The Quiet Globalist: John C. Whitehead (1922-2015)


Part One: A Portrait of an Insider

By Will Banyan, Copyright © August 2008/2015 (revised and updated)

Author’s Note: This was part one of a planned two part study of John C. Whitehead (1922-2015), the former Co-Chairman of Goldman Sachs and the holder of numerous other positions. This article which originally appeared on the Martin Frost website in 2008, has been revised and updated to take note of Whitehead’s death earlier this year, and to incorporate a range of other new information that has come to light. Part Two, which examines Whitehead’s role in the successful effort in 2005 to prevent the Senate confirmation of Ambassador John R. Bolton as US Ambassador to the United Nations, after a lengthy delay to locate and incorporate new data, will hopefully be completed in coming months.


On February 7, 2015, at the advanced age of 92, former banker and Reagan Administration official John C. Whitehead passed away. Whitehead’s death prompted a torrent of overwhelmingly positive eulogising from his various friends, acquaintances, former work colleagues, Wall Street, and from the numerous non-government organizations that he had given both his time and financial support. The CEO and President of Goldman Sachs issued a memorandum to all their employees to lament Whitehead’s passing and to praise his “enormous grace and integrity” and his legacy that would “endure in the institutions he lead.”[1] The President of Global Financial Integrity (GFI) International described him as a “true Statesman and an American Hero”; the Carnegie Corporation mourned the loss of a their former Trustee, “a great American and a patriot”; the Asia Society described its former Chairman of its Board of Trustees as “one of our greatest friends and champions”; the United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) paid tribute to a “True UN Champion” and a “tower of strength” whose “generosity enabled many good things to happen”; and the Secretary-General of the World Federation of United Nations Associations (WFUNA), marked the passing of a “great leader and dear friend” who was also “truly a global citizen.”[2] “In a world of growing fragmentation”, observed Henry Kissinger in his eulogy, Whitehead had “exuded universal principles.”[3] US Senator John McCain expressed his sadness at the death of his “friend”, and paid tribute to Whitehead’s:

remarkable career spanning global finance and public service stands as a testament to a life devoted to causes greater than one’s own self-interest.[4]

Reading this sad litany, one cannot help but ask: who was John C. Whitehead? How could this seemingly obscure citizen attract so much high-level praise? And how could he be celebrated as a both an American “patriot” and a “global citizen”?

At first glance his resume is no more than that of the typical “Insider” or member of the “Superclass”, who has taken advantage of the “revolving door that allows policy makers to leave top firms into government and then re-enter those firms.”[5] In this case, Whitehead seemed to move effortlessly from the upper echelons of the financial world of Wall Street to the political environment of Washington DC and then back to New York to pursue both business and government. His career highlights include: Co-Chairman and Senior Partner at Goldman Sachs (1976-1984); Deputy Secretary of State during the Reagan Administration (1985-1989); Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of New York (1995-1999); and Chairman of both the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) and the World Trade Centre Memorial Fund (2001-2006). But the accolades and eulogies of the media and other observers suggest that the relatively unknown Whitehead was a more esteemed personage: the “chairman of the establishment”, according to New York Newsday columnist Liz Smith in 2002;[6] “one of the best connected people in the country”, claimed Reconstruction Watch;[7] the “eminence grise of New York philanthropy”, wrote The Economist in 2006;[8] a “giant of postwar finance”, eulogised the Wall Street Journal;[9] and “for decades one of New York’s most prominent citizens”, noted the New York Times.[10]

Upon closer examination Whitehead’s resume brims with choice appointments. He has been chairman of the board of numerous high profile government bodies, think-tanks and foundations including: the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNA-USA), International House, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Harvard Board of Overseers, Haverford College, the Brookings Institution, the Goldman Sachs Foundation, the New America Foundation, and the Asia Society. Whitehead has also served as a board member and provided financial support to: Nature Conservancy, the East-West Institute, Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, Rockefeller University, the J. Paul Getty Trust, Outward Bound, the National Humanities Center, the Grameen Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Centre for the Study of Transformative Lives, Global Financial Integrity International, the Safe Water Network, the Partnership for a Secure America (PSA), the Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD) and was an Honorary Director of the US Fund for UNICEF.

It is an impressive resume that invites more scrutiny, especially given Whitehead’s self-described method of “quiet leadership.”[11] An approach to power celebrated by his Establishment and Wall Street peers. As the late Walt Wriston of Citicorp, once said in praise of Whitehead: “He walks in the snow and leaves no tracks.”[12] One might also note in passing that Whitehead was a Bilderberger of long standing, attending thirteen meetings (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, and 1997);[13] as well as being a Steering Committee member from 1990 until at least 1996, he also contributed as panellist and a moderator.[14] He was also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations from 1978 to 2014;[15] Vice-President of the Pilgrims Society of the United States at the time of his death;[16] and was both a Director and an Honorary Director of the Atlantic Council.[17] It also noteworthy that Whitehead modelled his leadership style on that of David Rockefeller; who also happened to be one of his “old friends.”[18] But perhaps of greater significance was his “dream” that “some day the entire world will become one…”[19]

Given these details about Whitehead’s background, reputation and beliefs it is surprising how little has been written about him by anti-New World Order researchers. Indeed, until very recently, the only N.W.O. related commentary of any substance about John C. Whitehead was made long ago, back in the 1980s.

In 1986 Whitehead was identified, somewhat ominously, by Larry Abraham’s Insider Report, as “one of ‘the boys’.” Before leaving Goldman Sachs to join the Reagan Administration, according to Abraham, co-author of the best-selling None Dare Call It Conspiracy (1971), Whitehead had been a “prominent fixture at the Council on Foreign Relations and a trustee for the Carnegie Corporation.” Noting that most of his readers “may never have heard of John C. Whitehead” before the Iran-Contra scandal, Abraham stated that “among the folks at the CFR” who had been “running [the US] for the past fifty years, he is well known indeed.” In fact in the “inner sanctums of the New World Order crowd, [Whitehead’s] credentials are impeccable.”[20]

Two years later, in his book The Shadows of Power (1988), James Perloff mentioned Whitehead as being among “more than eighty individuals” who joined the Reagan Administration, who were “members of the Council [on Foreign Relations], the Trilateral Commission, or both.” Perloff quoted from a New York Times article, which noted that Whitehead brought “no apparent expertise in international diplomacy” to the position of Deputy Secretary of State, other than his CFR membership and that he was “regularly invited to dinners” given by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.[21]

This two-part article proposes to present a more detailed examination of John C. Whitehead’s largely unknown but important career. Part One will review Whitehead’s resume, proclaimed views and political activities, demonstrating that he readily fits the profile of the “Insider”: a well-connected but unelected patrician quietly pulling the strings in an effort to realise a world under the thumb of a strong United Nations. Part Two will show how Whitehead’s continuing devotion to that cause once brought him into conflict with that combination of neo-conservatives, military industrialists and the Israel Lobby – a somewhat diminished yet still dominant faction in the outgoing Bush Administration –described by some analysts as the “Global Dominance Group” (GDG).[22] By examining Whitehead’s quiet and understated role in opposing George W. Bush’s GDG-inspired foreign policy, we can also obtain a revealing glimpse into the reality of Insider politics, and equally of the persistence of elite factionalism.

1.1 From Illinois to Wall Street

An extensive account of Whitehead’s early life is beyond the scope or purpose of this article, but a brief overview is still illuminating. Born on April 2, 1922, in Evanston, Illinois, John C. Whitehead’s background was a world away from the massive privilege of his future friend, David Rockefeller. During the 1920s Whitehead’s father worked as a junior manager for Western Electric. With the onset of the Great Depression, though, Whitehead’s father lost his job and most of his investments, and he was forced to sell furniture to make ends meet.[23]

Though he does not recall the period as one of extreme hardship for his family, the Depression nevertheless instilled in Whitehead a caution about borrowing and a reluctance to indulge himself in “luxuries”. Whitehead recounted that with the sole exception of his first house, he had “never borrowed money to buy anything”, apparently out of a fear that he would be unable repay it.[24] The mental scars of that period evidently ran deep, trumping the temptations to material excess that his personal fortune, once estimated by some of his peers as being as much as $US300 million,[25] would have surely inspired.

Reflecting his lack of affluence, Whitehead did not make it into the Ivy League, instead he attended the less-renowned Haverford College, in Haverford, Pennsylvania, in 1939. Founded by Quakers in 1883, Haverford was committed to the Quaker ideals of “pacificism, community-togetherness, and value of every individual”, principles that Whitehead found “quite inspiring” and which he claims to still live by. He spent four years there and was among things, the president of the international relations club.[26] Despite his immersion in Quaker pacificism, it soon became apparent that it had not instilled in Whitehead any preference for non-violent solutions. On the contrary, Whitehead joined the US Marines during World War Two, taking part in the D-Day landings of 1944, and also fighting in the Pacific. Whitehead credits his wartime experience with instilling in him “something more profound – a strong sense of patriotism.”[27]

The war also imparted in Whitehead an important lesson in leadership; specifically that a leader “couldn’t be too buddy-buddy with the people in his command, even in the military.” As he said in a 2002 interview with his alma mater, Harvard Business School, “A certain amount of distance is what the people in your command expect.” In fact:

You can’t be too close to those you are supervising or it becomes an awkward and difficult relationship. They expect out of their leader a certain amount of distance, a certain amount of respect, a level above them. You have to act that way if you’re going to be successful. That doesn’t mean you have to be tough, cruel, and authoritative. You can still be kind and thoughtful, but you have to keep a little aloof from those that you lead to maintain their proper respect.[28]

After the war, Whitehead went to Harvard Business School, graduating with an MBA. That proved to be a passport to Goldman, Sachs and Co., which he joined in 1947, becoming a Partner in 1956, and its Co-Chairman and Senior Partner from 1976 to 1984.

It was at Goldman Sachs that Whitehead first demonstrated, if not cultivated, his strong internationalist inclinations, pushing the bank out of its American shell into foreign markets.  He noted that by the 1960s, despite being one of the “big five” investment banks in the US, Goldman Sachs had no international presence, a fact Whitehead considered “dangerously parochial.” Whitehead believed the bank had to “branch out across Europe, and ultimately around the world.” In his unrelenting effort to persuade senior management to open offices in Britain, Europe and Japan, Whitehead was “absolutely convinced that Goldman Sachs had to internationalize or the consequences for the firm would be dire.”[29] Whitehead’s goal was to see Goldman Sachs become “the first truly international investment banking firm.”[30]

Whitehead did not claim all the credit for pushing Goldman Sachs into globalization. In his memoir, Whitehead singled out two other individuals of note, although their primary contributions was their ability to network. The first of these was Henry J. Fowler, former Secretary of the Treasury in the Johnson Administration, who was brought in as the Chairman of the bank’s International Advisory Committee. Fowler was appointed to the International Advisory Committee where his “political and financial contacts” from around the world proved him to be a “tremendous asset” to Goldman Sachs.[31]

The other was former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, whom Whitehead flew to see in Washington, after the electoral defeat of Gerald Ford in 1976 to persuade him to join Goldman Sachs. Kissinger initially declined the offer, wary of the possible public fallout if he rushed into the private sector too soon after government service. But, Whitehead recalled, “in the end [Kissinger] did agree to become a consultant to the firm on a two-day a month basis.” After formation of Kissinger Associates in 1982, Kissinger continued to provide “tremendous advice about the political side of world affairs” for eight years. Kissinger also took over as head of the International Advisory Committee. Whitehead recounted that he took some joy in “teasing Henry” about how rich he would have been, had he become a partner at Goldman Sachs, but “he remains a good friend.”[32]

1.2 Deputy Secretary of State (1984-1989)

According to a 2006 report in Business Week, Goldman Sachs is more than an investment bank; it is “The Leadership Factory.” “To a degree unique among its Wall Street peers”, Business Week observed, “Goldman has churned out leaders in the public sphere: cabinet members, advisers, Federal Reserve and trade officials…”[33] The list of senior Goldman alumni is impressive: New Jersey Governor (2006-2010), Jon S. Corzine; Under Secretary of State for Economic, Busines and Agricultural Affairs (2007-2009), Reuben Jeffrey III;[34] White House Chief of Staff (2006-2009), Joshua Bolten; Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board Chairman (2006-2009), Stephen Friedman; Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment (2009-2013), Robert Hormats; and Treasury Secretaries Robert E. Rubin (1995-1999) and Hank Paulson (2006-2009).

Whitehead, naturally, stands out as “a role model” for these transients from investment banking into government. In 1984, after thirty-seven years at Goldman Sachs, with “more money” than he had ever “dreamed of possessing”, at the age of sixty-two Whitehead retired from Goldman Sachs.[35] The timing was fortuitous. Several months into his retirement, then in the midst of writing his (still unpublished) book The Social Responsibilities of Business, Whitehead was suddenly summoned to Washington DC by Secretary of State George Shultz. In Washington, Shultz hurried Whitehead to the White House for a meeting with Ronald Reagan where he was offered the position of Deputy Secretary of State. Pleading an ignorance of foreign policy and highlighting his preference for financial matters, Whitehead argued that he would be more suitable for a position in Treasury or the World Bank. “But John, there aren’t any openings there”, Reagan told him, putting an end to his prevarication.[36]

On closer examination, Whitehead’s account, which culminates in his acceptance of the offer, is remarkable. On the one hand Whitehead presents the job offer as inexplicable, suggesting that he was in awe of the White House; claiming that he had “never thought of taking any Washington job”; and was surprised by the offer. Yet, on the other hand, Whitehead provides plenty of evidence of Reagan and Shultz’s determination to include him in the administration: Shultz was “very pleased and relieved” when Whitehead accepted, while Reagan claimed to have set aside a massive “seven hours” to persuade him to take the job.[37] Why would they be so determined to employ a Wall Street banker with no special experience in foreign policy?

When Whitehead’s appointment was announced on April 19, 1985, it did not escape the notice of the New York Times that the new Deputy Secretary of State brought to the job “no apparent expertise in international diplomacy.” Defending the appointment, Shultz offered two reasons. First, Shultz tried to suggest to the press that Whitehead was sufficiently qualified because he “was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was regularly invited to dinners given by Henry A. Kissinger, the former Secretary of State.” The second reason was that investment bankers apparently had “all the characteristics” they needed at the State Department.[38] According to Shultz, “Investment bankers tend to get involved when the big deals come along.” They also had to “absorb enormous amounts of material quickly, size up situations accurately and make a decision that will stick.”[39]

After overcoming his initial lapse in confidence, Whitehead accepted Reagan’s offer and became Deputy Secretary of State; a position he held from July 1985 to January 1989. In accepting this Whitehead modestly hoped “to a make a difference in the world”, much as he had done so at Goldman Sachs.[40] In his memoir Shultz notes Whitehead came into the job with a reputation as “one of the top investment bankers on Wall Street” Shultz found him to be a “smooth operator”, who showed “great finesse and judgement.”[41] Whitehead recalls his period with the Reagan Administration with some fondness, though his record reveals that he was no stranger to controversy as he pursued an agenda that brought him into frequent conflict with some of Reagan’s more fanatically anti-Communist and anti-UN supporters and officials, including a number of individuals now regarded as neo-conservatives.

Driving this conflict was Whitehead’s long-standing devotion—one that was perhaps overlooked by or even unknown to Reagan and Shultz—to the cause of global governance, best represented, in his view, by the United Nations. As Whitehead explains in his autobiography A Life in Leadership (2005):

Ever since high school, I have been strongly committed to the dream of bringing the entire world together into a single political body, where any disagreements could be resolved before they escalated into open warfare. To me, the idea of the United Nations is like the idea of the United States. Just as our Founding Fathers persuaded the former colonies to come together…the United Nations could do that for the various constituent countries around the world, maybe over a period of many years.[42]

Whitehead adds the important caveat that in his view: “We would never, and should never, cede power to the U.N. over issues that were essential our sovereign interests.”[43] But given that some senior officials in the Reagan Administration had a less than charitable opinion of the UN and no time for dreams of “bringing the entire world together into a single political body,” the conflict was inevitable.

In 1986, for example, Whitehead clashed with the Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based think-tank with a reputation for conservatism. In its report, Rhetoric vs Reality: How the State Department Betrays the Reagan Vision, Heritage accused the State Department of deliberately ignoring President Reagan’s directives to provide support to anti-Communist guerrillas in Cambodia, Afghanistan, Mozambique and Angola.[44] In answer to this report an outraged Whitehead had sent a blistering missive to the Heritage Foundation dismissing the report as “completely ridiculous”, “without foundation” and “filled with…uninformed polemics and mischievous gossip…” Whitehead added he was “really ashamed to have been a regular contributor” to Heritage and suggested that if Heritage Chairman Shelby C. Davis and Vice-Chairman Robert H. Krieble disagreed with their organization’s reports they should consider “either changing that approach or resigning.”[45]

The Heritage Foundation rejected Whitehead’s missive. In his response Krieble defended the reports as “fair, authoritative, painstaking – and yes, hard-hitting” adding that “many” State Department officials had “agendas…priorities and possibly even…values [that] often differ from those of the President or the Secretary or yourself.”[46] But in exonerating Whitehead from the charge of undermining Reagan’s anti-Communist policies, Krieble was only being polite. The National Review, in contrast, argued that in attacking the Heritage Foundation, Whitehead was in fact “officially sabotaging organizations that support the President’s policy…”[47]

Later that same year, as the Iran-Contra affair was unfolding, it was Whitehead who fronted a Congressional committee on Shultz’s behalf to distance the State Department from the scandal. The highlight of that appearance his public disagreement with Reagan that Iran had deviated from its hard-line anti-American policies. “Well, I hate to disagree with my President”, were Whitehead’s words on national TV, but his punishment was light: he was merely banned from using the White House tennis court.[48] But given the Iran-Contra connections of many of key figures in the administration of George W. Bush, this clash is instructive as an indicator of the conflict that has emerged in more recent times.

Whitehead also believed he could “pry…Eastern European nations loose from Soviet control” by conducting high-level visits to those nations. If the US could provide the Eastern bloc leadership with an “alternative to Soviet domination”, Whitehead reasoned, they might abandon their Soviet overlord, perhaps causing the USSR to “crumble.” Such optimism seemed to betray an ignorance of the so-called Brezhnev Doctrine, which committed the USSR to using military force to ensure the Eastern European nations remained under Communist control. Though Shultz agreed with Whitehead’s plan, there was opposition from the “hardliners” in the National Security Council, who believed Whitehead would only boost the prestige of regimes that they believed should be isolated and ignored. It was only through a direct meeting with Reagan that Whitehead was able to overcome that opposition and begin his visits in earnest starting in November 1986.[49] Whitehead’s novel tactic involved promising tariff reductions in return for ending human rights violations against dissidents.[50]

A more intriguing dispute occurred in 1987, when the Assistant Secretary of State for International Organizations, Alan L. Keyes, resigned in protest at what he claimed had been racially insensitive treatment by Whitehead. Keyes, an African-American, accused Whitehead of snubbing him by talking past him and addressing questions to his white subordinates. Whitehead denied the charge, but acknowledged that he had clashed with Keyes over the timing of US payments to the UN. Keyes, who went on to join the American Enterprise Institute, subsequently downplayed the racial aspect of his complaint, instead highlighting the State Department’s “elitism”, apparently evident in the manner of the “career bureaucratic elite” who believed they knew “what’s best for this country” and who were “not really comfortable with democratic processes.”[51]

The dispute with Keyes was over an issue very close to Whitehead’s heart: the failure of the US to pay its share of dues to the UN. Since 1985 the US Senate had refused to authorise the full payment of the standard US contribution to the world body unless key reforms went ahead; it had passed a bill cutting US contributions by US$500 million over four years in 1983. By 1988 the US was some US$466 million in arrears and its policy had pushed the UN, according to a number of reports at the time, “close to bankruptcy.”[52] A fact that clearly failed to disturb a number of the “hard-liners” in the administration, such as Chief of Staff Don Regan and Attorney General Ed Meese, who, Whitehead claims, “felt that the United States should not surrender any of its sovereign power to a global body such as the U.N.” Whitehead, though, recalls that he found it “painful” to see the Reagan Administration stop paying its UN dues.[53]

Believing that decision to be “terribly misguided”, Whitehead sought to overturn that policy. Noting that there were “powerful forces in the White House” arrayed against him, and failing to persuade the President directly, and finding himself blocked by Reagan’s less sympathetic aides, Whitehead took a more indirect route. Bypassing Reagan’s staff, Whitehead appealed directly to Nancy Reagan, telling her that the US refusal to pay all its dues was pushing the UN “into bankruptcy.” Alarmed by Whitehead’s argument that a failure to pay the UN dues would damage her husband’s legacy, Nancy Reagan apparently used her influence to arrange a working lunch between Reagan and UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Ceuellar. At that lunch, which took place on July 15, 1988,[54] the UN’s top official swayed Reagan with a “moving speech” on the UN’s “precarious financial situation.” Having prevailed over the “anti-UN faction” – “the hard-liners fought hard, but the President stuck to his guns” – Whitehead was able to personally deliver the first of the projected five checks for US$90 million to Perez de Ceuellar.[55]

1.3 Inside Man

Whitehead’s government service ended in January 1989 with the ascendency of George H. W. Bush to the Oval Office. But that did not mark Whitehead’s retreat from US foreign policy. If anything, with another important position on his resume, Whitehead was able to commence his “second” retirement with an elevated stature, consolidating his resume with positions in foundations and government bodies.

Whitehead was also chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of New York during the late 1990s, a position he was invited to fill by the New York Fed’s President, Bill McDonough. Whitehead described the decision to appoint him chairman as one that “made sense” given his experience on Wall Street and in Washington DC. Though “very conscious” of the Fed’s “power…over the economic lives of Americans”, Whitehead downplayed the role of board in New York, making the remarkable claim that he and his fellow board members really had only a “small role to play in setting monetary policy.” Instead it was Federal Open Market Committee, then chaired by Alan Greenspan, that made the real decisions. Although earlier in his narrative Whitehead describes the New York Fed as “by far the most important” of the Fed’s twelve regional banks, to the extent that the Fed’s Board of Governors in Washington often only made decisions after consulting with the New York Fed. As if to prove his weakness, Whitehead portrayed himself as valiantly, but unsuccessfully pushing Greenspan to raise interest rates so as to prevent rampant stock market speculation from culminating in a crash.[56]

Whitehead also noted that when he returned to civilian life in 1989, he apparently resolved not to return to the business world or join corporate boards. But he did make one exception and joined AEA Investors Inc as chairman of the board. But what is AEA Investors Inc? Whitehead claimed it was no more than a group of “old friends” who invested together.[57] The AEA website, however, suggested something more significant:

AEA is a pioneer in the private equity industry. Originally named American European Associates, the Rockefeller, Mellon and Harriman family interests together with S.G. Warburg & Co. founded AEA in 1968.[58]

AEA grew out of lunchtime meeting at the Rockefeller Center in New York between J. Richardson Dilworth, the Rockefeller family’s financial adviser; George Love, the chairman of both Chrysler and Consolidated Coal; and Sir Siegmund Warburg, of the London branch of the Warburg banking family. The date of that meeting was November 22, 1963—coincidentally the day President Kennedy was assassinated. But it would be another five years before their idea became reality. The result of their endeavours was an extraordinarily rich and successful investment fund.

A report in Forbes magazine in 1989 noted how AEA’s small group of members met every September at an “exclusive dining room overlooking the East River in midtown Manhattan” to hear the company’s annual results. With AEA having achieved a “45% compound average annual return on its investor’s money’ over a 15-year period, observed Forbes, AEA was obviously “no ordinary investment club and its 60-odd members are no ordinary businessmen.” In fact most were “retired or soon-to be retired chief executives of the 50 largest FORTUNE 500 industrial and service companies.” “They are the Who’s Who of corporate America”, opined one diner at the annual meeting.[59] Indeed. And for Whitehead, the former Co-Chairman of Goldman Sachs, to have been AEA Chairman from 1989 to 1999 we can only assume he too was no “ordinary” businessman…

At the time of his death early this year Whitehead had served on the board of over two dozen non-profit organisations, including as chairman for at least a dozen of them. These organisations ranged from the benign and worthy such as Haverford College, the New York Scouts, the Harvard Board of Overseers, the National Gallery, the Grameen Foundation, and the Centre for Transformative Lives; through to organisations with an overt political purpose such as Brookings Institution, the International Rescue Committee, the New America Foundation, the Hudson Institute, and the Asia Society. But Whitehead had not just been the chairman of these organisations; he had also donated some $100 million of his own money. Indeed, to better manage his strong philanthropic urges and to disburse funds more efficiently Whitehead established the Whitehead Foundation in the 1970s.[60]

1.4 The Globalist

It is not unusual for prominent figures, especially politicians, magnates-turned-philanthropists, and other unelected statesmen, to trace back to their formative years an abiding belief in the UN, but to pursue exactly the opposite course once in power. In his memoirs, for example, Richard Nixon, recalled how at the end of World War II, he believed “the UN offered the world’s best chance to build a lasting peace.”[61] As a young Congressman, Nixon had briefly lived up to that ideal, supporting a host of resolutions calling for the strengthening of the UN and even the creation of a “UN Police Authority.” However, once the Cold War made supporting the UN and the ideal of world government became politically unpopular, Nixon was quick to dismiss the organisation.

Consequently, as President, Nixon’s transparent disregard for the world body – evident in his embrace of Realpolitik and moves to reduce US financial contributions to the UN – earned him open censure from those pro-UN elements in the US Establishment. One pundit, who would subsequently advocate eroding national sovereignty “piece by piece”, accused the Nixon Administration of displaying “indifference” toward the UN (Gardner); while a CFR survey in 1970 claimed it was “questionable exactly how seriously the [Nixon] administration took this organisation celebrating its 25th birthday, or even the proposals for reform being set forth to improve it” (Lineberry).[62]

As we saw above, Whitehead, like Nixon, reveals a long-standing devotion to the idea of the UN in his autobiography. In fact his strong-commitment dated back to his high school days. But, in a marked contrast to Nixon, Whitehead’s sincerity was never called into question. At the New York Democracy Forum (NYDF) launch in 2005, for example, former US Ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke had observed that the United Nations was: “a cause near the hearts of many of us in this room, including John Whitehead.”[63] Similarly UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in his remarks at the dedication of the new John C. Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University in December 2002, lauded Whitehead as a “true internationalist” and a “great world citizen.” According to Annan:

Before, during and after his time as chairman of the United Nations Association of the United States, [Whitehead] has worked tirelessly to inform and educate the United States public about the work of the United Nations, and to influence the United States Government to make better use of the Organization, our Organization.

At some of its most challenging times, he has passionately led the charge to defend and support the very idea of the United Nations, stating [and I quote] “What is at stake is nothing less than the idea of world community itself.”[64]

In his memoir Whitehead constantly reaffirmed his committed to the UN as a key institution for achieving world peace. “I think the United Nations can still be more effective and influential”, he wrote in A Life in Leadership, “and I can’t see the world achieving any sort of lasting peace without it.”[65] Like a latter day Raymond B. Fosdick, a committed supporter of the League of Nations in the 1930s, this deeply held belief became a driving force behind most of Whitehead’s political activities in his remaining decades.

Consistent with his globalist outlook, Whitehead was also a supporter of free trade. As Deputy Secretary of State in the Reagan Administration, Whitehead had been required to articulate US support for global free trade on a number of occasions. At the 1987 Bilderberg conference in Villa D’Este, for example, Whitehead, ostensibly in “private capacity”, affirmed that “attacking foreign [trade] barriers is an important and essential component of U.S. trade policy.” Moreover, the “major trading countries need to work together, through GATT and otherwise, to provide for active, free trade around the globe.”[66]

On September 20, 1988 Whitehead addressed the UNA-USA, an organisation he would subsequently lead, about the prospects for global economic integration. He explained how the world economy has become a “single stage with leading roles played by multinational corporations” and how global economic integration was being “driven by continuing advances in science and technology.” “National governments”, he noted, could either “impede or promote global economic integration” depending on what stance they took on free trade.[67] Whitehead had argued strongly in favour of free trade:

Although a free trade policy benefits some domestic residents and hurts others, the gainers generally gain more than the losers lose. Conversely, protection usually hurts domestic residents on balance. These conclusions hold even without taking account of the dynamic gains from free trade, stemming from heightened competition and the introduction of new products and services.[68]

In his memoir, Whitehead took the opportunity to make crystal clear his personal views on the desirability of global free trade and role of international institutions:

There is also a very important economic role for the U.N. as national economies become linked more globally. We’ve now had a long series of free trade agreements under GATT. Similar favourable results have been achieved in North America with NAFTA. We need now more world negotiations to extend the progress that has been achieved regionally. Certainly there are drawbacks to international trade, but I am convinced that ultimately it benefits everyone, as each country produces what it can with the highest quality and the lowest cost.[69]

After leaving the State Department in 1989 Whitehead became heavily involved with the United Nations Association of the USA. According to its Annual Report for 2003-2004, the UNA-USA “educates Americans about the work of the United Nations, and encourages public support for strong U.S. leadership in the United Nations.” Among its programs is the American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International Criminal Court (AMICC), which aims to “encourage full U.S. participation in the ICC and the earliest possible ratification of its Rome Statute.”[70] From 1989 to 1999 Whitehead was Chairman of the UNA-USA; he was Vice-Chair of its Board of Directors from 1998 to 2010; and at the time of his death, a member of the UNA-USA Strategy Council.[71]

Whitehead was a generous financial supporter of the UNA-USA, frequently ranking among its top ten financial contributors. A survey of UNA-USA Annual Reports from last decade shows that Whitehead personally donated at least: $250,000 in 1999-2000;[72] $250,000 in 2000-2001;[73] $200,000 in 2002-2003;[74] $200,000 in 2003-2004;[75] and $100,000 in 2004-2005.[76] Additional funds came from his Whitehead Foundation, which contributed over $500,000 in 1997 and at least $250,000 in 1998[77]; it went on to contribute more than $200,000 in 2005-2006,[78] and sums of $100,000 in 2006-2007[79] and again in 2007-2008.[80] Moreover, the Goldman Sachs Foundation, where Whitehead was Chairman of the Board, donated over $1 million to the UNA-USA in 2002-2003,[81] over $500,000 in 2003-2004[82] and $200,000 in 2004-2005.[83] In sum, between 1997 and 2008 Whitehead donated more than $2 million of his own money to the UNA-USA and had overseen donation of a similar amount from Goldman Sachs.

Another of his initiatives was the establishment of the Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University in 1997. The purpose of the school, which is perhaps no more than any academic institution could hope for, is to provide its students with a “world-class education that will lead them to successful careers and to make a difference in the world.[84] To help achieve this objective the School benefits from an “exclusive partnership” with the UNA-USA, which has given the School a “unique place…within the realm of international affairs education.” According to the School’s website, that relationship enables students to “participate in policy conferences and hear directly from UN diplomats and professionals in courses held jointly at United Nations Association headquarters in New York and on the Seton Hall campus.” [85]

It is clear, though, that the School not only provides some unique educational opportunities for its students, but actually performs a pro-UN advocacy role. As the School website reported with some pride back in 2007:

In recognition of the School’s work in promoting understanding of the United Nations, it has received special status as an affiliated non-governmental organization, through the UN Department of Public Information. This status enables faculty and students to network and engage in joint efforts with other recognized nongovernmental organizations. In addition, Seton Hall’s Walsh Library has been designated a United Nations depository.[86]

This is consistent with Whitehead’s own goals with the regard to both the UN and the School. As he told staff and students at Seton Hall after the 2004 election, the School represented “two things” in his life that were “very important” to him, the first of which was the “need to strengthen all international organizations, including at the top of the list, the United Nations, so that they may play a more important part in the world of the future.”[87]

In June 2013, for reasons that remain unclear, Whitehead requested that his name be removed from the Seton Hall School of Diplomacy and International Relations. According to the Associate Dean of the School, Dr. Ursula Sanjamino, “The decision was Mr. Whitehead’s and the University cannot speak on his behalf.”[88] It seems unlikely that this was because the School was deviating from the course Whitehead had set; the School remained decidedly globalist, evident in its curious dedication to “developing servant leaders for a global society.”[89] Indeed, according to School’s Associate Dean for External Affairs, Dr. Elizabeth Halpin, reported how she had met with Whitehead, just a few months before his death, where he had “talked about how proud he was of our alumni and students, and expressed his admiration for the dean and the direction of the School…”[90]

Given his role in the UNA-USA one should not be surprised to find that Whitehead is also involved with the World Federation of United Nations Association. The stated mission of WFUNA is to “inform, sustain and energize a global network of United Nations Associations to support the principles and programs of the United Nations and to help shape its agenda.” Whitehead was a Director on the Board of the “Friends of WFUNA Foundation”; where he sat alongside better known globalists Maurice Strong and the aforementioned Richard Gardner.[91] In their obituary notice to observe his passing, WFUNA paid tribute to Whitehead’s “guidance on fundraising, financial matters, and relationship building, in addition to his generous donations from his Goldman Sachs Fund and his personal foundation.”[92]

As Chairman of the UNA-USA throughout the 1990s, Whitehead was a vocal advocate of a strengthened UN. In 1990, for example, Whitehead and then UNA-USA Vice-President Arthur Ross had argued that then President George H. W. Bush should exploit the Gulf Crisis to push for a “broader and more dynamic agenda” at the UN. They worried that rich western nations, especially the US, would “turn the clock back to a UN which emphasized collective security”, rather than focussing on development issues as favoured by the poorer nations. Instead, they argued, by “building on the cooperative momentum generated through this crisis, the international community can lay the groundwork for an even more effective United Nations in the years ahead.”[93]

In the aftermath of Iraq’s defeat in 1991, Whitehead and then UNA-USA Chairman, Max Kampelman, argued that the UN should “return to centre stage in the post-war period” and assume a “much greater share of the power and the responsibility for shaping the future of the Gulf region.” UN peacekeepers should patrol Iraq’s borders and UN agencies should have control over reconstruction in the region. If this was done, they insisted, “President Bush’s welcome conception of a new world order will have taken a great step on the road from rhetoric to reality.” “Pax Americana is a catchy slogan,” observed Whitehead and Kampelman, “but realism dictates the need to re-emphasize international burden-sharing and renewed respect for international law and institutions.”[94]

In 1992 Whitehead and UNA-USA President Edward Luck recommended that the UN Secretary-General deliver a “state of the world” speech at a forthcoming UN Security Council meeting. The Secretary-General, they wrote, should:

Present to the world’s leaders a vision of a world in which global norms take precedence over nationalism and protectionism, based on the realities of interdependence. Challenge notions of sovereignty as inadequate to a world in which national leaders can no longer guarantee the welfare, rights, or security of their citizens, nor protect the environment, without the cooperation of other countries. Assert the centrality of the UN peacemaking and peacekeeping efforts to national security in an era when no one wants to play world policeman and everyone wants others to share the burden.[95]

During the mid-1990s Whitehead’s enthusiasm for the United Nations brought him into conflict with one of that organisation’s most implacable opponents, US Senator Jesse Helms (also John Bolton’s longtime mentor). Helms’s reported “vow to either enfeeble or destroy the United Nations”, Whitehead wrote in the Wall Street Journal in mid-1996, “runs contrary to America’s fundamental interest in a peaceful world, where nations deal with problems through respect for law rather than resort to force.” He dismissed Helms’s claims about UN expansion threatening US sovereignty as “utterly contrary to reality”, if not an “out-of-date, fringe group world view”, and charged that the Senator’s campaign against the UN had to be “taken seriously as a real threat to a peaceful world order.”[96]

That same year Whitehead was a panel member of the CFR Task Force Report, American National Interests and the United Nations, chaired by George Soros.[97] The Task Force struck an alarmist tone, describing the UN as being “in crisis” mainly because member states, including the US “have failed to pay their bills, have given the United Nations responsibilities without the power to carry them out, and have blamed the United Nations for failures in national policies.” Among their recommendations, the CFR Task Force advised the US to “work with other nations to improve the capacity of the United Nations to conduct peacekeeping operations”; and for the president and Congress “to reach an understanding on the role of the United Nations that will lead to the appropriation of funds to pay U.S. arrears and to a unified approach to support for the United Nations.”

Underlying this critique of US policy towards the UN was the assertion that both Congress and the Clinton Administration were out of step with American and international public opinion. Task Force member, Morton Halperin, for example, told the New York Times that opinion polls revealed the UN to have “much stronger support in the United States than almost any other institution”, including Congress and the Presidency. Whitehead also chimed in on the global impact, observing that he had “never seen international resentment towards the US as high as it is today over the United Nations…” According to Whitehead, America’s “negative attitude” towards the UN, its refusal to pay its dues, and its “rather brutal discarding of the Secretary General” had “created animosity around the world and resentment as to how it can be that a country that doesn’t pay its dues and doesn’t support an organization should expect to have any kind of influence.”[98]

1.5 The “Whitehead Initiative”

UN funding has long been a concern of Whitehead and he took the lead in a number of campaigns during the 1990s to ensure the US paid its dues to the world body. On October 30, 1995, for example, he launched what became known as the “Whitehead Initiative” when he sent a check for $44 to UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. In his accompanying letter, Whitehead wrote that this sum represented the per capita share of US arrears to the UN of his ten family members. Whitehead calculated that with the US owing the UN $1.1 billion at the time, this worked out at $4.40 per American. “Our country seems not to realize that this is a treaty obligation,” Whitehead wrote, “and that we have no right to refuse to pay up.” Whitehead’s act was picked up by the media and the UNA-USA, leading to a wave of pressure on Congress to pay US arrears to the UN.[99]

Seven months after his first cheque, the New York Times reported that just 1,963 American citizens had sent their own cheques to the UN in the hope of redeeming America’s unpaid debt. Whitehead acknowledged that total amount given was (under $12,000) “only a token”, but it demonstrated that “a lot of people really care about the U.N. I hope our members of Congress get the message. They are the problem.”[100] Whitehead found an ally in CNN-founder Ted Turner who, in 1997, pledged $1 billion of his own money to the UN over 10 years. Many critics were sceptical of Turner’s commitment; Whitehead, though, was confident that the billionaire would deliver, telling the New York Times that ”Americans should be saying, ‘Isn’t that wonderful that the guy is giving away a third of his net worth to an organization he believes in’.”[101]

Despite this high-profile support, continuing tardiness in paying those outstanding dues – estimated at $1.6 billion by UN accountants in 1998[102] – attributed to a Congress dominated by a coterie of much-derided “America-First” Republicans, again prompted Whitehead into action. On June 1, 1998, as Chairman of UNA-USA, Whitehead had sent a letter to all members of Congress imploring them to support the payment of US dues to the UN.[103] A couple of months later, noting that a new poll had found that Americans favoured paying their outstanding dues by a three-to-one margin, Whitehead opined that there was some kind of disconnect between public opinion about the United Nations and the voting record in Congress, at least in recent years.”[104]

Both the Clinton Administration and Congress, Whitehead later argued in the Washington Times, had but “one final opportunity to redeem the country’s credibility overseas” through the “simple, but dramatic, gesture” of “paying the United States’ long-overdue debt to the United Nations.” The U.N. debt “cannot be wished away”, he added, noting that there were bigger issues at stake, including the seriousness of America’s commitment to “building a United Nations organization capable of meeting the challenges of the 21st century.”[105] He continued:

We ought to take advantage of the opportunity to exercise leadership in tackling challenges that no one country can solve on its own – whether the threat is terrorism, environmental degradation, nuclear proliferation, drug trafficking, the spread of disease, or war.[106]

It was a fruitless plea, one of many in fact. On December 21, 1998, Whitehead and UNA-USA Chairman William Luers wrote to President Clinton urging him to include funds for the UN’s Educational, Social, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in his budget. They argued for UNESCO’s importance in “promoting tolerance and peace and in preventing religious and ethnic war.”

Whitehead’s efforts in support of the UN have not gone unnoticed or unappreciated by those who share similar goals. In November 2009 he received the UNA-USA Champion for Global Change Award from the UNA-USA.[107] Then a few years later on October 16, 2012, at the Global Leadership Awards dinner hosted by the United Nations Foundation and the UNA-USA, Whitehead received a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his “dedicated service to UN and UNA-USA causes.” A humble, yet delighted, Whitehead reaffirmed his beliefs:

“I have spent my life supporting a strong U.S. voice in international diplomacy. The United States of America is at its best when it engages with other governments to solve global problems, and the most important forum for that collaboration is the United Nations. I am honored to receive this award tonight, and look forward to continued U.S. leadership at the UN in years ahead.”[108]

Figure 1: Ted Turner, Cindy Whitehead, John C. Whitehead, and Kathy Calvin at the Global Leadership Awards dinner hosted by the UN Foundation and United Nations Association-USA, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, in New York

1.6 An “Old Friend”

With these sentiments in mind it is perhaps hardly surprising that Whitehead seems to have had more than a passing association with that eminence grise of elite liberal internationalism and one of the “godfathers of globalization”: David Rockefeller.[109] In fact their personal and corporate connections appear to have a longer history than meets the eye. In the mid-1980s, for example, Whitehead had sat on the five-member Trust Committee of the Rockefeller Group, Inc (RGI), which controlled most of RGI’s shares; though its decisions did not always meet with Rockefeller’s approval.[110]

Whitehead and Rockefeller also had a strong Bilderberg connection, with the two of them participating in twelve such meetings together. Whitehead was also on the Steering Committee at the same time that Rockefeller was on the Advisory Committee. Whitehead also joined the self-proclaimed “proud internationalist” as a member of the Advisory Council to the Americans for Humanitarian Trade with Cuba (AHTC). Whitehead was a signatory, alongside Rockefeller and numerous other business figures to a public letter from the AHTC on 20 May 2004 calling on the Bush Administration to lift all restrictions on “humanitarian trade and free travel to Cuba.”[111]

But their other contacts were also quite extensive. Up until May 31, 2006, for example, in addition to being Chairman of the LMDC, Whitehead was also the Chairman of the World Trade Centre Memorial Foundation (WTCMF). Rockefeller was a member of the WTCMF board of directors.[112] But given that Rockefeller was Whitehead’s first pick – the so-called “marquee name that would draw other power-brokers”, according to the New York Times – to the newly formed WTCMF board in mid-2004 such an association was not a coincidence.[113]

Additionally, as a quick internet search reveals, Rockefeller and Whitehead frequently turned up at the same exclusive events as distinguished guests or in senior positions on other boards of various philanthropic bodies and think-tanks. For example, they were both on the Committee of Honour of the Foreign Policy Association’s Diplomats Summer Ball in 2003; they were key patrons of the Asia Society’s Annual Dinner in 2004; and they jointly presented the Global Leadership Award to Peter G. Peterson at the UNA-USA/BCUN 2004 Global Leadership Award Dinner on 30 September 2004. They were both Honorary Chairs of the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy, and Honorary Trustees of International House. The evidence suggests their association was much closer than they will ever draw much attention to…

Yet, merely associating with David Rockefeller is not enough, however, to completely confirm Whitehead’s place near the top of the liberal internationalist faction – though their connections indeed befit high-level members of the “Superclass”. Perhaps of some significance is that Whitehead managed the remarkable feat of being the recipient of no less than three awards bearing David Rockefeller’s name:

  • In 1998 he received David Rockefeller Award for Extraordinary Service from Rockefeller University, where he was a Trustee, in recognition of his “brilliant leadership, his integrity, and his legendary generosity.”[114]
  • In April 2004, Whitehead received the 2004 David Rockefeller Award from the Museum of Modern Art for his “enlightened generosity and advocacy of cultural and civic endeavors.”[115]
  • Then on November 16, 2004, Whitehead received the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award from the Synergos Institute’s “University for a Night” (held in the UN Headquarters), granted to those who exemplify the University’s mission of “working together for the common good.”[116]

In 2005, Whitehead was one of the presenters of the David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Awards at that year’s “University for a  Night” convocation. Synergos was founded in 1987 by Peggy Dulany, one of the daughters of David Rockefeller.[117]

Evidently they had something in common.

One thing Whitehead and Rockefeller definitely shared is a belief that excessive wealth does not disqualify one from influencing government policy. On the contrary, like David Rockefeller, Whitehead believes corporate leaders should actively seek to shape foreign policy. “[I]t is very much in our interest as business people and in the interest of our country to become more involved, more influential, more participative in foreign affairs”, Whitehead told a meeting of Business Executives for National Security on 5 November 1998. “Foreign policy is too important to be left just to the State Department”, he concluded.[118] His comments echoed Rockefeller’s assertion in 1996 that the captains of industry should style themselves as “business statesmen” and be “vocal and visible speaking out on community, industry and national issues.”[119]

The other important thing they share is a belief in “one world.” In his Memoirs, published in 2002, Rockefeller wrote that in respect of the allegation that he sought a “more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will”, he was in fact not only “guilty” of the charge, but “proud of it.”[120] With much less ambiguity Whitehead argued, in his address to Seton Hall in 2004 that:

If the world can become one in communications and one in economics, it should be able to do the same in government. While the creation of a single world living together in peace and prosperity may still be a somewhat distant dream, I believe it is coming more quickly than many may think. It is to speed that process that the United Nations was created and its existence has never been as essential as it is today. The United States must lead the way and take its rightful place as a strong and positive leader in the United Nations and all of its affiliated organizations.[121]

This similar outlook, as we shall see in Part Two, has been manifest in more potent forms, such as their joint efforts to undermine the essentially anti-globalist agenda of the GDG and its supporters in the Israel Lobby, and in Whitehead’s sub-rosa yet crucial role in the campaign to prevent John Bolton from becoming US Ambassador to the UN…

Reference Notes

[1] Lloyd Blankfein and Gary D. Cohn, “Memorandum to All Goldman Sachs Employees on John C. Whitehead“, February 8, 2015.

[2] Clark Gasciongne, “GFI Marks the Passing of Advisory Board Member, John C. Whitehead“, February 10; “A Statement on the Death for Former Trustee John C. Whitehead, by Vartan Gregorian, President, Carnegie Corporation of New York“, February 13, 2015; Josette Sheeran, “John C. Whitehead, 1922-2015 – A message from Asia Society President Josette Sheeran“; United Nations Association, “UNA Mourns the Passing of a True Champion“, February 9, 2015; and Bonian Golmohammadi, “Statement in Memory of John C. Whitehead“, WFUNA website, February 9, 2015.

[3] Henry A. Kissinger, “Eulogy for Distinguished Eagle Scout John C. Whitehead“, February 17 2015.

[4]Statement by Senator John McCain on the Passing of John C. Whitehead“, February 9, 2015.

[5] David Rothkopf, Superclass: The Global Power Elite and the World They Are Makingb, Little, Brown, 2008, p.149.

[6] Quoted in Chris Suellentrop, “No Relation No.17: John Whitehead“,, January 11, 2002.

[7] Reconstruction Watch, Profiles of the Members of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation: Who Are These People And Where Did They Come From?, Publication #1 – February 2002, Good Jobs New York, 2002, p.23.

[8] Matthew Bishop, “The Business of Giving: A survey of wealth and philanthropy“, The Economist, February 25, 2006, p.10.

[9]John C. Whitehead“, Wall Street Journal, February 8, 2015.

[10] Douglas Martin, “John C. Whitehead, Who Led Effort to Rebuild After 9/11, Dies at 92“, New York Times, February 7, 2015

[11] John C. Whitehead, A Life in Leadership: From D-Day to Ground Zero, New America Books, 2005, p.276.

[12] Wriston, quoted in George P. Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph: Diplomacy, Power, and the Victory of the American Ideal, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1993, p.566.

[13] Except for the 1994 meeting, Whitehead’s participation can be confirmed from Bilderberg meeting minutes, documents released by the US Department of Defense, and an official press release. See: Bilderberg Meetings, Saltsjöbaden Conference, 11-13 May 1984, p.8; Bilderberg Meetings, Rye Brook Conference, 10-12 May 1985, p.8; Bilderberg Meetings, Gleneagles Conference, 25-27 April 1986, p.8; Bilderberg Meetings, Villa D’Este Conference, 24-26 April 1987, p.12; Bilderberg Meetings, La Toja Conference, 12-14 May 1989, p.8; Bilderberg Meetings, Glen Cove Conference, 10-13 May 1990, p.11; Bilderberg Meetings, Baden-Baden Conference, 6-9 June 1991, p.11; Bilderberg Meetings, Evian Conference, 21-24 May 1992, p.12; Bilderberg Meetings, Vouliagmeni Conference, 22-25 April 1993, p.8; “Bilderberg meeting in Helsinki, Finland, June 2-5, 1994 – participants“; Bilderberg Meetings, Burgenstock Conference, 8-11 June 1995, p.9; Bilderberg Meetings, “Current List of Participants, 14 May 1996“;  and PRNewswire, “Bilderberg Meeting of 1997 Assembles”, June 12, 1997.

[14] White was a panellist on “Terrorism” in 1986 (Bilderberg Meetings, Gleneagles Conference, pp.11, 53-54) and on “Policy Towards Trade and Protectionism” in 1987 (Bilderberg Meetings, Villa D’Este Conference, pp.7, 35-36). He was a moderator at the 1991 and 1993 meetings (Bilderberg Meetings, Baden-Baden Conference, p.13; and Bilderberg Meetings, Vouliagmeni Conference, p.12). Whitehead is first identified as a member of the Bilderberg Steering Committee in the 1990 meeting minutes; a position he appears to have retained in 1996, according to the Bilderberg documents released by the Pentagon, relating to the invitation to Secretary of Defense William Perry to participate in that year’s meeting. Whitehead is also listed as former Steering Committee member on the official Bilderberg Meetings website.

[15] Whitehead is first mentioned as a member in 1978 (see CFR, Annual Report 1978, Council on Foreign Relations, 1978, pp.76, 127), and is listed as a Director in the 1980 report (see CFR, Annual Report 1980, Council on Foreign Relations 1980, p.152). He was still listed as a member in the 2014 report (see CFR, Annual Report 2014, Council on Foreign Relations, 2014, p.62).

[16] Executive Committee of the Pilgrims Society of the United States, “John Whitehead – Obituary“, New York Times, February 11, 2015. The paid death notice notes that the Executive Committee of the Pilgrims Society of the United States was “deeply saddened by the death of its Vice President.”

[17] Whitehead is listed as an Honorary Director on the “Board of Directors” page of the old Atlantic Council website from February 1998 until April 2007 when he was elevated to a Director (for the February 1998 list see here and for April 2007 see here).

[18] Whitehead, A Life in Leadership, pp.7, 276.

[19] John C. Whitehead, “Foreign Policy after the Election”, The Whitehead Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations, Winter/Spring 2005, p.10.

[20]The Coup D’etat in Washington“, Larry Abraham’s Insider Report, December 1986.

[21] James Perloff, The Shadows of Power: The Council on Foreign Relations and the American Decline, Western Islands, 1988, pp.168-169.

[22] See Peter Philips with Bridget Thornton & Celeste Vogler, “Parameters of Power in the Global Dominance Group: 9/11 & Election Irregularities in Context”, in David Ray Griffin & Peter Dale Scott eds., 9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, Olive Branch Press, 2006, pp.169, 187.

[23] Whitehead, A Life in Leadership, pp.12-17.

[24] ibid, p.17.

[25] There is little if any information on the size of Whitehead’s personal fortune. However, at the New York Democracy Forum launch on 9 March 2005, former Ambassador Richard Holbrooke hinted that Whitehead was worth about half-a billion dollars. Holbrooke recalled meeting Whitehead on a shuttle flight to New York back when Whitehead was Deputy Secretary of State. Whitehead was carrying an envelope for the UN Secretary-General: “And he opened the envelope and there was a check for three hundred million dollars – roughly, well maybe it was a little more or less but you know, less than John’s net worth, but a decent amount of money” (emphasis added). See “Remarks by Henry Kissinger and Richard Holbrooke,” New York Democracy Forum Launch, March 9, 2005. Holbrooke’s recollection of the size of the check is, however, inaccurate; its actual value was $90 milllion.

[26] Whitehead, A Life in Leadership, pp.28-29.

[27] ibid, p.65.

[28]John Whitehead“, Full Interview Text (emphasis added).

[29] Whitehead, A Life in Leadership, pp.120-122.

[30] ibid, p.128 (emphasis in original).

[31] Ibid, p.127.

[32] ibid, pp.127-128.

[33] Joseph Weber, “The Leadership Factory“, Business Week (online), June 12, 2006.

[34] Reuben is now President, CEO and member of the Board of Rockefeller & Co and Rockefeller Financial Services see

[35] Whitehead, A Life in Leadership, p.130.

[36] ibid, pp.137-140.

[37] ibid, pp.140-141.

[38]Investment Banker is Appointed to No.2 Post at State Department“, New York Times, April 19, 1985.

[39] Shultz, quoted in Lois Romano, “Players: John C. Whitehead Filling in at Foggy Bottom After Bowing Out of Wall Street”, Washington Post, May 5, 1986.

[40] Whitehead, A Life in Leadership, p.156.

[41] Shultz, Turmoil and Triumph, p.566.

[42] Whitehead, A Life in Leadership, p.199 (emphasis added).

[43] ibid, p.199.

[44] Sidney Blumenthal, “A Schism Between Heritage and State”, The Washington Post, March 11, 1986, p.A17.

[45] Quoted in ibid.

[46] Quotes in ibid; and Bryan Brumley, “State Department Official Criticizes Conservative Think-Tank”, Associated Press, March 11, 1986.

[47] “State Department: Yes, It’s True”, National Review, April 11, 1986.

[48] Whitehead, A Life in Leadership, pp.196-199.

[49] ibid, pp.157, 159.

[50] ibid, p.171.

[51] Keyes, quoted in Robert Pear, “Blacks and the Elitist Stereotype“, New York Times, September 29, 1987.

[52] Richard Bernstein, “Why Does the United States Refuse to Pay Its U.N. Bill?“, New York Times, August 7, 1988; “Senate Passes Cut in U.N. Fund“, New York Times, October 31 1983; and Elaine Sciolino, “Reagan Plans to Ask Congress to Restore Contribution to U.N.“, New York Times, January 1, 1987.

[53] Whitehead, A Life in Leadership, pp.199-200.

[54] Reagan’s diary entry for July 15, 1988 mentions having “met with…de Cuellar, discussed many issues, including U.S. payments…” (Ronald Reagan, The Reagan Diaries, ed. By Douglas Brinkley, Harper Perennial, 2007, p.630).

[55] Whitehead, A Life in Leadership, pp.199-202.

[56] ibid pp.227, 228, 230, 234-235.

[57] ibid, p.237.

[58]About AEA,” AEA Investors (emphasis added).

[59] Christopher Knowlton, “The richest little club in the world”, Forbes, June 5, 1989.

[60] Whitehead, A Life in Leadership, pp.242, 251.

[61] Richard Nixon, The Memoirs of Richard Nixon, (Arrow Books: London, 1978), p.45.

[62] Richard N. Gardner, “The Hard Road to World Order“, Foreign Affairs, April 1974, p.558; Gardner, “Can the United Nations Be Revived?”, Foreign Affairs, July 1970, p.661; and William P. Lineberry, The United States in World Affairs 1970, (Simon & Schuster/Council on Foreign Relations: New York, 1972), p.20.

[63]Remarks by Henry Kissinger and Richard Holbrooke,” New York Democracy Forum Launch, 9 March 2005.

[64] “Learning Institutions are important allies of United Nation, says Secretary-General at naming of diplomacy school”, UN Press Release SG/SM/8567, 19 December 2002.

[65] Whitehead, A Life in Leadership, p.222.

[66] “Opening Remarks from the Panel, I.” in Bilderberg Meetings, Villa D’Este Conference, pp.31-32. Whitehead is listed as the third panellist (ibid, p.7), but the first panellist to speak hews most closely to the official US Government line, making it most likely to be Whitehead, the only Reagan Administration on the Panel, as opposed to the nominally independent US Federal Reserve Chairman, Paul Volcker.

[67] John C. Whitehead, “Global Economic Integration”, Department of State Bulletin, January 1989, p.18.

[68] ibid, p.19 (emphasis added)

[69] Whitehead, A Life in Leadership, p.222 (emphasis added).

[70] United Nations Association of the United States of America, 60 Years of Educating Americans About the United Nations: UNA-USA Annual Report for 2003-3004, (UNA-USA, 2004), p.12.

[71]John C. Whitehead“, UNA-USA website.

[72] United Nations Association of the United States of America, Annual Report 2000-2001, (UNA-USA, 2001), p.28.

[73] United Nations Association of the United States of America, Annual Report 2001-2002, (UNA-USA, 2002), p.34.

[74] UNA-USA Annual Report for 2003-3004, p.28.

[75] United Nations Association of the United States of America, Annual Report 2004-2005, (UNA-USA, 2005), p.26.

[76] United Nations Association of the United States of America, Turning Ideals Into Reality: Annual Report 2005-2006, (UNA-USA, 2006) p.26.

[77] United Nations Association of the United States of America, Annual Report 1998, (UNA-USA, 1998), pp.26 & 28.

[78] United Nations Association of the United States of America, New Challenges, New Opportunities, UNA-USA Annual Report 2006-2007, (UNA-USA, 2007), p.26.

[79] United Nations Association of the United States of America, Americans and the Global Option, UNA-USA Annual Report, 2007-2008, (UNA-USA, 2008), p.28

[80] United Nations Association of the United States of America, Educating the Next Generation of Global Citizens, UNA-USA Annual Report 2008-2009, (UNA-USA, 2009), p.24.

[81] UNA-USA. Annual Report for 2003-3004, p.29.

[82] UNA-USA, Annual Report 2004-2005, p.26.

[83] UNA-USA, Annual Report, 2005-2006, p.26.

[84]Mission and History“, Whitehead School of Diplomacy & International Relations website, (January 2007).

[85]UN Connections – United Nations Association of the USA“, Whitehead School of Diplomacy & International Relations website, (January 2007).

[86] ibid.

[87] Whitehead, “Foreign Policy after the Election”, pp.9-10.

[88] Lindsay Rittenhouse, “John C. Whitehead requests to have name removed from diplomacy school“, The Setonian, June 21, 2013.

[89]About the School of Diplomacy and International Relations“.

[90] Editorial Board, “John C. Whitehead, 1922-2015“, The Setonian, February 11, 2015.

[91] For the composition of the Friends of WFUNA Board in 2008 see “Friends of WFUNA“, WFUNA website (2008).

[92]Friends of WFUNA“.

[93] John C. Whitehead & Arthur Ross, “Another UN Test: The Needs of Have-Not Nations”, Boston Globe, October 1, 1990.

[94] John C. Whitehead & Max M. Kampelman, “Let the U.N. Enforce Postwar Peace in the Gulf”, The Wall Street Journal (Europe), February 19, 1991, p.6.

[95] John C. Whitehead & Edward C. Luck, “An Open Letter To Mr. Boutros-Ghali“, Christian Science Monitor, January 21, 1992.

[96] John C. Whitehead, “Best Bargain in the World: the U.N.“, Wall Street Journal, August 29, 1996.

[97] Council on Foreign Relations, American National Interests and the United Nations, (Council on Foreign Relations, 1996).

[98] Halperin and Whitehead, quoted in Barbara Crossette, “Experts’ Study Says Attacking U.N. Hurts U.S.“, New York Times, August 20, 1996.

[99]The ‘Whitehead Initiative’

[100] Quoted in Paul Lewis, “Americans, and Their Pets, Redeeming U.S. Debt at the U.N.“, New York Times, April 21, 1996, p.6.

[101] Quoted in Judith Miller, “What Makes Ted Turner Give? Others’ Examples“, New York Times, September 20, 1997, p.7.

[102] Betsy Pisik, “U.S. must pay U.N. $347 million or lose vote”, The Washington Times, October 9, 1998, p.A16.

[103] See “Chronology of the UN Financial Crisis: January-June 1998“.

[104] Quoted in Nicole Winfield, “Most Americans in new poll support UN, say issue of payments would affect vote”, Associated Press Newswire, September 18, 1998.

[105] John C. Whitehead, “Keeping Promises by Paying U.N. “, The Washington Times, October 9, 1998, p.A21.

[106] Ibid.

[107]2009 Global Leadership Awards Gala“, UN Foundation, November 24, 2009.

[108]World Leaders, United Nations Officials, and Todays Top Innovators Gather for 55th Annual Global Leadership Dinner in NY“, United Nations Foundation, October 16, 2012.

[109] Rothkopf, Superclass, p.xvii.

[110] David Rockefeller, Memoirs, Random House, 2002, pp.470, 471. Rockefeller admits to having been “outraged” and “frustrated” by the Trust Committee’s unanimous plan in 1985 to liquidate much of the RGI’s stock to pay various debts (p.472).

[111]  “Prominent American Leaders Call Upon Administration to Lift All Restrictions on Humanitarian Trade and Travel to Cuba“, PR Newswire, May 20, 2004.

[112] See for example Robin Pogrebin, “Leader of Times Sq. Revival to Head Ground Zero Agency“, New York Times, April 8, 2005.

[113] David W. Dunlap, “Trade Center Memorial Getting New Muscle“, New York Times, January 5, 2005.

[114] Rockefeller University, “John Whitehead – Obituary”, New York Times, February 9, 2015; and “Forger receives David Rockefeller Award“.

[115] Art in America, April 2004.

[116]David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Awards“, Synergos – University for a Night, November 16, 2004.

[117]David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Awards“, Synergos – University for a Night, November 2, 2005.

[118] Remarks By John C. Whitehead at BENS Eisenhower Award Dinner, November 5, 1998.

[119] David Rockefeller, “America After Downsizing”, Vital Speeches of the Day, September 12, 1996, p. 42.

[120] Rockefeller, Memoirs, p. 405.

[121] Whitehead, “Foreign Policy after the Election”, p.11 (emphasis added).


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