AMERICAN INTERVENTION IN THE MIDDLE EAST THROUGH THE 1990s
ISLAMIC HATRED TOWARDS THE UNITED STATES
HISTORY OF ISLAMIC RIVALRY WITH CHRISTIANITY
REASONS FOR ISLAMIC HATRED TOWARDS THE UNITED STATES
THE RISE OF IRAQ
IRAQI RELATIONS WITH THE SOVIET UNION
KUWAIT: THE MULTINATIONAL CORPORATE STATE
HUSSEIN'S REASONS FOR INVADING KUWAIT
IRAQGATE AND THE IRAN-IRAQ WAR
BUSH DECIDES TO GO TO WAR
BUSH BUYS A COALITION
THE 'TURKEY SHOOT'
GOD TAKES THE SIDE OF THE UNITED STATES
THE AFTERMATH OF THE GULF WAR
AMERICAN CORPORATIONS PROFIT FROM THE GULF WAR
THE "NEW WORLD ORDER"
THE CIA PLANS TO TOPPLE SADDAM
OPERATION DESERT FOX: DURING THE IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS
THE WAR CONTINUES THROUGHOUT THE 1990s
THE BATTLE FOR THE CASPIAN SEA PIPELINE
ISLAMIC HATRED TOWARDS THE UNITED STATES
THE ISLAMIC-WESTERN SCHISM. The split between the Islamic and Western worlds was a result of a clash between two civilizations over secularism and religion, as well as twentieth century imperialism. The origins of secularism dated back to early Christian teachings, eventually leading to the separation of church and state in the West. This was unlike Islam which had fewer internal differences, and thus there was no place for secularism. Christian struggles between Protestants and Catholics in Europe devastated that continent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, finally driving Christians to evolve a doctrine of "separation of church and state."
Islam and Christianity both had periods where its followers were inspired with a mood of hatred and violence. This hatred led to the rejection of Western civilization, since the West was evil and Westerners were enemies of God. God had enemies and needs human help in order to overthrow them. This was the dualism was inherent in Islam. Islam. There was a struggle between good and evil -- between God's commandments and Satan.
Mohammed was not only a prophet but also head of party, ruler, and soldier. Thus, Mohammed's struggle involved a state and its armed forces. The holy war is fighting for a monotheistic and sovereign God, head of the state of Islam. Thus, God commanded the army, and the enemy was God's enemy. The world was divided into the house of Islam, where Muslim law and faith prevailed -- and the house of unbelief or the house of war.
HISTORY OF ISLAMIC RIVALRY WITH CHRISTIANITY
Since the origin of Islam in the 600s, there has been a rivalry between these two world religions. For 1,000 years Islam advanced -- as Christendom retreated -- into North Africa and the European countries of Spain, Sicily, Portugal, and parts of France. Since the defeat of the Muslims at Vienna 1683, Islam has been on the defensive, leading to a rebellion against Western supremacy and hoping to restore Muslim greatness. During World War I the Ottoman Turks declared "jihad" or holy war against Britain. However, no caliphate has existed since 1924, so most Sunnis believe that there is no legitimate Muslim political authority.
Islam suffered major losses and setbacks due to Russian and European hegemony and internal subversion such as foreign rulers and invasions into the Muslim world. At the onset of World War II, oil production, and postwar developments -- Western commercial, financial, and industrial methods -- brought many Americans to the Middle East. Conversely, many Muslims came to study in America. Western ideas were not always accepted and frequently detrimental to the Middle East.
The West brought wealth to only a few Arabs. Most Muslims earned less than $1,000 per year. The West was responsible for poverty, and many believed that Western-style political institutions brought tyranny. In addition, the Muslims fought numerous Western nations, resulting in millions of casualties. Most Muslims preferred their old Islamic ways, and a large number of Muslims wanted to discard pagan ideas.
REASONS FOR ISLAMIC HATRED TOWARD THE UNITED STATES
Western influence got its first foothold in the Muslim world in the early twentieth century as a result of the Treaty of Versailles. First, the French and British staked out portions of the Middle East after guaranteeing themselves mandates at the end of World War I. After World War II, the United States challenged the imperialistic European powers and eventually became the leading force in the Muslim world.
Second, secularism became a neo-pagan force in the modern world. The Muslims attributed this to the West, the Jews, and particularly to the United States. Third, modernism and the entire process of change were inherently alien to the Muslim world. However, there was the acceptance of some Western political ideas such as representation, elections, constitutions, and elected assemblies.
The rekindling of Arab nationalism was partially due to the fact that Americans were concerned only about wealthy Arabs. In the eyes of many Muslims, the United States soon became the focus of hatred and anger.
The United States recolonized much of the Middle East, monopolizing Arab resources such as ARAMCO (Arabian-American Oil Company), formed by Esso or Exxon, Texaco, Standard Oil of California, and Mobil.
After the recognition of Israel in 1948, American political and military intervention led to more hostility from the Muslim nations. However, the Suez crisis in 1956 was an exception. The United States exerted influence to convince France, Britain, and Israel to withdraw its troops. Three years later President Eisenhower deployed 14,000 American troops to Lebanon. The United States then supported Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, as well as Israel's 1982 incursion into Lebanon. As a result, 263 American marines were killed in Beirut in 1983. Reagan "redeployed" the remaining troops onto the USS New Jersey which indiscriminately shelled the Shouf Mountains, resulting in thousands of civilian casualties. Israel continued to occupy the West Bank and Gaza in violation of United Nations Resolution 242. In addition, Israel continues to occupy ten percent of southern Lebanon. This led to the capture of American hostages by the Hezbollah as well as the escalation of Shi'ite terrorism.
As part of the Nixon Doctrine in the early 1970s, the United States looked the other way as Saudi Arabia and Iran raised oil prices from $18 to $38 per barrel. However, within a few years, oil prices were cut in half. The White House as well as American multinational corporations hoped that the Saudis and Iranians would purchase more military equipment. In addition, this would assure that these "twin pillars" remain loyal to the United States. As it turned out, the military machines financed by high oil prices were those of Ayatollah Khomeini and Saddam Hussein. In 1986, Vice President Bush actually went to Riyadh and begged the Saudis to reduce oil production in order to "stabilize" -- or increase -- the price of a barrel of oil.
THE RISE OF IRAQ
After World War I, Iraq and Kuwait became British mandates, and King Faisal was placed on the throne. However, the de facto head of state was the British High Commissioner who was ordered to negotiate a border settlement between these two nations as long as British interests were preserved. The High Commissioner responded by merely drawing "line in the sand" to separate Iraq from Kuwait, and a formal border agreement was never signed. Essentially the arbitrary border was determined by the general area where Iraqis settled and where Kuwaitis eventually migrated to from the Arabian peninsula in 1756 to settle in present day Kuwait City.
When the Iraqis refused to pay taxes to the British in the early 1920s, the Royal Air Force asked the Minister of War Winston Churchill permission to use chemical weapons, smart bombs, against "recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment." Churchill replied: "I do not understand squeamishness about the use of gas. ...I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes. ...It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gases; gases can be used which would cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected." (Gas bombs might be) "inconvenient" (to their targets). In 1920, the British Air Force used gas bombs with "excellent moral affect." Regular bombs were used when villagers did not pay their taxes, while Churchill urged that mustard bombs be used.
In the 1920s and 1930s, British occupation slowly gave rise to Arab nationalism. The founder of this pan-Arab movement was Satia al-Husri. By 1932, Britain abrogated its mandate by giving Iraq its independence and placed a puppet in power. In 1941, Iraq's first experiment in pan-Arabism was terminated when the British squashed a coup attempt. Then in the late 1940s, Arab nationalism became a major concern to the West, as numerous groups of pan-Arabists emerged in Syria and in Baghdad.
In 1952, the Iraqi Ba'athist Party with 100 members was officially formed as a branch of the Syrian party. Ba'athist philosophy centered around everything which was good: pan-Arabism and socialism. However, different elements within the party occasionally disagreed over the territorial extension of the state. The party was unified on everything considered to be infinitely bad: imperialism, foreign agents, and Zionism. By the 1950s pan-Arabism became strongly rooted in Islam. The source of Ba'athist philosophy was not in heaven but rather in the people.
Despite the rising nationalism and the forging of the Arab Socialist Resurrection Party (Ba'athist Party), Iraq still was at the mercy of European imperialists. British and French corporations owned 25 percent of the Iraq Petroleum Corporation, producing 0.7 million barrels per day. In 1958, the pro-British monarch, King Faisal, was overthrown and executed. In the same year the United Arab Republic, consisting of Egypt and Syria, was formed as a result of the driving force of the Ba'athists. The leader of the coup, General Abdul Karim Kassim, took control and reversed the country's policies, including the renunciation of the Baghdad Pact and the establishment of relations with the Soviets. To maintain its influence in the Middle East, President Eisenhower announced the next day that 10,000 troops were being deployed to Lebanon.
Saddam Hussein was a junior member of a Ba'athist failed in a coup attempt to overthrow Kassim. As a result, Hussein fled to Cairo where the Ba'athists continued as a party in exile. Like the Ba'athist Party, Nasser espoused pan-Arabism by opposing the Soviet Union and its involvement in the 1956 Suez War. While in Cairo, Hussein was deeply influenced by the nationalism of Nasser.
In February 1963, Iraqi leader Kassim was assassinated by Ba'athists, but in less than a year the military gained control in Iraq. The Ba'athist Party was unable to consolidate its power and was ousted by a coup in September 1963. This regime pursued a neutral East-West alignment policy and emphasized the strengthening of relations with its Arab nations, particularly with Egypt.
In June 1968, the short-lived regime of al-Bakr came to an end when he was purged from office. For a month one-third of the members of the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) were held hostage. It was estimated that 500 top ranking Ba'athists were executed by August 1, 1979. In July 1970, the provisional constitution, which included a national parliament, was adopted.
The Iraqis moved closer to the Soviet Union in 1972 when Hussein negotiated the Iraqi-Soviet Friendship Treaty. However, this did not leak to the West until 1979 by dissident Ba'athists who had been purged. This treaty included: reorganizing Iraq's internal police with recommendations of the KGB; training for Iraqi agents in KGB schools; and the exchange of intelligence information. The
Mukhabarat or Party Intelligence became the most powerful of the three Iraqi intelligence organizations. It was assigned to look over the other intelligence organizations and controls the military, government offices, and other mass organizations such as the youth, women, and labor.
In July, Bakr crushed a coup attempt and quickly executed 36 coup leaders. The 100-member Revolutionary Command Council was quickly formed, and Saddam Hussein emerged as its leader. In poor health, Bakr stepped down and threw his support to Hussein who was the second most powerful leader of the RCC.
Hussein was responsible for a number of social and economic programs to benefit Iraqis. In 1958, compulsory education laws were passed to eradicate illiteracy which was as high as 99.5 percent in 1919. By 1957, it was reduced to 81.7 percent. After eight years as head of state, Hussein was able to provide education for two million people, ages 15 to 45. Students passed through 21 month courses in education. Peasants were encouraged to return to farming by being given plots and subsidies. The average income of the worker was increased, and massive efforts were made to improve housing, education, and health care for the poor.
In the international arena, Hussein improved foreign relations with Saudi Arabia, the smaller Persian Gulf nations, and Jordan. After Camp David, Hussein hosted a series of Arab conferences in 1978 and 1979. An ardent nationalist, Hussein condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and South Yemen. To prevent a glut on the oil market, Hussein took a soft line on OPEC by seeking to "gradually" increase oil prices.
In 1981, Amnesty International reported 350 official executions in Iraq. The Committee Against Repression in Iraq cited 798 executions along with 264 killings of unknown persons and 428 unsentenced detainees and disappeared persons. In May 1980, Amnesty International reported that 15 Iraqis died of thallium poisoning. In April 1980, the human rights organization reported the killings and mutilation of 15 other Iraqis who had escaped and brought back into Iraq.
In 1990, Middle East Watch, headquartered in New York, claimed that Amnesty International's statistics were inflated. Amnesty put the figures of those tortured in Kuwait at 1,000, while the statistics of Middle East Watch were 600 tortures.
Hussein compiled his own long record of violations of international humanitarian law. Most were not denounced by the United States, since the White House favored Iraq in the long and incredibly bloody war it launched against Iran. Iraq bombed and rocketed the civilians in several Iranian cities in the eight year war. Hussein resorted to using poison gas intermittently from 1983 to 1988 against Iranian troops. In 1988, Iraqi planes attacked Kurdish villages with poison gas. By the end of the war, half a million Kurds were forcibly resettled by Iraq, while their villages were dynamited.
Yet, in this period, the United States was cultivating improved relations with Iraq, providing billions of dollars of loan guarantees through such agencies as the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) and the Export Bank. In 1989, the Bush Administration doubled the CCC program for Iraq to a level exceeding $1 billion for the year.
IRAQI RELATIONS WITH THE SOVIET UNION
Iraq broke off diplomatic and consular relations with the United States in June 1967 after the outbreak of the Arab-Israeli war. Iraq retained several diplomats in Washington in an "interests section" established as part of the Indian Embassy. The United States had the same option since the 1967 break but did not exercise it until July 1972 when two Foreign Service officers were sent to Baghdad to open a similar interest section.
Poorer American-Iraqi relations occurred at the United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel's raid against the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981. While Iraq prompted better relations with the United States, it loosened its ties considerably with the Soviet Union. The shift represented a reorientation of Baghdad's foreign policy away from a close alliance with the Eastern bloc which led to a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union in 1972.
Iraq's disaffection with Moscow originated in Hussein's perception that the Soviet Union attempted to infiltrate his armed forces. He subsequently cracked down on Iraqi communists, and this further widened the gap between Baghdad and Moscow. Iraq gravitated farther away from the Soviets when the Soviet Union refused to resupply Iraq with military equipment when the war with Iran broke out in September 1980. Further tension developed a month later when Moscow to signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation with Syria which was their primary Arab archrival.
KUWAIT: THE MULTINATIONAL CORPORATE STATE
Kuwait never experimented with democracy under the ruling Sabah family. Since its inception in the mid-1700s, Kuwait has operated as a multi-national corporate and despotic state. The Sabahs hold hundreds of billions of dollars in investments in the United States. In 1971, it was calculated that the Sabah family controlled over 90 percent of the nation's wealth abroad. These investments were controlled by 18 families. In 1990, Kuwaiti foreign investments totaled $41 billion and earned an annual interest of approximately $20 million.
The royal family owns a large chunk the banking firms of Citicorp, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, and Chase Manhatten. The Sabahs also own stock in General Electric, Texaco, IBM, and several defense contractor firms. They own approximately $50 billion in U.S. bonds and Treasury bills which could be liquidated at any time, and this would have a major adverse impact on the American economy.
A 1982, Congressional bill would have made it public knowledge to divulge the amounts of investments in the United States by foreigners. It was vetoed by Reagan presumably since it could have created national fervor over the large investments by foreigners in the United States.
The Sabah family owns Santa Fe International, an American corporation. The entire firm was purchased in 1981. The board of directors include: Gerald Ford; Brett Scowcraft, Ford's Chief of Staff and Bush's National Security adviser; and Carla Smith, wife of Ford's HUD director and currently on the Federal Trade Commission. Santa Fe International has 275 oil and gas leases on 2,000 acres of government land in the United States. Their total 1989 revenues were $450 million. George Shultz worked as a member of four cabinets and helped to open relations with the People's Republic of China. He was on the board of directors of Boeing and is a CEO of Bechtel.
In 1989, Kuwait was the eleventh largest foreign investor in the United States. The Sabahs' investments in corporations, where they owned over 10 percent of the stock, included:
Santa Fe International (oil exploration) - 100 percent - $2.5 billion
Georgetown Industries (conglomerate) - 92 percent - $850 million
Galleria Dallas and Houston (hotels, malls) - 30-70 percent - $500 million
Phoenician Resort (hotel) - 49 percent - $200 million
Atlanta Hilton (hotel) - 100 percent - $185 million
Great Western Resources (oil) - 29.8 percent - $100 million
Prior to the Gulf War in the 1980s, it was estimated that Kuwaiti investments in the United States totaled:
1980 - $ 335,000,000
1981 - 2,994,000,000
1982 - 3,567,000,000
1983 - 3,606,000,000
1984 - 4,333,000,000
1985 - 3,968,000,000
1986 - 3,771,000,000
1987 - 3,919,000,000
1988 - 3,852,000,000
1989 - 4,197,000,000
The issues of democracy or human rights in Kuwait have always been ignored. The Sabah family never allowed free elections except for its elite parliament. Those elections were suspended in the 1980s. According to Amnesty International, its human rights records were as dismal as those of Iraq and Syria.
While the United States assumed tremendous losses from the Iraqis, American corporations profited from sales to Kuwait. In 1989, United States companies sold Kuwait $975 million in goods and services, $933 million of which was oil related.
HUSSEIN'S REASONS FOR INVADING KUWAIT
In order to lessen its dependence on Soviet arms, Iraq tried to diversify its sources of armaments by turning to Western Europe and even to the United States. Perhaps a broader reason for the redirection of Iraq's foreign policy was Hussein's perception of the Middle East situation after the downfall of the Shah of Iran and Egypt's isolation in the Arab world which followed the Camp David accords and the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
After the overthrow of the Shah, Hussein hoped to fill the power vacuum and to assume Arab leadership. Since the creation of the Israeli state in 1948, the only other leadership in the Middle East was provided by Syria and also by Iran until the fall of the Shah in 1979. Iraq's credentials for Arab leadership were quite impressive: a rich oil-producing country with a solid industrial and agricultural base, a literate population, a well-equipped army and a pan-Arab ideology.
First, Hussein sought to link together the Arab world in this post-colonial era and to make Islam a common bond among the Arab countries. As charismatic leader of the Arab world, he hoped to replace Assad or Mubarak in the struggle for pan-Arabism. Hussein sought to control Middle Eastern resources in an area where 6 percent of the people control 50 percent of the wealth.
Second, no border settlement had ever been reached between Iraq and Kuwait. Iraq's southern border with Kuwait dates back to an agreement with Turkey in 1913 which was never ratified. Kuwait was the administrative subdistrict of the Iraqi province of Basra. Iraq was declared independent in 1932 and came under the control of the Hashemite family who also ruled Jordan. In 1961 Kuwait was given its independence. Iraqi troops invaded but left soon after British troops returned in 1961. Again in 1973, Iraqi troops crossed into Kuwait but again withdrew after occupying a Kuwaiti fort for a short time. Much of the disputed area included the Neutral Zone which consisted of 2,000 square miles was negotiated in 1969. Both nations agreed not to lay claim to this oil-rich area.
Third, Iraq had claims to Kuwaiti oil during the Iran-Iraq War. Iraq spent $150 billion and close to one million lives were lost. During the 1980-88 war, Kuwait had increased its oil production by one million barrels per day in violation of OPEC. Kuwait robbed Iraq of part of this pool of oil, thus depressing the price of oil by increased production.
Fourth, Kuwait drilled laterally into the Rumaila oilfield of which 90 percent is located within Iraqi territory. Prior to the invasion Kuwait had extracted approximately ten million barrels of oil from Rumaila. This was 0.5 percent of its total production of 2 million barrels per day and amounted to approximately $2.4 billion during the eight year war.
Fifth, Kuwait violated OPEC quotas. At the Baghdad summit on May 30, 1990, Iraq claimed that the Gulf countries in early 1990 produced more than the OPEC limits as agreed upon. Oil prices dropped as much as $7 per barrel, although the OPEC countries agreed upon $18 per barrel. Hussein claimed that each one dollar drop in a barrel amounted to a loss of $1 billion per year.
Sixth, Iraq sought access to the Persian Gulf. In 1973 Iraq pressed Kuwait to lease the uninhabited islands of Warba and Bubiyan. Iraq had only 15 miles of shoreline which it was unable to use because of marshy land. In addition, a northeast Kuwaiti Gulf estuary fell 10 miles short of Basra. Even Kuwait had subsidized the digging of a deep water port for Iraq.
Seventh, Kuwait claimed that it had floated a "loan" of $17 billion to Iraq in the eight year Iran-Iraq War. Hussein believed that in this process he had protected Kuwait from an Iranian invasion. In 1988, he proposed to meet with Kuwaitis. When they refused to negotiate, Hussein attempted to bring in Saudi Arabia as a mediator but negotiations collapsed.
Eighth, Kuwait refused to negotiate with Iraq On three occasions in the latter part of the Iran-Iraq War, Jordan's King Hussein attempted to resolve the oil dispute and $17 billion loan. Each time it failed. King Hussein was finally told: "It is in Iraq's interest to have this as part of their national debt." King Hussein then flew to Kuwait to ask the Sabahs to soften their position toward Iraq, but this mission ended in a failure. In May 1990 Saddam Hussein not only asked for the forgiveness of the $17 billion but for an additional $30 billion from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. At the July 1990 meeting, Kuwaiti foreign minister Sabah began making sarcastic remarks about the 100,000 Iraqis who were lined up at the Kuwaiti border. At the next day's meeting, the Kuwaitis offered Iraqi vice-president Ibrahim $500,000. Neither the border dispute nor the disputed oil field issue was discussed.
IRAQGATE AND THE IRAN-IRAQ WAR. Saddam Hussein had ample cause to purchase military weapons before going to war with Iran just a year after the Islamic revolution toppled America’s ally, the Shah, and ushered into power Ayatollah Khomeini. In 1980, war broke out with Iran. In this period of eight years, Hussein looked to the United States which was an ardent supporter of his in bid to unseat Iran as the power broker in the Middle East. Hundreds of villages were destroyed and one million lives were lost. The White House could not have been more pleased in supplying Iraq with a variety of weapons.
The primary cause of the Iran-Iraq War revolved around Ayatollah Khomeini’s quest for Baghdad’s rich oil reserves. From a legal point of view, Iraq and Iran had been disputing over Shatt-al-Arab which separated the two countries. In 1937, a treaty between Iraq and Iran gave Iraq full control of the Shatt. In 1969, Iran declared these 1937 provisions void and sent naval craft up the Shatt to restate its claims. All naval craft along the Shatt-al-Arab flew the Iraqi flag with navigation fees paid to Iraq. In 1975, Iraq abandoned its claims to the center of the waterway as part of the Algiers Agreement on March 6. In return for this shared sovereignty, the Shah terminated Iranian aid to the Kurdish rebels in the north. A few days before the 1980 war, Iraq abrogated this treaty, claiming full sovereignty. There were claims that Iraq violated the Algiers Agreement 187 times, with border skirmishes between 1975 and 1980.
REAGAN-BUSH APPROVE MILITARY SALES TO SADDAM. In the summer of 2002 -- two decades after the Iran-War -- it was disclosed that the Reagan-Bush administration provided Iraq with critical battle planning assistance. It came at a time when American intelligence agencies knew that Iran was in the process of overrunning Iraq and that Iraqi commanders might employ chemical weapons in waging the decisive battles of the Iran-Iraq war, according to senior military officers with direct knowledge of the program. (New York Times, August 18, 2002; Newsweek, September 23, 2002)
In 1982 -- two years into the Iran-Iraq War -- Hussein was taking severe hits from the Khomeini regime, especially from scores of waves of suicide attacks across the border into Iraq. Fearful that Iran would overrun Hussein’s army, the United States began supplying him with photo intelligence and military equipment, and the Reagan-Bush administration refused to castigate Hussein for the use of chemical weapons.
As early as the 1982, Iraq had become one of the biggest buyers of American rice and wheat, purchasing $5.5 billion in crops and livestock with federally guaranteed loans, subsidies, and hard currency. Iraq also received $270 million in credit to purchase other American goods, despite the fact that it was defaulting on loans. By the end of the decade, over 40 percent of Iraq’s food was imported from the United States, and the Hussein government was received one billion in loan assurances.
By the end of Reagan’s administration, Baghdad was purchasing 40 percent of their food from the United States. Iraq also defaulted on American loans and was still given a $270 million credit to buy more products. Not only was the United States helping to subsidize Hussein in agricultural products but also sold military equipment and technology directly to Baghdad as well as to other countries which in turn peddled them on to Iraq. As vice president, Bush’s first involvement with Hussein occurred in 1986, when he sent strategic military advice to Hussein during a critical point of the Iran-Iraq War.
In 1982, the Reagan-Bush administration allowed American corporations to sell dual use” equipment and hardware to Baghdad beginning in 1982. This became known as Iraqgate. According to confidential Commerce Department export-import control documents obtained by Newsweek (September 23, 2002), the United States sold several types of equipment which helped bolster Iraq’s military machine. They included:
**A computerized database for Hussein’s Interior Ministry to track political opponents.
**Helicopters to transport Iraqi officials.
**Television cameras for “video surveillance applications.”
Chemical-analysis equipment for the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC).
**Numerous shipments of “bacteria/fungi/protozoa” which could be used to make biological weapons, including anthrax.
The State Department also approved the shipment of 1.5 million atropine injectors for use against the effects of chemical weapons -- but the Pentagon blocked the sale. (Newsweek, September 23, 2002)
After an Iraqi Exocet missile killing 39 Americans aboard the USS Stark, the United States still continued its support of Hussein. The Reagan-Bush administration sold military trucks to Iraq, only when the military reference was deleted when the information was provided to Congress. In addition, the Reagan White House sold civilian helicopters to Hussein, and subsequently they were transferred to the military in violation of promises. And Reagan and Bush secretly allowed Saudi Arabia to provide American-made weapons to the Iraqi regime over a period of nearly ten years.
Eighteen American corporations provided Saudi Arabia with military hardware which included TOW missiles. The Saudis delivered MK-84 2,000 pound bombs to Iraq in violation of the Arms Export Control Act. $5.5 billion in loans to Iraq from American banks were ignored by the American government. Iraq received $5 billion in loans guaranteed by the Agricultural Department to promote American farm exports, but then the food was replaced by weapons. Even Bush admitted that American materials had been sold to Iraq for commercial purposes and then illegally switched for military uses.
The Reagan-Bush administration secretly allowed Saudi Arabia to provide American-made weapons to the Iraqi regime over a period of nearly ten years. Eighteen American corporations provided Hussein with military hardware. According to the General Accounting Office in 1986 the United States sold an undisclosed number of TOW anti-tank missiles. In return the Saudis sold 1,500 bombs to Iraq. These included 300 MK-84 2,000 pound bombs. This was directly in violation of the Arms Export Control Act which prohibited the transfer of American weapons to other nations without the written approval of Washington.
Billions of dollars in fraudulent loans were made by the Atlanta branch of an Italian bank to help provide Iraq with weapons for the Gulf War. As much as $5.5 billion in loans were ignored by the American government. Italian Bank (Banca Nazionale del Lavoro) in Atlanta illegally sent these funds to Iraq for the purchase of military weapons. In October 1989, FBI agents raided the Atlanta bank and found evidence of over $5 billion in loans guaranteed by the Agricultural department through its Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to promote American farm exports. Investigators found that food was being replaced for weapons. Even Bush admitted that American materials had been sold to Iraq for commercial purposes and then illegally switched for military uses.
According to reports of a Senate Committee in 1994, the United States government allowed firms to export a variety of biological materials to Iraq from 1985 -- if not earlier -- through 1989 pursuant to application and licensing by the Department of Commerce. As documented in Rogue State by author William Blum, the materials included bacillus anthracis which causes of anthrax; clostridium botulinum, a source of botulinum toxin; histoplasma capsulatam, a cause of a disease attacking the lung, brain, spinal cord, and heart; brucella melitensis, a bacteria that can damage major organs; clostridium perfringens, a highly toxic bacteria which causes systemic illness; clostridium tetani, a highly toxigenic chemical; and escherichia coli (E.coli).
Dozens of other pathogenic biological agents were shipped to Iraq during the 1980s. The Senate Report pointed out that “These biological materials were not attenuated or weakened and were capable of reproduction.” The committee reported that it learned later “that these microorganisms exported by the United States were identical to those the United Nations inspectors found and removed from the Iraqi biological warfare program.” The report also noted that American exports to Iraq included the precursors to chemical warfare agents, plans for chemical and biological warfare production facilities and chemical warhead filling equipment.
These exports continued to at least November 28, 1989 despite the fact that Iraq had been reported to be engaging in chemical warfare and possibly biological warfare against Iranians, Kurds, and Sh’iites since the early 1980s as part of its war with Iran.
Shortly after the Iran-Iraq War ended in 1988, Vice President Bush met several times with Iraqi officials to continue to play up to Hussein’s government. Bush sought to influence the Exchange-Import Bank to provide loans to Iraq. Two months after Bush moved into the White House, he continued to patronize Hussein’s government. The newly inaugurated president attempted to influence the Exchange-Import Bank to provide loans to Iraq.
However, in the summer of 1989, American attitude towards Iraq began to shift. Secretary of State James Baker informed Bush that Iraq was procuring nuclear weapons technology. Yet Bush pushed forward with his own agenda to provide more weapons and agricultural credits to Iraq. Only two days after American intelligence warned Bush of the Hussein’s buildup, the United States granted Iraq $1 billion in agricultural credits. Bush insisted that he never knowingly helped Hussein develop nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.
In June, the Defense Intelligence Agency warned of high level administration officials in the White House that “Iraq had developed a major European procurement network in defense industries.” On September 3, Secretary of State Baker issued a top secret warning to Bush. He stated that Iraq was procuring nuclear weapons technology to counter perceived military threats from Israel and Iran. Baker’s report included such items as sophisticated computers and X-ray machines.
The next day, the CIA issued a report that Iraq was serious in its bid to build nuclear weapons. Despite these repeated warnings about Iraq’s arms build-up, Bush pushed forward with his own agenda to provide more weapons and credits to Iraq. Despite these warnings to Bush by American intelligence groups, just two days later Bush granted Iraq $1 billion in agricultural credits.
On September 2, Bush issued National Security Directive 26. This stated that “the United States government should propose economic and political incentives for Iraq to moderate its behavior and to increase our influence with Iraq.” Among the incentives for expanded trade with Iraq included non-lethal military assistance. Bush insisted that he never “knowingly” helped Hussein develop nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. However, both Baker and National Security adviser Brent Scowcroft admitted that they had seen several memorandums which warned the administration of Hussein's bid to proliferate its military arsenal. Nevertheless, NSD 26 was Bush’s official stamp of approval on his Iraq policy. Four days later, Baker met with Foreign Minister Aziz and, according to the minutes, informed him that the White House would not restrict the sale of high technology equipment to Iraq.
The State Department disclosed that between 1986 and 1989, 73 transactions took place with Iraq. Items included bacteria cultures, advanced computers, and equipment to repair jet engines and rockets. Even after the Gulf War erupted, American corporations illegally sold technology to Iraq. For example Delft Instruments in New York sold night-vision equipment to both Iraq and Jordan four months after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in December 1991. It was disclosed in 1989 that XYZ Options, an Alabama firm which manufactured carbide tools, was part of Iraq’s nuclear capability market. They furnished valves for nuclear weapons. In addition, a $40 million brass-casting factory and a $26 million ductile-pipe plant sold materials to Iraq.
Bush attempted to use the CIA to squelch an investigation of Iraqgate in the House of Representatives by Congressman Henry Gonzalez of Texas. In a series of speeches, Gonzalez documented how American policy helped Iraq develop weapons of mass destruction before the Gulf War. Gonzalez believed Bush is using the CIA to taint the Iraqgate investigation. Bush asked the CIA to investigate Gonzalez for revealing allegedly secret intelligence information which it claimed harmed American national security interests.
The House Judiciary Committee, after several hearings, considered the appointment of an independent counsel to investigate Iraqgate. However, the investigation merely revolved around the fact that the Commerce Department allegedly altered information on 66 export licenses for Iraq which were turned over to congressional investigators. The export licenses were simply changed from “Vehicles designed for military use” to “Commercial utility cargo trucks.” The House Judiciary Committee ultimately agreed that it was too “vague” to justify an independent counsel. As a result, no further investigations into Iraqgate were conducted.
REAGAN-BUSH SILENT ON IRAQ’S USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS. American intelligence officials, who spoke anonymously, told the New York Times (August 18, 2002) about the nature of gas warfare on both sides of the conflict between Iran and Iraq from 1981 to 1988. Iraq’s use of gas in that conflict was repeatedly cited by President Bush and National Security adviser Condoleezza Rice as justification for “regime change” in Iraq.
The covert program was carried out at a time when President Reagan’s top aides, including Secretary of State George Shultz, Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci and General Colin Powell, then the national security adviser, were publicly condemning Iraq for its use of poison gas, especially after Iraq attacked Kurds in Halabja in March 1988. During the Iran-Iraq war, the United States sided with Baghdad to prevent the Ayatollah Khomeini regime from gaining control of the important oil-producing states in the Persian Gulf.
In 1988 -- towards the end of the eight-year war that took approximately one million lives -- evidence indicated that Hussein used chemical weapons to subdue the Kurds in the north. The full nature of the program was described by former Defense Intelligence Agency officers for the first time in 2002. The gassing occurred at a time when Reagan’s top aides -- including Secretary of State George Shultz, Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci and General Colin Powell, then the national security adviser -- were publicly condemning Iraq for its use of poison gas, especially after Iraq attacked Kurds in Halabja in March 1988.
Secretary of State Powell, through a spokesman, told the New York Times (August 18, 2002) that said the officers’ description of the program was “dead wrong” -- but declined to discuss it. His deputy, Richard Armitage, a senior defense official at the time, used an expletive relayed through a spokesman to indicate his denial that the United States supported Iraq’s use of chemical weapons. Additionally, the Defense Intelligence Agency declined to comment.
Though senior officials of the Reagan-Bush administration publicly condemned Iraq’s employment of mustard gas, sarin, VX, and other poisonous agents, the American military officers said President Reagan, Vice President George Bush and senior national security aides never withdrew their support for the highly classified program in which more than 60 officers of the Defense Intelligence Agency were secretly providing detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for airstrikes, and bomb-damage assessments for Iraq. (New York Times, August 18, 2002)
Iraq shared its battle plans with the Americans, without admitting the use of chemical weapons, especially towards the end of the eight-year war, according to military officers. Saudi Arabia played a crucial role in pressing the Reagan administration to offer aid to Iraq out of concern that Iranian commanders were sending waves of young volunteers to overrun Iraqi forces. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, then and now, met with President Saddam Hussein of Iraq and then told officials of the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency that Iraq’s military command was ready to accept American aid. (New York Times, August 18, 2002)
In early 1988, after the Iraqi Army, with American planning assistance, retook the Fao Peninsula in an attack that reopened Iraq’s access to the Persian Gulf, a defense intelligence officer, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, was sent to tour the battlefield with Iraqi officers, the American military officers said. (New York Times, August 18, 2002)
He reported that Iraq had used chemical weapons to assure a victory, one former DIA official said. Colonel Francona saw zones marked off for chemical contamination, and containers for the drug atropine scattered around, indicating that Iraqi soldiers had taken injections to protect themselves from the effects of gas that might blow back over their positions. CIA officials supported the program to assist Iraq, though they were not involved. Separately, the CIA provided Iraq with satellite photography of the war front.
Colonel Walter P. Lang, the senior defense intelligence officer at the time, said, that both D.I.A. and CIA officials "”were desperate to make sure that Iraq did not lose” to Iran. “The use of gas on the battlefield by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern.” What Reagan’s aides were concerned about, he said, was that Iran not break through to the Fao Peninsula and spread the Islamic revolution to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. (New York Times, August 18, 2002)
Colonel Lang asserted that the DIA “would have never accepted the use of chemical weapons against civilians, but the use against military objectives was seen as inevitable in the Iraqi struggle for survival.” Senior Reagan administration officials did nothing to interfere with the continuation of the program, a former participant in the program said.
Iraq did turn its chemical weapons against the Kurdish population of northern Iraq, but the intelligence officers said they were not involved in planning any of the military operations in which those assaults occurred. They said the reason was that there were no major Iranian troop concentrations in the north and the major battles where Iraq’s military command wanted assistance were on the southern war front. (New York Times, August 18, 2002)
The New York Times article continued: “The Pentagon’s battle damage assessments confirmed that Iraqi military commanders had integrated chemical weapons throughout their arsenal and were adding them to strike plans that American advisers either prepared or suggested. Iran claimed that it suffered thousands of deaths from chemical weapons.
The American intelligence officers never encouraged or condoned Iraq’s use of chemical weapons, but neither did they oppose it because they considered Iraq to be struggling for its survival, people involved at the time said in interviews.”
According to the New York Times, “another former senior DIA official who was an expert on the Iraqi military said the Reagan administration’s treatment of the issue -- publicly condemning Iraq’s use of gas while privately acquiescing in its employment on the battlefield -- was an example of the ‘Realpolitik’ of American interests in the war.
The effort on behalf of Iraq ‘was heavily compartmented,’ a former DIA official said, using the military jargon for restricting secrets to those who need to know them. One officer said, “They had gotten better and better” and after a while chemical weapons “were integrated into their fire plan for any large operation, and it became more and more obvious.” (New York Times, August 18, 2002)
BUSH DECIDES TO GO TO WAR
Middle East oil was originally controlled by France and Britain as a result of the Red Line agreement in 1928. After World War II, the United States emerged as a superpower, and its guiding policy revolved around Middle East oil. Oil should be under the control of the United States, its allies, and its oil corporations, while the intervention of any foreign country should not be tolerated. And Kuwait had oil.
On July 25, just one week prior to the American deployment of troops to Kuwait, the American ambassador, April Glaspie, was summoned to meet Hussein in Baghdad. When Hussein asked her about the America's position on the unsettled Iraq-Kuwait border dispute, she replied that it was an "Arab-to-Arab problem." Glaspie told Hussein that Bush desired friendship with Iraq and hoped that the dispute with Kuwait could be settled peacefully. On the same day Secretary of State James Baker stated, "While we take no position on the border delineation issue raised by Iraq with respect to Kuwait ... Iraqi statements suggest an intention to resolve outstanding disagreements by the use of force, an approach which is contrary to United Nations Charter principles." Three days later Bush himself conveyed the same sentiment in a message to Hussein.
Nearly a year later in March 1991, Glaspie stated that the Iraqi transcripts of the meeting did not accurately reflect her warning that the United States would not tolerate an Iraqi invasion. Did the State department refuse to publicly release a summary of the July 1990 meeting, since diplomatic confidentiality could not have been a reason after Hussein entered Kuwait? Additionally, did the State Department not bother to deny the validity of Iraq's transcripts of the Hussein-Glaspie meeting when the American ambassador denied that the border dispute was an issue?
Other top level administration leaders also stated that the United States had no interest in the border dispute. These statements were made by White House spokesperson Margaret Tutwider at a press conference; by Undersecretary of State John Kelly; and by Senator Robert Dole when he visited Baghdad on April 12, 1990.
The Arab League was split over the condemnation of Iraq. On August 10, 1990, 12 of the 21 dissented and did not vote against Hussein. Those who did not vote stated that they opposed the presence of the United States in the Middle East and that they supported Hussein's desire to link the Gulf crisis to the Palestinian question. Furthermore, they supported Hussein's grievances and opposed Kuwait's insensitivity. In addition, the majority of Arab League nations opposed the socio-economic disparity between the wealthy and the poor in Kuwaiti society.
In September 1990, Bush invited the Soviet Union to provide land troops as part of multi-national forces in Saudi Arabia. Then in October, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution providing for a land trade embargo. The vote was 13-0 with Yemen and Cuba abstaining. The United States and Saudis agreed that there would be joint control of a ground invasion of Kuwait and Iraq and that the American military would command the air strikes. With China and Cuba abstaining, the Security Council voted 12-2 to condone a military invasion after January 15, 1991.
However, Bush flip-flopped on the issue of economic sanctions, presumably because he was predetermined to go to war no matter how successful they may have been.
On August 10 Bush stated: "I'd love to see economic sanctioned to be so successful that the (American) forces could be withdrawn."
Five days later he stated: "Sanctions are working."
On September 11 Bush said: "Sanctions will take time to have their full intended effect."
Bush reversed himself on December 3: "There is no guarantee that sanctions will force him out of Kuwait."
The next day he said: "I've not been one who is convinced that sanctions alone will bring him to his senses."
And the following day Bush stated: "Nobody can tell you that sanctions alone will ever be able to get him to withdraw."
Bush not only refused to consider or to even acknowledge Hussein's claims to Kuwait, but he stated that Iraq showed no interest in a negotiated settlement. This was a lie since the total reverse was true. It was Bush who refused to negotiate with Hussein and who demanded an unconditional surrender of Iraq. Bush gave several reasons for the American invasion of Iraq.
Bush contended that human rights in Kuwait and elsewhere in the Middle East had to be insured. Yet, other Arab neighbors were just as guilty. For example, the Saudis stoned to death women on charges of adultery. In Kuwait itself democratic councils were frequently scrapped and dissident officials imprisoned.
Bush maintained that another reason for the American invasion was to uphold the United Nations commitment to defend member states against aggression. Yet both Syria and Israel invaded Lebanon and never returned territory; Turkey took half of Cyprus; Morocco waged war against Western Sahara; and Indonesia annexed East Timor at a cost of nearly a million lives.
After helping Iraq build its war machine, Bush decided to deploy troops to Kuwait in August 1990. Bush gave a wide variety of reasons for sending Americans to Kuwait. He claimed that troops were sent to free American hostages held in Iraq and Iraqi-occupied Kuwait. In addition, Bush stated that America's mission was to liberate Kuwait, but nothing was said about its deplorable human rights record.
Bush also stated that the United States was preventing Iraq from monopolizing "all the world's great oil reserves." Yet it is impossible for any single producer to control the oil market, let alone the 13-member OPEC. Bush also claimed that Iraq was posing a nuclear threat. Yet he denied any responsibility in Iraqgate, failing to mention that the United States helped to build up Hussein's war machine.
In November 1990, Baker stated that intervention would safeguard American jobs at home. Yet this was the first time that the Republican administration showed concerned for the nation's work force, particularly at the expense of massacring thousands of Middle Easterners.
Then Bush over committed himself by making a January 15 ultimatum, preventing any room for negotiating or maneuvering for a peaceful settlement. He lost all bargaining power by making this unilateral demand instead of exploring peace.
At the onset of the war, Bush stated that the goal was to remove Iraqi soldiers and to prevent Hussein from using his air force as well as chemical weapons against rebel forces. Again Bush vacillated on his justification for the war and chose to land American troops in northern Iraq to give support to the Kurds.
Bush continued to deny that oil was the reason for American intervention. Numerous times he stated that troops were deployed because the United States would not tolerate "naked aggressiveness" and that Hussein was "another Hitler." Yet Bush warned that the world could not allow Hussein to control oil. Bush also spoke of restoring stability to the Middle East. However, he did not mention the fact that Kuwait was a despotic corporate state. Presumably, Bush hoped to restore the Middle East to the pre-1979 Shah era when the United States could control the key nations with its CIA payments and military hardware.
The American military goal was to block an Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia. Yet nothing was said about an American invasion of Iraq. Hussein did not have the industrial capacity to launch an offensive because of both Israel and Saudi Arabia's military superiority, as well as Iraq's failure to defeat Iran.
The sanctions against 20 million people of Iraq were justified with the claim that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. Yet in 1991, Iraq had not one weapon in its entire arsenal capable of hitting an American aircraft carrier, aircraft or even a. The weapons of mass destruction were one-sided against Iraq. In 1991 the United States fired 57 missiles over 42 days from its bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait;. The United States flew 110,000 sorties, dropping 88,500 tons of chemical, biological and nuclear, destroying water purification plants, food-processing plants, electric power stations, hospitals, schools, telephone exchanges, bridges and roads in the country along with the entire life-support systems and economic infrastructure.
Bush remained silent on Syria which was Hussein's primary enemy. The Hussein feud over control of the Ba'athist Party and the issue of pan-Arabism continued since Saddam gained power were paramount issues. Syria's Assad built a powerful military machine which was far superior to that of the Iraqis. Finally, neighboring Iran continued to menace Hussein since the termination of their eight year war.
As a result of Bush's decision to go to war, the American government took a loss of over $2 billion in loans, money which Iraq was loaned to purchase American grain. Among the hardest hit were American rice growers who had exported 25 percent of their 1989 harvest to Iraq for $143 million.
Before the invasion Iraq was buying $350 million worth of wheat, corn, barley, and soybeans from American farmers. In addition, Japan took a loss of $5 billion in unpaid Iraqi bills.
BUSH BUYS A COALITION
To gather support for the American invasion, Bush bought the support of several Middle Eastern nations. Egypt sent to troops in exchange for $64 billion in foreign debts which were nullified. Turkey was promised nearly $9 billion in American weapons, support for joining the Common Market and an increase in its quota of textile exports to the United States. China was given a $114.3 million loan from the World Bank. Saudi Arabia had boosted its oil output by six million barrels per day, so they could help finance the war effort. The Saudis earned an additional $43 billion per year as a result of increasing oil production by about one million barrels per month. They were able to increase oil prices from about $20 to $30 per barrel, allowing for this enormous windfall.
Since the early 1980s, the State Department branded Syria a terrorist nation. Nevertheless, the Bush administration chose to ignore its dismal human rights record and the fact that Assad aspired to expand his influence in the Middle East and control the Arab world. In December 1990 Syria had accumulated $2 billion in aid, primarily from Saudi Arabia but also from the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
In February 1991, at the height of the Gulf War, Agriculture Secretary Clayton Yeutter approved $650,000 in U.S. aid to Turkey's tobacco monopoly. In return Turkey gave the United States access to an air base from which American planes could be launched against Iraq.
THE FINALE: THE BATTLE OF THE JUNKYARD
The Battle of Rumaylah, also known as the Battle of the Junkyard, brought a halt to the Gulf war. American planes bombed 600 Iraqi tanks, armored personnel carriers, artillery guns, and trucks. But it was not much of a battle. Newsweek (May 29, 2000) reported that only one American tank was lost only because it was burned when an Iraqi tank exploded beside it. Just one American soldier was injured.
It was not until nine years later that American conduct in the turkey shoot was seriously questioned. Writing in the New Yorker magazine (May 2000), reporter Seymour Hersh raised serious doubts about General Barry McCaffrey, the commander who ordered this one-sided attack. Later McCaffery became President Clinton's chief adviser on drug policy. Hersh quoted eye-witnesses and senior officers who questioned McCaffrey's judgment for ordering an all-out assault on a retreating Iraqi tank division two days after the war had been halted by an American ceasefire. According to the New Yorker, even if the Iraqis had fired on McCaffrey's 24th Mechanized Division with rocket-propelled grenades, as his front line radioed at the time, McCaffrey's decision to launch the attack was extremely excessive. He ordered a five hour tank, artillery, and helicopter-launched rocket barrage. While Hersh quoted witnesses who claimed that the Iraqis posed no threat, McCaffrey maintained that those witnesses were miles from the action.
In an interview with Newsweek, McCaffrey disputed some of Hersh's facts. Hersh claimed that many of the Iraqi tanks were loaded onto trucks with their barrels aimed to the rear, marking them as non-combatants. McCaffrey, who was exonerated by an Army inquiry, insisted that the Iraqi tanks were advancing in combat formation with guns loaded. The Iraqis never agreed to the ceasefire, so McCaffrey claimed that he was justified in shooting back to protect his troops.
DESTROYING IRAQ’S WATER SYSTEM
During the Gulf War, the United States not only destroyed Iraq’s water system but also sanctioned the country from improving their water with purification equipment and importing chlorine. According to six Defense Intelligence Agency documents uncovered by Thomas J. Nagy, the United States government, including the Pentagon, fully understood the consequences of its to degrade the water supply.
One document plainly stated “Conditions in Baghdad remain favorable for communicable disease outbreaks.” Another read, “The main causes of infectious diseases, particularly diarrhea, dysentery, and upper respiratory problems, are poor sanitation and unclean water. These diseases primarily afflict the old and young children.”
This stood in direction violation of the Geneva Convention, which expressly prohibited destroying the source of a civilian population’s ultimate survival. (Thomas J. Nagy, The Progressive, September 2001)
GOD TAKES THE SIDE OF THE UNITED STATES
American Presidents have frequently used religious clichés in their messages to the American people. "God bless you" and "God bless America" are common rhetoric used by Presidents. Bush is no exception.
**On January 16, 1991, Bush said, "May God bless each and every one of them, and the coalition forces at our side in the Gulf, and may He continue to bless our nation, the United States of America." Then on January 27 he stated: "God willing, we will win the war." The next day, Bush referred to God two more times when he said: "Saddam tried to cast this conflict as a religious war, but it is nothing to do with religion per se. It has, on the other hand, everything to do with what religion embodies -- good versus evil, right versus wrong, human dignity and freedom versus tyranny and oppression."
**On the same day Bush stated: "During the darkest days of the Civil War, (one) was asked whether he thought the Lord was on his side. Abraham Lincoln responded: My concern is not whether God is on our side, but where we are on God's side.' Times will soon be on the side of peace, because the world is overwhelmingly on the side of God." Bush declared: "I believe the Lord does hear our prayers," as he prayed with Billy Graham on the eve of the American invasion.
**Bush quoted the Roman Catholic Church's theory, allowing theologians to argue that killing people is pleasing to God, as long as it is done after soul-searching and a few moral "principles" are observed. The "principle is meant as a last resort." For Bush it was a first resort.
**Bush spoke that "war must support a moral cause. In the Gulf our cause could not be more noble." What nation has ever stated that its cause was not moral? Then on February 3, 1991, Bush called for a national day of prayer.
THE AFTERMATH OF THE GULF WAR
The Gulf War ended seven months of Iraqi occupation of Kuwait, and the emir immediately rebuilt his lavish palace and restored everything which was destroyed or damaged by the Iraqis. He promised democratic reforms which included an elected parliament. This assembly was last abolished by the crown in 1985. The opposition was awarded 35 token seats in the house. However, they were not given positions in the cabinet which overseas foreign, domestic, and financial affairs. Still only males, who could trace their ancestry back to 1920, were allowed to vote. After the Gulf War, thousands of Palestinians were imprisoned or exiled, and the remaining ones still did not have suffrage rights. Thus, this limited the electorate to a mere 81,500 men.
The exodus of tens of thousands of Palestinians created a vacuum in Kuwait's financial sector, education system, and power plants and communications systems. All these segments relied on the pre-war population of approximately 280,000 highly skilled Palestinians.
From the very beginning of the liberation of Kuwait, major human rights violations were documented. Initially the State Department denied that the newly restored regime violated human rights. On March 8, spokesperson Richard Boucher stated: "There are reports of people getting a hard time at checkpoints. We do not have information on beatings and killings." Then on the following day American ambassador Edward Gnehm was asked about human rights abuses. He replied: "We have not had nearly the difficulties that people anticipated." On April 18, Amnesty International reported that hundreds of residents were being arbitrarily arrested, many brutally tortured by Kuwaiti armed forces and members of 'resistance groups. The reply from the State Department was that the situation by most accounts in Kuwait was very much improved over what had existed some weeks ago.
On April 22, Secretary of State Baker directly acknowledged violations when he said, "The Crown Prince made clear that there were human rights abuses following the early days of liberation." In May State Department spokesperson Margaret Tutwiler stated that the Kuwaiti embassy had urged the emir "to have open trials; they were open. We also urged that the defendants have a right to counsel; they did." However, she ignored the facts that the lawyers did not meet with their defendants, did not read any of the prosecution's evidence, and did not cross-examine witnesses. Only later did the State Department softly concede that the United States "was concerned by allegations that due process may not have been fully served." Kuwait chopped its pre-war population of 2.3 million people, citizens as well as non-citizens, in half.
The Bush administration adroitly controlled the media during the Gulf War. All visual and audio recordings of personnel in agony or severe shock were not authorized by the White House. Any imagery of patients suffering from severe disfiguration or undergoing plastic surgery treatments was not authorized. Interviews with or imagery of patients undergoing psychiatric treatment were forbidden. All interviews with military personnel were censored. The Pentagon set up 80 media pools were set up for the dissemination of military briefings. No media personnel were allowed to travel independently, as they were taken to different areas by the American military.
Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark helped establish the Commission of Inquiry for an International War Crimes Tribunal. Its purpose was to determine whether war crimes had been committed by the United States. At the final judgment in New York City, 22 judges from 18 nations concluded that the United States and leading government officials were guilty on all 19 charges.
Bush himself was charged with 19 war crimes, including the breaking of laws of the Hague, the Geneva Conventions, and the Nuremberg Charter. The commission also found him guilty of violating the United States Constitution and the United Nations Charter.
88,000 tons were dropped by 1,760 American and allied warplanes. Iraq's nuclear, biological, and weapons programs were not destroyed by precision bombing, as Pentagon briefings stated. After the war, only minimal damage to these facilities was observed.
Nearly one-third of the civilian fatalities were a direct result of allied bombing missions which could have been avoided had the allies adhered to international standards. International law required that all possible precautions be taken to avoid civilian harm. A series of attacks occurred on Iraqi targets in commercial areas in the middle of the day when civilians were present. In addition the attack on Baghdad's air raid shelter violated the legal requirement that a warning be given before attacking civilian structures. This resulted in the death of 200 to 300 civilians.
The White House deliberately overestimated the number of Iraqi soldiers as a pretext to rally the American public behind the war effort. Americans were told that the Iraqis amassed a massive army of 500,000 soldiers. However, the House Armed Services Committee determined that the true count was as low as 183,000. The committee also reported that the 42 Iraqi divisions assigned to southern Iraq were severely undermanned. In addition, the committee's 89 page study affirmed that there were serious deficiencies such as late and inaccurate battlefield intelligence and poor communications which led to "friendly fire" casualties.
Nearly 170,000 Iraqi children died as a result of the devastation to the country's infrastructure. The United States military destroyed much of Iraq's power, water, and sewage installations, and thus created an invitation for such diseases as cholera.
In the spring of 1991, Bill Moyers reported on Frontline that government sources released information that 70 percent of American bombs missed their targets and that only 7 percent of those dropped were smart bombs. This disputed the daily reports released by Pentagon generals and colonels. Throughout the war they continually reported on the success of the bombing missions, that only military Iraqi targets were almost always being hit, and that very little damage was done to the infrastructure of the country.
Americans daily flew sorties northward across the Iraq desert in what became known as the "Highway of Death." Even though the government denied that "turkey shoots" occurred, one Army analyst stated that "as many as 25,000 Iraqis were killed" in their convoys as they retreated back to Baghdad.
The Pentagon acknowledged that the new Patriot missile was not as unerringly successful against Iraqi Scuds as was first claimed. Two former Israeli officials, Moshe Arens and General Dan Shomron, state that the Patriot was a dud. On February 11, 1991, Arens told Bush that the Patriots were "intercepting only about 20 per cent of incoming Scuds." Four days later, Bush reiterated the near perfect success of the Patriot.
In July 1996, the declassified a 250-page analysis on weapons used in the Gulf War. The GAO acknowledged that the accuracy of most of the weapons used in the Gulf War were "overstated, misleading, inconsistent with the best available data or unverifiable." The GAO stated that the performance of the F-117 stealth fighter, cruise missiles, and laser-guided bombs were grossly overrated and that they functioned effectively in optimal conditions. The GAO reported that infrared, electroptical and laser systems, which were used for guiding weapons to their targets, were all "seriously degraded" by rain, clouds, smoke, fog, and humidity.
Just prior to the deployment of troops to Kuwait, the media were full of reports of atrocities carried out by the Iraqis. In December 1990, it was reported that "300 premature babies were reported to have died after Iraqi soldiers removed them from incubators, which were then looted." An unnamed Kuwaiti doctor at Maternity Hospital in al-Sabah Medical Complex stated that 312 babies died when they were taken from their incubators and that he personally buried 72 of them in al-Rigga cemetery. Immediately after the Gulf War, 60 Minutes broadcast a segment on this issue, and a teenager corroborated the story.
However, it soon became evident that these allegations were fabricated. Soon after the 60 Minutes program aired, the girl was identified as the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the United States, and she subsequently recanted her statement. In addition, one of New York City's largest maternity hospitals is Columbian Presbyterian; it has only 36 incubators. Kuwaiti doctors and nurses in exile stated that about 20 babies were in Maternity Hospital. The highest estimate by Kuwaiti officials was 80 incubators.
During Iraq's occupation of Kuwait the Middle East Watch estimated that between 500 and 700 Kuwaitis were killed by Iraqi soldiers. The official report of the Kuwaiti government was that 2,000 were killed.
THE CAT-AND-MOUSE GAME WITH IRAQ CONTINUES THROUGHOUT THE 1990s.When the United States lobbied the United Nations to support American inspectors in accessing various Iraqi military sites, the Soviets remained opposed to the use of force. In his public statement yet over Iraq's alleged refusal to support American actions, Russian president Boris Yeltsin warned that any United States military action against Iraq could lead to world war. Iraq had no stocks of weapons of mass destruction or storage facilities for them which could be targeted in a military strike, a senior Russian chemical weapons expert, Anatoly Kuntsevich, confirmed. "The UN teams keep searching, but found almost nothing. Either the United Nations teams were totally incompetent, or they were liars and subverting the United Nations members and the media groups."
Egyptian foreign minister Amr Moussa confirmed that Iraq opened some 80 sites to the alleged US inspectors. British prime minister claimed that the alleged inspectors had already found massive arms build-up in Iraq. He asserted that 38,000 chemical weapons and 48 Scud missiles had been allegedly discovered by the inspectors. British foreign minister Robin Cook, however, said Iraq's offer to allow a visit by United Nations inspectors to some 45 sites in Iraq is unacceptable.
In the late 1990s, the White House struggled to maintain a coalition against the Hussein regime. Whereas 38 countries -- many having been bought out -- joined the United States in the 1991 Gulf War, only 15 nations continued to support the United States in its opposition to Baghdad. Britain was the only nation to join the United States in offering a substantial amount of military support -- and air strikes if they were to be needed -- in the area surrounding Iraq. The other 14 countries merely made token gestures of support.
The five permanent Security Council countries originally supported the 1991 war. Since the Gulf War, they were divided over American dominance in the Persian Gulf. Russia signed over $6 billion in military and oil drilling contracts with Iraq, and on several occasions Yeltsin publicly rebuked the Clinton's administration for continued pressure and dominance in that area. China was also opposed to the possible use of American force against Hussein. France refused to lend any military support to the United States in the gulf. For the most part, Iraq's neighbors turned against the United States as well. Egypt opposed American intervention against Hussein. And Syria opposed military force as well.
On the other hand, a few countries have offered token support to the United States. New Zealand offered two surveillance aircraft and 20 troops. Oman provided five refueling aircraft. The Czech Republic offered land mine experts if they were to be needed. Argentina provided 100 medical personnel. Germany allowed the use of its air bases for long range flights to the Middle East.
THE OIL EMBARGO. After the Gulf War, the United Nations imposed an oil embargo on Baghdad. Then in the late 1990s, the Security Council began relaxing the oil-for-food program. It no longer was simply an oil-for-food effort, as an emphasis shifted from simple humanitarian relief to broader economic assistance and the rebuilding of infrastructure that included oil production, power generation, water and sanitation, agriculture, transportation, and telecommunications. Still the Security Council controlled the funds in an escrow account, setting aside nearly 30 percent for war reparations and United Nations costs.
In 1998, the Security Council raised the limits on permitted oil sales, and in 1999 it removed the ceiling altogether. Production began rising to approximately 2.6 million barrels per day, levels approaching those before the Gulf War. Oil revenues during the last six months of 2000 reached nearly $10 billion.
However, Iraq continued to obstruct and undermine the aid program. Baghdad periodically halted oil sales as a way of protesting sanctions. During the first half of 2001, oil sales were approximately $4 billion less than in the previous 180-day period. According to the United Nations, the oil-for-food program "suffered considerably because ... oil exports ... (Have) been reduced or totally suspended by the government of Iraq." In June and July 2001, as the Security Council considered a new "smart sanctions" plan, Iraq again withheld oil exports to register its disapproval of the proposal. The result was a further loss of oil revenues and a reduction of the funds available for humanitarian needs. (The Nation, December 3, 2001)
AMERICAN CORPORATIONS PROFIT FROM THE GULF WAR
At the same time, arms sales to the Middle East soared, as did corporate profits, after the Gulf War. One year after the war the United States sold $8.5 billion in arms in that region, excluding sales to Israel and Egypt. As an example, American corporations sold Saudi Arabia 72 advanced F-15 fighters for $5 billion. Yet in the five year period, from 1985 to 1989, total arms sales to that entire area was a total of only $15.4 billion. Of that amount $6.1 billion was to Israel, $5 billion to Saudi Arabia, and $2.9 billion to Egypt. Just before and after the Gulf War, between August 1990 and December 1991, Saudi Arabia received an unprecedented $14.8 billion in American arms.
THE "NEW WORLD ORDER"
The term -- "The New World Order" -- was coined during Bushs administration. It is a global system of economic interdependence, interlocking throughout the world. It determines who gets what raw materials, who will control them when, and by what means. If a country does not co-operate, it may suffer the effects such as when popularly elected presidents, who are frequently labeled as communists, have been overthrown in CIA orchestrated coups. These popularly elected presidents were then directly or indirectly replaced by right wing despots by the United States and designated as democratically-elected presidents.
Bush partially succeeded in seeking his "New World Order" in the Middle East. The United States weakened Iraq, so as to eliminate it as a significant competitor for the control of the Persian Gulf. He was able to make Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates permanently dependent upon American military power for their external and internal security. He hoped to force every local power, including Israel, to consult with the United States when making any significant military, political, or economic changes. Furthermore, he continued to deter any other power from challenging American hegemony over Middle East oil, even though smaller terrorist groups from time to time continued to ignore the perennial presence of the United States in that area.
CIA PLANS TO TOPPLE SADDAM
The goal of the CIA was to undermine Hussein by showing Iraqi citizens that he was not invincible and thus strengthening his opponents inside Iraq and trying to encourage a rebellion within his inner circle. Since the Persian Gulf war in 1991, the CIA backed Kurdish dissidents in the north of Iraq, Shi'ite Muslim groups in the south, Iraqi exiles in London and Iraqi military defectors based in Jordan.
The diplomatic, political and economic structures that could conceal CIA officers and agents -- an American embassy, a network of political contacts, a large number of businessmen going in and out of the country -- did not exist in Iraq. That made it exceedingly hard for agents to penetrate the innercircle surrounding Hussein who controlled tens of thousands of soldiers and spies whose sole duty was to preserve his power. These operations cost about $100 million and had little or no success.
Top level United States intelligence officials reported in February 1998 that the CIA allegedly conspired to carry out a 1995 assassination plot against Hussein and plotted to stage a military coup. Despite the fact that federal law prohibits the CIA from attempting to assassinate a foreign leader, several CIA agents were honored for their efforts. The FBI conducted a top secret investigation, and eventually all the CIA agents, who were investigated, were exonerated and even given awards for their efforts against Hussein. The aborted assassination attempt was to coincide with a military offensive against Iraq which was to be backed by the CIA in northern Iraq. However, the Iraqi military invaded the north and took a key Kurdish city, thus squashing any successful attack against Hussein. A year later in 1996 the FBI quietly dropped the case.
A second CIA covert action plan was designed to recruit Iraqi officers who would be encouraged to stage a military coup. From 1992 to 1996, the CIA supported this group but achieved little. In 1995, after some key Iraqi military officers defected, the agency shifted its support to the other opposition group, the Iraqi National Accord which is based in Amman. The White House authorized the CIA to work with the Iraqi National Congress (INC), an anti-Hussein group which was based in London. The plan was for the CIA to distribute explosives to agents inside Iraq and they in turn would destroy power sites and other elements of the country's infrastructure. The CIA operated in conjunction with MI-6, the British intelligence agency which had a Middle East office in Jordan, operating out of a front known as the Iraqi National Accord. The agency did concede that this plan failed when Iraqi double agents discovered the CIA plot in 1996. Hussein's military and intelligence services crushed the small clique of Iraqi military officers working with this group and destroyed a CIA base in northern Iraq.
In addition, the CIA also infiltrated the Kurdish bases in northern Iraq. However, they were proven politically impotent in the past because of their deep divisions. In the fall of 1994, two members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence visited the Kurds. They were impressed by their commitment to independence. In Washington D.C., they urged the White House to seriously consider funding them. In January 1995, a team of CIA officers arrived in northern Iraq to work with Ahmad Chalabi, their Shi'ite leader. However, they immediately found themselves in a volatile intramural power struggle. With little Kurdish support and with the backing of the CIA, Chalabi planned a military offensive against the Iraqi military in March 1995. In the mean time Chalabi's Kurdish rival, Wafiq Samarrai planned his own plot against Hussein but was turned down by the CIA. However, CIA field agents were never advised as to how to deal with Chalabi. They encouraged him to attack but also stated that he would not have the support of the CIA. By February 1995 Chulabi received the support of two other major Kurdish groups in the INC and in March sent 15,000 troops into battle. Even though they won some local victories against the Iraqi army, their assault faltered and their troops eventually were dissolved.
In the late 1990s, the CIA drafted plans for a major program of sabotage and subversion against Hussein. Four prior covert operations, involving everything from radio propaganda to paramilitary plots, failed to dislodge the Iraqi leader. The debate over the need for new covert action intensified in the latter part of the decade when senior members of Congress openly called for the CIA to destabilize Saddam. However, some of the president's advisers considered the new plan no more likely to succeed than the agency's earlier efforts.
CIA Director George Tenet told Clinton that the plan was risky, and National Security adviser Samuel Berger was skeptical of the CIA's ability to undermine Hussein. The plan called for enlisting Kurdish and Shiite agents to destroy or damage key Iraqi pillars of economic and political power, like utility plants or government broadcast stations. It also called for increasing political pressure on Iraq through propaganda programs like a "Radio Free Iraq" broadcast to Baghdad.
By the turn of the century, the influence of the INC had been significantly weakened. Despite millions of dollars in American aid throughout the 1990s, the leading Iraqi opposition group proved unsuccessful in making use of the money, accounting for it, finding recruits for Pentagon training, and preventing its own fragmentation. By 2000, support for the INC in the Arab world and in Turkey had all but disappeared. Countries neighboring Iraq refused to allow the group to operate out of their territories.
Nevertheless, Chalabi continued to lobby for support. In March 2000, he set up an office in Teheran that was paid for by the United States, a move that required a special waiver from Washington because of American sanctions against Iran. Chalabi hoped to use Iran as a base from which to send about 100 operatives into northern Iraq in three-person teams to gather news and "political intelligence," according to American officials and former intelligence agents who still have contact with the group. (Los Angeles Times, March 19, 2001)
But even this plan frustrated American officials because the INC has not taken advantage of Pentagon training that might have increased its ability to carry out this and other operations. Many slots available for a wide variety of training courses were unfilled, according to American officials. For other slots, the group was late in revealing the names of Iraqi candidates, leading to rush to get them visas and accommodations.
The INC was also unreliable in asking the United States for funds. For example, when the INC submitted a proposal for $4 million during the Clinton administration, funds ran out after only half was spent. Then the INC had to reapply for it. Additionally, only $3 million of the $97 million in Pentagon training or used equipment, allocated by Congress in the 1998 Iraqi Liberation Act, was used. An additional $25 million in funding managed by the State Department became available to the group, but again the INC failed to submit a thorough proposal that included specifics and accounting.
THE WAR CONTINUES THROUGHOUT THE 1990s
OPERATION DESERT FOX -- DURING IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS. In November 1998, American and British forces narrowly aborted a military attack against Iraq after it had announced on November 14 that it would resume full cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors. However, both the United States and British governments since repeatedly indicated that military action against Iraq would be taken immediately without a Security Council resolution, should it fail to cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors in the future. The threat of military attacks against Iraq came after its decision on October 31 to end all cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors.
The United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) reported to the Security Council on December 15 on Iraq's reported lack of full cooperation with United Nations weapons inspectors and the sudden evacuation from Iraq of United Nations staff, including United Nations humanitarian workers. Two days later -- on the eve of the House debates on impeachment -- Clinton in conjunction with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain ordered air strikes against Iraq.
On the eve of the attacks, the United States had amassed 24,100 troops, 201 aircraft, and 22 ships in the Persian Gulf vicinity. Three waves of attacks were ordered. On the first night, eight warships launched 280 Tomahawk cruise missiles, and F-14, F-18, and EA- 6B warplanes from the USS Enterprise dropped bombs. The attack focused on 50 targets which included Iraq's military-intelligence headquarters and a special Republican Guard barracks complex. On the second night, B-52s launched nearly 100 cruise missiles. Other American and British planes from Oman and Kuwait brought the number of targets to 89. Finally, the third attack was carried out by American and British fighters once again. They hit 18 Iraqi command centers, 11 weapons-production facilities, and eight Republican Guards' sites.
Amnesty International (AI) responded immediately by saying that the life, safety, and security of civilians were paramount in the action taken to resolve the crisis. An AI statement read, "Imminent military attacks by United States and United Kingdom forces could lead to indiscriminate or disproportionate killings of civilians. The experience of previous armed intervention in the Gulf has shown that, all too often, civilians become the acceptable casualties of war. All governments have an obligation to respect and protect civilian life."
In November 1998, Amnesty International wrote to the United States and British governments urging that life, safety and security of civilians must be the paramount consideration in any action taken to resolve conflicts and to insure the protection of civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law. AI also wrote to the Iraqi government and urged that all necessary measures be taken to protect the civilian population in Iraq.
On December 16, the decision was made to commence Desert Fox. Three of the five Security Council members -- Russia, China, and France -- opposing the aggression. France lamented the bombing but blamed Hussein for provoking the attack. Russia recalled its ambassador from Washington D.C. and London and demanded in the Security Council that the United States immediately halt its attack. Several other Arab countries called on the United States to stop, but their distrust for the Iraqi government kept them from becoming to vocal. Syria regretted damage sustained by the United States and earlier had protests had broken out in Damascus. A Syrian spokesperson said, "The Syrian Foreign Ministry affirms the keen interest of the security authorities to protect all diplomatic missions and consulates and international organizations based in Syria.
When the air strikes were terminated, Kuwait remained restrained, saying that it "welcomes the announcement." In Oman a pro-Iraqi group of 300 students protested against United States aggression. One hundred thousand people protested in Morocco, and 3,000 protesters marched in Amman, Jordan. In Holland 4,000 people demonstrated outside the American consulate. An official statement was made in Iran: the lack of United Nations approval for the bombing indicated that the Americans and British "want to resort to unilateral military action whenever they deem fit and whenever their national interests are served." In the Vatican, Pope John Paul II expressed sadness and bitterness over the aggression and relented that the crisis could not have been peacefully resolved.
In explaining his decision to bomb Baghdad, Clinton said that other nations besides Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but Iraq alone has used them. On the contrary, other nations have been in possession of such weapons. The United States supplied Turkey, Israel, and Indonesia with weapons and they in turn used them against civilian populations. But the nation most guilty is the United States which has used them frequently since August 1945 atomic drops were dropped over Japan.
Amnesty International reported that a wheat storage house in Tekrit, north of Baghdad, was said to have been burnt by missiles. Another concern was the closure by Jordan, Syria, and Turkey of their border with Iraq which prevented people fleeing the attacks from seeking safety in these countries.
The attack on Iraq lacked any clear purpose strategically. First, they were not sustained long enough to decimate Baghdad's conventional forces. Furthermore, they could not have touched Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, since there were no factories which were manufacturing weapons. Most observers believed that Hussein did not have much in the line of biological and chemical weapons and that any stockpiles have been carefully hidden. More important, Iraq has the ability to quickly reconstitute its weapons programs.
Clinton claimed that he had the right to bomb Iraq because Hussein was not complying with United Nations weapons inspectors. However, even if Iraq was in noncompliance, the American bombing would be a major violation of the United Nations Charter, international law, and United States law. The United Nations Charter prohibits countries from carrying out military action against other countries unless faced with the need for self-defense from imminent aggression.
The United States based its attack on the report by Richard Butler, chairman of UNSCOM, but UNSCOM is answerable only to the Security Council, and the Security Council did not authorize a U.S. bombing of Iraq. In fact, both Russia and China -- two of the five members of the Security Council -- have demanded that Butler be fired for having withdrawn United Nations weapons inspectors without first receiving the support of the Security Council. The unilateral decision to withdraw the weapons inspectors was clearly a United States, not a United Nations, operation.
When one looks at the specific charges made by the Clinton administration against Iraq, it cannot be substantiated that Hussein was in noncompliance. Neither Butler nor the United States challenged the Iraqi foreign minister's allegation that since November 17, 1998, when Iraq allowed weapons inspections to resume, there have been 427 inspections, 128 of them at new sites, and UNSCOM cited four so-called obstructions. First, there was a 45 minute delay before allowing access. Second, there was a rebuff to United States arms inspector, Dianne Seamons, that inspectors be allowed to interview all of the undergraduate students in Baghdad University's Science Department. Third, on December 9, there was the inspection of a small headquarters of the Ba'athist political party. Inspectors left those premises after they were asked what is the relation between the small headquarters of a party and the disarmament mission. And fourth, UNSCOM asked to inspect two establishments on Fridays--the Muslim holy day. The Iraqis told UNSCOM that since these establishments were not open on Fridays, the inspectors could visit the establishments, but they would need to be accompanied by Iraqi officials. This was in accordance with the agreement between Iraq and UNSCOM about Friday inspections. These four incidents were the supposed legal basis for Clinton's decision to bomb Iraq.
THE CAT-AND-MOUSE GAME. The cat-and-mouse game between the United States and Iraq over arms inspection continued in 1998. Very few American allies rallied behind the Bush and Clinton administrations to pressure Hussein to cooperate with observing its military installations. France and Russia refused to participate with the United States, leading to a degree of bitterness with America's European allies. Great Britain was one of the few European allies that backed the United States threat of force in February 1998, but the position of Prime Minister Tony Blair's government hardened in November when Clinton again was leaning toward another Middle Eastern attack.
Less than two weeks after the December 1998 massive air strikes, Hussein demonstrated that he would not capitulate to the United States. Since Operation Desert Fox in mid-December and through January 1999 -- a span of six weeks -- Iraq challenged the "no fly" zones in the south and north of the country with 70 incursions by more than 100 warplanes. American and Iraqi warplanes engaged in eight direct confrontations. Additionally, American planes targeted several air defense sites. Baghdad's continued aggressive stance indicated that Hussein was not concerned about sustaining any more damage to his country.
Clinton continued his air war over Iraqi territory throughout 1999, as American combat planes enforced the "no-fly" zone north of the 36th parallel in Iraq. In addition, the United States monitored Iraqi compliance with Security Council Resolutions 678, 687, and 688 which limited Iraq's weapons programs and condemn internal repression of Iraqis. This was the first time that the United Nations mandated the "no-fly" zones or gave the United States the authority to patrol Iraqi airspace.
But a Pentagon spokesman said that Section 2 of Security Council Resolution 678 authorized member States co-operating with the Government of Kuwait " to use all necessary means to uphold and implement Resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area." Although the United Nations did not mandate the "no-fly" zones, he said that the "U.N. resolutions give you the broad framework, and the participating nations get together and decide how they're going to do it."
Operation Provide Comfort first enforced the "no-fly" zones over Iraq. After January 1, 1997, the authority was turned over to Operation Northern Watch. American planes bombed military targets in Iraq throughout 1999, but never did the DOD confirm that any of the bombing-related 187 deaths and 400 injuries in 1999 were the result of American bombings.
The continual bombings over Iraq in 1999 were carried out by Operation Northern Watch (ONW) -- which consisted of the United States, Britain, and Turkey -- under the control of a Combined Task Force (CTF). The CTF's goal was to enforce the "no-fly" zone north of the 36th parallel in Iraq and monitoring Iraqi compliance with Security Council Resolutions 678, 687, and 688. Before this time, no United Nations resolution ever mandated the "no-fly" zones or gave the United States the authority to patrol Iraqi airspace. This violated all the Gulf War resolutions, which established the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. It was not the United Nations but both the United States and Britain which unilaterally decided that they would be the de facto powers to enforce the "no fly" zones.
The ONW provided 45 aircraft and more than 1,400 personnel to support Operation Northern Watch. The joint American force included soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines from the Navy, Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps who comprise the United States European Command.
Security Council Resolutions 687, 688, and 949 gave the authority to the Joint Task Force Southwest Asia (JTF-SWA) to oversee Operation Southern Watch's mission of monitoring airspace south of the 33rd parallel. This was carried out by American, French, British, and Saudi Arabian forces who reported to the Commander in Chief of the United States Central Command (CENTCOM). In addition the United States European Command (EUCOM) supported Operation Southern Watch by deploying forces in support of the operation. EUCOM was prepared to provide forces to CENTCOM if needed. For the most part, EUCOM consisted of United States Forces in Europe (USAFE) which frequently was deployed to Operation Southern.
Pentagon officials acknowledged that on January 25, 1999 American fighters attacking Iraqi air defenses misfired at least one missile and may have killed or wounded civilians in the southern city of Basra. Marine General Anthony Zinni, the United States commander for the Middle East, said in a Pentagon briefing that talks with returning American pilots had indicated "the possibility of one missile that may have been errant." He said American officials "deeply regret any civilian casualties, whatever the cause may be." However, he accused Hussein of stepping up provocations against allied warplanes in an effort to win propaganda points. Additionally, Zinni contended that Hussein moved three times the usual number of surface-to-air missile batteries into the southern "no-fly" zone. Baghdad claimed that the attack killed 11 people and injured dozens more in a residential area Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tarik Aziz denounced the attack as "cowardly and treacherous aggression."
Hussein's objective was to continue to provoke the United States so that world opinion would turn against the superpower. Hussein hoped that the United States would have to seek other options as a result of continued acts of provocation. Under this scenario, he hoped that the military costs and diplomatic pressures placed on the United States would strengthen the position of the three Security Council members which opposed American aggression: France, Russia, and China. Already Hussein reached one objective: diverting world attention from his refusal to allow United Nation inspectors to resume their work of overseeing the dismantling of his weapons.
After daily reports of air strikes by American war planes were announced by the Pentagon, the Clinton administration quickly changed its policy. The constant encounters between American planes and Hussein's military were rarely reported. It quickly turned into America's secret war against Iraq throughout 1999.
Eventually, the United States added a new weapons to its arsenal as part of Operation Northern Watch. Hussein hid many anti-aircraft artillery in highly populated neighborhoods, hoping to deter American planes from bombing the targets. So the Pentagon turned to "concrete bombs" -- weighing 500 to 2,000 pounds each -- which were able to take out military targets without a barrage of shrapnel. The DOD hoped to minimize the number of civilian casualties. According to the Federation of American Scientists, standard conventional bombs caused a larger blast and fragmentation over a much larger area. But the laser-guided concrete bombs were able to deliver "precision results with a precision munition."
During the first six months of 1999, American planes flew over 350 sorties against Iraqi targets nearly every day in the northern and southern "no fly" zones. The Pentagon seldom announced the attacks against Iraqi planes as well as anti-aircraft installations which locked on to American war planes. When air strikes were reported, the Pentagon claimed that the goal was to wear down Hussein's military. The invisible war cost an estimated $20 billion. It was the longest air war conducted by American planes since Vietnam.
The Pentagon refused to call news conferences, remaining as silent as possible on the air strikes so no one would pay attention. The Pentagon was successful in keeping a low profile so that the media seldom reported the sorties, and public opinion against the air war failed to materialize.
Between the 1991 Gulf War and Clinton's December assault on Iraq, the United States spent $7 billion for its military presence in the Persian Gulf region. An estimate of over half-half billion was placed on these three waves of air strikes. This included 12 hour sorties by B-52 bombers from Diego Garcia at a cost of $9,400 per hour. Each was equipped with 20 cruise missiles valued at a $1 million each for a total of $241.35 million each. The two carrier battles groups in the Persian Gulf cost $2.74 million per day for a total of $21.92 million for the days that they were diverted to that region. Three hundred Tomahawk cruise missiles at $750,000 each totaled $225 million.
CIA SPIES IN IRAQ. In the mid-1990s, Iraq began work on the Al Samoud, a liquid-fueled ballistic missile with the capability of carrying conventional explosives or the chemical and biological weapons. Because the range of the Al Samoud is less than 95 miles, the missile does not violate United Nations restrictions imposed on Iraq after the Gulf War. However, military officials claimed that the flight tests showed that production plants and research labs destroyed 18 months earlier had been rebuilt. Pentagon officials claimed that the missile was a variant of the Soviet-era SA-2, the type of surface-to-air missile that shot down the U-2 spy plane flown by Francis Gary Powers over the Soviet Union in 1960.
Iraq first tested the Al Samoud in 1997 under supervision of the previous team of international inspectors which sought to ensure that the missile remained within the prescribed range. When American and British air strikes over Iraq commenced in late 1998, DOD officials claimed that they set back Baghdad's missile program one to two years. Since the air attacks over Iraq, there were no international inspections of its weapons programs. In early 2000, the United States joined the other members of the United Nations Security Council in approving a new inspection system, but the system's new director, Hans Blix, moved slowly to assemble a team of inspectors. Washington offered to ease the sanctions against Iraq if the new inspections found no evidence of weapons programs, but Hussein insisted that he would not cooperate with any new inspectors.
The White House claimed that Iraq resumed its flight tests in May 1999, about five months after air attacks were carried out by American and British warplanes. Over a year later -- in July 2000 -- the Clinton administration announced that the Hussein regime had conducted eight test of the Al Samoud missile, according to the New York Times (July 1, 2000). The White House announced that the damage to Iraq's missile centers in late 1998 appeared to have derailed the program far less significantly than what was first thought.
The CIA began placing American spies among United Nations weapons inspectors in Iraq only a year after the end of the Persian Gulf war of 1991. According to former inspector, Scott Ritter, the CIA also worked closely with the United Nations to organize the inspections. Ritter said that a coup attempt against Hussein in June 1996 coincided with the presence of a United Nations inspection team that included nine CIA officials. American officials acknowledged that the CIA gave assistance to the United Nations inspections program and provided specialists to work on the inspections teams. However, Ritter makes clear that the agency's involvement was far more extensive -- and began earlier -- than previously reported. Ritter said that the CIA became actively involved in inspections in 1992, the year after the United Nations began weapons inspections in the search for evidence of chemical and biological weapons in Iraq. The author said that a senior CIA official worked closely together "to plan the operational and intelligence support for the largest and most complex inspections ever undertaken by UNSCOM." Ritter added that the CIA official "and his men provided seasoned personnel who could operate vehicles, organize logistics, run communications -- simply put, the kind of people you want around you in a difficult situation." (Scott Ritter, End Game)
After 12 months of diplomacy, the Security Council approved a resolution to bring weapons inspectors back to Iraq. In December 1999, the Security Council agreed to suspend trade sanctions if Baghdad cooperated with the United Nations. The resolution passed, 11-0, despite abstentions by Russia, France, and China. In addition Malaysia, a nonpermanent member, also abstained. The resolution created an arms control agency, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) which was given authority to remove any remaining weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Iraq warned France that it would break diplomatic relations and cancel oil contracts if the French voted for the resolution. Great Britain and the United States, however, pressured France into voting for the provision. The French Foreign Ministry attempted to appease Hussein by maintaining that the resolution was not specific in describing the disarmament measures that Baghdad had to meet before sanctions could be suspended.
UNMOVIC was given the authority to commence its project within 60 days of starting operations and to submit a list of key disarmament tasks to the Security Council for approval. According to the resolution, if Iraq "cooperated fully" with UNMOVIC, then the Security Council would vote whether to terminate sanctions against Iraq. The resolution also included a measure to assure continued compliance. It stated that the sanctions suspension would have to be renewed every 120 days. If UNMOVIC declared that Baghdad were in compliance, the United Nations could lift the cap on how much oil Iraq could sell. Under previous resolutions, the maximum amount of oil that Iraq was allowed to export every six months was $5.26 billion. Finally, the resolution outlined the procedures for sending food, pharmaceuticals, agricultural supplies, and other humanitarian goods to Iraq.
The White House hoped to gain more world support against Iraq by emphasizing Baghdad's illegal export of oil. The New York Times (February 1, 2000) reported that Iraq netted millions of dollars in smuggling since August 1999. The White House said that Hussein's government steadily increased illicit shipments of oil from the Shatt al Arab waterway, much of it flowing through an installation near the port of Basra that American warplanes attacked and damaged in 1998. In January 2000 Iraq's illicit trade reached the highest level since the Persian Gulf war. More than 130 ships, some of them Russian, left the port and skirted the Iranian coast, staying in Iran's territorial waters to evade American ships trying to intercept them.
In the same month, Navy warships boarded only 36 ships and seized only four. According to American intelligence estimates obtained by the New York Times, Iraq was able to smuggle out a record amount of 317,000 metric tons of oil, or more than 2.3 million barrels, in December 1999 alone. An intelligence report concluded that the smuggling was undermining the sanctions.
In late January 2000, the United States released public satellite photographs and American intelligence reports which showed that Iraq rebuilt military and industrial sites damaged by American and British air strikes in late 1998. Pentagon officials declined to discuss the intelligence findings in detail. According to the New York Times (February 1, 2000), they said that Iraq had rebuilt many of the 100 installations damaged or destroyed in the American and British raids in December 1998. Of those targets, 12 were missile factories or industrial sites that commanders said were involved in Iraq's efforts to produce weapons of mass destruction. The officials said significant reconstruction had been seen at those sites, including Al Taji missile complex north of Baghdad.
On February 11, Baghdad said that it would not allow United Nations inspectors to return to reinstate a disarmament program. The New York Times (February 11, 2000) reported that Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan referred to the United Nations arms inspectors as spies. The official Iraqi News Agency quoted Ramadan as having told a visiting Russian envoy: "There shall be no return of the so-called inspection teams. We reject the infiltration by spies using such cover."
In mid-April, the Security Council approved a streamlined arms inspection commission for Iraq. But Russia warned that it would be on the lookout for anyone named to the panel who might be troublesome to Iraq. Hans Blix, a former Swedish foreign minister, was named the new chief inspector of the team. Blix also served as director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. In order to create a "nonpartisan" team, Blix's 44 team members came from 19 countries, some friendly and not so friendly to the Iraqis.
However, many of the inspectors had deep concerns about departing for Iraq. First, their predecessors, who were to evaluate Iraq's weapons, were caught spying. Second, many believed that too many of Blix's inspectors were from the United States and Britain, as reported in the New York Times (August 22, 2000).
By the end of August, UNMOVIC readied its team to leave for Baghdad. Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz told reporters (New York Times, August 23, 2000), "Clearly speaking Iraq does not deal with (Security Council) resolution 1284. Hans Blix and his commission is a result of this resolution which Iraq does not deal with. When Iraq does not deal with the resolution and its results this means that Iraq will not receive any person who has a relation with the resolution and its results." Aziz said that Iraq would not be intimidated: "We are accustomed to threats and Iraq is ready to face all challenges in defense of its sovereignty and legitimate rights."
Three of the five permanent members of the Security Council -- Russia, France and China -- made no secret of their sympathies toward Iraq and their opposition to the United States' Iraq policy. The rest of the world has appeared more inclined to trade with Iraq than to continue a pointless and morally bankrupt policy of economic sanctions.
Rolf Ekeus, former head of UNSCOM, acknowledged that Iraq had been "fundamentally disarmed," (Los Angeles Times, September 4, 2000). All of the major confrontations between UNSCOM and Iraq that took place between 1996 and 1998 concerned the search for documents and weapons components, not weapons or weapons production capability.
NOW IT’S GEORGE W. BUSH’S TUREN TO TOPPLE HUSSEIN
During the 2000 presidential campaign, George W. Bush glibly said that Middle East problems could be resolved by talking to our "friends" in the area. The novice Bush spoke only in generalities during Campaign 2000. Hussein, who had taunted his father's administration after the Gulf War, stepped up illicit oil exports to Syria. And Baghdad continued to harass American planes patrolling the "no-fly" zone.
Hussein presented Bush with his first foreign policy challenge. The White House was unclear as to which policy to pursue against Hussein. Two distinct factions emerged as Bush's foreign policy team debated the best way to follow through on the administration's pledge to increase pressure on Baghdad. The largest difference between the two camps involved the depth of American support for controversial opposition forces attempting to mobilize Iraqi exiles to oust Hussein. One faction, including representatives of Cheney's office, the Pentagon, and Congress, advocated an aggressive strategy designed to empower the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the main opposition group, to launch military operations against Hussein.
The other administration faction, centered within the State Department, favored a policy of sanctions against Iraq and more modest support for the opposition, limited largely to intelligence, propaganda, and aid for displaced Iraqis. Proponents of this approach believed they stood a better chance of enticing European and Arab allies back into a common policy fold.
Both groups shared a goal of forcing Hussein to honor the terms of the 1991 Persian Gulf War cease-fire, especially his pledge to surrender all weapons of mass destruction and stop threatening both his own people and neighboring states. But under Powell, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during Operation Desert Storm, the State Department was wary of the INC and of the potential dangers of even low-level military support that could become open-ended and increasingly costly. As secretary of state, Powell endorsed American support for an INC mission that would be limited to "public diplomacy" and humanitarian work. (New York Times, February 19, 2001)
The INC's internal divisions were responsible for fighting that broke out in 1996 among its rival Kurdish wings, opening the door for Hussein to send troops to the north in Kurdistan. Both the INC and the CIA station operating in the region were forced to flee to Turkey. Subsequently, the INC developed a series of military options for U.S. consideration. They included launching operations from Kurdistan, from Iran, or from southern Iraq.
As the Bush administration considered its options, illegal oil shipments continued to flow by land through Turkey and Jordan and via Iran's sea lanes, but they were very small loads compared with the Syrian route. The operations to Turkey and Iran were slow, logistically difficult, and costly due to transfers on both land and sea and heavy bribery along the way, on top of price discounts, according to the New York Times (January 23, 2001).
Senior White House officials reported that Hussein, by opening the oil pipeline to Syria in November 2000, generated at least $2 million daily in illegal funds since November 2000. The operation was carrying about 150,000 barrels per day, producing income that went straight into Hussein's pockets rather than to the United Nations "oil for food" program. The capacity of this section of the pipeline was 200,000 barrels per day which could produce at least an additional $500,000 a day for Iraq. Baghdad and Damascus signed a memorandum of understanding in 1998 to reopen the pipeline, which was closed in 1982 because of disputes between the two. However, it was not to take effect until after United Nations sanctions were lifted.
The Clinton administration condemned the agreement at the time and warned Damascus that use of the pipeline would be a major violation of United Nations sanctions. After Syria opened the pipeline, the Clinton administration approached Damascus about getting United Nations approval for its use under the oil-for-food program. That program allowed Iraq to export oil, but all income was channeled through the United Nations and could be spent only on approved humanitarian supplies, reparations for Kuwait, and aid to the Kurds in northern Iraq.
The 552-mile Syrian pipeline, which ran from Iraq's northern Kirkuk oil fields to the Mediterranean port of Baniyas, was much more cost-efficient, thus allowing Iraq to pocket higher profits. This became the largest source of independent income for Baghdad, according to oil experts. It also represented one of the most flagrant violations of United Nations sanctions imposed because of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. By offering oil price discounts of up to 50 percent, Iraq attempted to lure neighboring countries such as Syria into secret pacts that would create a long-term economic dependency.
In late January, Cheney castigated Baghdad in hopes of spreading more anti-Iraqi sentiment across the United States. He accused Iraq of seeking to develop weapons of mass destruction in violation of the Gulf War cease-fire accord and said that Hussein could again become a threatening presence. Cheney said, "Saddam's still, I think, very much a force for instability in the region. He is still clearly looking for ways to develop weapons of mass destruction." (Boston Globe, January 29, 2001) Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press" (January 28, 2001), Cheney said, "Saddam needs to understand and not miscalculate that this administration will take any effort on his part to resume the kind of activities engaged in 10 years ago very seriously." Cheney added that the United States would continue to insist on the return of United Nations inspectors to check on suspected weapons-production facilities barred by the cease-fire that ended the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Under that deal, Iraq agreed to scrap its nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs, as well as long-range missiles to deliver such arms.
As Bush lashed out against Hussein, Baghdad continued to plague Allied planes in the "no-fly" zone. Less than one month as president, Bush authorized the heaviest air strikes against Iraqi installations since December 1998. In fact the attack was anything but routine. American and British planes hit five radar and command and control sites -- four just north of the no-fly zone.
But the bombing damaged less than half the radars targeted, and the overall result was at best a modest success. Still the Pentagon tried to justify the success of the mission. Rear Admiral Craig Quigley said that the air strikes achieved their purpose of "disrupting and degrading" Iraq's air defenses but that the military would not release a detailed public assessment of the attack's effectiveness. He said the Pentagon was pleased with the results, even if the bombs were not 100 percent effective. "It isn't perfect. It never is." (Los Angeles Times, February 22, 2001)
CBS reported that eight of 20 targeted radars were hit. Some aspects of the guidance system apparently did not work properly. The senior defense official said that he was not sure of the exact numbers but that the attackers hit less than 50 percent of the radars targeted. He said that radars were difficult to hit because they did not have as much structural mass as a building or a bunker. The American fighters used cluster bombs known as Joint Stand- off Weapon (JSOW). They were first used in combat in Iraq on January 25, 1999 when Marine Corps F-18 Hornet's fired three weapons at an air defense sites. Twenty-eight JSOWs were fired by Navy aircraft in the in the February attack, along with guided missiles and laser-guided bombs. Pentagon sources said that 26 of the 28 JSOWs missed their aimpoints. The 1,000 pound, 14- foot-long weapon carried 145 anti-armor and anti-personnel incendiary bomblets which disperse over an area that was approximately 100 feet long and 200 feet wide. The bombs rained down deadly bomblets on an area the size of a football field with six bombs falling in every 1,000 square feet.
When Bush was asked about the air strikes, he three times called the attacks "routine" and added, "Our intention is to make sure that the world is as peaceful as possible." (New York Times, February 19, 2001) Fleischer used the word "routine" five times, and Rice spoke of the missions as "routine" or "routinely" four times. This led policy analysts and congressional leaders to question whether the pattern was more indicative of an exceptionally disciplined politician, or one with a shallow grasp of the issues at hand.
Michael O'Hanlon, a defense-policy scholar at the Brookings Institution, watched commented that Bush "seemed to merge different concepts in his head in a random and somewhat illogical way. I didn't get a sense he had a real clear grasp in his own mind of exactly what yesterday's strike was about." O'Hanlon also cited Bush's explanation made during a news conference with Mexican President Vicente Fox. Bush said, "Saddam Hussein has got to understand that we expect him to conform to the agreement that he signed after Desert Storm. We will enforce the no-fly zone, both south and north."
Bush's comments at his first press conference reflected his inability to grasp the Middle East picture. After the Gulf War, Hussein pledged only not to develop weapons of mass destruction. The agreement said nothing about "no-fly" zones. The United States and Britain established the "no-fly" zones in the early 1990s to protect Kurds in the north and Shi'ite Muslims in the south who had rebelled against Hussein's regime and were brutally repressed. O'Hanlon said, "If Bush wanted to explain the importance of maintaining the no-fly zone, he could have reminded people what Saddam had done to his own civilians using air power."
World leaders responded to the American air strikes with outrage. Bush was seen as the third American president in a row to come across as a hawk and bully. Even most of the Arab states, some of which would be early victims of any renewed Iraqi belligerence, expressed indignity. Egypt, the United States closest Arab ally and a country that contributed troops to during the Gulf War, rejected the strikes as "a serious negative step" that endangered Iraq's "safety and sovereignty" and could not be justified. (Los Angeles Times, February 18, 2001)
France, Russia, and China -- three of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- squarely aligned against the United States and Britain. Moscow charged that "American militarists" in the Bush administration were challenging "international security and the entire world community." Even France, which supported the creation of the two "no-fly" zones over Iraq and once mounted air strikes alongside American and British warplanes, expressed "incomprehension and discomfort" over the raids. The French Foreign Ministry said the attacks only created tension "damaging" to a diplomatic resolution. Russia and France continued to conduct business in Baghdad and hoped that the economic sanctions against Iraq would be lifted by the United States.
Most of the 38-nation coalition that went to war against Hussein, including several neighboring governments, opposed the support of the INC by the United States. Most indicated that they would not provide support in a manner for American covert operations. On the other hand, they advocated a policy of engagement with Iraq as the best way to promote change.
The Bush administration failed to recognize that Washington was in no position to topple or even cripple the Baghdad government. First, the United Nations-imposed sanctions had failed. They began to unravel in the late 1990s as Western demand for oil rose and as it became clear that Iraqi civilians were the primary victims of an economic embargo. Under an oil-for-food program, Iraq was allowed to sell oil and use the proceeds to buy food and medicine. By 2000, as world demand for oil rose, the upper limits on oil exports were eliminated. Iraq opened a new oil pipeline through Syria, bypassing the United Nations system completely and contributing some $2 million a day to the Baghdad regime.
Second, the mission of the United Nations inspectors had failed. They believed that Hussein had secreted away thousands of pounds of materials, more than enough to threaten every Israeli and many Arabs. Even if we found them, Iraq could always make more. Since many American allies recognized these hard facts, the odds of strong support for new inspections were exceedingly low.
Third, the no-fly zones over southern and northern Iraq were not working. They increasingly antagonized American allies across the globe, angered American rivals, and caused diplomatic problems throughout the Arab world at a moment of heightened conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Every time Hussein improves his air defenses, the United States was compelled to attack them or accept greater danger to American pilots on routine air patrols.
Riding high in the polls after September 11, Bush reverted to his unilateral and nationalistic approach to foreign policy. In early February, he began lashing out at Iraq, Iran, and North Korea -- collectively calling them the “axis of evil.” He insinuated that the three “evil” countries were conspiring to support a war of terrorism against the world’s industrial powers. The president charged that these “rogue” countries failed to comply with his mandate to cooperate with the United States in the war on terrorism.
Little did the president understand that Iran and Iraq had been archrivals since the 1980s. The two fought for eight years (1980 to 1988) over ideological differences between Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini as well as a territorial dispute involving the Shatt al-Arab. Little did Bush know that signs of rapprochement slowly had been emerging between Iran and the United States. Now he had shot any chance of reconciliation between Teheran and Washington to pieces. Bush even placed North Korea in an “axis of evil” with Iraq and Iran. Little did he understand that Kim Sung Il’s regime stood isolated -- for the most part -- in northeastern Asia and had little communication with the other two “evil” powers.
After a year of internal divisions, the Bush administration made it clear that it was seriously considering an attack against Iraq. The policy review conducted by the White House consisted of two critical areas. First, the Iraq problem needed to be fully resolved. Containment would no longer be tolerated. The administration would no longer allow Hussein to inflict damage to the region. Second, the White House was prepared to go beyond the limitations imposed by the United Nations. (Los Angeles Times, February 10, 2002)
The Bush administration considered three scenarios. First, it would work through the United Nations to pass new “smart sanctions” and press Hussein’s regime to allow the return of inspectors who would look for and dismantle any chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. Second, it considered a military campaign, which probably would rely heavily on air power and potential defections within the Iraqi military. Third, the United States would tighten the political noose around Baghdad as well as other countries which cooperated with Baghdad. (Los Angeles Times, February 10, 2002)
Bush’s presumptuous and unilateralist approach to foreign policy could be translated into cowboy language: “I walk alone.” But that anti-global impulse was only half the problem. The other half was the substance of the policies that his advisers chose. No European nation wanted Bush to divide the world into good and evil nations. None supported his policy that bordered on brinkmanship. No European leaders supported a war with either Iraq or Iran. Similarly, no Asian country wanted an American war with North Korea.
Bush also needed to Why did Bush include only Iran, Iraq, and North Korea in his “axis of evil”? Saudi Arabia continued to linger as one of the most repressive regime in the Middle East. If Bush were not a pawn of corporate America, he would have included Saudi Arabia in his evil axis. The Saudis had long frustrated the United States. The royal family had been ambivalent on military matters. Washington frequently but quietly clashed with the King Fahd’s clan over its foreign policy. And the royalty had only reluctantly cooperated with the United States on intelligence-sharing. Since the 1990s, the National Security Agency began collecting electronic intercepts of conversations between members of the Saudi Arabian royal family. The intercepts depicted a regime increasingly corrupt as well as one that was alienated from the country's religious rank and file. King Fahd’s royalty seemed so weakened and frightened that it channeled hundreds of millions of dollars in what amounts to protection money to fundamentalist groups that hoped to overthrow it. (The New Yorker, October 19, 2001)
The NSA intercepts revealed the greed of many in the Saudi royal family. In the intercepts, princes talked openly about bilking the state and even argued about what was an acceptable percentage to take. Other calls indicated that Prince Bandar, while serving as ambassador, was involved in arms deals in London, Yemen, and the Soviet Union The Saudi family’s greed and repressive regime was just one factor. To further complicate relations between Riyadh and Washington, 15 of the 19 September 11th hijackers held Saudi citizenship papers. This along with other possible ties to terrorism led to suspicion made it difficult for the Bush administration to get full cooperation from the Saudis’ royalty.
Riyadh even refused to admit that the terrorists could have operated from Saudi territory, even though the hijackers’ nationalities exposed the extent to which a terrorist network exists in the kingdom. The royal family repeatedly insisted that Saudi Arabia had made no contributions to radical Islamic groups. When the Saudis were confronted by press reports that some of the substantial funds that the monarchy routinely gave to Islamic charities may actually have gone to Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks, they denied any knowledge of such transfers. The intercepts, however, led many in the intelligence community to conclude otherwise. (The New Yorker, October 19, 2001)
Intercepts by the National Security Agency indicated that by 1996 Saudi money was supporting Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda and other extremist groups in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Yemen, and Central Asia, and throughout the Persian Gulf region. The Saudis helped finance the religious schools and moujahedeen training camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. These were the same Saudis who protected their oil from Iraq ten years earlier in the Gulf War. While protecting its massive wealth, the monarchy ruthlessly repressed its nation's poor. Bin Laden was a member of one of Saudi Arabia's richest families. His money from the Saudi elite sustained a terrorist network. And the Saudi government refused to cooperate fully with the United States in investigating these links or seizing terrorist assets. (Los Angeles Times, October 16, 2001)
AMERICAN PRESSURE TO CONTROL MIDDLE EAST OIL CONTINUES
MIDDLE EASTERN COUNTRIES BATTLE FOR OIL. American dominance in the Middle East was extended to the Caspian Gulf region in the 1990s. The 1991 Gulf War was evidence that the primary goal of the White House in the Middle East was to safeguard the oil interests of American corporations in the Middle East. The focal point of American economic and political interests had been centered around the Persian Gulf region since the 1930s. Now it expanded into another oil-rich area after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Caspian quickly became a bonanza for American multinational oil corporations.
The unstable republics in the Caspian Gulf contributed to problems for American hegemony in the region. The new autonomous oil-rich republics of the former Soviet Union were struggling for political and economic survival. In the 1990s the Caspian Sea basin experienced four wars, two attempted presidential assassinations, a coup, and countless attempted coups.
The Caspian Sea, roughly the size of California, is the world's largest landlocked body of water. It sits on approximately 200 billion barrels of oil which would be 16 percent of the earth's potential oil reserves. This adds up to a net worth of about $3 trillion in oil. Even though the Caspian is considered to be protected under the international Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Soviet Union and Iran had treated the Caspian differently. Under their 1921 Treaty of Friendship, they made it a freely navigated lake whose fish were shared by the two bordering countries.
With the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Caspian region quickly developed into a Middle Eastern intramural problem. The Caspian suddenly became the property of the five countries that border it: Russia on the north, Iran on the south, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on the east, and Azerbaijan on the west. Thus, the question of ownership immediately became a heated issue.
For Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, which have the biggest known fields under their waters, the Caspian has been a sea that would give them maximum control over their own territory. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia and Iran, which have less oil and gas off their own shores, insisted that concern for the environment required joint sovereignty over the Caspian and its resources. This was an absurd position held by Russia, since it has been the Caspian's largest polluter. Russia also argued that because the economies of the former Soviet republics were developed with Russian financial support, it deserved more. However, in April 1997, Russia President Yeltsin modified his position after discovering more oil in its sector and tried unsuccessfully with Kazakhstan to divide the seabed and the oil under it into national sectors. Yeltsin also said that the waters above the seabed would remain international, meaning that all five countries would enjoy common use of the sea itself, with freedom of navigation, fishing rights and environmental protections. Additionally, Yeltsin opposed a plan for an undersea pipeline that would bypass Russia.
Because of the position taken by Russia to divide the Caspian into national sectors, Iran lost its claim to the region. Iran insisted that the Caspian be sectioned into "equal shares" which would allow it to control 20 percent of the seabed, whereby the normal division according to international law would give Iran less than 10 percent.
Another key issue revolves around control of the pipeline route by which oil is exported. This involves warlords and local chiefs who control or move through the remote regions where pipelines may be constructed. Depending on where the lines are laid, power over the West's energy supply may fall to Chechen rebels, irredentist Armenians, government-connected cliques of Russian or Turkish gangsters, Iranian mullahs, Kurdish guerrillas or mercurial chieftains of the Avars, Lezgins, Swanetians, and other Caucasian ethnic groups.
Whoever controls the route or routes would be able to count on steady income from transit fees and to exert pressure on both producing and consuming countries. The first flow of oil was sent through an existing pipeline that runs north from Baku through Chechnya to the Russian port of Novorossisk on the Black Sea. Russian leaders hoped to expand this line so it could be used for the far larger flows to come. However, Russia had to cooperate with Chechnya's secessionist rebels. In 1997 Russian and Chechen leaders finally reached an accord on splitting the transit fees.
Still Russia's goal was to build an alternative route through North Ossetia which was more stable politically. The only existing alternative pipeline did not run through Russia. It proceeded westward from Baku to the Black Sea port of Supsa in Georgia, but it would have passed through potentially explosive regions. Yet Georgian officials guaranteed the pipeline's security. Another option was to use tanker ships to transport the oil across the Black Sea, through the Bosporus into the Mediterranean.
However,Turkish officials objected to such heavy tanker traffic because of the environmental risks. Turkey proposed to build a 650-mile pipeline from Supsa across eastern Turkey to their port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. Yet some oil executives were concerned about the time and expense of building such a pipeline, and they could not ignore the risk that Kurdish guerrillas in eastern Turkey might try to attack it.
Another option was to ship or pipe oil from Supsa across the Black Sea to Bulgaria or Romania, sending it by pipeline from there to a Greek port. Azerbaijan's president, Heydar Aliyev, suggested that he would consider a pipeline through Armenia if the two countries can settle their dispute over the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Another option wass to tie Baku to the existing pipeline network in neighboring Iran and send the oil south to the Persian Gulf. The advantage was that this route leads to ports already equipped for shipping oil and avoids the problems of political, ethnic, national, and religious conflicts in the Caucasus. However, United States adamantly opposed any project which involves Iran. American policy has been to isolate Iran and to limit its participation in the oil bonanza unfolding nearby.
Still another proposal was to run a pipeline from Turkmenistan south to the open sea through Afghanistan which is controlled by the fundamentalist and anti-Western Taliban sect. Unocal officials held pipeline talks with Taliban officials in efforts to gain more support for that route.
THE UNITED STATES BATTLES FOR AN OIL PIPELINE. In September 1994, foreign oil companies began large-scale investments in the Caspian region. Initially the Azerbaijani state oil company signed what was called the "contract of the century," a $7.4 billion agreement with a consortium of 10 companies from the United States, Britain, Norway, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Four more contracts have since been signed, with French, Italian, Japanese, and Iranian companies among the new arrivals.
American multinational oil corporations manipulated to gain access to the last and largest prize in the twentieth century. Mobil was the first to jump in and paid $1.1 billion for a stake in Kazakstan's biggest oil field. This was followed by Russia's state-owned oil conglomerate. Then Malaysia and China began negotiating for the second-largest field. In neighboring Turkmenistan, American and British companies bought permission to search for oil in an 8,000-square-mile tract along the Caspian coast. Azerbaijan International Operating Company became the first consortium to drill in the Caspian and began producing oil within a year.
While American oil companies jostled to get a slice of the oil business, multi-millionaire Lebanese oil magnate Roger Tamraz attempted to influence Clinton to support construction of a pipeline. However, it was learned that Tamraz was a fugitive and that Lebanese authorities issued a warrant for his arrest, charging him with embezzling $200 million in 1989. Tamraz hoped that the United States would build an expensive 930-mile oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea through the Caucasus Mountains, past a politically vulnerable corner of the former Soviet Union, and through Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea.
Tamraz had connections with the CIA from when he did favors for the agency in Lebanon the 1980s. He has also provided information to the CIA on an unpaid basis, and he reportedly knew William Lofgren who was in charge of CIA activities in the Caspian region. Tamraz got an appointment to see a National Security Council expert on the region, Sheila Heslin, on June 2, 1995. He hoped that she would be able to set up a meeting with the president and other senior government officials to discuss his project. In May 1995, Heslin asked the CIA what it knew about Tamraz, and she said that a "May 1995 memo was rather complete. It was sent to ambassadors in the field to give them a sense of who this individual was and what his assets and liabilities were. Of course the NSC got it." When Heslin was told that Tamraz would not meet with Clinton, she said that four or five months later, Donald Fowler, then the Democratic national chairman, contacted her with the idea of helping Tamraz see the president. Fowler said that the CIA would send her a paper about Tamraz's helpful relationship with American intelligence. Then the agency gave her a second memo which strongly urged a Clinton-Tamraz meeting. Weeks later Tamraz was invited to a White House Christmas party, and the next year he went to four White House fund-raising events sponsored by the DNC. Perhaps Tamraz was able to get access to Clinton, since he personally gave $300,000 to the Democratic Party through one of his oil companies during the 1996 campaign.
In 1998, the Clinton administration received $900 million in foreign aid -- 50 percent higher than that of the year before -- for the Caspian region. Most of the money was earmarked for Azerbaijan which is run by a former hard-line communist, Heydar Aliyev, who is a former KGB officer and was once considered as a possible successor to Leonid Brezhnev in the early 1980s. Despite his background, he regained power four years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. While surviving two attempted coups, he attempted to stabilize the economy and put together a set of international oil consortiums that look more like political coalitions than oil-drilling groups.
While American companies have the largest share in many of these consortiums. Aliyev publicly stated that he welcomes American involvement in offshore oil to leverage an equitable settlement of his country's dispute with Armenia and an end to the ban on United States economic aid. Aliyev's bonanza is the billions or trillions of dollars that the sale of oil will bring to Kazahkstan which is so indebted that government workers outside the capital frequently go for months without pay.
In 1996, the Clinton administration tried to convince major oil corporations to build a multi-billion-dollar pipeline in the Caucasus. The next year the oil companies discreetly asked the Clinton administration if it would be willing to pay part of the cost of construction. They were told that any such payment would be viewed as a government handout to the oil industry, and was therefore politically impossible.
The White House attempted to persuade American oil corporations to choose a 1,100 mile route. The proposal was also accepted by five of the Caspian Basin states -- Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia The proposed pipeline was set to begin in Baku, the capital of oil-rich Azerbaijan, through Turkey to its Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. However, the administration was close to losing its battle because of the enormous expense of the pipeline. Oil companies -- particularly BP Amoco -- favored the United States-backed pipeline route but believed that its projected cost of $2.8 billion made it too costly to build. Many corporate leaders also felt that the project could cost over $4 billion.
Instead, the American oil companies preferred a shorter pipeline from Azerbaijan to the port of Supsa and on Georgia's Black Sea coast. From Georgia, the oil would be loaded into tankers and shipped across the Black Sea toward Europe. In this case, Turkey would be denied billions of dollars in revenue since oil traffic through the narrow Bosporus strait would greatly diminish. However, the White House supported the Baku-Ceyhan route because it would pass through only relatively friendly countries -- Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey -- and would bind them closer to the West. In addition, this route would give the United States more influence in Azerbaijan and Georgia and take away Russian influence in those two countries. The White House said that they would give Turkey $823,000 to help plan its part of the pipeline.
Finally, in November 1999, the United States was able to get the Baku-Ceyhan after heavy White House lobbying. The $2.8 billion agreement was signed by the United States, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia. The United States insured that Russia would not benefit, making sure that the 1,240 miles circumvented that country. The pipeline, to be completed in 2004, would be capable of carrying one million barrels of oil a day.
The United States succeeded in obtaining support from several Middle Eastern countries to build the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. The agreement was signed by the United States, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia. The United States insured that Russia would not benefit, making sure that the 1,240 miles circumvented that country.
But the participating oil companies had to negotiate the financing of the pipeline. They had to pledge shipment of specific volumes of oil to obtain the necessary financing. But several months later, the United States ran into another road block. In March 2000 oil experts lowered their estimates of oil production. They dropped their estimate from 6 billion barrels of crude oil -- needed for the $12 billion Baku-Ceyhan route to operate successfully -- to only about 4 billion barrels. Furthermore, OPEC's sharp reduction in oil production in the spring of 2000, while boosting the price of a barrel from $20 to $32 -- led to a decrease in oil exports.
Oil industry executives claimed that the shortage in the Caspian Sea region stemmed from the difficulty from locating the oil reserves in a remote, underdeveloped area where most of the equipment required for oil exploration needed to be built from scratch or imported. Julia Nanay, a director at the Petroleum Finance Company, an oil industry advisory firm based in Washington D.C., told the Los Angeles Times (March 26, 2000) that if the 11 member consortium behind the pipeline cannot find enough oil, the project undoubtedly would be terminated. If the consortium issued a moratorium on drilling, the United States would insure that it would secure control over a future pipeline and decide which countries would be allowed to be part of a future pipeline.
The United States certainly would block Iran from becoming a major player in the Caspian oil bonanza. The State Department refused to accept the cheapest rout from the Caspian Sea to the open seas: through Iran to the Persian Gulf. It also ruled out any route that would cross most republics of the former Soviet Union. The Clinton administration negotiated with the presidents from Azerbaijan (Heydar Aliyev), Kazakhstan (Nursultan A. Nazarbayev), and Turkmenistan (Saparmurad Niyazov). Even though the State Department reprimanded Turkmenistan in its annual human rights report.
THE BATTLE FOR THE CASPIAN SEA PIPELINE
American dominance in the Middle East was extended to the Caspian Gulf region in the 1990s. The 1991 Gulf War was evidence that the primary goal of the White House in the Middle East was to safeguard the oil interests of American corporations in the Middle East. The focal point of American economic and political interests had been centered around the Persian Gulf region since the 1930s. Now it expanded into another oil-rich area after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Caspian quickly became a bonanza for American multinational oil corporations.
The unstable republics in the Caspian Gulf contributed to problems for American hegemony in the region. The new autonomous oil-rich republics of the former Soviet Union were struggling for political and economic survival. In the 1990s the Caspian Sea basin experienced four wars, two attempted presidential assassinations, a coup, and countless attempted coups.
The Caspian Sea, roughly the size of California, was the world’s largest landlocked body of water. It sat on approximately 200 billion barrels of oil which would be 16 percent of the Earth’s potential oil reserves. This added up to a net worth of about $3 trillion in oil. Even though the Caspian was protected under the international Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Soviet Union and Iran had treated the Caspian differently. Under their 1921 Treaty of Friendship, they made it a freely navigated lake whose fish were shared by the two bordering countries.
With the breakup of the Soviet Union, the Caspian region quickly developed into a Middle Eastern intramural problem. The Caspian suddenly became the property of the five countries that border it: Russia on the north, Iran on the south, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on the east, and Azerbaijan on the west. Thus, the question of ownership immediately became a heated issue.
For Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, with the biggest known fields under their waters, the Caspian Sea would give them maximum control over their own territory. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia and Iran, which had less oil and gas off their own shores, insisted that concern for the environment required joint sovereignty over the Caspian and its resources. This was an absurd position held by Russia, since it had been the Caspian’s largest polluter. Russia also argued that because the economies of the former Soviet republics were developed with Russian financial support, it deserved more.
However, in April 1997, Russia President Yeltsin modified his position after discovering more oil in its sector and tried unsuccessfully with Kazakhstan to divide the seabed and the oil under it into national sectors. Yeltsin also said that the waters above the seabed would remain international, meaning that all five countries would enjoy common use of the sea itself, with freedom of navigation, fishing rights and environmental protections. Additionally, Yeltsin opposed a plan for an undersea pipeline that would bypass Russia.
Because of the position taken by Russia to divide the Caspian into national sectors, Iran lost its claim to the region. Iran insisted that the Caspian be sectioned into “equal shares” which would allow it to control 20 percent of the seabed, whereby the normal division according to international law would give Iran less than 10 percent.
Another key issue revolved around control of the pipeline route. This involved warlords and local chiefs who controlled the remote regions where pipelines could be constructed. Depending on where the lines were laid, power over the West’s energy supply could fall to Chechen rebels, Armenians, Russia, Turkey, Iran, or Kurds.
Whoever controlled the route or routes would be able to count on steady income from transit fees and to exert pressure on both producing and consuming countries. The first flow of oil was sent through an existing pipeline that runs north from Baku through Chechnya to the Russian port of Novorossisk on the Black Sea. Russian leaders hoped to expand this line so it could be used for the far larger flows to come. However, Russia had to cooperate with Chechnya’s secessionist rebels. In 1997, Russian and Chechen leaders finally reached an accord on splitting the transit fees.
Still Russia’s goal was to build an alternative route through North Ossetia which was more stable politically. The only existing alternative pipeline did not run through Russia. It proceeded westward from Baku to the Black Sea port of Supsa in Georgia, but it would have passed through potentially explosive regions. Yet Georgian officials guaranteed the pipeline’s security. Another option was to use tanker ships to transport the oil across the Black Sea, through the Bosporus into the Mediterranean.
However, Turkish officials objected to such heavy tanker traffic because of the environmental risks. Turkey proposed to build a 650-mile pipeline from Supsa across eastern Turkey to their port of Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. Yet some oil executives were concerned about the time and expense of building such a pipeline, and they could not ignore the risk that Kurdish guerrillas in eastern Turkey might try to attack it.
Another option was to ship or pipe oil from Supsa across the Black Sea to Bulgaria or Romania, sending it by pipeline from there to a Greek port. Azerbaijan’s president, Heydar Aliyev, suggested that he would consider a pipeline through Armenia if the two countries can settle their dispute over the occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Another option was to tie Baku to the existing pipeline network in neighboring Iran and send the oil south to the Persian Gulf. The advantage was that this route led to ports already equipped for shipping oil and avoids the problems of political, ethnic, national, and religious conflicts in the Caucasus. However, the United States adamantly opposed any project which involved Iran against whom the United States refused to lift an embargo.
Still another proposal was to run a pipeline from Turkmenistan south to the open sea through Afghanistan which was controlled by the fundamentalist and anti-Western Taliban sect. Unocal officials held pipeline talks with Taliban officials in efforts to gain more support for that route.
THE UNITED STATES BATTLES FOR AN OIL PIPELINE. In September 1994, foreign oil companies began large-scale investments in the Caspian region. Initially the Azerbaijani state oil company signed what was called the “contract of the century,” a $7.4 billion agreement with a consortium of 10 companies from the United States, Britain, Norway, Russia, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. Four more contracts were later signed, with French, Italian, Japanese, and Iranian companies.
In 1996, the Clinton administration first encouraged oil corporations to build a multi-billion-dollar pipeline in the Caucasus. The White House attempted to persuade American oil corporations to choose a 1,100-mile route. Mobil was the first to jump in and paid $1.1 billion for a stake in Kazakstan’s biggest oil field. Unocal negotiated to build pipelines from Turkmenistan, through Afghanistan, and into Pakistani ports on the Arabian sea.
Unocal’s scheme required an Afghan government that would guarantee safe passage. United States policy towards the Taliban appeared to have been determined principally by Unocal’s interests in Afghanistan, the only route which made both political and economic sense. Unocal invited some of the leaders of the Taliban to Houston, where they were royally entertained. The company suggested paying 15 cents for every thousand cubic feet of gas it pumped through Afghanistan. (The Guardian, October 23, 2001)
A pipeline across other areas of the region would have severe political and economic implications. Transporting Caspian fuel through Russia or Azerbaijan would greatly enhance Russia’s political and economic control over the central Asian republics. That was precisely what the United States had spent 10 years trying to prevent. Piping it through Iran would enrich a regime which the United States had sought to isolate. Sending it the long way round through China, besides the strategic considerations, would be vastly expensive.
In their bid to construct an oil pipeline, American oil companies found competition from across the globe. Russia’s state-owned oil conglomerate joined in the bidding. Malaysia and China began negotiating for the second-largest field. In neighboring Turkmenistan, American and British companies bought permission to search for oil in an 8,000-square-mile tract along the Caspian coast. Azerbaijan International Operating Company became the first consortium to drill in the Caspian and began producing oil within a year.
The first proposal was also accepted by five of the Caspian Basin states -- Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Georgia. The pipeline was set to begin in Baku, the capital of oil-rich Azerbaijan, through Turkey to its Mediterranean port of Ceyhan. However, the administration was close to losing its battle because of the enormous expense of the pipeline. BP Amoco favored the United States-backed pipeline route but believed that its projected cost of $2.8 billion made it too costly to build. Others felt that the project could cost over $4 billion.
Instead, the American oil companies preferred a shorter pipeline from Azerbaijan to the port of Supsa and on Georgia’s Black Sea coast. From Georgia, the oil would be loaded into tankers and shipped across the Black Sea toward Europe. In this case, Turkey would be denied billions of dollars in revenue since oil traffic through the narrow Bosporus strait would greatly diminish. However, the White House supported the Baku-Ceyhan route because it would pass through only relatively friendly countries -- Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey -- and would bind them closer to the West. In addition, this route would give the United States more influence in Azerbaijan and Georgia and take away Russian influence in those two countries. The White House promised Turkey $823,000 for its part in the pipeline.
While American oil companies jostled to get a slice of the oil business, multi-millionaire Lebanese oil magnate Roger Tamraz attempted to influence President Clinton to support construction of a pipeline. However, it was learned that Tamraz was a fugitive and that Lebanese authorities issued a warrant for his arrest, charging him with embezzling $200 million in 1989. Tamraz hoped that the United States would build an expensive 930-mile oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea through the Caucasus Mountains, past a politically vulnerable corner of the former Soviet Union, and through Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea.
Tamraz had connections with the CIA from when he did favors for the agency in Lebanon the 1980s. He has also provided information to the CIA on an unpaid basis, and he reportedly knew William Lofgren who was in charge of CIA activities in the Caspian region. Tamraz got an appointment to see a National Security Council expert on the region, Sheila Heslin, on June 2, 1995. He hoped that she would be able to set up a meeting with the president and other senior government officials to discuss his project.
Weeks later Tamraz was invited to a White House Christmas party, and the next year he went to four White House fund-raising events sponsored by the DNC. Perhaps Tamraz was able to get access to Clinton, since he personally gave $300,000 to the Democratic Party through one of his oil companies during the 1996 campaign.
In 1998, the Clinton administration received $900 million in foreign aid -- 50 percent higher than that of the year before -- for the Caspian region. Most of the money was earmarked for Azerbaijan which is run by a former hard-line communist, Heydar Aliyev, who is a former KGB officer and was once considered as a possible successor to Leonid Brezhnev in the early 1980s. Despite his background, he regained power four years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He attempted to stabilize the economy and put together a set of international oil consortiums.
In November 1999, the United States succeeded in obtaining support from several Middle Eastern countries to build the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. The agreement was signed by the United States, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Georgia. The United States insured that Russia would not benefit, making sure that the 1,240 miles circumvented that country.
However, the participating oil companies had to negotiate the financing of the pipeline. They had to pledge shipment of specific volumes of oil to obtain the necessary financing. But several months later, the United States ran into another roadblock. In March 2000, oil analysts lowered their estimates of oil production. They dropped their estimate from 6 billion barrels of crude oil -- needed for the $12 billion Baku-Ceyhan route to operate successfully -- to only about 4 billion barrels. Furthermore, OPEC’s sharp reduction in oil production in the spring of 2000 led to a decrease in oil exports. (Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2000)