Among the most prestigious of American think-tanks, and the centrepiece of most recent speculations on the New World Order, the Council on Foreign Relations was founded in New York City in 1921 by a group of leading American financiers. The seed of the CFR had been planted in Paris during the 1919 negotiations over the Versailles Treaty, when US President Woodrow Wilson’s close adviser, Col. Edward M. House, assembled a group of British and American politicians at a dinner party and broached the idea of an institute to coordinate public policy in the Anglo–American alliance. The CFR came into being two years later.

The CFR’s 1500 members have long included the most important movers and shakers in American politics, including four US presidents and a stellar list of ambassadors, top business executives and bureaucrats, leading academics, and cultural figures. The CFR publishes the journal Foreign Affairs, easily the most prestigious journal in the foreign-policy field.

Unquestionably the CFR is among the major policy-making institutions of the US upper class. Its role has been stretched out of all proportion in recent conspiracy theories, however, where it shares pride of place alongside the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderberg group, and the fictional Committee of 300 as one of the top groups behind the New World Order, supposedly a scheme to impose a global dictatorship under the control of a corporate elite. These claims, like most of contemporary conspiracy theory, fail to explain why people who allegedly run the world need to carry out a vast secret plan in order to take over the world they already run. In fact, even a cursory reading of CFR publications and the pages of Foreign Policy make it clear that the CFR strives – not always successfully – to find common ground among the diverse and often quarrelsome groups who form the US governing class.


The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies : the ultimate a-z of ancient mysteries, lost civilizations and forgotten wisdom written by John Michael Greer – © John Michael Greer 2006