As Ross Perot pointed out during his 1992 US Presidential election campaign the first Gulf war was about nothing other than oil. And yet somehow the Prime Minister is trying to tell us that this new Gulf war, after more than a decade of further depletion of western oil supplies, is not?
Maintaining access to foreign oil has been a major concern to British Foreign Office mandarins for decades. Awkwardly for Mr Blair it emerges that his own Foreign Secretary reminded a meeting of over 150 diplomats in London in January that a key priority of British foreign policy is to “bolster the security of British and global energy supplies“. And yet the Prime Minister is trying to tell us this has no bearing on our attitude towards Iraq, the custodian of the world’s second largest oil reserves?
Is it really reasonable to assume that Mr Blair is merely a bystander in all of this given the wording of a speech he gave in Texas April 2002? At that meeting he proclaimed that “Who develops oil and gas, what the new potential sources of supply are, is a vital strategic question…[the UK and US] have the best energy companies in the world.” He told his audience that Britain and the US must forge a collective strategy to ensure that “the political and corporate world cooperate together” to safeguard their interests.
And this war is not about oil?
Whatever the Prime Minister may or may not know, one thing is clear however – the line coming from him does not correspond to the known facts about US foreign policy pre-September 11 in relation to Gulf energy reserves and Iraq (see PNAC report September 2000; and James Baker Institute report April 2001).
Whatever really lies behind this mismatch between the political reality on the other side of the Atlantic and the Prime Minister’s claims, it is abundantly clear that Britain is in deep trouble when the people are lied to so blatantly by their own government. The only country which is in deeper trouble in this respect is the United States, where the culture of governmental deception is endemic on a wide spectrum of issues (as one EU Commissioner recently put it on another matter: “The deal would be this: if the Americans would stop lying about us, we would stop telling the truth about them.”)
Much of this international security disaster is thanks to the stubborn refusal of our political leaders to plan a modern economy based on renewable energy, a prospect of great anathema to their friends in the oil and gas sectors.
This syndrome is so pervasive that last year the British government rejected a proposal from major motor manufacturers to start the conversion of the car industry to a hydrogen based system – fuel that can be sourced widely across the globe with the right alternative technology (already Iceland is converting all of its motor energy to hydrogen including its fishing fleet). According to the London Times 22 April 2002 government ministers decided (stupifyingly) in response to the proposal “that fossil fuels will not be phased out for at least another 50 years”.
Meanwhile a study by the research unit of the former Atomic Energy Authority has shown that a quarter of England’s electricity requirements could be sourced from wind turbines built off the East Anglian coast alone. The Scottish Parliament is already talking about such schemes, with the possibility of Scotland becoming a net exporter of electricity.
The choice is simple. Either we wean ourselves off oil and gas (and there are both economic and environmental benefits to be had from doing so) or there is going to be permanent war and terrorism as the imbalance between global hydrocarbon supply and demand rapidly deteriorates, especially as huge countries like China and India industrialise.
Unfortunately whilst it is well known that the Bush administration is stuffed full of former oil executives, the departure of the British Prime Minister’s own closest personal aide (Anji Hunter) to join BP virtually the moment the so called ‘war against terrorism’ was launched also speaks volumes.
Hunter left 10 Downing St for BP as soon as the post 911 Afghan invasion coalition was set up. It was she and Alastair Campbell (get the picture?), not the Foreign Secretary, who accompanied Blair on his world tour to build the coalition.
Following the war in Afghanistan BP are now opening up the Caspian Sea region (which will also feed the post 911 trans-Afghan pipeline to the east) from the western side. This involves the construction of a new pipeline to the Mediterranean via Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey. It follows the build-up of US troops in most of the Asian Islamic ‘Stan’ countries and Georgia for such purposes following 911.
Needless to say Islamic militants are unlikely to be too pleased about this. When the Prime Minister says al Qaeda attacks on the UK are now inevitable, this is a key reason why.
It is now well documented that the US led attack on Afghanistan was planned well before 911 as a result of the collapse of US negotiations with the Taliban to build a new gas pipeline through the country. This was part of a broader White House strategy to open up the Caspian Sea region with western oil companies, including BP and Enron (it was Enron who paid a ‘modest’ $300,000 towards the inauguration ceremony of President Bush at the beginning of 2001).
In this context Ms Hunter’s story looks suspiciously like a case of ‘lets clear the way for the oil companies, and then stick close to them’, a development very much consistent with Blair’s call in Texas for greater politico-corporate collaboration in the sector. Whatever the case Hunter’s arrival at BP makes the company incomparably close to Downing Street. Hunter has been described as one of the few people that could go into the Prime Minister’s office without knocking on the door first.
Across the Atlantic things are even more dubious. The week before the 911 attacks the London Times reported that “The Pentagon has secretly built a germ factory capable of producing enough deadly bacteria to kill millions of people. The project is one of a number of covert biological initiatives pursued by the United States over recent years. One proposal awaiting final approval is to manufacture a more potent version of anthrax using genetically engineered biological agents. … “
The following January CBS News reported that Donald Rumsfeld had been forced to admit that the Department of Defense is unable to account for $2.3 trillion (yes, trillion) worth of US military transactions, thereby begging the question as to on what and on whom the missing money has been spent. CBS confirmed that the US defence establishment has not passed a government audit in a decade.
These revelations indicate that when it comes to the deployment of weapons of mass destruction the US is considerably less accountable to the international community and its own people than Saddam Hussein. This is despite the fact that the US is the only country (other than Britain and unlike Iraq) with a self-proclaimed willingness to use them in first strike attacks against other nations, and despite the self-proclaimed global expansionist ambitions of the Bush inner circle.
Indeed the 2002 Bush Administration’s declaration of a new ‘pre-emptive’ policy of striking its enemies before they attack it, is in direct contravention of the charter of the United Nations to which the US is a treaty signatory.
Whether weapons of mass destruction exist in Iraq or not, the missiles that might propel them cannot reach beyond the eastern Mediterranean. They are no threat to the US and UK, the two countries who are driving this march to war. And for those within reach of Iraq’s missiles how many are asking, in the absence of economic threats or bribery behind the scenes from the USA, for this war to proceed?
The happy recipient of billions of dollars of military aid from US taxpayers, Sharon is a much bigger threat to international security than Saddam. According to IAP News 1 February : “Speaking during an interview which was published in Jerusalem Friday, Professor Martin Van Creveld [from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem] said Israel had the capability of hitting most European capitals with nuclear weapons…. Creveld said he was sure that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon wanted to deport the Palestinians…. Creveld argued that Israel wouldn’t care much about becoming a rouge state….[He said] ‘Our armed forces are not the thirtieth strongest in the world, but rather the second or third. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that this will happen before Israel goes under.’…” Creveld is a military historian and is the only non-American on the U.S. Army’s required reading list for officers.
Meanwhile long range missiles tipped with known weapons of mass destruction rest in the hands of the two most dangerous countries on earth led by Messrs. Bush (read ‘Cheney‘) and Blair. Unlike Iraq they have explicitly stated their intention to use these weapons, to say nothing of their involvement in international terrorism as documented by (amongst others) the Dutch government and the BBC.
The ‘sanity’ of this strategy was sarcastically attacked in the Observer 26 January by former Monty Python comedian Terry Jones who mocked: “…let’s face it, Mr Bush’s carefully thought-out policy towards Iraq is the only way to bring about international peace and security. The one certain way to stop Muslim fundamentalist suicide bombers targeting the US or the UK is to bomb a few Muslim countries that have never threatened us.”
Not surprisingly in these circumstances, there are increasing indications that people around the world regard these two demented Anglo-Saxon crusaders as a greater threat to world peace than Saddam Hussein. Polls show that the majority of people in Germany think so.
Which is the greater problem? The Iraqi mosquito or the American wolf? Fortunately more and more American citizens are also beginning to express a clear understanding of what is really going on. On the BBC’s flagship radio current affairs programme, ‘Today’ 25 January, American writer Gore Vidal compared Bush directly to Hitler and Mussolini, and condemned the USA’s unilateral aspirations for global supremacy.
The recent efforts by Bush and Blair to claim a link between Iraq and al Qaeda as part of a justification for launching an attack are also interesting. Applying the same criteria across the globe would require the immediate bombing of a wide range of countries, ranging from Pakistan to Britain (both of which also have weapons of mass destruction). The Daily Telegraph reports that over 1200 Britons went to fight alongside bin Laden during the Afghan war and many of those have now returned to the UK.
In its 7 July 2002 edition TIME magazine raises an even more disturbing issue in relation to the sheltering of al Qaeda’s network in Britain. The following words are ‘interesting’: “Described by some justice officials as the spiritual leader and possible puppet master of al-Qaeda’s European networks… senior European intelligence officials tell TIME that Abu Qatada is tucked away in a safe house in the north of England, where he and his family are being lodged, fed and clothed by British intelligence services… British security services officials declined to comment.”.
But it gets worse.
Following disclosures by former MI5 officer David Shayler the Observer 10 November 2002 reports that “British intelligence paid large sums of money to an al-Qaeda cell in Libya in a doomed attempt to assassinate Colonel Gadaffi in 1996 and thwarted early attempts to bring Osama bin Laden to justice…. The Libyan al-Qaeda cell included Anas al-Liby, who was given political asylum in Britain and lived in Manchester until May of 2000…..”. A similar story on this British sponsorship of al-Qaeda was also run by the London Evening Standard a month earlier.
As if to leave us in no doubt on the matter the London Times 19 December points out to its readers that “European security chiefs still regard Britain as a safe haven for al-Qaeda units….”. So does this give Saddam Hussein the right to bomb Britain even though he has no capacity to do so?
No. Clearly there is another reason for wanting to attack Iraq and most of the world knows what that reason is. Is it not astonishing, however, that so few politicians in the ‘civilised’ world are prepared to utter its name? This exposure of the supine nature of the political systems predominant in the Anglo-Saxon world (and let us not also forget the complicity of the Australian government in these matters) as the bogus nature of the war against terrorism becomes increasingly apparent, is truly shocking (see ‘What War Against Terrorism’ for more details).
‘Ah, but what the heck?’ After all, selectively chasing al Qaeda around the globe provides the perfect pretext for invading almost any country of our choice at any time, especially those countries whose oil and gas we do not yet control (when indeed are we going to hear of claims that al Qaeda cells have decamped to Iran or even Venezuela?).
As one penetrating columnist in the London Times (former Conservative MP, Mathew Paris) put it following the ‘ricin’ poison scare story in January: “…the Anglo-American alliance and al-Qaeda now need each other badly.” He condemned the significance of the ricin incident as deliberately inflated in order to engender fear of terrorism in Britain prior to an attack on Iraq.
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