Last year’s Bilderberg Conference took place during the extended weekend of June 9–12 in Dresden, Germany. The information we know for sure is contained in the official guest list and a list of topics under discussion – make of these what you will (I highlight just one in red):
- Current events [that’s good for starters!]
- Europe: migration, growth, reform, vision, unity
- Middle East
- U.S. political landscape, economy: growth, debt, reform
- Geo-politics of energy and commodity prices
- Precariat and middle class
- Technological innovation
The rest must inevitably be more speculative… belated speculation at that (apologies for the delay). †
there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre
I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. And yet, I ask you, is not an alien force already among us? What could be more alien to the universal aspirations of our peoples than war and the threat of war?
– Ronald Reagan addressing the 42nd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. 1
More than a year ago on March 7th 2016, combined airstrikes by drones and manned aircraft killed 150 people in a single day… in Somalia. 2 The news made little impression because America is officially not at war with Somalia. Yet, the attacks were just part of Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa (OEF-HAO), a spill-over of our “Global War on Terror”.
A little way along Africa’s dusty tracks, and Operation Enduring Freedom – Horn of Africa redeploys itself as Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans Sahara (OEF-TS) which is currently operational across a further ten African countries: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia. OEF-TS doesn’t make the news either, because America is not officially at war with Algeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal or Tunisia.
In 2006, just 1 percent of all U.S. commandos deployed overseas were in Africa. In 2010, it was 3 percent. By 2016, that number had jumped to more than 17 percent. In fact, according to data supplied by U.S. Special Operations Command, there are now more special operations personnel devoted to Africa than anywhere except the Middle East — 1,700 people spread out across 20 countries dedicated to assisting the U.S. military’s African partners in their fight against terrorism and extremism. 3
From an article entitled “The war you’ve never heard of” written by Nick Turse.
Just across the narrow channel of the Gulf of Aden, the US is also flying its fleets of drones above the impoverished nation of Yemen. They have been doing so since 2002, as well as launching more conventional airstrikes, and now, following Operation Decisive Storm of March 2015, they are sharing the same skies so as to coordinate the killing with our allies the Saudis and their arsenal of cluster bombs.
Meanwhile, in neighbouring Libya, Nato’s Operation Unified Protector and its “no-fly zone” of 2011 has sent the country spiralling into civil war with an immediate cost of an estimated 30,000 lives. After six months of sustained aerial bombardment, the territory, ever since swarming with Islamist terrorists, has since been divvied up between competing warlords.
This repeats a pattern begun under the original franchise of Operation Enduring Freedom when America and Britain teamed up with warlords of the Northern Alliance to see off the Taliban. Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan has also cost the lives of hundreds of thousands (plus others killed in Pakistan after the conflict was broadened under Obama’s administration) and peaked with Operation Iraqi Freedom (the first “spill-over” of OEF), after America’s “coalition of the willing” instigated the slaughter of hundreds of thousands in Iraq (fatalities perhaps touching a million but never counted) and tore a second country to pieces. 4
Our “Global War on Terror” has now entered the middle of its second decade and in its wake there have never been greater numbers of refugees desperate to escape its ravages. Packed aboard any vessel that floats, they travel with the hope of deliverance from poverty and untold suffering, scrambling for their lives to a continent that has ample reserves available, but whose surplus reserves are instead spent on the procurement of more weapons to sustain the very wars our victims are escaping from.
And there have never been more terrorists to kill, nor greater profits from selling the weapons needed to kill them (once we have ceased supporting them that is) It’s boom time in the business of warring…
… and crunch time for everyone else: with a shrinking pot of funds to sustain vital public services like healthcare, education, welfare and pensions.
So here’s a question: did anyone actually vote for this? Because I don’t recall any democratic process like a referendum when it came to deciding upon regime change in Afghanistan, or Iraq, or Libya, or Syria… or for Operation Enduring Freedom. And if this catastrophic and nonsensical (at face value) “Global War on Terror” was not the choice of the people, then who actually did force the decisions? Do we have any clues… anywhere… at all? I mean – and this is a pretty wild thought – but perhaps that old buffoon Ronald Reagan was actually on to something after all. Could it be there really is “an alien force already among us”?
in a democracy, the government is the people
“Frankly, I’d like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry.”
– war profiteer Milo Minderbinder (Joseph Heller’s character in the novel Catch-22). 5
Seventy-two years ago, on the night of February 13th, the first sorties of some thousand RAF and USAAF bombers were opening their bomb bay hatches as they prepared to drop approximately four thousand tons of high explosives and incendiary devices that would pulverise the city of Dresden and incinerate some 25,000 of its inhabitants. Incarcerated in an underground meat locker, Kurt Vonnegut, then an American PoW, was extremely lucky to escape with his life. His reprieve amongst the hanging cadavers would be the central irony of a life devoted to irony: the number of his accidental refuge commemorated in the title of his most celebrated novel: Slaughterhouse-Five.
Today Dresden is synonymous with the intense firestorms during the last days of the war, and in consequence, synonymous too with Vonnegut’s semi-autobiographical treatment of the horrors he encountered once back above ground again. A witness to the mass murder of defenceless civilians in an attack that, like Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Guernica, carpet-bombed by the Nazi Luftwaffe a mere eight years earlier, have also become synonymous with the vilest of war’s barbarisms:
A reproduction of Picasso’s anti-war masterpiece “Guernica” hangs within the UN Security Council, although when Colin Powell presented the case for war against Iraq back in February 2003, it was hidden beneath a blue cover. 6
So when Bilderberg turns up in Dresden, the plangency is of an eerily sepulchral tone. Those hollow-eyed salesmen who tout for the military-industrial complex chewing the fat with the usual menagerie of heads of state and other intermediaries who oversee our casino economies, mixed in with a few high-level spooks and a handful of five-star generals, a spattering of obsequious journalists, with the occasional royal sprinkled on top: but mostly neo-cons slapping the backs of their neo-liberal counterparts. Basically, the bringers of war are back in town.
Marta [Dassù] has just the kind of twinkly smile you’d expect from the director of a gigantic defence contractor. You realise that with Finmeccanica and Honeywell present at an Airbus-organised conference, which has the CIA-backed Palantir’s Alex Karp on the steering committee alongside Jacob Wallenberg (the Wallenberg’s are major stakeholders in Saab), you could have yourself a nice little arms company breakout session. But this is hardly the public perception Bilderberg wants (insofar as it wants a public perception at all, which obviously it doesn’t). 7
Observed Charlie Skelton, as delegates attending the annual Bilderberg confab began gathering at the historic Hotel Taschenbergpalais Kempinski on Friday June 10th of last summer. His commentary running over from the previous Wednesday’s article in which he wrote:
[Alex] Karp and [Peter] Thiel are busy men. Karp has a $15bn CIA-funded company to run. Thiel has speculations to make and Silicon Valley startups to incubate. So the question has to be asked: what on earth are they doing in Dresden? What’s dragging them across the Atlantic to sit for three days in alphabetical rows in a windowless, subterranean conference room? What’s prompting companies like Barclays and Airbus to fund and help run this conference? They’ve got shareholders to answer to: they can’t just say “it bought us a nice chinwag”. 8
Skelton’s sarcasm is just as thick as the proverbial smoke in the proverbial smoke-filled rooms that our powers-that-shouldn’t-be, thanks to health and safety, presumably no longer occupy. We really ought to shudder at the prospect, so we laugh instead: it’s often a better way to cope.
And the prominence of so many happy defence contractors at last year’s clandestine shindig appears all the more unsettling when considered within the broader mix: Gen. David H. Petraeus, (USA) Chairman, KKR Global Institute; his even scarier boss, Henry R. Kravis (USA), Co-Chairman and Co-CEO, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and the boss’s wife Marie-Josée Kravis, (USA) Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute were all present again, as was that other perennial warmonger and Bilderberg grandee, Henry A. Kissinger. But then, the skin crawls all the more when we pass across the names of defence ministers Ursula von der Leyen (Germany) and Thomas Ahrenkiel (Denmark) and come to the aptly named Russia-baiting neo-con Gen. Philip M. Breedlove 9, (INT) Former Supreme Allied Commander Europe. (And what of Emmanuelle Charpentier, (France) Director, Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology… why would his appearance at Bilderberg bother anyone?)
Not that without the Bilderbergers around to push the latest armaments and beat the drum, all wars would be abruptly and indefinitely finished. Just that a lot less might begin. Because war is certainly a racket and what other event accommodates so many of its ablest racketeers?
the way it happens in the world, and quite right…
“When people say this is a secret government of the world I say that if we were a secret government of the world we should be bloody ashamed of ourselves.”
– Chairman of “the secretive – he prefers the word private – Bilderberg Group”, Viscount Etienne Davignon, who is also a corporate director and former European Commissioner. 10
You scratch my back is connivance, if not automatically of an illegal kind. That said, such high-level back-scratching opens the way to a more treacherous conspiracy by miles than most conspiracies our courts prosecute under the regular legal definition. And Bilderberg is much more than a tremendously powerful lobbying group – the most well-connected and powerful of all (we might also presume) – even when this lesser (if serious) charge is another that Bilderbergers themselves are eager to spurn. The soft-soap and the hard sells, the considerations and inducements, the sweeteners and the sweetheart deals; none of this takes place. Honest, Gov!
For newbies, in any case, the name of the game is different. So we need another dirty word to clearly identify it: the word I’m groping for is ‘grooming’. A word that makes the skin crawl all the more.
Have a cigar, old chap, and a glass of brandy and a delicate word whispered in your delicate shell-like. The tantalising, nearly irresistible, promises of a high seat close to the high table and a destiny amongst the stars – those self-anointed “masters of the universe” and not mere B-listers constantly on their flickering blue screens who lesser mortals habitually mistake as the gods.
Bilderberg functions to foster and concentrate networks of political influence. Sister organs the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations serve as additional hubs within the same Atlanticist network. This entire plutocratic network is self-sustaining. The rewards of membership, aside from being a member of such an exclusive club, can trickle down in many ways. But this network is in the grip of its own groupthink.
“That is the way it happens in the world, and quite right,” 11 said former Steering Committee member and proto-Blairite, the late Lord Denis Healey, to impudent reporter, Jon Ronson, responding to a question about whether the Bilderbergers do indeed secretly rule the world. And obviously from the perspective of the in-crowd, there can be no conspiracy in just thinking as everyone else does.
all this happens, more or less…
[T]hey were two feet high, and green, and shaped like plumber’s friends. Their suction cups were on the ground, and their shafts, which were extremely flexible, usually pointed to the sky. At the top of each shaft was a little hand with a green eye in its palm. The creatures were friendly, and they could see in four dimensions. They pitied Earthlings for being able to see only three. They had many wonderful things to teach Earthlings about time.
– the central protagonist of Slaughterhouse-Five, Billy Pilgrim, describes his alien captors. 12
If I mention Bilderberg to some people, they look at me askance. Which belies the fact, of course, that they know the name of this body, and recognise too that I am about to venture into discussion on a closed topic: not at all appropriate for polite conversation. Strictly out of bounds!
Perhaps I am a loony after all, they might think (if they haven’t thought it already). But what makes interrogation of such matters so taboo? After all, the Bilderberg group is itself an anathema to every precept our civilisation proclaims most dear (indeed prides itself on) – our sacred values of democracy and equality, to say nothing of transparency – so what puts dissent against it effectively out of bounds?
During half a century of its existence, our ‘free press’ very studiously avoided all mention of the Bilderbergers’ extraordinary existence. A conspiracy of silence sustained and occasionally bolstered by outbursts of ridicule if some ambitious maverick strayed beyond the fold and begin spreading rumours. So the press paved the way for this sustained taboo. Think about it: if the press had done their job by enquiring into Bilderberg fifty years ago, then it would be no different today than enquiring into a session of the House of Commons. Less significant in fact, if the Bilderbergers are telling the truth when they insist no policy is ever brokered there.
The difference between Bilderberg and Area 51 goes like this, the press once voiced in close harmony: whereas there is a place called Area 51, everything about Bilderberg is the product of a few paranoid and fevered imaginations! It stands to common sense, ran the closed logical loop, that such gathering could not take place anywhere or anytime, let alone yearly and in five-star hotels, without someone spilling the beans. Concluding emphatically: and given how only those with a screw loose say it exists (which also contains an inherently circular logic all of its own), it follows that the whole matter is a fiction.
So begins the alien schtick which turns out to be handy cover for the plutocrats themselves. As any good conjuror will tell you, successful deception relies mostly on methods of misdirection. And conflating Bilderberg with ‘shape-shifting reptilians’ functions as a cordon sanitaire: cross it you might fall prey to madness too.
On a parallel note, I don’t think it is too much of a plot spoiler to say that the Tralfamadorians who hold Billy Pilgrim captive as an exhibit in their zoo aren’t ‘real’ aliens either. They are in fact delusory refractions of Pilgrim’s shattered mind. A symptom of his PTSD and an unconscious compensatory strategy for coping.
Kurt Vonnegut doesn’t mention any of this directly, by the way, he is too skilled an author, but leaves us to read between the lines of his all-too clinical account. The pain he shares with Billy Pilgrim (following his own traumatic experience in Dresden) vividly yet bloodlessly exhibited like the eviscerated entrails of a very surgically dissected cadaver.
Although Billy’s delusion is markedly different from our own. His benign captors, the Tralfamadorians, in reality protect him from his own recurrent terrors. We, on the other hand, are barely able to detect the Bilderbergers and their extended globalist network at all, even when once in a while news of just such an event pops up right under our noses.
The reliably low-level media coverage and commentary supplies an invisibility cloak, and by staying invisible, it becomes rather easy to suppose that we are free from any influence. Not to suppose at all, in fact, as there is nothing whatever to suppose about. Out of sight, out of mind. And as we do come notice these networks, there is also that uncanny sense of co-dependency.
After all, “That is the way it happens in the world…”, as Healey said, and as minions, the compulsion becomes ‘to get with the programme.’ In the final analysis, angst is always the safeguard that preserves the ruling establishment. Better the devils you know.
Our ‘free press’ is entirely bought and paid for, yet even if it were not, those minions who man its presses would stay reliably house-trained for reasons stated above. Doorstepping disgraced celebrities and politicians is one thing, but exposing the powers-that-shouldn’t-be – “the elite” as they prefer to be known, or “the movers and shakers”, or else “the great and the good”, or even the so-called “wealth-creators” (we really ought to laugh) – might whip up an uncontrollable storm. Far safer to rock the establishment boat more gently, and hope to lull everyone back to sleep. Either that or retreat behind the barricades!
In this regard, the Bilderberg taboo is especially instructive; the blackout symptomatic of our detached, post-modern relationship to real power. The discomfort we are given to feel when it comes to merely pointing and shaming our overlords with their chosen name, a sign of how compliant we have become. Afraid to peer behind the curtain of our democracies, we instead feign prior knowledge. Pretend there’s nothing hidden to discover – the more so, once we get the inkling there is. Hiding our eyes under the duvet is how we chase the intruders away. Collectively, we choose to remain in denial.
The perpetual wars, the murderous drones, the torture camps and the tightening noose of mass surveillance – it’s true we didn’t vote for any of it, but it all would have happened anyway, most probably.
Now where did I put the remote control? There’s a programme about aliens on later… apparently, they built the pyramids!
† The original version has been very slightly updated with inclusion of reference to the following article: https://news.vice.com/story/the-u-s-is-waging-a-massive-shadow-war-in-africa-exclusive-documents-reveal
No other substantive alterations have been made to the article since last June.
1 From Ronald Reagan’s address to the 42nd session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in the last years of the Cold War on September 21, 1987. https://reaganlibrary.archives.gov/archives/speeches/1987/092187b.htm
In fuller context Reagan says:
“Can we and all nations not live in peace? In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. And yet, I ask you, is not an alien force already among us? What could be more alien to the universal aspirations of our peoples than war and the threat of war?”
A US air strike has killed more than 150 al-Shabab militants in Somalia, the Pentagon says.
Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said the strike hit a training camp where a “large-scale” attack was being planned.
From a BBC news article entitled “US air strike ‘kills 150 Somali militants’” published on March 7, 2016. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-35748986
Today, according to U.S. military documents obtained by VICE News, special operators are carrying out nearly 100 missions at any given time — in Africa alone. It’s the latest sign of the military’s quiet but ever-expanding presence on the continent, one that represents the most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops to any region of the globe.
From an article entitled “The war you’ve never heard of” written by Nick Turse, published in Vice News on May 18, 2017. https://news.vice.com/story/the-u-s-is-waging-a-massive-shadow-war-in-africa-exclusive-documents-reveal
Research on recent wars from the 1990s to the present, have yielded an extremely crude rule of thumb: “between three and 15 times as many people die indirectly for every person who dies violently.” The question is how to tell which conflicts are associated with which scale of indirect death. Further, the fact is that Afghanistan and Pakistan have long been sites of military conflict, which means that the indirect health effects of the war are in addition to the already existing indirect health effects of conflict. There is no peacetime baseline for Afghanistan. The Geneva Declaration Secretariat, which closely examined data from armed conflicts occurring in the period of 2004-2007, suggests that, “a reasonable average estimate would be a ratio of four indirect deaths to one direct death in contemporary conflicts.” If we use this ratio, the ongoing war in Afghanistan is perhaps responsible for as many as an additional 360,000 indirect deaths.
Crawford, Neta (22 May 2015). “War-related Death, Injury, and Displacement in Afghanistan and Pakistan 2001-2014”. Costs of War (Brown University). Retrieved 23 June 2015 by wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_casualties_in_the_war_in_Afghanistan_%282001%E2%80%93present%29#cite_note-crawford2015-1
“In a democracy, the government is the people,” Milo explained. “We’re people, aren’t we? So we might just as well keep the money and eliminate the middleman. Frankly, I’d like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry.”
Full quote taken from Ch. 24 of Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.
Too much of a mixed message, diplomats say. As final preparations for the secretary’s presentation were being made last night, a U.N. spokesman explained, ”Tomorrow it will be covered and we will put the Security Council flags in front of it.”
Mr. Powell can’t very well seduce the world into bombing Iraq surrounded on camera by shrieking and mutilated women, men, children, bulls and horses.
From an article entitled “Powell Without Picasso” written by Maureen Dowd, published in The New York Times on February 5, 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/05/opinion/powell-without-picasso.html
7 From an article entitled “Bilderberg in Dresden: an innocent conference or conflict of interests?” written by Charlie Skelton, published in the Guardian on June 10, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/10/bilderberg-conference-charlie-skelton-blog-academic
8 From an article entitled “Bilderberg staff make last nervy tweaks before arrival of the rich and powerful” written by Charlie Skelton, published in the Guardian on June 8, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/08/bilderberg-staff-last-nervy-tweaks-arrival-rich-and-powerful
Russia has “chosen to be an adversary and poses a long-term existential threat” to the United States and U.S. allies and partners in Europe, he told lawmakers.
Russia wants to “rewrite” the agreed rules of the international order, he said.
“To counter Russia, Eucom, working with allies and partners, is deterring Russia now and preparing to fight and win if necessary,” he said.
From an article entitled “Breedlove: Russia, Instability Threaten U.S., European Security Interests” written by Lisa Ferdinando, published by U.S. Department of Defense News on February 25, 2016. http://www.defense.gov/News-Article-View/Article/673338/breedlove-russia-instability-threaten-us-european-security-interests
10 From an article entitled “Inside the secretive Bilderberg Group”, written by Bill Hayton, published by BBC news on September 29, 2005. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4290944.stm
12 Protagonist Billy Pilgrim’s description of the Tralfamadorians in Kurt Vonnegut’s semi-autobiographical fantasy satire Slaughterhouse-Five. Note: ‘Plumber’s friends’ is another name for ‘sink plungers’.