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Sludge Report #133 - Powell’s Red Herring Mission

In this edition: Powell’s Red Herring Peace Mission - An Appropriate Response To Deceptive Bullying

NOTE: Authors of this report will be anonymous and wide ranging, and occasionally finely balanced. Indeed you are invited to contribute: The format is as a reporters notebook. It will be published as and when material is available. C.D. Sludge can be contacted at The Sludge Report is available as a free email service..Click HERE - to subscribe...

Sludge Report #133

Powell’s Red Herring Peace Mission

US Secretary of State Colin Powell, on returning to the United States from his peace mission to the Holy Land, should immediately resign.

Not because his mission was a failure - in fact considerable progress might have been made if that had been the intention of the rest of his administration. And Powell himself did an admirable job of lining up all his ducks in Madrid before confronting Sharon on his home territory.

Rather Colin Powell, formerly the only member of the Bush Administration with any credibility, ought to resign because he has been duped by his colleagues and used as a smokescreen.

Most probably former general Colin Powell, and certainly the rest of us in the world believed that when his peace mission was dispatched, a u-turn in US policy had taken place.

After months of indifference to the rising tide of human misery in the Occupied Territories, it appeared that the increasing pace of Israeli PM Ariel Sharon’s murderous campaign against the Palestinian Authority had finally raised a few qualms in the White House.

But now we know the truth.

Colin Powell’s peace mission, and his boss’s sudden change of heart on Israeli aggression, was nothing more than a smokescreen.

The real action was down in Venezuela, where it now appears US interests were engaged in engineering a coup against the elected President Hugo Chavez.

The fact that Chavez is now back in the Presidential palace is news that over here in Britain - where Sludge is briefly on tour - makes only a few inside column centimetres in most local papers.

Meanwhile on the opinion pages hundreds of column inches are being devoted to the debate over Powell’s success/failure in his peace mission. An error in news judgement is being made here.

Why, it is being asked increasingly insistently in these opinion pieces, was Powell left effectively out to dry by his administration back in Washington?

Why when Powell was on a mission which required nothing if not a co-ordinated and unified resolve from the White House, was the Deputy Defence Secretary promising pro-Israel protestors that the US Government “stands with you”.

And why, today, with Powell’s mission in tatters, is the President once again back using his old “axis of evil” terminology to describe the war on terror?

The answer is obvious if you care to look a bit more closely and make the obvious deduction. Today, the Daily Telegraph reports why, in just seven paragraphs on page 13.

In an attempt to cover up its complicity in the attempted Venezuelan coup The State Department has now admitted that it offered some advice to the coup leaders. This advice, according to a spokesman, was that the new leadership should not dissolve Parliament, at risk of arousing a backlash.

The State Department proffered this gem of wisdom in the hope that it might back up claims that they were not involved in the coup, even though it is apparent that they were both forewarned and present during its very commission.

President Hugo Chavez himself has claimed that what appeared to be an American plane was present during his imprisonment on the Island of Orchilla.

But the fact that the White House was so quick to issue a statement in the wake of the coup against Chavez saying firstly that Chavez basically had it coming, and secondly welcoming a “restoration of democracy” in Venezeula rather gives the game away.

Students of South American history will of course be well aware that engineering military coups in South America has been a past-time of numerous US Administrations for decades.

And now that Chavez is back in power there is more than enough egg flying around to make several thousand omelettes, even if the Telegraph and its ilk remain determined to bury such news deep inside their papers.

This confluence of events raises several startling questions. Firstly there is the question of Powell’s role.

Was the US’s chief diplomat aware of the imminent coup in Venezeula when he left for his round of shuttle diplomacy in the Holy Land?

If he was then he looks as if he is a complete hypocrite.

And if he was not aware, then it looks as if he is being kept in the dark in critical areas of foreign policy by his colleagues.

In either case he should resign as he has now lost all credibility as an international diplomat.

The timing of his trip to the Middle East ultimately begs the question was Powell’s trip – and George Bush’s brief bout of even-handedness over the Middle East crisis - simply a smokescreen?

Or perhaps Powell’s colleagues wanted to get him out of the way so they could get up to their dirty little games without him getting in the way?


An Appropriate Response To Deceptive Bullying

In the wake of Powell’s failed peace mission to the Holy Land, and the US Administration’s simultaneous failed attempt to undermine the democratic system in their close neighbour Venezeula, C.D. Sludge has a few views on what would now be an appropriate international response to the increasing levels of US diplomatic clubfootedness.

It is now more than apparent that the US Administration is listening to no one, not even its own chief diplomat, and that it has few, if any, clues on how any reasonable State ought to behave in the 21st century.

Thus it is time for this administration to be taught a lesson.

Not by Al-Qaida or its terrorists, but by the international community in general, and a few key oil exporting nations in particular.

As has often been remarked upon in this column and elsewhere the wars in Afghanistan and Colombia, the would be war in Iraq and even the coup in Venezuela are all about one thing, oil.

US foreign policy has become fixated on oil. And it is very easy to understand why. The US presently imports 60% of its oil consumption. By the year 2020 is forecast to import 80% of its annual consumption requirements.

Meanwhile global reserves of oil are running out, the much vaunted US Strategic Reserve is only enough for a few months at the most, and even opening up the Arctic Wildlife Refuge will make not a jot of difference.

In this context US strategic policy makers appear to believe it is vital for the US to have control over the remaining sources of oil on the planet – all of them - which just happen to be Iraq, Colombia, Venezuela and the Central Asian Republics. Fortunately they already have the other major one Saudi Arabia largely in their pocket, even if they are running a risk of losing their grip their.

But the US Administration’s obsession, like that of all bullies, identifies also its weakness and vulnerability.

The passion to control oil is due to fears of shortages. And it would take probably only a few weeks of severe oil price crisis for the US public to become far more enlightened about the real dangers of George Bush and his administration’s foreign policy.

And this is therefore, in Sludge’s view, where the solution lies. So far unfortunately only Saddam Hussein is singing from the correct hymnbook.

Afterall, why should Iraq sell half its oil to the US at the same time that the US is busy bombing it and organising an invasion? Saddam’s current export strike has hit the nail on the head.

Similarly why should Venezuela (the current OPEC President) provide an ongoing supply to the US, without even receiving an apology and disclosure relating to US involvement in the recent coup?

The answer to both these questions at present is simple.

Venezuela and Iraq tend to comply with US demands because, like everyone else on the planet, they fear the US intensely.

But that said, open confrontation with a bully like the US, especially for a far smaller nation, is neither sensible nor necessary, as Iraq has discovered.

All that is necessary is for production of oil to fall. The price will quickly spike and the discussion on foreign policy can then be moved to where it belongs. Fortunately this can be accomplished in many ways other than an active supply strike by disgruntled exporters.

If, for example, a few key exporting facilities in South America were to be attacked by rebels – perhaps even right wing rebels sympathetic with the failed coup - and disabled for a few weeks, would it then be seen internationally to be Venezeula’s fault that it could not meet all its supply contracts to US refineries?

Anti©opyright Sludge 2002

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