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Oil Seen As Reason For U.S. Middle East Invasions

Oil Seen As Reason For U.S. Middle East Invasions

By Sherwood Ross

If you think President Bush’s invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are not about oil, read bestseller “The Sorrows of Empire” by Chalmers Johnson(Owl Books).

Oil “has been a constant motive” driving “the vast expansion of (U.S.) bases in the Persian Gulf” in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and UAR, Johnson says.

A “major consideration” for the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was to put in office a regime favoring the oil and gas pipelines the U.S. sought running from Turkmenistan south through Afghanistan to the Arabian Sea coast of Pakistan, Johnson says.

Because Afghanistan’s Taliban regime opposed the U.S.- backed venture, its overthrow became the secret reason behind “the war on terrorism,” he claims.

The proposed $2-billion, 918-mile natural gas pipeline and a $4-billion 1,005-mile oil pipeline was sought by Union Oil Co. of California. It “needed a government in Kabul it could deal with in obtaining transit rights.” Thus, Johnson writes, “A remarkable group of Washington insiders came together to promote the Unocal project”:

# Unocal hired former President Nixon’s national security adviser Henry Kissinger to negotiate with Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

# Kissinger worked with Turkmenistan’s top consultant, none other than his own former White House aide Gen. Alexander Haig, later President Regan’s Secretary of State.

# Amoco also sought to dip up some oil. It hired President Clinton’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, (who helped trigger the Afghan-Soviet war of the 1980s,) and also paid for the services of Robert Oakley, a former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan.

# Unocal also employed two well-connected Afghans to influence the Taliban in its favor, naturalized U.S. citizen Zalmay Khalilzad, and Hamid Karzai, both linked to former Afghan king Zahir Shah, then living in Pakistan. The pair later became U.S. Ambassador to Iraq and U.S.-backed President of Afghanistan, respectively.

# President Bush first appointed Khalilzad to his National Security Council(NSC) staff, under Condoleezza Rice, and on December 31, 2001, named him “special envoy” to Afghanistan, only nine days after the Karzai government took office in Kabul.

“It should be recalled,” Johnson writes, Khalilzad joined NSC on May 23, 2001, “just in time to work on an operational order for an attack on Afghanistan.”

Johnson writes “it would appear that the attacks of September 11 provided an opportunity for the United States to act unilaterally to remove the Taliban, without assistance from Russia, India, or any other country.”

The Taliban collapsed when the CIA spread $70-million in cash among the Tajik and Uzbek warlords and backed their attacks with massive air power.

“With astonishing speed,” Johnson notes, the Pentagon got the rights to Afghanistan air bases at Mazar-i-Sharif in the north, Bagram, near Kabul, and Kandahar in the South.

It also got the right from President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan to take over his Air Force bases at Jacobabad, Pasni, and Dalbandin. And it negotiated long-term leases with Kyrgyzstan for Manas International Airport, and with Uzbekistan for Khanabad.

President Bush claimed he invaded to bring democracy, yet the fact is he invites to the White House Central Asian dictators having “hopeless human rights records,” Johnson notes, one of “the worst” being President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan.

Johnson also tells how top U.S. officials backed a Chevron pipeline from Kazakhstan’s Tengiz oil field across the Caspian Sea to Baku, then to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiisk. Investors, though, feared possible sabotage in Chechnya and Dagestan. Its backers, Johnson says, “reads like a who’s who of Republican oil politicians.”

# Condoleezza Rice, then a Stanford University professor and a Chevron board member on a $35,000 annual retainer, was Chevron’s chief adviser.

# VP Dick Cheney, earlier President Bush Sr.’s defense secretary, helped broker the deal in between political offices as a member of Kazakhstan’s Oil Advisory Board.

# James A. Baker III, ex-Secretary of State, and member of the U.S.-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce advisory council (as were Cheney and Richard Armitage), had his hand in.

# Brent Scowcroft, Rice’s boss when he was Bush Sr.’s national security adviser, said by Johnson to be a member of the Pennzoil board, was also an active investor.

Does Johnson’s book mean the horrors befalling Afghanistan and Iraq stem from an oil grab? Is it possible the above fraternity of high-priced oil company consultants/U.S. officials, once their man entered the White House, unleashed wars of aggression for regime change to build pipelines for their favorite oil firms? Maybe this is just a conspiracy theory. But if Kissinger, Brzezinski, Cheney, Rice, Armitage, Scowcroft, Baker, Haig, Oakley, Karzai, and Khalilzad develop a sudden interest in harvesting Brazil nuts, somebody had better warn President Lula Da Silva!


(Sherwood Ross is an American reporter. Reach him at sherwoodr1 @

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