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Quagmire of Blood, Oil, Sweat and Deceit
by Mathew Maavak
June 21, 2004

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The grand plan is panning out well indeed. The US will transfer “sovereignty” to the Iraqis in nine days time amidst a worsening security situation. It’s time to rejoice as Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz has promised Enduring Occupation for the Iraqis, like in Afghanistan, even after the “handover of power.” The “Iraqi security forces” he claims, are just “not ready to assume their job.” (AP, June 17)

The bombings, kidnappings and killings have gone up. Worse still, CNN’s Paula Zahn is fading, and might need another “offending” zipper promo to disprove her ex-boss's confident prediction that “a dead raccoon could get higher ratings.”

We like a drama where Nielson’s and newscasters’ figures are more captivating than a couple of dead things -- soldiers, raccoons or otherwise. It can’t be news we are watching. Certain things are unraveling fast, as tantalizing as a zip being drawn down.

While the show goes on, the killings have increased.

Just two days back US national Paul Johnson was beheaded in Saudi Arabia.

Islamist websites, as usual, showed gruesome pictures of the murder scene. Johnson’s head was “placed on his back as he lay in a pool of blood.” (AFP, June 18).

The militants made sure there was a visible “pool of blood” this time, unlike that suspicious video of Nick Berg, made more dubious after observations were made of the full-length screening by those who could stomach the entire footage.

Predictably, there were cries of “barbarism.” “They're trying to get us to retreat from the world. America will not retreat,” declared President George W. Bush.

We need the US army there. Can’t you see what happens when you give some space to those terrorists? Unlike Bush, Wall Street held its sangfroid. There was no panic that day even as expat workers in Saudi Arabia look badly exposed. When these professionals do leave “sooner or later you're going to be able to count the effect in actual barrels, and that's the scary part,” said Jan Stuart of New York brokerage FIMAT USA. (AP, June 15)

To give Bush plenty of credit, the militants were dim enough to call themselves the Fallujah Brigade of Al Qaeda, and here is your direct link between “Saddam Hussein” and “Al Qaeda.”

“Bin Laden” is seldom used in these linkages.

Credit too should be heaped on the Saudi security forces for their lightning liquidation of the alleged mastermind Abdulaziz al-Moqrin, hours, just hours after the deed was done. They couldn’t do anything in the days, months or years prior to this, when Al-Moqrin was plying his terrorist trade. The man had posted stuff on the net too many times and how was he tracked? Why the militants ingeniously dumped Johnson’s body from a car that had a giveaway license plate in view of a witness who tipped off the Saudi authorities for a bloody denouement (AP, June 18). At the time of writing, Saudi forces are still searching for his “body”, presumably the other part. (AP, June 20).

Johnson was an engineer for Lockheed Martin, and reportedly worked on the Apache helicopter systems. He would have been a prized catch for some valuable technical information and there are people willing to pay a ransom for this. Rescue attempts and the level of urgency can differ in such situations.

The victim reportedly liked Saudi Arabia. Nick Berg was well liked by the Arabs as well at a time when the US authorities got him detained him for some odd reason. Let’s see how Johnson’s story is spun.

Let us not forget Nick Berg, shall we? It’s not possible to keep track of all the killings perpetrated in the past four years alone.

Do not also forget Nick Berg when barbarism makes blasé headlines each day and when you are struggling with money and life’s cares in the months ahead. You may have good reason to worry over that.

The BBC reports that our planet’s oil reserves may not be as comfortable as we led to assume.

Pipelines in Iraq, which have the second largest reserves of oil, have been hit and exports have come to a standstill. Recent attacks against the oil lifeline may have repercussions well beyond June 30. Pipelines take time to be fixed, and further attacks are bound to unnerve our markets. Someone has to maintain security there. The supply situation is critical according to David Thurtell, from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. “There's no fat left…There's no room for error, accident or more attacks.” (Globe and Mail, June 17)

“If something happens in Saudi Arabia, that's the $100 (per barrel) oil. And that might be just for starters,” says Adam Sieminski of Deutsche Bank in London. (AP, June 17).

If there is not enough oil around, the United States has aggrandized its powers incalculably. Bloodstained boots are now treading atop the largest swath of our planet’s reserves.

One should check again the true state of US and Israeli strategic oil reserves. Master warmongers prepare their campaigns well, right up to the goof ups of their under trained soldiers who operate within under funded units. Battling soldiers can create enough pandemonium for us to beg stability and peace at any cost. Who is going to challenge them?

The only nation which has the military firepower and sufficient fuel is Russia. President Vladimir Putin has just vowed to prevent the collapse of Yukos, an oil giant once headed by the hated Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Ain’t that a nightmare scenario? “Destroy Magog, annihilate Gog,” might be an apt rehash of the Bible belt’s “Kill a Commie for Christ!” The Gipper is dead but those echoes may resound louder in days to come. Leaders come and die, but the Iron Lady’s handbag -- if you loved Frederick Forsyth’s The Fist of God -- will remain, reminding us of our unfinished divine crusades.

George, he must not get away with this [1]

Millennial and apocalyptic hints can refresh many who are clueless over George W. Bush’s monastic services at Yale’s Skull and Bones “tomb”. If he was into booze, drugs or whatever frat boys usually did, fine, but that’s not what you associate with skulls, bones and tombs do you? More like Megiddo, Belial, rivers of blood and that fanged guy from Transylvania. Was the young Bush just an apprentice pirate set to rip off the world? Professing Christians should visit Yale and investigate. His rival John Kerry was a fellow brother, and has some claims of being descended from Judah. This gets a little frightening for some, and fits well into prominent belief-systems, twisted no doubt by the old Gipper’s and Dubya’s lies. They are still getting lots of help from televangelists who, flushed with tithes and offerings, won’t remind their flock that no one can claim David’s mantle; it was taken long back.

In the face of evil, Gandalf showed more courage when he declared, “there is only one Lord of the Rings.”

Anyone who wants to be tendentious will no doubt be gratified by this report: Out of the blue, Putin claims that Russian secret services had warned of an imminent “terrorist attack”, post Sept. 11 from Saddam’s Iraq. This came as a shock as Putin was vehemently opposed to the invasion of Iraq. Can we see a corridor blasted through the Caucasus one day, with war machines fueled by Yukos oil? There are Chechen terrorists there, you know, supported by our (ex-)CIA darling Osama bin Laden.

The statement by Putin’s, a former KGB agent, is now seen as an election boost for Bush. Still want to “Kill a Commie for Christ?” The Russians will not/or cannot pump extra oil for the world as business reports indicate.

There is more deceit.

The US is trying to justify this war retrospectively by trumpeting its capture of Saddam Hussein, another one associated with tombs, skulls, and bones. The White House is concerned about his trial and for very good reasons. It would be convenient if Saddam is silenced soon and permanently, one way or the other.

He can’t get away with it George

According to the official version, Bush and Co. are worried about the trial’s security guarantees. Here is what the USA Today has to say:

“But Saddam can face justice only as long as he's held under the kind of impenetrable security the U.S. has established at a secret location in Iraq. Iraqis can't yet provide that… Refusing to give up custody of Saddam to Iraqis carries a different risk. It can signal that the ‘full sovereignty’ they've been promised on June 30 is a bogus pledge.” (USA Today, June 17)

Fears could be put to rest if Saddam is sent to the International Criminal Court. Let the UN worry about Saddam. It is harder to mount an insurrection out of The Hague and the man can tell us his side of the story as well. This won’t happen with Kofi Annan in charge. He did nothing to prevent the war. He couldn’t question those fabricated claims at the UN Security Council. His son, Kojo Annan, allegedly made tons of money from the Iraqi Oil for Food program. The Security Council, dominated by the US, conveniently overlooked these shady accounts and contracts, while the US and Britain kept pummeling Iraq with bombs and WMD allegations. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, many of them children, are now reduced to bones inside makeshift, sandy tombs, qualifying Kojo to be another member of the select club.

The killings continue, and so does the abuse. In Baghdad, I am told, one frequently hears of Sandniggers and Dune Coons, though dead coons are sent back silently in boxes draped with Stars and Spangles. The luckier ones battle over news ratings.

From the other side comes infidels, najis and yes, killings.

Car bombers just killed 41 people in Iraq, mainly potential army recruits, and wounded 150. The Iraqi Defense Minister Hazem al-Shalan was furious. “We will cut off the hands of those people, we will slit their throats if it is necessary to do so…For those people who want to join the new Iraqi army, we will protect them and we will find them a safe location so they can submit their applications.” (AP, June 17)

Major oil installations are the safest locations; they rank above pipelines, civilian quarters, and US army posts. Have you heard of any rockets slamming into the heart of an oil installation? ”

One of the cars used in that bombing was an SUV packed with artillery shells. Many Americans can’t afford to buy or maintain them anymore. Someone must have thought the approaching bombers were VIPs and, unless you are a GI, you wouldn’t dare mess with them in Iraq, with or without Saddam. Al-Shalan’s remarks throw a clue.

The culprit happens to be that Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who we were led to believe had wielded that knife with such skill, balance and force on Nick Berg, despite being endowed with a missing leg.

He is masterminding “simpler, more frequent car bombings meant to upend the handover of sovereignty to an Iraqi regime.” (AP, June 17) The new Iraqi leaders, in their newfound freedom are ready, and want to reinstate Saddam’s “exceptional” old laws to ease this transfer of sovereignty (AFP, June 18). Freedom has arrived.

Zarqawi has succeeded in prolonging the presence of US troops, bringing back draconian laws and actualizing the most dangerous oil monopoly in history. He works for Al Qaeda.

They are hunting him down, and after him, another will take his turn. It takes our attention away from Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahari. Have you heard of ex-Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar lately?

We are coaxed to see things differently.

The US is regarded as “Occupiers” by 92 per cent of Iraqis (USA Today, June 16) while more Iraqis prefer Saddam to the rebel cleric Moqtada al-Sadr to lead the country. (Reuters, June 17). If Saddam is more popular, it’s better to ease up on Al-Sadr, at least for the time being. There is now a tacit truce.

American citizens view this madness differently. The latest Pew research poll shows that they are “more upbeat about events in Iraq”, giving the president a lead over his ultimate Democrat challenger John Kerry, the only candidate around who can help Bush win the election for the first time. The “terror” trick is working; if there were post 9/11 attacks on home soil that means the US did fine in invading Iraq, right?

“Terror” is a magic word. Uttered too many times and one would believe that Saddam ordered 9/11 even when the “official commission declares the absence of any link.” Enter Al Qaeda’s Zarqawi and the Fallujah Brigade; Exit Rumsfeld who wanted to strike Iraq “five hours” after the Pentagon was hit on 9/11. [2] No smoking gun needed; just the faster-than-a-speeding-bullet deduction. Rumsfeld’s thoughts matched the speed his president’s jet was notching “five hours” after those hits. As one academic cynically told me: “Life would be boring without Rumsfeld. Leave the man alone…”

Months of investigations by US intelligence systems were sexed up to confirm the Defense Secretary’s suspicions that fateful day. Investigators now admit there were “glaring intelligence failures.” Experts still can’t figure out who or what was being said in those “three secretly taped conversation” that Colin Powell confidently “played to the UN Security Council in Feb 2003.” This formed one part of the WMD evidence.

Two MI6-recruited spies in Iraq provided others. Their “alarming reports of Saddam Hussein’s WMD were rushed to the White House shortly before the invasion though they were never interviewed by the CIA.”

This enthusiasm was also evident during the hunt for David Kelley, when he was interviewed, cross-interviewed and grilled by Tony Blair’s henchmen. Operation Mason, which caught up with Kelley, was built on packs of lies. Among other things, there is a noticeable drop in the quality of British journalism since 9/11.

When you have unimpeachable proof from paid sources, back them up with photos from high altitude spy satellites, the ones that can read your number plates as clearly as those witnesses in Saudi Arabia recently. After the war on Iraq was planned, it’s lenses popped out upon sensing Scud missile stores in Iraq. When the UN team was rushed there, they tuned out to be “half-cylindrical sheds typically used to house poultry in Iraq.” That was Saddam’s brilliant maskirovka. The UN team printed “Ballistic Chicken Farm Inspection Team” on 20 gray T-shirts to mark its success. (LA Times, June 17)

Ballistic chickens remind you of someone on 9/11, don’t they? The military jets couldn’t outperform him that day. They couldn’t be scrambled fast enough after the first crash due to poor communications. (AP, June 17) Those kamikaze Boeings traveled much faster.

They all happened in a crucial time frame by coincidence, and statistically, any mathematician will tell you this is quite a feat, even without factoring in the combined failure of at least four intelligence agencies. America’s declared $US40 billion budget for its intelligence systems proved no help in recruiting a single mole who could burrow close enough into Hussein's inner circle.

The two Georges -- Tenet and Bush -– are sticking to their guns over the WMD, something casually described as being used for “bureaucratic reasons” by Wolfowitz only 13 months earlier. You’d expect more from Tenet. As for Bush, you won’t notice any difference if he ever gets Alzheimer’s.

More blood will be spilt. The Senate voted overwhelmingly two days back to add 20,000 troops to an Army overstretched by the war in Iraq and other “commitments around the world.” The operative words are “other commitments around the world.” The 4 percent increase in the size of the army amounts to $1.7 billion (per year presumably). Army Chief of Staff Gen Peter J. Schoomaker counters it “costs the Army $3.6 billion a year to keep 10,000 soldiers trained and equipped.” (AP, June 17)

An under funded and under trained army means canon fodder. Dead soldiers translate to livewire propaganda in the midst of homeland “terror”. There will no Vietnam War syndrome with terror on your doorsteps.

For those who support the war in Iraq, here is what the same report said: “On another amendment, Senate Republicans defeated a proposal by Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) to roll back some of President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans to help pay for the Iraq war.” (AP, June 17)

It had the full backing of ex-POW John McCain, the Republican once sought by John Kerry as his running mate.

Who is paying for this war? Families of dead soldiers? Check the Fortune 500 list of the wealthiest Americans and find the names of billionaires who had a son or daughter killed by an enemy bullet in Iraq. The only wealthy person I can think of was Pat Tillman, who was killed by friendly fire. Many eulogized him. How is John Ashcroft’s son, Andy, serving in Iraq when soldiers are having their tours of duty extended?

There will be no shortage of soldiers. New data indicates a rise in unemployment rates for Blacks and Hispanics. (USA Today, June 17).

Along with oil uncertainties, the surge in producer prices has again stoked inflation anxieties. May’s producer price index (PPI) jumped to 0.8 per cent. If inflation picks up quickly, so will the Fed’s interest rates, faster than Alan Greenspan’s promise of a “measured pace.” That’s real trouble for Bush and Co.

OPEC is lobbying outsiders such as Mexico to boost production. Spare production capacity is limited and the tolerance level for future supply disruptions is approaching zero. The militants know this very well and they know how to create a “butterfly effect” right up to Beijing.

China, the world’s second largest oil importer, has just 20 days of reserve oil compared to Japan’s six months.

Yet the Anglo-American alliance, dependent on Saudi oil, and profiting from arms sales, continue to abet Riyadh’s criminality, to the extent that the Bush administration “blacked out 28 pages of a Congressional report that documented Saudi government ties with the 9/11 hijackers.” (Guardian, June 14, 2004).

Things are heating up on other fronts as well. Shell Chairman Ron Oxburgh recently told the Guardian that he “was very worried for the planet.”

There is bad news from a 3,000m (about 10,000ft) ice core from Antarctica, which reveals the Earth's climate history. “Carbon dioxide levels are the highest” they've been for the last “440,000 years.”

You don’t need a 3km slab of ice to sound the alarm. Kuala Lumpur has been cooking unusually for the past one year and I doubt my brand new air conditioner will last 440 days.

Oxburgh’s is subtly trying to blame India and China. These two countries have a large stock of untapped coal, and without oil, they will overtake the USA as the globe’s number one pollutants.

They are now at the mercy of others. Where are the star Luddites who yelped at those dam projects in India? It’s one thing to write arty smut from the comfort of one’s cooled home, powered by a diesel generator if necessary; yet another when you are having surgery during a prolonged power outage. During my time there, I knew many Indian students, who lucubrated often in candlelight before exams. They understand national vulnerabilities.

If there is no oil, coal will be used and the shift will not be easy.

Oxburgh forgot to mention the oil industry’s preparedness for this day. Every successful corporation -- and these are huge empires –- makes profits from predicting, or creating future trends. They rely on very precise data to hedge. Alternative fuel could be here already. Before that, war machines will devour our oil. You can’t replace an F16’s engine overnight, as they need optimum performance, unless that too has panned out as well.

We are going to sweat for a while. ‘Tis time I got another air conditioner!

Mathew Maavak publishes an eclectic online journal called the Panoptic World ( He is a journalist based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (C) Copyright 2004  Mathew Maavak.


1) In Forsyth’s novel, Margaret Thatcher thus displayed her steely resolve to George Bush Sr, who, was left wondering which was more intimidating - her handbag or a Saddam Hussein who had just invaded Kuwait. (Quote is slightly paraphrased)

2) Jim Lobe, Iraq: Credibility at Breaking Point, (Asia Times, June 18)

Other Articles by Matthew Maavak

* Mission Creep: A Force for Global Stability