As you are reassessing our military presence in Afghanistan, I would urge you talk frankly with the American people about the role pipelines play in our presence there, and whether that is in the interest of average Americans or just the energy companies scrambling to take business from Russia. Colin Powell's former chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson gave an excellent speech on this last week, and I was saddened that no president or cabinet member has talked this honestly about our foreign policy.
You can see his speech here.
Ironically, T. Boone Pickens made a similar point recently when he said if we pull out of Iraq, the Chinese will get all the best contracts. I think the American people should hear from our leaders that our troops are being used as leverage in oil company negotiations, don't you?
Pickens failed to point out that China would be getting those contracts without losing the life of one of their troops or taking the life of a single Iraqi. Maybe if our military wasn't available to our oil companies to enforce contract terms to their liking, they would learn how to negotiate as well as the Chinese.
The grown up lie about Iraq and Afghanistan is that we need those oil and gas resources, so we must kill and occupy to get it. But China and other countries are showing that's not necessary for access--you just have to make a deal favorable to both sides. The only thing that could be hurt by that approach is oil company profits margins, but we would save untold billions in unnecessary wars and would stop earning the animosity of people whose families we kill on behalf of Unocal, Chevron, and Exxon.
To the extent that you and your administration are not putting these business motives for our wars front and center in the public debate, you are following the Bush administration example and depriving the public of the chance to make an informed decision and neutering our democracy.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Part 2 of this lecture lays out oil and pipeline motives of our current policies from the edge of the Mediterranean to Pakistan.
Part 3 describes the implications for our democracy that the real motives for coups, occupation, and wars for oil are not discussed with the public.
The first part is very good too, but the other two are essential to understanding what are government is doing.
When our President Bush and now unfortunately President Obama talk about Iraq, Afghanistan, and our role in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Persian Gulf, they tell us fairy tales about fighting terrorism, spreading democracy, and stopping small nations from getting nukes, each is a demonstrable lie that makes us look like imbeciles for not tar and feathering and running out of office anyone who repeats that line of shit.
If we were after terrorists, we would choke off their supply of money, hunt down members of their groups with the CIA, special forces, and Predator drones. Then we would figure out how to make joining those groups less attractive by reducing grievances in the region that drive people into those groups.
One of those grievances is lack of democracy. We don't have to invade and occupy countries to spread democracy, we can simply turn off the supply of money and weapons to dictators in countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and in the past, Pakistan (oddly, once that country reverted to democracy from a dictatorship, they moved from our buddy list to shit list, and we noticed the terrorists who were there all along).
Likewise, while we should discourage nuclear proliferation, any country getting nukes will not be a threat to us. We have thousands and every world leader knows that if they launch one at us or give them to terrorists to detonate here, before one mushroom cloud clears here, their country will be burned off the map.
By contrast, Wilkerson discusses the drive to control the world's declining oil supplies, and two ways to deal with that end:
- having a plan to switch to other kinds of energy in an orderly fashion
- scrambling to control the last barrels then scrambling to replace oil when it's finally gone
We must ask the White House and our representatives in the House and Senate to cut the shit and be honest about what we are doing there, who demanded the action, and what benefit if any it will give average Americans, so we can decide how much more of our tax dollars and how many more of our troops we want to die there.
Wilkerson's bio & background on talk
MORE IRAQ OIL THEFT SOURCES
Monday, October 26, 2009
They want those who sign their petition to only give DIRECTLY to candidates who support Medicare for All or at least a strong public option until Congress passes such a bill and the president signs it. Their petition will be sent to the DNC, DSCC, & DCCC, along with signers messages like mine:
Democrats cannot afford to take their voter base for granted. If you desert us, we will desert you. The corporate Democrats might bring in the big bucks, but you need our small bucks AND OUR VOTES.
TELL THOSE CORRUPT BLUE DOG BASTARDS TO DO THE RIGHT THING FOR ONCE IN THEIR SQUALID CAREERS. Then they can go back to trolling for their after office gigs as lobbyists, CEO's, and corporate board members.
The Republicans went from the top of the world to fly-covered road kill in the blink of an eye. It could happen to the Democrats too if you don't neuter your filthy blue dogs.
Even if you have never given to these blanket funds, telling then YOU WON'T GIVE in the future will put the fear of God in them.
Here's the text of the petition:
To: Gov. Tim Kaine, Chair, Democratic National Committee (DNC)
Sen. Bob Menendez, Chair, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Chair, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)
I write to inform you that I am joining the Democratic Donor Strike against the DNC, DSCC and DCCC, which will last until the Democratic Congress passes - and President Obama signs - healthcare reform with a robust public option:* based on Medicare rates, not negotiated rates
* nation-wide, with no state opt-outs
* administered by Medicare, not a for-profit insurance company
* available immediately
Until then, I will only support individual Democrats who support single-payer Medicare for All (the 88 sponsors of HR 676), or (at a minimum) pledge to vote against a bill without a strong public option. I will also support challengers who support Healthcare Not Warfare.
We elected solid Democratic majorities in Congress and a Democratic President to fulfill Democratic promises of progressive change. We did not elect Republican Senator Olympia Snowe to break those promises.
And if a small number of corporate-funded Democrats in the Senate and House stand in the way, it is the job of our leaders - Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and President Obama - to persuade those Democrats to stand with the party that elected them. Even "fiscally conservative" Democrats have absolutely no excuse for voting against a robust public option, because CBO says it will save $110 billion.
So if I receive a fundraising email from the DNC, DSCC or DCCC, I will reply with a link to this petition. If I receive a fundraising call, I will tell the caller about this petition. If I receive a fundraising letter, I will return the envelope with a link to this petition:
We desperately need real health reform, starting with a robust public option. Until you deliver on your promises of change, I will reserve my contributions for individual Democrats who will truly fight for what we all believe.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Published on Thursday, October 22, 2009 by ReutersEssentially, Pickens is saying America can only get a piece of Iraq's oil if we have a gun in their face.
Pickens says US Firms 'Entitled' to Iraqi Oil
by Tom Doggett
WASHINGTON - Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens told Congress on Wednesday that U.S. energy companies are "entitled" to some of Iraq's crude because of the large number of American troops that lost their lives fighting in the country and the U.S. taxpayer money spent in Iraq. Boone, speaking to the newly formed Congressional Natural Gas Caucus, complained that the Iraqi government has awarded contracts to foreign companies, particularly Chinese firms, to develop Iraq's vast reserves while American companies have mostly been shut out.
"They're opening them (oil fields) up to other companies all over the world ... We're entitled to it," Pickens said of Iraq's oil. "Heck, we even lost 5,000 of our people, 65,000 injured and a trillion, five hundred billion dollars."
President Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw U.S. troops in Iraq.
"We leave there with the Chinese getting the oil," Pickens said.FULL TEXT
There are a couple of problems with that calculus though.
First, even if American oil companies get oil concessions in Iraq, there is no guarantee that means they will sell it to American citizens for less, or reward us for the sacrifices of tax dollars and our troops lives that it took to get those contracts.
And while we are rightly focused on the thousands of our troops who have died, the Iraqis might be thinking more about the over one million Iraqis killed, with every other family having lost at least one member.
The other thing to note is that China and other countries were somehow able to negotiate contracts with Iraq without invading or occupying the country. Could it be that one way to negotiate is to offer more favorable terms than you competitors instead putting a gun in the face of the people you're negotiating with?
That might be hard to grasp if you are used to calling up Washington and getting the CIA or Pentagon to remove leaders who don't agree to your terms. Military action is a form of welfare for oil companies.
That certainly seemed to be the case in Iraq since as soon as Dick Cheney came into office, he formed a secretive energy task force, and the only revealing document anyone could pry out of it was a map of Iraq's oil fields divided up and a list of foreign suitors for those fields.
And if you think taking care of the oil companies also meant getting cheap gas for the rest of us, think again. BBC journalist Greg Palast was told by a top CIA oil analyst that the war was to prevent the price of oil from going down. The industry's own journal said in 2002 that once sanctions came off Saddam, he could pump too much oil and drive the price DOWN. President Bush even seemed to confirm this when he sent Russia's Putin reassurances that an Iraq War would NOT result in lower oil prices.
The other thing the awarding of contracts to other countries proves is that the oil companies are lying, and getting politicians in DC to lie for them, about Iraqis demanding unreasonable terms that make it impossible for them to drill there and make a profit. Somehow those other countries think Iraq's terms are manageable.
In reality, it is our oil companies who are making unreasonable demands on the Iraqis. After the invasion, President Bush hired an American consulting firm to write an oil law for the Iraqis that gave 88% of their oil income to big oil companies, a deal none of Iraq's oil rich neighbors wouldn't take without a gun to their head, and a provision rarely discussed in the American press, who instead focus on the ethnic division of oil income. The Bush administration pushed so hard for this law that at one point Iraq's prime minister said Bush would fire him if it wasn't passed, and while the Iraqi cabinet approved the law, the full parliament wouldn't vote for it even when the big oil companies offered them bribes of millions of dollars each.
If the war was not about oil, then US politicians would not be browbeating the Iraqis to accept American oil company terms as Joe Biden recently did--they would be twisting the arms of the oil companies to make them give Iraqis the best possible deal so it wouldn't look like oil was why we invaded and to reduce animosity toward the US in the region.
The fact that the likes of T. Boone Pickens are complaining about the Iraqi government shows that we might have done the Iraqis one favor--given them a government that actually looks out for their interests instead of politicians simply lining their own pockets. Now if we could just do ourselves the same favor.