The United States: democracy or corporate democracy?


GRANMA

April 24th, 2010

The United States: democracy or corporate democracy?
"Recipes" to Turn Fortunes into Real Power and Vice Versa
Dr. CJ MARCELO PÉREZ, MSc, RAFAEL GONZÁLEZ MORALES

The birth of power in the United States comes from great fortunes. Thus, famous families emerged: Rockefeller, Ford, Morgan, Du Pont and Mellon, among others. This kind of clans created most of the empire's architecture: banks, transnational companies, media outlets, universities and foundations. They gave their approval for the president-to- be and "drew up" his cabinet. They continue to do the same. It would be enough to study the role of Richard Scaife Mellon, the grandson of multimillionaire Andrew Mellon, as one of the financial fathers of the Right in the US.

But US researchers Charles Wright Mills, the author of the book The Power Elite (1956), and G. William Domhoff, of the classic Who Rules America? (1967) never imagined that what they called over 50 years ago "the revolution of managers", was going to keep on mutating until today. And much less that a Machiavellian phenomenon in the configuration of power in the USA would derive from it: the revolving door. This phenomenon allows the representatives of the elite to alternate positions in the government and executive posts or bearers of shares in the private sector, thus creating a vicious circle in the imperial power –the core of corporate democracy.

In 1955, only three ministerial posts in the US were occupied by professional politicians. The rest had been occupied by leaders of the largest corporations and by financial magnates. The President was Dwight D. Eisenhower. In his cabinet, the Treasury Secretary came from the Hanna Mining Company; the Defense Secretary was the president of General Motors; the Secretary of State, well known Foster Dulles, was the president of the Rockefeller Foundation and part of the Sullivan & Cromwell lawyers' firm. Even Nelson Rockefeller was part of his National Security Council, from where he approved secret operations.

It was only the beginning. The increase of personal links with the private capital of representatives in the executive power and in the Intelligence Community itself consolidated the impact of the revolving door in political decisions. In January, 1961, before leaving his post, Eisenhower warned about the existence of a Military-Industrial Complex that was putting US "democracy" at risk.

The operation of the real power and the process for the formulation of policies continued to become more and more complex. The owners of capital diversified, and the political spiderweb expanded.

BUSH: ARMY & MARKETING

After September 11, 2001, the revolving door became more unvarnished. The White House, the Defense and State departments and the agencies of espionage were kidnapped by prominent corporate people from powerful companies linked to the Military-Industrial Complex and the energy sector. Geopolitical interests and the "pocket" diplomacy united and formed an unhappy marriage for the world

George W. Bush himself, like his father, lived since 1979 in the entrails of more than four oil companies. His vice-president, Dick Cheney, from 1995 to 2000, had been president and general director of the Halliburton Corporation, a world leader in oil engineering and equipment. Cheney "retired" with 45 million dollars, but Halliburton continued receiving juicy contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq, by way of its Kellogg Brown & Root branch. His wide Lynn was, until February, 2001, a member of the administration council of Lockheed Martin, the main war enterprise of the USA.

Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, who had occupied that post in the presidency of Gerald Ford, worked later on for a long time as an executive of companies devoted to the biopharmaceutical industry, like the Searle Pharmaceutical Company and the Gilead Sciences Pharmaceutical Company. Likewise, he was part of the Executive Board of Kellogg, a subsidiary of Halliburton. Also a member was Cuban-American Carlos Gutiérrez, who was its executive vice-president and then Trade Secretary for George W. Bush. Halliburton can be considered one of the main nests of the hawks. Another one is the Carlyle Group, but it's worth a separate comment.

Colin Powell, Secretary of State during Bush's first term of office, was linked to the companies Gulfstream Aerospace and General Dynamics pertaining to the Military-Industrial Complex, and was also part of the Board of Directors of America Online (AOL).

Condoleezza Rice, his National Security advisor and later Secretary of State, was part of the Executive Board of the powerful oil company Chevron for almost 10 years. She also belonged to the board of directors of the stock market investment agency Charles Schawb, and of Transamerica, in insurance. Her replacement as National Security Advisor for the second term of office, Stephen Hadley, was for over 20 years a consultant and a lobbyist of the firm Shea & Gardner, which has investors Boeing and Lockheed Martin in the military field among its main clients.

In the Community of Intelligence (COMINTEL), the example of vice admiral Mike McConnell is enough. Before being appointed as director of National Intelligence, he was vice-president of the Booz Allen Hamilton Company, one of the main contractors of the Pentagon. After leaving his post in January, 2009, he returned to the same company, where his post as vice-president was waiting for him. Many of the main executives of COMINTEL presently occupy posts in companies linked to private contracting for the services of technological security. They're also part of the corporate democracy circle.

A NOBEL FACADE

Corporate democracy in the George W. Bush administration was very obvious. The think tanks, the gurus of corporate power and imperial ideology, designed an image "cleaning". They combined ethnic and gender diversity, a mixture of liberal and more conservative figures. That's where Obama and his cabinet emerged from. In his government, the groups of power established in Illinois, New York and California, linked to the financial sector and the new information technology industry, stand out.

How could the continuance of the same National Defense Strategy, which served as guide to the Pentagon at the end of the George W. Bush administration, be then guaranteed? Easily: by maintaining the almost obligatory nature of incorporating figures linked to the Military-Industrial Complex to his team and keeping faithful exponents of these groups of power in some of the important political posts.

The case of the Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, who replaced Rumsfeld in George W. Bush's second term of office and remained in his post, is illustrative. Before occupying it, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the SAIC Company, devoted to high technology production for the war industry. In the 1990's, he was part of the Board of Directors of corporations like Parker Drilling, devoted to oil prospecting, and the Fidelity Investments oriented to financial services -an heir of the hawks.

His national security team has close corporate links with powerful companies. The National Security advisor, four-star general James Jones, was a member of the Board of Directors of Boeing between 2007 and 2008, with more and more participation in the military industry. He also belonged to the Board of Directors of Cross Match Technologies, a company devoted to biometric technology and, from May to December, 2008, he was a member of the Board of Directors of Chevron. What an advisor! His CIA director, Leon Pannetta, was a member of the Board of Directors of the New York Stock Market between 2004 and 2009.

Their number is not important, but their decisions and influence is. Ultimately, this administration has already requested the largest military budget in history. The corporate elite have always kept its posts for the main ones in the executive power, and the neocon hawks are a clan, whether they're inside or outside. Incidentally, where are they?

Only two examples: hawk Condoleezza Rice is already part of the Board of Directors of a new company called C3, who aspires to organize a market of rights for the emissions of gases of greenhouse effect. What Obama has said gives her guarantee for future profits: "what these rights allow us to do is beginning to establish a price for the contamination sent to the atmosphere." Since 2007, Rumsfeld had been creating the necessary conditions to lead a Foundation that would grant scholarships to talented people in the private sector who wanted to occupy governmental posts. That is, a laboratory for the revolving door – the continuity of the species?

The US legal architecture forces people who wish to hold governmental positions to sell their corporate shares, due to the so-called conflicts of interest -in practice, a farce. They always win when they "abandon" the private sector and from the throne maintain the commitments that led them to become the millionaire managers of the new elite of power. Corporate democracy commands, and elections are part of its montage. Regrettably, the way of life of the US people and their dreams increasingly depends on the survival of Wall Street.

Meanwhile, the revolving door is exported to Latin America. In some countries, millionaires become presidents. In Cuba, we go ahead with our democracy, and we're, like in any legitimate endeavour, on our way to perfecting it, amid the winds blowing from the corporate media of world disinformation.

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