Oct. 18, 2002, 17:00 PDT (FTW) -- What started out as a blitzkrieg, the Bush agenda for the invasion of Iraq is now producing a world picture that can only be described with one word -- confusing. It is becoming apparent that outraged world opinion, guided by shrewd public relations efforts of foreign governments (including Iraq), has thrown a curve ball to the Bush military plan for a pre-election invasion and occupation .
But one curve ball is not a strikeout. The continuing military build up, more frequent air strikes, and the risky covert deployment of combat troops in supposedly neutral regions shows the degree of Washington's commitment to war. These troops are going to be used.
Russia, France and China are only stalling for time, hoping to cut the best backroom deals possible. They're perhaps also hoping that the American Empire will make a fatal mistake or a delay will break Bush's political, popular, and economic support.
Wall Street's 500-plus point rally on the two days of shameless congressional votes authorizing the use of force last week clearly signaled what world leaders have known for some time, and what the American public is seriously beginning to grasp -- the whole thing is about Iraqi oil.
The Associated Press ran a story yesterday indicating that the U.S. had been overwhelmed by global opposition to the invasion of a country second only to Saudi Arabia for its known oil reserves. Iraq is capable of quick production increases even if Saddam tries to destroy his oil fields, as former CIA director James Woolsey recently acknowledged. The story's lead sentence read, "Facing strong opposition from dozens of nations, the United States has backed down from its demand that a new U.N. resolution must authorize military force if Baghdad fails to cooperate with weapons inspectors, diplomats told The Associated Press on Thursday."
However, a Reuters story released hours later clearly indicated that the U.S. was playing hardball behind the scenes. "Iraq's main opposition group says a post-Saddam government would review existing oilfield development deals with French and Russian companies and could favour U.S. firms instead.
"Sharif Ali Bin Al Hussein, spokesman for the main Iraqi opposition group the Iraqi National Congress (INC), told Reuters in an interview that his group would open the oil sector to all companies, including the U.S. majors.
"'We would have to review all contracts which have been signed by this regime to make sure it is in the interest of the Iraqi people and not just for Saddam Hussein,' Hussein said."
Nobody is asking who controls the INC. It's a given.
The stakes are incredibly high for Russia. Major press organizations are now acknowledging what FTW has been saying for months. The Bush objective is to drive the price of oil down and simultaneously drive a stake through OPEC, forestalling a further and perhaps catastrophic crash in the U.S. economy. News analyses from Pravda to Fox News have foreseen that a successful U.S. invasion will result in crude oil prices of between $12 and $16 per barrel. Oil currently consts $30 per barrel.
That would destroy Russia's economic recovery as it sells hand over fist its own diminishing reserves -- oil that is more expensive to produce and of a lesser quality than Mideast crude, while prices are at $30. Iraq owes Russia $7 billion in debt from the Soviet era.
And on Aug. 19, Russia and Iraq signed a $40 billion infrastructure development deal, which, as reported in the Tehran Times, saw a team of Russian engineers on their way to what may soon be targets of U.S. bombing raids.
Both Russia and France have development interests in major Iraqi oil fields. The Reuters story reported, "Although [France's] TotalFinaElf has no contract, it has been earmarked by Saddam's government to develop the Majnoon and Bin Umar fields with reserves totaling 26 billion barrels. [Russia's] Lukoil has signed a contract for the 15 billion-barrel West Qurna field."
The back room deals and implied threats are getting hot and heavy. On Sept. 5, the Asia Times reported that Russia was considering an expensive trans-Siberian pipeline to service China. This would compete with post-9-11 pipeline deals that have been negotiated to send Caspian and Central Asian oil through Afghanistan for the Chinese market under U.S. control.
As FTW noted last month, the World Bank has opened offices in Kabul to facilitate the financing of the U.S.-backed projects. Russia's move may not be much of a threat because Russian oil is inferior to Caspian oil. Also, Russia has long passed its peak of production, which means that as time passes it will be increasingly expensive to produce. The message is clear, however, and a coalition of nations opposed to U.S. Imperial behavior could pull it off.
In the meantime Stratfor, a geopolitical analysis firm, reported that the U.S. is quietly offering a quid pro quo to Russia in the form of a trade off. If Russia will sanction the U.S. invasion, the U.S. will allow Russia a free hand in Georgia to deal with Chechen and Islamic rebels and presumably a piece of the profits from the new Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline project that just broke ground. It seems like a very little quid for a lot of pro quo.
And in Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal made a second about face on Monday and once again categorically withdrew any Saudi support for the U.S. war. The timing was possibly influenced by a Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) report released today that was exceptionally critical of the Bush Administration for not cracking down on Saudi Arabia's extensive financial ties to al Qaeda. The CFR investigation, directed by Maurice "Hank" Greenberg, CEO of American International Group (AIG), was chartered by the CFR to be an intelligence analysis of terrorist financing. Greenberg, a staunch Israeli supporter, is well qualified for this task. In 1996 Bill Clinton floated his name to replace John Deutch as the director of central intelligence.
Greenberg and AIG have been connected by FTW in previous investigations to suspected money laundering through the Arkansas Development Financial Authority and to the drug trade. AIG's San Francisco legal office recently employed the wife of convicted Medellin Cartel co-founder Carlos Lehder.
The CFR criticism of Bush is significant for many reasons. First, it signals that the CFR is anxious to pursue an agenda that will likely result in the demise of the Saudi kingdom and the division of that country, with the U.S. simultaneously occupying both Iraq and the oil producing regions of Saudi Arabia. FTW predicted this scenario last month. The significance of a move that would give the U.S. military control of 36 percent of the world's oil is not lost on the rest of the world and it suggests the presence of a much deeper reality.
So flimsy are the Bush Administration's frequently changing justifications for war that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jay Bookman wrote a Sept. 29 editorial called "Pax Americana," in which he openly called the U.S. an empire.
"The official story on Iraq has never made sense," Bookman wrote. "The connection that the Bush administration has tried to draw between Iraq and al-Qaida has always seemed contrived and artificial. In fact, it was hard to believe that smart people in the Bush administration would start a major war based on such flimsy evidence."
He continued to make the point that the administration had no Iraqi exit strategy because it didn't intend to leave. Period. His premise seemed to be, 'Hey, let's stop kidding ourselves. We are an empire and we should go out and act like it.'
But perhaps the most critical element of the post-9-11 landscape, which is made clear by the CFR report, is a sense of urgency held by major financial players. As FTW has been saying for a year now, the only way both the urgency and the frenzy and the near desperation of these moves to carve up the world's oil can be explained is with one simple concept: the world is starting to run out of oil.
Coming cataclysmic global oil and natural gas shortages are about to become very real, certainly within the next two years, to everyone on the planet. Those countries that have access to what oil remains will survive and dominate and those that do not will atrophy and disintegrate. This is a deadly game of musical chairs. It is the kind of unspoken crisis that would compel the U.S. Congress to worship Caligula's horse, forget the Constitution and international law, and sell out completely.
Many have almost worshipped the progressive, seemingly unassailable credentials and leadership of Sen. John Kerry from Massachusetts, who is a possible 2004 Democratic nominee for the White House. However, many have charged him with being a privileged member of an elite ruling class. He was educated at Yale and belonged to the secretive Skull and Bones Society, of which both Bush presidents are members.
What one believes about Kerry's background is not significant. What
is significant is that he voted for the use of force resolution last week
without even a whimper. That vote was noticed and so were many others.
These are strange times.
Yesterday's announcement by the State Department that North Korea has a nuclear weapons program is troubling for two reasons. First, it raises all of the obvious questions about whether, if the U.S. isn't really concerned about oil, it will now drop all Iraqi plans and go invade Korea instead. They seem to be closer to building a bomb than Iraq is. But secondly and perhaps most importantly is the fact that, as reported by Stratfor, Pyongyang told the Bush Administration about the nuclear program two weeks ago. Why didn't we hear about it then?
Stratfor suggests that reason is a pending summit between the U.S.
and China where one country might be traded for another. But instead it is
likely the announcements earlier this year that the two Korea's might unite
scares the White House infinitely more. What, then, would be the need for
massive U.S. troop deployments in the former South Korea, right next to China?
And isn't it also strange that a number of pipeline plans involving both
U.S. and Russian companies that might go around China and make oil marketable
to Japan and South Korea seem to pass through North Korea?
We are already being prepared for the Bush Administration's fallback position if it cannot get the war it wants, when it wants it. Yesterday, CIA director George Tenet sounded the clarion call in the last public hearing of the Joint House-Senate Intelligence Committee examining the 9-11 attacks. "Al Qaeda has reconstituted itself--It is capable of multi-theater operations." Tenet made no bones about the fact that another major attack -- one that will be very convenient for the White House -- is on the way.
The Oct. 12 bombing of a nightclub in Bali that killed many Australians has not seemed to impact widespread anti-war sentiment among the people down under. That might well be an omen for the outcome of the next terrorist attack in the U.S.
We now know that Bush et al knew enough about the last one to prevent it but did not. It has already been shown that CIA-linked members of the Pakistani intelligence service helped to fund it; that five of the hijackers received flight training at U.S. military installations; that no fighters were scrambled in time to do anything; and that President Bush lied when he said he had no idea that planes could be used as weapons. We know that it is a state secret as to whether the intelligence agencies told Bush what we now know that they knew.
I hope that this government fully understands how numerous, well-informed, now-seasoned and capable citizens will be watching an attack this time, and how quickly the worldwide networks that have formed in the last year will expose the first scintilla of untruth in the government's actions. I hope this government understands that the "sleeping giant" of the American people is beginning to stir and unite with peoples all around the world who are already awake.
But, as my dear friend Catherine Austin Fitts loves to say, "Those
who win in a rigged game get stupid." And that is perhaps the most frightening
thing of all.
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