Germany is just 10 short months away from finally paying off one of the most onerous post-war reparations debts in human history, its massive war debt from the Treaty of Versailles.
The German Empire entered World War One in 1914 on the side of Austro-Hungary. In June 1919 they were forced to sign the Treaty of Versailles, ceding West Prussia to Poland and Alsace-Lorraine to France. In addition, Germany was forced to pay for all damages suffered by every Allied state during the war, roughly 100 million kilograms of gold.
With hard currency flowing out of the country en masse to pay the reparations, post-war Germany’s Weimar Republic saw massive hyperinflation and a huge drop in standard of living. Resentment of the Treaty of Versailles and the economic strife the reparations brought led to growing nationalism and eventually World War Two.
But Germany’s reparation debt came back after World World Two, and was quickly frozen again when the nation was split into West and East Germany. Following the 1990 reunification, the debt was again renewed and, several generations and several regime changes later, Germany was expected to continue paying for the war.
The good news is the debt is finally almost paid off. Another 56 million Euros are owed, and it is expected that the last payment will be made on October 3, 2010.
In the Negev, an area targeted for so-called ‘development’, lies the Israel that its government does not want to be seen
by Ben White, guardian.co.uk, Thursday 3 December 2009
A struggle over land, home demolitions, and an Israeli government working with Jewish agencies to “develop” the land for the benefit of one group at the expense of another. It could be a picture of the illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank, but in fact, it’s inside Israel – in the Negev.
The Negev, or al-Naqab in Arabic, is an area that since the inception of the state has been targeted by Israeli governments, along with agencies like the Jewish National Fund (JNF), for so-called “development”.
This investment in the country’s periphery is characterised by systematic discrimination against the Negev’s Bedouin population, many of whom live in “unrecognised” villages or townships. Recent developments bring these policies into sharper focus, as well as pointing to fundamental problems with Israel’s image as “the Middle East’s only democracy”.
First, three vital clinics serving Bedouin women and children have been shut down, with the result that the nearest equivalent facilities are now hours away. The official reason is a shortage of staff, but this does not sit well with the severity of the health problem among these Bedouin children, where the infant mortality rate is more than three times higher than in the Israeli Jewish community.
Second, in mid-November the Knesset passed an amendment to prevent around 25,000 Bedouins from voting for their mayor and regional councillors. Elections had already been postponed for two years, but now the law means “that as long as the minister of interior deems the residents not ready for elections, the elections will be postponed”.
Finally, six weeks ago, lawyers acting on behalf of the Bedouins who live in the unrecognised village of Umm al-Hieran appealed against a previous court decision ordering the eviction of the community’s residents.
Ironically, this village had been established by the Israeli military in the 1950s as part of a wider-scale forced relocation of Bedouins from territory intended for Jewish settlement. Now they are once again being targeted for removal, labelled “intruders”, to make way for the planned creation of a Jewish town, Hiran.
Meanwhile, there have been reports about a Bedouin “mini-intifada” in the Negev, with Israeli military personnel targeted on the roads near a key base. Such fears are not new: a Haaretz article in 2004 predicted that a “Bedouin intifada” was “on the way” – a conclusion supposedly shared by senior government and military leaders.
What then, is the wider context? As a Human Rights Watch report put it last year, “the state’s motives for these discriminatory, exclusionary and punitive policies can be elicited from policy documents and official rhetoric”. The Israeli state’s aim: “maximising its control over Negev land and increasing the Jewish population in the area for strategic, economic and demographic reasons”. Professor Oren Yifatchel of Ben-Gurion University has put it bluntly: “the government wants to de-Arabise the land”.
This is the common thread that runs through Israel’s approach to the Negev since 1948: from physical expulsions and the legislation used to exclude communities from official recognition, through to budget allocations, creating Bedouin townships, and the flipside of “development” – demolitions.
In 2003, then-PM Ariel Sharon announced a new initiative calling “for the establishment of some 30 new towns” in the Galilee and Negev. One of the PM’s advisers at the time, Uzi Keren, told a radio station that it was important to locate the new towns in “the places that are important to the state, that is, for Jewish settlement”, in order to “strengthen settlement in areas sparse in Jewish population”.
One of the groups helping the state is the Jewish Agency for Israel. A few years ago, the organisation’s foreign media liaison officer was quoted on the JTA news website as describing the goal of the joint venture with the Israeli government as “a Jewish majority in all parts of Israel”.
Another key organisation involved is the Jewish National Fund. Its UK website, for example, talks about how “the future of Israel lies in the Negev” and says the goal of the “major initiative” known as “Blueprint Negev” is to “revitalise Israel’s southern region”.
In January, the chief executive of JNF in the US, Russell Robinson, expressed his concern that “if we don’t get 500,000 people to move to the Negev in the next five years, we’re going to lose it”. To what – or who – went unsaid. In 2005, Robinson was clearer about the consequences of the JNF’s “project to remake” the demographics: “such an influx” of Jews would mean “a certain amount of displacement” for the Bedouin.
Robinson actually tried to present this as helping tackle Bedouin unemployment. With their slick focus on “environmentally friendly” initiatives and helping the disadvantaged Arabs, groups like the JNF do their best to make sure that scenes like this go unnoticed.
This is the Israel that its government and propagandists do not want to be seen, the Israel where non-Jews are a demographic “threat”, and the state works with agencies (often funded by western donors) to “secure” a Jewish majority. It is the reality behind the myth of Israel as the region’s only democracy, and away from the weekly twists and turns of the peace process, such policies shed light on the root problem preventing a resolution of the conflict just as well as, or better than, the number of housing units in Gilo.
By terminology I mean roughly the semantic or the concepts which are mental representation or abstract ideas produced to explain things. My point is to unearth some of the Zionist terminology used in the Zionist propaganda which has sadly dominated the western media for decades and brainwashed millions in Europe and the USA.
The function of these terminologies is to legitimize the Zionist policy of occupation and to conceal the truth especially for the western opinion.
In Arabic language there is a semantic link between darkness and tyranny and absenting the truth. The word “Dhallam” stands for darkness, the term “Dhulm” means oppression, if Darkness can be explained in the absence of light, and consequently the absence of truth, oppression is a form of concealing the truth. The problem of the Zionist thinking as in all racist ideologies is that it claims to own the absolute truth. Claiming to own the absolute truth is as the Syrian poet Adonis says is the source of all oppression in history.
This question was raised by the Palestinian thinker Azmi Bishra who wrote about the importance of terminology use in the Palestinian struggle against the Judio Zionist invaders stressing the importance to be attentive in this question.
Obviously, Bishara who spent years confronting the Zionist apartheid knows well the tremendous quantity and quality of falsification Jewish Zionist produced to legitimate their conquest of Palestine. For that reason, Bishara demands from those interested in unmasking the brutal face of Zionism to be extremely watchful in this regard.
Ron Wilkinson notes in an article about conflict terminology some examples of how Zionist used terminology with the aim to present a negative picture for Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims. He cites few examples of the Zionist terminology use, such as the Israeli army “enters” a place in Palestine (to refer to the daily Zionist attracts) while Palestinians “Infiltrate” an area (referring to Palestinian resistance).
Yet the history of the Zionist propaganda is earlier than the Zionist invasion. The Zionist experience of bringing Jews to Palestine to commit war crimes has been put on a sacred level and was called Aliyah. Which is considered the fulfillment of the promises of the Jewish god? However the question of portraying everything Zionist on a sacred level needs another time to talk about it.
For the sake of clarity I shall divide the Zionist semantic propaganda use into two periods: the first I call the negation period. The focus in this period was on the terminologies which negate Palestinians from existence. Palestinians are chosen enemies by being in their country.
The most dominant Zionist expressions of that period that Palestine is empty of folk and that Palestinians do not exist. And in cases when they cannot conceal the truth, they describe Palestinians as Bedouins, which means they have no particular attachment to Palestine. The mental association here is that Jews take no body of land, it is either empty or waits for others to develop it, or it is populated by “primitive” people (who do not deserve it!) and who need somebody else (who deserve it!) to help them in developing the country.
Therefore the Zionist policy of collective crimes and displacement was the parallel work of the semantics they use. The Zionist logic can be explained as such, if Zionists believe there are no Palestinians, and since they know that this is groundless, the work to be done is to murder Palestinians and to push them to leave because Zionists have to create facts on the ground which accord with the Zionist semantics and vision.
The question is how to explain Zionist focusing on murdering Palestinian olive trees and Palestinian babies?
Zionists saw both aspects as threatening, Palestinian trees represent the Palestinian past, culture and the continuous existence in Palestine, especially the olive trees which live thousands of years. The seasons of harvesting the olives have always been connected with Palestinian culture, songs and folklore and the oil produced from the olive trees is related to popular medicine traditions. In murdering trees, they think they murder the culture of harvest linked to the harvesting seasons. And to murder Palestinian babies, Zionists think they can murder the future in terms of demography and in terms of the future Palestinian struggle for freedom.
The idea of killing Palestinian children has been one of the aspect of the Zionist thinking since their invasion. Here are two examples, one from 1947, the other is recent.
(At night of 15th of July 1947, a force of the Hagana “A Jewish terror organization” entered an orange field owned by Rashid Abo Laban which lies between Yafaa and Betah tekfa.Inside the house there is a family of 7 all were sleeping, and there were 9 workers at the house. The Hagana shot at them killed 11 including the mother and her three kids at ages 3, 7, 8).
The second is from the war on Gaza 2009 (Mordechi Elyahu,one of the leading rabbinic figures in Israel, urged the army not to refrain from killing enemy children in order to save the lives of Israeli soldiers).
Therefore it is not surprising that Zionist Jews expressed in many occasions their worry about Palestinian pregnant women which they call the demographic bomb, and that too explains why one third of the murdered in Gaza war were Palestinian children. The Zionist negation of Palestinians was done on three levels, to negate Palestinians from the past through absenting them from history and through destroying any cultural or archeological findings that belong to Palestinians, to negate Palestinian culture by both destroying it, or drying its sources including trees and water sources and sometimes by claiming Palestinian cultural heritage as belonging to Jews, and finally to negate Palestinians physically by means of ruthless terror.
Within the framework of this thinking it is possible to explain the Zionist collective crimes. The Zionist psyche has already murdered Palestinians on the semantic and psychological levels. Therefore the actual murder of Palestinians becomes easy because it concords the Zionist self made image that Palestinians do not exist and thusly Jews murder nobody! But when Zionists cannot escape the reality of the Palestinian existence they portray them as part of ”the whole world which hates Jews” or as “animals and insects” which made the actual murder an easy job since it is directed against non humans or that Jews are defending themselves against “terrorists”. In this line of thinking the Zionist state was born out of war crimes and its existence surpassed all notions of ethics.
Zionists show neither care nor mercy towards Palestinians and Arabs. This is due to the racist thinking which is an integral part of the Zionist ideology and the Jewish Zionist culture. But, since the Zionist state was and still is heavily dependent on the west, Zionists are keen to conceal their crimes from the western media. For that reason a great part of their propaganda terminology was mostly designed for Western public opinion. Raising the banner of the “only democracy in the middle east” and the “civilized country” against the “extremist Islamists” are just few examples of the arsenal of the Zionist propaganda directed towards the west.
And when they occupied Jerusalem and the west bank and Gaza they called it “administrative areas”. The aim here is clear that which is to absent the name of Palestine, a name which Zionists fear most because it indicates that the victim is alive despite all the Zionist crimes.
However after three generation of Palestinian struggle, and after the world has largely become sympathetic with Palestinians, the Zionist terminologies have relatively changed from full negation to the second period which I call the reduction period. The reduction period does not mean at all that Zionists suddenly become moral creatures; Zionism will be always the source of wars and instability in the Middle East. But, the reality that Zionists are extremely clever to change their skin to fit changing situations, without changing its essence as an anti humanity ideology.
The most recent Zionist propaganda is focusing on Hamas. They seek to benefit from the anti Islamic atmosphere found in the West to present themselves as part of the West which fights “Islamic terror”. For that reason their propaganda terminology has changed to focus on Hamas. They instructed their propaganda machine to say that Zionists are not against Palestinians but against Hamas as if Hamas is not part of the Palestinian people. So following this logic Hamas is the problem and not the Zionist occupation. Off course it is very easy to tear up this argument because Hamas was born in 1987 but what about the ethnic cleaning of Palestine in 1948, and in 1967? What about the long history of war crimes?
The most ridiculous thing in the new terminology tactics is that Zionists began to say that they want the best for Palestinians! Of course Palestinians know well that Zionism and murder, Zionism and occupation are twins, but it is obvious that the new tactics are because Zionists know that the time of truth is coming and that they can no longer brain wash the world.
Netanyahu’s recent speech about accepting the idea of the Palestinian state is yet another good example of the new Zionist tactic. When he referred to Palestinians in (Judea and Samaria!!!), he could not reject the idea of a Palestinian state which is the actual position of his party. He mentioned the existence of Palestinians in the context that it happens that Palestinians are there! (As if Palestinians are there by accident) and accordingly it’s a problem that Israel must deal with. In this way he reflects without any doubt the Zionist mentality, psyche and logic which tries to be flexible under international pressures but without change in its supremacist nature.
He did not recognize that Palestinians are an occupied nation and that they have the right for self determination. He did not recognize the responsibility of Zionist Jews of creating a life of hell for 70 years for Palestinians. He used the same terms Zionist used when they for instance say that they decide to lift the siege on Gaza for one day, which creates a positive impression about Israeli “generosity” and its “great charity” while the original question is why the zionist state besieges Gaza in the first place? The same “positive impression” they try to create when they say they decided to reduce the check points in the west bank from 620 to 590! While the real question is why there are check points in the first place and Zionists know very well that there is no single Palestinian who does not dream every single day to get rid of the Zionist occupation.
Dr. Salim Nazzal is a Palestinian-Norwegian historian in the Middle East, who has written extensively on social and political issues in the region.
December 3, 2009
The Federal Government’s third attempt at getting its emissions trading scheme through Parliament already appears to be heading for defeat.
The Government says it wants to give the Opposition another chance to support the legislation.
It plans to reintroduce the scheme in February, even though the Senate yesterday rejected it for a second time.
But Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says he expects the Coalition’s position to harden over the summer break.
He has ruled out taking an emissions trading scheme or a carbon tax to the next election as Coalition policy and says there is “very little” chance the Coalition would vote for one in February.
Nationals Senate Leader Barnaby Joyce does not think the public will be impressed by the idea of a third vote.
“The Australian people will just get furious with you. We’ve made our decision, you’re playing a game and we’re sick of it,” he said.
By Guy Adams in Los Angeles – December 3, 2009
When police in Peru announced that they’d broken up a criminal gang who roamed the Andes killing peasant farmers, draining the fat from their dead bodies, and then selling it to European cosmetics manufacturers for use in expensive anti-aging skin creams, there was widespread shock and revulsion although medical experts were quick to sound a note of scepticism.
A functioning kidney, or liver, is worth thousands of dollars, but there is no black market in human fat, they pointed out. Surgeons carrying out liposuction operations throw away gallons of the stuff each week.
Yesterday, the experts were vindicated. Peru’s police chief was forced to sack his top organised crime investigator amid growing evidence that he and several colleagues deliberately invented the elaborate story to cover up evidence of officers being involved in dozens of unlawful killings.
A fortnight ago, the sacked officer, General Felix Murga had claimed to have arrested four members of “an international criminal network trafficking human fat”. The “gang” had carried out between 30 and 60 murders a year, in the country’s central Huanuco province he had claimed.
The macabre details of the alleged gang’s activities garnered international media attention. And opposition politicians now believe that police invented the story to divert attention from allegations that officers had killed 46 suspects in 2007 and 2008 in the coastal town of Trujillo. “My hypothesis is that they were mainly trying to cover up the tremendous revelation of extrajudicial killings of criminals in Trujillo made by Ricardo Uceda … in Poder magazine,” the former deputy interior minister, Carlos Basombrio, wrote on his blog yesterday.
If so, then the senior cops certainly knew how to tell a tall story. At the original press conference, they played a video of one suspect “confessing,” before showing off two soft drink bottles filled with a yellow fluid they said was human fat that had been decanted for export fetching prices of nearly £10,000 a litre.
Journalists were told how victims were approached on remote roads and lured to a hut in the jungle. There the police claimed, they were bludgeoned to death. Heads, arms and legs were cut off, the police had claimed. Major organs were removed and discarded. Candles were placed beneath the torsos, so that melting fat would dribble into pots and other collecting vessels. Investigators in Huanuco, who complain they were excluded from the inquiry, now believe the four arrested men, who are still in custody, had carried out only one murder, linked to the cocaine trade.
They say they may have bottled that victim’s fat to intimidate rivals in an area rife with drug trafficking.
2 December 2009
International Solidarity Movement
At approximately 9am this Wednesday, four police vehicles containing eight Jerusalem police and four border police armed with automatic weapons came to Sheikh Jarrah and demolished the Gawi tent for the fourth time. The demolition took place as there were several people sleeping in the tent. The police failed to alert those sleeping to their destructive actions. The Palestinian family’s possessions were confiscated and removed in police pick-up trucks and golf carts. One hour later, a British national was arrested. The Gawi family has lived in the tent for four months now, since 2 August 2009 when they were forcefully evicted from their home, now occupied by settlers.
This action comes in the wake of yesterday’s settler invasion of the front section of the al-Kurd family home. As the settlers moved some of their possessions from the occupied Gawi home to the newly-confiscated al-Kurd home, the police were destroying and stealing the blankets, chairs, mattresses, lights and shelter from the evicted Gawi family. The settlers have also run electrical wires from the confiscated Gawi house to the confiscated al-Kurd house. As the constant crowd watched the settlers’ actions and those of the police, a British national was arrested, seemingly, for standing in the entrance of the al-Kurd family’s garden.
December 2, 2009
By SONYA ANGELICA DIEHN
COLUMBUS, Ohio (CN) – DuPont has been covering up and refusing to take responsibility for its toxic pollution of the Ohio River for a quarter of a century, and the poisons it uses to make Teflon stay in the environment for 2,000 years, a nonprofit water association claims in Federal Court.
The Little Hocking Water Association says that air and water emissions of perflourinated compounds from DuPont’s Washington Works Plant have been polluting its wellfields since 1984.
These chemicals, which DuPont uses to make Teflon products, stay in the environment for up to 2,000 years, and accumulate in the tissue of living things, causing developmental and immunological problems, the water group says.
It claims at least four wells on 45 acres along the Ohio River were polluted by DuPont’s disposal of hazardous waste in landfills, injection wells and burn pits.
The water association claims that DuPont hid the threats of perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, despite knowing of its risks – including the birth of deformed babies to its employees in 1981.
DuPont allegedly acknowledged the contamination by buying out one local water supplier, but refused to extend such an offer to Little Hocking. DuPont for many years also refused to allow the single laboratory with the ability to test for such substances to do so, the group says.
Little Hocking claims that in 1991 DuPont set a “community exposure guideline” for the chemical, a liver toxin, at 1 part per billion. Sampling from the water association’s wellfields in 2001 showed levels of 7.69 ppb, the complaint states. Current tests put that figure as high as 78 ppb.
A March 2009 level of .4 ppb, set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is not enough to protect the water association’s 12,000 consumers, it says, due to their chronic exposure and potential “synergistic” effects with other perflourinated compounds in the water.
The group cites a 2003 class action in which the court determined that DuPont’s release was active and intentional. Little Hocking says that an EPA consent order does not adequately protect its customers.
The Water Association says it has suffered financial hardship since 2001, when it began to address the problem on its own. This includes funding a bottled water program, for which it claims DuPont promised to it; it says DuPont stopped doing so in 2007.
The water association wants DuPont ordered to stop polluting, clean up what it has done, and conduct a scientific study on the effects of PFOA. It is represented by David Altman of Cincinnati.
October 01, 2009
Excerpts and adaptation:
The Soldier’s Revolt
by Joel Geier
Our army that now remains in Vietnam is in a state approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers and noncommissioned officers, drug-ridden, and dispirited where not near-mutinous Conditions exist among American forces in Vietnam that have only been exceeded in this century by…the collapse of the Tsarist armies in 1916 and 1917.
Armed Forces Journal, June 1971
The most neglected aspect of the Vietnam War is the soldiers’ revolt–the mass upheaval from below that unraveled the American army. It is a great reality check in an era when the U.S. touts itself as an invincible nation. For this reason, the soldiers’ revolt has been written out of official history.
The army revolt pitted enlisted soldiers against officers who viewed them as expendable. Liberal academics have reduced the radicalism of the 1960s to middle-class concerns and activities, while ignoring military rebellion. But the militancy of the 1960s began with the Black liberation struggle, and it reached its climax with the unity of White and Black soldiers.
A working-class army
From 1964 to 1973, from the Gulf of Tonkin resolution to the final withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam, 27 million men came of draft age. A majority of them were not drafted due to college, professional, medical or National Guard deferments. Only 40 percent were drafted and saw military service. A small minority, 2.5 million men (about 10 percent of those eligible for the draft), were sent to Vietnam.
This small minority was almost entirely working-class or rural youth. Their average age was 19. Eighty-five percent of the troops were enlisted men; 15 percent were officers. The enlisted men were drawn from the 80 percent of the armed forces with a high school education or less. At this time, college education was universal in the middle class.
In the elite colleges, the class discrepancy was even more glaring. The upper class did none of the fighting. Of the 1,200 Harvard graduates in 1970, only 2 went to Vietnam, while working-class high schools routinely sent 20 percent, 30 percent of their graduates and more to Vietnam.
College students who were not made officers were usually assigned to noncombat support and service units. High school dropouts were three times more likely to be sent to combat units that did the fighting and took the casualties. Combat infantry soldiers, “the grunts,” were entirely working class. They included a disproportionate number of Black working-class troops. Blacks, who formed 12 percent of the troops, were often 25 percent or more of the combat units.
When college deferments expired, joining the National Guard was a favorite way to get out of serving in Vietnam. During the war, 80 percent of the Guard’s members described themselves as joining to avoid the draft. You needed connections to get in–which was no problem for Dan Quayle, George W. Bush and other draft evaders. In 1968, the Guard had a waiting list of more than 100,000. It had triple the percentage of college graduates that the army did. Blacks made up less than 1.5 percent of the National Guard. In Mississippi, Blacks were 42 percent of the population, but only one Black man served in a Guard of more than 10,000.
The middle-class officers corps
The officer corps was drawn from the 7 percent of troops who were college graduates, or the 13 percent who had one to three years of college. College was to officer as high school was to enlisted man. The officer corps was middle class in composition and managerial in outlook.
Superfluous support officers lived far removed from danger, lounging in rear base camps in luxurious conditions. A few miles away, combat soldiers were experiencing a nightmarish hell. The contrast was too great to allow for confidence–in both the officers and the war–to survive unscathed.
Westmoreland’s solution to the competition for combat command poured gasoline on the fire. He ordered a one-year tour of duty for enlisted men in Vietnam, but only six months for officers. The combat troops hated the class discrimination that put them at twice the risk of their commanders. They grew contemptuous of the officers, whom they saw as raw and dangerously inexperienced in battle.
Even a majority of officers considered Westmoreland’s tour inequality as unethical. Yet they were forced to use short tours to prove themselves for promotion. They were put in situations in which their whole careers depended on what they could accomplish in a brief period, even if it meant taking shortcuts and risks at the expense of the safety of their men–a temptation many could not resist.
The outer limit of six-month commands was often shortened due to promotion, relief, injury or other reasons. The outcome was “revolving-door” commands. As an enlisted man recalled, “During my year in-country I had five second-lieutenant platoon leaders and four company commanders. One CO was pretty good…All the rest were stupid.”
Aggravating this was the contradiction that guaranteed opposition between officers and men in combat. Officer promotions depended on quotas of enemy dead from search-and-destroy missions. Battalion commanders who did not furnish immediate high body counts were threatened with replacement. This was no idle threat–battalion commanders had a 30 to 50 percent chance of being relieved of command. But search-and-destroy missions produced enormous casualties for the infantry soldiers. Officers corrupted by career ambitions would cynically ignore this and draw on the never-ending supply of replacements from the monthly draft quota.
Officer corruption was rife. A Pentagon official writes, “the stench of corruption rose to unprecedented levels during William C. Westmoreland’s command of the American effort in Vietnam.” The CIA protected the poppy fields of Vietnamese officials and flew their heroin out of the country on Air America planes. Officers took notice and followed suit. The major who flew the U.S. ambassador’s private jet was caught smuggling $8 million of heroin on the plane.
The war was fought by NLF troops and peasant auxiliaries who worked the land during the day and fought as soldiers at night. They would attack ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam) and American troops and bases or set mines at night, and then disappear back into the countryside during the day. In this form of guerrilla war, there were no fixed targets, no set battlegrounds, and there was no territory to take. With that in mind, the Pentagon designed a counterinsurgency strategy called “search and destroy.” Without fixed battlegrounds, combat success was judged by the number of NLF troops killed–the body count. A somewhat more sophisticated variant was the “kill ratio”–the number of enemy troops killed compared to the number of Americans dead. This “war of attrition” strategy was the basic military plan of the American ruling class in Vietnam.
For each enemy killed, for every body counted, soldiers got three-day passes and officers received medals and promotions. This reduced the war from fighting for “the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese” to no larger purpose than killing. Any Vietnamese killed was put in the body count as a dead enemy soldier, or as the GIs put it, “if it’s dead, it’s Charlie” (“Charlie” was GI slang for the NLF). This was an inevitable outcome of a war against a whole people. Everyone in Vietnam became the enemy–and this encouraged random slaughter. Officers further ordered their men to “kill them even if they try to surrender–we need the body count.” It was an invitation to kill indiscriminately to swell a tally sheet.
Rather than following their officers, many more soldiers had the courage to revolt against barbarism.
Ninety-five percent of combat units were search-and-destroy units. Their mission was to go out into the jungle, hit bases and supply areas, flush out NLF troops and engage them in battle. If the NLF fought back, helicopters would fly in to prevent retreat and unleash massive firepower–bullets, bombs, missiles. The NLF would attempt to avoid this, and battle generally only occurred if the search-and-destroy missions were ambushed. Ground troops became the live bait for the ambush and firefight. GIs referred to search and destroy as “humping the boonies by dangling the bait.”
Without helicopters, search and destroy would not have been possible–and the helicopters were the terrain of the officers. “On board the command and control chopper rode the battalion commander, his aviation-support commander, the artillery-liaison officer, the battalion S-3 and the battalion sergeant major. They circled…high enough to escape random small-arms fire.” The officers directed their firepower on the NLF down below, but while indiscriminately spewing out bombs and napalm, they could not avoid “collateral damage”–hitting their own troops. One-quarter of the American dead in Vietnam was killed by “friendly fire” from the choppers. The officers were out of danger, the “eye in the sky,” while the troops had their “asses in the grass,” open to fire from both the NLF and the choppers.
When the battle was over, the officers and their choppers would fly off to base camps removed from danger while their troops remained out in the field.
Of the 543,000 American troops in Vietnam in 1968, only 14 percent (or 80,000) were combat troops. These 80,000 men took the brunt of the war. They were the weak link, and their disaffection crippled the ability of the world’s largest military to fight. In 1968, 14,592 men–18 percent of combat troops–were killed. An additional 35,000 had serious wounds that required hospitalization. Although not all of the dead and wounded were from combat units, the overwhelming majority were. The majority of combat troops in 1968 were either seriously injured or killed. The number of American casualties in Vietnam was not extreme, but as it was concentrated among the combat troops, it was a virtual massacre. Not to revolt amounted to suicide.
Officers, high in the sky, had few deaths or casualties. The deaths of officers occurred mostly in the lower ranks among lieutenants or captains who led combat platoons or companies. The higher-ranking officers went unharmed. During a decade of war, only one general and eight full colonels died from enemy fire. As one study commissioned by the military concluded, “In Vietnam…the officer corps simply did not die in sufficient numbers or in the presence of their men often enough.”
The slaughter of grunts went on because the officers never found it unacceptable. There was no outcry from the military or political elite, the media or their ruling-class patrons about this aspect of the war, nor is it commented on in almost any history of the war. It is ignored or accepted as a normal part of an unequal world, because the middle and upper class were not in combat in Vietnam and suffered no pain from its butchery. It never would have been tolerated had their class done the fighting. Their premeditated murder of combat troops unleashed class war in the armed forces. The revolt focused on ending search and destroy through all of the means the army had provided as training for these young workers.
Tet–the revolt begins
The Tet Offensive was the turning point of the Vietnam War and the start of open, active soldiers’ rebellion. At the end of January 1968, on Tet, the Vietnamese New Year, the NLF sent 100,000 troops into Saigon and 36 provincial capitals to lead a struggle for the cities. The Tet Offensive was not militarily successful, because of the savagery of the U.S. counterattack. In Saigon alone, American bombs killed 14,000 civilians. The city of Ben Tre became emblematic of the U.S. effort when the major who retook it announced that “to save the city, we had to destroy it.”
Westmoreland and his generals claimed that they were the victors of Tet because they had inflicted so many casualties on the NLF. But to the world, it was clear that the U.S. had politically lost the war in Vietnam. Tet showed that the NLF had the overwhelming support of the Vietnamese population–millions knew of and collaborated with the NLF entry into the cities and no one warned the Americans. The ARVN had turned over whole cities without firing a shot. In some cases, ARVN troops had welcomed the NLF and turned over large weapons supplies. The official rationale for the war, that U.S. troops were there to help the Vietnamese fend off Communist aggression from the North, was no longer believed by anybody. The South Vietnamese government and military were clearly hated by the people.37
Westmoreland’s constant claim that there was “light at the end of the tunnel,” that victory was imminent, was shown to be a lie. Search and destroy was a pipe dream. The NLF did not have to be flushed out of the jungle, it operated everywhere. No place in Vietnam was a safe base for American soldiers when the NLF so decided.
What, then, was the point of this war? Why should American troops fight to defend a regime its own people despised? Soldiers became furious at a government and an officer corps who risked their lives for lies. Throughout the world, Tet and the confidence that American imperialism was weak and would be defeated produced a massive, radical upsurge that makes 1968 famous as the year of revolutionary hope. In the U.S. army, it became the start of the showdown with the officers.
The refusal of an order to advance into combat is an act of mutiny. In time of war, it is the gravest crime in the military code, punishable by death. In Vietnam, mutiny was rampant, the power to punish withered and discipline collapsed as search and destroy was revoked from below.
Until 1967, open defiance of orders was rare and harshly repressed, with sentences of two to ten years for minor infractions. Hostility to search-and-destroy missions took the form of covert combat avoidance, called “sandbagging” by the grunts. A platoon sent out to “hump the boonies” might look for a safe cover from which to file fabricated reports of imaginary activity.
But after Tet, there was a massive shift from combat avoidance to mutiny. One Pentagon official reflected that “mutiny became so common that the army was forced to disguise its frequency by talking instead of ‘combat refusal.’” Combat refusal, one commentator observed, “resembled a strike and occurred when GIs refused, disobeyed, or negotiated an order into combat.”
Acts of mutiny took place on a scale previously only encountered in revolutions. The first mutinies in 1968 were unit and platoon-level rejections of the order to fight. The army recorded 68 such mutinies that year. By 1970, in the 1st Air Cavalry Division alone, there were 35 acts of combat refusal. One military study concluded that combat refusal was “unlike mutinous outbreaks of the past, which were usually sporadic, short-lived events. The progressive unwillingness of American soldiers to fight to the point of open disobedience took place over a four-year period between 1968-71.”
The 1968 combat refusals of individual units expanded to involve whole companies by the next year. The first reported mass mutiny was in the 196th Light Brigade in August 1969. Company A of the 3rd Battalion, down to 60 men from its original 150, had been pushing through Songchang Valley under heavy fire for five days when it refused an order to advance down a perilous mountain slope. Word of the mutiny spread rapidly. The New York Daily News ran a banner headline, “Sir, My Men Refuse To Go.” The GI paper, The Bond, accurately noted, “It was an organized strike…A shaken brass relieved the company commander…but they did not charge the guys with anything. The Brass surrendered to the strength of the organized men.”
This precedent–no court-martial for refusing to obey the order to fight, but the line officer relieved of his command–was the pattern for the rest of the war. Mass insubordination was not punished by an officer corps that lived in fear of its own men. Even the threat of punishment often backfired. In one famous incident, B Company of the 1st Battalion of the 12th Infantry refused an order to proceed into NLF-held territory. When they were threatened with court-martials, other platoons rallied to their support and refused orders to advance until the army backed down.
As the fear of punishment faded, mutinies mushroomed. There were at least ten reported major mutinies, and hundreds of smaller ones. Hanoi’s Vietnam Courier documented 15 important GI rebellions in 1969. At Cu Chi, troops from the 2nd Battalion of the 27th Infantry refused battle orders. The “CBS Evening News” broadcast live a patrol from the 7th Cavalry telling their captain that his order for direct advance against the NLF was nonsense, that it would threaten casualties, and that they would not obey it. Another CBS broadcast televised the mutiny of a rifle company of the 1st Air Cavalry Division.
When Cambodia was invaded in 1970, soldiers from Fire Base Washington conducted a sit-in. They told Up Against the Bulkhead, “We have no business there…we just sat down. Then they promised us we wouldn’t have to go to Cambodia.” Within a week, there were two additional mutinies, as men from the 4th and 8th Infantry refused to board helicopters to Cambodia.
In the invasion of Laos in March 1971, two platoons refused to advance. To prevent the mutiny from spreading, the entire squadron was pulled out of the Laos operation. The captain was relieved of his command, but there was no discipline against the men. When a lieutenant from the 501st Infantry refused his battalion commander’s order to advance his troops, he merely received a suspended sentence.
The decision not to punish men defying the most sacrosanct article of the military code, the disobedience of the order for combat, indicated how much the deterioration of discipline had eroded the power of the officers. The only punishment for most mutinies was to relieve the commanding officer of his duties. Consequently, many commanders would not report that they had lost control of their men. They swept news of mutiny, which would jeopardize their careers, under the rug. As they became quietly complicit, the officer corps lost any remaining moral authority to impose discipline.
For every defiance in combat, there were hundreds of minor acts of insubordination in rear base camps. As one infantry officer reported, “You can’t give orders and expect them to be obeyed.” This democratic upsurge from below was so extensive that discipline was replaced by a new command technique called working it out. Working it out was a form of collective bargaining in which negotiations went on between officers and men to determine orders. Working it out destroyed the authority of the officer corps and gutted the ability of the army to carry out search-and-destroy missions. But the army had no alternative strategy for a guerrilla war against a national liberation movement.
The political impact of the mutiny was felt far beyond Vietnam. As H.R. Haldeman, Nixon’s chief of staff, reflected, “If troops are going to mutiny, you can’t pursue an aggressive policy.” The soldiers’ revolt tied down the global reach of U.S. imperialism.
The murder of American officers by their troops was an openly proclaimed goal in Vietnam. As one GI newspaper demanded, “Don’t desert. Go to Vietnam, and kill your commanding officer.” And they did. A new slang term arose to celebrate the execution of officers: fragging. The word came from the fragmentation grenade, which was the weapon of choice because the evidence was destroyed in the act.
In every war, troops kill officers whose incompetence or recklessness threatens the lives of their men. But only in Vietnam did this become pervasive in combat situations and widespread in rear base camps. It was the most well-known aspect of the class struggle inside the army, directed not just at intolerable officers, but at “lifers” as a class. In the soldiers’ revolt, it became accepted practice to paint political slogans on helmets. A popular helmet slogan summed up this mood: “Kill a non-com for Christ.” Fragging was the ransom the ground troops extracted for being used as live bait.
No one knows how many officers were fragged, but after Tet it became epidemic. At least 800 to 1,000 fragging attempts using explosive devices were made. The army reported 126 fraggings in 1969, 271 in 1970 and 333 in 1971, when they stopped keeping count. But in that year, just in the American Division (of My Lai fame), one fragging per week took place. Some military estimates are that fraggings occurred at five times the official rate, while officers of the Judge Advocate General Corps believed that only 10 percent of fraggings were reported. These figures do not include officers who were shot in the back by their men and listed as wounded or killed in action.
Most fraggings resulted in injuries, although “word of the deaths of officers will bring cheers at troop movies or in bivouacs of certain units.” The army admitted that it could not account for how 1,400 officers and noncommissioned officers died. This number, plus the official list of fragging deaths, has been accepted as the unacknowledged army estimate for officers killed by their men. It suggests that 20 to 25 percent–if not more–of all officers killed during the war were killed by enlisted men, not the “enemy.” This figure has no precedent in the history of war.
Soldiers put bounties on officers targeted for fragging. The money, usually between $100 and $1,000, was collected by subscription from among the enlisted men. It was a reward for the soldier who executed the collective decision. The highest bounty for an officer was $10,000, publicly offered by GI Says, a mimeographed bulletin put out in the 101st Airborne Division, for Col. W. Honeycutt, who had ordered the May 1969 attack on Hill 937. The hill had no strategic significance and was immediately abandoned when the battle ended. It became enshrined in GI folklore as Hamburger Hill, because of the 56 men killed and 420 wounded taking it. Despite several fragging attempts, Honeycutt escaped uninjured.
As Vietnam GI argued after Hamburger Hill, “Brass are calling this a tremendous victory. We call it a goddam butcher shop…If you want to die so some lifer can get a promotion, go right ahead. But if you think your life is worth something, you better get yourselves together. If you don’t take care of the lifers, they might damn well take care of you.”
Fraggings were occasionally called off. One lieutenant refused to obey an order to storm a hill during an operation in the Mekong Delta. “His first sergeant later told him that when his men heard him refuse that order, they removed a $350 bounty earlier placed on his head because they thought he was a ‘hard-liner.’”
The motive for most fraggings was not revenge, but to change battle conduct. For this reason, officers were usually warned prior to fraggings. First, a smoke grenade would be left near their beds. Those who did not respond would find a tear-gas grenade or a grenade pin on their bed as a gentle reminder. Finally, the lethal grenade was tossed into the bed of sleeping, inflexible officers. Officers understood the warnings and usually complied, becoming captive to the demands of their men. It was the most practical means of cracking army discipline. The units whose officers responded opted out of search-and-destroy missions.
An Army judge who presided over fragging trials called fragging “the troops’ way of controlling officers,” and added that it was “deadly effective.” He explained, “Captain Steinberg argues that once an officer is intimidated by even the threat of fragging he is useless to the military because he can no longer carry out orders essential to the functioning of the Army. Through intimidation by threats–verbal and written…virtually all officers and NCOs have to take into account the possibility of fragging before giving an order to the men under them.” The fear of fragging affected officers and NCOs far beyond those who were actually involved in fragging incidents.
Officers who survived fragging attempts could not tell which of their men had tried to murder them, or when the men might strike again. They lived in constant fear of future attempts at fragging by unknown soldiers. In Vietnam it was a truism that “everyone was the enemy”: for the lifers, every enlisted man was the enemy. “In parts of Vietnam fragging stirs more fear among officers and NCOs than does the war with ‘Charlie.’”
Counter-fragging by retaliating officers contributed to a war within the war. While 80 percent of fraggings were of officers and NCOs, 20 percent were of enlisted men, as officers sought to kill potential troublemakers or those whom they suspected of planning to frag them. In this civil war within the army, the military police were used to reinstate order. In October 1971, military police air assaulted the Praline mountain signal site to protect an officer who had been the target of repeated fragging attempts. The base was occupied for a week before command was restored.
Fragging undermined the ability of the Green Machine to function as a fighting force. By 1970, “many commanders no longer trusted Blacks or radical whites with weapons except on guard duty or in combat.” In the American Division, fragmentation grenades were not given to troops. In the 440 Signal Battalion, the colonel refused to distribute all arms. As a soldier at Cu Chi told the New York Times, “The American garrisons on the larger bases are virtually disarmed. The lifers have taken the weapons from us and put them under lock and key.” The U.S. army was slowly disarming its own men to prevent the weapons from being aimed at the main enemy: the lifers.
Peace from below–search and avoid
Mutiny and fraggings expressed the anger and bitterness that combat soldiers felt at being used as bait to kill Communists. It forced the troops to reassess who was the real enemy.
In a remarkable letter, 40 combat officers wrote to President Nixon in July 1970 to advise him that “the military, the leadership of this country–are perceived by many soldiers to be almost as much our enemy as the VC and the NVA.
After the 1970 invasion of Cambodia enlarged the war, fury and the demoralizing realization that nothing could stop the warmongers swept both the antiwar movement and the troops. The most popular helmet logo became “UUUU,” which meant “the unwilling, led by the unqualified, doing the unnecessary, for the ungrateful.” Peace, if it were to come, would have to be made by the troops themselves, instituted by an unofficial troop withdrawal ending search-and-destroy missions.
The form this peace from below took came to be called “search and avoid,” or “search and evade.” It became so extensive that “search and evade (meaning tacit avoidance of combat by units in the field) is now virtually a principle of war, vividly expressed by the GI phrase, ‘CYA’ (cover your ass) and get home!”
In search and avoid, patrols sent out into the field deliberately eluded potential clashes with the NLF. Night patrols, the most dangerous, would halt and take up positions a few yards beyond the defense perimeter, where the NLF would never come. By skirting potential conflicts, they hoped to make it clear to the NLF that their unit had established its own peace treaty.
Another frequent search-and-avoid tactic was to leave base camp, secure a safe area in the jungle and set up a perimeter-defense system in which to hole up for the time allotted for the mission. “Some units even took enemy weapons with them when they went out on such search-and-avoid missions so that upon return they could report a firefight and demonstrate evidence of enemy casualties for the body-count figures required by higher headquarters.”
The army was forced to accommodate what began to be called “the grunts’ cease-fire.” An American soldier from Cu Chi, quoted in the New York Times, said, “They have set up separate companies for men who refuse to go out into the field. It is no big thing to refuse to go. If a man is ordered to go to such and such a place, he no longer goes through the hassle of refusing; he just packs his shirt and goes to visit some buddies at another base camp.”
An observer at Pace, near the Cambodian front where a unilateral truce was widely enforced, reported, “The men agreed and passed the word to other platoons: nobody fires unless fired upon. As of about 1100 hours on October 10,1971, the men of Bravo Company, 11/12 First Cav Division, declared their own private cease-fire with the North Vietnamese.”
The NLF responded to the new situation. People’s Press, a GI paper, in its June 1971 issue claimed that NLF and NVA units were ordered not to open hostilities against U.S. troops wearing red bandanas or peace signs, unless first fired upon. Two months later, the first Vietnam veteran to visit Hanoi was given a copy of “an order to North Vietnamese troops not to shoot U.S. soldiers wearing antiwar symbols or carrying their rifles pointed down.” He reports its impact on “convincing me that I was on the side of the Vietnamese now.”
Colonel Heinl reported this:
That ‘search-and-evade’ has not gone unnoticed by the enemy is underscored by the Viet Cong delegation’s recent statement at the Paris Peace Talks that Communist units in Indochina have been ordered not to engage American units which do not molest them. The same statement boasted–not without foundation in fact–that American defectors are in the VC ranks.
Some officers joined, or led their men, in the unofficial cease-fire from below. A U.S. army colonel claimed:
I had influence over an entire province. I put my men to work helping with the harvest. They put up buildings. Once the NVA understood what I was doing, they eased up. I’m talking to you about a de facto truce, you understand. The war stopped in most of the province. It’s the kind of history that doesn’t get recorded. Few people even know it happened, and no one will ever admit that it happened.
Search and avoid, mutiny and fraggings were a brilliant success. Two years into the soldiers’ upsurge, in 1970, the number of U.S. combat deaths were down by more than 70 percent (to 3,946) from the 1968 high of more than 14,000. The revolt of the soldiers in order to survive and not to allow themselves to be victims could only succeed by a struggle prepared to use any means necessary to achieve peace from below.
The army revolt had all of the strengths and weaknesses of the 1960s radicalization of which it was a part. It was a courageous mass struggle from below. It relied upon no one but itself to win its battles.
The only organizing tools were the underground GI newspapers. But newspapers became a substitute for organization.
The hidden history of the 1960s proves that the American army can be split. But that requires the long, slow patient work of explanation, of education, of organization, and of agitation and action. The Vietnam revolt shows how rank-and-file soldiers can rise to the task.
By Ismael Hossein-zadeh
July 9, 2008
A most widely-cited factor behind the recent U.S. wars of choice is said to be oil. “No Blood for Oil” has been a rallying cry for most of the opponents of the war. While some of these opponents argue that the war is driven by the U.S. desire for cheap oil, others claim that it is prompted by big oil’s wish for high oil prices and profits. Interestingly, most antiwar forces use both claims interchangeably without paying attention to the fact that they are diametrically-opposed assertions.
Not only do the two arguments contradict each other, but each argument is also wanting and unconvincing on its own grounds; not because the U.S. does not wish for cheap oil, or because Big Oil does not desire higher oil prices, but because war is no longer the way to control or gain access to energy resources. Colonial-type occupation or direct control of energy resources is no longer efficient or economical and has, therefore, been abandoned for more than four decades.
The view that recent U.S. military adventures in the Middle East and the broader Central Asia are driven by energy considerations is further reinforced by the dubious theory of Peak Oil, which maintains that, having peaked, world oil resources are now dwindling and that, therefore, war power and military strength are key to access or control of the shrinking energy resources.
In this study I will first argue that the Peak Oil theory is unscientific, unrealistic, and perhaps even fraudulent. I will then show that war and military force are no longer the necessary or appropriate means to gain access to sources of energy, and that resorting to military measures can, indeed, lead to costly, not cheap, oil. Next, I will demonstrate that, despite the lucrative spoils of war resulting from high oil prices and profits, Big Oil prefers peace and stability, not war and geopolitical turbulence, in global energy markets. Finally, I will argue a case that behind the drive to war and military adventures in the Middle East lie some powerful special interests (vested in war, militarism, and geopolitical concerns of Israel) that use oil as an issue of “national interest”—as a façade or pretext—in order to justify military adventures to derive high dividends, both economic and geopolitical, from war.
Has Oil Really Peaked—and Is It Running Out?
Peak oil thesis, as noted above, maintains that world oil reserves, having reached their maximum capacity, are now dwindling—with grave consequences of oil shortage and high energy prices. While this has led many to call for more vigorous conservation, it has led others to argue in favor of unrestrained exploration and extraction of oil reserves, especially those located in the Alaskan Wildlife regions.
Significant policy and/or political implications follow from the view that oil is running out. For one thing, this view provides fodder for the cannons of war profiteering militarists who are constantly on the look out to invent new enemies and find new pretexts for continued war and escalation of military spending. For another, it tends to disarm many antiwar forces that accept this thesis and, therefore, “internalize responsibility for U.S. foreign policy every time they fill their gas tank. Thus they own the wars.”
The Peak Oil thesis serves as a powerful trap and a clever manipulation in that it lets the real forces of war and militarism (the military-industrial complex and the pro-Israel lobby) “off the hook; it is a fabulous redirection. All evils are blamed on a commodity upon which we are all utterly dependent.”
The fact, however, is that there is no hard evidence that oil has peaked, or that global oil reserves are shrinking, or that the current skyrocketing price of oil is due to a supply shortage. (As shown below, there is actually an oil surplus, no shortage.)
Peak oil theory is not altogether new. It was originally floated around in the 1940s, arguing that world oil reserves would be exhausted within the next two decades or so. It then resurfaced in the 1970s and early 1980s in reaction to the oil price hikes of those years—which were, incidentally, precipitated not by oil shortages but by international political convulsions, revolutions and wars. But it died down once the price of oil fell back to pre-crises levels.
As recent geopolitical convulsions in the Middle East (especially the U.S. war on Iraq, and the resultant booming speculation in oil markets) have triggered a new round of oil price hikes, Peak Oil theory has once again become fashionable. The theory is being promoted not only by war profiteers and proponents of an unbridled domestic oil exploration and extraction, especially in Alaska, but also by some apparently antiwar liberals such as Michael T. Klare and James H. Kunstler.
Peak oil theory is based on a number of assumptions and omissions that make it less than reliable. To begin with, it discounts or disregards the fact that energy-saving technologies have drastically improved (and will continue to further improve) the efficiency of oil consumption. Evidence shows that, for example, “over a period of five years (1994-99), U.S. GDP expanded over 20 percent while oil usage rose by only nine percent. Before the 1973 oil shock, the ratio was about one to one.”
Second, Peak Oil theory pays scant attention to the drastically enabling new technologies that have made (and will continue to make) possible discovery and extraction of oil reserves that were inaccessible only a short time ago. One of the results of the more efficient means of research and development has been a far higher success rate in finding new oil fields. The success rate has risen in twenty years from less than 70 percent to over 80 percent. Computers have helped to reduce the number of dry holes. Horizontal drilling has boosted extraction. Another important development has been deep-water offshore drilling, which the new technologies now permit. Good examples are the North Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and more recently, the promising offshore oil fields of West Africa.
Third, Peak Oil theory also pays short shrift to what is sometimes called non-conventional oil. These include Canada’s giant reserves of extra-heavy bitumen that can be processed to produce conventional oil. Although this was originally considered cost inefficient, experts working in this area now claim that they have brought down the cost from over $20 a barrel to $8 per barrel. Similar developments are taking place in Venezuela. It is thanks to developments like these that since 1970, world oil reserves have more than doubled, despite the extraction of hundreds of millions of barrels.
Fourth, Peak Oil thesis pays insufficient attention to energy sources other than oil. These include solar, wind, non-food bio-fuel, and nuclear energies. They also include natural gas. Gas is now about 25 percent of energy demand worldwide. It is estimated that by 2050 it will be the main source of energy in the world. A number of American, European, and Japanese firms have and are investing heavily in developing fuel cells for cars and other vehicles that would significantly reduce gasoline consumption.
Fifth, proponents of Peak Oil tend to exaggerate the impact of the increased oil demand coming from China and India on both the amount and the price of oil in global markets. The alleged disparity between supply and demand is said to be due to the rapidly growing demand coming from China and India. But that rapid growth in demand is largely offset by a number of counterbalancing factors. These include slower growth in U.S. demand due to its slower economic growth, efficient energy utilization in industrially advanced countries, and increases in oil production by OPEC, Russia, and other oil producing countries.
Finally, and perhaps more importantly, claims of “peaked and dwindling” oil are refuted by the available facts and figures on global oil supply. Statistical evidence shows that there is absolutely no supply-demand imbalance in global oil markets. Contrary to the claims of the proponents of Peak Oil and champions of war and militarism, the current oil price shocks are a direct consequence of the destabilizing wars and geopolitical insecurity in the Middle East, not oil shortages. These include not only the raging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also the threat of a looming war against Iran. The record of soaring oil prices shows that anytime there is a renewed U.S. military threat against Iran, fuel prices move up several notches.
The war also contributes to the escalation of fuel prices in indirect ways—for example, by plunging the U.S. ever deeper into debt and depreciating the dollar, or by creating favorable grounds for speculation. As oil is priced largely in U.S. dollars, oil exporting countries ask for more dollars per barrel of oil as the dollar loses value. Perhaps more importantly, an atmosphere of war and geopolitical instability in global oil markets serves as an auspicious ground for hoarding and speculation in commodity markets, especially oil, which is heavily contributing to the recently soaring oil prices.
As much as 60% of today’s crude oil price is pure speculation driven by large trader banks and hedge funds. It has nothing to do with the convenient myths of Peak Oil. It has to do with control of oil and its price. . . . Since the advent of oil futures trading and the two major London and New York oil futures contracts, control of oil prices has left OPEC and gone to Wall Street. It is a classic case of the ‘tail that wags the dog.’
Wall Street financial giants that created the Third World debt crisis in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the tech bubble in the 1990s, and the housing bubble in the 2000s are now hard at work creating the oil bubble. By purchasing large numbers of futures contracts, and thereby pushing up futures prices to even higher levels than current prices, speculators have provided a financial incentive for oil companies to buy even more oil and place it in storage. A refiner will purchase extra oil today, even if it costs $115 per barrel, if the futures price is even higher.
This has led to a steady rise in crude oil inventories over the last two years, “resulting in US crude oil inventories that are now higher than at any time in the previous eight years. The large influx of speculative investment into oil futures has led to a situation where we have both high supplies of crude oil and high crude oil prices. . . . In fact, during this period global supplies have exceeded demand, according to the US Department of Energy.”
The fact that the skyrocketing oil prices of late have been accompanied by a surplus in global oil markets was also brought to the attention of President George W. Bush by Saudi officials when he asked them during a recent trip to the kingdom to increase production in order to stem the rising prices. Saudi officials reminded the President that “there is plenty of oil on the market. Iran has put some 30 million barrels of oil that it can’t sell into floating storage. ‘If we produced more oil, it wouldn’t find buyers,’ says the Saudi source. It wouldn’t affect the price at all.”
And why producing more oil “wouldn’t affect the price at all”? Well, because what is driving the soaring oil prices is not shortage but speculation: “with so much investment money sloshing around in the commodities markets, the Saudis calculate they have no hope of controlling short-term price fluctuations. They blame the recent price run-ups on speculation and fear of shortages [not real shortages], factors they say are beyond their control.”
War for Cheap Oil?
The widely-shared view that the U.S. desire for access to abundant and cheap oil lurks behind the Bush administration’s drive to war in the Middle East rests on the implicit but dubious assumption that access to energy resources requires direct control of oil fields and/or oil producing countries. There are at least three problems with this postulation.
First, if control of or influence over oil producing countries in the Middle East is a requirement for access to cheap oil, the United States already enjoys significant influence over some of the major oil producers in the region—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and a number of other smaller producers. Why, then, would the U.S. want to bring about war and political turmoil in the region that might undermine that long and firmly-established influence?
Let us assume for a moment that the neoconservative militarists are sincere in their alleged desire to bring about democratic rule and representational government in the Middle East. Let us further assume that they succeed in realizing this purported objective. Would, then, the thus-emerging democratic governments, representing the wishes of the majority of their citizens, be as accommodating to U.S. economic and geopolitical objectives, including its oil needs, as are its currently friendly rulers in the region? Most probably not.
Secondly, and more importantly, access to oil no longer requires control of oil fields or oil producers—as was the case in times past. For more than a century, that is, from the early days of oil extraction in the United States in the 1870s until the mid-1970s, the price of oil was determined administratively, that is, by independent producers operating in different parts of the world without having to compete with each other. Under those circumstances, colonial or imperial wars of conquest and occupation were crucial to the control of oil (and other) resources.
Beginning with the 1950s, however, that pattern of local, non-competitive price determination began to gradually change in favor of regional and/or international markets. By the mid 1970s, an internationally competitive oil market emerged that effectively ended the century-old pattern of local, administrative pricing. Today, oil prices (like most other commodity prices) are determined largely by the forces of supply and demand in competitive global energy markets; and any country or company can have as much oil as they wish if they pay the going market (or spot) price.
To the extent that competitive oil markets and/or prices are occasionally manipulated, such subversions of competitive market forces are often brought about not so much by OPEC or other oil producing countries as by manipulative speculations of financial giants in New York and London. As was discussed earlier, gigantic Wall Street financial institutions have accomplished this feat through “innovative” financial instruments such as establishment of energy hedge funds and speculative oil futures markets in New York and London.
It is true that collective supply decisions of oil producing countries can, and sometimes does, affect the competitively determined market price. But a number of important issues need to be considered here.
To begin with, although such supply manipulations obviously affect or influence market-determined prices, they do not determine those prices. In other words, competitive international oil markets determine its price with or without oil producers’ supply manipulations. Such supply managements are, however, designed not to create volatility in energy markets, or chronic oil price hikes. Instead, they are designed to stabilize global oil prices because oil exporting countries prefer stability, predictability and long-term planning for their economic development and industrialization projects. Here is how Cyrus Bina and Minh Vo describe this relationship:
As a result, we conclude that the global oil market is the prime mover [i.e., prime determinant of oil price] and OPEC indeed follows its trajectory accordingly and consistently. . . . When market price (both spot and futures) is falling, OPEC decreases its output; when market price is rising, OPEC attempts to increase its output; and when market price is steady, OPEC keeps its output unchanged. . . . And, this is a kind of oil market we have experienced after the dust settled following the crisis of de-cartelization and globalization of oil industry in the 1970s.
Producers’ policy to sometimes curtail or limit the supply of oil, the so-called “limited flow” policy, is designed to raise the actual trading price above the market-determined price in order to keep high-cost U.S. producers in business while leaving low-cost Middle East producers with an above average, or “super,” profit. While for low-cost producers this limited flow policy is largely a matter of making more or less profits, for high-cost U.S. producers it is a matter of survival, of being able to stay in or go out of business—an important but rarely mentioned or acknowledged fact.
A hypothetical numerical example might be helpful here. Suppose that the market-determined, or free-flow, price of oil is $30 per barrel. Further, suppose this price entails an average rate of profit of 10 percent, or $3 per barrel. The word “average” in this context refers to average conditions of production, that is, producers who produce under average conditions of production in terms of productivity and cost of production. This means that producers who produce under better-than-average conditions, that is, low-cost, high productivity producers, will make a profit higher than $3 per barrel while high-cost, low efficiency producers will end up making less than $3 per barrel. This also means that some of the high-cost producers may end up going out of business altogether. Now, if the limited flow policy raises the actual trading price to $35 per barrel, it will raise the profits of all producers accordingly, thereby also keeping in business some high-cost producers that might otherwise have gone out of business.
Furthermore, supply manipulation (in pursuit of price manipulation) is not limited to the oil industry. In today’s economic environment of giant corporations and big businesses, many of the major industries try, and often succeed in controlling supply in order to control price. Take, for example, the automobile industry. Theoretically, automobile producers could flood the market with a huge supply of cars. But that would not be good business as it would lower prices and profits. So, they control supply, just as do oil producers, in order to manipulate price. During the past several decades, the price of automobiles, in real terms, has been going up every year, at least to the tune of inflation. During this period, the industry (and the economy in general) has enjoyed a many-fold increase in labor productivity. Increased labor productivity is supposed to translate into lower costs and, therefore, lower prices. Yet, that has not materialized in the case of this industry—as it has in the case of, for example, pocket calculators or computers.
Another example of price control through supply manipulation is the case of U.S. grain producers. The so-called “set aside” policy that pays farmers not to cultivate part of their land in order to curtail supply and prop up price is not different—nay, it is worse— than OPEC’s policy of supply and/or price manipulation.
It is also necessary to keep in mind that OPEC’s desire to sometimes limit the supply of oil in order to shore up its price is limited by a number of factors. For one thing, the share, and hence the influence, of Middle Eastern oil producers as a percentage of world oil production has steadily declined over time, from almost 40 percent when OPEC was established to about 30 percent today. For another, OPEC members are not unmindful of the fact that inordinately high oil prices can hurt their own long-term interests as this might prompt oil importers to economize on oil consumption and search for alternative sources of energy, thereby limiting producers’ export markets.
OPEC members also know that inordinately high oil prices could precipitate economic recessions in oil importing countries that would, once again, lower demand for their oil. In addition, high oil prices tend to raise the cost of oil producers’ imports of manufactured products as high energy costs are bound to affect production costs of those manufactured products.
War for Expensive Oil?
Now let us consider the widely-shared view that attributes the Bush administration’s drive to war to the influence of big oil companies in pursuit of higher oil prices and profits. As noted, this is obviously the opposite of the “war for cheap oil” argument, as it claims that Big Oil tends to instigate war and political tension in the Middle East in order to cause an oil price hike and increase its profits. Like the “war for cheap oil” theory, this claim is not supported by facts. Although the claim has an element of a prima facie reasonableness, that apparently facile credibility rests more on precedent and perception than reality. Part of the perception is due to the exaggerated notion that both President Bush and Vice President Cheney were “oil men” before coming to the White House. But the fact is that George W. Bush was never more than an unsuccessful petty oil prospector and Dick Cheney headed a company, the notorious Halliburton, that sold (and still sells) services to oil companies and the Pentagon.
The larger part of the perception, however, stems from the fact that oil companies do benefit from oil price hikes that result from war and political turbulence in the Middle East. Such benefits are, however, largely incidental. Surely, American oil companies would welcome the spoils of the war (that result from oil price hikes) in Iraq or anywhere else in the world. From the largely incidental oil price hikes that follow war and political convulsion, some observers automatically conclude that, therefore, Big Oil must have been behind the war. But there is no evidence that, at least in the case of the current invasion of Iraq, oil companies pushed for or supported the war.
On the contrary, there is strong evidence that, in fact, oil companies did not welcome the war because they prefer stability and predictability to periodic oil spikes that follow war and political convulsion: “Looking back over the last 20 years, there is plenty of evidence showing the industry’s push for stability and cooperation with Middle Eastern countries and leaders, and the U.S. government’s drive for hegemony works against the oil industry.” As Thierry Desmarest, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of France’s giant oil company, TotalFinaElf, put it, “A few months of cash generation is not a big deal. Stable, not volatile, prices and a $25 price (per barrel) would be convenient for everyone.”
It is true that for a long time, from the beginning of Middle Eastern oil exploration and discovery in the early twentieth century until the mid-1970s, colonial and/or imperial powers controlled oil either directly or through control of oil producing countries—at times, even by military force. But that pattern of colonial or imperialist exploitation of global markets and resources has changed now. Most of the current theories of imperialism and hegemony that continue invoking that old pattern of Big Oil behavior tend to suffer from an ahistorical perspective. Today, as discussed earlier, even physically occupying and controlling another country’s oil fields will not necessarily be beneficial to oil interests. Not only will military adventures place the operations of current energy projects at jeopardy, but they will also make the future plans precarious and unpredictable. Big Oil interests, of course, know this; and that’s why they did not countenance the war on Iraq: “The big oil companies were not enthusiastic about the Iraqi war,” says Fareed Mohamedi of PFC Energy, an energy consultancy firm based in Washington D.C. that advises petroleum firms. “Corporations like Exxon-Mobil and Chevron-Texaco want stability, and this is not what Bush is providing in Iraq and the Gulf region,” adds Mohamedi.
Big Oil interests also know that not only is war no longer the way to gain access to oil, it is in fact an obstacle to gaining that access. Exclusion of U.S. oil companies from vast oil resources in countries such as Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and a number of central Asian countries due to militaristic U.S. foreign policy is a clear testament to this fact. Many of these countries (including, yes, Iran) would be glad to have major U.S. oil companies invest, explore and extract oil from their rich reserves. Needless to say that U.S. oil companies would be delighted to have access to those oil resources. But U.S. champions of war and militarism have successfully torpedoed such opportunities through their unilateral wars of aggression and their penchant for a Cold War-like international atmosphere.
When Vladimir Putin first became president of Russia he was willing to allow American energy companies to continue with the one-sided contracts they had drawn up during Boris Yeltsin’s presidency. Putin built a seemingly trusting relationship with George Bush who looked into Putin’s soul and liked what he saw. The two leaders grew even closer in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on World Trade Centre and the Pentagon—when Russia provided “help for America’s invasion of Afghanistan.” Soon after this generous cooperation, however, “Bush repudiated the anti-ballistic missile treaty in the belief that America could develop the technology for winning a nuclear war. This posed a huge strategic threat to Russia.”
Describing the heavy-handed, imperial U.S. policy toward Russia, Stephen F. Cohen writes: “The real US policy has been very different—a relentless, winner-take-all exploitation of Russia’s post-1991 weakness. Accompanied by broken American promises, condescending lectures and demands for unilateral concessions, it has been even more aggressive and uncompromising than was Washington’s approach to Soviet Communist Russia.”
Bush’s withdrawal from the ABM treaty not merely posed an existential threat to Russia but was almost a betrayal of the trust that Putin had put in him. This led to Putin’s disenchantment with America. “Eventually he seems to have decided that every time America transgressed against Russian interests he would retaliate by stopping another American company from exploiting Russian resources.”
During the past few decades, major oil companies have consistently opposed U.S. policies and military threats against countries like Iran, Iraq, and Libya. They have, indeed, time and again, lobbied U.S. foreign policy makers for the establishment of peaceful relations and diplomatic rapprochement with those countries. The Iran-Libya Sanction Act of 1996 (ILSA) is a strong testament to the fact that oil companies nowadays view wars, economic sanctions, and international political tensions as harmful to their long-term business interests and, accordingly, strive for peace, not war, in international relations.
On March 15, 1995 President Clinton issued Executive Order 12957 which banned all U.S. contributions to the development of Iran’s petroleum resources, a crushing blow to the oil industry, especially to the Conoco oil company that had just signed a $1 billion contract to develop fields in Iran. The deal marked a strong indication that Iran was willing to improve its relationship with the United States, only to have President Clinton effectively nullify it. Two months later, sighting “an extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the U.S.,” President Clinton issued another order, 1259, that expanded the sanctions to become a total trade and investment embargo against Iran. Then a year later came ILSA which extended the sanctions imposed on Iran to Libya as well.
It is no secret that the major force behind the Iran-Libya Sanction Act was the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the main Zionist lobby in Washington. The success of AIPAC in passing ILSA through both the Congress and the White House over the opposition of the major U.S. oil companies is testament to the fact that, in the context of U.S. policy in the Middle East, even the influence of the oil industry pales vis-à-vis the influence of the Zionist lobby.
ILSA was originally to be imposed on both U.S. and foreign companies. However, in the end it was the U.S. companies that suffered the most due to waivers that were given to European companies after pressure from the European Union. In 1996 the EU pursued its distaste of ILSA by lodging complaints with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the U.S. and through adopting “blocking legislation” that would prevent EU companies from complying with ILSA. Meanwhile, the contract that Iran had originally signed with Conoco was awarded to TotalFinaElf of France for $760 million; the deal also left the door open for Total to sign an additional contract with Iran for $2 billion in 1997 with their partners Gazprom and Petronas.
In May of 1997 major U.S. oil companies such as Conoco, Exxon, Atlantic Richfield, and Occidental Petroleum joined other (non-military) U.S. companies to create an anti-sanction coalition. Earlier that same year Conoco’s Chief Executive Archie Dunham publicly took a stance against unilateral U.S. sanctions by stating that “U.S. companies, not rogue regimes, are the ones that suffer when the United States imposes economic sanctions.” Texaco officials have also argued that the U.S. can be more effective in bringing about change in other countries by allowing U.S. companies to do business with those countries instead of imposing economic sanctions that tend to be counterproductive.
Alas, Washington’s perverse, misguided and ineffectual policy of economic sanctions for political purposes—often in compliance with the wishes of some powerful special interests—continues unabated. “Even with the increased pro-trade lobbying efforts of the oil industry and groups like USAEngage, whose membership ranges from farmers and small business owners to Wall Street executives and oilmen, the lack of support from Washington and the Bush administration could not allow them [major oil companies and other non-military transnational companies] to overtake or counteract the already rolling momentum of AIPAC’s influence on Middle East policy or the renewal of ISLA.”
Despite the fact that oil companies nowadays view war and political turmoil in the Middle East as detrimental to their long-term interests and, therefore, do not support policies that are conducive to war and militarism, and despite the fact that war is no longer the way to gain access to oil, the widespread perception that every U.S. military engagement in the region, including the current invasion of Iraq, is prompted by oil considerations continues. The question is why?
Behind the Myth of War for Oil
The widely-shared but erroneous view that recent U.S. wars of choice are driven by oil concerns is partly due to precedence: the fact that for a long time military force was key to colonial or imperialist control and exploitation of foreign markets and resources, including oil. It is also partly due to perception: the exaggerated notion that both President Bush and Vice President Cheney were “oil men” before coming to the White House. But, as noted earlier, George W. Bush was never more than an ineffective minor oil prospector and Dick Cheney was never really an oil man; he headed the notorious Halliburton company that sold (and still sells) services to oil companies and the Pentagon.
But the major reason for the persistence of this pervasive myth seems to stem from certain deliberate efforts that are designed to perpetuate the legend in order to camouflage some real economic and geopolitical special interests that drive U.S. military adventures in the Middle East. There is evidence that both the military-industrial complex and hard-line Zionist proponents of “greater Israel” disingenuously use oil (as an issue of national interest) in order to disguise their own nefarious special interests and objectives: justification of continued expansion of military spending, extension of sales markets for military hardware, and recasting the geopolitical map of the Middle East in favor of Israel.
There is also evidence that for every dollar’s worth of oil imported from the Persian Gulf region the Pentagon takes five dollars out of the Federal budget to “secure” the flow of that oil! This is a clear indication that the claim that the U.S. military presence in the Middle East is due to oil consideration is a fraud .
While anecdotal, an example of how partisans of war and militarism use oil as a pretext to cover up the real forces behind war and militarism can be instructive. In the early stages of the invasion of Iraq, when the anti-occupation resistance in Iraq had not yet taken shape and the invasion seemed to be proceeding smoothly, two of the leading champions of the invasion, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz, often boasting of the apparent or pre-mature success of the invasion at those early stages, gave frequent news conferences and press reports. During one of those press reports (at the end of an address to delegates at an Asian security summit in Singapore in early June 2003), Wolfowitz was asked why North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq, where hardly any weapons of mass destruction had been found. Wolfowitz’s response was: “Let’s look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil.”
Many opponents of the war jumped on this statement, so to speak, as corroboration of what they had been saying or suspecting all along: that the war on Iraq was prompted by oil interests. Yet, there is strong evidence—some of which presented in the preceding pages—that for the last several decades oil interests have not favored war and turbulence in the Middle East, including the current invasion of Iraq. Nor is war any longer the way to gain access to oil. Major oil companies, along with many other non-military transnational corporations, have lobbied both the Clinton and Bush administrations in support of changing the aggressive, militaristic U.S. policy toward countries like Iran, Iraq and Libya in favor of establishing normal, non-confrontational trade and diplomatic relations. Such efforts at normalization of trade and diplomatic relations, however, have failed time and again precisely because Wolfowitz and his cohorts, working through AIPAC and other war-mongering think tanks such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Project for the New American Century (PNAC), and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) oppose them.
These think tanks, in collaboration with a whole host of similar militaristic lobbying entities like Center for Security Affairs (CSA) and National Institute for Public Policy (NIPP), working largely as institutional façades to serve the defacto alliance of the military-industrial complex and the pro-Israel lobby, have repeatedly thwarted efforts at peace and reconciliation in the Middle East—often over the objections and frustrations of major U.S. oil companies. It is a well established fact that Wolfowitz has been a devoted champion of these jingoistic think tanks and their aggressive unilateral policies in the Middle East. In light of his professional record and political loyalties, his claim that he championed the war on Iraq because of oil considerations can be characterized only as demagogic: it contradicts his political record and defies the policies he has been advocating for the last several decades; it is designed to divert attention from the main forces behind the war, the armaments lobby and the pro-Israel lobby.
These powerful interests are careful not to draw attention to the fact that they are the prime instigators of war and militarism in the Middle East. Therefore, they tend to deliberately perpetuate the popular perception that oil is the driving force behind the war in the region. They even do not mind having their aggressive foreign policies labeled as imperialistic as long as imperialism implies some vague or general connotations of hegemony and domination, that is, as long as it thus camouflages the real, special interests behind the war and political turbulence in the Middle East.
The oil and other non-military transnational corporations’ aversion to war and military adventures in the Middle East stem, of course, from the logical behavior of global or transnational capital in the era of integrated world markets, which tends to be loath to war and international political convulsions. Considering the fact that both importers and exporters of oil prefer peace and stability to war and militarism, why would, then, the flow of oil be in jeopardy if the powerful beneficiaries of war and political tension in the Middle East stopped their aggressive policies in the region?
Partisans of war in the Middle East tend to portray U.S. military operations in the region as reactions to terrorism and political turbulence in order to “safeguard the interests of the United States and its allies.” Yet, a close scrutiny of action-reaction or cause-effect relationship between U.S. military adventures and socio-political turbulence in the region reveals that perhaps the causality is the other way around. That is, social upheavals and political convulsions in the Middle East are more likely to be the result, not the cause, of U.S. foreign policy in the region, especially its one-sided, prejudicial Israeli-Palestinian policy. The U.S. policy of war and militarism in the region seems to resemble the behavior of a corrupt cop, or a mafia godfather, who would instigate fights and frictions in the neighborhood or community in order to, then, portray his parasitic role as necessary for the safety and security of the community and, in the process, fill out his deep pockets.
No matter how crucial oil is to the world economy, the fact remains that it is, after all, a commodity. As such, international trade in oil is as important to its importers as it is to its exporters. There is absolutely no reason that, in a world free of the influence of the beneficiaries of war and militarism and their powerful lobbies (the armaments and the pro-Israel lobbies), the flow of oil could not be guaranteed by international trade conventions and commercial treaties.
Ismael Hossein-zadeh, author of the recently published The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave-Macmillan 2007), teaches economics at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.
 Ron Andreas, reporter/researcher, e-mail correspondence with the author.
 Michael T. Klare, Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict (New York: Holt paperbacks 2002); James Howard Kunstler, The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century (Grove/Atlantic, 2005).
 Eliyahu Kanovsky, “Oil: Who’s Really Over a Barrel?” Middle East Quarterly (Spring 2003).
 The Wall Street Journal (17 May 2001); cited in Eliyahu Kantovsky, Ibid.
 The Wall Street Journal (10 March 1998); cited in Eliyahu Kantovsky, Ibid.
 F. William Engdahl, “Perhaps 60% of Today’s Oil Price Is Pure Speculation,” financialsense.com (2 May 2008)
 Stanley Reed, “Help from the House of Saud: Why the leading oil producer wants to cool off the market,” Business Week (29 May 2008)
 Cyrus Bina and Minh Vo, “OPEC in the Epoch of Globalization: An Event Study of Global Oil Prices,” Global Economy Journal, Vol. 7, Issue 1 (2007); for a discussion of the theory and history of oil price determination see also, Cyrus Bina, “The Rhetoric of Oil and the Dilemma of War and American Hegemony,” Arab Studies Quarterly 15, no. 3 (Summer 1993); also Cyrus Bina, “Limits of OPEC Pricing: OPEC Profits and the Nature of Global Oil Accumulation,” OPEC Review 14, no. 1 (Spring 1990).
 F. William Engdahl, “Perhaps 60% of Today’s Oil Price Is Pure Speculation,” financialsense.com (2 May 2008),
 Cyrus Bina and Minh Vo, “OPEC in the Epoch of Globalization: An Event Study of Global Oil Prices,” Global Economy Journal, Vol. 7, Issue 1 (2007).
 Gary S. Becker, “Why War with Iraq Is Not about Oil,” Business Week (17 March 2003): 30.
 Johnathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler. The Global Political Economy of Israel (London and Sterling, Virginia: Pluto Press, 2002).
 Melinda K. Ruby, “Is Oil the Driving Force to War?” unpublished Senior thesis, Dept. of Economics and Finance, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa (spring 2004), 10.
 As quoted in Ruby, Ibid., P. 13.
 As cited by Roger Burbach, “Bush Ideologues vs. Big Oil: The Iraq Game Gets Even Stranger,” CounterPunch.
 Israel Shamir, The Writings of Israel Shamir, Contributor 45
 Stephen F. Cohen “The New American Cold War,” The Nation (10 July 2006); as quoted in Shamir, Ibid.
 Shamir, Ibid.
 Ruby, “Is Oil the Driving Force to War?” pp. 14-15; see also Herman Franssen and Elaine Morton, “A Review of U.S. Unilateral Sanctions Against Iran,” Middle East Economic Survey 45, no. 34 (26 August 2002), pp. D1-D5 (D section contains op eds. as opposed to staff-written articles).
 Ruby, “Is Oil the Driving Force to War?” pp. 16-17; see also David Ivanovich, “Conoco’s Chief Blasts Sanctions,” Houston Chronicle (12 February 1997).
 The statement was widely reported by many news papers and other media outlets. See, for example, The Guardian (4 June 2003)
By Ron Andreas
September 22, 2008
Unlike the Western oil majors, the militant Zionist proponents of greater Israel view stability and peace in the Middle East as inimical to their goals. Chaos and strife create the “revolutionary atmosphere” (as Ben Gurion one of the key founders of the state of Israel put it) in which more land and water resources can be taken under their control. This fact explains the motive behind the ceaseless provocations and destabilization that the Israeli military and secret services perpetrate.
The “iron wall” policy established by Ze’ev Jabotinsky prior to the founding of the Jewish state requires the expulsion of Christian and Muslim Arabs from Palestine. Such a goal requires war or other violent means. David Ben Gurion stated, “What is inconceivable in normal times is possible in revolutionary times; and if at this time the opportunity is missed and what is possible in such great hours is not carried out . . . a whole world is lost.” This reality, of the necessity for violent upheaval to achieve Zionist aims, exposes which party is the true aggressor in the Middle East.
Ralph Schoenman writes that the goal of capturing the “promised land” requires “Israel to bring about the dissolution and fragmentation of the Arab states into a mosaic of ethnic groupings.” This strategy has been put forward by Oded Yinon (an Israeli journalist with links to the Israeli Foreign Ministry) in 1982 in the World Zionist Organization’s publication Kivunim. Here’s what Oded Yinon had to say on Iraq:
“The dissolution of Syria and Iraq into ethnically or religiously unique areas, such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front. Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run, it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel.”
“An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and Lebanon.”
“In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul and Shiite areas in the South will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north.”
In their struggle to expand the Jewish state in the “land of Israel,” Zionists have attempted to portray their interests as coinciding with those of the Western imperial powers. Conversely they have tried to portray their opponents as enemies of those powers. Yet the only business sector of the Western powers that has interests that align with Israel’s convulsive militarism is the military industrial complex. An elaborate structure has been established to forge a de facto alliance between Israel’s war hawks and the US military industrial complex. This alliance is evidenced in entities such as the Center for Security Policy, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.
These think tanks and their neoconservative media mouthpieces published a number of policy papers that plainly call for regime change, border change, and demographic upheaval. In 1996 an influential Israeli think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, sponsored a document titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” which proposed that the Netanyahu regime “should ‘make a clean break’ with the Oslo peace process and reassert Israel’s claim to the West Bank and Gaza. It presented a plan whereby Israel would ‘shape its strategic environment,’ beginning with the removal of Saddam Hussein . . . to serve as a first step toward eliminating the anti-Israeli governments of Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iran.”
The “study group” behind the policy included Douglass Feith, David Wurmser, and Richard Perle among others. The document was intended for the incoming Israeli government yet many of its planners went on to become influential with the Bush regime.
In an “Open Letter to the President,” dated February 19, 1998, a number of neocon lobbyists recommended “a comprehensive political and military strategy for bringing down Saddam Hussein and his regime.” Among the letter’s signers were Elliot Abrahms, Richard Armitage, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, David Wurmser, Richard Perle, William Kristol, Frank Gaffney, Joshua Muravchik, Martin Peretz, and Steven Solarz. The similarities between the two document’s recommendations draw a stark picture of loyalty to the interests of Israel first and foremost, with the interests of the military industrial complex being served in a secondary way. Many of the same sponsors went on to issue a report titled: “Rebuilding Americas Defenses” which called for an expanded US military presence in the Middle East using Iraq as a stepping stone for regional force application: “While the unresolved conflict in Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”
Nine days after 9/11, Paul Wolfowitz, Lewis Libby, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney of the Project for a New American Century sent a letter to President Bush demanding measures against Iraq, Syria, and Iran “. . . even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the recent attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq . . . We believe the administration should demand that Iran and Syria immediately cease all military, financial, and political support for Hezbollah and its operations. Should Iran and Syria refuse to comply, the administration should consider appropriate measures of retaliation . . .”
On October 29, 2002 William Kristol and Robert Kagan revealed the unfolding agenda to the readers of the Weekly Standard in an article, ominously titled The Gathering Storm: “When all is said and done, the conflict in Afghanistan will be to the war on terrorism what the North Africa campaign was to WWII: an essential beginning on the path to victory. But compared with what looms over the horizon . . . a wide-ranging war in locales from Central Asia to the Middle East and, unfortunately, back to the U.S [emphasis added]. . . . Afghanistan will prove to be an opening battle . . . But this will not end in Afghanistan. It is going to spread and engulf a number of countries in conflicts of varying intensity. It could well require the use of American military power in multiple places simultaneously.”
The radical cabal of Zionists tried to enlist popular support for the wars by alluding to Iraq’s energy resources as Paul Wolfowitz did when he stated, “Iraq sits on a sea of oil.” However, after five years of occupation likely costing trillions of dollars, there is little hope of securing any preferential access to, much less, reliable control over any energy resources. Prior to the invasion, Exxon/Mobil was the world’s biggest publicly traded entity, a distinction that now falls on its Chinese competitor, SINOPEC.
While the relative market share of U.S. oil majors has declined, the destruction of Iraqi society, the devastation of its scientific and intellectual institutions, and the dismantling of its industrial infrastructure, all Zionist goals, have been achieved. Similarly, the American economy has been brought to a standstill due to high oil prices resulting from the wars and the current account deficit that is largely a result of borrowing for war spending. Over the course of the occupation, the U.S. dollar has declined in value by nearly 40 percent.
Nobel prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz has stated that the sanctions imposed on Iran coupled with the war atmosphere in the Gulf region, in general, have caused investment in and development of new oil production to come to a halt, exacerbating the high prices that result from the constant threats issuing out of Tel Aviv and the neocon institutes in Washington. It remains to be seen whether the non-Zionist elites in the Western world can begin to challenge the endless wars for Israel by, at the very least, opposing the sanctions against dealings with Iran.
- Israel, US faking intelligence to attack Iran: Ex-CIA analyst (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Hidden US-Israeli Military Agenda: “Break Syria into Pieces” (pakalertpress.com)
By Uzodinma Iweala
July 15, 2007
Last fall, shortly after I returned from Nigeria, I was accosted by a perky blond college student whose blue eyes seemed to match the “African” beads around her wrists.
“Save Darfur!” she shouted from behind a table covered with pamphlets urging students to TAKE ACTION NOW! STOP GENOCIDE IN DARFUR!
My aversion to college kids jumping onto fashionable social causes nearly caused me to walk on, but her next shout stopped me.
“Don’t you want to help us save Africa?” she yelled.
It seems that these days, wracked by guilt at the humanitarian crisis it has created in the Middle East, the West has turned to Africa for redemption. Idealistic college students, celebrities such as Bob Geldof and politicians such as Tony Blair have all made bringing light to the dark continent their mission. They fly in for internships and fact-finding missions or to pick out children to adopt in much the same way my friends and I in New York take the subway to the pound to adopt stray dogs.
This is the West’s new image of itself: a sexy, politically active generation whose preferred means of spreading the word are magazine spreads with celebrities pictured in the foreground, forlorn Africans in the back. Never mind that the stars sent to bring succor to the natives often are, willingly, as emaciated as those they want to help.
Perhaps most interesting is the language used to describe the Africa being saved. For example, the Keep a Child Alive/” I am African” ad campaign features portraits of primarily white, Western celebrities with painted “tribal markings” on their faces above “I AM AFRICAN” in bold letters. Below, smaller print says, “help us stop the dying.”
Such campaigns, however well intentioned, promote the stereotype of Africa as a black hole of disease and death. News reports constantly focus on the continent’s corrupt leaders, warlords, “tribal” conflicts, child laborers, and women disfigured by abuse and genital mutilation. These descriptions run under headlines like “Can Bono Save Africa?” or “Will Brangelina Save Africa?” The relationship between the West and Africa is no longer based on openly racist beliefs, but such articles are reminiscent of reports from the heyday of European colonialism, when missionaries were sent to Africa to introduce us to education, Jesus Christ and “civilization.”
There is no African, myself included, who does not appreciate the help of the wider world, but we do question whether aid is genuine or given in the spirit of affirming one’s cultural superiority. My mood is dampened every time I attend a benefit whose host runs through a litany of African disasters before presenting a (usually) wealthy, white person, who often proceeds to list the things he or she has done for the poor, starving Africans. Every time a well-meaning college student speaks of villagers dancing because they were so grateful for her help, I cringe. Every time a Hollywood director shoots a film about Africa that features a Western protagonist, I shake my head — because Africans, real people though we may be, are used as props in the West’s fantasy of itself. And not only do such depictions tend to ignore the West’s prominent role in creating many of the unfortunate situations on the continent, they also ignore the incredible work Africans have done and continue to do to fix those problems.
Why do the media frequently refer to African countries as having been “granted independence from their colonial masters,” as opposed to having fought and shed blood for their freedom? Why do Angelina Jolie and Bono receive overwhelming attention for their work in Africa while Nwankwo Kanu or Dikembe Mutombo, Africans both, are hardly ever mentioned? How is it that a former mid-level U.S. diplomat receives more attention for his cowboy antics in Sudan than do the numerous African Union countries that have sent food and troops and spent countless hours trying to negotiate a settlement among all parties in that crisis?
Two years ago I worked in a camp for internally displaced people in Nigeria, survivors of an uprising that killed about 1,000 people and displaced 200,000. True to form, the Western media reported on the violence but not on the humanitarian work the state and local governments — without much international help — did for the survivors. Social workers spent their time and in many cases their own salaries to care for their compatriots. These are the people saving Africa, and others like them across the continent get no credit for their work.
Last month the Group of Eight industrialized nations and a host of celebrities met in Germany to discuss, among other things, how to save Africa. Before the next such summit, I hope people will realize Africa doesn’t want to be saved. Africa wants the world to acknowledge that through fair partnerships with other members of the global community, we ourselves are capable of unprecedented growth.
Uzodinma Iweala is the author of “Beasts of No Nation,” a novel about child soldiers.