I find that most U.
S. citizens are very poorly
informed about the politics and technology issues that underlie the Iraq
War.So I have tried to assemble here a
very brief set of readings that are suggestive of some of the main factors
about which every informed citizen should at least be aware.I try to take no obvious position here as to
the “correct” view of things.Instead, I
hope to sensitize the reader to viewpoints, processes, and events they may wish
to investigate further, and to follow in the days to come. (Raymond A. Eve –
"NEOCONSERVATIVES" - WHAT AND WHO THEY ARE
The following piece is a bit less scholarly than one might like, but
it is generally highly accurate.Note
that while it is critical of neoconservatives, the piece has its origins on a
conservative website.It therefore
illustrates nicely an emerging split within the conservatives of the U. S.(rae)
Neoconservatives are pro-bombing, pro-empire
heavyweight intellectuals (very rarely a business or military background) who
have filled the vacuum on the Right, where most Americans have little interest
in foreign policy. They dominate Republican foreign policy because they care
about it, whereas most Americans don't. NATO expansion was an example;
most Americans don't think about it and don't care. "Neocons" do. Also they heavily influence the
Democratic Party from whence they came. They are close to European Social
Democrats, many of whom have also now favor pro-interventionist wars, since the
collapse of communism..
Americans, who have
lived abroad and know foreign cultures, are much less likely to be "Neocons." Indeed Neoconservatives are
notable for their absence of experience in foreign nations (except sometimes England, or, more rarely France), most never lived abroad, don't speak foreign
languages, and never served in the military themselves. They are
almost all Washington "policy wonks" who also rarely worked at all
in private, much less international, business. They provide the brains, while
the Military/Industrial/Congressional complex, provides
the brawn of the “War Party,” meaning those who want, or thrive during, wars or
preparation for war.
They also include minor
players with particular interests. One is the "English
Contingent," that is Englishmen who want to
see an American World Empire on the mode of England's old imperium.
Another are European ethnics such as ZbigniewBrzezinski, who have particular nationalist concerns, e.g.
wanting to divide up Russia and having NATO expand so America will be obliged
to look after Poland, but they hardly support America going out to rule the
world, unlike the English supporters. A leader of the neo-cons and with a
typical background is Richard Perle. His WHO'S
WHO biography shows a lifetime in government or academic work with foreign
study only in England. Another, John Bolton, Vice President of the
American Enterprise Institute is a brilliant Phi Beta Kappa from Yale, but also
with little foreign affairs education until becoming Chief Counsel for the
Agency for International Development and then working for the Reagan
The "Neocon" flagship publications are the NEW REPUBLIC,
WEEKLY STANDARD (a recent editorial urged that any budget surplus be used to
buy more weaponry) and COMMENTARY; but "Neo-cons" equally
dominate the editorial pages of the WALL STREET JOURNAL (it's one
sidedness is the worst of all major newspapers at ever printing a non War
Party view), and NATIONAL REVIEW (although Buckley's columns are
less so, he delivered NR into War Party hands), WASHINGTON POST, AMERICAN
SPECTATOR (AS has changed since Kosovo War and publishes other views).
The NEW YORK TIMES and WASHINGTON
TIMES publish more varied opinions, although now the latter has become hot for
conflict with China. The CHICAGO TRIBUNE publishes some very fair op-eds. FOREIGN AFFAIRS publishes
excellent analyses. The NATIONAL INTEREST is an excellent publication with fair
presentations on both sides and solid understanding of the world beyond England and France. (Ironically, it is published by Irving Kristol who was a major founder of neo-conservatism, but a
man who always kept his feet on the ground). To understand the differences,
it's worth keeping in mind that New York thrives on and thinks of trade. Washington thinks and thrives from war. "War is
the Health of the State (read Big Government)," is a classic proverb.
The Kosovo war weakened
the "neocons" past virtual control of
conservative publications on foreign policy, but now they are again gaining
power as principal advisors to President elect George Bush. The WASHINGTON TIMES, for example, published many anti-empire views
during the Kosovo war, but now has returned to its mainly neo-conservative
In Washington "neocon" views
dominate the major networks' Sunday talk shows (although FOX now provides
welcome new viewpoints). They are specifically represented by Richard Perle, Bill Kristol & Richard
Brooks (WEEKLY STANDARD), Paul Wolfowitz, Fred
Barnes, Morton Kondracke, Charles Krauthammer, Frank
Gaffney (former aid to Richard Perle and WASHINGTON
TIMES columnist), Robert Kagan (Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace), columnist Cal Thomas, a
dispensationalist, and others. Strong opposition to the Neocon line is presented on CNN by Robert Novak and
formerly by Pat Buchanan and all over the INTERNET. Also
on NBC by John McLaughlin of the Group, who last 11/15/99 brought attention to the plight of
"500,000" dead Iraqi children from the UN/US blockade. You'll never hear "Neocons"
express much sympathy for the civilian casualties of their wars. In the
print media there is much open resistance to the "neocons"
by Paul Craig Roberts, Joseph Sobran, Charley Reece,
Don Feder (at least as far as Europe is concerned-not
for the Middle East) and others.
"Neoconservatives" are mostly former leftists/liberals who converted
to conservatism during the '70's and when Ronald Reagan became President. In
domestic policy they tend to be moderate "welfare" Republicans.
However, their major concern is foreign policy. They strongly favor US military
interventions overseas and becoming the world’s policeman. They promoted the
First Iraq War and are constantly the instigators for more confrontation with Iraq, Iran, the Sudan, and other Moslem states. They were among the
chief instigators of the Kosovo War.
"Neocons" almost never explain reasons for terrorists'
hatred towards America, because that would bring questions about the
"costs" of having a world empire. So they "explain"
terrorists as just "crazies" who enjoy killing people, just because
they oppose freedom and American values. Typical is Washington's neo-con CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL
STUDIES, which released a long analysis of terrorism in December. Foreign
terrorists are simply described as those who “resent pre-eminent U.S. power and/or have disdain for the West.”
In the Middle East they support the most intransigent elements in Israel and the Likud Party for
occupation and new settlements (a large percentage of the settlers are
Americans) on Arab lands. (the"idiotic
settlements," Thomas Friedman NY TIMES, 11/24, calls
them). Polls show that most Israelis want peace and compromise, but they
are undermined by the American Neoconservatives who denouce
any compromise peace which would allow the cutting back of American military
forces in the Middle East. Among conservatives they are not alone in
this position. Key leaders of the
"Religious Right" also promote the settlements, some openly arguing
that they will help to bring about "Armageddon" and the return of
Christ. On the extreme fringe of the religious right are the
Neoconservatives are the dominant force over establishment Republicans in
Congress (although here again Kosovo weakened them a bit) and in most of the
major conservative think tanks. Their main base among think tanks is the
AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE ( a policy paper in
January, 2001, urges American attacks on Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Gaza. Others are the HERITAGE FOUNDATION (see more
below--modified after Kosovo), ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER, and
BROOKINGS INSTITUTION. Of the large think tanks only the CATO INSTITUTE
and LUDWIG VON MISES INSTITUTE actively oppose their positions. The
Kosovo disaster caused HERITAGE to pull back from its former strongly
interventionist positions, e.g. favoring NATO expansion.
"Neo-con" power comes from their knowledge and political credentials
in matters of foreign affairs (European, not 3rd World or Asian) and because of
their influence over the giant Foundations (Bradley, Olin, Scaife)
which provide major funding for pro-interventionist think tanks. Also
some gain major financial support from many weapons manufacturers. The
NEW YORK TIMES reported recently how such industries were a major factor
promoting NATO expansion to East
Europe and then paying for
the recent NATO anniversary celebrations in Washington. There are billions to be made in outfitting
weapons for new NATO members, and they'll want Washington to lend/pay for it.
The old military
industrial complex is now called the MICE, military/industrial/congressional
establishment. This was particularly evident during the bombing of Serbia when freshmen and sophmore
Republican congressmen were mainly in oppostion,
while all the old Senate Republican Commmittee
Chairmen supported it.
are the brains of the "War Party." They are well-organized,
very well-financed, and very focused. Their members
know what they want---American Empire, Cold War level military spending, lots
of new weapons, and a globalist policing
mission that would project American military power deep into Asia and all
points in between.
AMERICAN LEADERSHIP, AMERICAN EMPIRE
Many of us first heard about the Bush administration's plan to invade Iraq last August. However, a small
group of political elites planned the takeover of Iraq years ago. With that goal
achieved, now is the time to look at who these people are, how they created a
war on Iraq, and most importantly their plans
for the future.
The Project for the New
American Century (PNAC) is a Washington-based neo-conservative think-tank
founded in 1997 to "rally support for American global leadership." PNAC's agenda runs far deeper than regime change in Iraq. Its statement of principles
begins with the assertion that "American foreign and defense policy is
adrift" and calls for "a Reaganite policy
of military strength and moral clarity."
While their tone is
high-minded, their proposal is unilateral military intervention to protect
against threats to America's status as the lone global
superpower. The statement is signed by such influential figures as Dick
Cheney, Jeb Bush, Lewis "Scooter" Libby,
Dan Quayle, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz.
PNAC is not alone, nor did
it arise from new wells of power. Most of the founding members of PNAC held
posts in the Reagan or elder Bush administration and other neo-conservative
think-tanks, publications, and advocacy groups.
The effect of PNAC's ideology is great on Bush -- the presidential
candidate who promised a "humble," isolationist foreign policy. The
events of September 11, 2001 provided a window of opportunity
for furthering PNAC's agenda of American empire.
Understanding that agenda can help us anticipate the Bush administration's
next steps and organize accordingly.
If you only read one article in this bulletin, it should be this one. This
article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel superbly covers the influence of
PNAC in Bush's decision to go to war with Iraq. As the author writes, the goal is
to transform the Middle East through a show of U.S. military might and "the
obvious place to start is with Iraq, which was already in trouble with
the United Nations, had little international standing and was reviled even by
some Arab nations." http://www.jsonline.com/news/gen/apr03/131523.asp
The motivating event for the neo-conservatives who founded PNAC was the end
of the 1991 Gulf War in Iraq. With Saddam's power weakened, the
neo-conservatives believed he should be eliminated permanently. Instead, the
elder President Bush encouraged the Iraqi opposition to rise up against the Ba'ath government. As their rebellion was put down by
Iraqi troops, Bush ordered the U.S. military not to intervene,
choosing instead a strategy of containment for Saddam.
In 1992, Paul Wolfowitz, then-Under Secretary of Defense for Policy,
authored an internal policy brief on America's military posture in the
post-Cold War era: to prevent the emergence of a new rival power through
preemption rather than containment and acting unilaterally if necessary to
protect U.S. interests. When a draft was leaked
to the press, controversy erupted and the report had to be softened.
An important step in PNAC's chronology is its major
publication, "Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and
Resources For a New Century" (RAD), released in September, 2000. The
report takes Wolfowitz's draft as a starting point,
hailing it as "a blueprint for maintaining U.S. preeminence, precluding the rise
of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line
with American principles and interests."
RAD rejects cuts in
defense spending, insisting that "Preserving the desirable strategic
situation in which the United States now finds itself requires a
globally preeminent military capability both today and in the future."
Core missions for the U.S. military include the ability to
"fight and decisively win multiple, simultaneous major theater
wars" and to reposition permanent forces in Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia.
Other samples from RAD:
"The United States has for decades sought to play a
more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict
with Iraq provides the immediate
justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf
transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."
"At present the United States faces no global rival. America's grand strategy should aim to
preserve and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as
"[N]ew methods of attack -- electronic, 'non-lethal,'
biological -- will be more widely available ... 'combat' likely will take
place in new dimensions: in space, 'cyber-space,' and perhaps the world of
microbes ... advanced forms of biological warfare that can 'target' specific
genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a
politically useful tool."
In discussing changes to America's military strategy, the RAD
report regretfully admits, "the process of transformation, even if it
brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some
catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor."
Shortly after September 11,
PNAC sent a letter to President Bush welcoming his call for "a broad and
sustained campaign" and encouraging the removal of Saddam even if Iraq could not be directly linked to
the attacks. http://www.newamericancentury.org/Bushletter.htm
STEERING THIS SHIP?
"Most neo-conservative defense intellectuals have their roots on the
left, not the right." Michael Lind argues in the New Statesman and Salon
magazines that many were anti-Stalinist Trotskyists
who became anti-communist liberals, then shifted to a "militaristic and
imperial right with no precedents in American culture or political
PAUL WOLFOWITZ is Deputy
Defense Secretary, second-in-command at the Pentagon. Wolfowitz
was promoting regime change in Iraq and a strategy of preemptive
attack in 1992, but the elder Bush rejected his views as too radical. This is
an excellent brief from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. http://www.moveon.org/r?436
RICHARD PERLE was
Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration and a foreign policy
adviser in George W. Bush's presidential campaign. He accepted Rumsfeld's offer to chair the Defense Policy Board,
transforming it from obscurity to influence. In March, Perle
resigned as chairman after a controversial lobbying scandal, but remains on
the Board as a member. http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?030317fa_fact
WILLIAM KRISTOL is editor
of The Weekly Standard, a conservative political magazine with a small but
elite readership, funded by Rupert Murdoch. The son of neo-conservative
founding father Irving Kristol, he is the president
of PNAC. http://www.mediatransparency.org/people/bill_kristol.htm
participants are Vice-President Dick Cheney; Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; Iran-contra scandal convict Elliott Abrams, now
Director of Middle East Affairs for the National Security Council; Washington
Post columnist Robert Kagan; and special
presidential envoy to Afghanistan and Iraq ZalmayKhalilzad.
WHO PAYS THE
The Bradley Foundation, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is the primary funder of PNAC through PNAC's
parent New Citizenship Project, Inc. With the largest assets of any
right-wing foundation, Bradley has focused its efforts on ending affirmative
action, reforming welfare, and privatizing schools. This article describes
Bradley's funding of neo-conservative think-tanks, magazines, and books like
"The Bell Curve." http://www.mediatransparency.org/funders/bradley_foundation.htm
Nearly all PNAC participants, whether Jewish or Christian, are right-wing
Zionists who support Ariel Sharon's Likud Party. In
1996, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith,
and others drafted a paper for incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
urging him to make "a clean break" from the Oslo peace process
preferring "peace through strength," including the ouster of Saddam
PNAC is in the same Washington, D.C. office building as the American
Enterprise Institute (AEI), another major neo-conservative think-tank. They
share far more than an address: PNAC participants like Richard Perle, Thomas Donnelly, Jeane
Kirkpatrick, William Schneider, Lynne Cheney (Dick Cheney's wife), and Irving
Kristol (William Kristol's
father) are all AEI scholars and fellows.
Similar overlap is found
among all the neo-conservative think-tanks -- Hudson Institute, Center for
Security Policy, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Middle East
Forum, and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs -- giving the
agenda of a few political elites the appearance of widespread agreement.
THE PROJECT FOR THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY
The Peace Education Fund and California Peace Action have launched a national
advertising campaign that features the infamous photo of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein. The ads ask
the question: "Who Are We Arming Now?" The ad is part of Peace
Action's Campaign for a New American Foreign Policy which is building
political pressure for an alternative to the bleak vision of the Project for
the New American Century. http://www.moveon.org/r?437
OPTIONAL: For a much more
detailed discussion of neocons and military tactics,
see the Internet link just below.However, the article is long, detailed, and complex – enough so that the
link is provided for your interest if
you desire further reading.But it is
not required for the course: (rae)
Christians Biggest Backers of Iraq War
WASHINGTON - Of the major religious groups
in the United States, evangelical Christians are the
biggest backers of Israel and Washington's planned war against Iraq, says a new survey released here
Wednesday by a politically potent group of fundamentalist Christians and
Some 69 percent of
conservative Christians favor military action against Baghdad; 10 percentage points more than
the U.S. adult population as a whole.
And almost two-thirds of
evangelical Christians say they support Israeli actions towards ''Palestinian
terrorism'', compared with 54 percent of the general population, according to
the survey, which was released by Stand For Israel, a six-month-old spin-off
of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ).
''The single strongest
group for Israel in the United States, apart from Jews, is conservative
Christians,'' declared Ralph Reed, co-chairman of Stand for Israel and former executive director of
the Christian Coalition. He also noted that 80 percent of self-identified
Republicans also favor military action against Baghdad.
Reed, who was widely
regarded as the wunderkind of the Christian Right during the 1990s, said the
poll results might have important political implications in upcoming U.S. elections, particularly for the
Jewish vote, which has traditionally gone overwhelmingly to Democrats. In
2000, for example, only 18 percent of Jewish voters cast ballots for
President George W. Bush.
''There is a new openness
among Jewish voters to support this president and other Republicans who
strongly support Israel,'' Reed said, adding that he believes Bush in 2004
may reap close to the 38 percent of the Jewish vote harvested by Ronald
Reagan in 1984, the highest percentage ever received by a Republican
Some 81 percent of Jewish
respondents said they see Bush as a strong supporter of Israel, and 46 percent said they were
more likely to vote for him based on his handling of the ''war on terrorism''.
The poll also found that two-thirds of Republicans said they supported Israel in the current conflict, compared
to 46 percent of Democrats.
''The bottom line is that
Bush appears to be making some significant inroads with this heavily
Democratic group, something that could have an impact on the next two
election cycles,'' said Ed Goeas, head of the Tarrance Group, which carried out the poll.
The survey, which
included 1,200 respondents contacted last week, tends to confirm the findings
of similar polls over the last several years that have shown strong support
for Israel on the part of evangelical
Christians, who together make up about one third of the U.S. adult population.
the group first came to the attention of the political elite in 1976 when
large numbers of them helped elect Jimmy Carter, a ''born-again'' Christian.
Disillusioned by Carter's liberal politics and social attitudes, they became
a major recruiting ground for the ''New Right'' that in turn paved the way
for the election in 1980 of former president Ronald Reagan.
At the same time,
Christian fundamentalists were also avidly courted by the right-wing Likud government in Israel, which saw in them a promising
new constituency that, for theological reasons, could be persuaded to oppose
the return of Jerusalem and the West Bank to Arab rule.
In 1979, the government
of Israel reportedly gave Jerry Falwell, head of the ''Moral Majority'' and the leading
Christian Right figure of the time, his first private jet.
The Israeli government
has also arranged special tours for evangelical Christian groups that have
contributed tens of millions of dollars to Jewish and Israeli agencies
involved in resettling Jews to Israel and in building Israeli
settlements on the occupied territories.
With offices in Chicago and Jerusalem, the IFCJ has acted as a key
forum for promoting the relationship between conservative U.S. Jews and
evangelical Christians since 1983. As violence between Israelis and
Palestinians intensified last spring, the group created ''Stand for Israel'', which it called ''an effort to
strategically mobilize leadership and grassroots support in the Christian
community for the State of Israel''.
''Jews are only now
beginning to understand the depth of support they have among conservative
Christians,'' said IFCJ's founder-director and
Stand for Israel co-chairman, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, at the time.
''Once the potential of
this immense reservoir of good will is fully comprehended by the Jewish
people and strategically tapped by the Stand for Israel campaign, you will see support
for Israel in the United States swell dramatically.''
The new survey's results
appear to bear out that prediction, at least in part. Two thirds of
conservative Christians queried in the poll said that they believed they
shared the same or similar perspective as Jews when it comes to the issue of
''Israel and its current struggle against Palestine''.
Reed and Eckstein also
claimed that the survey effectively debunked the notion that evangelical
Christian support for Israel was based on New Testament prophecy that the
reconstruction of the ancient Jewish kingdom of David would usher in the
''end times'' and the second coming of Christ.
Asked which was the most
important of four possible reasons why they supported Israel, 56 percent of
fundamentalist Christian respondents chose political reasons, particularly
Israel's democratic values, its alliance with the United States in the war
against terrorism, and its role as a safe haven for persecuted Jews
elsewhere. Thirty-five percent opted for the ''end-times'' option.
But when given a choice
of four religious alternatives, only 28 percent cited the end-times
alternative. Almost two thirds said that God had given the Jews the land of Israel as the main theological reason
for backing the Jewish state.
''This survey bears out
my view that Christians are trustworthy and vital allies,'' said Eckstein.
''I've seen more positive changes (in Jewish and conservative Christian
relations) in the past six months than I have for the past 25 years,'' he
Along with announcing the
survey results, Eckstein, who co-chairs Stand for Israel with Reed, unveiled
a one-minute video which will be run in ''tens of thousands'' of churches
with combined memberships of 3.2 million people on Sunday, Oct. 20, exhorting
Christians to pray for Israel whose enemies, it says, ''are on the attack
''God has promised that
those who bless Israel will themselves be blessed,''
says the video, which is filled with recent images of violence in Israel and the West Bank.
Reed conceded that not
all conservative Christians were as supportive of Israel as those involved in the ''Stand
for Israel'' campaign.
Indeed, some 50
evangelical ministers recently issued a statement opposing unilateral
military action against Iraq, and at least one national
evangelical group has urged a more-balanced policy toward Israel and the Palestinians. But Reed
insisted that his views represented those of a ''very, very large majority''
of evangelical Christians.
Is it about oil, is it about containing Russia?Here’s one controversial viewpoint, but it’s content should at the least lead to awareness of some
critical issues most U. S.
citizens are completely unaware of: (rae)
The US sable rattling against Iraq continues and its
preparations for military action are in full swing. An article in
Shanghai-based Jiefang Daily explained why the Bush
administration is so determined to launch a war against Iraq despite fierce
oppositions from home and abroad.
A Russian analyst
believes that the Americans are seeking to conduct a "surgery" of the
Baghdad regime and buttress a new pro-US
government. This will enable it to build a defence
line running from Israel, Iraq to Turkey that will cut off from
the so-called "green Islam terror zone" - since Islam is symbolized
by the colour green.
An article in the
Japanese Mainichi Shimbun said US troops positioned in
the area have cut across Europe and Asia to build a defence belt with a stationed military force.
After September 11, the US military has expanded
its presence into Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. As well as this,
military consulting groups were sent to Georgia. There is almost no
vacuum left without US military involvement from Asia to the Mediterranean
The Japanese article
said these factors are behind US obstinacy in toppling
Saddam Hussein and replacing Palestinian leader Yasser
Arafat. If the United States succeeds in shifting
these governments then a US-dominated order will be established in the broad
area spanning from Afghanistan to the Mediterranean
Such perceptions are
logical. The US "belt
strategy" actually kills three birds with one stone.
First, it helps to
eliminate all threats perceived by the United States. The region is the epicentre of many ethnic, religious and territorial
conflicts and confrontations - and the hotbed for terrorism, separatism and
In an address at West Point on June 1, George W.
Bush said that "for much of the last century America's defence
relied on Cold War doctrines of deterrence and containment."
He explicitly declared
that "new threats require new thinking," and Americans should take
pre-emptive action against terrorists and regimes which the US claim to possess
chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.
Many people in the United States are prepared to support
their government in the belief that it will prevent future terrorist attacks.
Hence, the Republican administration of Bush is eager to score on the Iraq issue because it will
boost their chances of success in the mid-term elections this year and the
later presidential election.
Another objective is to
control the oil reserves in the Middle East and Caspian Sea region, and also the
The US always views oil
resources as the lifeline for Western countries. Iraq is an oil-rich country
in the Middle East with verified oil deposits accounting for 10.7
per cent of the global total. It can churn out 300 to 500 million metric tons
of oil per year without constraints and this can be maintained for about 25-30
years. To some extent, this means Iraq's oil supply will have
a direct impact on the stability of the global economy in this same period.
Even under current embargo conditions, 10 per cent of US oil imports come from Iraq. Consequently, oil from
Iraq is instrumental in US
efforts to maintain its economic lifeline, the article said.
The Caspian Sea region is also abundant
in oil reserves and many US and European oil
conglomerates have joined the "oil rush" in Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. However, transporting
the oil out of the landlocked Caspian Sea remains difficult.
Countries currently use
the existing pipelines in Russia to carry the oil to
terminals on the Black Sea. To control the transit route and avoid Russia, the US once designed a western
route via Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyan but experts pointed out
that the cost was prohibitive.
The war in Afghanistan extended the US "belt defence" and this has made another route - southern
route - possible. It starts in Uzbekistan and ends in Pakistan via Afghanistan. Regional instability
in the Gulf area will make the Caspian Sea region - a substitute
source for oil supply - even more attractive to Western investment.
Thus, the oil issue is a
big motivation for the United States to expand its political
and military involvement in Central Asia.
The third reason tied up
with the strategy is the penetration of Russia's backyard by the United States.
As Central Asia is in the hinterland of
Eurasia, the region is of
strategic significance. Following September 11, the United States has been able to sign
military co-operation agreements with Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia under the banner of
The United States has either gained the
green light to dispatch military forces and build bases in these countries or
secured access to use their air space and military bases.
In this way, the US influence in Central Asia skyrocketed, limiting
the traditional influence of Russia in this area.
Coupled with its
influence in Europe through NATO and clout in the Asia-Pacific
region through its alliance with Japan, the United States is completing its
global monopoly ambitions.
“Enron played key role in events presaging war (in Afghanistan) byMartin Yant April
If you want power – be it political or electrical — you need connections. No one knew that
better than the super-slick executives of Enron, who in the past year
desperately tried to stave off the largest bankruptcy in history.
And when it came to connections, Enron had the best money could buy in George
W. Bush, whose most generous campaign supporter to date has been longtime Enron
head Kenneth Lay.
According to a recent report in The Nation, Bush’s connections with Enron go
back to 1986, when the future president went from a struggling oilman to a
millionaire through a series of deals and partnerships, one of which was with
Enron and its new chairman, Lay.
The Nation had previously reported that, in late 1988, the
then-president-elect’s son allegedly called Argentine cabinet minister Rodolfo Terragno to urge him to award a contract worth hundreds of
millions of dollars to Enron. Bush angrily denied the accusation when it was
published in 1994, but Terragno recently stood by his
claim in a commentary published in an Argentine daily newspaper.
“It looked bad and it surprised me,” Terragno said.
“There was this political endorsement, apparently from the White House. I don’t
know if George Bush the father was aware of it, or if it was only a business
contact by his son, who hoped that his family name would have some influence.”
So, it should come as no surprise that Enron’s name has now surfaced as a major
potential beneficiary of the proposed Afghanistan oil-and-gas pipeline the Bush administration purportedly pushed
for during secret negotiations with the Taliban that started shortly after Bush
took office and continued through August.
French intelligence analysts Jean-Charles Brisard and
Guillaume Dasquie claim in their book, Bin Laden, La VeriteInterdite (Bin Laden, the
Forbidden Truth), that the administration’s main objective in the talks was to
buy off the Taliban with promises of aid and international recognition in
return for a pipeline to transport the oil and gas reserves in Turkmenistan,
Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Until now, the book says, “The oil and gas reserves
of Central Asia have been controlled by Russia. The Bush government wanted to change all that.”
A secondary American goal was to get the Taliban to turn over bin Laden, who
had moved his terror network to Afghanistan in 1996. When the talks began last February, the Taliban regime
reportedly indicated it might be willing to hand over bin Laden. But by June, Brisard and Dasquié write, the
Taliban had changed its mind. “The U.S. thought they could ‘decouple’ Osama bin
Laden from the Taliban,” Brisard says. “What they did
not understand was that without bin Laden, the Taliban regime wouldn’t have
When the Taliban negotiators balked at the American proposals, Brisard told a wire service, U.S. representative Tom Simons bluntly told them that “either you accept
our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.”
Although he denied making that specific threat, Simons admitted to the British
newspaper The Guardian that he told the Taliban negotiators “that military
action was one of the options down the road” if they didn’t accede to America’s
The Guardian speculated on September 21 that “the serious nature of what [the
Taliban was] told raises the possibility that bin Laden, far from launching the
attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon out of the blue
10 days ago, was launching a preemptive strike in response to what he saw as
Brisard and Dasquie also
report in their book that the administration had told U.S. intelligence agencies to “back off” their investigations of bin
Laden during the negotiations, which could explain how numerous warnings of the
September 11 suicide hijackings were missed.
Enron’s interest in the pipeline was part of an unsuccessful attempt by the Texas energy titan to get cheap liquid natural gas for its $3 billion
power plant in Dabhol, India. The huge plant had become a white elephant when its electricity
turned out to be several times more costly than its competitors’.
To help persuade the Taliban to approve the pipeline, Enron reportedly showered
the regime with millions of dollars, some of which may have gone to bin Laden.
The Bush administration’s attempt to help Enron is believed to be why it has
gone to unprecedented lengths to conceal records on Vice President Cheney’s
energy-task-force meetings in 2001.
The General Accounting Office has sued Cheney to get records concerning three
secret meetings he reportedly had with Lay and other Enron executives in the
first months of the Bush administration. It is the first time the nonpartisan
agency has taken the executive branch of government to court to obtain records.
One possible result of Cheney’s meetings with Enron executives was a proposal
of aid to India so it could increase its oil and natural gas production, which
would give the Dabhol plant another potential source
of cheap fuel.
Cheney is no stranger to America’s interest in the abundant energy resources of Central Asia and
the Mideast. For several years before he was elected vice president, Cheney
was CEO of Texas-based Halliburton, the world’s largest oil-services company.
In that role Cheney helped broker a deal between Chevron (now ChevronTexaco) and Kazakhstan when he sat on the country’s oil advisory board. National
Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice was a Chevron
director at the time.
According to The Financial Times, Cheney also oversaw $23.8 million in sales to
Iraq in 1998 and 1999. That means that Cheney, who was paid $36
million in salary by Halliburton, profited from the destruction of Iraq that he supervised as secretary of defense during the Gulf War.
While the sales were legal because of a 1998 U.N. resolution giving Iraq the right to resuscitate its oil industry, Halliburton reportedly
made its equipment sales through foreign subsidiaries to avoid upsetting U.S. officials or Iraq’s President Saddam Hussein.
Last May, Cheney’s old company signed a 12-year contract with Azerbaijan, another energy-rich state in Central Asia. Azerbaijan is bordered on the south by Georgia, to which Bush has extended his ever-expanding war on terrorism.
Cheney’s task force was not the only place Enron was getting special attention
in Washington. E-mails obtained by The Washington Post show that the National
Security Council set up a “Dabhol Working Group” to help
Enron to make its power plant competitive or to sell it.
The Bush administration justified helping Enron because the plant was partly
financed through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, which gave Enron
$554 million in loans and $204 million in risk insurance, and the Export-Import
Bank, which lent the company $675 million.
Not surprisingly, the federal investigation of possible fraud committed by
Enron’s executives also has the company’s fingerprints all over it.
FBI Director Robert Mueller, for example, was hired by Enron in 1993 to
investigate a $600,000 payment by a subsidiary for a property assessed at
$41,000. When Mueller concluded the deal was not improper, a private
investigator working on the case quit in protest. Despite this association,
Mueller announced that it was not enough to cause him to step down from the
Enron investigation. Mueller said that Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson —
who previously worked for a law firm that represented Enron — agreed.
Enron was not the only potential beneficiary of the proposed pipeline in Afghanistan. Another key player was the Unocal oil conglomerate. In January
1998, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and the Taliban agreed to arrange funding on a proposed
890-mile, $3 billion pipeline in conjunction with a Unocal-led consortium. The
proposed pipeline would transport natural gas from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to an Indian Ocean port in Pakistan.
Eight months later, however, Unocal announced it was suspending the project
because of the U.S. government’s attack on a bin Laden terrorist training camp in Afghanistan in retaliation for the bombing of two American embassies in Africa. Another factor in its
decision, Unocal said, was the fighting between the Taliban and rebel groups.
Unocal stressed that the pipeline project would not be built until a coalition
Afghan government was formed and internationally recognized. U.S. negotiators also pushed the Taliban toward this goal.
An army of officials in previous Republican administration has also been busy
helping Unocal. Among them are former secretaries of state James A. Baker and
Henry Kissinger and Robert Oakley, the former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan who armed the mujahadeen in the 1980s.
Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh identified Oakley as a key player in illegal
arms shipments to Iran in return for funds sent to the right-wing contras in Nicaragua during that period.
Deputy Defense Secretary Richard Armitage is another
Iran-contra conspirator who worked for Unocal. Armitage
was also implicated in a lawsuit filed by villagers who suffered human-rights
abuses during construction of a controversial Unocal pipeline in Burma for which Cheney’s Halliburton did contract work.
Unocal has two other important operatives. One is HamidKarzai, Unocal’s former representative in Afghanistan who was handpicked by Bush to become head of Afghanistan’s interim government. The other is Afghan-born ZalmayKhalilzad, another former
Unocal aide, whom Bush appointed special envoy to Afghanistan. As a Unocal adviser, Khalilzad
participated in Unocal’s talks with the Taliban in 1997. In a 1998 column in
The Washington Post, Khalilzad argued that the
Taliban was not a sponsor of terrorism and that the United States should reengage the regime. This was, of course, just what Unocal
Once in office, Afghan leader Karzai wasted little
time trying to help his former employer. During his first visit to Pakistan on February 8, Karzai announced that he
and Pakistani President PervezMusharraf
had agreed to revive the pipeline.
Turkmen President SaparmuratNiyazov,
another American ally in the U.S. war in Afghanistan, expressed delight with Karzai’s
announcement, saying the pipeline would provide a crucial new export outlet for
his country’s huge gas reserves. Karzai took the cue
and visited the Turkmen despot within a month to get his endorsement of the
If Bush follows up on his threats to attack Iraq, U.S. forces could also end up controlling the nation with the world’s
second-largest oil reserve. At that point, Saudi Arabia, with its larger oil reserve, homebred terrorists and the terror
network’s biggest financial supporters, would no longer be so important.
has the second largest proven reserves of oil in the world, behind only Saudi
Arabia. 112 billion barrels lie below the country's desert sands, together
with another probable 220 billion barrels of unproven reserves. What's more,
the US Department of Energy says, "Iraq's true resource
potential may be far greater, as the country is relatively unexplored due to
years of war and sanctions."
This, plus the fact that
"Iraq's oil production costs
are among the lowest in the world, makes it a highly
attractive oil prospect," says the department's latest country analysis.
No wonder many critics believe that the campaign to topple Saddam Hussein is
really a battle for Iraq's oil.
Iraq is peppered with oil
fields. The biggest are in the far south around Basra and in the Kurdish
north. Military strategists predict that troops entering Iraq from the Gulf and
overland from Turkey would first aim to
secure these fields. The goal would be both to cut off supplies to Saddam's
military and to keep the oil safe for future use by preventing sabotage by a
desperate Saddam or capture by warring factions emerging from Saddam's
The oil fields and
pipelines are in a bad state. Many were bombed during the last Gulf war and
have never been repaired. UN sanctions mean many have no markets in any case.
According to the Iraqi government a third are not in production.
All that would change
if Saddam were overthrown and UN sanctions ended. The world is likely to grow
increasingly thirsty for Iraqi oil. "The US in particular is ever
more dependent on oil imports, especially from the Middle East, which has 70% of
world reserves," says Paul Rogers of the University of Bradford's department of peace
studies. "Thirty years ago, the US was virtually
self-sufficient in oil, but it now imports over 60 per cent of its
With fears about global
warming barely registering inside the Bush administration, the US Department
of Energy says it expects US oil consumption to
rise by a staggering 48 per cent between now and 2020. "There is a deep
and pervading recognition at the heart of the Bush administration that the
most significant future vulnerability for the US is its steadily
growing dependence on Gulf oil," says Rogers.
Rogers says securing foreign
oil supplies has been a central goal of US foreign policy for 30
years. The Iraq war, from this
perspective, represents a ratcheting-up of this strategy. Some hawks in Washington, such as the influential
Heritage Foundation, also see it as a chance to break the grip of, or even
destroy, OPEC and permanently lower oil prices by raising supplies.
insecurity is fed by growing fears about Saudi oil supplies, should radicals
unseat the current regime there, and increasingly pessimistic predictions of
future world oil supplies from US oil companies. Last
year, Exxon admitted that new oil discoveries were falling badly behind
rising demand. Worldwide, existing oilfields can only meet half the demand
for oil expected by 2010, said Exxon director Harry Longwell
in the journal World Energy.
Certainly, US oil
companies look forward to 'privatising' the Iraqi
oil industry after Saddam's fall. They have already held talks with leaders
of the Iraqi National Congress, the main opposition group. They are not alone
in eyeing Iraqi oil.
Chinese and other oil companies have established oil links with Saddam, in
the expectation of cashing in once UN sanctions are over. But many are
severing those links and cosying up to the Iraqi
National Congress. They will have heard CIA director James Woolsey say last
autumn, "France and Russia... should be told that
if they are of assistance in moving Iraq toward decent
government, we'll do the best we can to ensure that the new government and
American companies work closely with them."
That could be bad news
for British oil chiefs who may expect a payback for the UK's support for the war.
Recently Lord Browne, chief executive of British oil giant BP, claimed that
his company was being squeezed out in deals between US oil companies and the
Iraqi National Congress and called for a "level playing field for the
selection of oil companies to go in there if Iraq changes its regime."