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
Imperial Playground in The Post Cold War Era
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’; “Senior circles in the Thatcher and Bush governments had determined to create a manufactured pretext which would allow the United States and Britain to establish a direct military presence at the choke point of the world’s, and especially Continental Europe’s, petroleum supplies.”1 William Engdahl pointed out that Iraq “had just emerged from eight years of a fruitless war against Iran, which had accomplished little other than to provide Western arms manufacturers with a vast market for arms sales to the Middle East,” as well as the fact that “By 1989, the economy of Iraq was in shambles and investment in industry and agriculture had been largely halted during the war, which had cost an estimated total of one million or more lives.” Engdahl further pointed out that, “Iraq, unlike Khomeni’s Iran, emerged from the costly war with an enormous foreign debt burden,” which was owed to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the Soviet Union, and eastern European countries “which had expected to be repaid in Iraqi oil. The remainder was owed largely to French, British and American banks.”2 As Greg Palast, a BBC journalist said, in his book, Armed Madhouse, there was an “Iraqi debt totaling $120 billion to $150 billion, depending on who’s counting. And who’s counting is very important. Some of the so-called ‘debt’ owed to Saudi Arabia was given to Saddam to fight a proxy war for the Saudis against their hated foe, the Shia of Iran.”3
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, “The Anglo-American game plan was to lure Saddam Hussein into a trap he could not resist, in order to provide a pretext for military intervention from the United States and Britain.” So, a high-powered delegation of large banking and oil multinationals from the US went to Baghdad to meet with Saddam to discuss “an Iraqi postwar plan to develop his country’s agricultural and industrial potential.”4 As Palast points out, “The Iranian bombing of the Basra fields [in Iraq] (1980-88) put a new kink in Iraq’s oil production,” and Palast explains that Iraq’s oil flow has had a consistent and long-lasting limit to their production, which was imposed on it by OPEC, which is predominantly controlled by the American puppet-regime in Saudi Arabia. As Palast notes, “It was during the Arab oil embargo [in 1973] that Senator Edmund Muskie revealed a secret intelligence report of ‘fantastic’ reserves of oil in Iraq undeveloped because US oil companies refused to add pipeline capacity.”5
With the visiting high-level American oil delegation to Iraq in 1989, Saddam unveiled a 5 year-plan “to complete the large Badush Dam irrigation project, which would have enabled [Iraq] to become self-sufficient in food production,” as opposed to relying on US imports of grain worth over a billion dollars at that time, not to mention that the plan also entailed “building up its petrochemicals industry, agriculture fertilizer plants, an iron and steel plant, and an auto assembly plant, as part of an effort to develop the country.”6 The recommendations from the Big Oil delegation was that Saddam first had to take care of his debts, and to do this, they suggested that he privatize his oil so that foreign corporations could buy it all up. However, Saddam refused, and so the Anglo-American strategy continued to its next phase. The Anglo-Americans used their ally, the Emir [King] of Kuwait, “to flood OPEC markets with [Kuwait’s] oil, in violation of OPEC production ceilings which had been agreed in order to stabilize world oil prices,” and “Kuwait had succeeded in drawing oil prices from their precarious level of some $19 per barrel down to little more than $13 per barrel,” which resulted in the fact that “Iraq was not even able to service its old debt or finance much-needed food imports.”7
On top of this, “The Kuwaitis had been sucking up that which wasn’t theirs in the shared oil field on the Kuwait-Iraq border.”8 As Palast further explains, “On July 25, 1990, Saddam asked US Ambassador April Glaspie if the US would object to an attack on Kuwait over the small emirate’s theft of Iraqi oil,” to which the Ambassador responded, saying, “We have no opinion on . . . your border disagreement with Kuwait . . . The issue is not associated with America. [Secretary of State] James Baker has directed our official spokesman to emphasize this instruction.” Further, as Palast stated, “Glaspie, in Congressional testimony in 1991, did not deny the authenticity of the recording of her meeting with Saddam – which world diplomats took for what it was: Jim Baker’s green light for Iraq to attack Kuwait.”9 So then, “In August 1990, Kuwait’s craven siphoning of border-land oil fields jointly owned with Iraq gave Saddam the excuse to take Kuwait’s share. Here was Saddam’s opportunity to increase Iraq’s OPEC quota by taking Kuwait’s.”10
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 “the CIA informed the royal family in good time to get out, but the Al-Sabahs [Kuwaiti royals] ‘conveniently’ forgot to inform the country’s military of their information that Kuwait was about to be invaded.”11 As a result of Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, the United States declared war on Iraq, in an attempt to “defend” the small country of Kuwait from an “unprovoked” invasion. The US military began bombing Baghdad and the rest of Iraq, destroying its infrastructure. The Middle East envoy of the Soviet Union, Yevgeni Primakov, discussed his visit to the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, in an article in Time Magazine, “The Prime Minister received us at her country residence, Chequers. She listened attentively to the information I presented her, without interrupting. But then, for a good hour, she allowed no one to interrupt her monologue, in which she outlined in a most condensed way a position that was gaining greater momentum: not to limit things to a withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait but to inflict a devastating blow at Iraq, ‘to break the back’ of Saddam and destroy the entire military, and perhaps industrial, potential of that country.”12
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, “In a broad new policy statement that is in its final drafting phase, the Defense Department asserts that America’s political and military mission in the post-cold-war era will be to ensure that no rival superpower is allowed to emerge in Western Europe, Asia or the territories of the former Soviet Union,” and that, “The classified document makes the case for a world dominated by one superpower whose position can be perpetuated by constructive behavior and sufficient military might to deter any nation or group of nations from challenging American primacy.”18 Further, “Though the document is internal to the Pentagon and is not provided to Congress, its policy statements are developed in conjunction with the National Security Council and in consultation with the President or his senior national security advisers. Its drafting has been supervised by Paul D. Wolfowitz, the Pentagon’s Under Secretary for Policy.” Interestingly enough, the Paul Wolfowtiz described above later went on to be the Deputy Secretary of Defense (2nd in command) at the Pentagon in the first term of the George W. Bush administration, and was the architect of the Iraq War in 2003. Not surprisingly then, this 1992 document also continues in stating a strong emphasis “on using military force, if necessary, to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction in such countries as North Korea, Iraq, some of the successor republics to the Soviet Union and in Europe,” and that, “What is most important, it says, is ‘the sense that the world order is ultimately backed by the U.S.’ and ‘the United States should be postured to act independently when collective action cannot be orchestrated’ or in a crisis that demands quick response.” The article continues in stating that “the new draft sketches a world in which there is one dominant military power whose leaders ‘must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role’.” The document was known as the Defense Policy Guidance 1992-1994, but has since been termed the ‘Wolfowitz Doctrine’, and further, “Senior Defense Department officials have said the document will be issued by Defense Secretary [Dick] Cheney this month. According to a Feb. 18 memorandum from Mr. Wolfowitz’s deputy, Dale A. Vesser, the policy guidance will be issued with a set of ‘illustrative’ scenarios for possible future foreign conflicts that might draw United States military forces into combat.”
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.
Think Tank Takes Power
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, “We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership,” and they outline their aims as “we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future; we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values; we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad; [and] we need to accept responsibility for America's unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles”19 [Emphasis added].
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, “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.”20 In the opening of this document, they state, “In broad terms, we saw the project as building upon the defense strategy outlined by the Cheney Defense Department in the waning days of the Bush Administration. The Defense Policy Guidance (DPG) drafted in the early months of 1992 provided a blueprint for maintaining US preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests.”21 They later state, under the headline of ‘Large Wars’ that “the United States must retain sufficient forces able to rapidly deploy and win multiple simultaneous large-scale wars,”22 [Emphasis added]. Again, later they state that there is “need to retain sufficient combat forces to fight and win, multiple, nearly simultaneous major theatre wars,”23 and that “the Pentagon needs to begin to calculate the force necessary to protect, independently, US interests in Europe, East Asia and the Gulf at all times.”24 Further, the document states, “Indeed, 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,”25 [Emphasis added].
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, “A senior delegation from the Taleban movement in Afghanistan is in the United States for talks with an international energy company that wants to construct a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan across Afghanistan to Pakistan,” and that “A spokesman for the company, Unocal, said the Taleban were expected to spend several days at the company's headquarters in Sugarland, Texas.”34 The article continued, “Unocal says it has agreements both with Turkmenistan to sell its gas and with Pakistan to buy it,” as well as the fact that “despite the civil war in Afghanistan, Unocal has been in competition with an Argentinian firm, Bridas, to actually construct the pipeline.” It concluded, “the Afghan economy has been devastated by 20 years of civil war. A deal to go ahead with the pipeline project could give it a desperately-needed boost. But peace must be established first -- and that for the moment still seems a distant prospect.” As the London Telegraph reported in 1996, “Behind the tribal clashes that have scarred Afghanistan lies one of the great prizes of the 21st century, the fabulous energy reserves of Central Asia. Largely unexplored, and almost completely unexploited, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, all formerly components of the Soviet Union, but now independent, are known to possess vast oil and gas reserves. As supplies from the Gulf begin to peter out next century, these will become highly significant,” and that “Pakistan is keen to have a source of oil that bypasses Iran and Russia.”35 The article continued to address several pipeline plans proposed by Georgia and Kazakhstan, and then stated, “But to Western, and especially American interests, none of these options look attractive. Georgia is too unstable, and the idea of allowing a Russian or Iranian hand to rest on the oil jugular is considered too dangerous. Hence the attractions of Afghanistan,” and it continued, “Another pipeline route exists, and is already at a detailed planning stage. This pipeline, initially for gas, would begin in the Dauletabad field in central Turkmenistan, traverse Afghanistan along the Herat-Kandahar corridor, territory controlled by the Taliban, and exit into Pakistan.” Further, “Unocal, the Californian oil company, in alliance with Delta Oil, the Saudi Arabian company, has been in negotiation with the Taliban, as well as rival warlords, for much of this year over terms for the Turkmenistan-Pakistan pipeline.”
Further, “By transiting through Afghanistan, Unocal’s CentGas pipeline project was meant to bypass the more direct southbound route across Iran. Unocal’s design was to develop a dual pipeline system that would also transport Kazakhstan’s huge oil reserves in the Tenghiz Northern Caspian region to the Arabian Sea,” a University of Ottawa economics professor Michel Chossudovsky noted in his book, America’s “War on Terrorism”, and he continued, “the Clinton administration decided to back the installation of a Taliban government in Kabul in 1996, as opposed to the Northern Alliance, which was backed by Moscow.”36 Bridas, a company which also had a significant part in the pipeline project, was facing financial difficulties in 1997, and so 60% of it was bought up by the American Oil Company (Amoco), which later merged with British Petroleum in 1998. And, as Chossudovsky pointed out, “Former National Security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was a consultant to Amoco,” which became BP-Amoco after the merger, and “BP controls the westbound pipeline consortium in which Unocal has a significant stake.”37 On top of this, “Henry Kissinger, a former Secretary of State, was advising Unocal Corporation,” and “At the very outset of the Bush administration, Unocal (which had withdrawn in 1998 from pipeline negotiations under the Clinton administration) reintegrated the CentGas Consortium and resumed its talks with the Taliban (in January 2001), with the firm backing, this time, of senior officials of the Bush administration, including Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage. Dick Armitage had previously been a lobbyist for Unocal.”38 However, the Taliban failed to properly provide security and stability for the pipeline project, but, after the occupation of Afghanistan in 2001, Hamid Karzai was appointed as head of the government in Kabul, and currently still is President of the country, and had, since the 1990s, “acted as a consultant and lobbyist for Unocal in negotiations with the Taliban.”39 As Nafeez Ahmed points out in his book, The War on Truth, “President Bush appointed a former aide to the American oil company UNOCAL, Zalmay Khalilzad, as special envoy to Afghanistan,”40 who also happened to be one of the members of the PNAC [Project for the New American Century] think tank.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported in September of 2001, that “Beyond American determination to hit back against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks, beyond the likelihood of longer, drawn-out battles producing more civilian casualties in the months and years ahead, the hidden stakes in the war against terrorism can be summed up in a single word: oil,” and that “The map of terrorist sanctuaries and targets in the Middle East and Central Asia is also, to an extraordinary degree, a map of the world's principal energy sources in the 21st century.”41 It continued, “The terrain of the globe's energy future ranges along a swath of mountain and desert with resource-poor Afghanistan and Pakistan at its volatile eastern end. Outside of this core, where suspected terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and many of his supporters are located, terrorist groups are active in Saudi Arabia, Libya, Bahrain, the Gulf Emirates, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan and Algeria. Their operations also threaten to destabilize regimes in Turkmenistan, Kazakstan and Azerbaijan. They also are active in areas -- such as Chechnya, Georgia and eastern Turkey -- where major pipelines carry energy resources to markets worldwide,” and then stated, “It is inevitable that the war against terrorism will be seen by many as a war on behalf of America's Chevron, ExxonMobil and Arco; France's TotalFinaElf; British Petroleum; Royal Dutch Shell and other multinational giants, which have hundreds of billions of dollars of investment in the region.”
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, “what George Bush should do with his OPEC perch is what requires the occupation to drag on, not the provincial tussle between Shias and Sunnis, but the gladiatorial fight to the death between neo-cons and the Big Oil establishment.”47 Palast states that for the neo-cons at the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation (neo-con think tanks), the ultimate target was not Iraq, but Saudi Arabia, and “Getting at the Saudis required tearing apart OPEC. And tearing apart OPEC was completely dependent on the privatization of Iraq’s oil reserves, the second-largest in OPEC after the Saudis,” and Palast, through his interview with one of the top neo-cons who came up with the plan, laid it down in plain English, “ OPEC’s power comes from imposing production limits (“quotas”) on its member states, limiting supply and raising prices.  Iraq’s quota is well below what it can produce. Iraq kept a limit on output through its 100% government-owned oil monopoly.  If you sell off Iraq’s oil fields in itty-bitty pieces, dozens of operators will maximize their production from each field, jumping up Iraq’s output to 6 million barrels of oil a day, way above the OPEC quota.  The additional two million barrels of oil a day from Iraq will flood the market, OPEC will dissolve into mass cheating and break apart. With every nation pumping to the max, the price of oil will fall over a cliff, and . . .  . . . Saudi Arabia, financially and politically, will fall to its knees,” and as well as this, the neo-cons emphasized that, “with OPEC smashed, the former Soviet states, including Russia, completely dependent on oil income, will be at America’s mercy.”48
However, this insane neo-con plan was not implemented; why? The Oil-men wouldn’t have it. Palast explains that, “Philip Carroll, former CEO of Shell Oil USA, who was deployed immediately [to Baghdad],” had “met the new occupation chief [Paul] Bremer [of Kissinger and Associates], who was, at that moment, in accordance with the neo-con blueprint,” and further, “it should be noted that besides heading Shell Oil, [Carroll had] also been CEO of Fluor Corporation, the biggest contractor in Iraq after Bechtel and Halliburton.” Palast interviewed Philip Carroll, and explained, “The double-CEO laid down the law to Bremer. Carroll told [Palast]: Neo-con plan be damned, ‘I was very clear that there was to be no privatization of Iraqi oil resources or facilities while I was involved. End of statement’,” and Palast continued, “Bremer understood that in the Great Game, a well-placed pawn, even one who used to play Kissinger’s game, does not overrule a knight of the oil industry. Carroll’s orders stood.”49
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, “Only through the unique power of government monopoly can a nation hold back production to the OPEC quota,” and further, “The latest enhancement doubled OPEC’s benchmark price for crude – which also doubled the price Exxon and its comrades may charge for crude pumped from Texas and Alaska, not just from Saudi Arabia.”50
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
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