Oil Factor In Bush's
'War On Tyranny'
By F William
03 March, 2005
recent public speeches, President George W Bush and others in the US
administration, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have
begun to make a significant shift in the rhetoric of war. A new "war
on tyranny" is being groomed to replace the outmoded "war
on terror". Far from being a semantic nuance, the shift is highly
revealing of the next phase of Washington's global agenda.
In his January 20
inaugural speech, Bush declared, "It is the policy of the United
States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions
in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny
in our world" (author's emphasis). Bush repeated the last formulation,
"ending tyranny in our world", in the State of the Union address.
In 1917 it was a "war to make the world safe for democracy",
and in 1941 it was a "war to end all wars".
The use of tyranny
as justification for US military intervention marks a dramatic new step
in Washington's quest for global domination. "Washington",
of course, today is shorthand for the policy domination by a private
group of military and energy conglomerates, from Halliburton to McDonnell
Douglas, from Bechtel to ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco, not unlike that
foreseen in president Dwight Eisenhower's 1961 speech warning of excessive
control of government by a military-industrial complex.
World War II after an aggressive Japanese attack on the US fleet at
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. While Washington stretched the limits of deception
and fakery in Vietnam and elsewhere to justify its wars, up to now it
has always at least justified the effort with the claim that another
power had initiated aggression or hostile military acts against the
United States of America. Tyranny has to do with the internal affairs
of a nation: it has to do with how a leader and a people interact, not
with its foreign policy. It has nothing to do with aggression against
the United States or others.
has had no problem befriending some of the world's all-time tyrants,
as long as they were "pro-Washington" tyrants, such as the
military dictatorship of President General Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan,
a paragon of oppression. We might name other befriended tyrants - Ilham
Aliyev's Azerbaijan, or Islam Karimov's Uzbekistan, or the al-Sabahs'
Kuwait, or Oman. Maybe Morocco, or Alvaro Uribe's Colombia. There is
a long list of pro-Washington tyrants.
For obvious reasons,
Washington is unlikely to turn against its "friends". The
new anti-tyranny crusade would seem, then, to be directed against "anti-American"
tyrants. The question is, which tyrants are on the radar screen for
the Pentagon's awesome arsenal of smart bombs and covert-operations
commandos? Rice dropped a hint in her Senate Foreign Relations Committee
testimony two days prior to the Bush inauguration. The White House,
of course, cleared her speech first.
Target some tyrannies,
Rice hinted at Washington's target list of tyrants amid an otherwise
bland statement in her Senate testimony. She declared, "in our
world there remain outposts of tyranny ... in Cuba, and Burma and North
Korea, and Iran and Belarus, and Zimbabwe". Aside from the fact
that the designated secretary of state did not bother to refer to "Burma"
under its present name, Myanmar, the list is an indication of the next
phase in Washington's strategy of preemptive wars for its global domination
As reckless as this
seems given the Iraq quagmire, the fact that little open debate on such
a broadened war has yet taken place indicates how extensive the consensus
is within the Washington establishment for the war policy. According
to the January 24 New Yorker report from Seymour Hersh, Washington already
approved a war plan for the coming four years of Bush II, which targets
10 countries from the Middle East to East Asia. The Rice statement gives
a clue to six of the 10. She also suggested Venezuela is high on the
non-public target list.
Forces units are reported already active inside Iran, according to the
Hersh report, preparing details of key military and nuclear sites for
presumable future bomb hits. At the highest levels, France, Germany
and the European Union are well aware of the US agenda for Iran, on
the nuclear issue, which explains the frantic EU diplomatic forays with
The US president
declared in his State of the Union speech that Iran was "the world's
primary state sponsor of terror". Congress is falling in line as
usual, beginning to sound war drums on Iran. Testimony to the Israeli
Knesset by the Mossad chief recently, reported in the Jerusalem Post,
estimated that by the end of 2005 Iran's nuclear-weapons program would
be "unstoppable". This suggests strong pressure from Israel
on Washington to "stop" Iran this year.
According also to
former US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official Vince Cannistraro,
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's new war agenda includes a list of
10 priority countries. In addition to Iran, it includes Syria, Sudan,
Algeria, Yemen and Malaysia. According to a report in the January 23
Washington Post, General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff (JCS), also has a list of what the Pentagon calls "emerging
targets" for preemptive war, which includes Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia,
the Philippines and Georgia, a list he has sent to Rumsfeld.
While Georgia may
now be considered under de facto North Atlantic Treaty Organization
(NATO) or US control since the election of President Mikheil Saakashvili,
the other states are highly suggestive of the overall US agenda for
the new "war on tyranny". If we add Syria, Sudan, Algeria
and Malaysia, as well as Rice's list of Cuba, Belarus, Myanmar and Zimbabwe,
to the JCS list of Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia and the Philippines, we
have some 12 potential targets for either Pentagon covert destabilization
or direct military intervention, surgical or broader. And, of course,
North Korea, which seems to serve as a useful permanent friction point
to justify US military presence in the strategic region between China
and Japan. Whether it is 10 or 12 targets, the direction is clear.
What is striking
is just how directly this list of US "emerging target" countries,
"outposts of tyranny", maps on to the strategic goal of total
global energy control, which is clearly the central strategic focus
of the Bush-Cheney administration.
General Norman Schwarzkopf,
who led the 1991 attack on Iraq, told the US Congress in 1990: "Middle
East oil is the West's lifeblood. It fuels us today, and being 77% of
the free world's proven oil reserves, is going to fuel us when the rest
of the world runs dry." He was talking about what some geologists
call peak oil, the end of the era of cheap oil, without drawing undue
attention to the fact.
That was in 1990.
Today, with US troops preparing a semi-permanent stay in Iraq and moves
to control global oil and energy chokepoints, the situation is far more
advanced. China and India have rapidly emerged as major oil-import economies
at a time when existing sources of the West's oil, from the North Sea
to Alaska and beyond, are in significant decline. Here we have a pre-programmed
scenario for future resource conflict on a global scale.
and the 'war on tyranny'
Cuba as a "tyranny target" is a surrogate for Hugo Chavez'
Venezuela, which is strongly supported by Russian President Vladimir
Putin, via Cuba, and now by China. Rice explicitly mentioned the close
ties between Cuban President Fidel Castro and Chavez. After a failed
CIA putsch attempt early in the Bush tenure, Washington is clearly trying
to keep a lower profile in Caracas. The goal remains regime change of
the recalcitrant Chavez, whose most recent affront to Washington was
his latest visit to China, where he signed a major bilateral energy
deal. Chavez also had the gall to announce plans to divert oil sales
away from the United States to China and sell its US refineries. Part
of the China deal would involve a new pipeline to a port on Colombia's
coast, which avoids US control of the Panama Canal. Rice told the Senate
that Cuba was an "outpost of tyranny" and in the same breath
labeled Venezuela a "regional troublemaker".
huge natural-gas resources serving mainly China and Japan, presents
an interesting case, since the country has apparently been cooperative
with Washington's "war on terror" since September 2001. Indonesia's
government raised an outcry in the wake of the recent tsunami disaster
when the Pentagon dispatched a US aircraft carrier and special troops
within 72 hours to land in Aceh province to do "rescue work".
The USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, with 2,000 supposedly Iraq-bound
Marines aboard, together with the USS Bonhomme Richard from Guam, landed
some 13,000 US troops in Aceh, which alarmed many in the Indonesian
military and government. The Indonesian government acceded, but demanded
that the US leave by the end of March and not establish a base camp
in Aceh. No less than deputy defense secretary and Iraq war strategist
Paul Wolfowitz, former US ambassador to Indonesia, made an immediate
"fact-finding" tour of the region. ExxonMobil runs a huge
LNG [liquefied natural gas] production in Aceh that supplies energy
to China and Japan.
If we add to the
list of "emerging targets" Myanmar, a state that, however
disrespectful of human rights, is also a major ally and recipient of
military aid from Beijing, a strategic encirclement potential against
China emerges quite visibly. Malaysia, Myanmar and Aceh in Indonesia
represent strategic flanks on which the vital sea lanes from the Strait
of Malacca, through which oil tankers from the Persian Gulf travel to
China, can be controlled. Moreover, 80% of Japan's oil passes here.
The US government's
Energy Information Administration identifies the Malacca Strait as one
of the most strategic "world oil transit chokepoints". How
convenient if in the course of cleaning out a nest of tyrant regimes
Washington might militarily acquire control of this strait. Until now
the states in the area have vehemently rejected repeated US attempts
to militarize the strait.
Control or militarization
of Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar would give US forces chokepoint control
over the world's busiest sea channel for oil from the Persian Gulf to
China and Japan. It would be a huge blow to China's efforts to secure
energy independence from the US. Not only has China already lost huge
oil concessions in Iraq with the US occupation, but China's oil supply
from Sudan is also under increasing pressure from Washington.
Taking Iran from
the mullahs would give Washington chokepoint control over the world's
most strategically important oil waterway, the Strait of Hormuz, a three-kilometer-wide
passage between the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. The major US military
base in the entire Middle East region is just across the strait from
Iran in Doha, Qatar. One of the world's largest gas fields also lies
Algeria is another
obvious target for the "war on tyranny". Algeria is the second-most-important
supplier of natural gas to continental Europe, and has significant reserves
of the highest-quality low-sulfur crude oil, just the kind US refineries
need. Some 90% of Algeria's oil goes to Europe, mainly Italy, France
and Germany. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika read the September 11, 2001,
tea leaves and promptly pledged his support for Washington's "war
on terror". Bouteflika has made motions to privatize various state
holdings, but not the vital state oil company, Sonatrach. That will
clearly not be enough to satisfy the appetite of Washington planners.
Sudan, as noted,
has become a major oil supplier to China, whose national oil company
has invested more than US$3 billion since 1999 building oil pipelines
from southern Sudan to the Red Sea port. The coincidence of this fact
with the escalating concern in Washington about genocide and humanitarian
disaster in oil-rich Darfur in southern Sudan is not lost on Beijing.
China threatened a United Nations veto against any intervention against
Sudan. The first act of a re-elected Dick Cheney late last year was
to fill his vice-presidential jet with UN Security Council members to
fly to Nairobi to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, an eerie
reminder of defense secretary Cheney's "humanitarian" concern
over Somalia in 1991.
of Somalia and Yemen is a matched pair, as a look at a Middle East/Horn
of Africa map will confirm. Yemen sits at the oil-transit chokepoint
of Bab el-Mandap, the narrow point controlling oil flow from the Red
Sea with the Indian Ocean. Yemen also has oil, although no one yet knows
just how much. It could be huge. A US firm, Hunt Oil Co, is pumping
200,000 barrels a day from there but that is likely only the tip of
Yemen fits nicely
as an "emerging target" with the other target nearby, Somalia.
the 1992 Somalia military action by George Herbert Walker Bush, which
gave the US a bloody nose, was in fact about oil too. Little known was
the fact that the humanitarian intervention by 20,000 US troops ordered
by father Bush in Somalia had little to do with the purported famine
relief for starving Somalis. It had a lot to do with the fact that four
major US oil companies, led by Bush's friends at Conoco of Houston,
Texas, and including Amoco (now BP), Condi Rice's Chevron, and Phillips,
all held huge oil-exploration concessions in Somalia. The deals had
been made with the former "pro-Washington" tyrannical and
corrupt regime of Mohamed Siad Barre.
Siad Barre was inconveniently
deposed just as Conoco reportedly hit black gold with nine exploratory
wells, confirmed by World Bank geologists. US Somalia envoy Robert B
Oakley, a veteran of the US mujahideen project in Afghanistan in the
1980s, almost blew the US game when, during the height of the civil
war in Mogadishu in 1992, he moved his quarters on to the Conoco compound
for safety. A new US cleansing of Somali "tyranny" would open
the door for these US oil companies to map and develop the possibly
huge oil potential in Somalia. Yemen and Somalia are two flanks of the
same geological configuration, which holds large potential petroleum
deposits, as well as being the flanks of the oil chokepoint from the
Belarus is also
no champion of human rights, but from Washington's standpoint, the fact
that its government is tightly bound to Moscow makes it the obvious
candidate for a Ukraine-style "Orange Revolution" regime-change
effort. That would complete the US encirclement of Russia on the west
and of Russia's export pipelines to Europe, were it to succeed. Some
81% of all Russian oil exports today go to Western European markets.
Such a Belarus regime change now would limit the potential for a nuclear-armed
Russia to form a bond with France, Germany and the EU as potential counterweight
against the power of the United States sole superpower, a highest priority
for Washington Eurasia geopolitics.
The military infrastructure
for dealing with such tyrant states seems to be shaping up as well.
In the January 24 New Yorker magazine, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh
cited Pentagon and CIA sources to claim that the position of Rumsfeld
and the warhawks is even stronger today than before the Iraq war. Hersh
reported that Bush signed an Executive Order last year, without fanfare,
placing major CIA covert operations and strategic analysis into the
hands of the Pentagon, sidestepping any congressional oversight. He
added that plans for the widening of the "war on terror" under
Rumsfeld were also agreed upon in the administration well before the
The Washington Post
confirmed Hersh's allegation, reporting that Rumsfeld's Pentagon had
created, by Presidential Order, and bypassing Congress, a new Strategic
Support Branch, which co-opts traditional clandestine and other functions
of the CIA. According to a report by US Army Colonel (retired) Dan Smith,
in Foreign Policy in Focus last November, the new SSB unit includes
the elite military special SEAL Team 6, Delta Force army squadrons,
and potentially a paramilitary army of 50,000 available for "splendid
little wars" outside congressional purview.
The list of emerging
targets in a new "war on tyranny" is clearly fluid, provisional,
and adaptable as developments change. It is clear that a breathtaking
array of future military and economic offensives is in the works at
the highest policy levels to transform the world. A world oil price
of US$150 a barrel or more in the next few years would be joined by
chokepoint control of the supply by one power if Washington has its
F William Engdahl
is the author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the
New World Order, published by Pluto Press Ltd.
F William Engdahl.)