Wall Street’s Think Tank



Wall Street’s Think Tank: The Council on Foreign Relations and the Empire of Neoliberal Geopolitics, 1976-2014

Coming in August 2015 from Monthly Review Press!

The Council on Foreign Relations is the world’s most powerful foreign-policy think tank and membership organization. It claims among its members a high percentage of top U.S. government officials, and corporate leaders as well as influential figures in the fields of education, media, law, and non-profit work.

Wall Street’s Think Tank follows the CFR from the 1970s to the present. It explains how the CFR and its members both shaped and responded to rapid changes in the world scene: globalization, the rise of China, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the launch of a “War on Terror.” Shoup argues that the CFR now operates in an era of “Neoliberal Geopolitics,” a worldwide paradigm that its members helped to establish and that reflects the interests of the U.S. ruling capitalist class. Wall Street’s Think Tank is an essential guide to understanding the Council on Foreign Relations and the shadow it casts over recent history and current events.

Forty years ago, Laurence Shoup and William Minter published their book Imperial Brain Trust, a careful and highly informative analysis of World War II planning for the postwar world by the Council of Foreign Relations and the State Department, plans that were then implemented, establishing much of the framework of postwar history. In this new study, Shoup carries their inquiry forward with a very revealing account of how a small group of planners drawn from sectors of concentrated private and state power, closely linked, along with ‘experts’ whose commitments are congenial to their ends, have set the contours for much of recent history, not least the neoliberal assault that has had a generally destructive impact on populations while serving as an effective instrument of class war. A welcome and very valuable contribution. —Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Laurence Shoup reveals, as nobody has before, the actual workings of the Council on Foreign Relations. He names the names, explores the connections, and details the penetration of this beast as it shapes and expresses the will of the United States ruling class in the period of its global hegemony. As this approaches its end, we may expect the Council to continue to play a decisive role. In any event, no one can claim to understand U.S. imperialism without reference to Shoup’s masterful work. —Joel Kovel, author, The Enemy of Nature: The End of Capitalism or the End of the World?

Lucidly written and deeply informed, this book reveals how the super-rich class organizes itself into a consciously directed, ruling plutocracy. Shoup offers a treasure of insights into a subject that seldom gets the attention it very much needs. —Michael Parenti, author, The Face of Imperialism and Profit Pathology and Other Indecencies

This book will be a formidable resource for those looking for the ‘American’ fraction of the transnational capitalist class in an era when the hegemony of the U.S. state is being seriously challenged. —Leslie Sklair, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics

Wall Street’s Think Tank is an invaluable supplement to Laurence Shoup’s earlier book, Imperial Brain Trust, as it chronicles the subsequent history and composition of the Council on Foreign Relations over the last five decades. It thus records how the CFR’s early advocacy of the Vietnam War led to a reversal in 1968 of both Council and U.S. policy, followed by a restructuring of the CFR itself. Did this mean that the CFR avoided the widespread campaign before 2003 to press America into another disastrous war in Iraq? Not at all: The CFR, as Shoup documents, played a leading role in this largely dishonest effort. Underlying both campaigns Shoup shows the on-going presence in the CFR of the international oil majors, as well as of related financial interests, such as the Rockefellers and their spokesmen. Shoup persuasively demonstrates how U.S. foreign policies are still (as in the 1950s) formulated at the CFR before they are adopted in Washington. While it may be more challenged than before by other think tanks, none can begin to match its international outreach. This is a must read for those wishing to understand the dynamics of U.S. hegemony. —Peter Dale Scott, Professor Emeritus of English, University of California, Berkeley; author, The American Deep State