Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Power Elite-Obama Connection

Lew Rockwell has posted a fascinating essay by Daniel Immerwahr on the power elite, how they developed and how they rule.

There's a lot to comment about with regard to this essay and I will be writing on the essay in a number of posts, but the most fascinating part of this essay is how, perhaps unwittingly by the author, he has tied President Obama closer to the power elite at a very early age.

I have already pointed out the curious fact that President Obama's mother and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner worked together in Asia, with Geithner's father being Obama's mother's boss.

The Immerwahr essay sheds more light on why this Obama's mother-Geithner's father connection is important relative to understanding the power elite---and perhaps how Obama really got to be president.

Here are the key excerpts from Immerwahr's essay:
An intriguing explanation of how the US Government, politically hamstrung at home, could act with force and purpose abroad is contained in Inderjeet Parmar’s excellent Foundations of the American Century. Throughout the 20th century, Parmar argues, the weak state was supplemented by private foundations, which took on many of the functions of government. Unelected, unaccountable, and for the most part unchecked, these foundations channeled billions of dollars into positioning the United States as a world power. Immune to the vicissitudes of democratic politics, they functioned as a shadow government, implementing the goals of what C. Wright Mills called the “power elite,” the men of affairs who moved easily from corporate boardrooms to high-ranking government office, often in or around the State Department.

These men had money, often more of it than they knew how to spend. The endowments of the big three foundations—Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Ford—were drawn from the immense profits of the oil, steel, and auto industries. In part, the founding of these philanthropic institutions was a public relations strategy. John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, still the first and second wealthiest men in history, had both been targeted by the press after turning armed strikebreakers on their employees. Henry Ford, the seventh richest, at first was hailed as a new kind of industrialist, deriving his profits from technical and sociological innovation rather than from naked power grabs. But after his men opened fire on a march of laid-off workers at River Rouge in 1932, killing five and seriously injuring nineteen, Ford, too, found himself the object of public scorn. (The “despot of Dearborn” is what Edmund Wilson called him, and that same year Aldous Huxley envisioned a dystopian society run on Fordist principles in Brave New World). Four years later, Ford established his own foundation, to which he and his son, Edsel, bequeathed 90 percent of the Ford Motor Company’s stock. After Ford’s death in 1947, nearly all of the profits of his firm, one of the world’s largest, went to the Ford Foundation. The result was a form of public expenditure for which there was no public oversight.

The money itself, though substantial, never threatened to surpass the size of the federal budget. What was important was how it was spent. The trustees of the large foundations comprised a cozy group of men—well-heeled, white, and Protestant—who were raised in the same milieu, attended the same colleges (over half graduated from Harvard, Princeton, or Yale), and belonged to the same social clubs. Such men could not help but share a worldview, and for most of 20th century there was no one in the room to argue the other side. Internally united and externally unimpeded, they acted with a speed and resolve that was impossible for elected politicians. While government officials mired themselves in political debates, foundation leaders acted: they commissioned research, trained students, launched pilot projects, cultivated allies among foreign governments, and built networks of experts. By the time the government overcame its inertia on an issue, it found a smooth and well-marked trail stretching ahead through the wilderness.
At this point I halt the excerpt to point out that Geithner's father was in charge of microfinance for all of Asia for the Ford Foundation.

The President's mother launched microfinance in Indonesia---This resulted in Giethner's father overseeing the work of Ann Durnham, the President's mother. Back to the excerpts:
Parmar’s most disturbing revelation concerns the Ford Foundation’s work in Indonesia. In the 1960s, while Ford’s leaders were laying the groundwork for the War on Poverty in the United States and funding the development of Sesame Street, they were also bankrolling a network of social scientists and economists around the University of Indonesia who would, with Ford’s approval, participate in the campaign to oust Indonesia’s elected but left-leaning President Sukarno. Concerned that Sukarno was too accommodating of Communism, Ford’s experts came to the aid of his rival, General Suharto, who gradually took control of the government over the course of three years, starting in 1965. Suharto would go on to rule the country in a corrupt, autocratic manner for over three decades, but the greatest tragedy of his rule came in the period of his ascent, when his supporters slaughtered some half a million alleged communists.

Students at the University of Indonesia, Ford’s main recipient, played a leading role in the bloodshed and used the university’s campus as their base. Top Ford officials were aware of the massacre, but they reopened their Indonesia office (it had closed briefly during Sukarno’s presidency, in the face of Communist “agitation”) and sent more funds, even as many of their experts entered the ranks of the Suharto regime. In one exchange of letters, the foundation’s representative in Indonesia reported both the scale of the massacre and the role played by University of Indonesia students in it to Ford’s president, but celebrated the country’s “atmosphere of sustained holiday-spirit and exhilaration” and opined that Indonesia had never known such freedom. “I’m enjoying the trip. Hope all’s well in New York,” the representative signed off. Ford’s president at the time was McGeorge Bundy, who had come to the post directly after serving as National Security Adviser to Johnson and Kennedy and had been a chief architect of the Vietnam War. There is no evidence that he or any of the other officials at Ford were troubled by the reports from Indonesia.

Ford’s willingness to support dictators as long as they were anti-Communist was not unique to philanthropic foundations—it was a fault to which the entire US foreign policy apparatus was prone. But while the government supplied military assistance, the foundations built networks of experts, the “right” kind of experts who would work with the “right” kind of government
Note the use of foundation tied "experts" to work with the "right" type of governments. Note also that the mass killer General Suharto gradually took control of the government over the course of three years, starting in 1965.  Dunham moved with her six-year-old son, Obama,  to Jakarta, Indonesia in October 1967. From 1968 to 1972, Dunham was a co-founder and active member of the Ganesha Volunteers (Indonesian Heritage Society) at the National Museum in Jakarta--most likely an organization funded by US power elite foundation money. She then moved on to the microfinance work.

Bottom line: This  Immerwahr essay advances understanding of the curious life of President Obama's mother, beyond her working for Tim Geithner's father, and helping us understand what was going on  Indonesia at the time she was in the country and the influences of US power elites,  while she was there and apparently in the middle of things. A time when the power elite were putting in place their experts, thorough their foundations, to overthrow one Indonesian leader and replace him with the mass murderer General Suharto.

And so, it becomes more and more difficult to believe that the President was not born into a snake pit of eltist plotters that have lifted him to his position as President.


  1. >And so, it becomes more and more difficult to believe that the President was not born into a snake pit of eltist plotters that have lifted him to his position as President.

    And sadder still, he may be re-elected.

  2. Ties to these power elite figures gives new perspective to the questions raised by the so-called birther movement as well as the many mysteries surrouding Obama's collegiate years. Also, the excerpt doesn't touch on this, but there are also many rumors of CIA ties with Obama's mother.

  3. Haven't seen the "2016" documentary, but I would imagine it touches on none of this not-so-trivial stuff.

  4. The Club looks after its own. Take the boys who landed Bush:

    They just scored a Clinton coup:

  5. I ran across this story and thought I'd post the link: