The Trilateral Commission is a private organization, established to foster closer cooperation between America, Europe and Japan. It was founded in July 1973, at the initiative of David Rockefeller; who was Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations at that time. The Trilateral Commission is widely seen as a counterpart to the Council on Foreign Relations. He pushed the idea of including Japan at the Bilderberg meetings he was attending but was rebuffed. Along with Zbigniew Brzezinski and a few other people, including individuals from the Brookings Institution, Council on Foreign Relations and the Ford Foundation, he convened initial meetings out of which grew the Trilateral organization.
Other founding members included Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker, both eventually heads of the Federal Reserve system.
Its first executive committee meeting was held in Tokyo
in October 1973. In May 1976, the first plenary meeting of all of the Commission's regional groups took place in Kyoto
, attended by Jimmy Carter
. Today it consists of approximately 300–350 private citizens from Europe
, the Asia-Pacific
region, and North America
, and exists to promote closer political and economic cooperation between these areas, which are the primary industrial regions in the world. Its official journal from its founding is a magazine called Trialogue
Membership is divided into numbers proportionate to each of its three regional areas. These members include corporate CEOs, politicians of all major parties, distinguished academics, university presidents, labor union leaders and not-for-profits involved in overseas philanthropy. Members who gain a position in their respective country's government must resign from the Commission.
The organization has come under much scrutiny and criticism by political activists and academics working in the social and political sciences. The Commission has found its way into a number of conspiracy theories, especially when it became known that President Jimmy Carter appointed 26 former Commission members to senior positions in his Administration. Later it was revealed that Carter himself was a former Trilateral member. In the 1980 election, it was revealed that Carter and his two major opponents, John B. Anderson and George H. W. Bush, were also members, and the Commission became a campaign issue. Ronald Reagan supporters noted that he was not a Trilateral member, but after he was chosen as Republican nominee he chose Bush as his running mate; as president, he appointed a few Trilateral members to Cabinet positions and held a reception for the Commission in the White House in 1984. The John Birch Society believes that the Trilateral Commission is dedicated to the formation of one world government. In 1980, Holly Sklar released a book titled Trilateralism: the Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management.
Since many of the members were businesspeople or bankers, actions that they took or encouraged that helped the banking industry have been noted. Jeremiah Novak, writing in the July 1977 issue of Atlantic, said that after international oil prices rose when Nixon set price controls on American domestic oil, many developing countries were required to borrow from banks to buy oil: "The Trilaterists' emphasis on international economics is not entirely disinterested, for the oil crisis forced many developing nations, with doubtful repayment abilities, to borrow excessively. All told, private multinational banks, particularly Rockefeller's Chase Manhattan, have loaned nearly $52 billion to developing countries. An overhauled International Monetary Fund (IMF) would provide another source of credit for these nations, and would take the big private banks off the hook. This proposal is the cornerstone of the Trilateral plan.
The North American continent is represented by 107 members (15 Canadian, seven Mexican and 85 U.S. citizens). The European group has reached its limit of 150 members, including citizens from Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
At first, Asia and Oceania were represented only by Japan. However, in 2000 the Japanese group of 85 members expanded itself, becoming the Pacific Asia group, composed of 117 members: 75 Japanese, 11 South Koreans, seven Australian and New Zealand citizens, and 15 members from the ASEAN nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand). The Pacific Asia group also includes nine members from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The three current chairmen are:
Some others who are or have been members:
- Krister Ahlström: Chairman, Ahlström Corp.; Vice Chairman, Stora Enso & Fortum; former Chairman, Finnish Employers Confederation
- Rona Ambrose: Member of Parliament, Canada
- John B. Anderson: former US Congressman
- Bruce Babbitt: Interior Secretary under Clinton
- Francisco Pinto Balsemão
- Jim Balsillie: Chairman and Co-CEO of Research In Motion.
- Raymond Barre: former French Prime Minister
- Lloyd Bentsen: former US Senator and Secretary of the Treasury under Clinton
- Georges Berthoin: International Chairman of the European Movement from 1978–1981.
- Catherine Ann Bertini: Former United Nations Under Secretary General in Management, former Director of World Food Program.
- Maurizio Bevilacqua: Member of Parliament, Canada
- Ritt Bjerregaard: Mayor of Copenhagen, Danish Social Democrat MP, former Secretary of Education, member of various cabinets; European Commissioner for Environment, Nuclear Safety and Civil Protection in the Santer Commission from 1995 to 1999.
- Tom Bradley (politician): former Mayor of Los Angeles
- John H. Bryan: former CEO of Sara Lee bakeries, affiliated with the World Economic Forum and a director on the Boards of Sara Lee, Goldman Sachs, General Motors, British Petroleum and Bank One.
- Zbigniew Brzezinski: U.S. National Security Advisor to U.S. President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981.
- James E. Burke: CEO of Johnson & Johnson from 1976 to 1989.
- George H.W. Bush: Former President of the U.S.
- Guido Carli: former Governor of the Banca d'Italia from 1960-1975
- Frank Carlucci: President of Carlyle Group, U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1987 to 1989.
- Hervé de Carmoy
- Jimmy Carter: Former President of the U.S.
- Gerhard Casper: Constitutional scholar, faculty member and former President at Stanford University; successor trustee of Yale University and part of the Board of Trustees of the Central European University in Hungary.
- Dick Cheney: current Vice President of the U.S.
- Warren Christopher: former Secretary of State under Clinton and Deputy Secretary of State under Carter
- Henry Cisneros: HUD Secretary under Clinton
- Joe Clark: former Canadian Prime Minister
- Bill Clinton: Former President of the U.S.
- William Cohen: former Republican Congressman and US Senator, U.S. Secretary of Defense under President Clinton.
- Tim Collins: CEO of Ripplewood Holdings LLC investment company; also part of the Yale Divinity School and Yale School of Management board of advisors and U.S.-Japan non-profit organizations.
- John Danforth: former US Senator
- André Desmarais: President and Co-Chief Executive Officer, Power Corporation of Canada, Montréal, QC; Deputy Chairman, Power Financial Corporation
- Hedley Donovan: former editor-in-chief of Time magazine, White House Advisor on Domestic and Foreign Policy under Carter, Trilateral Commission founding member
- Lawrence Eagleburger: former Secretary of State under George H. W. Bush
- Bill Emmott: Former editor of The Economist magazine.
- Aatos Erkko: Chairman, SanomaWSOY
- Daniel J. Evans: former Governor of Washington
- Gaston Eyskens: former Prime Minister of Belgium
- Dianne Feinstein: Democratic U.S. Senator, former Mayor of San Francisco, member of the Council on Foreign Relations; chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security.
- Martin Feldstein: Professor of economics at Harvard University; president and CEO of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers from 1982 to 1984; former director of the Council on Foreign Relations; member of the Bilderberg Group and of the World Economic Forum.
- Hugh Fletcher: Chancellor of Auckland University and CEO of Fletcher Challenge.
- Ross Garnaut: Head, Department of Economics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, Australian National University, Canberra.
- David Gergen: Political consultant and presidential advisor during the Republican administrations of Nixon, Ford and Reagan; also served as advisor to Bill Clinton.
- John Glenn: former astronaut, former US Senator and U.S. Presidential candidate
- Maldonado Gonelha
- Allan Gotlieb: Canadian Ambassador to Washington from 1981 to 1989, chairman of the Canada Council from 1989 to 1994.
- Bill Graham: former Canadian Minister of National Defence and Minister of Foreign Affairs under Paul Martin; for most of 2006, interim parliamentary leader of the Liberal Party.
- Hank Greenberg: Former chairman and CEO of American International Group (AIG), the world's largest insurance and financial services corporation.
- Alan Greenspan: Former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve
- Alexander Haig: former Secretary of State under Reagan
- Sirkka Hämäläinen: Member of the Executive Board, European Central Bank, Frankfurt-am-Main; former Governor, Bank of Finland
- Edward Heath: former British Prime Minister
- Mugur Isarescu: Governor of the National Bank of Romania since 1990 and Prime Minister from December 1999 to November 2000; he worked for the Minister of Foreign Affairs then for the Romanian Embassy in the U.S. after the 1989 Romanian revolution.
- Max Jakobson: former Finnish ambassador to the United States
- Sergei Karaganov: Presidential Advisor to Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin; member of the International Advisory Board of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1995 to 2005.
- Henry Kissinger: U.S. diplomat, National Security Advisor and Secretary of State in the Nixon and Ford administrations; former Chairman of the International Advisory Committee of JP Morgan Chase.
- Horst Kohler: President of Germany
- Max Kohnstamm: Diplomat and historian, son of Philip Kohnstamm.
- Joseph Kraft: syndicated columnist
- Otto Graf Lambsdorff: Chairman of the German Free Democratic Party from 1993 to 1998; Minister for Economic Affairs for West Germany from 1977 to 1984.
- Liam Lawlor: Irish politician who resigned from the Fianna Fáil party; died in a car-crash in Moscow in 2005.
- Pierre Lellouche: French MP of the conservative Union for a Popular Movement party led by Nicolas Sarkozy.
- Gerald M. Levin: Former CEO of Time Warner, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
- Mario Vargas Llosa
- Peter Lougheed: former Premier of Alberta
- Allan MacEachen: former Leader of the Government in the Senate (Canada)
- Whitney MacMillan: Chairman Emeritus of Cargill
- Jorge Braga de Macedo
- Francis Maude: MP for Horsham, the only British MP currently a member of the Trilateral Commission, former Conservative Party Chairman, son of the late Sir Angus Maude MP
- Kiichi Miyazawa: Japanese Prime Minister in 1991–1993; Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1974 to 1976, Chief Cabinet Secretary from 1984 to 1986, Minister of Finance in 1987 and again from 1999 to 2002.
- Walter Mondale: former Vice President of the U.S. under Carter
- Akio Morita: Co-founder of Sony Corporation; vice chairman of the Keidanren (Japan Federation of Economic Organizations) and member of the Japan-U.S. Economic Relations Group.
- Brian Mulroney: former Canadian Prime Minister
- Lowell Murray: Canadian Senator
- Indra Nooyi: CEO of PepsiCo
- Shijuro Ogata: Former Deputy Governor, Bank of Japan
- Andrzej Olechowski: Polish director of Euronet, USA; on the supervisory boards of Citibank Handlowy and Europejski Fundusz Hipoteczny; president of the Central European Forum; Deputy Governor of the National Bank of Poland from 1989 to 1991; Minister of Foreign Economic Relations from 1991 to 1992; Minister of Finance in 1992 and of Foreign Affairs from 1993 to 1995; economic advisor to President Lech Wałęsa from 1992 to 1993 and in 1995, etc.
- Paul H. O'Neill: former Secretary of the Treasury under George W. Bush and former chairman of Alcoa
- Henry D. Owen: former Brookings Institution Director and Ambassador at Large for Economic Summit Affairs.
- Lucas Papademos: European Central Bank Vice President.
- Martha Piper: Former Chancellor of UBC
- Lee Raymond: Former CEO and Chairman, ExxonMobil, vice chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Enterprise Institute, director of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., director and member of the Executive Committee and Policy Committee of the American Petroleum Institute.
- Paul Révay
- Susan Rice: former United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, former member, National Security Council, member, Brookings Institution, advisor of Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama
- Charles Robb: former US Senator
- Mary Robinson: President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997 as a candidate for the Labour Party; United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to 2002.
- Dufferin Roblin: former Premier of Manitoba
- David Rockefeller: Founder of the Trilateral Commission; Chairman of the Chase Manhattan Bank board from 1969 to 1981; Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1970 to 1985, now honorary Chairman; a life member of the Bilderberg Group.
- Carl Rowan: syndicated columnist
- Robert Rubin: Treasury Secretary under Clinton
- Brent Scowcroft: former National Security Advisor under Ford and George H. W. Bush
- William Scranton: former Governor of Pennsylvania
- Tøger Seidenfaden: Editor-in-Chief, Politiken,Denmark . Also a Bilderberg attendee since 1995
- Donna Shalala: Secretary of Health and Human Services under Clinton
- Gerard C. Smith: First U.S. Chairman of the Trilateral Commission; chief U.S. delegate to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks of 1969.
- Anthony M. Solomon: former President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
- Miguel Sousa Soares: Management Consultant, EMPORDEF, MDN (Portugal) from 2005.
- Ted Sorensen: former special adviser to President Kennedy
- Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa: Leader of the Social Democratic Party (Portugal) from 1996 to 1999.
- Ron Southern: Chairman of the Board and majority shareholder of ATCO
- Jessica Stern: Former NSC staff member, author, and lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
- Thorvald Stoltenberg: Norwegian politician, holds a seat on the Trilateral Commission's Executive Committee.
- Han Sung-Joo
- Robert Taft Jr.: former US Senator
- James R. Thompson: former Governor of Illinois
- George Vasiliou: President of the Republic of Cyprus from 1988 to 1993, founder and leader of the Cypriot United Democrats party.
- Paul Volcker: Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve from 1979 to 1987, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Group of Thirty.
- Takeshi Watanabe
- Caspar Weinberger: Secretary of Defense under Reagan
- Paul Wolfowitz: Former President of the World Bank, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense and a prominent member of the neo-conservatives in Washington.
- Tadashi Yamamoto
- Isamu Yamashita
- Andrew Young: former United States Ambassador to the United Nations
- Lorenzo Zambrano: Chairman and CEO of Cemex SAB de CV since 1985, the third largest cement company of the world; member of the board of IBM and Citigroup.
- Robert Zoellick: President of the World Bank, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, former U.S. Trade Representative.
- Memoirs by David Rockefeller, New York: Random House, 2002. Contains a brief history of the Commission's founding, composition of members and overall influence.
- Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management by Holly Sklar, South End Press (November 1, 1980), 616 pages, ISBN 0-89608-103-6.
- Trilaterals Over Washington, Vol. I and II by Antony C. Sutton and Patrick M. Wood, The August Corporation (1979/81), ISBN 0-933482-01-9.
- American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission (Cambridge Studies in International Relations) (collective), Cambridge University Press (November 7, 1991), 318 pages, ISBN 0-521-42433-X.
- The Rockefeller triangle: A country editor's documented report on the Trilateral Commission plan for world government by Bill Wilkerson, Idalou Beacon (1980), 44 pages, ASIN B0006E2ZE4.
- Who's who of the elite: members of the Bilderbergs, Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, and Skull & Bones Society by Robert Gaylon Ross. - 2nd revision. - San Marcos, Tex : RIE, 2000, ISBN 0-9649888-0-1.
- Tous pouvoirs confondus : État, capital et médias à l'ère de la mondialisation by Geoffrey Geuens, EPO (15 March 2003), 470 pages, ISBN 2-87262-193-8.
- "America and Europe" by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Foreign Affairs, 49:1 (October 1970), p.11-30; [Includes Brzezinski's proposal for the establishment of a body like the Trilateral Commission.]