by James Petras
Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghampton
University, New York
The CIA uses philanthropic
foundations as the most effective conduit to channel large
sums of money to Agency projects without alerting the recipients
to their source. From the early 1950s to the present the
CIA's intrusion into the foundation field was and is huge.
A U.S. Congressional investigation in 1976 revealed that
nearly 50% of the 700 grants in the field of international
activities by the principal foundations were funded by
the CIA. The CIA considers foundations such as Ford "The best and most plausible kind of funding
cover" (Ibid, p. 135).
The collaboration of respectable
and prestigious foundations, according to one former CIA
operative, allowed the Agency to fund "a seemingly limitless range of covert action
programs affecting youth groups, labor unions, universities,
publishing houses and other private institutions" (p.
135). The latter included "human rights" groups
beginning in the 1950s to the present. One of the most important "private
foundations" collaborating with the CIA over a significant
span of time in major projects in the cultural Cold War is
the Ford Foundation.
By the late 1950s the Ford
Foundation possessed over $3 billion in assets. The leaders
of the Foundation were in total agreement with Washington's
post-WWII projection of world power. A noted scholar of
the period writes: "At
times it seemed as if the Ford Foundation was simply an extension
of government in the area of international cultural propaganda.
The foundation had a record of close involvement in covert
actions in Europe, working closely with Marshall Plan and
CIA officials on specific projects" (Ibid,
This is graphically illustrated
by the naming of Richard Bissell as President of the Foundation
in 1952. In his two years in office Bissell met often with
the head of the CIA, Allen Dulles, and other CIA officials
in a "mutual search" for
new ideas. In 1954 Bissell left Ford to become a special
assistant to Allen Dulles in January 1954 (Ibid,
p. 139). Under Bissell, the Ford Foundation (FF) was the "vanguard
of Cold War thinking".
One of the FF first Cold War projects was the establishment
of a publishing house, Inter-cultural Publications, and the
publication of a magazine Perspectives in Europe
in four languages. The FF purpose according to Bissell was
not "so much to defeat the leftist intellectuals in
dialectical combat (sic) as to lure them away from their
positions" (Ibid, p. 140). The board of directors
of the publishing house was completely dominated by cultural
Cold Warriors. Given the strong leftist culture in Europe
in the post-war period, Perspectives failed to attract
readers and went bankrupt.
In 1954 the new president of the FF was John McCloy. He
epitomized imperial power. Prior to becoming president of
the FF he had been Assistant Secretary of War, president
of the World Bank, High Commissioner of occupied Germany,
chairman of Rockefeller's Chase Manhattan Bank, Wall Street
attorney for the big seven oil companies and director of
numerous corporations. As High Commissioner in Germany, McCloy
had provided cover for scores of CIA agents (Ibid,
McCloy integrated the FF with
CIA operations. He created an administrative unit within
the FF specifically to deal with the CIA. McCloy headed
a three person consultation committee with the CIA to facilitate
the use of the FF for a cover and conduit of funds. With
these structural linkages the FF was one of those organizations
the CIA was able to mobilize for political warfare against
the anti-imperialist and pro-communist left. Numerous CIA "fronts" received major FF grants.
Numerous supposedly "independent" CIA sponsored
cultural organizations, human rights groups, artists and
intellectuals received CIA/FF grants. One of the biggest
donations of the FF was to the CIA organized Congress for
Cultural Freedom which received $7 million by the early 1960s.
Numerous CIA operatives secured employment in the FF and
continued close collaboration with the Agency (Ibid,
The Ford Foundation's history
of collaboration and interlock with the CIA in pursuit
of U.S. world hegemony is now a well-documented fact. The
remaining issue is whether that relationship continues
into the new Millenium after the exposures of the 1960s?
The FF has in some ways refined their style of
collaboration with Washington's attempt to produce world
cultural domination, but retained the substance
of that policy. For example the FF is very selective in the
funding of educational institutions. Like the IMF, the FF
imposes conditions such as the "professionalization" of
academic personnel and "raising standards." In
effect this translates into the promotion of social scientific
work based on the assumptions, values and orientations of
the U.S. empire.
Ford Foundation's president entertains
her hosts, the leaders and the teachers and the students
of a Chinese university situated in a Muslim autonomous
region, by singing a song in karaoke.
At a time when government over-funding
of cultural activities by Washington is suspect, the FF
fulfills a very important role in projecting U.S. cultural
policies as an apparently "private" non-political
philanthropic organization. The ties between the top officials
of the FF and the U.S. government are explicit and continuing.
A review of recently funded projects reveals that the FF
has never funded any major project that contravenes U.S.
In the current period of a
major U.S. military-political offensive, Washington has
posed the issue as "terrorism
or democracy," just as during the Cold War it posed
the question as "Communism or Democracy." The
Ford Foundation is well situated to replay its role as collaborator
to cover for the New Cultural Cold War.
Full text can be viewed at www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/FordFandCIA.html
Will Feed 1.3 Billion Chinese (3)?
Philanthropic Facade for the CIA