Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Oil and US Military Interests II

When we entered into 21st century, India and the other Asian countries (after the recovery of Asian financial crisis) jumped also into the so-called globalization train, increasing the number of oil hungry consumerists, and hence worrying the US administration. However considered to be optimistic, the results of the US Geological Survey 2000 assessment on world petroleum resources were worrying some.

In May 2001, National Energy Policy Report of the National Energy Policy Development Group was released. The group was chaired by the Vice President Cheney, formerly CEO of Halliburton, oilfield service company. The Report (also known as the Cheney Report) underlines the global nature of fight for oil. It says “By any estimation, Middle East oil producers will remain central to world oil security. The Gulf will be a primary focus of U.S international energy policy, but our engagement will be global, spotlighting existing and emerging regions that will have a major impact on the global energy balance.”

This report gave a momentum to Pentagon as well.

“other threats to US interests remain a part of the strategic environment. Thus, elements of our force are committed to other missions, such as defense of the Korean peninsula, protection of US interests in Southwest Asia, and peacekeeping operations in the Balkans” was in the posture Statement of Chairman of the JCS General Myers before the House Armed Services Committee on February 6, 2002.

In fact, General Myers makes it more clear what he meant with that in the conclusion part of his Posture Statement on February 16, 2005. “We must stay committed if we are to win the Global War on Terrorism and defend the US and our national interests. Our way of life remains at stake, so failure is not an option.”

A year later, on February 7, 2006, General Peter Pace, the new Chairman of the JCS told the Senate Armed Services Committee in his Posture Statement that “We are in a long war. Our enemy intends to destroy our way of life. They seek to expel American influence from the Middle East, overthrow the existing secular governments of the region, and establish a fundamentalist religious empire on which to base eventual global domination.”

These kinds of statements are found almost every military publication. For example, 2006 edition of the Quadrennial Defense Review Report states that the US military “protect and advance U.S. interests and values. They are often asked to be protectors of the peace and providers of relief. They are a force for good.”

But these US interests has always coincided with the interests of corporate America.

US Military-Industry Complex and CIA

Globalization is the final march to the "New World Order", dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex” claims Michel Chossudovsky.

He is not far off actually. See what America’s most decorated soldier, Major General Smedley D. Butler said in 1935 about America’s Armed Forces:

“Thus I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers 1909-12. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras "right" for American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.”

This sounds like something of the past and remained in the past. No, it is not the past but present perfect!

In a December 2005 article at globalresearch.ca Michel Chossudovsky discusses Anglo-American alliance which responds to powerful economic interests in the oil industry, defense and international banking. He basically argues that domestic paramilitary groups and so-called liberation armies were tools in creating social, ethnic and political divisions within national societies, which would ultimately contribute to the destruction of entire countries. After the destruction and democratization "free market" reforms would be imposed and America’s "War on Terrorism" is then would transform sovereign nations into free trade areas.

In the mean time, international institutions such as IMF-World Bank-WTO trio would also play their part and serve to undermine and destroy national economies by reconstruction programs which would essentially help in contributing to a spiraling external debt. Of course the US companies such as Bechtel and Halliburton, which have close links to Department of Defense, would get very lucrative contracts.

The UN head Kofi Annan declared the illegality of Iraq invasion only after a year delay and has not raised his voice against American military unilateralism. Chandra Muzaffar sees this a leading indicator of empire building. He adds that “military power is an essential pre-requisite for the protection of the entire Washington helmed neo-liberal capitalist system with its Multinational Corporations and Transnational Corporations, banks, financial markets, currency dealers and commodity speculators. Thus there is hard power (military) and soft power that are both being harnessed to build the Empire.”

Chris Floyd gives some historical examples. He mentions that in 1953 the CIA bankrolled Islamic fundamentalists and secular goon squads to destabilize the democratic government of Iran and pave the way for the puppet Shah, as the agency's own histories recount.

Overthrow of Iran's Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh by Anglo-American Intelligence services coincided with Mossadegh’s plans to nationalize the Iranian oil industry. Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was replaced as Shah and hence Iran’s commitment to the free flow and marketing of Iranian oil become known to be a central pillar of the Nixon Doctrine.

In 1979, the CIA began sponsoring the most violent Islamic extremist groups in Afghanistan to destabilize the secular, Soviet-allied government and provoke the Kremlin into a costly intervention, as Robert Dreyfus details. Later, Osama bin Laden – whose family firm helped Bush's business career – joined the operation and his men were sent to America for anti-Soviet terrorist training, as Greg Palast reports. Guess also who helped Baath Party to be put in power in Iraq twice, in 1963 and 1968?

Pipeline politics was also incorporated into those industry interests, especially in Afghanistan, which was discussed in detail in The Dubya Report, in a Guardian article, and also in a historical perspective on Norman Livergood’s Website. An early writing about the Unocal, Saudi Arabia, CIA relationships in Afghanistan can be found here.

There are so many other events that can be added into the list. The US intervention in the Middle East from 1918 to 2001 is given here.

But an article by Elhefnawy in spring 2006 issue of Parameters, the US Army War College Quarterly, makes things opaque. He states that “Americans are prone to forget that the oil weapon was not an innovation of disgruntled Middle Eastern states, but of the United States itself, which used it with considerable effectiveness in the past—for example, in the embargo against Japan prior to America’s entry into World War II, and in the Suez crisis in 1956 against Britain and France.” Though he is very careful about not touching Iraq and Afghanistan, he finishes his article with “One might also protest that despite the unease surrounding oil prices of $70 a barrel, there is no emergency yet. The point, however, is to prevent the situation from ever becoming one.”

Militarization of the US Foreign Policy and Oil

Energy policy, or more precisely oil, has been the driving force behind American foreign policy and Pentagon for more than half a century. “The militarization of the United States’s energy policy is distorting the country’s democracy and damaging its standing in the world,” says Godfrey Hodgson. Michael Klare claims in his book “Blood and Oil” that US military operations are hard to distinguish from protecting energy assets.

“The United States is today the preponderant military power in the world. Still, our military establishment is heavily dependent upon oil. Moreover, in the longer run, as we face the prospect of a plateau in which we are no longer able worldwide to increase the production of oil against presumably still rising demand, the question is whether the Department of Defense will still be able to obtain the supply of oil products necessary for maintaining our military preponderance. In that prospective world, the Department of Defense will face all sorts of pressures at home and abroad to curtail its use of petroleum products, thereby endangering its overall military effectiveness.”

The sentences above are from the statement of James Schlesinger (former CIA director) before the Committee on Foreign Relations, US Senate, on 16 November 2005.

It is in fact not surprising. During the height of first oil crisis, the same Schlesinger (then Secretary of Defense, was talking about invading Saudi Arabia and occupying its oil fields. In April 2003, Schlesinger argued the US “won a war--and taught the Middle East a lesson.”

Another former CIA director James Woolsey described how the Middle East will look like in the future: “Even if one is optimistic that democracy and the rule of law will spread in the Greater Middle East and that this will lead after a time to more peaceful and stable societies there, it is undeniable that there is substantial risk that for some time the region will be characterized by chaotic change and unpredictable governmental behavior.“ says Woolsey in his testimony on November 16, 2005 before the US Senate Committee of Foreign Relations. He reiterated his views again in his testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy on March 7, 2006.

By the way, Woolsay is co-chairman of The Committee on the Present Danger which is “dedicated to protecting and expanding democracy by supporting policies aimed at winning the global war against terrorism and the movements and ideologies that drive it. We will support policies that use appropriate means - military, economic, political, and social - to achieve this goal.”

Chapter 12 of the “Progressive Priorities: An Action Agenda for America” by Center for American Progress, released in 2005, adopts another scare tactic:

“America now spends more than $200,000 a minute on foreign oil imports. More than $25 billion a year for oil imports goes to Persian Gulf states, most of them governed by corrupt, undemocratic regimes whose policies fuel the extremism that breeds terrorism.”

It does not only use scare tactics but also misquotes Greenspan to sound probably more alarming. It says that “Chairman Greenspan attempted to calm the fears of investors by stating that as the world runs out of oil in the middle of this century, the transition to the next major source of energy will have begun.”

In facts here is what Greenspan actually said in the same reference: “We will begin the transition to the next major sources of energy perhaps before mid-century as production from conventional oil reservoirs, according to central tendency scenarios of the Energy Information Administration, is projected to peak.”

On Page 205 of the report it gives a remarkable advice: “Gradually shift subsidies from agricultural exports to develop and deploy biofuels as a cleaner, domestic alternative to oil. Shifting current agricultural subsidies from export commodities to domestic bioenergy crops could serve as a major incentive for countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, while stimulating economic growth in America’s rural areas. The administration and Congress should identify and take immediate steps to begin shifting these subsidies during the next reauthorization of the farm bill.” And yet I assume that there are many people who take the complete report really serious.

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Next: Oil and US Military Interests-III (Place of Peak Oil in US Military Strategy)


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