Today marks Henry Kissinger’s centenary, which means that he only has to cling on for less than two more years to have outlasted his friend and mentor, the banker David Rockefeller. David’s final appearance at a Bilderberg Meeting was in 2011, when he was a mere stripling of 95, turning 96 on the final day of the conference. Henry attended this month’s conference in Lisbon at the age of 99, and is still happily lecturing the world about China, Russia, AI and the future of humanity. And he is still doing his best to keep a hand on the tiller of history.
Back in 1971, when he was well established as the US National Security Advisor, Henry was more directly involved in shaping world events…
K. AND THE ACCESSION TO THE THRONE OF JUAN CARLOS DE BORBON
General Franco of Spain had chosen Prince Juan Carlos of Bourbon as his heir-apparent, and in 1971 the prince made a trip to the United States, where he was received with the honours reserved for a head of state. The American leaders gave him a warm welcome, including Henry Kissinger, who showered him with attention.
For the well-known Spanish journalist and essayist Pilar Urbano, the fact that Don Juan Carlos de Bourbon acceded to the Spanish throne following the death of Francisco Franco in 1975 was due to the good offices of the Bilderberg Group. In her book ‘El precio del trono’, published in 2011, she repeatedly highlights the influence of both the CIA and Bilderberg in this historic event.
On the basis of original documents that she was able to consult (reproduced in the appendix of the book), the author noted that the Group had openly interceded in favour of this institutional solution with the Caudillo, as early as 1968. There is much to be said for her assertions and for the authenticity of certain documents.
During that 1971 visit to America, flattered by the attention of Kissinger and Co., the son of the Count of Barcelona openly distanced himself from Francoism and proclaimed that he had come to seek Washington’s support for his plan to see Spain join NATO and the EEC one day. From that moment on, the American propaganda machine was set in motion on both sides of the Atlantic, with the aim of promoting a positive image of the Prince in public opinion. That of a strong, dynamic, brilliant man, prepared and appreciated both in Spain and abroad.
Two years later, the two American Bilderberg pundits, Henry Kissinger and George Ball, were in the midst of political action to follow up this project, as the second document reproduced by Pilar Urbano attests. It is an undated letter, probably dating from February 1973, sent by the National Security Advisor to the members of the National Security Council, concerning ‘policy towards post-Franco Spain’. Among the recipients of the missive are the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Director of the CIA, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Deputy Secretary of State, the Under Secretary of State for Economic Affairs and the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.
Its contents are as follows:
“The President has directed the preparation of a paper on the impact of General Francisco Franco’s death on U.S. Security and overseas interests. The study should look forward at least until the year 1982. The paper should consider alternative strategies for overall US policy in Spain and include analysis of Prince Juan Carlos of Borbon’s future role as the nation’s King. To prepare the paper, the President has directed the creation of an Ad Hoc Working Group chaired by the former Undersecretary of State and to include the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, a member of the NSC staff, appropriate representatives from the Bureau of the Budget and Export-Import Bank, and/or their alternates. The report of the Group shall be forwarded to the NSC Review Group by March 28, 1973 and be available to the Bilderberger Steering Committee by April 14, 1973.”
This text illustrates how the Bilderberg Group was integrated into the process of shaping US foreign and security policy during Henry Kissinger’s time in office. More specifically, it shows how the Steering Committee acted as a relay between the highest Western authorities regarding the future of post-Franco Spain. All in the best interests of the Atlantic Alliance.
K. INTERFERES IN ITALY?
On 13 May 2001, the”House of Freedom”, the centre-right coalition led by the leader of Forza Italia, Silvio Berlusconi (who had already been Prime Minister between 1994 and 1995) won the Italian general election. Immediately, the main European chancelleries were in an uproar. Indeed, the launch of the euro in its monetary form was scheduled for 1 January 2002. Italy, co-sponsor of the new single European currency, founding member of the EEC and member of the G8, was not allowed to slip up. It had to set an example and respect its international commitments, particularly in terms of economic policy and public debt. It therefore had six months to finish putting its accounts in order.
From London to Berlin, via Brussels and Paris, many wondered what line the new Italian government would take on European issues. For years, Berlusconi’s own personality had been a source of doubt and perplexity. Now, the expected presence in the future executive of Eurosceptic parties, such as the Northern League and the National Alliance, raised fears of the worst. The pressure on the Prime Minister in pectore began to grow daily. They came from all sectors of Italian society, but also from abroad. Berlusconi had to commit himself to all international agreements if he wanted to avoid being marginalised.
To understand his situation, it is worth noting that many of his institutional interlocutors at European level were linked to each other through Bilderberg. At the time, the Group was chaired by the Belgian Etienne Davignon, who had been a European Commissioner and Vice-President of the Commission in the 1970s and 1980s. The European Central Bank (ECB) was chaired by a former Bilderberg treasurer, the Dutchman Willem Frederick Duisenberg. The Italian representative on the ECB’s Executive Board, Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa, was an active member of the Steering Committee at the time. Romano Prodi, who sat on the Steering Committee at the same time as Duisenberg, was President of the European Commission. Prodi’s Italian successor in the Group, Mario Monti, was European Commissioner for Competition. Finally, Bilderberg friend Mario Draghi was then Director General of the Italian Treasury and Chairman of the Economic and Financial Committee of the European Council.
All of these figures intervened, in one way or another, to remind Silvio Berlusconi of his obligations. Berlusconi finally capitulated by agreeing to open his government to ministers from outside the House of Liberty, despite the contrary opinion of several members of his coalition. Perhaps because of their inexperience, they did not understand that winning elections was a necessary but not sufficient condition for governing. In order to appease his European partners and thus keep himself in power, Berlusconi will agree to provide the necessary guarantees for Italy to switch to the euro and for it to land quietly in the pockets of the citizens, with the blessing of the financial markets.
The days go by and the Cavaliere is racking his brains to compose his government, and he seeks some advice from an elder statesman of Italian politics and industry: on 23 May, he goes to Turin to meet the honorary member of Bilderberg, Umberto Agnelli. That day, an interesting article appeared in La Repubblica. Signed by Gianluca Luzi, it is entitled ‘Ruggiero and Kissinger will consult Berlusconi’. On reading it, one discovers that the day before this meeting, the two Bilderbergers, Renato Ruggiero and Henry Kissinger, met with Berlusconi in Rome to discuss Ruggiero’s appointment as Foreign Minister, to the great displeasure of his Northern League ally, Umberto Bossi, for whom Ruggiero embodied the ‘system’ that he and his friends wanted to change. Ruggiero had been a career ambassador, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Foreign Trade, President of the energy company ENI, Director of FIAT (run by the Agnellis) and Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Ruggiero attended his first Bilderberg in 1986, when he was listed as “General Secretary, Ministry for Foreign Affairs”. He was a regular visitor until 2000, also earning election onto the Group’s governing body, its steering committee.
On May 22, 2001, according to the Luzi article, Ambassador Ruggiero “arrived at Berlusconi’s residence shortly before five o’clock, accompanied by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, an old friend of the lawyer Agnelli and a member of the Trilateral Commission with Ruggiero. The eventual Foreign Minister of the Berlusconi government left the premises after about forty minutes, while Kissinger continued to converse with Berlusconi until 6.40 pm. Of course, on the way out, none of the three protagonists of the summit said a single word, but the theme of the discussion could not have been more obvious.” Similarly, you don’t have to be clairvoyant to guess what Umberto Agnelli and Silvio Berlusconi said to each other during their tête-à-tête the next day.
Once this mission was accomplished, Henry Kissinger left Italy for Stenungsund, Sweden, where the annual Bilderberg conference was to take place from 24 to 27 May 2001. During this meeting, he participated in a session entitled ‘Consequences of the Italian elections’, which reflects the Group’s interest in the subject. What did the former US Secretary of State say on this occasion? Did he share with the participants the details of his trip to Rome? What was the position of the Italians present (Franco Bernabè, Mario Draghi, Gian-Maria Gros-Pietro, Mario Monti and Gianni Riotta)? What was the content of the discussions as a whole? We will only know in 2052, when the archives of that year are finally made public.
Berlusconi, for his part, did not have to wait long to find out. On 1 June, he received ‘unexpected’ visits to his office from European Commissioner Mario Monti and NATO Secretary General George Robertson, among others. What did they discuss? With Monti, the upcoming Italian Presidency of the European Union, among other things. With Robertson, the NATO summit that was to take place in Brussels on 13 June. The Briton described the meeting as “interesting” and “reassuring” and added: “I’m sure there will be continuity in Italy’s relationship with NATO”. The fact is that both Monti and Robertson had just returned from the Stenungsund Conference and it is conceivable that they acted as ambassadors of the mood of the “international community” to the new Prime Minister.
As foreseen by Luzi, Ambassador Renato Ruggiero was appointed Foreign Minister. He was presented to the public as a politically independent and super partes technician, a champion of a united Europe.
Immediately the Italian press began to speak of a honeymoon between Silvio Berlusconi and the Agnelli clan. If true, this will be short-lived.
In addition to the turbulence linked to the arrival of the euro, Renato Ruggiero will soon have to deal with other, more serious ones. The first clouds appeared a few days after the government took office, when the question of parliamentary ratification of the Treaty of Nice came up. For Umberto Bossi and Giulio Tremonti, it was not necessary because it was the result of an agreement made by the previous government, headed by Giuliano Amato. Ruggiero immediately had to raise his voice and remind the public that the continuity of the country’s foreign policy was not an opinion but a duty. He succeeded in convincing Prime Minister Berlusconi of the validity of his position, but the quarrel with his ministers had only just begun…