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Iraq War Is About Oil: Asked why a nuclear power such as North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq...,Paul Wolfowitz, U.S. deputy defence minister said: "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." --June 2003

Special: Killing For Oil Profit

US-controlled Iraqi government prepares to seize control of the oil, Mahdi
US armed forces are being turned into a 'global oil protection service', Asia Times
U.N. Ambassador's Oily Past, Bennis
Dupe or operative? Interiors facilitator 'loses' billions in taxes owed by oil & gas, Andrews
All of the billions spent on Iraq flow from tax-payers to US corporations, Asia Times
The 'demonization' of Muslims and the battle for oil , Tehran Times

  Wolfowitz: "Iraq War Was About Oil"
  By George Wright
  The Guardian

  Wednesday 04 June 2003

  Oil was the main reason for military action against Iraq, a leading White House hawk has claimed, confirming the worst fears of those opposed to the US-led war.

  The US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz - who has already undermined Tony Blair's position over weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by describing them as a "bureaucratic" excuse for war - has now gone further by claiming the real motive was that Iraq is "swimming" in oil.

  The latest comments were made by Mr Wolfowitz in an address to delegates at an Asian security summit in Singapore at the weekend, and reported today by German newspapers Der Tagesspiegel and Die Welt.

  Asked why a nuclear power such as North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq, where hardly any weapons of mass destruction had been found, the deputy defence minister said: "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."

  Mr Wolfowitz went on to tell journalists at the conference that the US was set on a path of negotiation to help defuse tensions between North Korea and its neighbours - in contrast to the more belligerent attitude the Bush administration displayed in its dealings with Iraq.

  His latest comments follow his widely reported statement from an interview in Vanity Fair last month, in which he said that "for reasons that have a lot to do with the US government bureaucracy, we settled on the one issue that everyone could agree on: weapons of mass destruction."

  Prior to that, his boss, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, had already undermined the British government's position by saying Saddam Hussein may have destroyed his banned weapons before the war.

  Mr Wolfowitz's frank assessment of the importance of oil could not come at a worse time for the US and UK governments, which are both facing fierce criticism at home and abroad over allegations that they exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein in order to justify the war.

  Amid growing calls from all parties for a public inquiry, the foreign affairs select committee announced last night it would investigate claims that the UK government misled the country over its evidence of Iraq's WMD.

  The move is a major setback for Tony Blair, who had hoped to contain any inquiry within the intelligence and security committee, which meets in secret and reports to the prime minister.

  In the US, the failure to find solid proof of chemical, biological and nuclear arms in Iraq has raised similar concerns over Mr Bush's justification for the war and prompted calls for congressional investigations.

  Mr Wolfowitz is viewed as one of the most hawkish members of the Bush administration. The 57-year old expert in international relations was a strong advocate of military action against Afghanistan and Iraq.

  Following the September 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, Mr Wolfowitz pledged that the US would pursue terrorists and "end" states' harbouring or sponsoring of militants.

  Prior to his appointment to the Bush cabinet in February 2001, Mr Wolfowitz was dean and professor of international relations at the Paul H Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), of the Johns Hopkins University.


Nina Burleigh has written for The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and New York magazine. As a reporter for TIME, she was among the first American journalists to enter Iraq after the Gulf War.

Recently I attended one of those legendary Washington dinner parties, attended by British cosmopolites and Americans in the know. A few courses in, people were gossiping about the Bush family's close and enduring friendship with the Saudi ambassador, Prince Bandar, dean of the diplomatic corps in Washington. By the end of the evening, everyone was talking about how the unfolding events were going to affect the flow of oil out of Central Asia.

I left wondering whether 6,000 Americans might prove to have died in New York for the royal family of Saud, or oil, or both. But I didn't have much more than insider dinner gossip to go on. I get my analysis from the standard all-American news outlets. And they've been too focused on a) anthrax and smallpox, or b) the intricacies of Muslim fanaticism, to throw any reporters at the murky ways in which international oil politics and its big players have a stake in what's unfolding.

A quick Nexis search brought up a raft of interesting leads that would keep me busy for 10 years if the economics of this war was my beat. But only two articles in the American media since September 11 have tried to describe how Big Oil might benefit from a cleanup of terrorists and other anti-American elements in the Central Asia region. One was by James Ridgeway of the Village Voice. The other was by a Hearst writer based in Paris and it was picked up only in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In other words, only the Left is connecting the dots of what the Russians have called "The Great Game" -- how oil underneath the 'stans' fits into the new world order. Here's just a small slice of what ought to provoke deeper research by American reporters with resources and talent.

Start with father Bush. The former president and ex-CIA director is not unemployed these days. He's been globetrotting as a member of Washington's Carlyle Group, a $12 billion private equity firm which employs a motorcade of former ranking Republicans, including Frank Carlucci, Jim Baker and Richard Darman. George Bush senior and colleagues open doors overseas for The Carlyle Group's "access capitalists."

Bush specializes in Asia and has been in and out of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (countries that revere him thanks to the Gulf War) often on business since his presidency. Baker, the pin-striped midwife of 'Election 2000' was working his network in the 'stans' before the ink was dry on Clinton's first inaugural address. The Bin Laden family (presumably the friendly wing) is also invested in Carlyle. Carlyle's portfolio is heavy in defense and telecommunications firms, although it has other holdings including food and bottling companies.

The Carlyle connection means that George Bush Senior is on the payroll from private interests that have defense business before the government, while his son is president. Hmmm. As Charles Lewis of the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity, has put it, "in a really peculiar way, George W. Bush could, some day, benefit financially from his own administration's decisions, through his father's investments. And that to me is a jaw-dropper."

Why can we assume that global businessmen like Bush Senior and Jim Baker care about who runs Afghanistan and NOT just because it's home base for lethal anti-Americans? Because it also happens to be situated in the middle of that perennial vital national interest -- a region with abundant oil. By 2050, Central Asia will account for more than 80 percent of our oil. On September 10, an industry publication, Oil and Gas Journal, reported that Central Asia represents one of the world's last great frontiers for geological survey and analysis, "offering opportunities for investment in the discovery, production, transportation, and refining of enormous quantities of oil and gas resources."

It's assumed we need unimpeded access in the 'stans' for our geologists, construction workers and pipelines if we are going to realize the conservation-free, fossil-fueled future outlined recently by Vice President Cheney. A number of pipeline projects to carry Central Asia's resources west are already under way or have been proposed. They would go through Russia, through the Caucasus or via Turkey and Iran. Each route will be within easy reach of the Taliban's thugs and could be made much safer by an American vanquishment of Muslim terrorism.

There's also lots of oil beneath the turf of our politically precarious newest best friend, Pakistan. "Massive untapped gas reserves are believed to be lying beneath Pakistan's remotest deserts, but they are being held hostage by armed tribal groups demanding a better deal from the central government," reported Agence France Presse just days before September 11.

So many business deals, so much oil, all those big players with powerful connections to the Bush administration. It doesn't add up to a conspiracy theory. But it does mean there is a significant MONEY subtext that the American public ought to know about as "Operation Enduring Freedom" blasts new holes where pipelines might someday be buried.

This is Nina Burleigh for TomPaine.com., 10/12/01

Published on Thursday, August 10, 2000 in the Chicago Tribune
Cheney's Black Gold:
Oil Interests May Drive US Foreign Policy
by Marjorie Cohn

What do the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea and the Balkans have in common? U.S. domination in these areas serves the interests of corporate multimillionaires such as Dick Cheney. As George Bush's secretary of defense, Cheney was chief prosecutor of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Humanitarian rhetoric notwithstanding, the bombing of Iraq--which continues to this day--was primarily aimed at keeping the Persian Gulf safe for U.S. oil interests. Shortly after Desert Storm, the Associated Press reported Cheney's desire to broaden the United States' military role in the region to hedge future threats to gulf oil resources. Cheney is CEO of Dallas-based Halliburton Co., the biggest oil-services company in the world. Because of the instability in the Persian Gulf, Cheney and his fellow oilmen have zeroed in on the world's other major source of oil--the Caspian Sea. Its rich oil and gas resources are estimated at $4 trillion by U.S. News and World Report. The Washington-based American Petroleum Institute, voice of the major U.S. oil companies, called the Caspian region, "the area of greatest resource potential outside of the Middle East." Cheney told a gaggle of oil industry executives in 1998, "I can't think of a time when we've had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian."

But Caspian oil presents formidable obstacles. Landlocked between Russia, Iran and a group of former Soviet republics, the Caspian's "black gold" raises a transportation dilemma. Russia wants Caspian oil to run through its territory to the Black Sea. The United States, however, favors pipelines through its ally, Turkey.

Although the cheapest route would traverse Iran to the Persian Gulf, U.S. sanctions against Iran block this alternative. Cheney has lobbied long and hard, as recently as June, for the lifting of those sanctions, to lubricate the Iran-Caspian connection. This is consistent with his position, described in a 1997 article in The Oil and Gas Journal, that oil and gas companies must do business in countries with policies unpalatable to the U.S.

Cheney also favors the repeal of section 907 of the 1992 Freedom Support Act, which severely restricts U.S. aid to Azerbaijan because of its ethnic cleansing of the Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh, a mountainous enclave in Azerbaijan. Why would Cheney choose to ignore Azerbaijan's human-rights violations? Because Azerbaijan, key to the richest Caspian oil deposits, is, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, "in fact, the focal point of the next round in the Great Game of Nations, a dangerous, hot-headed place with a Klondike of wealth beneath it. It is Bosnia with oil."

Cheney's oily fingerprints are all over the Balkans as well. Last year, Halliburton's Brown & Root Division was awarded a $180 million a year contract to supply U.S. forces in the Balkans. Cheney also sits on the board of directors of Lockheed Martin, the world's largest defense contractor. Replacing munitions used in the Balkans could result in $1 billion in new contracts.

War is big business and Dick Cheney is right in the middle of it.

Meanwhile, our energy and gasoline prices continue to soar in many parts of the United States. OPEC controls the oil production in the Persian Gulf. Cheney, worried about a falloff in investment, spoke in favor of OPEC cutting oil production so oil and gasoline prices could rise.

Cheney is ineluctably invested in keeping the world safe for his investments.

Although he stepped down as CEO of Halliburton, he still owns shares of stock in the conglomerate and his financial interests in the Persian Gulf, the Caspian region and the Balkans will invariably continue. Chosen by George W. Bush to bring foreign-policy expertise to the GOP presidential ticket, we can expect a Republic administration to increase U.S. intervention in regions when it suits Dick Cheney's oil and other corporate concerns.

"George is true-blue for God, but he also has a soft spot for Mammon; and an even softer spot for Dick Cheney, who spent much of the last decade scheming with his fellow oil barons to get a pipeline from the virgin fields of the Caspian Sea -- where $4 trillion in profits are waiting for them -- through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. Cheney's business interests in oil and arms, temporarily divested while he helps direct American policy in energy and defense, rival those of the Bushes and bin Ladens. Or as the Chicago Tribune noted last year: 'War is big business, and Dick Cheney is right in the middle of it.'" --Chris Floyd, 10/1/01

Mondo Washington
by James Ridgeway

The U.S. Eyes Oil in Central Asia and Steps on Russia's Turf

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As the war winds down, the U.S. is eyeing Central Asia as a new colony. And as America projects its power across the region, it runs the risk of setting off a new cold war with Moscow. A few reasons why:

Big Oil is once again taking a hard look at prospects for building a pipeline carrying Caspian Sea oil across Afghanistan and down through Pakistan to ports on the Arabian Sea. "The large-scale projects aimed at building gas and oil pipelines linking the Caspian region with the attractive international market of the Arabian Sea may become the principal, if not the only, means to breathe a [new] life into Afghanistan," Martha Brill Olcott, a Carnegie Endowment scholar, told the Moscow paper Izvestia.

Turkmenistan, which used to be part of the Soviet Union and has huge natural gas deposits, is key to controlling the region. In late October, Turkmenistan's president, Saparmurat Niyazov, sent a letter to the UN leaders advocating construction of a pipeline bringing Turkmen gas across Afghan territory to Pakistan's Arabian Sea ports. The Far Eastern Economic Review reports Niyazov claimed the pipeline “will help rebuild this country [Afghanistan], normalize peaceful life and work of the Afghan people and also accelerate socio-economic development of the entire adjacent region.”

In Moscow at the end of last month, Niyazov declared, “We could sell to foreign markets about 120 billion cubic meters of gas annually, but we can not do this due to the lack of pipelines.”

Hooking Turkmenistan’s immense gas fields up to Pakistan ports is a direct slap at Russia, which has traditionally dictated policy in the area. More to the point, if Turkmen gas goes to Pakistan, Russia will get less gas for its own purposes and lose revenues obtained in transporting it. So Moscow is already fighting back, trying to suck Turkmenistan into a long-term gas supply deal, and stepping up military presence in Afghanistan. Russians, of course, back the Northern Alliance and quietly dropped commandos into Kabul when the capital fell to an invading force, whose tank columns reportedly were directed by Russian officers.

Then there’s Uzbekistan, another former Soviet republic that already is a key U.S. military base in the Afghan war. While the U.S. forges tighter long-term ties with Uzbekistan through a $100 million aid package, Japan has quietly developed a set of economic links that make it a big time stealth player there. Despite its recession, Japan is financing cotton mills, refineries, and airports in Uzbekistan along with providing help on railroad modernization.

The U.S. wants long-term deals to cement ties with Uzbekistan, provide the country with more military bases, and help it break away from reliance on Russia.

In its new role as Central Asian power broker, the U.S. has no choice but to play an active role in Pakistan’s new world policy of using a dictatorship to oversee democratic procedures. That sounds nice, but really it’s just a device for trying to get the Pakistani military, now well greased with U.S. money, to clamp down on the religious schools in the northern frontier province that spawned the Taliban. And U.S. diplomats will continually be trying to keep India and Pakistan from nuking each other. Not to mention, preventing ever eager Pakistani scientists from building bombs and making deals with nations like Iran. With the Taliban gone, Pakistan is without a presence in Afghanistan and can see regional stability in cozying up to Iran.

Meanwhile Pakistan President Musharaff said in an interview with Far Eastern Economic Review he is all for another new pipeline project, this one connecting Iran to India via Pakistan. Looks great on paper, but just the idea raises tensions between Pakistan and India—even though both countries would benefit from such a pipeline.

Most of all, everyone’s waiting for the big breakthrough, in a long overdue thawing of U.S.-Iran relations, leading almost certainly to oil and gas deals that will provide the U.S. with real throw weight against Saudi Arabia whenever the medieval country and its kooky royal family decide to screw us over. Not to mention something to make the wily KGB agent Putin think twice. If the U.S. buries the hatchet with Iran it will have won an important ally in what easily could become a new cold war pitting Washington and Moscow against one another in Central Asia.

A pro-western regime in Kabul should give the US an Afghan route for Caspian oil

George Monbiot

Tuesday October 23, 2001

The Guardian

"Is there any man, is there any woman, let me say any child here," Woodrow Wilson asked a year after the first world war ended, "that does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?" In 1919, as US citizens watched a shredded Europe scraping up its own remains, the answer may well have been no. But the lessons of war never last for long.

The invasion of Afghanistan is certainly a campaign against terrorism, but it may also be a late colonial adventure. British ministers have warned MPs that opposing the war is the moral equivalent of appeasing Hitler, but in some respects our moral choices are closer to those of 1956 than those of 1938. Afghanistan is as indispensable to the regional control and transport of oil in central Asia as Egypt was in the Middle East.

Afghanistan has some oil and gas of its own, but not enough to qualify as a major strategic concern. Its northern neighbours, by contrast, contain reserves which could be critical to future global supply. In 1998, Dick Cheney, now US vice-president but then chief executive of a major oil services company, remarked: "I cannot think of a time when we have had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian." But the oil and gas there is worthless until it is moved. The only route which makes both political and economic sense is through Afghanistan.

Transporting all the Caspian basin's fossil fuel through Russia or Azerbaijan would greatly enhance Russia's political and economic control over the central Asian republics, which is precisely what the west has spent 10 years trying to prevent. Piping it through Iran would enrich a regime which the US has been seeking to isolate. Sending it the long way round through China, quite aside from the strategic considerations, would be prohibitively expensive. But pipelines through Afghanistan would allow the US both to pursue its aim of "diversifying energy supply" and to penetrate the world's most lucrative markets. Growth in European oil consumption is slow and competition is intense. In south Asia, by contrast, demand is booming and competitors are scarce. Pumping oil south and selling it in Pakistan and India, in other words, is far more profitable than pumping it west and selling it in Europe.

As the author Ahmed Rashid has documented, in 1995 the US oil company Unocal started negotiating to build oil and gas pipelines from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan and into Pakistani ports on the Arabian sea. The company's scheme required a single administration in Afghanistan, which would guarantee safe passage for its goods. Soon after the Taliban took Kabul in September 1996, the Telegraph reported that "oil industry insiders say the dream of securing a pipeline across Afghanistan is the main reason why Pakistan, a close political ally of America's, has been so supportive of the Taliban, and why America has quietly acquiesced in its conquest of Afghanistan". Unocal invited some of the leaders of the Taliban to Houston, where they were royally entertained. The company suggested paying these barbarians 15 cents for every thousand cubic feet of gas it pumped through the land they had conquered.

For the first year of Taliban rule, US policy towards the regime appears to have been determined principally by Unocal's interests. In 1997 a US diplomat told Rashid "the Taliban will probably develop like the Saudis did. There will be Aramco [the former US oil consortium in Saudi Arabia] pipelines, an emir, no parliament and lots of Sharia law. We can live with that." US policy began to change only when feminists and greens started campaigning against both Unocal's plans and the government's covert backing for Kabul.

Even so, as a transcript of a congress hearing now circulating among war resisters shows, Unocal failed to get the message. In February 1998, John Maresca, its head of international relations, told representatives that the growth in demand for energy in Asia and sanctions against Iran determined that Afghanistan remained "the only other possible route" for Caspian oil. The company, once the Afghan government was recognised by foreign diplomats and banks, still hoped to build a 1,000-mile pipeline, which would carry a million barrels a day. Only in December 1998, four months after the embassy bombings in east Africa, did Unocal drop its plans.

But Afghanistan's strategic importance has not changed. In September, a few days before the attack on New York, the US energy information administration reported that "Afghanistan's significance from an energy standpoint stems from its geographical position as a potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from central Asia to the Arabian sea. This potential includes the possible construction of oil and natural gas export pipelines through Afghanistan". Given that the US government is dominated by former oil industry executives, we would be foolish to suppose that such plans no longer figure in its strategic thinking. As the researcher Keith Fisher has pointed out, the possible economic outcomes of the war in Afghanistan mirror the possible economic outcomes of the war in the Balkans, where the development of "Corridor 8", an economic zone built around a pipeline carrying oil and gas from the Caspian to Europe, is a critical allied concern.

American foreign policy is governed by the doctrine of "full-spectrum dominance", which means that the US should control military, economic and political development worldwide. China has responded by seeking to expand its interests in central Asia. The defence white paper Beijing published last year argued that "China's fundamental interests lie in ... the establishment and maintenance of a new regional security order". In June, China and Russia pulled four central Asian republics into a "Shanghai cooperation organisation". Its purpose, according to Jiang Zemin, is to "foster world multi-polarisation", by which he means contesting US full-spectrum dominance.

If the US succeeds in overthrowing the Taliban and replacing them with a stable and grateful pro-western government and if the US then binds the economies of central Asia to that of its ally Pakistan, it will have crushed not only terrorism, but also the growing ambitions of both Russia and China. Afghanistan, as ever, is the key to the western domination of Asia.

We have argued on these pages about whether terrorism is likely to be deterred or encouraged by the invasion of Afghanistan, or whether the plight of the starving there will be relieved or exacerbated by attempts to destroy the Taliban. But neither of these considerations describes the full scope and purpose of this war. As John Flynn wrote in 1944: "The enemy aggressor is always pursuing a course of larceny, murder, rapine and barbarism. We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Deity to regenerate our victims while incidentally capturing their markets, to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples while blundering accidentally into their oil wells." I believe that the US government is genuine in its attempt to stamp out terrorism by military force in Afghanistan, however misguided that may be. But we would be naïve to believe that this is all it is doing.

Bush Family, Cheney Go Where The Oil Will Flow--Afghanistan

"The New York Times ran an interesting [recently], as interesting for what it did not say as for what it did.

"Headlined, "Fears, Again, of Oil Supplies at Risk," the piece by Neela Banerjee addressed the nightmares that George W's war has raised among those concerned about oil. Politicians and oil executives imagine, says Banerjee, a potential domino effect that could end up with angry Persian Gulf states cutting off the flow of oil to the west, terrorism blocking its transport through the Strait of Hormuz and even Osama bin Laden taking control of Saudi Arabia from a toppled Saud family.

"If bin Laden takes over and becomes king of Saudi Arabia, he'd turn off the tap," Roger Diwan, a managing director of the Petroleum Finance Company, a consulting firm in Washington, told Banerjee. "He said at one point that he wants oil to be $144 a barrel - about six times what it sells for now." And Saudi Arabia, the Times reminds us, is Osama bin Laden's Enemy No. 1: "Mr. bin Laden has long made clear that his ultimate goal, more than wreaking havoc in the West, is toppling the Saud family. And Saudi Arabia would be a crucial target for anyone seeking to cut deeply into the world oil flow."

"Banerjee restates other points that need emphasizing, such as the fact that while U.S.-dependence on Gulf oil is down to 13 percent of overall use, Saudi Arabia is still the country's biggest single supplier of crude. Moreover, "The Saudis are the only ones with enough spare oil-field capacity to call on if there is a severe disruption elsewhere," he writes. There are some major omissions, however, in Banerjee's piece.

"The first of these is that in an article focusing on Saudi Arabia, oil and the United States, there is no acknowledgement of the Bush family's ties to the corrupt Kingdom of Saud, and its explicit investment in maintaining the status quo in that fundamentalist country.

"Most obviously, ex-President and ex-CIA Director George Bush has been working his assets for the Washington-based Carlyle Group, a $12 billion private equity firm, since he left office. He specializes in Saudi Arabia and certainly has in interest in the Kingdom's enduring profitability.

"The public-interest law firm Judicial Watch earlier this year strongly criticized this situation, pointing out in a March 5 statement that it is a "conflict of interest [which] could cause problems for America's foreign policy in the Middle East and Asia." In a Sept. 29 statement, Judicial Watch added that, "This conflict of interest has now turned into a scandal. The idea of the president's father, an ex-president himself, doing business with a company under investigation by the FBI in the terror attacks of September 11 is horrible." They demanded President Bush make his father pull out of the Carlyle Group.

"Additionally, an article about oil supplies that doesn't mention the Caspian Sea is quite something to see. Banerjee entirely ignores the story that is burning up progressive talk radio waves this month, and buzzing around thoughtful alternative Web sites. Hidden behind President Bush's war to avenge the victims of September 11, could there be an Oil Agenda? Michael Klare, author of "Resource Wars," has suggested that the long-term Bush/Cheney plan is to establish a Pax Americana in Central Asia and secure the vast oil resources of the Caspian Basin.

"U.S. oil companies have been negotiating with the post-Soviet republics of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan for access to the oil for years, but have been stymied by political instability in the region. Oil conglomerates were torn between two possible pipeline routes to Western markets: west through the war-torn Caucasus Mountains to Turkey, or south through war-torn Afghanistan to Pakistan and the Arabian Sea.

"Until it was put on hold in 1998, Unocal, which spearheaded the Afghan project was to have built a 1,005-mile oil pipeline and a companion 918-mile natural gas pipeline, in addition to a tanker loading terminal in Pakistan's Arabian Sea port of Gwadan. The company projected annual revenues of $2 billion, or enough to recover the cost of the project in five years. As reported by journalist Jan Goodwin, Unocal opened offices in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan and got every faction of the Afghan Northern Alliance to sign on. Even former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger got on board to help sell the project in the region. [See: New York Times, 12/5/98]

"Backing the Caspian plan is none other than Vice President Dick Cheney, who, as CEO of Halliburton was successful in winning contracts from Caspian Sea states to be part of any future development. In 1994, Cheney helped to broker a deal between the oil company Chevron and the state of Kazakhstan when he sat on the Oil Advisory Board of that former soviet state.

"The Amarillo Globe-News reported on a 1998 talk to oil executives in which Cheney said that "the current hot spots for major oil companies are the oil reserves in the Caspian Sea region. Former Soviet states Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan all are seeking to quickly develop their oil reserves, which languished during the years of Russian domination." The stakes in that region could be as much as 200 billion barrels of oil and natural gas, he told the crowd.

"The potential for this region turning as volatile as the Persian Gulf, though, does not concern Cheney," the article continued. "You've got to go where the oil is," he said. "I don't worry about it a lot."

In a story about oil fears and worries, the New York Times failed to ask the obvious question: Is Cheney worried now? And if not, why not?" --Laura Flanders, 10/26/01

Halliburton And KMNF [Azerbaijan] Ink 12 Year Caspian Contract

"Halliburton International Inc. and KASPMORNEFTELOT (KMNF), the marine division of the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR), have entered into a 12-year contract for a marine base and associated services to support Halliburton Subsea offshore construction activity in the Caspian region. Halliburton Subsea is a business unit of Halliburton Company’s Energy Services Group. "The base, with a 6,000-square metre lay down area, is located at KMNF’s Southern Basin adjacent to Caspian Shipyard. It will be primarily utilised to support Halliburton Subsea’s catamaran crane vessel Qurban Abbasov (previously known as the Titan 4) during the restoration and upgrade of the vessel and during the forthcoming offshore construction, pipelay and subsea activities. The site will also be developed to provide warehouse, office and training facilities that will include advanced diver and life support technician training, utilising the company’s 16-man modular saturation system. "The Qurban Abbasov is operated by Halliburton Subsea in an alliance agreement with SOCAR for a period of 12 years. It will provide an advanced, stable, dynamically positioned construction platform for saturation and remote vehicle diving; flexible and bundle pipeline installation with trenching; emergency pipeline repair, subsurface well intervention with wire line; and coiled tubing. It also will be used in flotel configuration for hook-up and commissioning work. "'The acquisition of the marine base is a further indication of our commitment to the Caspian region and to the success of the partnership arrangements with SOCAR,' says Edgar Ortiz, President and Chief Executive Officer, Halliburton’s Energy Services Group." --Aylward, Marine Publishers and Haliburton Press Release, May 15, 2001.


Politex, Iran borders the Caspian and their approval is needed before the construction of any pipeline in the Caspian Sea. It was my understanding that US companies were prohibited from doing business with Iran due to the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ISLA). I do understand Halliburton's desire to control the Caspian. It's been described as one of the world's wealthiest oil fields. Some have estimated Caspian's oil reserves could reach 200 BILLION BARRELS. Comment? --Ken, 10/14/01

Ken, Dick Cheney delivered a speech entitled "Defending Liberty in a Global Economy," at the Cato Institute, a Conservative think tank, on June 23, 1998. At that time he was Haliburton CEO, owned shares of stock in Haliburton as of August 2000, and is said to have ongoing "financial interests" in the Caspian region (see Cohn below). As Ari Fleischer is fond of saying, I think Cheney's statements at Cato speak for themselves. --Politex, 10/15/01:

"The good Lord didn't see fit to put oil and gas only where there are democratically elected regimes friendly to the United States. Occasionally we have to operate in places where, all things considered, one would not normally choose to go. But, we go where the business is. So, what happens with respect to U.S. commercial policy, how we conduct ourselves as a nation, the kinds of rules and regulations that American firms are expected to abide by and operate under, and how all of that affects our ability to compete overseas is of considerable interest to those of us at Haliburton and Dresser. Obviously, such matters are not only important to our employees, but to our shareholders, and our customers as well....

I think it is a false dichotomy to be told that we have to choose between "commercial" interests and other interests that the United States might have in a particular country or region around the world. Oftentimes the absolute best way to advance human rights and the cause of freedom or the development of democratic institutions is through the active involvement of American businesses. Investment and trade can oftentimes do more to open up a society and to create opportunity for a society's citizens than reams of diplomatic cables from our State Department...We need enlightened political leadership that understands and comprehends the complexities of the world economy. All too often these days that leadership appears to be lacking....What the international community has done with respect to Iraq in the period since the Gulf War as an appropriate use of multilateral economic sanctions. But my concern today is primarily with unilateral economic sanctions imposed by the United States. I would begin by arguing that they almost never work. It is very hard to find specific examples where they actually achieve a policy objective....

Right now there are sanctions on Azerbaijan. We're not allowed to spend any U.S. government dollars in that country. That's not a response to what we perceive to be sound foreign policy in that part of the world. It's more specifically a reflection of a desire by Congress to respond to the concerns voiced by the Armenian-American community, which is bigger than the Azerbaijani-American community. As a result we currently have a prohibition against U.S. government money being spent in Azerbaijan....The problem in part stems from the view by my former colleagues on Capitol Hill that sanctions are the low-cost option. It is the cheap, easy thing to do. You don't have to appropriate any taxpayer's money. You don’t send any young Americans into combat....

An example that comes immediately to mind has to do with efforts to develop the resources of the former Soviet Union in the Caspian Sea area. It is a region rich in oil and gas. Unfortunately, Iran is sitting right in the middle of the area and the United States has declared unilateral economic sanctions against that country. As a result, American firms are prohibited from dealing with Iran and find themselves cut out of the action, both in terms of opportunities that develop with respect to Iran itself, and also with respect to our ability to gain access to Caspian resources. Iran is not punished by this decision. There are numerous oil and gas development companies from other countries that are now aggressively pursuing opportunities to develop those resources. That development will proceed, but it will happen without American participation. The most striking result of the government’s use of unilateral sanctions in the region is that only American companies are prohibited from operating there. --Dick Cheney, head of Haliburton, June 23, 1998.

Politex, I agree that Cheney’s words do speak for themselves. The arrogance of corporate America speaks through him. When our country declares unilateral sanctions against a country such as Libya or Iran, it is a message from the people to the business community to develop alternative resources in the national interest. Cheney’s response to the American people is to tell us that we are wrong! He then redefines the national interest as corporate interest and reduces all of our goals to the profit motive. What conceit! It is frightening that such a person should be posing as a public servant. Will we soon be told that our objectives in Afghanistan are corporate objectives and that defeating terrorism is important as long as it does not diminish Halliburton’s bottom line? --Paul, 10/14/01

Updated Sept. 14, 2001: Unocal reiterates prior statements

"The company is not supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan in any way whatsoever. Nor do we have any project or involvement in Afghanistan. Beginning in late 1997, Unocal was a member of a multinational consortium that was evaluating construction of a Central Asia Gas (CentGas) pipeline between Turkmenistan and Pakistan. Part of this pipeline would have crossed western Afghanistan. However, Unocal suspended its participation in the CentGas consortium in August 1998 and formally withdrew from that consortium in December 1998. Our company has had no further role in developing or funding that project or any other project that might involve the Taliban. The pipeline was never constructed.

"During this time, Afghanistan was in the midst of a civil war. We met with many factions, including the Taliban, to educate them about the benefits such a pipeline could bring to this desperately poor and war-torn country, as well as to the Central Asian region. At no time did we make any deal with the Taliban, and, in fact, consistently emphasized that the project could not and would not proceed until there was an internationally recognized government in place in Afghanistan that fairly represented all its people. Our hope was that the project could help bring peace, stability and economic development to the Afghans, as well as develop important energy resources for the region.

"Unocal suspended its participation in the CentGas consortium (see statement). The company officially withdrew from the project in December 1998 (see statement). After several incorrect reports appeared, including one published in Pakistan in February 1999, Unocal reconfirmed its position regarding this matter in another statement dated Feb. 16, 1999." (MORE)


Six Nobel laureates move against U.S. energy firm [Unocal] with Myanmar link

"Washington, 4 Oct (dpa) - Six Nobel Peace Prize laureates have spoken out against a California-based energy company for doing business in military-ruled Myanmar (Burma) and urged a university to drop its shares in the company, a U.S. human rights group said Wednesday. . Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, was among the signatories to a letter urging the University of Virginia in Charlottesville to drop its assets in Unocal, which has helped build a gas pipeline from Myanmar to neighbouring Thailand. The Yadana natural gas project has stirred controversy because of reports of human rights abuses by Burmese troops guarding the pipeline, which runs through rebel territory, and because revenues from it help support a regime considered a pariah in the West.

"'While Unocal turns its back on the conditions surrounding its pipeline, its partners, the illegal military junta, are torturing, killing, raping, and enslaving thousands of people,' read the letter, released by the Free Burma Coalition. . Other signatories were Nobel laureates Betty Williams (Ireland, 1976), Oscar Arias (Costa Rica, 1986), Rigoberta Menchu Tum (Guatemala, 1992), Jose Ramos Horta (East Timor, 1996) and Jody Williams (United States, 1997). --Office Of Tibet (more), Oct. 4, 2001