Tuesday, August 25, 2009

War on Terror shift to Pakistan over Iran Pipeline

I was puzzled why, after years of doing our bidding in the War on Terror, Pakistan suddenly was recognized as a haven of terrorists that must be dealt with--even though the same extremist groups had been there all along, often acting with the blessing and support of Pakistani intelligence, and tacitly the US.

I had a fleeting hope that Obama was actually going to end the War on Terror by extinguishing the relatively small terrorist groups that might be motivated to launch 9/11 type attacks against us, dig up the body of bin Laden, do the DNA tests, declare him dead, and thereby end the remaining public support for the War on Terror.

I should have known that was too much to hope for since Obama never addressed the real reasons for our invasions of Iraq or Afghanistan.

Iraq has tens of trillions of dollars worth of easy extracted oil, but no contracts with American companies before the war. One of our goals in the Iraq War was to force them to give up 88% of their oil income to oil companies as stated in a Bush sponsored Hydrocarbon Law. For comparison, the Saudis, only give up about half. Despite Bush and members of both parties in Washington strong-arming Iraqis to pass it, they could only get the Iraqi cabinet to pass it, never the whole parliament--even when the oil companies offered millions in bribes to each member.

Similarly, energy companies courted the Taliban for a pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to take natural gas to India but gave up in frustration shortly before 9/11. In 2006, India was concerned about continuing the project until America gave assurances that we would protect the pipeline. Those assurances were repeated in 2008. (Thanks to chill_wind at DU, who provided another good background link on the pipeline)

The Pakistan link of the pipeline route seemed to be in place--until IRAN proposed an alternative to the Afghanistan route that ran from Iran to Pakistan to India instead. And Pakistan accepted the offer:

Perhaps the most convenient distraction of the entire War on Terror has been the fact that war makes privatization easier. Energy economist John Foster notes how the focus on national security masks a critical motive of the AfPak war: “Rivalry for pipeline routes and energy resources reflects competition for power and control in the region.”

One such route is the massive Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-India-Pakistan pipeline, which would transport 30 billion cubic metres of natural gas per year. Meanwhile, Iran is planning an alternative pipeline through Pakistan and India, to which Pakistan has agreed to in principle.
(from Vancouver, BC's Straight.com)
What is the US response to losing this game of geopolitical chess? Patrick Clawson, Deputy Director for Research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said:

Washington fears the pipeline will reduce the West's economic leverage over Tehran - economic leverage that is necessary to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions.
The only thing I disagree with in that quote is that Washington probably doesn't want the economic leverage to make Iran drop their nuclear program, but instead wants Iran to drop their nuclear program so that the US has the full range of options to coerce Iran to conform to our oil & gas companies business interests.

The real decision-makers in Washington have no concern about nuclear proliferation. If they did, they would bomb or invade North Korea every time they did a nuclear test or launched a missile over Japan.

The real decision-makers in Washington have no concern about terrorism. If they did, they would have gone after the country that the FBI found sent one of their intelligence agents to pick up two of the hijackers at the Los Angeles airport, set them up in an apartment, and then funneled money to them from the their ambassador's wife until 9/11. The Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 also found this country same country involved in the attack: Saudi Arabia.

Business interests dictate foreign policy. If you want to find out how much, read the Pulitzer Prize winning history of oil, THE PRIZE by Daniel Yergin. When oil companies want something, they don't ask senators and presidents for favors, they give orders. You might also read OVERTHROW by Steven Kinzer on why the US overthrew various other countries governments, including the secular, democratically elected one in Iran in 1953.

Business uses our state department and military to coerce deals with other countries because it costs them next nothing. They make a tens of million dollars of political donations and reap hundreds of billions in profit when the politicians follow their orders and cook up a war. And we don't present them with a bill for the military action or get a cut of the profits from the oil or land we stole for them.

Worst of all though is that our elected leaders don't talk honestly about any of this with the public and instead misplace blame for events like 9/11 and make up embarrassingly juvenile fairy tales about an "Islamofascist" menace from countries that have no ability invade or hold territory in the United States, and no technology equal to ours unless we sell it to them. To the extent that we are not let in on the real debate, we do not have a real democracy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bottom line in health care debate: I trust democracy with my life more than for-profit corporations

Capitalism is fine when you are buying a tennis shoes, a computer, or car. If you make a bad choice, you are out a few bucks.

However, if you (or more likely your employer) choose a bad insurance company, it could bankrupt you or cost you your life when they deny your claim for treatment.

With a private insurance company, once you make a costly claim, you are nothing but a potential loss to them that they are desperate to get off the books, so they may deny that claim (with the PRIVATE death panels that already exist). Your only hope is to get media coverage to shame them into changing their mind. The only people who have clout with the company are major shareholders. It's a one dollar one vote system, and when you cost more than you give them, you have no vote.

In a government run system, if you were denied a claim, you would at least have recourse to complain to your elected officials who in turn could pressure bureaucrats. That politician wants the vote of you, your family, and friends.

I like one person one vote more than one dollar one vote.