Read This or George W. Bush Will Be President the Rest of Your Life

The Anti-Empire Report

Separation of oil and state

On several occasions I’ve been presented with the argument that contrary to widespread opinion in the anti-war movement and on the left, oil was not really a factor in the the United States invasion and occupation of Iraq. The argument’s key, perhaps sole, point is that the oil companies did not push for the war.

Responding to only this particular point: firstly, the executives of multinational corporations are not in the habit of making public statements concerning vital issues of American foreign policy, either for or against. And we don’t know what the oil company executives said in private to high Washington officials, although we do know that such executives have a lot more access to such officials than you or I, like at Cheney’s secret gatherings. More importantly, we have to distinguish between oil as a fuel and oil as a political weapon.

A reading of the policy papers issued by the neo-conservatives since the demise of the Soviet Union makes it clear that these people will not tolerate any other country or group of countries challenging the global hegemony of the world’s only superpower. A sample — In 1992 they wrote: “We must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”1 And in 2002, in the White House “National Security Strategy” paper: “Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States. … America will act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed. … We must deter and defend against the threat before it is unleashed. … We cannot let our enemies strike first. … To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.”

As the world has been learning in great sorrow, the neo-conservative world-dominators are not just (policy) paper tigers.

Japan and the European Union easily fall into the categories of potential competitors or potential adversaries, economically speaking. They both are crucially dependent upon oil imports. To one extent or another so is most of the world. The Bush administration doesn’t need the approval of the oil companies to pursue its grandiose agenda of world domination, using the vast Iraqi oil reserves as one more of its weapons.

For those who would like to believe that there’s a limit to the neo-cons’ imperial arrogance, that even the likes of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton, Wolfowitz, Rice, and the rest of the gang would never treat Europe as anything like an enemy, I suggest a look at a recent article by the former US ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, which appeared in the Financial Times of London. In it, the Cheney intimate and current senior fellow at the neo-con citadel, American Enterprise Institute, berates British prime minister Gordon Brown for implying that the UK could have a “special relationship” with both the United States and the European Union (which Bolton refers to as “the European porridge”). Like a hurt lover, Bolton exclaims that Britain has been brought to “a clear decision point. … What London needs to know is that its answer will have consequences.” The article is entitled: “Britain Cannot Have Two Best Friends”.

Bolton goes on to ask: “Why does a ‘union’ with a common foreign and security policy, and with the prospect of a real ‘foreign minister’ have two permanent seats on the UN Security Council and often as many as three non-permanent seats out of a total of 15 council members? France and Britain may not relish the prospect of giving up their unique status, but what is it that makes them different — as members of the ‘Union’ — from Luxembourg or Malta? One Union, one seat. Mr Brown cannot have it both ways (nor will President Nicolas Sarkozy).”

The Empire has not yet made Europe an ODE (Officially Designated Enemy) like Iran, but, Bolton declares, “If Mr Bush decides that the only way to stop Iran is to use military force, where will Mr Brown come down? Supporting the US or allowing Iran to goose-step towards nuclear weapons?”2

Washington’s exquisite imperial mentality, its stated determination to “act against such emerging threats before they are fully formed”, sees “potential adversaries” in China and Russia as well of course. The United States — with hypocrisy breathtaking even for the Bush administration — regularly castigates China for its expanding military budget; and tries to surround Russia with military bases, missile shields, and countries with ties to Washington and NATO.

Moreover, the United States has been competing with Russia for the vast oil and gas reserves of the land-locked Caspian Sea area since the 1990s. The building and protection of pipelines in Afghanistan was in all likelihood a major factor in the US invasion and occupation of that country. And in this case we know that the American oil company UNOCAL met with Taliban officials in Texas and in Afghanistan before 9-11 to discuss the pipelines.3

A license to lie that never expires

I touched upon this a year ago, but our much-esteemed leader and his equally-esteemed acolytes continue to use the same argument in order to deflect attention from their deformed child, the War On Terror — the argument being that since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, US counterterrorism policy has worked. How do they know? Because there haven’t been any terrorist attacks in the United States in the six years since that infamous day.

Right, but there weren’t any terrorist attacks in the United States in the six years before Sept. 11, 2001 either, the last one being the Oklahoma City bombing of April 19, 1995, with no known connection to al Qaeda. The absence of terrorist attacks in the US appears to be the norm, with or without a War on Terror.

More significantly, in the six years since 9-11 the United States has been the target of terrorist attacks on scores of occasions, not even counting anything in Iraq or Afghanistan — attacks on military, diplomatic, civilian, Christian, and other targets associated with the United States, in the Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific, more than a dozen times in Pakistan alone. The attacks include the October 2002 bombings of two nightclubs in Bali, Indonesia, which killed more than 200 people, almost all of them Americans and citizens of their Australian and British war allies; the following year brought the heavy bombing of the US-managed Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, the site of diplomatic receptions and 4th of July celebrations held by the American Embassy; and other horrendous attacks in more recent years on US allies in Madrid and London because of the war.

When the Bush administration argues that the absence of terrorist attacks in the US since 9-11 means that its war on terrorism has created a safer world for Americans … why do I doubt this?

The past is unpredictable

As the call for withdrawal of American forces from Iraq grows louder, those who support the war are rewriting history to paint a scary picture of what happened in Vietnam after the United States military left in March 1973.

They speak of invasions by the North Vietnamese communists, but fail to point out that a two-decades-long civil war had simply continued after the Americans left, minus a good deal of the horror which US bombs and chemical weapons had been causing.

They speak of the “bloodbath” that followed the American withdrawal, a term that implies killing of large numbers of civilians who didn’t support the communists. But this never happened. If it had taken place the anti-communists in the United States who supported the war in Vietnam would have been more than happy to publicize a “commie bloodbath”. It would have made big headlines all over the world. The fact that you can’t find anything of the sort is indicative of the fact that nothing like a bloodbath took place. It would be difficult to otherwise disprove this negative.

“Some 600,000 Vietnamese drowned in the South China Sea attempting to escape.”4 Has anyone not confined to a right-wing happy farm ever heard of this before?

They mix Vietnam and Cambodia together in the same thought, leaving the impression that the horrors of Pol Pot included Vietnam. This is the conservative National Review Online: “Six weeks later, the last Americans lifted off in helicopters from the roof of the U.S. embassy in Saigon, leaving hundreds of panicked South Vietnamese immediately behind and an entire region to the mercy of the communists. The scene was similar in Phnom Penh [Cambodia]. The torture and murder spree that followed left millions of corpses.”5

And here’s dear old Fox News, July 26, reporters Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes, with their guest, actor Jon Voight. Voight says “Right now, we’re having a lot of people who don’t know a whole lot of things crying for us pulling out of Iraq. This — there was a bloodbath when we pulled out of Vietnam, 2.5 million people in Cambodia and Vietnam — South Vietnam were slaughtered.”

Alan Colmes’ response, in its entirety: “Yes, sir.” Hannity said nothing. The many devoted listeners of Fox News could only nod their heads sagely.

In actuality, instead of a bloodbath of those who had collaborated with the enemy, the Vietnamese sent them to “re-education” camps, a more civilized treatment than in post-World War Two Europe where many of those who had collaborated with the Germans were publicly paraded, shaven bald, humiliated in other ways, and/or hanged from the nearest tree. But some conservatives today would have you believe that the Vietnamese camps were virtually little Auschwitzes.6

Has the conservative view of Vietnam post-US withdrawal already hardened into historical concrete? “The agreed-upon historical record”, to use Gore Vidal’s term?

The way of all flesh, the way of all wars

In 1967 and ’68 I was writing a column of a type very similar to this report, only it wasn’t online of course; it was for the Washington Free Press, part of the so-called “underground press”. In looking over those old columns recently I found three items whose relevance has not been dimmed by time at all:

(1) [From the Washington Post, 1968]: “It has never been clearer that the Marines are fighting for their own pride, from their own fear and for their buddies who have already died. No American in Hue is fighting for Vietnam, for the Vietnamese, or against Communism.”7.
[Make the obvious substitutions and we have: No American in Baghdad is fighting for Iraq, for the Iraqi people, or against terrorism. And how many of today’s warriors can look around at what is happening in Iraq and convince themselves that they’re fighting for something called freedom and democracy?]

(2) Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, was the man most responsible for “giving, controlling and managing the war news from Vietnam”. One day in July 1965, Sylvester told American journalists that they had a patriotic duty to disseminate only information that made the United States look good. When one of the newsmen exclaimed: “Surely, Arthur, you don’t expect the American press to be handmaidens of government.” Sylvester replied, “That’s exactly what I expect,” adding: “Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? — stupid.” And when a correspondent for a New York paper began a question, he was interrupted by Sylvester who said: “Aw, come on. What does someone in New York care about the war in Vietnam?”8

(3) The US recently completed an operation in the III Corps area of South Vietnam called “Resolved to Win”. Now, a new operation is being planned for the same area. This one is called “Complete Victory”, which should give you an idea of how successful “Resolved to Win” was. I expect that the only operation standing a chance of success will be the one called “Total Withdrawal.”

Libertarians: an eccentric blend of anarchy and runaway capitalism

What is it about libertarians? Their philosophy, in theory and in practice, seems to amount to little more than: “If the government is doing it, it’s oppressive and we’re against it.” Corporations, however, tend to get free passes. Perhaps the most prominent libertarian today is Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who ran as the Libertarian Party’s candidate for president in 1988 and is running now for the same office as a Republican. He’s against the war in Iraq, in no uncertain terms, but if the war were officially being fought by, for, and in the name of a consortium of Lockheed Martin, Halliburton, Bechtel, and some other giant American corporations, would he have the same attitude? And one could of course argue that the war is indeed being fought for such a consortium. So is it simply the idea or the image of “a government operation” that bothers him and other libertarians?

Paul recently said: “The government is too bureaucratic, it spends too much money, they waste the money.”9

Does the man think that corporations are not bureaucratic? Do libertarians think that any large institution is not overbearingly bureaucratic? Is it not the nature of the beast? Who amongst us has not had the frustrating experience with a corporation trying to correct an erroneous billing or trying to get a faulty product repaired or replaced? Can not a case be made that corporations spend too much (of our) money? What do libertarians think of the exceedingly obscene salaries paid to corporate executives? Or of two dozen varieties of corporate theft and corruption? Did someone mention Enron?

Ron Paul and other libertarians are against social security. Do they believe that it’s better for elderly people to live in a homeless shelter than to be dependent on government “handouts”? That’s exactly what it would come down to with many senior citizens if not for their social security. Most libertarians I’m sure are not racists, but Paul certainly sounds like one. Here are a couple of comments from his newsletter:

“Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty and the end of welfare and affirmative action.”

“Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the ‘criminal justice system,’ I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal.”10

Author Ellen Willis has written that “the fundamental fallacy of right libertarianism is that the state is the only source of coercive power.” They don’t recognize “that the corporations that control most economic resources, and therefore most people’s access to the necessities of life, have far more power than government to dictate our behavior and the day-to-day terms of our existence.”11

  1. “Defense Planning Guidance for the Fiscal Years 1994-1999″, New York Times, March 8, 1992, p.14, emphasis added. []
  2. Financial Times (London), August 2, 2007. []
  3. BBC News, December 4, 1997, “Taleban in Texas for talks on gas pipeline.” []
  4. Joseph Farah, editor of the conservative WorldNetDaily, August 6, 2007. []
  5. Mona Charen, National Review Online, July 20, 2007. []
  6. Search Google News: for more examples. []
  7. Washington Post, February 20, 1968, article by Lee Lescaze []
  8. Congressional Record (House of Representatives), May 12, 1966, pp. 9977-78, reprint of an article by Morley Safer of CBS News. []
  9. National Public Radio, Morning Edition, August 9, 2007. []
  10. Atlanta Progressive News, June 3, 2007. As far as I can determine, Paul does not deny that these remarks, and others equally racist, appeared in his newsletter, but he claims that a staff member of his is the author of those remarks. []
  11. Ellen Willis, Dissent magazine, Fall 1997. []
William Blum is the author of: Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2, Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire. He can be reached at: bblum6@aol.com. Read other articles by William, or visit William's website.

17 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Linda Ponder said on August 13th, 2007 at 7:08am #

    Ron Paul is NOT a friend of corporations supported by government contracts, such as Halliburton and the others you mentioned, and has said so publicly. He would end special government favors (our tax dollars) to businesses if he were elected president. He is supportive of businesses that have succeeded without government interference and gives Bill Gates and Microsoft as an example. How can we despise someone who has given us the very medium of expression we are using now, and without government help?

    Ron Paul would never abruptly end Social Security and Medicare. He is fully aware that a whole generation of Americans has been encouraged to depend on government (again, our tax dollars) for their support and a transition period would be required. This is a serious issue that requires more than a passing statement, but we must realize that these large entitlement programs are crippling our economy and the future of our children. In 1971-72, I was able to support myself and my husband on $400 a month and still save money. My children today could not get by on that because of inflation, and that is a direct result of government printing money to support all of the entitlement programs it has passed. How can we be charitable when we have no money to be charitable with? And yes, I firmly believe charity would flourish even more than it does now if the government would stop taxing us to the hilt!

    You should not be afraid that people who are unable to support themselves, through no fault of their own, would be cruelly forgotten should government recede from our lives. Ron Paul, when he was working as a physician, never accepted Medicare, but instead provided his services free of charge to those patients! All of your concerns about Ron Paul’s political beliefs can be addressed at his website, RonPaul2008.com.

  2. Lloyd said on August 13th, 2007 at 7:24am #

    Thank you William Blum. Especially for the first four sections, which are such direct hits I couldn’t add a word.

    Regarding Libertarians and corporations and your characterization of the latter as being in a state of “runaway capitalism,” I give you another appellation I first heard a couple of months ago from a college roomate from the 1960’s whom I’ve never considered radical: “capitalism on steroids.”

  3. Jonathan said on August 13th, 2007 at 9:19am #

    I attended a Ron Paul meetup group last night, where there was equal castigation of big government and big corporations- especially regarding the collusion of the two. The group had an organic farmer, several independent business owners, students, musicians, and such- hardly ready wonks for corporate capitalism. Instead, we rally towards Ron Paul because he would not engage in wars for political/economic hegemony, opposes things like NAFTA, supports sound money, wants to end corporate welfare, and in general believes in sound local economies, more so than any other Presidential candidate I know of. He is certainly libertarian in many of his views, but he is not a strict doctrinare libertarian, which is fine with me. And as far as supporting a war fought on behalf of corporate interests- some of us genuinely believe in peace, and do not simply oppose a war because we’re not running it or it’s not in our ideological corner. Ron Paul would not support such a war- as should be clear from his dissent with the present one!- and would probably be the most vocal dissenter from it.

    More disturbing to me than the excesses of libertarians in their support of raw capitalism is the support given by so many on the Left to the State and its sweeping coercive powers. How is that one can speak ambivently about a Communist state, for example, as is still not uncommon in America? The author of this article seemingly belittles the re-education camps run by the Communist state in Vietnam; while certainly they were not Auschwitz, I can confidently state the author would not have enjoyed a visit. I’ve a good friend in mainland China who was subjected to a re-education camp for years because he defended a friend from charges of rightism; I can assure you it was not a good or productive experience for him. I might also add that having lived for a couple months in the left-authoritarian (it’s hardly Communist anymore) society of China, I’m pretty sure I’d prefer a society where corporations ran things than one where the State was supreme dictator of my life. Neither are good, but the State is a far more lethal and totalitizing entity. If you don’t believe me, I suggest you either travel about a bit or read a little twentieth-century history. Both rightism and leftism have been the vehicles of evil and violence; leftism has left arguably the highest body-count. Why leftists- many of whom I think are very sincere, well-intentioned people who earnestly desire equality, social justice, and peace- continue to put so much trust in the almighty-State is beyond me. Slaughtering civilians and arresting dissidents isn’t made any more noble or moral by being draped in the colours of a revolution for social justice.

  4. Deadbeat said on August 13th, 2007 at 10:06am #

    To Ms. Ponder,

    Ron Paul is a supporter of “libertarian” capitalism. Unfortunately you haven’t applied any thought to the problems inherent in capitalism to understand why Paul’s advocacy is extremely problematic. Most likely you never studied Marx. I know “Marx” that is a “dirty” word to so-called “Libertarians”

  5. hp said on August 13th, 2007 at 11:35am #

    “The” defining attribute of Ron Paul is glaring, vivid and verboten to even mention, let alone discuss.
    This is the fact that Ron Paul isn’t going to rush off to Tel Aviv to declare his undying allegiance to our “special friend,” Israel. ALL other candidates will..
    This alone will do more to solve the problems of the ME than all the rest of the incredibly lame attempts of the last 60 years of the so-called “mid-east peace process. Practically everyone in the world laughs at the abject failure this process is and has been. Why? Because it is not real. We know this too.

  6. CH said on August 13th, 2007 at 11:48am #

    SS has been one of the most cost-efficient government programs ever. Better candidates for government programs that are crippling the economy and jeopardizing our children’s future are corporate welfare and our overseas military ventures.

  7. onecansay said on August 13th, 2007 at 12:30pm #

    With the article as is, and the comments as is, some ponder the history untold to many a young, old American Citizen. Product of the environment, or not aware of the production?
    HIStory repeats, only because we have not learned the capacity of listening.

  8. Max Fields said on August 13th, 2007 at 12:35pm #

    Linda,
    Gates and Microsoft have definitely profited from US hegemony. Maybe Paul thinks the Gates’ charity is how things should work – they don’t and frankly, I question the real value the world gets from Gates’ give-back (well-intentioned though it seems). Problems (and Gates – who is a problem solver – understands this) like hunger and conflict are not resolved by re-distributing the “wealth” but rather by assuring the distribution and the means of sustainable resource allocation (including food and medicene). The West / US is the problem. We create the situtation and then folks like Gates and Jeff Sachs try to “fix” it. It is the very free-market thinking (both of them subscribe to) that produces the wretchedness. Pure pathology.

    Mr. Blum, I too have been confronted by the same (left?) argument that oil corporations did not ask for a war in the Middle East. I too have given a similar response as you have here. Chomsky makes this point quite clear. It is not simply about US having the oil – but US control over the oil distribution. In a word: US hegemony in the Middle East.

    As to Ron Paul. He is first and foremost a conservative libertarian. He seems to be true to those principles which are strongly anti-imperialistic. But he is a free-marketer – and again, it is principled unlike the corporatocracy that demands asymmetrical trade agreements.

    But he’s no progressive. And seems quite content to leave everything alone. My concern with his philosophical underpinnings is that it has a strong tendency toward extreme individualism to the exclusion of community. We are most one with our humanity when we are part of the creative juices of community. Hyper-individualism is what we have and it ultimately plays into the hands of the greedy elite oligarchy we have today. But conservative liberatians, like conservatives, are principled and some of those principles cross political persuasions and – imo – should not be rejected out of hand.

  9. rosemarie jackowski said on August 13th, 2007 at 3:23pm #

    Ron Paul might not be as bad as the rest of the bunch, but he IS a Capitalist. Making excuses for a Capitalist is like making excuses for an ax murderer because you like the shirt he is wearing.

  10. michael said on August 14th, 2007 at 8:24am #

    To Linda Ponder , As for the comment about “entitlement programs” the clever new phrase used to put down Social Security, some research is in order. For over 70 years Social Security is the ONLY government program to run consistently in the black. I believe in 2002 and 2003 a 1.8 billion dollar surplus in SS was amassed and promptly swiped by our precious Government for “other” inappropriate uses. If the damn surplus was left alone SS wouldn’t be in as much trouble as it supposedly is now. My wife and I live simply in a very small and comfortable home. We drive a fuel efficient vehicle and have planned our future so that we can retire comfortably on our SS. Take it away and trust me folks you’ll be paying for us to live in the camps out of your own pocket. The program was designed in a time you didn’t live in to solve a problem you couldn’t understand. Entitlement indeed, I payed into that program for 40 years. Entitled to something? Yes a small, fair piece of the surplus that has been looted by our elected officials who to a man have been irresponsible fiscally.

  11. Deadbeat said on August 14th, 2007 at 4:36pm #

    Michael, regarding SS you need to do a little more research.

    In 1982, in order to recover some revenue that was given away by the 1981 Kemp-Roth tax, Alan Greenspan came up with a phony claim that SS was going bankrupt and they needed to “rescue” SS by overcharging working people and then the government used the surplus as a way to recover some the money lost from the tax giveaway. Reagan liked the plan because he hoped it would eventually kill SS as well as shift the tax burden from the progressive income tax to the regressive SS tax. Eventually Alan Greenspan was “reward” as Fed Chairman. This was all reveal by David Stockman in the mid 1980’s.

    In 1994, Robert Reich, Bill Clinton’s labor secretary attack SS by claiming it was going bankrupt as well. What Reich’s Labor Dept did was to use low-ball economic assumption to make it “appear” that SS was going bankrupt. The media never did the investigation to expose the bogus and flawed assumption and ever since the media has been misleading the public about the condition of SS.

    Also there is STILL a SS surplus. The surplus didn’t disappear. The surplus is guaranteed by US Treasury Bonds. What is now going on is that the rich and ruling class WANT YOUR MONEY. They do not want to redeem the bonds and pay you your hard earn benefits. They are trying to convince the pubic to accept less or no benefit by falsely claiming that there is a problem with the system. Or some crappy ass demographic mantra about the number of aging baby boomers. All rhetorical bullshit. They want the SS money to gamble on the stock market so they can REALLY raid SS. The T-bonds are still there and have value and only an educated public can stop these scoundrels.

  12. Deadbeat said on August 14th, 2007 at 4:42pm #

    While I respect Blum, he is mistaken. There were representatives that made public statement prior to the invasion of Iraq. They expressed the “concerns” and wanted to do business with Iraq and in fact they fear the disruption that it would cause. Today there is a “global” economy afoot and executive would rather cut deals and maintain “stability” than have the disruption of war. Once again I refer to Petras who can provide the footnotes.

    Right now the U.S. is losing control of oil in Latin America and is clearly not engaged in a war for “control” of oil there.

  13. Deadbeat said on August 14th, 2007 at 4:44pm #

    Hi Ms. Jackowski,

    It’s nice to see your commentaries here on DV.

    Deadbeat

  14. Tony K said on August 16th, 2007 at 7:11am #

    I’ve never seen a more completely false or poorly presented smear of Ron Paul than the one by Mr. Blum. Oh, how desperate the anti-Constitution, pro-globalization, pro-Israel, and anally partisan Democrat shills have become…

  15. Mike McNiven said on August 30th, 2007 at 12:58am #

    Please see an Iranian scholar’s view who lives in exile and –based on his own words– cares about Peace and Social Justice in his homeland:

    http://www.losangeleschronicle.com/articles/viewArticle.asp?articleID=35885

  16. Lloyd Rowsey said on August 30th, 2007 at 5:32am #

    To rosemarie. Perfect. Making excuses for a Capitalist IS like excusing an ax murderer because of his nice shirt, and your analogy is better than my friend’s description of what we have these days — capitalism on steroids. The fit, the real-life undeniable truths — of the shirt, of the steroids — drive the phrases’ stakes straight into the heart! If I may say so. Presumably you wouldn’t object to my emailing your analogy to my friend; I’ll certainly copy and paste it.

    moc.liamtohnull@yeswordyoll

  17. Mike McNiven said on August 31st, 2007 at 3:48am #

    http://www.iran-bulletin.org/Attack%20on%20Iran/NO%20WAR%20ON%20IRAN.htm