Readers of this column will know all about the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) by now. The CFR's influence in setting Washington's foreign policy agenda was once derided as "conspiracy theory." But, as is often the case, that "conspiracy theory" is now a simple truism that is openly joked about by the conspirators themselves.
What you may not know, however, is that the CFR is in fact a branch of a slightly older, slightly less-known organization: the Royal Institute of International Affairs. The idea for this group was hammered out at an informal session during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. It was formalized the next year, first as the British Institute of International Affairs, and then, after receiving its Royal Charter, as the Royal Institute of International Affairs.