Vital Signs

The Ultimate Insider

Who are the spear-carriers of government policies?  This is a tale that puts pieces together over the course of a few decades.  Neocons eat stories like this for breakfast.

Like most teachers, I have learned at least as much from my students as they have learned from me.  An Argentinian graduate student at St. Louis University came to me for help on his M.A. thesis in 1970 or so, having heard that I supposedly knew something about contemporary American foreign policy.  He was a communist, he said, whose brother was a Jesuit fighting the revolution (with machine guns) in northeastern Brazil.  He wanted to prove that the burden of U.S. policy in Latin America was not economic (as all of us were taught in those days) but political.

The text he presented to me was Prospect for America: The Rockefeller Panel Reports, published by Doubleday in 1961.  Surprisingly few Americans knew of its existence, despite the fact that its second chapter, “International Security: The Military Aspect,” had been introduced by Nelson Rockefeller on Dave Garroway’s Today Show in 1958.  Garroway offered his audience free copies, with Rockefeller’s permission, and the Rockefeller Brothers’ Fund ponied up for the over 200,000 orders that came in.

Ernesto Ruiz, my student, considered Prospect the smoking gun of American politics: We were building an empire...

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