24 October 2007
Column: Global Research
By Andrew G. Marshall
This article is Part 2 of the author's essay: Imperial Playground: The Story of Iran in Recent History
After Iran-Contra, and the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted until 1988, new developments began to occur in the region of and around Iran, which have a great deal to do with the current situation we are facing today. In 1989, George H.W. Bush became President, and, after pardoning all the former Contra criminals who kept his part in the Affair secret, had his eyes set on the Middle East as well. This was also an extremely pivotal point in history, as in 1989 the Berlin Wall fell, which was the great symbol of the division between the West and the Soviet Union. Before the world, the Soviet Union began to collapse, just as Brzezinski had hoped, as the war between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan ended in 1989, with the Soviets defeated.
The Soviet Union began to dismantle, freeing countries from its grip, such as East Germany and the other Eastern European Soviet satellite countries. But this presented a new conflict for the Anglo-Americans, as the concept of a new, unified Germany, and expanded Europe, threatened Anglo-American hegemony. Of course, as always, the Anglo-American alliance would not sit still as their complete hegemony over the world was at risk. So, again, they turn to their secret weapon, connivance and manipulation of events at the world’s main source of oil, the Middle East, through their favourite tool of ‘Petrodollar Warfare’;
It is important to note that behind petrodollar strategy (oil politics), is the fact that it is never about getting the oil out of the ground, but rather that it is about getting control over the oil, and, in the Middle East, where any events have significant repercussions across the world, economically, politically and socially, the concept is to stop, or slow the flow of oil, because that way, the price goes up. The more oil on the market (the more being pumped), the cheaper it will be. So, the less oil being pumped, the higher the price of oil goes, and thusly, the more profits made by oil companies, especially when it comes to the extremely oil-rich nations of the Middle East. As Engdahl pointed out,
With the visiting high-level American oil delegation to Iraq in 1989, Saddam unveiled a 5 year-plan
On top of this,
Days after the US Ambassador to Iraq delivered the message from the State Department that the US would take no position on the Iraqi conflict with Kuwait, Saddam invaded. Before the invasion took place, the Emir of Kuwait had fled the country, as
George Bush, in a speech delivered on September 11, 1991, said, “Out of these troubled times a New World Order can emerge, under a United Nations that performs as envisioned by its founders. We stand at a unique and extraordinary moment. This crisis in the Persian Gulf, as grave as it is, also offers us a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. Today, that New World Order is struggling to be born. A world quite different from the one we’ve known.”13 Another major aspect of this crisis that emerged was that “the United States, immediately backed by Thatcher’s British government, would send military forces only to defend Saudi Arabia against an allegedly threatened Iraqi invasion (the threats were later revealed to have been fabricated in Washington).”14 So, on top of bombing Baghdad and, in effect, Iraq, to a position of destroying its infrastructure beyond all hope of industrializing the country, George Bush’s ‘New World Order’ also entailed developing a strong, permanent military presence in the Middle East, coincidentally enough, in the most oil rich nation in the world, Saudi Arabia, which is also the most powerful member of OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries). Through this, the United States, and in effect, Britain, would secure a position of great power of the world’s petroleum reserves, and thusly, have great power over the world itself; cementing the hegemony of the Anglo-American alliance. Saddam’s mistake was the same mistake that the Shah of Iran made in the late 70s, attempting to industrialize his country and use the oil wealth for the benefit of the country, and the people within it. This is the ultimate crime to be committed against this ‘New World Order’. So, Saddam became the new enemy number one. As Bush also mentioned in his State of the Union address on January 29, 1991, “The world can therefore seize the opportunity of the present Persian Gulf crisis to fulfill the long-held promise of a New World Order.”15 This initial campaign to create a ‘New World Order’ was quite successful for the Anglo-Americans, as Greg Palast pointed out in relation to Iraq, “The Basra oil fields not crippled by Iran [in the Iran-Iraq War] were demolished by American B-52s.”16
Palast further discusses the sanctions that were placed upon Iraq as a result of the Kuwaiti invasion, “Saddam’s petro-military overreach into Kuwait gave the West the authority for a more direct oil suppression method called the ‘Sanctions’ program, later changed to ‘Oil for Food.’ Now we get to the real reason for the UN embargo on Iraqi oil exports. According to the official US position: ‘Sanctions were critical to preventing Iraq from acquiring equipment that could be used to reconstitute banned weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs’,” and he continued, “In sum, Big Oil, whether in European or Arab-OPEC dress, has done its damned best to keep Iraq’s oil buried deep in the ground to keep prices high in the air.”17 Again, the less oil being pumped, the more expensive it is. But it is especially important to keep in mind that whoever has control over oil determines whether or not it will be pumped, or kept in the ground. When you hear the phrase, ‘No blood for oil’, in a sense, it is misguided, as people often have the perception that it’s about a war to take the oil, but in fact, it is about war to control the oil. When it comes to the Anglo-American alliance, as they are largely dominated and influenced by the large oil multinationals [Royal Dutch Shell, British Petroleum, Exxon Mobil], controlling oil means controlling the flow, so that the Big Oil cartel has immense profits and power. In fact, it is not even a matter of Big Oil having influence over the Anglo-Americans, as it is more so the fact that there is no division between the Anglo-American leadership in government and the Big Oil corporations; they are, in fact, one and the same; with shared leadership and interests.
In the same year as Bush declared his ‘New World Order’, the world order did, indeed change. In 1991, the Soviet Union collapsed, taking the path toward ‘American-style capitalism’ and ‘Western democracy’, neither of which has worked out very well for the ‘new’ Russian Federation. Nonetheless, the Soviet Union disappeared, opening up the former European satellite countries and Russia itself, for new investment opportunities. A world, which before 1991 was divided into two spheres, a bi-polar world in which it was the West versus the USSR, when two great empires, the Soviet Union and the United States, dominated world politics, was now in a position where America stood as the only world superpower. In the wake of the collapse of the USSR, President George Bush needed to come up with a new plan, much in line with his vision of a ‘New World Order’, in which Bush set out to devise a new strategy for the United States to take as a result of the collapse of the USSR. As the previous US geopolitical strategy had been along the lines of the theory of ‘containment’ of the Soviet Union, directing foreign policy with an aim to deter and prevent the USSR from expanding its influence around the globe, as well as the continuous, age-old strategy of oil geopolitics.
In 1992, the New York Times ran a story about a document that was leaked to them, which revealed the new strategy that the Bush administration had come up with,
The Times article goes on to explain that in the Wolfowitz Doctrine, “They postulated regional wars against Iraq and North Korea,” and further quoted the document in saying, “The U.S. may be faced with the question of whether to take military steps to prevent the development or use of weapons of mass destruction,” and further, “noting that those steps could include pre-empting an impending attack with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons or ‘ unishing the attackers or threatening punishment of aggressors through a variety of means,’ including attacks on the plants that manufacture such weapons.” The Guidance document goes on to outline China as a potential threat, as well as stating, “American strategic nuclear weapons will continue to target vital aspects of the former Soviet military establishment. The rationale for the continuation of this targeting policy is that the United States ‘must continue to hold at risk those assets and capabilities that current – and future – Russian leaders or other nuclear adversaries value most’ because Russia will remain ‘the only power in the world with the capability of destroying the United States’.” On top of all this, “It suggests that the United States could also consider extending to Eastern and Central European nations security commitments similar to those extended to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Arab states along the Persian Gulf.” So, the new strategy for the United States, written up by Paul Wolfowitz, and accepted by then-Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney, was to ensure that the United States should maintain its position as the only world superpower; to preserve the American Empire’s hegemony over the world.
After George Bush Sr. left the Presidency in 1993, and Bill Clinton became President, most of the people within the previous Bush administration then went into positions in prominent American think tanks and corporations. Think tanks are organized groups of individuals with common beliefs, whose purpose is to devise political strategy plans, both foreign and domestic, and lobby politicians and governments to adopt their plans for the government’s strategy. In today’s society, it is the think tanks that come up with the policies, and the governments that enact them. The most notable think tank to come out of the 1990s was a neo-conservative think tank by the name of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC). Neo-conservatives are like-minded individuals who hold as a common belief that the United States should adopt an overtly imperialistic foreign policy in an effort to create a truly global American empire, as well as being very adamant about the strength of the State. The PNAC think tank, in 1997, wrote up a ‘Statement of Principles’, which is available on their website, which states that,
The individuals who signed this document include Elliot Abrams, who was involved with the Iran-Contra Affair, Jeb Bush, George W. Bush’s brother, Eliot A. Cohen, who now sits as Counselor of the State Department, working for Condoleezza Rice, Zalmay Khalilzad, who then went on to become the US Envoy to Afghanistan after the occupation of that country in 2001, as well as later being the US Envoy to Iraq after the 2003 occupation, and now is the Ambassador to the UN, I. Lewis Libby, who went on to be Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, and was more recently indicted as a criminal, Dan Quayle, who was George Bush Sr.’s VP, Paul Wolfowitz, the author of the previous Defense Policy Guidance document, more recently was second in command at the Pentagon, architect of the Iraq war, and went on to be President of the World Bank, which he was recently fired from for corruption charges, Donald Rumsfeld, who was more recently the Secretary of Defense in the George W. Bush administration and finally, Dick Cheney, the current Vice President.
In September of 2000, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), released a document titled,
Under the headline ‘Persian Gulf’ the PNAC document outlines that “Although Saudi domestic sensibilities demand that the [US] forces based in the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] nominally remain rotational forces, it has become apparent that this is now a semi-permanent mission. From an American perspective, the value of such bases would endure even should Saddam pass from the scene. Over the long term, Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests in the Gulf as Iraq has. And even should US-Iranian relations improve, retaining forward-bases in the region would still be an essential element in US security strategy given the longstanding American interests in the region,”26 [Emphasis added]. It continues in saying, “a number of regimes deeply hostile to America – North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria – ‘already have or are developing ballistic missiles’ that could threaten US allies and forces abroad,”27 which turned out to be a total lie concerning Iraq, and it continued, “We cannot allow North Korea, Iran, Iraq or similar states to undermine American leadership, intimidate American allies or threaten the American homeland itself.”28 In describing the need for massive increases in military spending, rapidly expanding the armed forces and “dealing” with threats such as Iraq, North Korea and Iran, they state, “Further, 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.”29
The following September, in 2001, when many of the authors if this document, as well as a significant amount of the people involved in this think tank, were all appointed to high positions of authority in the Bush administration, including the top two positions in the Pentagon as well as the Vice President himself, they got their ‘new Pearl Harbor’, on September 11, 2001. This “catastrophic and catalyzing event” was the pretext first, for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan on October 7, 2001, and later, in March of 2003, the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq.
Afghanistan: The Just War?
I will briefly cover Afghanistan, as the occupation and war in Afghanistan has significant relevance to current conflicts with Iran, as they are neighbors. There is much more to the war on Afghanistan than is largely known. Most people see Afghanistan as the “Just War”, as Al-Qaeda was the group that caused the 9/11 attacks, and since Afghanistan was harboring Al-Qaeda, the invasion of Afghanistan was “justified”. However, as MSNBC reported on May of 2002, “President Bush was expected to sign detailed plans for a worldwide war against al-Qaida two days before Sept. 11 but did not have the chance before the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington,” and that “The document, a formal National Security Presidential Directive, amounted to a ‘game plan to remove al-Qaida from the face of the earth’.”30 Further, the article continued, “The plan dealt with all aspects of a war against al-Qaida, ranging from diplomatic initiatives to military operations in Afghanistan,” and “In many respects, the directive, as described to NBC News, outlined essentially the same war plan that the White House, the CIA and the Pentagon put into action after the Sept. 11 attacks. The administration most likely was able to respond so quickly to the attacks because it simply had to pull the plans “off the shelf.” BBC even reported on this, stating, “A former Pakistani diplomat has told the BBC that the US was planning military action against Osama Bin Laden and the Taleban even before [the 9/11] attacks,” and that “Niaz Naik, a former Pakistani Foreign Secretary, was told by senior American officials in mid-July  that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of October.”31 To reiterate, the invasion of Afghanistan occurred on October 7, before the middle of October, and the BBC reported this on September 18, 2001. The BBC article continued, “Mr Naik was told that Washington would launch its operation from bases in Tajikistan, where American advisers were already in place. He was told that Uzbekistan would also participate in the operation and that 17,000 Russian troops were on standby,” as well as the fact that “Mr Naik was told that if the military action went ahead it would take place before the snows started falling in Afghanistan, by the middle of October at the latest.” It concluded, stating, “He [Mr. Naik] said that he was in no doubt that after the World Trade Center bombings this pre-existing US plan had been built upon and would be implemented within two or three weeks. And he said it was doubtful that Washington would drop its plan even if Bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately by the Taleban.”
In January of 2002, The Village Voice reported that “two French authors have released a report outlining U.S. attempts to finesse the issue of Osama bin Laden long before Al Qaeda struck on September 11. Based on extensive firsthand reporting, Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquié write in their book, Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, that the Bush administration went so far as to consider waging war against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban last summer . Brisard and Dasquié argue the U.S. cared more about getting access to the region's oil than about getting the head of Osama bin Laden.”32 The Guardian newspaper in London reported in late September of 2001, that “Osama bin Laden and the Taliban received threats of possible American military strikes against them two months before the terrorist assaults on New York and Washington, which were allegedly masterminded by the Saudi-born fundamentalist,” and that, “The threats of war unless the Taliban surrendered Osama bin Laden were passed to the regime in Afghanistan by the Pakistani government.”33 It continued, “The warning to the Taliban originated at a four-day meeting of senior Americans, Russians, Iranians and Pakistanis at a hotel in Berlin in mid-July.”
So, why would the US have plans for an attack on Afghanistan and the Taliban prior to the 9/11 attacks? Back in 1997, when George Bush was Governor of Texas, BBC News reported that,
The San Francisco Chronicle reported in September of 2001, that
So, clearly, there is much more to the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan than is commonly understood, and it was necessary to address this, as it has largely transformed the Middle Eastern and Eurasian landscape, which Iran also occupies. Take into account that Afghanistan itself is not an oil-rich country, but its position is very significant for Anglo-American strategy in the region, as it is a vital route to transport such resources, with a much-expressed intent of diverting them away from Russia, as it has clearly been stated in both the 1992 Wolfowtiz Doctrine and the 2000 PNAC document, as being one of the primary elements in US geostrategy; containing Russia and maintaining the US’ position as the sole superpower in the world.
Iraq and Operation Oil Domination
On March 20, 2003, using the now well known lies of “weapons of mass destruction”, & possible nuclear weapons programs” and “links to 9/11”, Iraq was invaded. The first two points were outlined clearly in the 2000 PNAC document, in which they discussed the American strategy of confronting regimes which may possess WMDs or nuclear weapons programs, and in fact, it was those very people that wrote that document which were instrumental in pushing those lies to the public. As for the links to 9/11, which have since been conclusively denounced as outright fiction, it stood as their ‘new Pearl Harbor’, for which was the justification for invading Iraq. I will not spend much space discussing the war in Iraq, but will cover some of the oil geopolitics surrounding the war, as again, it is vital to understanding the current conflicts with Iran, as after all, it is Iran’s neighbor, and was the vital point from which the British launched their joint-Russian invasion of Iran in 1941 out of their Iraqi bases.
As Greg Palast pointed out in his book, Armed Madhouse, the original name for the operation of invading Iraq was known as “Operation Iraqi Liberation”, or, under its acronym, OIL. However, as Palast notes, it was slightly too obvious, even for the Bush administration who are not known to deal in subtleties, and so they changed it to “Operation Iraqi Liberation”.42 The original person chosen to be the United States’ viceroy to Iraq was General Jay Garner. However, as Palast notes, “Garner, fresh off the plane from the USA, promised Iraqis they would have free and fair elections as soon Saddam was toppled, preferably within 90 days. That was a problem,” and further, “Seizing ownership of the oil was not on Garner’s must-do list, nor was Washington’s rewrite of the tax laws and trade rules, and the rest of the elaborate free-market makeover scheme. In his mind, such radical legislation required a legitimate government.”43 So, Garner was replaced within months, and “in Rumsfeld’s replacement for Garner, they had just the man for the fight. Unlike Garner, Paul Bremer III had no experience on the ground in Iraq, no training to fight a guerilla insurgency, and no background in nation-building. But he had one unbeatable credential that Garner lacked: Bremer had served as Managing Director of Kissinger and Associates. Thirty years ago, in greenlighting the assassination of Chile’s elected president [on September 11, 1973], Henry Kissinger said, ‘The issues are too important to be left for the voters’,”44 and Henry Kissinger is CEO of Kissinger and Associates. A bank law that Bremer passed sold off Iraqi banks to three foreign banks, “Hong King Shanghai Banking Corporation [HSBC], National Bank of Kuwait and Standard Chartered Bank of London, the junior partners of JP Morgan Chase of New York.”45
Palast continued, “It has been a very good war for Big Oil – courtesy of OPEC price hikes. The five oil giants saw profits rise from $34 billion in 2002 to $81 billion in 2004, year two of Iraq’s ‘transition to democracy.’ But this tsunami of black ink was nothing compared to the wave of $113 billion in profits to come in 2005: $13.6 billion for Conoco, $14.1 billion for Chevron and the Mother of All Earnings, Exxon’s $36.1 billion. For these record-busting earnings, the industry could thank General Tommy Franks and the troops in Baghdad, the insurgents and their oil-supply-cutting explosives. But, most of all, they had to thank OPEC and the Saudis for keeping the lid on supply even as the planet screamed in pain for crude,” and further, “the [oil] industry has its own reserves whose value is attached, like a suckerfish, to OPEC’s price targets. Here’s a statistic you won’t see on Army recruitment posters: The rise in the price of oil after the first three years of the war boosted the value of the reserves of Exxon Mobil Oil alone by just over $666 billion. The devil is in the details. Smaller Chevron Oil, where Condoleezza Rice had served as a director, gained a quarter trillion dollars in value.”46
As Greg Palast well documents in his book, there were two plans being developed about what to do with Iraq’s oil. One was developed by the neo-conservatives from the Project for the New American Century and other neo-con think tanks, and the other plan was developed by the oil multinationals. The Neo-Con plan was about destroying OPEC, and to do that, they argued, Iraq needed to privatize all its oil. As Iraq, an OPEC member, was occupied in 2003 by the US, it gave Bush & Co. an important seat at the OPEC table, which is the organization that determines world oil prices. Palast points out that,
However, this insane neo-con plan was not implemented; why? The Oil-men wouldn’t have it. Palast explains that,
The Big Oil plan later entailed a strategy of enhancing OPEC, rather than the neo-con plan of smashing it. In the plan written by Big Oil for the US State Department, it recommended a state-owned oil company, because Iraq would be able to ‘enhance’ its relationship with OPEC. As Palast points out,
1 Engdahl, William. “A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order”. Pluto Press: 2004, Page 213.
2 Ibid. Pages 213-214
3 Palast, Greg. “Armed Madhouse”. Penguin Group: 2006, Page 139.
4 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 214.
5 Palast, Greg, op cit., Page 117.
6 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 214.
7 Ibid. Page 215
8 Palast, Greg, op cit., Page 139.
9 Ibid. 139
10 Ibid. Page 117
11 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 216
12 Primakov, Yevgeni. “The Inside Story of Moscow's Quest For a Deal.” Time Magazine: March 4, 1991. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,972463-7,00.html
13 Engdahl, William, op cit., Page 217
14 Ibid. Page 216
15 Ibid. Page 218
16 Palast, Greg, op cit., Page 117
17 Ibid. Pages 117-119
18 Tyler, Patrick E. “U.S. Strategy Plan Calls for Insuring No Rivals Develop: A One-Superpower World.” The New York Times: March 8, 1992. http://work.colum.edu/~amiller/wolfowitz1992.htm
19 PNAC. “Statement of Principles.” Project for the New American Century: June 3, 1997. http://www.newamericancentury.org/statementofprinciples.htm 20 PNAC. “Rebuilding America’s Defenses.” Project for the New American Century: September 2000 http://www.newamericancentury.org/publicationsreports.htm
21 Ibid. Page ii
22 Ibid. Page 6.
23 Ibid. Page 8
24 Ibid. Page 9
25 Ibid. Page 14
26 Ibid. Page 17
27 Ibid. Pages 51-52
28 Ibid. Page 75
29 Ibid. Page 51
30 Miklaszewski, Jim and Alex Johnson. “U.S. sought attack on al-Qaida.” MSNBC: May 16, 2002. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4587368/
31 Arney, George. “US 'planned attack on Taleban'.” BBC: September 18, 2001 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/1550366.stm
32 Ridgeway, James. “The French Connection.” The Village Voice: January 2-8, 2002. http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0201,ridgeway,31200,6.html
33 Harriman, Ed et al. “Threat of US strikes passed to Taliban weeks before NY attack.” The Guardian: September 22, 2001. http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,556254,00.html
34 BBC. “Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline.” BBC News: December 4, 1997 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/west_asia/37021.stm
35 Lockwood, Christopher. “Warring nation holds key to oil riches of Central Asia.” London Telegraph: October 11, 1996 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/htmlContent.jhtml?html=/archive/1996/10/11/wtal111.html
36 Chossudovsky, Michel. “America’s ‘War on Terrorism’.” Global Research: 2005, Page 80
37 Ibid. Pages 84-85
38 Ibid. Pages 86-87
39 Ibid. Page 88
40 Ahmed, Nafeez Mossadeq. “The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation, and the Anatomy of Terrorism.” Olive Branch Press: 2005, Page 321
41 Viviano, Frank. “Energy future rides on U.S. war.” San Francisco Chronicle: September 26, 2001 http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/09/26/MN70983.DTL
42 Palast, Greg, op cit., Page 65
43 Ibid. Pages 66-67
44 Ibid. Pages 68-69
45 Ibid. Pages 71-72
46 Ibid. Pages 88-90
47 Ibid. Page 83
48 Ibid. Pages 84-85
# of this article: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7048