Re: you won't believe this.
- From: POW <georgewspamk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2008 21:29:43 -0800
POW <georgewspamk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
If the Mission was endless war?
The Myth of the Surge
Hoping to turn enemies into allies, U.S. forces are arming Iraqis who
fought with the insurgents. But it's already starting to backfire. A
report from the front lines of the new Iraq
and; the rest of the story;
The Thirty-Year Itch
By Robert Dreyfuss, Mother Jones, 29 March 2003
Three decades ago, in the throes of the energy crisis, Washington's
conceived of a strategy for US control of the Persian Gulf's oil. Now,
the same strategists firmly in control of the White House, the Bush
administration is playing out their script for global dominance.
If you were to spin the globe and look for real estate critical to
building an American empire, your first stop would have to be the Persian
Gulf. The desert sands of this region hold two of every three barrels of
in the world -- Iraq's reserves alone are equal, by some estimates, to
of Russia, the United States, China, and Mexico combined. For the past 30
years, the Gulf has been in the crosshairs of an influential group of
Washington foreign-policy strategists, who believe that in order to
global dominance, the United States must seize control of the region and
oil. Born during the energy crisis of the 1970s and refined since then
generation of policymakers, this approach is finding its boldest
yet in the Bush administration -- which, with its plan to invade Iraq and
install a regime beholden to Washington, has moved closer than any of its
predecessors to transforming the Gulf into an American protectorate.
In the geopolitical vision driving current U.S. policy toward Iraq,
key to national security is global hegemony -- dominance over any and all
potential rivals. To that end, the United States must not only be able to
project its military forces anywhere, at any time. It must also control
resources, chief among them oil -- and especially Gulf oil. To the hawks
now set the tone at the White House and the Pentagon, the region is
not simply for its share of the U.S. oil supply (other sources have
more important over the years), but because it would allow the United
to maintain a lock on the world's energy lifeline and potentially deny
to its global competitors. The administration "believes you have to
resources in order to have access to them," says Chas Freeman, who
U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia under the first President Bush. "They are
taken with the idea that the end of the Cold War left the United States
to impose its will globally -- and that those who have the ability to
events with power have the duty to do so. It's ideology."
Iraq, in this view, is a strategic prize of unparalleled importance.
Unlike the oil beneath Alaska's frozen tundra, locked away in the
central Asia, or buried under stormy seas, Iraq's crude is readily
and, at less than $1.50 a barrel, some of the cheapest in the world to
produce. Already, over the past several months, Western companies have
meeting with Iraqi exiles to try to stake a claim to that bonanza.
But while the companies hope to cash in on an American-controlled
the push to remove Saddam Hussein hasn't been driven by oil executives,
of whom are worried about the consequences of war. Nor are Vice President
Cheney and President Bush, both former oilmen, looking at the Gulf
the profits that can be earned there. The administration is thinking
much bigger, than that.
"Controlling Iraq is about oil as power, rather than oil as fuel,"
Michael Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire
College and author of Resource Wars. "Control over the Persian Gulf
into control over Europe, Japan, and China. It's having our hand on the
Ever since the oil shocks of the 1970s, the United States has
been accumulating military muscle in the Gulf by building bases, selling
weaponry, and forging military partnerships. Now, it is poised to
its might in a place that will be a fulcrum of the world's balance of
for decades to come. At a stroke, by taking control of Iraq, the Bush
administration can solidify a long-running strategic design. "It's the
Kissinger plan," says James Akins, a former U.S. diplomat. "I thought it
been killed, but it's back."
Akins learned a hard lesson about the politics of oil when he served
U.S. envoy in Kuwait and Iraq, and ultimately as ambassador to Saudi
during the oil crisis of 1973 and '74. At his home in Washington, D.C.,
shelves filled with Middle Eastern pottery and other memorabilia cover
walls, souvenirs of his years in the Foreign Service. Nearly three
later, he still gets worked up while recalling his first encounter with
idea that the United States should be prepared to occupy Arab
In 1975, while Akins was ambassador in Saudi Arabia, an article
"Seizing Arab Oil" appeared in Harper's. The author, who used the
Miles Ignotus, was identified as "a Washington-based professor and
consultant with intimate links to high-level U.S. policymakers." The
outlined, as Akins puts it, "how we could solve all our economic and
problems by taking over the Arab oil fields [and] bringing in Texans and
Oklahomans to operate them." Simultaneously, a rash of similar stories
appeared in other magazines and newspapers. "I knew that it had to have
the result of a deep background briefing," Akins says. "You don't have
people coming up with the same screwy idea at the same time,
"Then I made a fatal mistake," Akins continues. "I said on
anyone who would propose that is either a madman, a criminal, or an
the Soviet Union." Soon afterward, he says, he learned that the
briefing had been conducted by his boss, then-Secretary of State Henry
Kissinger. Akins was fired later that year.
Kissinger has never acknowledged having planted the seeds for the
But in an interview with Business Week that same year, he delivered a
veiled threat to the Saudis, musing about bringing oil prices down
"massive political warfare against countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran
make them risk their political stability and maybe their security if
In the 1970s, America's military presence in the Gulf was virtually
so the idea of seizing control of its oil was a pipe dream. Still,
with the Miles Ignotus article, and a parallel one by conservative
and Johns Hopkins University professor Robert W. Tucker in Commentary,
idea began to gain favor among a feisty group of hardline, pro-Israeli
thinkers, especially the hawkish circle aligned with Democratic senators
Jackson of Washington and Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York.
Eventually, this amalgam of strategists came to be known as
"neoconservatives," and they played important roles in President Reagan's
Defense Department and at think tanks and academic policy centers in the
1980s. Led by Richard Perle, chairman of the Pentagon's influential
Policy Board, and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, they now
several dozen key posts in the White House, the Pentagon, and the State
Department. At the top, they are closest to Vice President Cheney and
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who have been closely aligned since both men
in the White House under President Ford in the mid-1970s. They also
around Cheney when he served as secretary of defense during the Gulf War
Throughout those years, and especially after the Gulf War, U.S.
have steadily encroached on the Gulf and the surrounding region, from
of Africa to Central Asia. In preparing for an invasion and occupation of
Iraq, the administration has been building on the steps taken by
policy planners over the past quarter century.
Step one: The Rapid Deployment Force
In 1973 and '74, and again in 1979, political upheavals in the
led to huge spikes in oil prices, which rose fifteenfold over the decade
focused new attention on the Persian Gulf. In January 1980, President
effectively declared the Gulf a zone of U.S. influence, especially
encroachment from the Soviet Union. "Let our position be absolutely
said, announcing what came to be known as the Carter Doctrine. "An
any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be
as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America,
an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military
To back up this doctrine, Carter created the Rapid Deployment Force, an
"over-the-horizon" military unit capable of rushing several thousand U.S.
troops to the Gulf in a crisis.
Step two: The Central Command
In the 1980s, under President Reagan, the United States began
countries in the Gulf for access to bases and support facilities. The
Deployment Force was transformed into the Central Command, a new U.S.
command authority with responsibility for the Gulf and the surrounding
from eastern Africa to Afghanistan. Reagan tried to organize a "strategic
consensus" of anti-Soviet allies, including Turkey, Israel, and Saudi
The United States sold billions of dollars' worth of arms to the Saudis
early '80s, from AWACS surveillance aircraft to F-15 fighters. And in
the height of the war between Iraq and Iran, the U.S. Navy created the
Task Force-Middle East to protect oil tankers plying the waters of the
thus expanding a U.S. naval presence of just three or four warships into
flotilla of 40-plus aircraft carriers, battleships, and cruisers.
Step three: The Gulf War
Until 1991, the United States was unable to persuade the Arab Gulf
to allow a permanent American presence on their soil. Meanwhile, Saudi
while maintaining its close relationship with the United States, began to
diversify its commercial and military ties; by the time U.S. Ambassador
Freeman arrived there in the late Ô80s, the United States had fallen to
place among arms suppliers to the kingdom. "The United States was being
supplanted even in commercial terms by the British, the French, even the
Chinese," Freeman notes.
All that changed with the Gulf War. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf
longer opposed a direct U.S. military presence, and American troops,
construction squads, arms salesmen, and military assistance teams rushed
"The Gulf War put Saudi Arabia back on the map and revived a
had been severely attrited," says Freeman.
In the decade after the war, the United States sold more than $43
worth of weapons, equipment, and military construction projects to Saudi
Arabia, and $16 billion more to Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United
Emirates, according to data compiled by the Federation of American
Before Operation Desert Storm, the U.S. military enjoyed the right to
stockpile, or "pre-position," military supplies only in the comparatively
remote Gulf state of Oman on the Indian Ocean. After the war, nearly
country in the region began conducting joint military exercises, hosting
naval units and Air Force squadrons, and granting the United States
pre-positioning rights. "Our military presence in the Middle East has
increased dramatically," then-Defense Secretary William Cohen boasted in
Another boost to the U.S. presence was the unilateral imposition, in
of no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq, enforced mostly by U.S.
aircraft from bases in Turkey and Saudi Arabia. "There was a massive
especially around Incirlik in Turkey, to police the northern no-fly
around [the Saudi capital of] Riyadh, to police the southern no-fly
says Colin Robinson of the Center for Defense Information, a Washington
tank. A billion-dollar, high-tech command center was built by Saudi
near Riyadh, and over the past two years the United States has secretly
completing another one in Qatar. The Saudi facilities "were built with
capacities far beyond the ability of Saudi Arabia to use them," Robinson
"And that's exactly what Qatar is doing now."
Step four: Afghanistan
The war in Afghanistan -- and the open-ended war on terrorism, which
led to U.S strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, and elsewhere -- further boosted
America's strength in the region. The administration has won large
in the defense budget -- which now stands at about $400 billion, up from
over $300 billion in 2000 -- and a huge chunk of that budget, perhaps as
as $60 billion, is slated to support U.S. forces in and around the
Gulf. Military facilities on the perimeter of the Gulf, from Djibouti in
Horn of Africa to the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, have
expanded, and a web of bases and training missions has extended the U.S.
presence deep into central Asia. From Afghanistan to the landlocked
Soviet republics of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, U.S. forces have
themselves in an area that had long been in Russia's sphere of influence.
Oil-rich in its own right, and strategically vital, central Asia is now
eastern link in a nearly continuous chain of U.S. bases, facilities, and
allies stretching from the Mediterranean and the Red Sea far into the
Step five: Iraq
Removing Saddam Hussein could be the final piece of the puzzle,
an American imperial presence. It is "highly possible" that the United
will maintain military bases in Iraq, Robert Kagan, a leading
strategist, recently told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We will
need a major concentration of forces in the Middle East over a long
time," he said. "When we have economic problems, it's been caused by
disruptions in our oil supply. If we have a force in Iraq, there will be
disruption in oil supplies."
Kagan, along with William Kristol of the Weekly Standard, is a
the think tank Project for the New American Century, an assembly of
foreign-policy hawks whose supporters include the Pentagon's Perle, New
Republic publisher Martin Peretz, and former Central Intelligence Agency
director James Woolsey. Among the group's affiliates in the Bush
administration are Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz; I. Lewis Libby, the
president's chief of staff; Elliott Abrams, the Middle East director at
National Security Council; and Zalmay Khalilzad, the White House liaison
the Iraqi opposition groups. Kagan's group, tied to a web of similar
neoconservative, pro-Israeli organizations, represents the constellation
thinkers whose ideological affinity was forged in the Nixon and Ford
To Akins, who has just returned from Saudi Arabia, it's a team that
all too familiar, seeking to implement the plan first outlined back in
"It'll be easier once we have Iraq," he says. "Kuwait, we already have.
and Bahrain, too. So it's only Saudi Arabia we're talking about, and the
United Arab Emirates falls into place."
LAST SUMMER, Perle provided a brief glimpse into his circle's
when he invited rand Corporation strategist Laurent Murawiec to make a
presentation to his Defense Policy Board, a committee of former senior
officials and generals that advises the Pentagon on big-picture policy
Murawiec's closed-door briefing provoked a storm of criticism when it was
leaked to the media; he described Saudi Arabia as the "kernel of evil,"
suggested that the Saudi royal family should be replaced or overthrown,
raised the idea of a U.S. occupation of Saudi oil fields. He ultimately
his job when rand decided he was too controversial.
Murawiec is part of a Washington school of thought that views
all of the nations in the Gulf as unstable "failed states" and maintains
only the United States has the power to forcibly reorganize and rebuild
In this view, the arms systems and bases that were put in place to
region also provide a ready-made infrastructure for taking over
their oil fields in the event of a crisis.
The Defense Department likely has contingency plans to occupy Saudi
Arabia, says Robert E. Ebel, director of the energy program at the
Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think tank whose
advisers include Kissinger; former Defense Secretary and CIA director
Schlesinger; and Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's national security
something happens in Saudi Arabia," Ebel says, "if the ruling family is
ousted, if they decide to shut off the oil supply, we have to go in."
Two years ago, Ebel, a former mid-level CIA official, oversaw a CSIS
force that included several members of Congress as well as
from industry including ExxonMobil, Arco, BP, Shell, Texaco, and the
Petroleum Institute. Its report, "The Geopolitics of Energy Into the 21st
Century," concluded that the world will find itself dependent for many
on unstable oil-producing nations, around which conflicts and wars are
to swirl. "Oil is high-profile stuff," Ebel says. "Oil fuels military
national treasuries, and international politics. It is no longer a
to be bought and sold within the confines of traditional energy supply
demand balances. Rather, it has been transformed into a determinant of
well-being, of national security, and of international power."
As vital as the Persian Gulf is now, its strategic importance is
grow exponentially in the next 20 years. Nearly one out of every three
of oil reserves in the world lie under just two countries: Saudi Arabia
259 billion barrels of proven reserves) and Iraq (112 billion). Those
may understate Iraq's largely unexplored reserves, which according to
government estimates may hold as many as 432 billion barrels.
With supplies in many other regions, especially the United States
North Sea, nearly exhausted, oil from Saudi Arabia and Iraq is becoming
more critical -- a fact duly noted in the administration's National
Policy, released in 2001 by a White House task force. By 2020, the Gulf
supply between 54 percent and 67 percent of the world's crude, the
said, making the region "vital to U.S. interests." According to G. Daniel
Butler, an oil-markets analyst at the U.S. Energy Information
(EIA), Saudi Arabia's production capacity will rise from its current 9.4
million barrels a day to 22.1 million over the next 17 years. Iraq,
2002 produced a mere 2 million barrels a day, "could easily be a
producer by 2020," says Butler.
U.S. strategists aren't worried primarily about America's own oil
supplies; for decades, the United States has worked to diversify its
of oil, with Venezuela, Nigeria, Mexico, and other countries growing in
importance. But for Western Europe and Japan, as well as the developing
industrial powers of eastern Asia, the Gulf is all-important. Whoever
it will maintain crucial global leverage for decades to come.
Today, notes the EIA's Butler, two-thirds of Gulf oil goes to Western
industrial nations. By 2015, according to a study by the CIA's National
Intelligence Council, three-quarters of the Gulf's oil will go to Asia,
chiefly to China. China's growing dependence on the Gulf could cause it
develop closer military and political ties with countries such as Iran
Iraq, according to the report produced by Ebel's CSIS task force. "They
different political interests in the Gulf than we do," Ebel says. "Is it
our advantage to have another competitor for oil in the Persian Gulf?"
David Long, who served as a U.S. diplomat in Saudi Arabia and as
the Near East division in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence
Research during the Reagan administration, likens the Bush
approach to the philosophy of Admiral Mahan, the 19th-century military
strategist who advocated the use of naval power to create a global
empire. "They want to be the world's enforcer," he says. "It's a
geopolitical position. They say, 'We need hegemony in the region.'"
UNTIL THE 1970s, the face of American power in the Gulf was the U.S.
industry, led by Exxon, Mobil, Chevron, Texaco, and Gulf, all of whom
fiercely with Britain's BP and Anglo-Dutch Shell. But in the early '70s,
Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf states nationalized their oil
setting up state-run companies to run wells, pipelines, and production
facilities. Not only did that enhance the power of opec, enabling that
organization to force a series of sharp price increases, but it alarmed
Today, a growing number of Washington strategists are advocating a
U.S. challenge to state-owned petroleum industries in oil-producing
especially the Persian Gulf. Think tanks such as the American Enterprise
Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and CSIS are conducting discussions
privatizing Iraq's oil industry. Some of them have put forward detailed
outlining how Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and other nations could be forced to
their oil and gas industries to foreign investment. The Bush
itself has been careful not to say much about what might happen to
But State Department officials have had preliminary talks about the oil
industry with Iraqi exiles, and there have been reports that the U.S.
wants to use at least part of the country's oil revenue to pay for the
"One of the major problems with the Persian Gulf is that the means of
production are in the hands of the state," Rob Sobhani, an oil-industry
consultant, told an American Enterprise Institute conference last fall in
Washington. Already, he noted, several U.S. oil companies are studying
possibility of privatization in the Gulf. Dismantling government-owned
companies, Sobhani argued, could also force political changes in the
"The beginning of liberal democracy can be achieved if you take the
production out of the hands of the state," he said, acknowledging that
would resist that idea. "It's going to take a lot of selling, a lot of
marketing," he concluded.
Just which companies would get to claim Iraq's oil has been a
much debate. After a war, the contracts that Iraq's state-owned oil
has signed with European, Russian, and Chinese oil firms might well be
abrogated, leaving the field to U.S. oil companies. "What they have in
denationalization, and then parceling Iraqi oil out to American oil
companies," says Akins. "The American oil companies are going to be the
beneficiaries of this war."
The would-be rulers of a post-Saddam Iraq have been thinking along
same lines. "American oil companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil,"
Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, a group of
and wealthy Iraqis who fled the country when its repressive monarchy was
overthrown in 1958. During a visit to Washington last fall, Chalabi held
meetings with at least three major U.S. oil companies, trying to enlist
support. Similar meetings between Iraqi exiles and U.S. companies have
been taking place in Europe.
"Iraqi exiles have approached us, saying, 'You can have our oil if
get back in there,'" says R. Gerald Bailey, who headed Exxon's Middle
operations until 1997. "All the major American companies have met with
Paris, London, Brussels, all over. They're all jockeying for position.
can't ignore it, but you've got to do it on the QT. And you can't wait
gets too far along."
But the companies are also anxious about the consequences of war,
according to many experts, oil-company executives, and former State
officials. "The oil companies are caught in the middle," says Bailey.
Executives fear that war could create havoc in the region, turning Arab
against the United States and Western oil companies. On the other hand,
a U.S. invasion of Iraq be successful, they want to be there when the
divvied up. Says David Long, the former U.S. diplomat, "It's greed versus
Ibrahim Oweiss, a Middle East specialist at Georgetown University who
coined the term "petrodollar" and has also been a consultant to
BP, has been closely watching the cautious maneuvering by the companies.
know that the oil companies are scared about the outcome of this," he
"They are not at all sure this is in the best interests of the oil
Anne Joyce, an editor at the Washington-based Middle East Policy
who has spoken privately to top Exxon officials, says it's clear that
oil-industry executives "are afraid" of what a war in the Persian Gulf
mean in the long term -- especially if tensions in the region spiral out
control. "They see it as much too risky, and they are risk averse," she
"They think it has 'fiasco' written all over it."
A Mother Jones contributing writer, Robert Dreyfuss was named one of
"best unsung investigative journalists working in print" last year by the
Columbia Journalism Review.
when you believe the only tool you have is a hammer.
problems tend to look like nails.
- you won't believe this.
- From: POW
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