective positions. They confront us with evidence that many issues are regarded in certain high-power circles as too important to be left to the popular decision. Instead, they are managed among insiders in a secretive manner without public consultation. The current policy of bringing Russia to heel in Ukraine and containing China by extending NATO to the Pacific area while drawing India into the embrace of the western-trilateral embrace very probably reflects the positions of the Bilderberg leadership.
Bilderberger-scholar Ashley Tellis recently wrote an article in Foreign Affairs characterising the US endeavour to build a close partnership with India as a ‘bad bet’. The many negative opinions expressed in the leading Western media about Narendra Modi’s government and the Indian political situation also signal a disappointment with New Delhi’s decision to remain closely connected with Russia and to promote multipolarity while remaining neutral on the Ukrainian question. One can infer that this assessment prevailed in the latest off-the-record Bilderberger confabulation and that it is echoed in the corporate media whose owners disseminate the positions taken and the decisions reached as if they had been popular and democratically approved.