In this video from CNN in the USA, ‘Tom Lantos Quotes Greenspan as saying the War is about Oil.’
Iraqi oil workers against occupation: here.
London Review of Books on the war for oil: here.
Tom Hayden, ex anti Vietnam war activist and state senator in the USA, writes on the Iraq Study Group report:
The Baker Agenda: Troops out, Oil Companies in?
Recommendations 62 and 63 confirm that control of Iraqi oil is a fundamental premise of Administration policy.
This was denied in the first years of the war, but this week the President confirmed his belief that Islamic extremists will “gain access to vast oil reserves and use Iraq as a base to overthrow moderate governments all across the broader Middle East.” [LAT, 12-6-06].
Then James Baker revealed the interest of his longtime oil industry allies, as well as key financial and corporate interests, in an Iraq resolution favorable to their narrow interests.
Recommendation 62 says the US government should help draft an oil law that “creates a fiscal and legal framework for investment.”
It further recommends that the US, in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund [IMF], should “press Iraq to continue reducing subsidies in the energy sector…until Iraqis pay market prices for oil products…”
That is, in a country besieged by civil war, bombings of infrastructure, unemployment at 50 percent levels, and the lack of necessities, the Baker Report proposes to make everyday life harder for average Iraqis so that the oil industry profits.
Recommendation 63 says the US should “assist” Iraqi leaders in privatizing the national oil industry into a “commercial enterprise” to encourage investment by the multi-national oil companies.
Who said it was not about blood for oil?
There’s more to uncover.
But at this point we know that the Baker commission is sprinkled with heavyweights from oil, construction, and financial entities with interests in Iraq.
Baker is a Texas oilman whose law firm has interests in debt repayment to Kuwait and other Gulf States.
Lawrence Eagleberger has ties to Halliburton and Philips Petroleum, and is a former head of Kissinger Associates, a corporate consulting firm whose clients remain secret [Paul Bremer was managing partner of the Associates].
Vernon Jordan is a power lawyer at Akin Gump who is closely associated with the secretive Bilderberg Group [as well as the Clinton circle and civil rights firms].
Leon Panetta served on the board of the New York Stock Exchange.
The expert working groups for the ISG include leaders of Bechtel, PFC Energy, and two representatives of Citygroup, Inc., the firm of Robert Rubin, leading neo-liberal advocate and member of Clinton’s cabinet.
Not a single person from the peace movement, women’s, environmental, civil rights or labor organizations were among the “expert” consultants listed in the ISG Report, although the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute were there.
See also here.
Remember the hysteria of George W Bush‘s cheerleaders whenever anyone dared to mention the words ‘oil’ and ‘Iraq’ in one sentence?
As, ‘of course’, the war was not about oil, but about Saddam’s supposed weapons of mass destruction … oops …
As, ‘of course’, the war was not about oil, but about Saddam’s supposed links to 9/11 in New York City and Al Qaeda … oops …
And then, as an afterthought after these two official reasons were admitted to be lies by the Bush administration itself, the war was supposedly about bringing democracy … ‘democracy’ including raping children in Abu Ghraib jail and killing over 600,000 Iraqis.
Another thing Bush’s cheerleaders went so ballistic about: comparing the Iraq war to the Vietnam war. Well, now Bush himself does it; so does this.
Blair and ISG report: here.
*They Told You So*
Posted by: “hapi22” firstname.lastname@example.org robinsegg
Fri Dec 8, 2006 8:00 pm (PST)
I’ll take one of the bows for being right about the war in Iraq.
And I imagine most of you should take one of those bows as well.
So how come Tom Friedman is still a respected commentator and columnist
for The NYTimes, when he was SO wrong for SO long about the Iraq war?
I, along with many others, wrote endless letters to Friedman trying to
open his eyes, but to no avail. But I have to say Friedman’s reputation
doesn’t seem to have suffered for the fact that he was completely wrong
about everything about Iraq.
And how come Charlie Rose still has ANY credibility? He, too, egged on
the war. In fact, in the last weeks prior to the invasion, one was hard
pressed to see or hear one dissenting voice on the Charlie Rose show.
Nevertheless, people bow and scrape and say how smart Charlie Rose is.
He’s just one more overpaid nincompoop.
The current polls indicate that, at last, 71 percent of Americans think
Bush doesn’t have a clue about the war in Iraq; 27 percent are still
hanging in there with Bush.
*They Told You So*
by Paul Krugman
The New York Times
December 8, 2006
Shortly after U.S. forces marched into Baghdad in 2003, The Weekly
Standard published a jeering article titled, “The Cassandra Chronicles:
The stupidity of the antiwar doomsayers.” Among those the article mocked
was a “war novelist” named James Webb, who is now the senator-elect from
The article’s title was more revealing than its authors knew. People
forget the nature of Cassandra’s curse: although nobody would believe
her, all her prophecies came true. And so it was with those who warned
against invading Iraq. At best, they were ignored. A recent article in
The Washington Post ruefully conceded that the paper’s account of the
debate in the House of Representatives over the resolution authorizing
the Iraq war — a resolution OPPOSED by a MAJORITY of the DEMOCRATS
— gave NO coverage at all to those antiwar arguments that now seem
At worst, those who were skeptical about the case for war had their
patriotism and/or their sanity questioned. The New Republic now says
that it “deeply regrets its early support for this war.” Does it also
deeply regret accusing those who opposed rushing into war of “abject
Now, only a few neocon dead-enders still believe that this war was
anything but a vast exercise in folly. And those who braved political
pressure and ridicule to oppose what Al Gore has rightly called “the
worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States” deserve
Unlike The Weekly Standard, which singled out those it thought had been
proved wrong, I’d like to offer some praise to those who got it right.
Here’s a partial honor roll:
Former President George H. W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft, explaining in
1998 why they didn’t go on to Baghdad in 1991: “Had we gone the invasion
route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power
in a bitterly hostile land.”
Representative Ike Skelton, September 2002: “I have no doubt that our
military would decisively defeat Iraq’s forces and remove Saddam. But
like the proverbial dog chasing the car down the road, we must consider
what we would do after we caught it.”
Al Gore, September 2002: “I am deeply concerned that the course of
action that we are presently embarking upon with respect to Iraq has the
potential to seriously damage our ability to win the war against
terrorism and to weaken our ability to lead the world in this new
Barack Obama, now a United States senator, September 2002: “I don’t
oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed
to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard
Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this
administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our
throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships
Representative John Spratt, October 2002: “The outcome after the
conflict is actually going to be the hardest part, and it is far less
Representative Nancy Pelosi, now the House speaker-elect, October 2002:
“When we go in, the occupation, which is now being called the
liberation, could be interminable and the amount of money it costs could
Senator Russ Feingold, October 2002: “I am increasingly troubled by the
seemingly shifting justifications for an invasion at this time. … When
the administration moves back and forth from one argument to another, I
think it undercuts the credibility of the case and the belief in its
urgency. I believe that this practice of shifting justifications has
much to do with the troubling phenomenon of many Americans questioning
the administration’s motives.”
HOWARD DEAN, then a candidate for president and now the chairman of the
Democratic National Committee, February 2003: “I firmly believe that the
president is focusing our diplomats, our military, our intelligence
agencies, and even our people on the wrong war, at the wrong time. …
Iraq is a divided country, with Sunni, Shia and Kurdish factions that
share both bitter rivalries and access to large quantities of arms.”
We should honor these people for their wisdom and courage. We should
also ask why anyone who didn’t raise questions about the war — or, at
any rate, anyone who acted as a cheerleader for this march of folly —
should be taken seriously when he or she talks about matters of national
Film The Oil Factor: here.
*Warm welcome in Washington, cold shoulder elsewhere*
Posted by: “hapi22” email@example.com robinsegg
Sat Dec 9, 2006 7:16 am (PST)
While I was happy to see that the Iraq Study Group report slammed Bush
for a few things (like lying about the violence and Iraqi casualties in
Iraq), I have to agree with the following statement:
In Baghdad, [the ISG report] was branded by some
influential Sunnis as designed to solve American, rather than
In our typically selfish way here in America (no, we are definitely NOT
always selfish, but we are about Iraq), we figure if we solve the Iraq
problem to suit our needs, that’s the end of the story. But, if and when
we leave Iraq, we will leave behind us devastation we can hardly
imagine. And, unless there is a profit to be made for campaign
contributors, we won’t rebuild anything either.
Sorry to be so jaded, but that’s what six years of a Bush presidency has
done to me…
*Warm welcome in Washington, cold shoulder elsewhere*
by Tim Reid, Ned Parker and Stephen Farrell
The [UK] Times
December 8, 2006
Several retired US military generals who gave testimony to the panel
said that the pullout plan was unworkable. They pointed out that the
report’s idea of stepping up the training of Iraqi forces, while drawing
down US troops, was precisely the plan suggested by General George
Casey, the head of coalition forces in Iraq, in June. Since then the
violence has escalated and the plan was abandoned.
Read this at: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2493021,00.html
Leave Iraq now; don’t wait until 2008 election day
Posted by: “firstname.lastname@example.org” email@example.com garymyrick
Sat Dec 9, 2006 9:20 am (PST)
I very much respect the views of the highly experienced military correspondent Joseph L. Galloway. No one could ever credibly accuse him of being a softy, “dove” or “peacenik” during his long career. He is an advocate for our military and our troops of longstanding. He knows about war, and has spoken out forthrightly and accurately every step of the way during this tragic misadventure known as the war in Iraq.
Leave Iraq now; don’t wait until 2008 election day
By JOSEPH L. GALLOWAY
December 7, 2006
AFTER nearly four years of living in what can be charitably described as a state of denial, everyone in Washington, from President Bush to the Baker Commission to incoming defense secretary Robert Gates, to outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to the study group assembled by Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has finally admitted that pretty much nothing is going right in Iraq.
Our president, who froze the whole process of planning and fighting a war by declaring that he was “staying the course” even when the course was obviously wrong, finally abandoned those words, if not his dogged pursuit of “victory” in a place which has denied victory to a string of foreign invaders dating back to Alexander the Great.
The Baker Commission issued its report – which primarily recommended that we begin talking with Iraq’s friends and enemies next door and Iraqi-izing the war by handing things over to Iraqi forces before we begin pulling out in time for the 2008 presidential election – on a day when 10 American troops were killed on the roads of Iraq by improvised explosive devices.
All things considered, it was too little, too late and too long a wait if you have a son or daughter serving a third or fourth combat tour in Iraq – something that few, if any, of the above referenced politicians and wise men have contributed to the war effort.
Gates, whose nomination to replace Rumsfeld in the Pentagon’s top job is being rushed through the Senate at the speed of light, told the Senate Armed Forces Committee we’re neither winning nor losing in Iraq and could offer them no path to victory.
The senators, clearly enamored of Bob Gates because he isn’t Don Rumsfeld, had no hard questions for the nominee, and in a rare show of bipartisan unanimity voted 24-0 to send his nomination to the floor for swift approval.
The senators and much of official Washington clearly want Gates in and Rumsfeld on a Greyhound bus bound for oblivion as soon as humanly possible. The disgruntled Rumsfeld leaked his own Iraq report, dated two days prior to his firing, admitting that things weren’t nearly as rosy as he’d been pretending they were.
While those who have nothing more at risk than their personal pride and the arrogance of power published reports and made statements devoid of any real answers, young American soldiers and Marines were being wounded and killed at an appalling rate on the dangerous streets and roads of Iraq.
This week, the American military death toll in Iraq crossed the 2,900 mark, with well over 20,000 wounded.
All the politicians paid the customary lip service in praising the troops and commending them for the terrible sacrifices they must continue to endure while the wrangling and dithering over a futile war goes on with no end in sight.
How can they look at themselves in the mirror every morning?
Some even suggest sending additional U.S. forces to Iraq – 20,000 to 30,000 more to try to clean up Baghdad, or as Sen. John McCain suggests, 100,000 more to achieve a victory of some kind.
What are they thinking?
The time to use overwhelming force, according to the Caspar Weinberger-Colin Powell doctrine, is when you launch an invasion. Ratcheting up later is just so 1965, and so hopeless a gesture when the situation has already gone to hell.
Let’s get a few more things straight right now.
There’s no victory waiting for President Bush in Iraq, and nothing that his father’s friends say or do can save him from an ignominious end to his presidency in two years and two months, or from the judgment of history.
There will be no convenient and successful negotiation of a “decent interval” with our enemies Iran and Syria to cover our withdrawal from a war that we should never have started.
There can be no successful Vietnamization in Iraq – standing up more and better Iraqi army and police units and handing control over to them – when all we’re doing is arming and training more recruits for the civil war that clogs the streets of Baghdad with the corpses of the victims of a Sunni-Shia bloodbath.
What we need to do is what none of the commissions and their reports dared to suggest: Begin withdrawing American forces from Iraq right now. Not in 2008. Not after the American death toll has crossed 5,000. Not just in time for a presidential election.
If you worry about the future of Iraq, don’t. It will remain what it’s always been: a violent, angry land of warring tribes only occasionally beaten and bludgeoned into submission by a homegrown despot like Saddam Hussein.
If you worry about added turmoil and instability in the Middle East, pull some of those departing American forces back to Kuwait and leave them there on standby. Then redirect thought, energy and effort into salvaging Afghanistan, finding Osama bin Laden, saving Lebanon, negotiating peace between Israel and its enemies, rebuilding the U.S. Army and Marine Corps and, oh yes, ending the uncivil war between Republicans and Democrats.
There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there’s only one way to leave Iraq: Load our people up on their trucks and tank transporters and Bradleys and Humvees and head for the border. Now.
Joseph L. Galloway is former senior military correspondent for Knight Ridder Newspapers and co-author of the national best-seller “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young.”
Read this at http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/news/special_packages/galloway/16186060.htm
NO ONE likes to admit a mistake. Me neither. But honesty leaves me no choice.
A few days after the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, I happened to go on a lecture tour in the US.
My message was optimistic. I expected some good to come out of the tragedy. I reasoned that the atrocity had exposed the intensity of the hatred for the US that is spreading throughout the world, and especially the Muslim world. It would be logical not only to fight against the mosquitoes, but to drain the swamp. Since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was one of the breeding grounds of the hatred – if not the main one – the US would make a major effort to achieve peace between the two peoples.
That was what cold logic indicated. But this is not what happened. What happened was the very opposite.
American policy was not led by cold logic. Instead of drying one swamp, it created a second swamp. Instead of pushing the Israelis and Palestinians towards peace, it invaded Iraq. Not only did the hatred against America not die down, it flared up even higher. I hoped that this danger would override even the oil interests and the desire to station an American garrison in the center of the Middle East.
Thus I committed the very mistake that I have warned others against many times: to assume that what is logical will actually happen. A rational person should not ignore the irrational in politics. In other words, it is irrational to exclude the irrational.
George W. Bush is an irrational person, perhaps the very personification of irrationality. Instead of drawing the logical conclusion from what had happened and acting accordingly, he set off in the opposite direction. Since then he has just insisted on “staying the course”.
Enter James Baker.
SINCE I am already in a confessional mood, I have to admit that I like James Baker.
I know that this will shock some of my good friends. “Baker?!” they will cry out, “The consigliere of the Bush family? The man who helped George W steal the 2000 elections? The Rightist?”
Yes, yes, the very same Baker. I like him for his cold logic, his forthright and blunt style, his habit of saying what he thinks without embellishment, his courage. I prefer this style to the sanctimonious hypocrisy of other leaders, who try to hide their real intentions. I would be happy any time to swap Olmert for Baker, and throw in Amir Peretz for free.
But that is a matter of taste. More important is the fact that in all the last 40 years, James Baker was the only leader in America who had the guts to stand up and act against Israel’s malignant disease: the settlements. When he was the Secretary of State, he simply informed the Israeli government that he would deduct the sums expended on the settlements from the money Israel was getting from the US. Threatened and made good on his threat.
Baker thus confronted the “pro-Israeli” lobby in the US, both the Jewish and the Christian. Such courage is rare in the United States, as it is rare in Israel.
THIS WEEK the Iraq Study Group, led by Baker, published its report.
It confirms all the bleak forecasts voiced by many throughout the world – myself included – before Bush & Co. launched the bloody Iraqi adventure. In his dry and incisive style, Baker says that the US cannot win there. In so many words he tells the American public: Let’s get out of there, before the last American soldier has to scramble into the last helicopter from the roof of the American embassy, as happened in Vietnam.
Baker calls for the end of the Bush approach and offers a new and thought-out strategy of his own. Actually, it is an elegant way of extricating America from Iraq, without it looking like a complete rout. The main proposals: an American dialogue with Iran and Syria, an international conference, the withdrawal of the American combat brigades, leaving behind only instructors. The committee that he headed was bi-partisan, composed half and half of Republicans and Democrats.
FOR ISRAELIS, the most interesting part of the report is, of course, the one that concerns us directly. It interests me especially – how could it be otherwise? – because it repeats, almost word for word, the things I said immediately after September 11, both in my articles at home and in my lectures in the US.
True, Baker is saying them four years later. In these four years, thousands of American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died for nothing. But, to use the image again, when a giant ship like the United States turns around, it make a very big circle, and it takes a lot of time. We, in the small speed-boat called Israel, could do it much quicker – if we had the good sense to do it.
Baker says simply: In order to stop the war in Iraq and start a reconciliation with the Arab world, the US must bring about the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He does not say explicitly that peace must be imposed on Israel, but that is the obvious implication.
In his own clear words: “The United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
His committee proposes the immediate start of negotiations between Israel and “President Mahmoud Abbas”, in order to implement the two-state solution. The “sustainable negotiations” must address the “key final status issues of borders, settlements, Jerusalem, the right of return, and the end of conflict.”
The use of the title “President” for Abu Mazen and, even more so, the use of the term “right of return” has alarmed the whole political class in Israel. Even in the Oslo agreement, the section dealing with the “final status” issues mentions only “refugees”. Baker, as is his wont, called the spade a spade.
At the same time, he proposes a stick and carrot approach to achieve peace between Israel and Syria. The US needs this peace in order to draw Syria into its camp. The stick, from the Israeli point of view, would be the return of the Golan Heights. The carrot would be the stationing of American soldiers on the border, so that Israel’s security would be guaranteed by the US. In return, he demands that Syria stop, inter alia, its aid to Hizbullah.
After Gulf War I, Baker – the same Baker – got all the parties to the conflict to come to an international conference in Madrid. For that purpose, he twisted the arm of then Prime Minister Itzhak Shamir, whose entire philosophy consisted of two letters and one exclamation mark: “No!” and whose slogan was: “The Arabs are the same Arabs, and the sea is the same sea” – alluding to the popular Israeli conviction that the Arabs all want to throw Israel into the sea.
Baker brought Shamir to Madrid, his arms and legs in irons, and made sure he did not escape. Shamir was compelled to sit at the table with representatives of the Palestinian people, who had never been allowed to attend an international conference before. The conference itself had no tangible results, but there is no doubt that it was a vital step in the process that brought about the Oslo agreement and, more difficult than anything else, the mutual recognition of the State of Israel and the Palestinian people.
Now Baker is suggesting something similar. He proposes an international conference, and cites Madrid as a model. The conclusion is clear.
HOWEVER, THIS baker can only offer a recipe for the cake. The question is whether President Bush will use the recipe and bake the cake.
Since 1967 and the beginning of the occupation, several American Secretaries of State have submitted plans to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All these plans met the same fate: they were torn up and thrown in the trash.
The same sequence of events has been repeated time after time: In Jerusalem, hysteria sets in. The Foreign Office stands up on its hind legs and swears to defeat the evil design. The media unanimously condemns the wicked plot. The Secretary of State of the day is pilloried as an anti-Semite. The Israeli lobby in Washington mobilizes for total war.
For example: the Rogers Plan of Richard Nixon’s first Secretary of State, William Rogers. In the early 70s he submitted a detailed peace plan, the principal point of which was the withdrawal of Israel to the 1967 borders,
with, at most, “insubstantial alterations”.
What happened to the plan?
In face of the onslaught of “the Friends of Israel” in Washington, Nixon buckled under, as have all presidents since Dwight D. Eisenhower, a man of principle who did not need the Jewish votes. No president will quarrel with the government of Israel if he wants to be re-elected, or – like Bush now – to end his term in office with dignity and pass the presidency to another member of his party. Any senator or congressman who takes a stand that the Israeli embassy does not like, is committing Harakiri, Washington-style.
The fate of the peace plans of successive Secretaries of State confirms, on the face of it, the thesis of the two professors, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, that caused a great stir earlier this year. According to them, whenever there is a clash in Washington between the national interests of the United States and the national interests of Israel, it is the Israeli interests which win.
WILL THIS happen this time, too?
Baker has presented his plan at a time when the US is facing disaster in Iraq. President Bush is bankrupt, his party has lost control of Congress and may soon lose the White House. The neo-conservatives, most of them Jews and all of them supporters of the Israeli extreme Right, who were in control of American foreign policy, are being removed one by one, and this week yet another, the American ambassador to the United Nations, was kicked out. Therefore, it is possible that this time the President may listen to expert advice.
But that is in serious doubt. The Democratic Party is subject to the “pro-Israeli” lobby no less than the Republican Party, and perhaps even more. The new congress was indeed elected under the banner of opposition to the continuation of the war in Iraq, but its members are not jihadi suicide bombers. They depend on the “pro-Israeli” lobby. To paraphrase Shamir: “The plan is the same plan, and the trash bin is the same trash bin.”
In Jerusalem, the first reaction to the report was total rejection, expressing a complete confidence in the ability of the lobby to choke it at birth. “Nothing has changed,” Olmert declared. “There is no one to talk with,” – immediately echoed by the mouth and pen brigade in the media. “We cannot talk with them as long as the terrorism goes on,” a famous expert declared on TV. That’s like saying: “One cannot talk about ending the war as long as the enemy is shooting at our troops.”
On the Mearsheimer-Walt thesis I wrote that “the dog is wagging the tail and the tail is wagging the dog.” It will be interesting to see which will wag which this time: the dog its tail or the tail its dog.
*Frank Rich Hits Iraq Study Group and Its ‘Bogus’ Proposals*
Posted by: “hapi22” firstname.lastname@example.org robinsegg
Sun Dec 10, 2006 9:24 am (PST)
There are a few fundamental problems with the Iraq Study Group report.
(1) No one was appointed to the Iraq Study Group who had DISSENTED from
the war … everyone in the Group had originally supported the invasion.
(2) The members decided from Day One that whatever they issued in the
way of a report would have to be agreed to by all the members —
guaranteeing that the report’s conclusions would be safe, self-evident
and the result of compromise. Nothing daring or innovative would be
(3) It is now hopelessly out of date, since events have already moved
swiftly past the point at which the Group was operating and obtaining
(4) Some of the members have little or no foreign affairs experience,
such as Sandra Day O’Connor and Vernon Jordan. List can be seen at:
*Frank Rich Hits Iraq Study Group and Its ‘Bogus’ Proposals*
by E&P Staff
Editor & Publisher
December 10, 2006
NEW YORK Don’t count New York Times columnist Frank Rich among
those hailing the work of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which
produced its long-awaited report this week. Among other problems: Their
much-needed policy proposals for Iraq were “bogus,” he writes in his
Even so, other pundits have praised the new bi-partisanship and how that
could get more things done in D.C. Of this Rich retorts: “Only in
Washington could an unelected panel of retirees pass for public-policy
Rich notes (in his column available via TimesSelect) the long buildup
for this “holiday release” — it could have been had a movie title such
as “The Way Forward” — before the letdown.
The panel’s recommendations, he writes, “are bogus because the few that
have any teeth are completely unattainable. Of course, it would be
fantastic if additional Iraqi troops would stand up en masse after an
infusion of new American military advisers. And if reconciliation among
the country’s warring ethnicities could be mandated on a tight schedule.
And if the Bush White House could be persuaded to persuade Iran and
Syria to ‘influence events’ for America’s benefit. It would also be nice
if we could all break the bank in Vegas.
“The group’s coulda-woulda recommendations are either nonstarters,
equivocations (it endorses withdrawal of combat troops by 2008 but is
averse to timelines) or contradictions of its own findings of fact. To
take just one example: Even if we could wave a magic wand and quickly
create thousands more military advisers (and Arabic-speaking ones at
that), there’s no reason to believe they could build a crack Iraqi army
and police force where all those who came before have failed. As the
report points out, the loyalties and capabilities of the existing units
are suspect as it is.
[NOTE FROM ME: The problem (within the ranks of the Iraqi
police and security forces) is NOT that they can’t handle a
rifle and shoot straight (they can) … the problem is that
they think of themselves, FIRST, as part of their sub-group,
Sunnis or Shias, and only SECOND as Iraqis. In fact, any sense
of fighting for “Iraq” is probably way down on their list of
what they are fighting FOR or against.]
“By prescribing such placebos, the Iraq Study Group isn’t plotting a way
forward but delaying the recognition of our defeat. Its real aim is to
enact a charade of progress to pacify the public while Washington waits,
no doubt in vain, for Mr. Bush to return to the real world.”
Rich concludes by predicting that Bush “will stay the course, with
various fake-outs along the way to keep us from thinking we’ve ‘lost,’
until the whole mess is deposited in the lap of the next president.” But
he adds that it is a “reckless flight from reality to suppose that the
world will stand still while we dally. The Iraq Study Group’s insistence
on dragging out its deliberations until after Election Day for the sake
of domestic politics mocked and undermined the urgency of its own
mission. Meanwhile the violence metastasized. Eleven more of our
soldiers were killed on the day the group finally put on its show.”
Rich then noted the Iraq-Vietnam parallels, with President Johnson’s new
Pentagon chief, Clark Clifford, ordering up a commission to study the
faltering war effort in 1968: “In March, a bipartisan group of wise men
(from Dean Acheson to Omar Bradley) was summoned to the White House,
where it seconded the notion of disengagement.
“But there the stories of Vietnam and Iraq diverge. Those wise men,
unlike the Iraq Study Group, were clear in their verdict. And that Texan
president, unlike ours, paid more than lip service to changing course.
He abruptly announced he would abjure re-election, restrict American
bombing and entertain the idea of peace talks. But as Stanley Karnow
recounts, it was already too late, after some 20,000 casualties and
three years of all-out war, for an easy escape: ‘The frustrating talks
were to drag on for another five years. More Americans would be killed
in Vietnam than had died there previously. And the United States itself
would be torn apart by the worst internal upheavals in a century.’
“The lesson in that is clear and sobering: As bad as things may seem
now, they can yet become worse, and not just in Iraq. The longer we
pretend that we have not lost there, the more we risk losing other wars
we still may salvage, starting with Afghanistan.
[NOTE FROM ME: The war in Afghanistan, which at first appeared
to be a victory of sorts for us, is now on the brink of
becoming an Iraq-like DISASTER.]
“The members of the Iraq Study Group are all good Americans of proven
service to their country. But to the extent that their report forestalls
reality and promotes pipe dreams of one last chance for success in this
fiasco, it will be remembered as just one more delusional milestone in
the tragedy of our age.”
Fellow Times columnist David Brooks takes a quite different approach
Sunday, with a futuristic column that opens: “In fall 2007, the United
States began to withdraw troops from Iraq, and so began the Second
Thirty Years’ War.” Note: It ends badly.
[NOTE FROM ME: David Brooks is a complete fool and NOT worth
Read this at:
The Roman Empire is falling – so it turns to Iran and Syria
The Roman Empire is falling. That, in a phrase, is what the Baker report says. The legions cannot impose their rule on Mesopotamia.
Just as Crassus lost his legions’ banners in the deserts of Syria-Iraq, so has George W Bush. There is no Mark Antony to retrieve the honour of the empire. The policy “is not working”. “Collapse” and “catastrophe” – words heard in the Roman senate many a time – were embedded in the text of the Baker report. Et tu, James?
This is also the language of the Arab world, always waiting for the collapse of empire, for the destruction of the safe Western world which has provided it with money, weapons, political support. First, the Arabs trusted the British Empire and Winston Churchill, and then they trusted the American Empire and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Truman and Eisenhower administrations and all the other men who would give guns to the Israelis and billions to the Arabs – Nixon, Carter, Clinton, Bush…
And now they are told that the Americans are not winning the war; that they are losing. If you were an Arab, what would you do?
Be sure, they are not asking this question in Washington. The Middle East – so all-important (supposedly) in the “war on terror” – in itself, a myth – doesn’t really matter in the White House. It is a district, a map, a region, every bit as amorphous as the crescent of “crisis” which the Clinton administration invented when it wanted to land its troops in Somalia. How to get out, how to save face, that’s the question. To hell with the people who live there: the Arabs, the Iraqis, the men, women and children whom we kill – and whom the Iraqis kill – every day.
Note how our “spokesmen” in Afghanistan now acknowledge the dead woman and children of Nato airstrikes as if it is quite in order to slaughter these innocents because we are at war with the horrid Taliban.
Some of the same mindset has arrived in Baghdad, where “coalition” spokesmen also – from time to time – jump in front of the video-tape evidence by accepting that they, too, kill women and children in their war against “terror”. But it is the sentences of impotence that doom empires. “The ability of the United States to influence events within Iraq is diminishing.” There is a risk of a “slide towards chaos [sic] [that] could trigger the collapse of Iraq’s government and a humanitarian catastrophe.”
But hasn’t that already happened? “Collapse” and “catastrophe” are daily present in Iraq. America’s ability “to influence events” has been absent for years. And let’s just re-read the following sentence: “Violence is increasing in scope and lethality. It is fed by a Sunni Arab insurgency. Shiite [Shia] militias, death squads, al-Qa’ida and widespread criminality. Sectarian conflict is the principal challenge to stability.”
Come again? Where was this “widespread criminality,” this “sectarian conflict” when Saddam, our favourite war criminal, was in power? What do the Iraqis think about this? And how typical that the American media went at once to hear Bush’s view of the Baker report – rather than the reaction of the Iraqis, those who are on the receiving end of our self-induced tragedy in Mesopotamia.
They will enjoy the idea that American troops should be “embedded” with Iraqi forces – not so long ago, it was the press that had to be “embedded” with the Americans! – as if the Romans were ready to put their legions amid the Goths, Ostrogoths and Visigoths to ensure their loyalty.
What the Romans did do, of course – and what the Americans would never do – is offer their subjects Roman citizenship. Every tribe – in Gaul or Bythinia or Mesopotamia – who fell under Roman rule became a citizen of Rome. What could Washington have done with Iraq if it had offered American citizenship to every Iraqi? There would have been no insurrection, no violence, no collapse or catastrophe, no Baker report. But no. We wanted to give these people the fruits of our civilisation – not the civilisation itself. From this, they were banned.
And the result? The nations we supposedly hated – Iran and Syria – are now expected to save us from ourselves. “Given the ability [sic] of Iran and Syria to influence events and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage [sic] them constructively.”
I love those words. Especially “engage”. Yes, the “influence of America” is diminishing. The influence of Syria and Iran is growing. That just about sums up the “war on terror”. Any word yet, I wonder, from Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara?
The Baker panel considered four options, all of which it rejected:
Cut And Run
Baker believes it would cause a humanitarian disaster, while al-Qa’ida would expand further.
Stay The Course
Baker accepts that current US policy is not working. Nearly 100 Americans are dying every month. The US is spending $2bn (#1bn) a week and has lost public support.
Send In More Troops
Increases in US troop levels would not solve the cause of violence in Iraq. Violence would simply rekindle as soon as US forces moved.
If the country broke up into its Shia, Sunni and Kurd regions, it would lead to ethnic cleansing and mass population moves.
Baker outlines a fifth option – ‘responsible transition’ – in which the number of US forces could be increased to shore up the Iraqi army while it takes over primary responsibility for combat operations. US troops would then decrease slowly.
Oil for Sale: Iraq Study Group Recommends Privatization
In its heavily anticipated report released on Wednesday, the Iraq Study Group made at least four truly radical proposals.
The Iraq Study Group may not have a solution for how to end the war, but it does have a way for its corporate friends to make money.
In its heavily anticipated report released on Wednesday, the Iraq Study Group made at least four truly radical proposals.
The report calls for the United States to assist in privatizing Iraq’s national oil industry, opening Iraq to private foreign oil and energy companies, providing direct technical assistance for the “drafting” of a new national oil law for Iraq, and assuring that all of Iraq’s oil revenues accrue to the central government.
President Bush hired an employee from the U.S. consultancy firm Bearing Point Inc. over a year ago to advise the Iraq Oil Ministry on the drafting and passage of a new national oil law. As previously drafted, the law opens Iraq’s nationalized oil sector to private foreign corporate investment, but stops short of full privatization. The ISG report, however, goes further, stating that “the United States should assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise.” In addition, the current Constitution of Iraq is ambiguous as to whether control over Iraq’s oil should be shared among its regional provinces or held under the central government. The report specifically recommends the latter: “Oil revenues should accrue to the central government and be shared on the basis of population.” If these proposals are followed, Iraq’s national oil industry will be privatized and opened to foreign firms, and in control of all of Iraq’s oil wealth.
The proposals should come as little surprise given that two authors of the report, James A. Baker III and Lawrence Eagleburger, have each spent much of their political and corporate careers in pursuit of greater access to Iraq’s oil and wealth.
“Pragmatist” is the word most often used to describe Iraq Study Group co-chair James A. Baker III. It is equally appropriate for Lawrence Eagleburger. The term applies particularly well to each man’s efforts to expand U.S. economic engagement with Saddam Hussein throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Not only did their efforts enrich Hussein and U.S. corporations, particularly oil companies, it also served the interests of their own private firms.
On April 21,1990, a U.S. delegation was sent to Iraq to placate Saddam Hussein as his anti-American rhetoric and threats of a Kuwaiti invasion intensified. James A. Baker III, then President George H.W. Bush’s secretary of state, personally sent a cable to the US embassy in Baghdad instructing the U.S. ambassador to meet with Hussein and to make clear that, “as concerned as we are about Iraq’s chemical, nuclear, and missile programs, we are not in any sense preparing the way for preemptive military unilateral effort to eliminate these programs.”*
Instead, Baker’s interest was focused on trade, which he described as the “central factor in the US-Iraq relationship.” From 1982, when Reagan removed Iraq from the list of countries supporting terrorism, until August 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait, Baker and Eagleburger worked with others in the Reagan and Bush administrations to aggressively and successfully expand this trade.
The efficacy of such a move may best be described in a memo written in 1988 by the Bush transition team arguing that the United States would have “to decide whether to treat Iraq as a distasteful dictatorship to be shunned where possible, or to recognize Iraq’s present and potential power in the region and accord it relatively high priority. We strongly urge the latter view.” Two reasons offered were Iraq’s “vast oil reserves,” which promised “a lucrative market for U.S. goods,” and the fact that U.S. oil imports from Iraq were skyrocketing. Bush and Baker took the transition team’s advice and ran with it.
In fact, from 1983 to 1989, annual trade between the United States and Iraq grew nearly sevenfold and was expected to double in 1990, before Iraq invaded Kuwait. In 1989, Iraq became the United States’ second-largest trading partner in the Middle East: Iraq purchased $5.2 billion in U.S. exports, while the U.S. bought $5.5 billion in Iraqi petroleum. From 1987 to July 1990, U.S. imports of Iraqi oil increased from 80,000 to 1.1 million barrels per day.
Eagleburger and Baker had much to do with that skyrocketing trade. In December 1983, then undersecretary of state Eagleburger wrote the U.S. Export-Import Bank to personally urge it to begin extending loans to Iraq to “signal our belief in the future viability of the Iraqi economy and secure a U.S. foothold in a potentially large export market.” He noted that Iraq “has plans well advanced for an additional 50 percent increase in its oil exports by the end of 1984.” Ultimately, billions of loans would be made or backed by the U.S. government to the Iraqi dictator, money used by Hussein to purchase U.S. goods.
In 1984, Baker became treasury secretary, Reagan opened full diplomatic relations with Iraq, and Eagleburger became president of Henry Kissinger’s corporate consultancy firm, Kissinger Associates.
Kissinger Associates participated in the U.S.-Iraq Business Forum through managing director Alan Stoga. The Forum was a trade association representing some 60 American companies, including Bechtel, Lockheed, Texaco, Exxon, Mobil, and Hunt Oil. The Iraqi ambassador to the United States told a Washington, D.C., audience in 1985, “Our people in Baghdad will give priority – when there is a competition between two companies – to the one that is a member of the Forum.” Stoga appeared regularly at Forum events and traveled to Iraq on a Forum-sponsored trip in 1989 during which he met directly with Hussein. Many Kissinger clients were also members of the Forum and became recipients of contracts with Hussein.
In 1989, Eagleburger returned to the state department now under Secretary Baker. That same year, President Bush signed National Security Directive 26 stating, “We should pursue, and seek to facilitate, opportunities for U.S. firms to participate in the reconstruction of the Iraqi economy, particularly in the energy area.”
The president then began discussions of a $1 billion loan guarantee for Iraq one week before Secretary Baker met with Tariq Aziz at the state department to seal the deal.
But once Hussein invaded Kuwait, all bets were off. Baker made a public plea for support of military action against Hussein, arguing, “The economic lifeline of the industrial world runs from the Gulf and we cannot permit a dictator such as this to sit astride that economic lifeline.”
Baker had much to gain from increased access to Iraq’s oil. According to author Robert Bryce, Baker and his immediate family’s personal investments in the oil industry at the time of the first Gulf War included investments in Amoco, Exxon and Texaco. The family law firm, Baker Botts, has represented Texaco, Exxon, Halliburton and Conoco Phillips, among other companies, in some cases since 1914 and in many cases for decades. (Eagleburger is also connected to Halliburton, having only recently departed the company’s board of directors). Baker is a longtime associate and now senior partner of Baker Botts, which this year, for the second year running, was recipient of “The International Who’s Who of Business Lawyers Oil & Gas Law Firm of the Year Award,” while the Middle East remains a central focus of the firm.
This past July, U.S. Energy Secretary Bodman announced in Baghdad that senior U.S. oil company executives would not enter Iraq without passage of the new law. Petroleum Economist magazine later reported that U.S. oil companies put passage of the oil law before security concerns as the deciding factor over their entry into Iraq. Put simply, the oil companies are trying to get what they were denied before the war or at anytime in modern Iraqi history: access to Iraq’s oil under the ground. They are also trying to get the best deal possible out of a war-ravaged and occupied nation. However, waiting for the law’s passage and the need to guarantee security of U.S. firms once they get to work, may well be a key factor driving the one proposal by the Iraq Study Group that has received great media attention: extending the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq at least until 2008.
As the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group are more thoroughly considered, we should remain ever vigilant and wary of corporate war profiteers in pragmatist’s clothing.
*All quotes are referenced in my book, The Bush Agenda.
Antonia Juhasz is a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, author of The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time, and a contributing author, with John Perkins and others, of A Game as Old as Empire: The Secret World of Economic Hit Men and the Web of Global Corruption. http://www.TheBushAgenda.net.
I don’t agree with the war, but I do appreciate what we are doing and have more than a few former colleagues currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and as a veteran it really burns my ass when people come back and turn on their brothers in arms the way that this guy has. In my opinion it is almost as if he has come back and spit on the graves of those who have died. If it is a war for oil why is the price if gas and oil steadily on the rise?
…And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference
Date: 03/11/05 at 7:48 AM
It depends whether one counts people like Cheney and Rumsfeld as “brothers in arms.” Maybe you heard the saying: “Support our troops, bring them home” of various veterans organizations in the US, UK, and elsewhere.
The “war for oil” point does not mean automatically “a war for low oil prices for the consumer in the US”. It means a war for the profit interests of corporations like Halliburton, which may not be the same interests as those of the average motorist. Another factor here (mentioned, eg, by Wolfowitz of the Bush administration) is that people in the Bush administration feared an uprising against the monarchical dictatorship of biggest supplier Saudi Arabia, so they wanted to control potential second biggest supplier Iraq (also with the idea of maybe from bases in Iraq restoring the Saudi monarchy). However, they underestimated the problems in getting oil from Iraq (some of them started to believe their own propaganda of Iraqi masses all welcoming the US Army with flowers).
I appreciate your questions and hope my replies are some use.
I am a 24-year-old American who also disagrees with the war in Iraq. I just wanted to thank you for publishing the article “US officer: ‘Why I disagree with Bush’s war for oil’” (GLW #618). I think it is important that the world realise that not all Americans agree with what Bush is doing and that we profusely apologise for his actions. I plead that you not hate all Americans, just the ones that don’t realise Bush’s tactics. Please send my thoughts, wishes and regards to all in Australia. My husband lived there for two years and he hopes to return for a visit with me in tow.
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