War Inna Babylon!

April 2003

"Politics is merely the shadow cast by big business on society." - John Dewey
"War is merely the continuation of politics by other means"- von Klauswitz

Just like Texaco to start giving out free road maps, innit? A road-map for the Middle-East. Classic petrol station PR.

If Texaco and BP aren't behind this war, how come Bush and Blair have suddenly got all those road maps to give away in the first place? Next it'll be a set of goblets for the Palestinians or some World Cup Soccer Stickers. Who else who but a petrol station ever thought of a free road-map as a bit of cheap and useful public relations?

game of oil

But anyone in the West who happens to concur with the near 100% Arab/ Rest-Of-The-World opinion that this war may just possibly have a teensy, eensy leeedle bit to do with oil is called a conspiracy theorist. Fucking MTV Blair saying "Well, yes there's always a conspiracy theory." Can you believe it! The fucking gall of these motherfuckers.

Throughout history wars have always been driven by the need to grab resources and/or secure supply lines to those resources. Tacitus understood that "if a man seeks to understand Rome's casuss reason for each foreign conquest he needs only look into the Treasury." This was understood 2000 years ago, why is it not understood now? It was understood 100 years ago, too, that the British didn't take over in Africa and Asia just to increase the numbers of people paying income tax and the amount of pink on the map.

But nowadays we're supposed to be belive- if we wanted to be considered grown-ups - that capitalism is somehow put on hold during a war. The leaders become "sincere". The assumption being that the polticians are kind of saying: "Yes, of course, we lie to you and fuck you over in peacetime, but to do anything of the sort when we're at war, when we're dropping cluster bombs on children in a faraway land? The very thought of it! Why that's a despicable suggestion!!"

In 1946 a US State Dept. report described Iraq as:

".. a stupendous source of strategic power and the greatest material prize in world history".

Conspiracy implies something clandestine, but it's all out in the open. There's nothing conspiratorial about it. Outlining what US foreign policy objectives would be over the coming years, Clinton's Defence Secretary William Cohen said:

"Unilateral use of military force to ensure uninhibited access to key markets, strategic resources and energy supplies".

(Annual Report to the President and Congress, 1999,(US Dept. of Defence, 1999).

Oh, and energy supplies don't mean Lucozade Sport vending machines, you dig? Now admittedly, yes, the hawkish Cohen has been replaced by dove-ish Donald Rumsfeld. But even this old hippy in his peace-loving Lennon specs may have been moved on reading Washington's Centre for Strategic and International Studies report, which says:

"You are looking down the line to a world in 2020 when reliance on Gulf oil will have doubled." Adding that control of the Gulf "is an absolutely critical issue."

Iraq has the largest untappped oil reserves in the world. 200 billion barrels. There's 3 giant southern oilfields. Majnoon, West Quran, Nahr Umar. Majnoon and West Quran are good for 700,000 barrels per day.

No co-incidence that the two countries now terrorizing Iraqi civilians are the two countries who have traditionally been most violent in the Middle East.

Here's the British army invading Egypt in '56, Jordan in '58, Kuwait in '61, Oman in '71, Yemen in '73. But it's in Iraq that we have the longest and noblest history of humanitarian interventions and unselfish dealings.

In the 1920's nine thousand Iraqi lives were lost as the result of the RAF's almost continuous ten year bombing campaign. In 1920 Arthur Bomber Harris demanded "A bomb in every village that speaks out of turn." He was talking about Kurdish rebels.

There's no way the military-industrial complex (aka Bush-Blair junta) wants to see a "Western-style democracy" in Iraq, Cos what if the Iraqi peple vote themselves a Western-style welfare state? That would mean Western-style taxes on oil-revenues at the well-head not at the petrol pump. Fuck dat shit!

Bush and Blair

That's not why Britain spends so much hard cash propping up every dictatorship from Kuwait to Oman, Yemen, Saudi, Qatar, Iraq, Jordan, training and arming their secret police and kitting out the torture chambers. It's to keep the people down so they don't start asking for a share of the profits, To keep the trade unions illegal over there, To keep the lid on the primary source of anger in the Middle East which is, as Noam Chomsky has said:

"the people have never accepted that they should get NOTHING from their one natural resource".

Don't be dazzled, blinded by the polished radiator-grill of the puppet Sheikh's Bentley. In Saudi Arabia, according to the United Nations Development Project, out of a total population of 16 million, 3 million are without access to basic santation and safe water. Saudi Arabia has a lower literacy rate than Sri Lanka!

The UK has always supported the repressive regimes in the Middle East to stave off the dangers of wealth distributin' social democracies. Macmillan's diary in 1955 notes that it's:

"... rather sad that circumstances compel us to support reactionary and really rather outmoded regimes because we know that the new forces ... always seem to drift into strongly anti-Western positions."

Hmmm, and why might that be?

And so on to present day Iraq:
Major-General Tawfiq-Yassir organised of conference of Opposition-in-Exile generals in Kensington Town Hall on July 12th last year (2002) of 90 former generals and senior officers. According to The Times, Tawfiq-Yassir and other organisers wanted:

"a firm declaration from the participants at the meeting that the military will not take over control of Iraq and replace one dictatorship with another. They want a democracy that reflects the country's three dominant ethnic groups and confines the military to defensive duties. That idea however is resisted by some officials in Washington and London who would prefer a strong man or strong regime to avert the threat of chaos or civil war."

(That's diplomatic shorthand for a mean union-busting bastard who'll keep the people on their knees.)

Former USUK-appointed strong men to have 'averted the threat of chaos or civil war', include Idi Amin Dada, Papa Doc, Amin, Suharto, Mobuto and Sadaam Hussein ("the CIA's favourite coup"). Not forgetting strong regimes like the Taliban whom the US gave $43 million dollars in April of 2001 - this was their last chance to win control of northern Afghanistan and they lost the battle and lost the contract.)

Pinochet was the solution to what the CIA complained of was "the apolitical, constitutional-minded inertia of the Chilean military". Next day Commander in Chief of the Chilean armed forces, Renee Scneider, (who, even though he didn't vote for Allende himself nevertheless recognized that majority of Chileans had and refused to have anything to do with the US plans for a coup) was assassinated and within a week General Pinochet replaced the democratically-elected Salvador Allende and the murders began in the Santiago stadium.

Jay Garner and Tommy Franks are the solution to the apolitical, constitutional-minded inertia of Iraqi-exiles like Major General Tawfik-Yassir. No point talking to him then if he isn't going to wield the big club. Also, no point talking to the Iraqi opposition politicians like the Iraqi National Congress. Last night, March 30th, Ahmed Chalabi's spokesman was screaming that they have ben cut right out off the process, because USUK is waging a war not a war of liberation but of occupation.

behind the gun

When the Iraqi regime's worst crimes were committed Rumsfeld was in Baghdad. He was in Baghdad pressing flesh with Sadaam Hussein. All through the mid-80's Rumsfeld was pushing his pal Sadaam to invest in Bechtel's Aqaba oil pipeline project which would take oil from Iraq to Jordan. According to an Institute for Policy Studies report of this week, Bechtel will now at last be getting to build that sucker after all.

CNN reported that that on Day 3 of the War On Iraq, the Dow rose 8.4% "it's biggest rise in 21 years!" The London Stock Exchange had its biggest single week rise since 1940!

On the eve of the RAF's Iraqi Christmas bombings two years ago the price of crude oil futures was "struggling at crippling lows" said The Times. The bombs fell. Nazir Hamdoon, Iraq's ambassador to the UN, declared that Iraqi oil exports were frozen, and the next day the price of crude oil leapt 83 cents to $12.38 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. On the same day, gold, another commodity that was going through "a recent humiliating price slump" leapt $2, and less than 24 hours after, the first children started burning.

This is the main difference between then and now. Then the price of oil was too low, in 2003 the price of oil was too high. Too high so you got to get those southern oilfields at Rameila back onstream, then supply matches demand, the market gluts and the price drops.

One reason why people are sceptical of the idea that oil, power and geo-political issues of strategy might be behind this is that they quite reasonably feel that, however powerful the profit motive, it still wouldn't be allowed to jeopardize the survival of the human species. It wouldn't be allowed to just to run riot over the world. Here we are being dragged into the first world war of the C21t, with Syria and Iran in the gunsights, and - since Britain and the US have, as Solzhenitzen said, "kicked aside the rule of law to replace it with a world where might is right", nothing to stop Turkey butchering more Kurds... surely all this wouldnt be done just for control of a commodity? What could the thinking be behind that?

Well New Labour's leading media spokesman and their favourite embedded journalist Andrew Rawnsley inadvertently sheds light on how Blair might believe that war leads to good things.

During the bombing of Afghan villagers was opining in the Observer that wars may are always good for progressives. He cited how the Attlee government got in after the Second World War and, if I remember righly, how the post-Vietnam era was a liberal one. That sort of "serviceable villainy". It needs only a brief look at Saudi Arabia, through the gaps between our fingers, to appreciate how sick - and, oh yeah, wrong - that conceit is.

'Cos thanks to the 90-91 Gulf War, Saudis were able to ratchet up repression. Middle East Human Rights Watch say the population now has less rights than they had in 1926. No elections, no political parties, no trade unions, no strikes, demonstrations, no free speech, restrictions on employment and movement of women, on the plus side lots of torture, censorship of radio and TV. 1994 saw the biggest roundup of opposition activists, the murder and beatings and mutilation of citizens without trial.

But I mention Andrew Rawnsley because I think that this might not seem an odd way of thinking in the Cabinet Office. That Blair and Straw may have convinced themselves of a similar equivocation. Just as natural gas was an accidental by-product of the first oil production in Titusville, Pennsylvania, so, and recall here Blair's famous cake-and-eat-it mantras - "close hospitals and cut waiting-lists" - that they can secure oil and bring about that progressive post-war society for all the post-traumatic Baghdadi adolescents to enjoy.

But I should stress that they've only had to convince themselves of this for reasons of cognitive dissonance. That is, once they'd already saw there was gonna be an oil-grab they needed to square it with their diseased stub of conscience. Go back to September 2002, and Blair, stopping off at Andrew's Airforce base on his way to Camp David let the cat out of the bag:

"If Sadaam gets hold of these weapons then there is no way that any conflict he initiated in the region would not have serious consequences for British interests."

He hasn't used the "i" word since then, hasn't talked about British interests. For two reasons I'd wager:

1. He don't wanna do bird. And, according to Sir Gerald Fitzsimmons, the last legal advisor to the Foreign Office before Lord Goldsmith, if you bandy that phrase about you're looking at nick: "The plea of vital interest", he wrote, "which has been one of the main justifications for war in the past, is indeed the very one which the UN charter was intended to exclude."

(And that's why Kofi Anan says that Blair is waging an illegal war "outside the UN charter". Pretty risky stiff when you consider that most of the war criminals at the Nuremburg trials were hung for "planning and waging an aggressive war." That's why he has to keep in with the US. He'll need a country to go to that isn't a signatory to the ICC, and you can't get the Bollinger and foccacia in Saudi Arabia).

2. 'Cos then we start asking whether BP's interests are the same as ours or, in fact, opposed...
Couple of months back BP CEO John Brown told a consortium of investors in the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline that: "this project is only financially viable thanks to free public money."

Free public money!!! Our public money. Ours!!! You fuckers! Give it back! (struggling over plastic bag filled with readies, bag rips, notes fly out over the Thames). Our schools and hospitals shutting down so that BP can build an oil and gas pipeline from Baku in Azerbaijan through Turkey. And this project is so fucked. Transparency International has listed Azerbaijan as "the world's third most corrupt regime". Although there's some speculation that Azerbaijan may have fiddled the result, and slipped a bung to Colombia to swap second place.

And how much tax do BP pay? [Go to the excellent Cornerhouse web-site if you wanna find out. But strap yourself into the seat first! Or go to Rising Tide to see about shutting down BP's AGM on April 24th.

As Chuck D told us:
Shut it down!