The Silk Road
On July 3,1979, President Carter signed a directive ordering secret aid and covert support for the mujahedeen opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul, Afghanistan. In December of 1979, the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, after which the CIA publicly aided the mujahedeen. The objective was to trap the Soviets in a long and costly war designed to drain their resources, much as the war in Vietnam had done to the United States.
The mujahedeen consisted of at least seven major factions, which fought amongst themselves for control over territory and the opium trade. The U.S., in order to covertly combat the Soviet Union, chose to give aid to the most extreme groups. When Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, he praised the mujahedeen as “freedom fighters” and increased aid to the Afghan warlords. The U.S. worked closely with Pakistan in providing this aid to the mujahedeen.
On March 21, 1985, President Reagan proclaimed “Afghanistan Day” in support of the cause of the mujahedeen. President Reagan issued National Security Decision Directive 166, which authorized increased covert military aid to the mujahedeen, including technology and military training. The CIA began supplying the mujahedeen with satellite reconnaissance data of Soviet targets and intercepts of Soviet communications. The CIA trained the mujahedeen in the art of sabotage, the use of C-4 plastic explosives, guerilla tactics, sniper training, as well as supplied them with C-4, anti-tank missiles, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, and other equipment and covert training.
“In March 1985, President Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 166, …[which authorized] stepped-up covert military aid to the mujahideen, and it made clear that the secret Afghan war had a new goal: to defeat Soviet troops in Afghanistan through covert action and encourage a Soviet withdrawal. The new covert U.S. assistance began with a dramatic increase in arms supplies – a steady rise to 65,000 tons annually by 1987, … as well as a ‘ceaseless stream’ of CIA and Pentagon specialists who traveled to the secret headquarters of Pakistan’s ISI on the main road near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. There the CIA specialists met with Pakistani intelligence officers to help plan operations for the Afghan rebels.” – Washington Post, July 19, 1992.
“[Stinger missiles forced] more tactical and air support changes in the last quarter of 1986 and the first quarter of 1987 than in the previous 7 years of the conflict” – United States Army, “Impact of the Stinger Missile on Soviet and Resistance Tactics in Afghanistan”, March 1989.
In order to support the Islamic jihad (holy war) against the Soviet Union, the U.S. supported camps for the Islamic mujahedeen, which became schools of Islamic radicalism. Working closely with the CIA in their efforts was a Saudi national named Osama bin Laden, a civil engineer and son of Muhammed Bin Laden, whose family owned the largest construction company in Saudi Arabia, and who had close ties to the Saudi royal family. Osama also worked with the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistan intelligence agency) to channel funds, arms, and training to the mujahedeen. In 1988, Osama bin Laden, with full knowledge of the U.S. government, created al-Qaeda, which organization served as a conglomerate of Islamic mujahedeen cells spread throughout dozens of countries.
“By 1985, Bin Laden had drawn on his family’s wealth, plus donations received from sympathetic merchant families in the Gulf region, to organize the Islamic Salvation Foundation, or al-Qaida, for this purpose.” – from the CIA report “Usama Bin Ladin: Islamic Extremist Financier”, 1996.
On February 8, 1988, Mikhail Gorbachev announced that the Soviet Union would withdraw its 100,000 troops from Afghanistan. On May 15, Soviet troops began their ten month withdrawal. Afghanistan was left in virtual anarchy, with nearly one quarter of the population living in refugee camps and infighting among the different factions struggling for power. In April of 1992, Burhannudin Rabbini and his faction took Kabul, thus becoming the dominant power in Afghanistan.
In 1994, the Taliban emerged in Afghanistan, with support from Pakistan, the U.S., Britain, and Saudi Arabia. By 1996, the Taliban had captured Kabul, wresting control of Aghanistan from the Rabbini regime.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Argentine oil company Bridas sought to exploit the oil reserves of Turkmenistan by building a pipeline through neighboring Afghanistan. At the same time, the U.S. backed its own proposal to similarly exploit the reserves of the Caspian Sea. Turkmenistan granted Bridas exploratory contracts to search for the coveted oil.
By March of 1995, Bridas had negotiated the rights for the pipeline deal with Turkmenistan and Pakistan, pending negotiations with Afghanistan, which had long suffered from the war with the Soviet Union and infighting among the different factions and warlords.
By 1996, Bridas had negotiated an agreement on the pipeline deal with the Rabbini regime. Carlos Bulgheroni, CEO of Bridas, sought to bring stability to the region by promoting the pipeline through an international consortium, and approached Unocal with its proposal. Unocal, reflecting U.S. interests in total control of the Caspian Sea Basin, was not interested in a partnership.
Among the key players for U.S. efforts to gain total economic control of the Caspian Sea Basin were Henry Kissinger, advisor to Unocal, and Dick Cheney, CEO of Halliburton. Among those acting as envoys on behalf of Unocal were Robert Oakley, former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, who helped to arm and train the mujahedeen in the 1980’s, and who was charged as a conspirator in the Iran-Contra arms sales to Iran, and Richard Armitage, the current U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary appointed by George W. Bush, former Navy SEAL, director with the Carlyle Group, and who was also involved in the Iran-Contra affair.
Washington developed its own consortium to exploit the Caspian Sea region known as the Central Asia Gas, or CentGas, consortium. Included among its partners are Saudi Arabia’s Delta Oil, backed by Saudi Prince Abdullah and King Fahd. John Imle, president of Unocal, approached Turkmenistan with its own pipeline proposal, to follow the same route as proposed by Bridas. With the prospect of an alliance with the U.S., Turkmenistan President Niyazov responded by asking Bridas to renegotiate its contract. Bridas responded, in turn, by filing three lawsuits with the International Chamber of Commerce against Turkmenistan for breach of contract, as well as a lawsuit against Unocal. The suit against Unocal, which was filed in Texas, was dismissed on the grounds that Turkmenistan law held jurisdiction over the case.
In October of 1995, the U.N. General Assembly heard the case of both claims to the rights for oil exploitation, the outcome of which was the announcement that Unocal would be awarded the Turkmenistan contract for the pipeline.
Bridas, however, still held the contract with Afghanistan. But that situation would soon change…
In the fall of 1996, with support from the CIA and ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistan intelligence agency), the Taliban regime took Kabul, overthrowing the Rabbani government. Bridas’ contract, as a result, was effectively annulled.
“The United States has been part and parcel to supporting the Taliban all along, and still is let me add… You have a military government [of President Musharraf] in Pakistan now that is arming the Taliban to the teeth… Let me note that [U.S.] aid has always gone to Taliban areas… We have been supporting the Taliban, because all our aid goes to the Taliban areas. And when people from the outside try to put aid into areas not controlled by the Taliban, they are thwarted by our own State Department… At that same moment, Pakistan initiated a major resupply effort, which eventually saw the defeat, and caused the defeat, of almost all of the anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan” – Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, speaking at the Hearing of the House International Relations Committee on “Global Terrorism and South Asia”, July 12, 2000.
Unocal began offering humanitarian aid to Afghan warlords and sought to form a council to supervise the project. It provided mobile phone networks, promised to help rebuild Kandahar, and donated money to the Center for Afghan Studies at the University of Nebraska. The U.S. State Department contributed funding to the Taliban for education. Unocal also worked on securing Northern Alliance controlled territories, flying Uzbekistan leader General Abdul Rashid Dostum to Dallas for negotiations.
Bridas, for its part, was not out of the game yet, and also provided the Taliban with communications equipment and pickup trucks. Bridas also formed an alliance with Ningarcho, a Saudi company, and proposed a new deal to the Taliban. Prince Turki el-Faisal, the Saudi intelligence chief, was aligned with Ningarcho, and who was known as a mentor to Osama bin Laden—who was in turn allied with the Taliban, and who was also publicly feuding with the Saudi royal family that were backing Unocal. By November of 1996, Bridas claimed that it had signed an agreement with both the Dostum regime and the Taliban.
In 1997, the Taliban continued to be wooed by Unocal, who flew officials from the regime on several occasions to Washington, D.C., but no agreements were signed. The Taliban demanded, in addition to royalties, that Unocal fund infrastructure projects including roads and power plants. The regime also announced its intentions to revive the Afghan National Oil Company, which had been abolished by the Soviet Union in the late 1970’s.
Osama bin Laden advised the Taliban to sign with Bridas, who offered the Taliban a higher bid and would provide access to warlords and local users, whereas Unocal’s proposal was for export purposes only. Bridas’ proposal would also not require outside financing, whereas Unocal’s deal would require a loan from the World Bank, leaving Afghanistan vulnerable to demands from the West.
In 1998, in response to the bombings of U.S. emabassies in Nairobi and Tanzania, for which blame was placed upon Osama bin Laden, U.S. President Bill Clinton ordered missile strikes against Afghanistan and Sudan, and the His administration broke off diplomatic ties with the Taliban and U.N. sanctions were imposed. Unocal immediately withdrew from the CentGas project and informed the State Department that the trans-Afghan pipeline proposal would not continue until the Taliban regime was removed from power.
“From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of the pipeline we have proposed across Afghanistan could not begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, lenders, and our company. We urge the Administration and the Congress to give strong support to the U.N.-led peace process in Afghanistan. The U.S. Government should use its influence to help find solutions to all of the region's conflicts. It's not going to be built until there is a single Afghan Government. That's the simple answer. We have the same relationship [with the Taliban] as we have with the other factions, which is that we have talked with them, we have briefed them, we have invited them to our headquarters to see what our projects are.” – John J. Maresca, Vice President of International Relations, Unocal, and Ambassador to Cypress under former President George Bush, speaking at the House Subcommittee of U.S. Interests in the Central Asian Republics, February 12, 1988.
During the course of 2001, President George W. Bush was in negotiations once more with the Taliban. In May of 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced a gift of $43 million to the Taliban, supposedly to help fight the “drug war”.
“To be precise, [opium is] being produced in the Taliban areas. You are talking to someone who has studied it. Whether there is some minor amount of heroin and opium being produced in the other areas is debatable. There is some obviously being produced everywhere, but the major fields that are being produced are in the Taliban-controlled areas.” – Dana Rohrabacher, California, speaking at the House Subcommittee of U.S. Interests in the Central Asian Republics, February 12, 1988.
In July, according to the French newspaper Le Figaro, Osama bin Laden checked into the American Hospital Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, where he remained from the 4th to the 14th to be treated for kidney problems. Among his visitors were members of his family and a CIA agent. The CIA has denied this meeting ever took place.
When negotiations with the Taliban broke down in July, the Bush administration began to take a hard stance against the Taliban. According to French authors Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie in their book “Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth”, during the last of the meetings with the Taliban in August, the U.S. envoy, Christina Rocca, head of Central Asian Affairs for the State Department, met with the Taliban ambassador in Islamabad, Pakistan, and told him to “accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs”.
In the months before September 11, President Bush ordered the FBI to back off investigations into Bin Laden family members.
“In the eight weeks since the attacks, over 1,000 suspects and potential witnesses have been detained. Yet, just days after the hijackers took off from Boston aiming for the Twin Towers, a special charter flight out of the same airport whisked 11 members of Osama Bin Laden’s family off to Saudi Arabia. That did not concern the White House. Their official line is that the Bin Ladens are above suspicion – apart from Osama, the ‘black sheep’, who they say hijacked the family name. That’s fortunate for the Bush family and the Saudi royal household, whose links with the Bin Ladens could otherwise prove embarrassing.” – Greg Palast, from a BBC Newsnight investigative report, which can be seen at http://news.bbc.co.uk/olmedia/cta/progs/newsnight/attack22.ram
Prior to the events of September 11, the U.S. was already planning military action against Afghanistan. In July, three American officials met with Pakistani and Russian intelligence, informing them that the U.S. was planning military strikes against Afghanistan in October. During the weeks before Sept. 11, British forces were moving toward Oman. Two U.S. carrier groups arrived in the Gulf of Arabia off the Pakistani coast. Thousands of troops were sent to strengthen those already placed in the Gulf region.
“Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has given almost daily briefings summarizing the course and accomplishments of the U.S. military action in Afghanistan, which began six weeks ago. Absent from those briefings are any details or sense of the CIA’s covert role in the battles, a secret war that has until now remained largely under wraps…
“For the last 18 months, the CIA has been working with tribes and warlords in southern Afghanistan, and the division’s units have helped create a significant new network in the region of the Taliban’s greatest strength.” – “Secret CIA Units Playing a Central Combat Role”, The Washington Post, November 18, 2001.
After September 11th, President George W. Bush demanded that the Taliban turn over Osama bin Laden, who was blamed for the terrorist attacks, or the U.S. would invade Afghanistan.
“It can be negotiated provided the U.S. gives us evidence and the Taliban are assured that the country is neutral and will not be influenced by the United States. If the Taliban are provided with evidence, then negotiations can start.” – Maulvi Abdul Kabir, second in command of the Taliban.
“When I said no negotiations, I meant no negotiations. We know he’s guilty, turn him over.” – President George W. Bush, responding to Taliban requests to see evidence of Osama Bin Laden’s involvement in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“In our investigation, we have not uncovered a single piece of paper—either here in the United States or in the treasure trove of information that has turned up in Afghanistan and elsewhere—that mentioned any aspect of the Sept. 11 plot.” – FBI Director Robert Mueller.
On September 6, the World Food Program was about to start a new project to provide aid to the famine-stricken Afghanis, but after Sept. 11, all aid convoys were stopped at the borders. It is estimated that over 3,000 Afghan civilians were killed in just the first eight weeks of the U.S. bombing campaign. This figure omits those killed indirectly, such as when air strikes cut off their access to hospitals, food, or electricity, victims who died later from their injuries, or those who have died due to the blocking of foreign aid to Afghanistan.
“A U.S. bomb flattened a flimsy mud-brick home in Kabul on Sunday blowing apart seven children as they ate breakfast with their father. The blast shattered a neighbour’s house killing another two children… The houses were in a residential area called Qalaye Khatir near a hill where the hard-line Taliban milita had placed an anti-aircraft gun.” – “They Killed All My Children, Husband”, The Times of India, citing Reuters, October 29, 2001.
“I and all my classmates are very sad because of the situation in our homeland. When our teacher said in the class that many people have been killed in Afghanistan, I and my all classmates started weeping because everyone has relatives there. I expect America not to kill the poor Afghans. They are hungry and poor.” – Feriba, a young Afghan refugee in Pakistan, from “Voices from Afghanistan”, BBC, October 25, 2001.
“Human Rights Watch found that the United States did not take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualities, as required by international humanitarian law, when it used cluster bombs in or near populated areas. U.S. cluster bombs also left an estimated 12,400 explosive duds—de facto antipersonnel landmines—that continue to take civilian lives to this day...
“In Afghanistan, the United States ignored a critical lesson of past wars by using cluster bombs in or near populated areas. Use in populated areas poses dangers to civilians because of the difficulty in accurately targeting cluster bombs and their bomblets and the wide and imprecise area they cover” – Human Rights Watch, December 18, 2002.
After removing the Taliban from power, the U.S. backed the government of Hamid Karzai. Karzai, during his days as a mujahedeen militant, was, like Osama bin Laden, a CIA and Pakistan ISI asset. He had close ties with both CIA director William Casey and then Vice President George Bush. After the war, Karzai went to the States and helped negotiate the CentGas deal as a top advisor for Unocal.
During that period, Karzai worked closely with Zalmay Khalilzad. Khalilzad was a special advisor to the State Department during the Reagan administration, where he was instrumental in arming the mujahedeen. He also worked under National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, who was a board member of Chevron. He also worked as a special liaison between Unocal and the Taliban and was responsible for drawing up the risk analysis of the pipeline. Khalilzad was later appointed President Bush’s Special National Security Assistant, and after the overthrow of the Taliban, was appointed Presidential Special Envoy for Afghanistan.
Karzai’s principle rival for control in Afghanistan was Abdul Haq. When Haq entered Afghanistan from Pakistan to assist with the U.S. war effort, his position was immediately known to the Taliban forces, which pinned Haq’s party down and executed him. The CIA claimed that it sent a remote drone to attack the Taliban, but received criticism for doing too little too late.
“The Taliban’s execution of Afghan opposition leader Abdul Haq will be a subject of contention at a congressional hearing today and could lead to new scrutiny of the CIA’s close ties to Pakistan’s intelligence service. A House International Relations subcommittee is expected to air charges that Pakistani agents betrayed Abdul Haq, and the CIA didn’t do enough to save him. Recriminations are rising in the aftermath of Abdul Haq’s execution Friday in Afghanistan. His champions say the hero during the war with the Soviet Union was a potential unifying force for anti-Taliban opposition factions…
“Abudul Haq’s death has prompted some of the strongest criticism of the U.S. war effort. ‘A lot of people are very upset,’ says Al Santolly, an aide to Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif. ‘The whole episode shows a lcak of coherence in the (Bush administration) policy.’ The crux of the criticism over his death is the CIA’s relationship with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)…
“The CIA went along with the ISI, including the ISI’s creation of the Taliban, critics say…
“Vince Cannistraro, a former CIA director of counterterrorism, says there is ‘credible information’ that the ISI tipped off an Afghan tribal leader about Abdul Haq’s whereabouts, and the tribal leader told the Taliban. A senior official of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance made the same charge on Tuesday, as did several congressional aides.” – “Taliban foe’s death sparks criticism of U.S. goals,” USA Today, October 31, 2001.
The CIA’s collaboration with the ISI is a well-documented fact, stemming from the Soviet-Afghan war.
“Intelligence sources said that the ISI-CIA collaboration in the 1980’s assisted Osama bin Laden, as well as Mir Aimal Kansi,who assassinated two CIA officers outside their office in Langley, Virginia, in 1993, and Ramzi Yousef, who was involved in the failed bomb attack on the World Trade Center in New York five years later.” – “Washington’s Pakistani Allies: Killers and Drug Dealers”, Sydney Morning Herald, September 27, 2001.
On September 4, General Mahmoud Ahmed, head of the ISI, arrived in Washington, D.C. Ahmed was later shown to have been responsible for wiring $100,000 to hijacker “ringleader” Mohammed Atta before the September 11th attacks.
“Two days after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a delegation led by the head of Pakistan’s military intelligence agency (ISI) Lt. Gen. Mahmoud Ahmed, was in Washington for high level talks at the State Department.” – The Guardian, September 15, 2001.
“On Sept. 13th, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf confirmed that he would send chief spy Lt. General Mahmoud Ahmed to meet the Taliban and negotiate the extradiction of Osama bin Laden. This decision was at Washington’s behest, most probably agreed upon during the meeting between Dick Armitage and General Mahmoud at the State Department. ‘At American urging Ahmed traveled…to Kandahar, Afghanistan. There he delivered the bluntest of demands. “Turn over bin Laden without conditions,” he told Taliban leader Mohammed Omar, “or face certain war with the United States and its allies.”’” – The Washington Post, Sept. 23, 2001.
“While the Pakistani Inter-Services Public Relations claimed that former ISI director-general Lt-Gen. Mahmoud Ahmad sought retirement after being superseded on Monday [October 8, the day the U.S. started bombing Afghanistan], the truth is more shocking. Top sources confirmed here on Tuesday that the general lost his job because of the ‘evidence’ India produced to show his links to one of the suicide bombers that wrecked the World Trade Center. The U.S. authorities sought his removal after confirming the fact that $100,000 were wired to WTC hijacker Mohammed Atta from Pakistan by Ahmad Umar Sheikh at the insistence of Gen. Mahmoud. Senior government sources have confirmed that India contributed significantly to establishing the link between the money transfer and the role played by the dismissed ISI chief. While they did not provide details, they said that Indian inputs, including Sheikh’s mobile phone number, helped the FBI in tracing and establishing the link.
“A direct link between the ISI and the WTC attack could have enormous repercussions. The U.S. cannot but suspect whether or not there were other senior Pakistani Army commanders who were in the know of things. Evidence of a larger conspiracy could shake U.S. confidence in Pakistan’s ability to participate in the anti-terrorism coalition.” – The Times of India, October 9, 2001.
“A highly-placed government source told AFP that the ‘damning link’ between the General and the transfer of funds to Atta was part of evidence which India has officially sent to the U.S. ‘The evidence we have supplied to the U.S. is of a much wider range and depth than just one piece of paper linking a rogue general to some misplaced act of terrorism,’ the source said.” – Agence France Press, October 10, 2001.
Yet, the U.S. has refused to investigate this terrorist connection to one of its “allies” while continuing to make unsubstantiated accusations against Afghanistan and, now, Iraq.
“There is no evidence that I know of that directly links al-Qaeda, Iraq, terrorist activity in the UK. But, and forgive me if I am just choosing my words very carefully, there is some intelligence about linkages between members of al-Qaeda and people in Iraq. It doesn’t go further than that and, as I say, I am not using it as a justification for anything that we are doing. But it would not be correct to say there is no evidence whatever of linkages between al-Qaeda and Iraq. What is true to say is that I know of nothing linking Iraq to the September 11 attack…” – British Prime Minster Tony Blair, January 24, 2003.
Since establishing the Karzai regime, Afghanistan has agreed with Musharraf to cooperate on the CentGas pipeline, the “Silk Road” of the 21st century.
And now the U.S. seeks to invade Iraq. While the subject of a U.S. war with Iraq is a topic for a separate article, the following excerpts are relevant to both recent U.S. policies toward Afghanistan and Iraq.
The following excerpts are from the Report of an Independent Task Force sponsored by the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, of Rice University, and the Council on Foreign Relations entitled “Strategic Energy Policy Challenges for the 21st Century”.
“For many decades now, the United States has been without an energy policy. Now, the consequences of not having an energy policy that can satisfy our energy requirements on a sustainable basis have revealed themselves in California. Now, there could be more Californias in America’s future. President George W. Bush and his administration need to tell these agonizing truths to the American people and thereby lay the basis for a new and viable U.S. energy policy…
“That Americans face long-term energy delivery challenges and volatile energy prices is the failure of both Democrats and Republicans to fashion a workable energy policy. Energy policy was allowed to drift by both political parties despite its centrality to America’s domestic economy and to our nation’s security. It was permitted to drift despite the fact that virtually every American recession since the late 1940s has been preceded by spikes in oil prices. The American people need to know about this situation and be told as well that there are no easy or quick solutions to today’s energy problems. The President has to begin educating the public about this reality and start building a broad base of popular support for the hard policy choices ahead…
“So, we come to the report’s central dilemma: the American people continue to demand plentiful and cheap energy without sacrifice or inconvenience. But emerging technologies are not yet commercially viable to fill shortages and will not be for some time. Nor is surplus energy capacity available at this time to meet such demands. Indeed, the situation is worse than the oil shocks of the past because in the present energy situation, the tight oil market condition is coupled with shortages of natural gas in the United States, heating fuels for the winter, and electricity supplies in certain localities…
“For the most part, U.S. international oil policy has relied on maintenance of free access to Middle East Gulf oil and free access for Gulf exports to world markets. The United States has forged a special relationship with certain key Middle East exporters, which had an expressed interest in stable oil prices and, we assumed, would adjust their oil output to keep prices at levels that would neither discourage global economic growth nor fuel inflation. Taking this dependence a step further, the U.S. government has operated under the assumption that the national oil companies of these countries would make the investments needed to maintain enough surplus capacity to form a cushion against disruptions elsewhere. For several years, these assumptions appeared justified.
“But recently, things have changed. These Gulf allies are finding their domestic and foreign policy interests increasingly at odds with U.S. strategic considerations, especially as Arab-Israeli tensions flare. They have become less inclined to lower oil prices in exchange for security of markets, and evidence suggests that investment is not being made in a timely enough manner to increase production capacity in line with growing global needs. A trend toward anti-Americanism could affect regional leaders’ ability to cooperate with the United States in the energy area. The resulting tight markets have increased U.S. and global vulnerability to disruption and provided adversaries undue potential influence over the price of oil. Iraq has become a key ‘swing’ producer, posing a difficult situation for the U.S. government…
“Iran and Iraq accuse Saudi Arabia of seeking higher production rates to accommodate the economic interests of the United States, Japan, and Europe at the expense of the needs of local populations, creating internal pressures in the Arabian Gulf region against a moderate price stance. Bitter perceptions in the Arab world that the United States has not been evenhanded in brokering peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have exacerbated these pressures on Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and given political leverage to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein to lobby for support among the Arab world’s populations…
“One clear benefit of this approach is that the short-term costs to the consumer would be limited and that no hard sacrifices would have to be made. The costs to U.S. taxpayers seem minimal and indirect and in any event they can be postponed. Consumers have the prospect of the market assisting them yet again in achieving low energy costs. Some of the real costs, such as the high-cost U.S. military presence in the Middle East, are already accepted and forgotten by the public…
“A truly comprehensive policy may well provide the kind of balance and compromise that are consistent with much of America’s political history. However, any comprehensive plan is likely to require confrontation with other policy objectives that have deep constituencies. In some measure, concessions will have to be made that will impinge on certain local environment goals, states rights, Middle East policy, economic sanctions policy, Russia policy, and hemispheric and international trade policy. Making compromises could be politically painful and will require sustained leadership from the highest levels of government…
“Over the past year, Iraq has effectively become a swing producer, turning its taps on and off when it has felt such action was in its strategic interest to do so. Saudi Arabia has proven willing to provide replacement supplies to the market when Iraqi exports have been reduced. This role has been extremely important in avoiding greater market volatility and in countering Iraq’s efforts to take advantage of the oil market’s structure. Saudi Arabia’s role in this needs to be preserved, and should not be taken for granted. There is domestic pressure on the GCC leaders to reject cooperation to cool oil markets during times of a shortfall in Iraqi oil production. These populations are dissatisfied with the ‘no-fly zone’ bombing and the sanctions regime against Iraq, perceived U.S. bias in the Arab-Israeli peace process, and lack of domestic economic pressures…
“Some European country positions on economic sanctions against Iraq differ from the U.S. position, most notably France, but also some other IEA countries, including Japan. Still, the IEA must be assured of efficient joint decision-making in the event of a supply disruption under tight market conditions. This includes any possibility that Saddam Hussein may remove Iraqi oil from the market for an extended period of time and that Saudi Arabia will not or cannot replace all of the barrels. (This is a contingency that hangs over the market given the ability of Baghdad to continue to earn revenues through smuggling and other uncontrolled oil exports, even if it officially cuts off exports that are permitted through U.N. procedures…)
“The previous administration engaged in public exchanges with OPEC over the producer organization’s decisions to push oil prices higher. This fueled anti-American sentiment among certain sectors of the population in the Middle East, lent support to the claims of Saddam Hussein, and brought pressures on some U.S.-friendly regimes in the region. The United States needs to prevent aggravation of this situation by avoiding public discussion of the targeting of particular price goals and emphasizing common interests of promoting and protecting growth in the global economy…
“Iraq has been engaged in a clever public relations campaign to intersect these two issues and stir up anti-American sentiment inside and outside the Middle East. The bombing of Iraq by the United States led coalition in February 2001 spurred anti-U.S. demonstrations in support of Iraq in traditional U.S. allies such as Egypt. Moreover, Saddam Hussein is trying to recast himself as the champion of the Palestinian cause to some success among young Palestinians. Any severe violence on the West Bank, Gaza, or Southern Lebanon will give Iraq more leverage in its efforts to discredit the United States and U.S. intentions…
“Iraq remains a destabilizing influence to U.S. allies in the Middle East, as well as to regional and global order, and to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East. Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export program to manipulate oil markets…
“The United States should conduct an immediate policy review toward Iraq, including military, energy, economic, and political/diplomatic assessments…
“A new plan of action should be developed to use diplomatic and other means to support U.N. Security Council efforts to build a strong arms-control regime to stem the flow of arms and controlled substances into Iraq. Policy should rebuild coalition cooperation on this issue, while emphasizing the common interest in security….
“However, the exports from some oil discoveries in the Caspian Basin could be hastened if a secure, economical export route could be identified swiftly…
“For energy policy to be integrated with overall economic policy, environmental policy, and foreign policy, it needs to be vetted and articulated through a ‘permanent’ interagency process that brings those responsible for these areas together. The Bush administration has moved rapidly in this direction through the creation of the White House Energy Policy Development Group headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. That group appropriately includes representations from the Departments of Energy, Interior, Commerce, Treasury, and State as well as representation from the Environmental Protection Agency and the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). As this process unfolds, the administration should find ways to establish a permanent framework for articulating energy policy, perhaps including representation from the Department of Defense as well. The secretary of energy should then be empowered to carry forward and implement the policy recommendations of the Policy Development Group…
“Nuclear power is an indigenous source of energy—invented and developed in America. It is unique in having the capacity to provide enough energy to last our nation—and the world—for at least a millennium. And it can do so without emitting greenhouse gases. Nuclear energy should not be considered as an option, but as a necessity to supply electricity for the nation now and in the future…”
Nuclear power has the capacity to provide energy to last the world for a millennium, without emitting greenhouse gases, and should not be considered as an option, but as a necessity—but only for the United States.
Iraq cannot have access to this “necessary” source of energy, according to the U.S. Israel, in an overt act of war, blew up their only nuclear facility in 1981, just before it was activated, and the U.S. did nothing—and now any attempts to work again towards nuclear power are considered efforts to obtain “weapons of mass destruction” and condemned by the U.S.
Similarly, a 1994 treaty with North Korea promised to build two nuclear power plants by 2003 and to supply a quota of oil until the plants were built. The plants were never built, however, and North Korea subsequently backed out of the deal in order to power up its former nuclear facilities. The U.S., in turn, stopped sending the quota of oil and accused North Korea of backing out of the treaty.
Interestingly, the U.S. recently backed out of its own Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty with Russia. While it seems acceptable for the U.S. to back out of international treaties in order to pursue its own agenda (in this case, the “Star Wars” missile defense program), it seems that when other countries do the same, they are automatically confirmed under the label “axis of evil” or some other such rhetoric.
In order to annul the ABM treaty and improve ties with Russia, a new treaty was signed which calls for the disarmament of up to one-third of either countries nuclear missile capabilities. However, the treaty does not call for the warheads to be destroyed, but merely stored for a period of 10 years. This not only leaves both countries with enough nuclear firepower to destroy the Earth many times over, but the warheads can be easily re-deployed once the short-term disarmament period is over. Furthermore, the treaty calls for Russia to transfer disarmed warheads to minimum security storage areas, where experts conclude that it would be relative easy for terrorists to acquire such weapons of mass destruction. Although Bush also promised (not within the terms of the 3-page treaty) to provide aid to Russia to aid in the disarmament process, this promise has yet to be fulfilled.
Aside from these, my thoughts on the final paragraph cited above, the above information should be more than enough to clearly show where the agenda of the current administration lies. One final thought remains:
“Today we face a challenge that is unprecedented in the nation’s history: the need to transform our armed forces into a very different kind of military from that which exists today, while sustaining the military’s ability to play a very active role in supporting U.S. near-term efforts to preserve global stability within a national security strategy of engagement and enlargement…
“There appears to be general agreement concerning the need to transform the U.S. military into a significantly different kind of force from that which emerged victorious from the Cold and Gulf Wars. Yet this verbal support has not been translated into a defense program supporting transformation. As discussed above, the causes for this disconnect between the words and deeds are varied, but are primarily of our own making. While there is growing support in Congress for transformation, the “critical mass” needed to effect it has not yet been achieved.
“One may conclude that, in the absence of a strong external shock to the United States—a latter-day “Pearl Harbor” of sorts—surmounting the barriers to transformation will likely prove a long, arduous process. Providing support and oversight for this endeavor is a challenge worthy of this new committee.
“Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present my thoughts on the emerging threats to our security and on how we might best develop the capabilities we will need to meet them successfully.” – Andrew Krepinevich, Executive Director Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, speaking before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.