— The Erimtan Angle —

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As long ago as the year 2000, the international business editor of the Daily Telegraph Ambrose Evans-Pritchard wrote that “DECLASSIFIED American government documents show that the US intelligence community ran a campaign in the Fifties and Sixties to build momentum for a united Europe. It funded and directed the European federalist movement. The documents confirm suspicions voiced at the time that America was working aggressively behind the scenes to push Britain into a European state. One memorandum, dated July 26, 1950, gives instructions for a campaign to promote a fully fledged European parliament. It is signed by Gen William J Donovan, head of the American wartime Office of Strategic Services, precursor of the CIA. The documents were found by Joshua Paul, a researcher at Georgetown University in Washington. They include files released by the US National Archives. Washington’s main tool for shaping the European agenda was the American Committee for a United Europe, created in 1948. The chairman was Donovan, ostensibly a private lawyer by then. The vice-chairman was Allen Dulles, the CIA director in the Fifties. The board included Walter Bedell Smith, the CIA’s first director, and a roster of ex-OSS figures and officials who moved in and out of the CIA. The documents show that ACUE financed the European Movement, the most important federalist organisation in the post-war years. In 1958, for example, it provided 53.5 per cent of the movement’s funds. The European Youth Campaign, an arm of the European Movement, was wholly funded and controlled by Washington. The Belgian director, Baron Boel, received monthly payments into a special account. When the head of the European Movement, Polish-born Joseph Retinger, bridled at this degree of American control and tried to raise money in Europe, he was quickly reprimanded”.[1]

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In 1997, the Professor of International Security at the University of Warwick Richard Aldrich published an article stating that after “1945, a variety of Western organizations, not just intelligence agencies, drew up programmes of covert operations designed both to undermine Communist influence in Europe and to ensure a welcome for the Marshall Plan. Examples have been documented in the fields of electoral politics, organized labour and cultural affairs. US officials trying to rebuild and stabilize postwar Europe worked from the assumption that it required rapid unification, perhaps leading to a United States of Europe. The encouragement of European unification, one of the most consistent components of Harry S. Truman’s foreign policy, was even more strongly emphasized under his successor General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Moreover, under both Truman and Eisenhower, US policymakers conceived of European unification not only as an important end in itself, but also as a way to solve the German problem. The use of covert operations for the specific promotion of European unity has attracted little scholarly attention and remains poorly understood”.[2]

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In May 1956, for instance, President Eisenhower gave a speech at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, saying that “European union, one of the greatest dreams of Western man, seems nearer today than at any time in centuries . . . a free, United States of Europe” [would turn the continent into] “a mighty pillar of free strength in the modern world”.[3] Professor Aldrich, for his part, merely points out that “[o]ne of the most interesting US covert operations in postwar Europe was the funding of the European Movement. The European Movement was an umbrella organization which led a prestigious, if disparate, group of organizations urging rapid unification in Europe, focusing their efforts upon the Council of Europe, and counting Winston Churchill, Paul-Henri Spaak, Konrad Adenauer, Leon Blum and Alcide de Gasperi as its five Presidents of Honour. In 1948, its main handicap was the scarcity of funds. It will be argued here that the discreet injection of over three million dollars between 1949 and 1960, mostly from US government sources, was central to efforts to drum up mass support for the Schuman Plan, the European Defence Community and a European Assembly with sovereign powers. This covert contribution never formed less than half the European Movement’s budget and, after 1952, probably two-thirds. Simultaneously they sought to undermine the staunch resistance of the British Labour government to federalist ideas”.[4] Aldrich then adds that the “conduit for American assistance was the American Committee on United Europe (ACUE), directed by senior figures from the American intelligence community. This body was organized in the early Summer of 1948 by Allen Welsh Dulles, then heading a committee reviewing the organization of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) on behalf of the National Security Council (NSC), and also by William J. Donovan, former head of the wartime Office of Strategic Services (OSS). They were responding to separate requests for assistance from Count Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, a veteran Pan-European campaigner from Austria, and from [Winston] Churchill. ACUE worked closely with US government officials, particularly those in the Economic Cooperation Administration (ECA) and also with the National Committee for a Free Europe”.[5]

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Still, Professor Aldrich seems confident enough to say that “[Winston] Churchill was effectively the founder of the European Movement”.[6] Going down to the nitty-gritty, Aldrich declares that the “emerging European Community and the growing Western intelligence community overlapped to a considerable degree. This is firmly underlined by the creation of Retinger’s Bilderberg Group, an informal secretive transatlantic council of key decisionmakers developed between 1952 and 1954. The Bilderberg Group grew out of the same overlapping networks of drawn from the European Community and the Western intelligence community. Bilderberg was founded by Joseph Retinger and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in 1952 in response to the rise of anti-Americanism in western Europe and was designed to define some sort of Atlantic consensus amid diverging European and American outlooks. It brought leading European and American personalities together once a year for an informal discussion of their differences. Retinger secured support from Averell Harriman, David Rockefeller and Bedell Smith. The formation of the American wing of Bilderberg was entrusted to Eisenhower’s psychological warfare coordinator, CD. Jackson, and the funding for the first meeting, held at the Hotel de Bilderberg in Holland in 1954, was provided by the CIA. Thereafter, much of its funding came from the Ford Foundation. By 1958, those attending Bilderberg included McCloy, Dean Acheson, George Ball and Paul Nitze. It is striking that three important transnational elite groups emerging in the 1950s: the European Movement, the Bilderberg Group and Jean Monnet’s Action Committee for a United States of Europe all shared the broadly the same origins and sources of support”.[7]

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In his Telegraph piece, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard then concluded that the “leaders of the European Movement – [Joseph] Retinger, the visionary Robert Schuman and the former Belgian prime minister Paul-Henri Spaak – were all treated as hired hands by their American sponsors. The US role was handled as a covert operation. ACUE’s funding came from the Ford and Rockefeller foundations as well as business groups with close ties to the US government. The head of the Ford Foundation, ex-OSS officer Paul Hoffman, doubled as head of ACUE in the late Fifties. The State Department also played a role. A memo from the European section, dated June 11, 1965, advises the vice-president of the European Economic Community, Robert Marjolin, to pursue monetary union by stealth”.[8]

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[1] Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, “Euro-federalists financed by US spy chiefs” The Telegraph (19 September 2000). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/1356047/Euro-federalists-financed-by-US-spy-chiefs.html.

[2] Richard J. Aldrich, “OSS, CIA and European unity: The American committee on United Europe, 1948-60” Diplomacy & Statecraft (01 March 1997). https://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/pais/people/aldrich/publications/oss_cia_united_europe_eec_eu.pdf.

[2] “Letter written by William J. Donovan, Chairman. of the ACUE, to Senator Lehman of New York” (19 June 1956). http://www.columbia.edu/cu/lweb/digital/collections/rbml/lehman/pdfs/0235/ldpd_leh_0235_0027.pdf.

[4] Richard J. Aldrich, “OSS, CIA and European unity: The American committee on United Europe, 1948-60”.

[5] Richard J. Aldrich, “OSS, CIA and European unity: The American committee on United Europe, 1948-60”.

[6] Richard J. Aldrich, “OSS, CIA and European unity: The American committee on United Europe, 1948-60”.

[7] Richard J. Aldrich, “OSS, CIA and European unity: The American committee on United Europe, 1948-60”.

[8] Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, “Euro-federalists financed by US spy chiefs”.

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