NEW YORK – As the U.S. House prepares to vote on President Obama's controversial Obamatrade legislation – regarded by opponents as a surrender of U.S. sovereignty to a new international authority and a "nascent European Union" – two historically significant promoters of globalism are celebrating birthdays Friday, with David Rockefeller turning 100 and former President George H. W. Bush reaching 91.
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Obama is facing criticism from key lawmakers who contend his secretive trade deals – including the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement with 11 other countries that allows for expanding membership under an international "commission" – look more like treaties than trade agreements. On Friday, the House is considering Trade Promotion Authority, which would fast-track TPP and at least two other trade agreements, permitting no amendments and only a yes-or-no vote.
The legislation, forming a package known as Obamatrade, would be a fitting tribute to Rockefeller, the retired chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank, as he reaches the rare century mark.
The oldest living member of the iconic Rockefeller family, David is the only surviving child of financier John D. Rockefeller Jr. and the only surviving grandchild of Standard Oil co-founder John D. Rockefeller.
Influenced by the globalist views of his father, Rockefeller was a major figure in some of the most prominent organizations characterized by critics as threats to U.S. sovereignty, including the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group and the Trilateral Commission.
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George H.W. Bush's claim to globalist fame was made in 1990 when, in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist regimes of Eastern Europe, he declared the emergence of a "new world order."
'Better than fighting'
Reached by WND, the Rockefeller family's chief spokesman, publicist Fraser Seitel, said that as he turns 100, David Rockefeller's "primary interest in life is being with his family, the friends he’s made over the years, and continuing to enjoy life and be productive."
Seitel said Rockefeller continues to be engaged in philanthropy and the arts. Philanthropy.com reported he donated a total of $79 million last year.
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"He wants to still be as active as he possibly can be," Seitel said.
Last month, Rockefeller, using a walker, made a rare public appearance, announcing the donation of 1,000 acres of land in Maine bordering Acadia National Park.
Asked about his reputation as a globalist, Seitel told WND that Rockefeller "has always believed that working in concert with people – no matter who they are – is better than fighting them."
"So, his career was built on trying to get along with all sorts of people, and that went as well to dealing commercially with people in other countries, who may believe in different things than we do," Seitel said.
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In his 2002 autobiography "Memoirs," Rockefeller addressed his reputation, proclaiming himself to be a "proud internationalist."
He wrote that "ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions."
"Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as internationalists and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will."
He then declared: "If that's the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it."
Seitel commented on the passage in Rockefeller's book, which he said has been widely "quoted and misquoted."
He said Rockefeller essentially was expressing his belief that "sitting down with your opponents was far superior than choosing to fight them."
"David Rockefeller was first and foremost an ardent capitalist who believes completely in the capitalist system," Seitel said. "That’s what he tried to promote around the world. Some people who have a different point of view may say we fight with these people and we disagree with those people. But David Rockefeller always believed that communication was the way to go."
In his book, Rockefeller said "populists" believe in conspiracies and that he had earned the distinction of being "conspirator in chief."
He affirmed that designation is deserved as well.
"Populists and isolationists ignore the tangible benefits that have resulted from our active internationalist role during the past half-century," Rockefeller wrote.
'Consolidating the four centers of power'
Rockefeller's lifelong association with the Council on Foreign Relations began in 1949 when he joined as a director. He later became head of the nominating committee for future membership and then chairman of the council's foreign policy think-tank.
He served as the only member of the Advisory Board for the secretive Bilderberg Group, which annually brings together more than 100 leaders and experts in politics, industry, finance, academia and media to collaborate behind closed doors on the world's big issues. Austria is hosting the 63rd Bilderberg conference this weekend.
Rockefeller became unhappy, however, with Bilderberg's refusal to include Japan in the annual meetings and helped found the Trilateral Commission in July 1973.
The Trilateral Commission's first U.S. director was Zbigniew Brzezinski, the national security adviser under President Carter. Its stated aim is to foster closer cooperation among North America, Western Europe and Japan.
The late Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater, however, once called the Trilateral Commission "a skillful, coordinated effort to seize control and consolidate the four centers of power: political, monetary, intellectual and ecclesiastical" in "the creation of a worldwide economic power superior to the political governments of the nation-states involved."
Rockefeller also helped form the Council of the Americas in 1965, which sponsored a forum in 1992 in which he proposed a "Western Hemisphere free trade area." The proposal turned into the Free Trade Area of the Americas in a Miami summit in 1994.
In his autobiography, Rockefeller characterized populists and isolationists as ideologues wanting "to wall off the United States by rejecting participation in such constructive international activities as the World Trade Organization and the North American Free Trade Agreement, eviscerating the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and assaulting the United States."
Rockefeller argued the "free flow of investment capital, goods, and people across borders will remain the fundamental factor in world economic growth and strengthening of democratic institutions everywhere."
He insisted the United States cannot escape from global responsibilities.
"In the twenty-first century there can be no place for isolationists; we must all be internationalists," he wrote.
Rockefeller regarded himself as part of the moderate "Rockefeller Republicans" that arose from his late brother Nelson Rockefeller's political ambitions. Nelson Rockefeller was governor of New York and vice president under Gerald Ford.
As a youth, David Rockefeller attended the experimental Lincoln School in Harlem that was based on the educational philosophy of progressive educator John Dewey. New Left icon Noam Chomsky also attended the school, which was funded in its early years by the Rockefellers' General Education Board, which later became part of the Rockefeller Foundation.
Rockefeller joined the staff of Chase National Bank in 1946, which became Chase Manhattan Bank in 1955 and now is called JPMorgan Chase.
Beginning as the bank's assistant manager in the foreign department, he financed international commodities, which put him in relationships with more than 1,000 correspondent banks throughout the world. He became president in 1960 and was chairman and chief executive of Chase Manhattan from 1969 to 1980 and chairman until 1981.
In 1973, Chase established the first branch of an American bank in the Soviet Union. Later that year, Rockefeller traveled to China, which resulted in Chase becoming the National Bank of China's first correspondent bank in the U.S.
Working with Henry Kissinger, who shared his globalist views, the two helped persuade President Carter to admit the Shah of Iran into the U.S. for cancer treatment, which led to the hostage crisis and was a major development in the Islamic revolution in which Ayatollah Khomeini's came to power.
'A joy to work with'
Asked what Rockefeller counted as among his major achievements, Seitel said "he was the one who took the bank international."
"He brought modern management methods into Chase – human resources, strategic planning, corporate communications," Seitel said.
"He would also take pride in his leadership in corporate responsibility, something that people like Milton Friedman objected to," Seitel said. "But, what David Rockefeller would say is that it was the responsibility of multi-billion dollar companies like Chase and other companies to give back to society."
Seitel said Chase "organized a full-blown corporate responsibilities program that included all the top executives of the institution."
"They met with people who were less privileged than they were and they donated time and money," he said.
WND asked Seitel what it was like to work with Rockefeller as a person.
"His interaction with Washington, with media, with customers, international chiefs of states – he was the best," Seitel said.
"He always felt he had the responsibility his name brought with him. And he understood the responsibilities of the CEO, but he was different than other CEOs who didn’t carry his name and his diplomatic portfolio.
"So, he was a terrific and inspirational leader," Seitel said. "He basically liked people, and this allowed him to meet even with people who criticized him, and not to be upset or harbor any grudge or animus.
"So he’s been a joy to work with for the past 40 years."
'New world order'
The classic declaration of a "new world order" after the fall of the communist Soviet Union and the Eastern bloc was made by President George H. W. Bush in 1990.
Bush was the initial proponent of the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, which David Rockefeller supported.
We stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment. 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: a new era – freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice, and more secure in the quest for peace. An era in which the nations of the world, East and West, North and South, can prosper and live in harmony. A hundred generations have searched for this elusive path to peace, while a thousand wars raged across the span of human endeavor.
Today that new world is struggling to be born, a world quite different from the one we've known. A world where the rule of law supplants the rule of the jungle. A world in which nations recognize the shared responsibility for freedom and justice. A world where the strong respect the rights of the weak. This is the vision that I shared with President Gorbachev in Helsinki. He and other leaders from Europe, the Gulf, and around the world understand that how we manage this crisis today could shape the future for generations to come.
See George H.W. Bush's "new world order" speech to Congress Sept. 11, 1990:
Bush made clear in his speech the use of U.S. military power to protect American business interests was especially justified when backed by an international coalition.