Tuesday, April 25, 2006

ON IRAQ: The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time

This stuff should be front page news, and even though it isn't, people are figuring it out, and demanding windfall profits taxes on oil companies that use our tax dollars and troops to expand their assets and repay us by raising gas prices and giving their execs $400 million parting gifts.

Others like Greg Palast and Naomi Klein have done a good job of covering this, but the story has yet to become part of the mainstream discussion, not even among Democrats and some progressive talk shows like Al Franken, on why we are in Iraq, and if and how we need to leave.

I suspect that why it isn't discussed is that if it was, it would be game over in public opinion since the motive is not access for American consumers and our economy (the Middle East would sell to their biggest consumer no matter what), but access for American oil companies, so they can reap the profits and determine the price and flow.

Two different stories, one from the top CIA oil analyst and another from the minutes of a meeting between Tony Blair and W, indicate Bush invade to keep Saddam from pumping too much oil when the sanction came off and driving price down--we invaded for the privilege of paying MORE for gas.


The title includes another under-reported aspect of the Iraq War story--that it is a more overt version of what we do on behalf of business in other countries. You can have any kind of government you wants as long as it does drive too hard a bargain for its natural resources, pay it's workers too much, or spend too much on social services like education and medical care (which might require taxing businesses). This system works well for business, but not the rest of us. It's why essentially every country in South America have elected anti-American governments because people are outraged at this economic foreign policy that few Americans have even heard of, neoliberalism, that sounds nice but works in the ugly way I just described.

It also sounds remarkably like what the Bush administration is doing to the US, and gradually getting the same results in public outrage.

A good brief summary of neoliberalism:

How "economic hit men" set it up and enforce it:

The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time author's website:


Greg Palast's timeline of Iraq oil meeings (with video interviews with the players):


Detailed report on restructuring of Iraq's oil industry to benefit our oil companies:


Colin Powell's chief of staff on oil motive for Iraq War:


Broader background on oil, war, and foreign policy:

Naomi Klein on privatization and its effects in Iraq:

Economic war crimes in Geneva and Hague Conventions:

The Hague Convention of 1907 (IV) see articles 47, 53, 55

The Geneva Convention of 1949 (IV) we've broken almost every section of article 147, and Bush has personally broken article 148.



Tuesday, April 25th, 2006

Antonia Juhasz on The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time


Chevron has seen its most profitable years in its entire 125-year history over the last two years. They are making out like bandits. They have been at the forefront of advocating for decades for increased U.S. economic access to Iraq. And now, they are one of the few companies that are poised once the new oil law is implemented. And that oil law has its history in the U.S. State Department, in the Iraqi Oil and Energy Working Group that formed right before the war.

... At the end of Saddam Hussein's tenure, he had signed about 30 contracts with companies from all around the world to give them access to Iraq's oil sector. None of those contracts were with the United States or U.S. oil companies. The Cheney Energy Task Force, that met at the very beginning of the Bush administration, mapped out foreign suitors to Iraqi oil, listed all of the companies, all of the countries, the fields that they had access to, within a document that said we need --the U.S. needs to get greater access to Middle East oil. [Mike's note: this task force met before 9/11]

AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us who Cheney met with?

ANTONIA JUHASZ: Cheney met with -- thank goodness for the Supreme Court, that ruled to release these documents, because otherwise they were completely secret. He met with Bechtel, Chevron, Halliburton, Exxon, all of the largest oil companies and all of the largest oil engineering companies, and they decided we need to increase our access to Middle Eastern oil.


ANTONIA JUHASZ: Bremer became the dictator of Iraq. His orders laid out the law. Now, probably the most important thing to know is that that was completely illegal under international law. The Geneva Conventions are very specific about what an occupying power should do. It must provide basic security and services. It cannot change the laws or the political structure of the country it occupies. The Bush administration did exactly the opposite -- changed all the fundamental economic and political laws and utterly failed to provide for the security and the basic needs of the Iraqi people. What you hear most often in Iraq today is people saying, “Please just put us back where we were before you came.”



AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Antonia Juhasz, author and activist, wrote The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time. Now, gas is over $3 in many places. What's the connection?

ANTONIA JUHASZ: Well, here's the connection. The Bush administration is the most beholden administration probably in American history to the oil and gas industry. This is the first time in history that the President, Vice President and Secretary of State are all former energy company officials. In fact, both Bush and Rice have more experience as energy company officials than they do as government leaders. Cheney outbeats them. He’s spent 30 years working for government. However, his five years at Halliburton have been so profitable that you might say that his Halliburton years outweigh their oil years, because Bush was a very bad oil company executive. But their links to the oil sector are deep.

The oil industry provided more than 13 times more money to the Bush-Cheney ticket in the first round of elections than it did to his competitor, nine times more in the second. And this industry has been absolutely coddled by the Bush administration: enormous tax subsidies, deregulation, and, I would argue, a war waged on their behalf.


AMY GOODMAN: In your chapter "A Mutual Seduction," you have a quote of Ken Derr, the former C.E.O. of Chevron, 1998. I know his tenure well. It was the time in the Niger Delta that Chevron was involved with the killing of two Nigerian villagers, who were protesting yet another oil spill of Chevron and jobs not being given to the local community as they drilled for oil. But your quote here says, “Iraq possesses huge reserves of oil and gas, reserves I would love Chevron to have access to.” And then you follow that by a quote of John Gibson, Chief Executive of Halliburton Energy Service Group, who says, “We hope Iraq will be the first domino and that Libya and Iran will follow. We don't like being kept out of markets, because it gives our competitors an unfair advantage.”

ANTONIA JUHASZ: I love it when they’re honest. It doesn’t happen very often. Yeah, these companies have been explicit, for decades, that they want in, particularly to Iraq. The reason is obvious. Iraq certainly has the second largest oil reserves in the world, but some geologists believe it has the largest, at least on par with Saudi Arabia. That's a tremendous pool of wealth. And not just have the companies been clear that they want access to that oil, U.S. leaders -- for example, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Zalmay Khalilzad, Donald Rumsfeld -- have all been explicit for the past 20 years that what the U.S. needs to do is gain increased access to the region's oil, and most explicitly during the ‘90s, Iraq's oil, that this is something that shouldn’t be in the hands of Saddam Hussein.

The difference, going into the current Bush administration, was that the rhetoric changed to and the reality changed to not just we need a new leader, we need a new -- a fully new political and economic structure in Iraq, and we need to be in that country to make sure that that structure gets put into place. And that is exactly what they have achieved, and now Halliburton, Chevron, Bechtel, Lockheed Martin have profited tremendously from this process already. Chevron’s -- the U.S. value of Iraqi oil, imported Iraqi oil, has increased by 86% between 2003 and 2004. Those profits have gone to Exxon, Chevron and Marathon.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

LBJ commercial on NUKE happy conservatives


The current talk of using nuclear bunker busters in Iran reminded me of this commercial from the 1964 presidential race, when LBJ was running against uber-hawk Goldwater.

Rather than hollow me-tooism, this is how LBJ framed those eager to use our nuclear arsenal.


Another on nukes,


Some of the outside groups might have done stuff this good, but most of the candidates including Kerry seemed to be in a contest to see whose commercials could be more bland, inoffensive, and forgetable.

People still talk about this one. What the hell happened? Are all the current Democratic consultants fifth columnists or retarded?

More LBJ commercials:


public relations

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Letter on Bush plans to NUKE IRAN

To my elected representatives in Congress:

April 8, 2006

Rep. Waxman & Sen. Boxer & Feinstein,

Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist at the New Yorker, is reporting that the Bush administration is planning pre-emptive air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Whatever Iran’s nuclear ambitions are, or weapons they have, they are not and will not be a threat to us given our arsenal of 10,000 nuclear warheads. It is nearly as unlikely that they would strike Israel given their arsenal of 200 or more and our close relationship with them. Anyone smart enough to gain political power in any country would remember MAD, mutually assured destruction, from the Cold War, and would know that the calculus would be even worse for anyone who used a nuke on us or gave a nuke to a terrorist group that used it on us—the country that did that would know he may harm us, but before the mushroom cloud cleared here, his country would no longer exist.

Last summer, Russia, China, and several former Soviet republics asked us when we were going to finish up our military operations in Asia and leave. I doubt that they would sit idly by while we invade another major oil producing country, effectively controlling the spigot for the whole world.

Before the Iraq War, in addition to the embarrassing, childish lies about ties to 9/11, WMD, and spreading democracy, a quieter argument was made that controlling Iraq’s oil was a way to break the back of OPEC, and lower the price of oil. Now BBC journalist Greg Palast has received State Department documents that indicate the purpose was to prop up the price of oil and keep Saddam from pumping more when the sanctions came off. This was verified in a portion of one of the Downing Street Memos recently that said Bush sent reassurances to Russia’s Putin that our invasion of Iraq would NOT drive down the price of oil.

So it appears that even that figleaf of a national security argument is a lie. We killed over a hundred thousand Iraqis and wasted the lives of our soldiers to pad the profits of oil companies, the defense industry, and a handful of other corporations.

America should not have to sacrifice so much of our blood and tax dollars so that so very, very few can profit.

As an elected representative of the people of California, you must do whatever you can to stop this. A good start would be telling America plainly why we invaded Iraq in the first place without referring to the insulting PR firm lies the Bush administration has fed us. Jack Murtha has done an admirable job telling us the truth about what’s going on in Iraq today. Now we need a Murtha to tell us how we got there.

You must stop Bush from attacking Iran.



Friday, April 07, 2006

NEW DOCUMENTARY: troops rebelled to end Vietnam War

You have got to see this trailer and see the documentary when it comes to your town.

It is funny that the accepted history is that war protesters were hippies who spit on veterans (which has turned out to be an urban legend or disinformation), and the stories like Ron Kovic of Born on the Fourth of July and John Kerry's Winter Soldiers are seen as an anomaly, footnote, or left out all together. In fact, there was a pretty widespread rebellion in the military against the war, this clip shows Walter Cronkite acknowledging it, and Jane Fonda doing a skit on it in front of thousands of troops who applaud:

Fonda played the part of an aide to President Richard Nixon.

"Richard," she exclaims. "There's a terrible demonstration going on outside."

Nixon replies: "Oh, there's always a demonstration going on outside."

Fonda: "But Richard. This one is completely out of control. They're storming the White House."

"Oh, I think I better call out the 3rd Marines." Nixon exclaims.

"You, can't, Richard," says Fonda.

"Why not?" says Nixon.

She answers: "Because they ARE the 3rd Marines!"

From Alternet article on history of the military rebellion:






Tuesday, April 04, 2006

New DSM: Bush told Putin Iraq War wouldn't cut OIL price

The Nation got a hold of a previously unreleased portion of one of the Downing Street Memos.

This one seems to confirm Greg Palast's recent column that said the goal of the war was to constrict not expand the flow of oil.

Bush assures Putin the price won't collapse, which means he was either lying or knew that the oil companies had no intention of opening the spigot wider once they got control of it.

If this turns out to be true, it destroys the last figleaf of a possibly defendable reason for invading Iraq--to secure oil for our economy.

This makes the war look like a variation of the no-bid contracts given to Halliburton, but in this case, the gift is the oil rights in Iraq, and like the Halliburton contracts, we get to pay for it.


BLOG | Posted 04/03/2006 @ 11:58am

Bush's Prewar Putin Strategy

David Corn

It was January 31, 2003. George W. Bush was moving toward war in Iraq, and he was meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the Oval Office to discuss various war-related matters. Last week, The New York Times disclosed portions of a secret memo--written by Blair's senior foreign policy adviser, David Manning--that summarized what the two leaders covered at this session, which Manning also attended. Blair, according to the memo, wanted Bush to fight for a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing military action against Saddam Hussein. Bush agreed to try for such a resolution, but he told Blair that the start date for the war, win or lose at the UN, would be March 10. Bush also proposed provoking a confrontation with Saddam's regime that would justify attacking Iraq. The pair chatted about postwar Iraq, agreeing that sectarian violence was unlikely.

And according to a previously undisclosed portion of this memo--a passage obtained by The Nation--Bush and Blair discussed what to do about Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was opposed to a war in Iraq. Bush told Blair he had come up with a possible solution: send Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to lecture Putin on free-market economics.


During his White House meeting with Berlusconi, Bush tapped the Italian to win over Putin by teaching him about fundamental economics. The Manning memo--according to sources who reviewed parts of the document and took notes--records how Bush described this idea to Blair the next day:
For Putin, the problem was oil. He had convinced himself, quite wrongly, that military action against Iraq would lead to the collapse of the oil price. Bush had encouraged Berlusconi to go and explain a thing or two to Putin about the laws of supply and demand.
Did Bush truly believe that oil was Putin's primary concern--not, say, American unilateralism--and that a lecture from Berlusconi on economics would turn around the Russian leader? How did Berlusconi react to Bush's suggestion? How did Blair respond to this "explain a thing or two" strategy? The memo says nothing else about this part of the Bush-Blair conversation.



public relations

US thinks first strike on Russia & China winnable (and Russia Reacts)

One reason the Cold War was relatively cold and our fights with China and Russia were relatively small wars and half of those were through proxies was because of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), the understanding that if either side used nukes it would escalate to the point that both sides would be completely destroyed, and therefore could never be done.

Now that has changed.

Foreign Affairs, the Journal of the Council on Foreign Relations, the premier bipartisan foreign policy think thank, now says that the US could soon completely destroy Russia or China's nuclear arsenals in a first strike.

Ironically, part of why Russia's nuclear stockpile is dwindling is we have been buying and destroying their warheads to keep them from falling into the hands of terrorists, Third World countries, or just going off in their silos. Russia may think twice about cooperating with that program after this.

Here's a snapshot of the Russian response from the Washington Post:

"The publication of these ideas in a respectable American journal has had an explosive effect," former Russian prime minister Yegor Gaidar wrote in an article in London's Financial Times newspaper. "Even those Russian journalists and analysts who are not prone to hysteria or anti-Americanism took it as an outline of the official position of the U.S. Administration."

"Today, it's accepted by most of the establishment that we are under pressure, that we are being surrounded, and it's leading to a defensive nationalist vision," said Sergei Rogov, director of the Institute of the United States and Canada in Moscow.

Maybe it's time to put some people in charge of our government who don't see nuclear war as pursuing their business interests by other means.


The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy
By Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press

From Foreign Affairs, March/April 2006

During the Cold War, many scholars and policy analysts believed that MAD made the world relatively stable and peaceful because it induced great caution in international politics, discouraged the use of nuclear threats to resolve disputes, and generally restrained the superpowers' behavior. (Revealingly, the last intense nuclear standoff, the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, occurred at the dawn of the era of MAD.) Because of the nuclear stalemate, the optimists argued, the era of intentional great-power wars had ended. Critics of MAD, however, argued that it prevented not great-power war but the rolling back of the power and influence of a dangerously expansionist and totalitarian Soviet Union. From that perspective, MAD prolonged the life of an evil empire.

This debate may now seem like ancient history, but it is actually more relevant than ever -- because the age of MAD is nearing an end. Today, for the first time in almost 50 years, the United States stands on the verge of attaining nuclear primacy. It will probably soon be possible for the United States to destroy the long-range nuclear arsenals of Russia or China with a first strike. This dramatic shift in the nuclear balance of power stems from a series of improvements in the United States' nuclear systems, the precipitous decline of Russia's arsenal, and the glacial pace of modernization of China's nuclear forces. Unless Washington's policies change or Moscow and Beijing take steps to increase the size and readiness of their forces, Russia and China -- and the rest of the world -- will live in the shadow of U.S. nuclear primacy for many years to come.

One's views on the implications of this change will depend on one's theoretical perspective. Hawks, who believe that the United States is a benevolent force in the world, will welcome the new nuclear era because they trust that U.S. dominance in both conventional and nuclear weapons will help deter aggression by other countries. For example, as U.S. nuclear primacy grows, China's leaders may act more cautiously on issues such as Taiwan, realizing that their vulnerable nuclear forces will not deter U.S. intervention -- and that Chinese nuclear threats could invite a U.S. strike on Beijing's arsenal. But doves, who oppose using nuclear threats to coerce other states and fear an emboldened and unconstrained United States, will worry. Nuclear primacy might lure Washington into more aggressive behavior, they argue, especially when combined with U.S. dominance in so many other dimensions of national power. Finally, a third group -- owls, who worry about the possibility of inadvertent conflict -- will fret that U.S. nuclear primacy could prompt other nuclear powers to adopt strategic postures, such as by giving control of nuclear weapons to lower-level commanders, that would make an unauthorized nuclear strike more likely -- thereby creating what strategic theorists call "crisis instability."