However, the power to stalemate a conference, even the power to shape
the agenda, was not equivalent to the power to affect structural change in
the international economic system. The developing countries recognized that
innovations in international trade and augmentation of the flow of
developmental resources implied negotiated agreements with the north
The Third World had gained the ground it had, namely, a genuine
recognition of the existence of a development crisis, through solidarity. By
the spring of 1975, the North felt the cutting edge of a solidarity
painstakingly honed by Third World conferences and other forms of collective
advocacy. The commitment toward the resolution of certain Third World
grievances taken at the Seventh Special Session, limited as it was, was the
result of the pressure mounted through solidarity (Mortimer, 1984)
This rise in the bargaining power could not be tolerated by the
Trilateral regions, however. The commission's overriding concern is that
Trilateral nations remain the vital center of management, finance, and
technology, i.e. power and control for the world economy which would embrace
and coopt the Third World and gradually reintegrate the Soviet Union,
Eastern Europe, and China (Sklar, 1980).
Additionally, the trilateralists hope that the USSR will join the
community of the developed nations in defending the global interests of the
industrialized rich countries against those of the Third World. Moreover,
the trilateralists are confident that they can win the ideological and
economic competition with the Soviet Union. They believe that the Soviet
economy is declining and will reach a crisis state in the 1980's.
The debt dependency4
4 Please refer to Appendix C for debt information on selected nations in the
Middle East and North Africa (which some sources consider an integral part
of the Middle East.
of the Third World nations is a profound concern to
those nations. The international banking community gains billions of dollars
in interest payments alone from countries which are caught in a vicious
cycle of borrow and borrow again to pay back the interest the following
An analysis of the debt balance among the selected countries shows that
during the peak years of OPEC's strength, namely prior to the fall of the
Shah, while the debt was substantial, it mushroomed after the Iranian
Revolution started. The virtual shutdown of oil production by Iran greatly
reduced if not precluded the payment of any grants to non-oil producing
countries within the Third World.
Indeed, the percentage of GNP money given to the developing nations by
the OPEC powers starting in 1974 vastly exceeded that of the industrialized
nations. With OPEC, the percentages ranged form 3 and 4 percent of their
GNP. however, Iran gave 10 per cent of its GNP. The United States on the
other hand gave much less than 1 per cent (Mossaver-Rahmani, 1980). Not only
is this an embarrassment or the wealthy industrialized nations but the OPEC
action dealt a blow to their banking institutions.
Moreover, if all of this activity was not enough, Iran advanced several
huge loans to Britain and France during the 1970's in order to "finance
their balance-of-payments deficits, a problem normally regarded as a
distinguishing feature of under development" (Girvan, 1980:437).
These events serve to reinforce the developed countries" desire to
revert back to conditions as they stood prior to the rise of OPEC. The
events which follow demonstrate how the trilateralists achieved this goal.
Government officials, influenced by trilateralists (who comprised the
majority of Carter's ranking officials) are well aware that to divide and
thereby conquer was an extremely useful tool to use in achieving their
goals. Kissinger proposed that the United States attach a food and
agricultural assistance program to its demands for oil price relief. In this
way the United States would secure the leverage it needed to break the OPEC
Another measure the North used was to strengthen an agency of the United
Nations known as UNCTAD (United nations Conference on Trade and Development)
so as to deem it an international decision maker. The debate on this turned
into an all encompassing discussion as to where the responsibility for the
global economic problems of the day actually lay according to the
trilateralists, and provided an opening for a reconsideration of the ever
divisive energy issue (Mortimer, 1984).
As a result of this action by the United States, Costa Rica and several
other Latin American countries supported the North in this issue. They
requested that the OPEC pricing policy be placed on the agenda. After an
acrimonious intergroup of 77 discussion, Costa Rica withdrew its request.
However, the North raised the issue again in its draft resolution. This
action demonstrated the fragility of the Group of 77 in the face of oil
costs. Moreover, this action occurred just before the June 1979 price
Another goal desired by the Third World coalition was the Common Fund.
If such a fund could be funded, the Third World countries would definitely
benefit. The Group of 77 submitted a draft of provisions for the Fund,
calling for a "working capital of $3 billion in borrowing authority) that
would be used to finance...anticipated commodity arrangement" (Mortimer,
However, the industrial states also drafted a proposal the results of
which did not at all match the Group of 77's proposal. In November 1978 and
in March 1979 two further negotiating sessions were held. The Third World
states had to make vast concessions. Two funds were created. The first
Common Fund was endowed with $400 million while the second was endowed with
$70 million plus a targeted voluntary contribution of $280 million. Clearly,
this agreement was attributable to the limited power the Third World
nations, including OPEC, had at this time.
Poor countries cannot afford to ignore their present needs. This creates
problems in maintain unity, a weakness that the rich and powerful can
exploit by offering slightly better terms in the existing system in exchange
for abandoning challenges to the system itself (Mortimer, 1984).
To reiterate the hypothesis at the beginning of this work, governmental
institutions will go to any lengths to maintain the status quo. To this end,
this author would like to propose another group of theories for
We know that Saudi Arabia was "cool" (Mortimer, 1984:61) to some of the
ideas proposed by OPEC. However, no one provides a valid reason why. Some
excuses are proposed and this author assumes that the casual reader might
accept them. A more valid reason could be that the United States co-opted
Saudi Arabia in the early 1970's. King Faisal's nephew assassinated him.
This is not unknown. It is also not unknown that the nephew was educated in
the United States. What is unknown is that in all probability the nephew was
cleverly co-opted by the CIA in one of the numerous schemes they employ.
Thereafter, Saudi Arabia succumbed to the pressure of the West to some
extent while attempting to maintain an image of unity with the other OPEC
The West's recognition that Saudi Arabia could be controlled by western
interests was an extra gift to the West. Although Saudi Arabia did exert
some influence upon OPEC, its influence was minimal to that of Iran. One
reason for this is the difference in the two countries' populations. Saudi
Arabia, now only has about 10 million people. Iran in 1978 had 36 million
people. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia, while a large country, is fairly
uninhabitable, being mostly if not a completely arid desert country. Iran,
conversely, is a large country in addition to being strategically placed so
as to protect the entire Middle East from invasion by the Soviet Union.
Should conditions make it possible for Iran to fall to Russia, the entire
Middle East and the resulting oil would be lost to the West. Additionally,
Iran has the natural resources to become a major power and therefore, could
compete with the West for industrial production.
For all his faults, the Shah was trying to assist the Third World
countries to experience a more prosperous existence. This, the Trilateral
powers could not accept. Two arguments can be proposed however, against
this argument. Why did the oil prices continue to rise after the fall of the
Shah? This author imagines that not only do the wheels of government move
slowly, but the other radical OPEC nations of Algeria and Libya exerted
power over OPEC and the North, but an image had to be maintained as well. If
oil prices had plummeted after the fall of the Shah, people all around the
world would have understood that the First World nations were responsible
for his exile and eventual death. The First World nations seeking to prevent
this knowledge, played a waiting game.
Moreover, the oil industry in the United States was enjoying the
increased profits it made on the higher OPEC prices. There was no extreme
need to drastically reduce oil prices right away.
An argument can be proposed as to why President Boumediene of Algeria,
who was so radical, was not exiled from Algeria. here again, we are dealing
with a country whose population is only half of the size of Iran's and is
not strategically situated any more than Saudi Arabia's is.
The power, therefore, of Iran was substantial. The monetary wealth of
the country of Iran, which was either lent or given out in grants, was an
extreme embarrassment to the Trilateral powers, not to mention the fact that
had it continued, would have seriously undermined the transnational banking
Therefore, as we have observed with the Iran-Contra scandal, the behind
the scene activity which Congress may or may not have aware, was being
completed. The writers of Middle Eastern history are very quick to point out
that in 1953, the Shah was brought into Iran by the CIA, deposing the
existing government of that nation. Evidence exists however, to dispute this
statement. However, now no one will admit that the CIA agents could easily
have instigated unrest in this proud country in order to save the existing
economic system for the North. Many other factors exist to substantiate this
claim, however, the economic factor is a strong consideration in and of
It appears that the First World powers have won through the auspices of
the Trilateral Commission. The successful co-optation of some leaders of
Third World nations and expulsion and or deaths of others has led these
nations into either being subdued to the stronger force of aligning with it.
This procedure by the First World powers has made it possible to maintain
the status quo for the present.
However, five variables exist to alleviate conditions as they stand now:
(1) continued struggle by the people of the poor nations with the resulting
media attention; (2) economic pressure against the international banking
community; (3) democratic pressures against government leadership; (4)
continued education for democratic societies; and (5) time. Nothing remains
deadlocked and static in terms of political determinants. The seeds of
destruction lie with the organism itself.
The First World would be wise to truly heed the needs of the Third World
because it probably will experience a reversal at some time. When that
happens, it will be the First World which will suffer.
Author's note: On July 3, 1987, three weeks after turning in this research
paper to the professor of political science at UCLA, the U.S. deliberately
blew up a passenger plane flying from Iran to Kuwait with vacationers. Over
300 people were killed. The U.S. didn't apologize for their action and
deliberately deceived the American people saying that they "thought it was a
military plane which was going to attack." Every other press in every
country reported the truth, though possibly not the reason. This author
knows that the U.S. blew up that plane because the U.S. wanted to stop the
Iran-Iraq War, a war that was instigated by the U.S. On December 20, 1988,
Iran blew up the Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in retaliation for the
July 3, 1987 incident. The CIA knew that this explosion was going to happen
and didn't board the plane as a result.