The New World Order Forum
John O’Sullivan is the founder and co-chairman of the New Atlantic Initiative, which is dedicated to reinvigorating and expanding Atlanticist networks. The NAI was formally launched at the Congress of Prague in May 1996 by President Vaclav Havel and Margaret Thatcher. According to the Media Transparancy Sitethe Institute for European Defence and Strategic Studies (IEDSS) received a £25,000 grant from the John M. Olin Foundation, to set up the NAI in 1995, so in this sense the NAI can be seen as a continuation of the right-wing Atlanticist project of the IEDSS: both have close connections in terms of members, and work under the auspices of the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute.
According to Media Transparency, after this initial channeling of funding via IEDSS, the NAI recieved money via the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for 'Public Policy Research'. Apart from O'Sullivan, the NAI includes the IEDSS' Gerald Frost, Robert Conquest and Antonio Martino — other members of the International Advisory Board, according to the AEI siteinclude John Bolton, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Mikhael Khodorkovsky, William Kristol, Rupert Murdoch, Colin Powell, Lord George Robertson, Donald Rumsfeld, Roger Scruton and Lord Weidenfeld. Patrons include Henry Kissinger, Helmut Schmidt, George Schultz and Margaret Thatcher.
As regards UK links, the NAI site with the AEI links to The Atlantic Council of the United Kingdom, the Centre for European Reform, the Institute of Economic Affairs and The New World Order Forum, with the latter being described as "an independent UK-based think-tank that was set up in March 2002."
The New World Order Forum (NWOF) is run by ex-TUC official Peter Ashby, Fellow of St. George's House, inside Windsor Castle and the NWOF collaborated with the NAI in 2003 according to its site. The web archive of the NWOF site states that their 2003 Forumincluded O'Sullivan and John Bolton, Ged Davis (Shell), David Frum, Dr. Nile Gardiner (Heritage Foundation), Charles Grant (CER), Peter Mandelson (then promoting his think tank Policy Network), Charles Moore, Dame Pauline Neville-Jones (CER), John Sawers (recently appointed as the UK Prime Minister's envoy to Iraq and due to take over at the end of June as Political Director in the Foreign Office), Richard Perle, Simon Webb (Policy Director at the UK Ministry of Defence) and several others including Phyllis Kaminsky (international marketing and strategic planning consultant to major U.S. companies in the aerospace and defence sectors).
Before we go on to examine this in a little more detail it should be noted that the CER, mentioned above, were also playing host to similar groups (John Bolton, William Kristol) and at the same time launched (at the AEI and several European embassies) "Transatlantic rift — how to bring the two sides together," written by Charles Grant who attended the NWOF meeting. In relation to this it should also be noted that the New Labour think tanks (the Foreign Policy Centre and Demos, whose advisory board overlaps to a certain extent) were also publishing work with a pro-war agenda, particularly the work of John Lloyd.
One aim of the group (as a result of the French veto) was to put forward that idea of: "An alternative to the UN Security Council?"
The June 2003 Forum meeting, which we will examine below, was held a few days after the invasion of Iraq. Previously a June 2002 forum, organised with NAI,explored "hot pre-emption", and included Sheikh Mohammed Mohammed Ali a co-founder of the Iraqi National Congress(and a member of its ) who presented a paper along with Keith Best ("when is intervention justifiable?") and the former MI6 agent Sir Peter Smithers (responsible for the ‘Club of Rome's’ report ‘).
When Sheikh Mohammed Mohammed Ali (a Shiite Muslim cleric who left Iraq in 1980, and who openly called for American intervention) came to London, he did so as part of a large group the Iraqi Military Alliance, a grouping of 'military exiles.' A BBC report by Paul Reynolds of 12 July, 2002, , noted that the group consisted of some 200 and that Ali:
- ...predicted that if there was a military operation against Saddam Hussein the regime would not last "more than a week or two" [...] An alliance between military and civilian groups was evident in the obviously close relationship between Ahmed Chalabi, a former banker who heads the INC, and General Tawfiq Al-Yassiri, who chatted smilingly. Mr Al-Yassiri helped lead the Shiite rebellion in 1991 and later escaped.
The report also notes that:
- One sceptical observer was Neil Partrick from the Economist Intelligence Unit. He said that he had spotted diplomats from the United States and Britain there briefly and described the meeting as "publicity for the US and UK" as they begin to gather support for military action.
It is possible that the appearance at the New World Order Forum was part of this 'publicity' drive by members of the US and UK as part of the lead up to the war, with the later meeting with the NAI and the neo-conservatives reinforcing a consensus along lines approved by the organisers.
Of the meeting O'Sullivan is quoted as saying:
- "I was fascinated by the way in which the original anarchy of conflicting views gradually coalesced along a relatively narrow spectrum of practical solutions."
This is possibly an exaggeration. A previous Consultation at St. George’s House, Windsor Castle, March 4-5 2002 (which is said by the organisation to have given rise to the setting up of the Forum), before the invasion of Iraq, brought together:
- General Sir Hugh Beach: formerly Director, Council for Arms Control/ Deputy Commander-in-Chief, UK Land Forces and Warden of St. George’s House.
- Keith Best: World Federalist Movement (Chair, Executive Committee) & UK Immigration Advisory Service (Chief Executive)
- Amos Davidowitz: Institute of World Affairs (Executive Director, Mediterranean and Middle East Office)
- Troy Davis: World Citizen Foundation (New York Head Office) (President) and World Democracy Campaign (Secretary)
- Revd. Mark Edington: Centre for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School, Massachusetts and Chaplain to Harvard College
- Sir Timothy Garden: Centre for Defence Studies, King’s College, London (Visiting Professor)/ former Director, Royal Institute of International Affairs
- Karl von Habsburg: Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (based in the Hague) (Director-General)
- Heiner Klebes: Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Honorary Secretary General) and Centre for Democracy in Washington (Senior Counsellor on Rule of Law issues)
- Jan Oberg: Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research (based in Sweden) (Director)
- Afif Safieh: Palestinian General Delegate to the UK
- James Sherr: Conflict Studies Research Centre, Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (Fellow) and Lincoln College Oxford (Lecturer in International Relations) & Consultant to NATO on Ukraine
- David Waller: Agency for Co-operation and Research in Development (ACORD), supporting development in Africa (Executive Director)
- Patsy Knight: Associate Fellow of St. George’s House
- Peter Ashby: Fellow of St. George’s House & Consultation facilitator
Essentially this was to explore the concept of what form a 'new world order' should take. A questionnaire put out in advance of the June Forum was given out with papers by General Sir Hugh Beach and Colonel Patrick Lang.
The Windsor Leadership Trust itself, which runs St. George's House has a board of trustees which include Sir David Omand (UK Security and Intelligence Coordinator, Director GCHQ 1996-1997), General Sir Richard Dannatt (Chief of The General Staff), Sir Claude Hankes KCVO, Advisor to Iraq, Field Marshal the Lord Inge (former Chief of Defence Staff), James Smith is Chairman of Shell UK, Rt Hon Lord Smith of Finsbury (a member of the The British American Project for the Successor Generation).
The methodology of the meetings are described in some detail and are about "building ideas" through "buzz groups." The group splits up and go into little huddles. On analysis the underlying agenda seems biased:
Stage one asks: "is it possible to achieve the changes that you want, within the framework of the UN Charter?" and this focuses on one main question:
- do you personally believe that it is possible to “re-invent” the UN Security Council, within the framework of the UN Charter, to enable it to offer the sort of global leadership that is now required to protect global peace and security?
Stage two gets specific:
- Drawing on the outcomes of the opening session, we want to concentrate on the most difficult issues that need to be engaged with to enable the UN to “get its legs of responsibility back” – to use President Bush’s words in the Azores on March 16.
This also extended to ask: "Should Permanent Members of the Security Council have the right to veto majority decisions?" Other questions suggest that states "such as Syria" should be excluded" and ask: "Is it enough to expect "coalitions of the willing" to implement Security Council resolutions?" Then:
- As ideas are developed, we will break into small buzz groups for 10 to 15 minutes to help individuals sharpen up their thinking, and when we return from groups “ideas people” will share their personal proposal with the whole of the group.
From there informal discussions over dinner are encouraged.
Peter Ashby, the Director of the New World Order Forum wrote a letter to the Guardian, which was published on March 26, 2003. This was on the subject of the French veto on Iraq which was also one of the subjects for the Forum's deliberations:
- I fear that the announcement by President Jacques Chirac that France will veto a second resolution on Iraq "whatever the circumstances" means that the process of reinventing the UN is going to have to be much more fundamental than many have yet realised. Serious reform of the UN will be a long and painful process, and we will need to set down some transparent and fundamental obligations on all member states. Otherwise cooperative internationalism will come to rely more on informal, shifting alliances, with all of the dangers that they pose for our world order.
The statement on the NWOF websiteexplained the reasons behind the 2003 meetings:
- Following last month's breakdown in diplomacy at the UN, we have agreed with the New Atlantic Initiative, based at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, that we will convene a joint Windsor Forum with them in June, on the theme of "The UN and global security: do we need to 're-invent' the UN, and if so, how?"
A Mirror article of October 17, (2008) discussed Peter Mandelson and mentioned that back in the 1990s, he spent weekends at a holiday cottage 'Number One Brick End', with a companion (meaning partner) called Peter Ashby. Other reports such as Daily Mail, April 24, (1999) by Geoffrey Levy, confirm that it is the same Ashby that works at St. George's House and states that Ashby and Mandelson split in 1989 but remained in contact, with Mandelson the godfather of Ashby's son:
- Like Mandelson, who is two years younger, Ashby has moved considerably to the Right since his student days, and some are convinced that he has influenced Mandelson in his political thinking, rather than the other way round, and indeed that he still does. As long ago as 1992 he was publicly advocating 'a new deal for long-term unemployed people based on the principle of reciprocal obligations'. He urged that 'in return for enhanced benefit, everyone unemployed for 18 months should be required to undertake temporary work'. There were remarkable echoes of this in Labour's 'Welfare to Work' proposals in its election manifesto, which Mandelson helped write.
The two are also mentioned in the Mandelson biography by Donald Macintyre.
The New World Order Forum states that it "specialised in running high-level ideas-building sessions for carefully selected groups of international opinion-leaders on key aspects of global policy." How the participants are selected is not explained. It changed into the '2waytrust' which offers this self-definition:
- All key decision-making bodies, from the UN downwards, should have some sort of informal forum where individuals are able to explore ideas that are accepted as being ahead of the consensus, without participants having to “represent” their governments, or anyone else, and with clear groundrules that permit them to challenge existing assumptions, and change their minds, without losing face.
Ashby's new organisation quotes his new outlook on life, which may well draw on his first hand experience of watching the neo-cons, war managers and Peter Mandelson in action:
- ...after 20 years of facilitating events on a wide range of public policies, Pete came to the view that screwed up relationships do more damage to our world than screwed up policies.
- The Limits to Growth
- Paul Reynolds (2002) Ex-officers call for Saddam's removal.