Trilateral Commission

The Trilateral Commission
Founded 1973 (1973)
Founder David Rockefeller
Type Annual conference
Headquarters Tokyo (Asia Pacific Group)
Paris (European Group)
Washington, D.C. (North American Group)
More than 390
Yasuchika Hasegawa (Asia Pacific chairman)
Jean-Claude Trichet (European chairman)
Joseph S. Nye, Jr. (North American chairman)

The Trilateral Commission is a non-governmental, non-partisan discussion group founded by David Rockefeller[1] in July 1973 to foster closer cooperation among Japan, Western Europe and North America[2].



The Trilateral Commission was formed in 1973 by private citizens of Japan, North American nations (the U.S. and Canada), and Western European nations[2] to foster substantive political and economic dialogue across the world. The idea of the Commission was developed in the early 1970s, the time of considerable discord among the United States and its allies in Western Europe, Japan and Canada.[3] To quote its founding declaration:

  • "Growing interdependence is a fact of life of the contemporary world. It transcends and influences national systems... While it is important to develop greater cooperation among all the countries of the world, Japan, Western Europe, and North America, in view of their great weight in the world economy and their massive relations with one another, bear a special responsibility for developing effective cooperation, both in their own interests and in those of the rest of the world."
  • "To be effective in meeting common problems, Japan, Western Europe, and North America will have to consult and cooperate more closely, on the basis of equality, to develop and carry out coordinated policies on matters affecting their common interests... refrain from unilateral actions incompatible with their interdependence and from actions detrimental to other regions... [and] take advantage of existing international and regional organizations and further enhance their role."
  • "The Commission hopes to play a creative role as a channel of free exchange of opinions with other countries and regions. Further progress of the developing countries and greater improvement of East-West relations will be a major concern."[4]

Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981, professor at Columbia University, and a Rockefeller advisor who was a specialist on international affairs, left his post to organize the group along with:[5]

Other founding members included Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker, both later heads of the Federal Reserve System.


The Trilateral Commission initiated its biannual meetings in October 1973 in Tokyo, Japan. In May 1976, the first plenary meeting of all of the Commission's regional groups took place in Kyoto, Japan. Since the ninth meeting in 1978, plenary meetings have taken place annually. Besides annual plenary meetings, regional meetings have also taken in place by each of the Asia Pacific Group, the European Group and the North American Group.[8] Since its founding, the discussion group has produced an official journal called Trialogue.


Membership is divided into numbers proportionate to each of the think tank's three regional areas. The North American continent is represented by 120 members (20 Canadian, 13 Mexican and 87 U.S. citizens). The European group has reached its limit of 170 members from almost every country on the continent; the ceilings for individual countries are 20 for Germany, 18 for France, Italy and the United Kingdom, 12 for Spain and 1–6 for the rest. 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, 7 Australian and New Zealand citizens, and 15 members from the ASEAN nations (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand). The Pacific Asia group also included 9 members from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Currently, the Trilateral Commission claims "more than 100" Pacific Asian members.[4]

While Trilateral Commission bylaws exclude persons holding public office from membership,[9] the think tank draws its participants from political, business, and academic worlds. The group is chaired by three individuals, one from each of the regions represented. The current chairmen are former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Joseph S. Nye, Jr., former head of the European Central Bank Jean-Claude Trichet and Yasuchika Hasegawa, chair of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company.[10]


Social critic and academic Noam Chomsky has criticized the commission as undemocratic, pointing to its publication The Crisis of Democracy, which described the strong popular interest in politics during the 1970s as an "excess of democracy".[11]

Essentially liberal internationalists from Europe, Japan and the United States, the liberal wing of the intellectual elite. That's where Jimmy Carter's whole government came from. [...] [The Trilateral Commission] was concerned with trying to induce what they called "more moderation in democracy"—turn people back to passivity and obedience so they don't put so many constraints on state power and so on. In particular they were worried about young people. They were concerned about the institutions responsible for the indoctrination of the young (that's their phrase), meaning schools, universities, church and so on—they're not doing their job, [the young are] not being sufficiently indoctrinated. They're too free to pursue their own initiatives and concerns and you've got to control them better.[12]

Conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theorists believe the organization to be a central plotter of a world government or synarchy. As documented by journalist Jonathan Kay, Luke Rudkowski interrupted a lecture by former Trilateral Commission director Zbigniew Brzezinski in April 2007 and accused the organization and a few others of having orchestrated the attacks of September 11 to initiate a new world order.[13]

In his 1980 book With No Apologies, Republican Senator Barry Goldwater suggested the discussion group was "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."[14] Right-wing groups such as the John Birch Society and right wing conspiracy theorists such as Alex Jones also support this idea.[15]

Conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer sardonically alluded to the conspiracy theories when he was asked in 2012 who makes up the "Republican establishment", saying, "Karl Rove is the president. We meet every month on the full moon... [at] the Masonic Temple. We have the ritual: Karl brings the incense, I bring the live lamb and the long knife, and we began... with a pledge of allegiance to the Trilateral Commission."[16]


  • Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution. 2011. ISBN 978-0-930503-94-9. 

See also


  1. "David Rockefeller". Trilateral Commission. Retrieved 14 March 2013.
  2. 1 2 "ABOUT THE TRILATERAL COMMISSION". Retrieved Jul 12, 2018.
  3. "FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS". The Trilateral Commission. Retrieved Jul 12, 2018.
  4. 1 2 "The Trilateral Commission FAQ". The Trilateral Commission. 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-17.
  5. "David Rockefeller's consultations culminated with a July 23–24, 1972 meeting at Pocantico Hills, NY attended by..."
  6. George S. Franklin Jr., 82, Foreign Policy Expert David Stout. New York Times. March 7, 1996. Retrieved May 12, 2016
  7. "Tadashi Yamamoto, pioneer of international exchange, dies at 76". Asahi Shimbun. 2012-04-16. Archived from the original on 2012-08-01. Retrieved 2012-05-08.
  8. "Meetings". The Trilateral Commission. Retrieved Jul 12, 2018.
  9. "Answer to a written question - Incompatibility between the holding of a Community decision-making office and membership of the Bilderberg Club and the Trilateral Commission - E-1846/2003". European Parliament. August 6, 2003. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
  10. "Trilateral Commission Membership" (PDF). October 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-12.
  11. Noam., Chomsky, (1999). Profit over people : neoliberalism and global order (Seven Stories Press 1st ed.). New York: Seven Stories Press. ISBN 1888363827. OCLC 39505718.
  12. Kasenbacher, Michael (24 December 2012). "Work, Learning and Freedom". New Left Project. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  13. Kay, Jonathan (2011). Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground. New York, NY: Harpers. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-1-55468-630-8.
  14. Goldwater, Barry; coauthored with Stephen Shadegg (1980). With No Apologies. Berkley. p. 299. ISBN 0-425-04663-X.
  15. Barry, Dan (June 25, 2009). "Holding Firm Against Plots by Evildoers". The New York Times.
  16. "Krauthammer's Take". Special Report with Bret Baier. Retrieved January 26, 2012.

Further reading

  • Brzezinski, Zbigniew (October 1970). "America and Europe". Foreign Affairs. 49 (1): 11–30. doi:10.2307/20037815.  (Includes Brzezinski's proposal for the establishment of a body like the Trilateral Commission.)
  • Brzezinski, Zbigniew (1970). Between two ages; America's role in the technetronic era. New York: Viking Press. OCLC 88066. 
  • Gill, Stephen (1991). American Hegemony and the Trilateral Commission. Cambridge Studies in International Relations. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-42433-X. OCLC 246854587. 
  • Kay, Jonathan (17 May 2011). Among the Truthers: A Journey Through America's Growing Conspiracist Underground. New York: Harpers. ISBN 0-06-200481-6. 
  • Rockefeller, David (2002). Memoirs. New York: Random House. ISBN 0679405887. 
  • Sklar (ed.), Holly (1980). Trilateralism: The Trilateral Commission and Elite Planning for World Management. Boston: South End Press. ISBN 0-89608-103-6. 
  • Wood, Patrick (2014). Technocracy Rising: The Trojan Horse Of Global Transformation. Coherent Publishing. ISBN 978-0986373909.  But see also reference below from "The Straight Dope".
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