Monday, December 30, 2019

EXPOSED: David Rockefeller's Iranian Meddling

David Rockefeller
The New York Times reports that a newly disclosed secret history from the offices of Chase Manhattan Bank chairman David Rockefeller shows in detail how he worked behind the scenes to persuade the Carter administration to admit the Shah of Iran into the United States for medical treatment. Iran was one of the bank’s most profitable clients.

Here are key snippets from The Times report:
Although Mr. Carter complained publicly at the time about the pressure campaign, the full, behind-the-scenes story — laid out in the recently disclosed documents — has never been told.

Mr. Rockefeller’s team called the campaign Project Eagle, after the code name used for the shah. Exploiting clubby networks of power stretching deep into the White House, Mr. Rockefeller mobilized a phalanx of elder statesmen.

They included Henry A. Kissinger, the former secretary of state and the chairman of a Chase advisory board; John J. McCloy, the former commissioner of occupied Germany after World War II and an adviser to eight presidents as well as a future Chase chairman; a Chase executive and former C.I.A. agent, Archibald B. Roosevelt Jr., whose cousin, the C.I.A. agent Kermit Roosevelt Jr., had orchestrated a 1953 coup to keep the shah in power; and Richard M. Helms, a former director of the C.I.A. and former ambassador to Iran.

Charles Francis, a veteran of corporate public affairs who worked for Chase at the time, brought the documents to the attention of The Times.

“Today’s corporate campaigns are demolition derbies compared to this operation,” he said. “It was smooth, smooth, smooth and almost entirely invisible.”

Records of Project Eagle were donated to Yale by Mr. Reed, the campaign’s director. But he deemed the material so potentially embarrassing to his patron that Mr. Reed, who died in 2016, stipulated that the records remain sealed until Mr. Rockefeller’s death. Mr. Rockefeller died in 2017 at the age of 101.

Some of the information may embarrass others as well. Hawkish critics have often faulted Mr. Carter as worrying too much about human rights and thus failing to prop up the shah.

But the papers reveal that the president’s special envoy to Iran had actually urged the country’s generals to use as much deadly force as needed to suppress the revolt, advising them about how to carry out a military takeover to keep the shah in power...

The hostage crisis doomed Mr. Carter’s presidency. And the team around Mr. Rockefeller, a lifelong Republican with a dim view of Mr. Carter’s dovish foreign policy, collaborated closely with the Reagan campaign in its efforts to pre-empt and discourage what it derisively labeled an “October surprise” — a pre-election release of the American hostages, the papers show.

The Chase team helped the Reagan campaign gather and spread rumors about possible payoffs to win the release, a propaganda effort that Carter administration officials have said impeded talks to free the captives.

“I had given my all” to thwarting any effort by the Carter officials “to pull off the long-suspected ‘October surprise,’” Mr. Reed wrote in a letter to his family after the election, apparently referring to the Chase effort to track and discourage a hostage release deal. He was later named Mr. Reagan’s ambassador to Morocco.

Mr. Rockefeller then personally lobbied the incoming administration to ensure that its Iran policies protected the bank’s financial interests.

The records indicate that Mr. Rockefeller hoped for the restoration of a version of the deposed government...

As late as December 1980, Mr. Rockefeller personally urged the incoming Reagan administration to encourage a counterrevolution by stopping “rug merchant type bargaining” for the hostages and instead taking military action to punish Iran if the hostages were not released. He suggested occupying three Iranian-controlled islands in the Persian Gulf.

“The most likely outcome of this situation is an eventual replacement of the present fanatic Shiite Muslim government, either by a military one or a combination of the military with the civilian democratic leaders,” Mr. Rockefeller argued, according to his talking points for meetings with the Reagan transition team...

As Tehran’s coffers swelled with oil revenues in the 1970s, Chase formed a joint venture with an Iranian state bank and earned big fees advising the national oil company.

By 1979, the bank had syndicated more than $1.7 billion in loans for Iranian public projects (the equivalent of about $5.8 billion today). The Chase balance sheet held more than $360 million in loans to Iran and more than $500 million in Iranian deposits.

Mr. Rockefeller often insisted that his concern for the shah was purely about Washington’s “prestige and credibility.” It was about “the abandonment of a friend when he needed us most,” he wrote in his memoirs...

Yet the Project Eagle papers show that Mr. Rockefeller received detailed updates on the risks to Chase’s holdings, and that even his aside to Mr. Carter in April had been planned out the previous day with Mr. Reed, Mr. McCloy and Mr. Kissinger.

Over lunch at the Knickerbocker Club in New York, Mr. Carter’s special envoy to Tehran, Gen. Robert E. Huyser, told the Project Eagle team that he had urged Iran’s top military leaders to kill as many demonstrators as necessary to keep the shah in power.

If shooting over the heads of demonstrators failed to disperse them, “move to focusing on the chests,” General Huyser said he told the Iranian generals, according to minutes of the lunch. “I got stern and noisy with the military,” he added, but in the end, the top general was “gutless.”...

Only after the death of the shah, on July 27, 1980, nine months after his landing in Fort Lauderdale, did the Project Eagle team shift to new objectives. One was protecting Mr. Rockefeller from blame for the crisis.

Over roast loin of veal and vintage wine at the exclusive River Club in New York, Mr. Rockefeller and nine others on the team gathered on Aug. 19. Amid discussion of a laudatory biography of the shah by a Berkeley professor that the team had commissioned, some warned that a Rockefeller link to the embassy seizure would be hard to escape.

Why was the shah admitted [into the US]? “Medical treatment/DR recommended,” one said, using Mr. Rockefeller’s initials, according to minutes of the dinner. “This association cannot be ignored.”

But Mr. Kissinger was reassuring. Congress would never hold an investigation during an election campaign.

“I don’t think we are in trouble any more, David,” Mr. Kissinger told him.

The hostages were released on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 1981, and a few days later Mr. Carter’s departing White House counsel called Mr. Rockefeller to inquire about how the release deal affected Chase bank.

“Worked out very well,” Mr. Rockefeller told him, according to his records. “Far better than we had feared.”
The lesson here is that the powerful have enormous influence over government, and are always plotting, and always will.

Hayek was right, the worst get on top, or at least have the control.

The only solution is the Private Property Society.



  1. Rothbard's book, "Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy" is a good, short read on this general area.

  2. Roy A. Childs, Jr. was excellent on this topic in the February 1980 edition of Libertarian Review:

    A cartoon of the Shah:

    The Shah and Nelson Rockefeller: