Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Follow the pipeline: South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Follow the pipeline: South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Follow the pipeline

By Jim Mullins
Posted December 28 2004
The recent presidential campaign revolved around many issues, but the elephant in the room -- the prospect of wars without end to maintain U.S. control of the world's oil supply -- was ignored.

Shell oil physicist M. King Hubbert predicted in 1954 that U.S. oil production would peak in the early 1970s. Dismissed as a crackpot theory, his prediction was right on the mark. Despite exhaustive prospecting with new and advanced technology, U.S. production began its inexorable decline from 11.6 million barrels per day then to 9 mbd now, with consumption increasing to 20 mbd.

Oil production has peaked subsequently in other major producing countries: Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Indonesia, as well as the North Sea region.

Soon after, in 1973 and again in 1979, the U.S. suffered oil shortages, mile-long gas lines, lack of heating oil and the realization that oil was finite and not to be wasted. President Carter called for raising mileage standards on motor vehicles and more efficient use of energy in all its forms. He declared the Persian Gulf a U.S. national security priority, for the largest known untapped oil reserves were there.

Americans have enjoyed a constant suppy of oil at unrealistically low prices since then -- but at a hidden military expense: U.S. forces guard oil installations and pipelines in Colombia, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. The U.S. Navy patrols the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, South China Sea and other supply routes. U.S. bases line the shores of the Arabian peninsula, supporting undemocratic and repressive regimes favorable to U.S. interests.

A constant increase in demand of 2 percent a year requires a 6 percent to 7 percent increase in new discovery to offset the increase plus the decline in the major producing regions. The latest discoveries have been in the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union. The Cold War's end brought a potential gas and oil bonanza in landlocked countries around the Caspian Sea. The U.S. moved in quickly to acquire bases in the area and negotiate leases and contracts.

The problem was transportation to the most profitable markets in India and China, whose markets are driving the worldwide upsurge in oil and gas consumption. The first choice was through Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea.

It is interesting that Afghanistan was never put on the State Department terrorist list, although it was headquarters for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida.

U.S. negotiations with the Taliban took place during both the Bush and Clinton years. Afghanistan's elected president, Hamid Karzai, and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Kalilzad, an Afghan-American, in the 1990s were Houston employees of Unocal, the contractor, and engaged in the unsuccessful talks.

In the Bush administration, a Taliban representative who brought a present of a fine carpet to a Washington negotiating session in July 2001 was reportedly threatened with "accept our carpet of gold or you will receive a carpet of bombs."

A neocon think tank, Project for the New American Century, had published a report in 2000 about the necessity to secure Caspian and Iraqi oil and cited "a new Pearl Harbor" that could ignite the fuse for military action. U.S. plans to depose the Taliban in Afghanistan were in place in conjunction with the Afghan Northern Alliance when 9-11 obliged.

In a few short months -- before Afghanistan was secure and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida had been eliminated -- the Bush administration activated its plan for an invasion of Iraq, using deception to build public consensus. Its first priorities revealed its true motives -- takeover of oil export facilities, destruction of ministries except for oil and the hiring of mercenaries to guard pipelines.

It's now apparent that the Bush administration's Afghan invasion had two purposes, one laudable and unfinished -- the destruction of al-Qaida -- and the other for the site of a Central Asian pipeline. And also obvious, the "war on terror" invasion of Iraq was based on fabrication rather than the reality of consolidating U.S. control of Middle Eastern oil.

Fossil fuels are on the way to rapid depletion. Immediate conservation with available technology and development of alternative renewable energy in the immediate future -- not endless war for oil -- should be American policy.

Jim Mullins is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C., and a resident of Delray Beach."

Friday, December 17, 2004

The Daily Star - Opinion Articles - Is America planning new imperial adventures?

The Daily Star - Opinion Articles - Is America planning new imperial adventures?: "Is America planning new imperial adventures?

By Patrick Seale
Special to The Daily Star
Saturday, December 18, 2004
President George W. Bush's foreign policy in his second term is an enigma. It will no doubt remain so until the struggle inside the administration between neoconservatives and traditional conservatives is resolved, one way or the other, over the coming months.

Both sides are marshalling their forces and their arguments - in the press, in think tanks, in Washington drawing-rooms and in debates inside the great agencies of government.

In the State Department, the National Security Council and the CIA, key posts are being fought over. How they are filled will provide clues to the future direction of American policy, in particular regarding the most hotly-contested region of all - the Middle East.

Bush's closest foreign policy adviser, Condoleezza Rice, is the incoming Secretary of State, but no one knows what line she will take on the major Middle East issues, or whether indeed she has any views of her own. Rumour in Washington has it that she may appoint Eliott Abrams to head the Near East bureau of the State Department. He worked under her at the National Security Council as director of Middle East affairs and is well known as a passionate supporter of Israel and a virulent opponent of Palestinian aspirations. Were he to join her at state, hopes for a more balanced U.S. policy would almost certainly be dashed.

One might have thought that the neoconservative Likudniks, who dragged the United States into a disastrous war in Iraq, might now lie low in the hope of escaping blame for the mess. On the contrary, they are pursuing what the French call a fuite en avant - brazenly pushing their hard-line agenda in the evident belief that attack is the best means of defence. They are demanding that the "crusade" against "Islamofascism" - their newly-coined term for America's Islamic opponents - must continue. To falter, they say, is to risk defeat.

Colin Powell, the outgoing Secretary of State, was the most prominent traditional conservative in Bush's first administration. His departure is the neocons' biggest victory so far. Last weekend, at a forum in Morocco on the "Greater Middle East," Powell delivered his swan song. Everyone was agreed, he said, that change in the Arab world had to come from inside . To defeat the terrorists, the West had to attack the causes of despair and frustration which the extremists exploited for their own ends.

Such language runs counter to the whole neocon philosophy, which can be summed up in the phrase, "democracy by conquest." Change, neoconservatives argue, must be imposed on the Arabs from outside, if necessary by force. Military pre-emption must remain an option. Arab and Muslim frustration over the Arab-Israeli conflict can be safely ignored. Anti-Americanism is pure "hot air" which will dissipate once America's enemies are crushed.

Douglas Feith and William Kristol are two leading neocons who, in their different ways, exemplify the thinking of the whole group. Feith is Under Secretary for Policy at the Defence Department, number three in the Pentagon hierarchy, just below his friend Paul Wolfowitz. He is widely credited with having fabricated and manipulated the intelligence which led America into war. Yet, astonishingly, he remains in office and seems likely to keep his job in Bush's second term.

In an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post on December 12, Feith, described as "a staunch friend of Israel," suggested that military action against Iran's nuclear sites could not be ruled out, if Iran did not follow Libya in abandoning its nuclear program. "I don't think that anybody should be ruling in or ruling out anything," he said.

He predicted that democratic reform in the Arab world - including in such U.S. allies as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan - would be the linchpin of Bush's foreign policy in the next four years.

Not being in government, William Kristol can afford to be blunter still. He is the "Osama Bin Laden" of the American press, forever calling for an American jihad against the Arab world and Iran. He does not believe in dialogue, diplomacy or half-measures: his technique is blatant incitement to violence.

As editor of The Weekly Standard, the strident organ of the neocons, he campaigned relentlessly for Saddam Hussein's overthrow. He is now urging the U.S. to attack other countries in the region, and Syria in particular.

In an article due to be published on December 20, but already available on the Internet, Kristol thunders: "Syria is a hostile regime. We have tried sweet talk and tough talk. Talk has failed. We now need to take action to punish and deter Assad's regime."

To justify such radical action he accuses Syria of "permitting and encouraging activities that are killing not just our Iraqi friends but also, and quite directly, American troops."

What does Kristol recommend? "We could bomb Syrian military facilities; we could go across the border in force to stop infiltration; we could occupy the town of Abu Kamal in eastern Syria, which seems to be the planning and organising center for Syrian activities in Iraq; we could covertly help or overtly support the Syrian opposition."

He concludes his article on a robust note: "It's time to get serious about dealing with Syria as part of winning in Iraq, and in the broader Middle East." Such hectoring by neocons - who use the royal "we" and claim to speak for the American people - is typical of the irresponsible discourse heard in several of Washington's right-wing think tanks.

Clearly, this is no way to promote U.S.-Arab understanding, but that is not the neocons' intention. On the contrary, their aim is to burn bridges with the Arabs in the belief that this will serve Israel's interests and consolidate its position as Americaõs closest ally.

President George W. Bush has been under considerable pressure from British Prime Minister Tony Blair, but also from other European leaders and moderate Arabs, to pay serious attention to the Arab-Israeli conflict in his second term. In Washington this week, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier repeated the message that, if trans-Atlantic differences were to be healed and terrorism defeated, the Arab-Israeli problem had to be addressed. President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan conveyed the same message to Bush a week or two earlier.

But has Bush listened? Has he heard? He has spoken of his wish to see the emergence of a democratic Palestinian state in the coming years, but he has resisted calls for an international conference or for the appointment of a special envoy armed with firm presidential backing, who might succeed in pushing the peace process forward.

There is no sign yet that Bush intends to turn his words into deeds or put any sort of pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The fact that he has kept prominent pro-Israeli neocons in key positions in his administration suggests that he has no real appetite to wrestle with one of the most intractable conflicts of our time.

Above all, he may not be convinced that there is an organic connection - any phenomenon of cause and effect - between U.S. policies in the Middle East and the hostility America is facing from a worldwide Islamic insurgency. The neocon line is that there is no such connection.

Toward Iran, the U.S. appears to be totally intransigent. It has just blocked for the 20th time, Iran's bid for observer status in the World Trade Organization and remains profoundly sceptical of European diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for a package of commercial, technological and political benefits.

In Iraq, the killing continues and seems likely to continue after the January 30 elections. No one can predict what the post-election scene will look like, except that the Shiites are likely to dominate the future Iraqi government for the first time in centuries. The U.S. has given no hint that it intends to withdraw its troops in the near future or forego its ambition for a permanent military presence in that unfortunate country.

Patrick Seale, a Paris-based political analyst and commentator, wrote this article for

The Daily Star"

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

AlterNet: Mole Hunt

AlterNet: Mole Hunt: "Mole Hunt

By Jason Vest and Laura Rozen, The American Prospect. Posted September 7, 2004.

In May, Stephen Green was hard at work campaigning for a seat in Vermont's House of Representatives when he got a phone call. The last person the 64-year-old former United Nations official, then preoccupied with health-care policy issues, expected to hear from was an FBI agent, who asked if he could come to Washington to chat with him about the history of Israeli espionage efforts against the United States.

As the author of two books on U.S.-Israeli relations, Green knew something about the subject. Still, the phone call seemed to come out of the blue. Green quickly discovered, however, that the FBI had a keen interest in the subject. Federal agents were involved in an investigation into an alleged Israeli "mole" in the office of Douglas Feith, the under secretary of defense for policy.

Early reports suggested that the FBI had wiretap evidence that a veteran Iran analyst working in Feith's office at the Defense Intelligence Agency, Larry Franklin, may have passed a classified draft of a National Security Presidential Directive on Iran to an official working for the pro-Israel lobbying organization, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Members of the organization, in turn, were said to have passed the document on to Israel. (AIPAC officials strongly deny the accusations.)

But as Green spoke with investigators, he realized the agents were investigating far more than Franklin.

"Larry Franklin's name never came up, but several others did," he said.

Green, as the FBI agents knew, had a special expertise in the field of Israeli espionage in the United States. In the 1980s, he had taken time off from his job at the UN to look into the U.S.–Israeli "special relationship." He spent years combing through public records, filing and litigating Freedom of Information Act requests, and tracking down current and retired government officials. He eventually wrote two books, Taking Sides: America's Secret Relations With Israel and Living By The Sword: America and Israel in the Middle East. The Times of London and Foreign Affairs commended his work, describing it as "praised by those who believe the United States has damaged its own security, and Israel's too, by uncritical and often secret support of Israel's actions, no matter how extreme." Yet, as Foreign Affairs reported, Green's work also caused "sputter[ing] with indignation" among "those who believe… that American and Israeli interests are identical."

Green returned to the UN in 1990 and followed the subject from there. Earlier this year, he published a piece in the newsletter CounterPunch, recapping previously reported – though long-forgotten – government investigations of prominent neoconservatives for their suspected espionage or improper information-sharing with Israel. And that's where the FBI comes in.

According to the FBI agents who contacted Green, as he recounts, the article had come to their attention when one of Green’s sources – a retired national security official they were interviewing – shared it with them.

And so on June 22, Green found himself sitting across an oval-shaped conference table from two FBI agents at an undisclosed northern Virginia venue. The meeting lasted nearly four hours.

"They were extraordinarily well-informed; it was apparent they've been at this for awhile," Green says. "I asked them if there was a current reason for them asking questions about things that go back over 30 years, and they sort of looked at each other and said, 'Yes, it's a present issue,' but wouldn't say specifically what. Though they did ask very specific questions about one individual in particular."

Green said the agents asked about several current or former Pentagon officials such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, Michael Ledeen, and Stephen Bryen.

"The tenor of their questions was such that it defined where these people were in terms of the nature of their focus," Green says. "They also asked about a couple other Office of Special Plans people, including Harold Rhode. Ironically, about the only name that didn't come up was Larry Franklin."

Regardless of the status of the investigation, something seemed a bit fishy. After all, Israel – one of the United States’ closest allies, with deep support in the Bush Administration and especially at the Defense Department – hardly needs a Pentagon-embedded spy to get access to interagency debates about U.S. policy to Iran, as observers have pointed out. And compared with the information on arms shipments that former US Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard passed on to Israel in the 1980s, a draft of a document about U.S. policy toward Iran would hardly seem like the crown jewels.

Yet, as Newsweek has reported, Franklin had come to the FBI’s attention a year and a half ago, when he walked in on a lunch with an Israeli diplomat and an AIPAC lobbyist, both of whom were under FBI surveillance for a year. In addition, Newsweek reported that when news of the investigation surfaced, Franklin had already been cooperating with the FBI for several weeks and had reportedly led FBI agents to those who may have received information from him.

The previous FBI investigation came into focus only on September 1, when The Washington Post reported that for two years, the FBI has conducted a counterintelligence investigation into whether AIPAC has forwarded “highly classified materials from the National Security Agency . . . to Israel.” The Post piece describes Franklin’s alleged role as merely “coincidental” to the larger FBI probe of alleged intelligence-passing through AIPAC to Israel.

Both AIPAC and Tel Aviv vehemently deny any wrongdoing. And indeed, the Israeli diplomat who acknowledges meeting with Franklin and AIPAC – Naor Gilon, the Israeli embassy’s No. 3 official and a specialist on Iran’s nuclear program – returned to Washington on August 29 from a summer vacation in Israel. He admits that he met with Franklin, but insists he’s done nothing wrong.

A source familiar with the investigation told The American Prospect that when news of the investigation broke, the Justice Department had been preparing a request to the State Department to have an Israeli diplomat – by implication Gilon – declared persona non grata for allegedly having received classified U.S. intelligence from AIPAC sources.

Furthermore, a Sept. 1 report by NBC speculated that the reason the Israelis may have broken their declared post-Pollard policy of not spying on the United States is because of Israel’s preeminent concern about Iran’s nuclear program, and its view that the United States may not be prepared to act assertively enough to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

The Post piece seems to imply that Franklin is more of an anti-Tehran zealot than anything else and wasn’t engaging in espionage per se. But as the Post article and the June meeting between Green and the FBI seem to indicate, the FBI is looking into the possibility there's been communication between Israeli elements and U.S. officials, including several who work for Feith and have access to sensitive intelligence on Iran and its nuclear program.

Jason Vest is senior correspondent at The American Prospect. Laura Rozen reports on national security issues from Washington, D.C. and for her weblog, War and Piece.

Copyright © 2004 by The American Prospect, Inc. This article may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission from the author. Direct questions about permissions to permissions@prospect.org."

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Rumsfeld can't wriggle off the hook | ajc.com

Rumsfeld can't wriggle off the hook | ajc.com: "Rumsfeld can't wriggle off the hook

Published on: 12/09/04
After the Atlanta Falcons were humiliated 27-0 last week by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Falcons coach Jim Mora reacted like a true leader: He took the blame himself so that none would fall on his players, attributing the loss to his own inexperience in preparing teams for Sunday in the NFL.

"What the heck," he told a news conference. "I'm a rookie head coach, man."

Mora also declined an invitation to identify specific players who contributed to the embarrassing defeat.

"Let's just say that we don't air our dirty laundry in public," he said. "It does happen [privately], but it doesn't happen for everyone to see because it doesn't need to."

The contrast between that stand-up leadership style and that of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld could not be more stark.

It has become crystal clear to all but the willfully blind that the failure to commit enough troops to the occupation of Iraq contributed significantly to the rising chaos in that country. However things turn out, history will record that decision as a fundamental mistake that endangered the success of the mission and led to increased casualties.

But in recent interviews, Rumsfeld has tried to wash his hands of any responsibility for that mistake.

"The big debate about the number of troops is one of those things that's really out of my control," Rumsfeld said recently. "I mean, everyone likes to assign responsibility to the top person, and I guess that's fine. But the number of troops we had for the invasion was the number of troops that General [Tommy] Franks and General [John] Abizaid wanted, the number of troops we have had every day since has been the number of troops that the field commander thought appropriate."

In other words, Rumsfeld's defense is that he was just following orders . . . from his subordinates.

That's reprehensible, for a couple of reasons. First, a good leader does not dump public blame on those who have no opportunity or, in the case of uniformed officers, even the right to defend themselves. That's particularly true when the people involved are soldiers in the field watching their own subordinates fight and die.

But the worst thing about Rumsfeld's denial of responsibility is that it is a blatant lie. He was without doubt the driving force behind the decision to keep the invading and occupying forces as lean as possible, and any effort to dump that responsibility on others amounts to cowardice on his part.

According to the former head of U.S. Central Command, retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, the Pentagon plan for invading and occupying Iraq when Rumsfeld took office had just been updated in 2000 and called for a force of roughly 400,000 troops. It was Rumsfeld, enamored with the possibility of using technology to do more with less, who ordered that plan redrawn time and again to dramatically reduce the number of troops involved.

A month before the invasion, when Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki was asked by Congress how many troops it would take to occupy Iraq, he told the truth: hundreds of thousands of troops. Almost immediately, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz memorably proclaimed that estimate "wildly off the mark," with Rumsfeld concurring it was "far off the mark." The two made it clear that Shinseki had disgraced himself, a point driven home when Army Secretary Thomas White was forced from office after coming to Shinseki's defense.

By those actions, Rumsfeld made it as clear as possible to officers down the line that he did not want to hear a word about needing more troops and that to argue otherwise would affect careers. In fact, in the months before the invasion and in the immediate afterglow of its success, Rumsfeld basked in his role as architect of the remarkably small force that took Iraq, dismissing concern about the resulting chaos as "henny-penny the sky is falling . . . just unbelievable."

Rumsfeld and his colleagues should have been fired long ago for incompetence and bad judgment. He should be fired now for poor leadership. The fact that he has been asked to stay on bodes poorly for the second Bush administration — and for the country."