Intelligence on Iraq was wrong, top Marine says

May 31, 2003, 12:30AM
By GREG MILLER
Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — The top U.S. Marine commander in Iraq said Friday that U.S. intelligence was “simply wrong” in its assessment that Saddam Hussein intended to unleash chemical or biological weapons against U.S. forces during the war, but he stopped short of saying there was an overall intelligence failure.

“It was a surprise to me then, it remains a surprise to me now, that we have not uncovered weapons,” Lt. Gen. James Conway, commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, said from Baghdad in a teleconference with reporters in Washington.

“It’s not for lack of trying,” he continued. “We’ve been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they’re simply not there.”

Conway said he still believes it is possible that weapons of mass destruction will be found. But his comments are likely to feed concern in Washington that the prewar intelligence on Iraq was flawed.

Amid the mounting criticism, CIA Director George Tenet took the unusual step of issuing a statement Friday denying that the agency’s assessments on Iraq were politicized.

“Our role is to call it like we see it — to tell policy-makers what we know, what we don’t know, what we think, and what we base it on,” Tenet said. “That is exactly what was done and continues to be done on intelligence issues related to Iraq.”

Conway, the Marine commander, acknowledged that “intelligence failure” is “too strong a word to use at this point.” But he said, “What the regime was intending to do in terms of its use of the weapons, we thought we understood — or we certainly had our best guess, our most dangerous, our most likely courses of action that the intelligence folks were giving us. We were simply wrong. But whether or not we’re wrong at the national level, I think, still very much remains to be seen.”

Conway’s remarks came as the Pentagon disclosed details of its plans to send a new team of more than 1,000 experts to search for evidence of proscribed weapons. Maj. Gen. Keith Dayton, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s human intelligence service, will lead the effort.

In a separate press briefing Friday, Dayton appeared to acknowledge that it is possible that Iraq deliberately misled U.S. intelligence agencies, making them think that weapons were being produced and deployed even as they were secretly being destroyed.

“We may find out three months from now that there was an elaborate deception program and the stuff was destroyed,” Dayton said. “Do I think we’re going to find something? Yeah, I kind of do,” he said, adding that he still believes the United States’ sources of intelligence on Iraq before the war were credible.

The subject of the search for banned weapons is becoming an increasingly uncomfortable one for the Bush administration, with several influential lawmakers this week saying they believe the White House hyped the Iraq threat or was misled by the intelligence community.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was largely responsible for arguing the administration’s case for the war on Iraq to a skeptical international community, told reporters Friday that all of the evidence he presented at a prewar Security Council meeting was solid.

And Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, in an interview with Vanity Fair, sought to minimize the importance of weapons of mass destruction in the administration’s calculus for war.

“For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on,” Wolfowitz said in comments released Wednesday.

 

The Goal Is Baghdad, but at What Cost?

March 25, 2003
By MICHAEL R. GORDON

CAMP DOHA, Kuwait, March 24 — The way to Baghdad is through the Republican Guard. The United States Army and the Marine Corps are now moving up supplies and getting their forces into place to take the fight to Saddam Hussein’s most loyal units. According to the allied war plan, by the time the onslaught begins in earnest, the Iraqi troops will have been thoroughly pummeled from the air.

There is little doubt that the United States military has the skills, training and weapons to take the capital and dislodge the Hussein government. The questions are how long it will take, and what the cost will be in terms of casualties, both allied and Iraqi.

The Iraqis are trying to counter the allied strategy by carrying out guerrilla-style raids to disrupt the movement of troops and supplies and divert allied attention to threats in the rear. The advance on the Iraqi capital may also bring allied forces closer to the threat of chemical weapons, according to American officials. They are concerned that the Iraqis have drawn a red line around the approaches to the capital and that crossing it could prompt Mr. Hussein’s forces to fire artillery and missiles tipped with chemical or germ warheads.

Baghdad is what the United States military calls the center of gravity. It is the stronghold from which Mr. Hussein controls his forces, a bulls-eye for the American air war commanders and the final objective for American ground forces that have drawn up plans to fight their way to the gates of the capital, then conduct thrusts at power centers inside the city.

From the start, the campaign to take Baghdad was envisioned as a multifaceted effort.

It began with a cruise missile attack that was intended to kill Mr. Hussein. Government command centers and bunkers have been blasted with bombs and cruise missiles, attacks that can be expected to continue periodically.

For all the talk about waging a punishing air campaign, the United States has been holding back some punch. The Pentagon removed hundreds of strikes from its attack plan in an effort to limit civilian casualties and damage to civilian structures.

The calculation is that this approach will make it easier for American officials to receive public support and rebuild Iraq after Mr. Hussein is toppled. In contrast to the Persian Gulf war in 1991, Iraqi television is still on the air.

Should American air power destroy Mr. Hussein’s government — a prospect that seems increasingly unlikely — American ground forces would be rushed to Baghdad to fill the power vacuum.

Otherwise, the role of air power is to weaken the government’s command and control and knock out Iraqi air defenses, then provide United States ground commanders with air cover if American ground forces have to venture into the still-defended capital.

Airstrikes will also be directed against Republican Guard forces protecting the approaches to the city, including their command and control, artillery and tanks. The goal is to weaken the units and freeze the Republican Guard in place so they cannot drop back and prepare for urban warfare.

The land attack on Baghdad is still in its initial phases. The first step took place Sunday night when the 11th Attack Helicopter Regiment began to strike a brigade of the Medina.

To set the stage for the assault, the United States military hammered Iraqi radar and tried to suppress surface-to-air missiles. But the Iraqis had a low-tech solution: they deployed a large number of irregular fighters who were equipped with machine guns and small arms.

As the helicopters took off, they flew low off the ground to make themselves less inviting targets for surface-to-air missiles. But that made them vulnerable to the small-arms fire. Thirty of 32 Apache helicopters were struck by small-arms fire.

One helicopter went down, and its two-man crew was captured. The Army was so concerned that the Iraqis would get their hands on the technology that they fired two Atacms missiles today to destroy the helicopter. Because of bad weather after the action, the military had no report on whether they succeeded.

The Apaches destroyed only 10 to 15 Iraqi armored vehicles. American military commanders say they are rethinking their helicopter tactics as a result of the events of the past 24 hours.

The weather has also become at least a temporary ally of the Iraqis. American military officials are forecasting several days of cloudy weather with 10,000-foot ceilings and 30-knot winds that will create sandstorms. The bad weather will preclude helicopter attacks and make it more difficult for allied warplanes to attack the three Republican Guard divisions around Baghdad.

But the bad weather will not last forever, and American forces are using the time to get their forces into position and move up large amounts of fuel and supplies.

The marines, for example, are laying a long fuel pipeline in Iraqi territory. American forces are also trying to improve the security of their convoys by deploying more armed escorts on the ground and by helicopter in response to a wave of attacks by Iraqi fedayeen and other irregular forces.

During the stretch of bad weather, the Army hopes to keep the pressure on by firing Atacms surface-to-surface missiles. The weather will make it difficult for allied pilots to hit mobile targets, but the air war commanders could try to keep the heat on by dropping gravity bombs or cluster bombs.

When the moment comes to battle the Republican Guards full tilt, it will be through a combined arms attack involving artillery, close air support and tanks. Army and Marine forces will be involved.

After reaching the outskirts of the capital, American commanders envision a deliberate fight and say they are determined not to rush into the city.

Rather, their plan calls for patient reconnaissance to try to pinpoint the location of Mr. Hussein, his top deputies and the main defenders of his rule, including internal security organizations and elements of the Special Republican Guard. They are hoping that residents will provide the necessary intelligence.

The goal is to avoid house-to-house fighting that could result in large American and civilian casualties. Instead, allied commanders envision thrusts at crucial power centers. Army combat engineers might be at the front of a formation to destroy barricades and other obstacles. Tanks could follow, protected by light infantry to guard against attacks, rocket-propelled grenades and antitank weapons. The formations would also be protected by air power, including spotters that would call in airstrikes and Apache helicopters, which could fire Hellfire missiles.

“If there is to be a fight in and around Baghdad, we’re going to have to be very patient to establish the right conditions for us to engage in that fight,” Gen. William S. Wallace, the commander of the V Corps, said in a recent interview. “I think that means forming joint combined arms teams that include Air Force, Army aviation, light infantry, armored forces, engineer forces that together can go after a specific target, for a specific purpose.”

CIA relayed doubts on uranium deal

March 21, 2003, 11:56PM
Official: Facts on Iraqi purchase forged
Washington Post

WASHINGTON — CIA officials now say they communicated significant doubts to the administration about the evidence backing up charges that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from Africa for nuclear weapons.

The charges found their way into President Bush’s State of the Union address, a State Department “fact sheet” and public remarks by numerous senior officials.

But that evidence was dismissed as a forgery early this month by United Nations officials investigating Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs. The Bush administration does not dispute this conclusion.

Asked how the administration came to back up one of its principal allegations against Iraq with information its own intelligence service considered faulty, officials said all such assertions were carefully tailored to stay within the bounds of certainty.

As for the State of the Union address, a White House spokesman said, “all presidential speeches are fully vetted by the White House staff and relevant U.S. government agencies for factual correctness.”

Questioned about the forgery during a recent congressional hearing, Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “We were aware of this piece of evidence, and it was provided in good faith to the (U.N.) inspectors.”

In the days preceding the U.S. and British invasion of Iraq, some intelligence officials had begun to acknowledge more openly their doubts about how this and other information was used to support charges that Iraq has a significant covert program to produce weapons of mass destruction.

“I have seen all the stuff. I certainly have doubts,” said a senior administration official with access to the latest intelligence. Based on the material he has reviewed, the official said, the United States will “face significant problems in trying to find” such weapons. “It will be very difficult.”

According to several officials, decisions about what information to declassify and use to make the administration’s public case have been made by a small group that includes top CIA and National Security Council officials. “The policy guys make decisions about things like this,” said one official.

Polls say U.S. public backs president, invasion of Iraq

March 21, 2003, 10:53PM
By ANDY NETZEL
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Most Americans approve of the decision to begin military action against Iraq, according to polls released Friday.

The polls also show public support for President Bush surging with the invasion of Iraq, but not to the level of support for his father 12 years ago in the early days of the Persian Gulf War.

A Gallup poll conducted Thursday night — one day after coalition forces launched an aerial attack on Baghdad — found 76 percent of Americans supporting the decision to go to war.

A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted the same evening showed 74 percent supporting the start of war against Iraq.

Strikingly strong support in the early days of a war is not surprising, said Richard Murray, a University of Houston political scientist.

“Whatever the debate about going into the war was, it’s over,” he said. “We are in combat. The American public rallies around the flag and the president of the United States during times of crisis.”

Media coverage of the events can also alter opinions. “You see tons of publicity about troops’ skill and bravery,” Murray said. “Those kinds of reports can make people feel good about what’s going on.”

The findings of the Gallup poll are nearly identical to the level of public support in the early days of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. The decision to begin military action then won the approval of 79 percent of the adults surveyed by Gallup.

This week’s The New York Times/CBS Poll also found that 62 percent of those surveyed agreed that the timing of the attack was appropriate. Thirty-five percent said United Nations weapons inspectors should have been given more time before military action was begun.

The polls found the public rallying around the president, boosting his job approval ratings by 15 percentage points. Murray said that if the war is short-lived, the higher rating likely will not carry over to Bush’s re-election effort in 2004.

“More important will be the ongoing war on terrorism and what happens on that regard,” Murray said. “That’s not going to go away. This (war with Iraq) should be over soon.”

Two weeks ago, 54 percent approved of the way Bush was leading the country, according to the New York Times/CBS Poll. Thursday’s poll found 67 percent approving of how the president does his job.

Those numbers will rise quickly, but fall slowly, Murray said, adding that once hostilities are over, Bush’s approval ratings likely will go back to pre-war levels.

In 1991, then-President Bush’s job approval rating jumped to 82 percent in the early days of the Persian Gulf War, eventually peaking at 88 percent. Eighteen months later, voters turned him out of office and elected Democrat Bill Clinton.

Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are preparation for invasion of Iran

Invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq are preparation for invasion of Iran
by J. Griffiths 5:59pm Fri Mar 21 ’03
john_596@hotmail.com

The ultimate purpose for the invasion of Iraq is not Iraq or Iraq’s oil. There is ample evidence, from sources available to the public, to indicate Iraq is not the final goal. Like Afghanistan, Iraq is being taken in preparation for the invasion of Iran.

I would like to resubmit this article in order to correct several inaccuracies that appeared in the original.

A fully footnoted version should be completed soon.

The ultimate purpose of the unprecedented actions and postures being taken by the current United States administration is not Iraq or Iraq’s oil. There is ample evidence from sources available to the public, to indicate that Iraq is not the real goal. Like Afghanistan, Iraq is being taken in preparation for the invasion of Iran. As surprising as it may sound, control of a certain pipeline route from Baku to the Persian Gulf, through Iran is the final goal.

The East Asia oil market has been clearly identified by the United States Department of Energy and other industry research groups as being the fastest growing and the most profitable oil market in the coming decades. The key to control of the East Asian oil trade, as I’ve explained below, is control of the shortest and most economical route for transporting oil from the Caspian Basin to the open sea. That route leads from the southern shore of the Caspian Sea directly through Iran to the Persian Gulf. Control of this route is also essential in maintaining some degree of control over the emerging giant economy of China. Control of this pipeline route is the ultimate trump card in the intensely competitive game being played out among contending world oil companies in the Caspian Basin. Finally, it is felt that control of this route and the resulting control of the East Asian market, will allow American oil companies to maintain their supremacy over an increasingly successful and confident European Union.

Please take a moment and read through the following paragraphs and let me know if it strikes you as particularly probable. Much of it can be sourced to the Dept. of Energy’s web site “Country Analysis Briefs” and “Caspian Oil Export Options”. Blair’s comments are quoted in the February 3rd issue of TIME. The remainder can be found on a variety of web sites relating to the Caspian oil fields, pipeline routes and projections of future oil demand in Asia. It is a fairly simple task to confirm the basic tenets of this article because they are discussed throughout all current oil industry publications and literature. A fully footnoted article will be completed soon. Until then, anyone looking for sources can find them easily enough on “dogpile” or “ask jeeves”. Simply type in “pipeline from Caspian Sea through Iran to Persian Gulf” or any of the other related topics.

The rise of a confident and successful European Union has presented an increasingly serious challenge to the dominance of American corporate interests.
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Major American corporations have responded by influencing Washington to attempt to counter this challenge in a wide variety of ways, NAFTA being one of the earlier responses and perhaps the example best known to the public. Almost certainly, the most central aspect of this global economic struggle is the competition to become the 21st century’s dominant player in the oil trade.

The Caspian Sea Basin has emerged as the key arena in the struggle among western powers for dominance in the post-Soviet Union era. Although moderately well reported in the Western European media, the American public has remained completely oblivious to the competition among the world’s major oil companies for advantageous position in the phenomenally rich oil fields of the Caspian Sea basin.

The U.S. Department of Energy has identified the oil reserves in the Caspian Sea region as, by far, the most important reserves for the next several decades. The DOE has reported the oil reserves (known and projected) of the Caspian Sea region to be comparable to those of the Arabian peninsula (for example) and to exceed those of the United States and Western Europe by two fold. “Caspian energy development is likely to be in high gear by 2015.”4 If suitable export routes can be secured by American or European Union oil interests, oil reserves in the Caspian Basin will mean comparative independence from the Gulf States.

These vast reserves were formerly unavailable to the west because the entire shoreline of the Caspian Sea was controlled by the Soviet Union and Iran. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the vast area around the Caspian Sea was broken up into a number of newly independent states. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan hold much of the land bordering the Caspian Sea. These newly formed states are represented by small oligarchies that have proved relatively eager to make deals with American and EU oil companies. Financially satisfying a very few key nationals in these new states has been sufficient to secure immensely profitable drilling and pipeline deals. From the perspective of western corporations, it’s almost like doing business in the Gulf region a half century ago.

Russia and Iran hold the remaining shoreline. Russia has its own corporate oil interests and, although as eager for profits as any other player, does not lend itself to one-sided oil development arrangements.
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On the southernmost shore of the Caspian, Iran, as explained below, controls the ideal pipeline route for shipping oil to the Persian Gulf and then on to India, Indonesia and China. This East Asian oil market is expected to be, by far, the most profitable in coming decades.

The incredibly oil rich area of the Caspian Basin, being fought over by every nation possessing a sizable oil industry, holds the promise for the West of comparative independence from oil now being supplied by the increasingly uncooperative Islamic states in the Persian Gulf region.

Unreported in the mainstream American media the intense struggle between American and EU oil interests for favorable positions in the oil fields of the Caspian Sea region is much more widely discussed in Europe. Contending players (in what the European media calls the reincarnation of the “great game” of Victorian times) include nearly every industrialized country on the planet.

Even China, whose oil consumption is expected increase 10 times faster than Europe’s in the next decade (A), has made attempts to tap into the Caspian oil fields. China, anticipating its vast energy needs in the coming decades, had plans for an 1,800 mile pipeline from the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, through Kazakhstan, to western China. The cost of this pipeline would have stretched China’s financial resources to the limit. To justify its construction, China needed assurances that a certain minimum number of barrels be available for pipeline transport each and every year. Initially, the government of Kazakhstan was willing to guarantee the requisite oil flow and China prepared to go forward with the plan. However, what some sources describe as “outside influences bent on derailing China’s pipeline plans” convinced or paid Kazakhstan to revise their oil export estimate downward. China was then forced to scrap any immediate plans for direct access to Caspian oil.

Preventing China from gaining direct access to the Caspian oil fields is absolutely essential to creating and maintaining the profit stream envisioned by corporate interests well connected with the current American Administration. In the opinion of the current United States administration, American corporations and their partners must control the export routes from the Caspian Basin that will supply China, India and Indonesia’s vast need for oil during the coming decades.
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The DOE has identified China as becoming the world largest oil consumer during the early part of this century. As the century progresses, the oil consumption of China together with Japan, the Korean peninsula. Indonesia and India is expected to increase at a rate ten times greater than American or European consumption. The DOE has further reported that East Asian oil sales will command substantially higher prices than oil sold in Europe or North America. These factors combine to make this particular market the most sought after prize of the “great game”. The control of the oil flowing to East Asia is one of the most important, if not the most important keys to global economic domination in the 21st century.

At present, all of the existing and proposed pipelines for oil export from the Caspian Sea run more or less westward to the Black Sea or the Mediterranean. A pipeline from the northern Caspian through Russia to Western Europe would be far too costly, and would put Russia in an intolerably strong position with regard to the European Union’s energy needs. Oil presently being piped to the Black Sea eventually must be transported by tanker through the Dardanelle’s to the Mediterranean, a route that is becoming increasingly troublesome due to congested traffic in the straits and Turkey’s “environmental concerns” read: financial demands.

Even under the best of circumstances, transporting oil through Turkey to the Mediterranean and then through the Suez Canal for
shipment to the Far East would be costly and politically unpredictable requiring the continuing consent of the numerous intervening Islamic nations.

DOE and EIA studies, available to the public, report the most economical export route for oil from the Caspian Basin to the East Asian markets as being a direct route through Iran to the Persian
Gulf.

The Iran and Libya Sanctions Act has prevented American companies from doing business with Iran. The underlying reason for the sanctions against Iran has been to discourage European oil interests from risking capital on a trans-Iran pipeline and buy time for American efforts to “create a more favorable political climate” in Iran. During the Clinton Administration, Dick Cheney was a very strong proponent for lifting this ban.

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Because of the enormous profits a trans-Iran pipeline would bring, Cheney, along with many other American oil industry
leaders, could see that the Sanctions Act would not be able to discourage EU oil interests for very long.

Even if these sanctions were lifted, the fundamentalist government of Iran would prove to be a difficult partner. This would leave American oil in a position not much better than its present problematic reliance on oil from the other Islamic States. It was decided that a regime change in Iran would be the only long-term way to protect the major investment that will be required to build an American owned Caspian to Persian Gulf pipeline. The purpose of the Iran/Libya Sanctions Act has been to reduce the possibility of non-American interests making a pipeline deal with Iran before that regime change can be affected.

Regardless of these circumstances, in the thinking of both the American oil industry and the EU oil industry, this pipeline route from the southern Caspian, directly through Iran to the Persian Gulf, is the key to dominance in the 21st century oil trade.

American oil has been forced to stand by idly while the EU (particularly France) has been gaining an progressively more strong position in Iran. Asking Congress to repeal the Iran Sanctions Act is considered a non-started by the Bush administration. Also, as explained above, this would still leave the fundamentalist government in power. For these reasons, a plan for affecting a regime change in Iran came to be of utmost importance.

To bring this about required a comprehensive and interlocking strategy that would have been nearly impossible to carry out under a Democratic administration. The chances for success in carrying out such an ambitious plan would have nearly as remote under a Republican administration less intimately connected to the oil industry. The accidental election of George Bush, with his intimate ties to the industry, provided American oil with an opportunity that was very unlikely to ever be repeated.

The invasion of Iran is no small undertaking. Iran is far more populous than either Afghanistan or Iraq. Also, Iran is better armed. The most prudent way to secure Iran is to first flank it on both sides (Afghanistan and Iraq).
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This provides both the best possible staging areas for the invasion of Iran and prevents retaliation from those two nearby countries. Also the future occupation of Iran would prove to be much more thorny without first pacifying the neighboring areas. Finally, any new government established in Iran that cooperates with western interests would be subject to constant destabilizing actions from Islamic fundamentalists in near-by states unless those states were first secured.

Presented in a completely candid manner, this plan would be sure to be seen as a blatant use of America’s military to enable the designs of private corporate interests. Some attempt needed to be made at manufacturing plausible justification for invasion of these three countries to create a degree of acceptance with the American public and the world community.

Sorting through recent domestic and world events that have seemed to justify armed intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq to determine which occurrences were “managed” is beyond the scope of this article. However, it is clear to most of the world, (outside the United States) that the current administration has intended all along to invade Iraq regardless what Saddam Hussein does or doesn’t do.

If Iraq doesn’t show the U.N. some weapons of mass destruction “they are hiding them and must be invaded”. If Iraq does show the U.N. some weapons, then “they have been lying to us and must be invaded”. Either way, it has been set up so there is absolutely no way Iraq can avoid invasion.

After Saddam Hussein’s regime has been toppled, do not expect the current administration to make any serious attempt at establishing a democratic government. Democratic governments are far too difficult to control by foreign interests. The uncertainties of the democratic process are very often not compatible with corporate timetables. As has been done in Afghanistan, in Iraq (and later in Iran) the Bush administration will encourage a state of controllable semi-chaos in each country. Rival factions and even some factions overtly hostile to the occupation will be allowed to remain at large. This serves the dual purpose of preventing the establishment of a popular democratic government and provides on-going justification for an American military presence. Minor firefights and skirmishes in the countryside will also divert media attention from corporate activities.

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A “likely” group of nationals will be selected by the occupying forces to speak for each country. To be selected, any group of nationals must meet the most important pre-requisite. They must be expected to demonstrate a cooperative attitude toward American corporate interests.

As a clear illustration of why the current Administration will not want to establish truly democratic governments in Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, look to Germany and Japan. Both of these countries were invaded and occupied by the United States. In both countries, the U.S. government went to great lengths over an extended period of time to establish truly popular democratic governments. As a result, both of these nations are stable sovereign entities that make their own independent decisions based on what they believe to be most favorable to their national corporate interests and/or people.

When dealing with legitimate, sovereign and democratic governments, particularly those who take the opinions of their ordinary citizens into consideration, global corporations, understandably find it far more difficult to carry out their plans in a swift, consistent and predictable manner.

The Tony Blair Factor:

Most of the world doesn’t believe the Bush administration has yet made a plausible case for war with Iraq. Many feel the current administration is squandering the respectability of the United States all around the world. In Europe, Korea and Japan, the talk among the average citizens is of “America-the-arrogant” and “America-the bully”. The vast majority of people in Western Europe (estimates range from 80-90%) not only do not believe the American Administration’s stated reasons for war but also believe the real reasons are being concealed.

Tony Blair, on the other hand, has assured Bush his unstinting support. In spite of the opposition of many in his own party, and widespread criticism from the British public, Blair has promised that Britain’s troops will fight alongside American forces in Iraq. What’s the story here?

Well reported is Blair’s aspiration to make Britain a central figure in the attempt to assure that the European Union is a dependable, strategic global partner for the United States. Corporate Britain is very troubled by the signs of a growing Franco-German alliance.
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Blair and corporate Britain are offended by the notion that France and Germany (not Britain) will determine the future of the European Union.

Less well reported, are corporate Britain’s troubles in the Caspian Sea oil fields. British oil is facing very stiff competition from the seemingly endless number of international oil companies fighting for dominance in the region. While France has been developing an ever more coy relationship with Iran, British oil is being rebuffed at every turn.

As much as 50% of the known oil reserves in the Caspian Basin lie under water. Although the boarders of the new Caspian States are fairly well defined, ownership of the sea itself is highly unsettled. Because they are in dispute and, so-to-speak, “up for grabs”, it is these offshore deposits that are being fought over most vigorously. Which nation’s corporate giants will reap the biggest profits hinges to a large extent on the claims and counter-claims to different regions of the Sea and the vast oil deposits beneath its waters.

To offer just one example among many: British Petroleum and Britain’s Aramco have been working closely with the government of Azerbaijan exploring an oil rich area known as the Araz-Alov-Sharg structure. In July 2001, Iranian military gunboats confronted a British Petroleum research vessel exploring this area. The Iranian gunboat ordered the B.P. vessel out of the waters, claiming they belonged to Iran. To add insult to injury, Iran announced its decision to award a license for the area to Royal Dutch Shell.

Britain owns approx. 20% of the Azerbaijani Caspian Oil Project. US Oil interests own approx 47%. Azerbaijan is providing their cooperation for a 20% share.

Little progress has been made among the littoral states as to how to divide control of the Caspian Sea. Understandably, very influential elements in corporate Britain see the present Iranian regime and increasing French investment in Iran as a major hindrance to a “successful outcome” in the new oil fields of the Caspian Basin. Both Britain and America see the current regime in Iran as a serious obstacle to securing their share of the profits from the vast Caspian oil reserves and the East Asian oil market during the next several decades.

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The Azerbaijani Project, however, is only one example of many current Anglo-American projects. Once the trans-Iran pipeline is in place, highly profitable deals will be made with all the Caspian States for transport of their oil to, what will be, the most profitable market of all: East-Asia. As the Chinese economy emerges in the next two decades, it will be, far and away, the most important consumer of world oil.

A fairly compact summary of Tony Blair’s motives for committing British troops in Iraq (and presumably later in Iran) was contained in remarks he made to British diplomats in early January 2003: “It is simply wrong”, he said, “for rich nations to expect the United States to do all the dirty work in the world.” By “rich nations” Blair meant nations with a significant corporate presence in the Caspian Basin. Then Blair got right to the point: “Such a policy is not just indulgent;” he said, “it risks sacrificing any chance of influencing post-conflict arrangements”.

What Tony Blair meant by “post-conflict arrangements” was perhaps unclear to the British public and completely opaque to the American public, but it was crystal clear to British corporations with interests in the Caspian Sea. It was equally clear to the American oil interests who have guaranteed British oil a percentage share of the future trans-Iran pipeline exports to the biggest market in the coming decades: East Asia.

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Jefferson’s foresight

The founding fathers were well aware that they had formed a completely new form of government. They were very conscious of the fragility of their experiment. This forced them to think deeply and broadly about the most serious threats to their new government “of the people, by the people and for the people”. They had to meditate on both the threats that existed in their time and also clearly envision threats that might emerge in the future. The institution of “corporate aristocracy” (as Jefferson referred to it) fit into both of those categories. Here are Jefferson’s comments, uttered almost 190 years ago.

“I hope we shall take warning from the example and crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and to bid defiance to the laws of their country.”

Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Logan. November 12, 1816.

We have already reached the point where the “moneyed corporations” no longer feel any need to “challenge” the government. They have already fully integrated themselves into it. The executive branch is already peopled by corporate men, the law makers find it nearly impossible to be elected without corporate financing and the administrators of the regulatory agencies (such as the SEC) are selected by an executive branch whose main concern is to avoid any threat to the corporate world’s ability to act unilaterally and without serious regulation of any kind.

Under these circumstances, there can be no real struggle between the government and the corporations. The only struggle is between corporations and a powerless and largely voiceless public. Since, when it comes to challenging or regulating the large corporations, the public no longer has any real representation in government, corporations have already reached the point where they can treat the public with the same contempt the aristocrats of centuries past treated the dirty and hungry peasants (not publicly, of course).

Although corporations have absolutely no democratic legitimacy, they exert a degree of control over domestic and foreign policy decisions that approaches autocracy. A point has now been reached where even some of the most uninformed

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Americans realize that, when it comes to global politics and in many cases, domestic politics as well, the United States government represents not the American people but the interests of large American corporations in general and a selected number of large corporations in particular.

One of the more blatant examples of this was the government’s transparently insincere attempt at corporate regulation following the stock market scandals of 2002. Despite the desperate appeals of the victimized public, nothing of substance was done.

Certainly, terrorists and heads of state that pose a real danger to the world must be identified and eliminated from all countries in which they operate. However, it is not some foreign born terrorist menace that poses the greatest danger to the American values of representation, equality, transparency and freedom. It is the “corporate aristocracy” of which Jefferson warned us, operating beyond the public’s gaze and now intertwined within the structures of the government agencies that were created to regulate it, that poses the most real and present threat to our endangered democratic ideals.

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Footnotes:

(1) “U.S. Presidential Executive Orders signed in 1995 prohibit U.S. companies from conducting business with Iran. Furthermore, the U.S. Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 imposes sanctions on non-U.S. companies that make large investments in the Iranian oil and gas sectors.” Caspian Sea Oil and Natural Gas Export Routes, U.S. Energy Information Administration, June 2000 page 2

(2) “…routes through Iran to the Persian Gulf are the shortest and most economical for exporting oil from the Caspian Sea. In addition, the Persian Gulf routes would transport oil to Asia, where the demand for oil is projected to grow faster and command a higher price than the Mediterranean markets that most of the competing pipelines would serve.” Caspian Sea Oil and Natural Gas Export Routes, U.S. Energy Information Administration, June 2000 page 2

(3) “. . .several conflicts have arisen over mutual claims to different regions of the Sea, especially in its southern waters. In July 2001, Iranian military gunboats confronted a British Petroleum (BP) Azeri research vessel exploring the Araz-Alov-Sharg structure, ordering the ship out of waters Iran claims to own. Azerbaijan, for its part, has objected to Iran’s decision to award Royal Dutch/Shell and Lasmo a license to conduct seismic surveys in a region that Azerbaijan considers to fall in its territory.”
eia.doe.gov EIA Country Analysis Briefs, Caspian Sea
Region, Caspian Legal Status Unresolved,

(4) Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts, Section: World Energy Consumption 1970-2015, National Intelligence Council (NIC), December 2000, This paper was approved for publication by the National Foreign Intelligence Board under the authority of the Director of Central Intelligence

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(5) Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts, Section: China: How to Think About Its Growing Wealth and Power, National Intelligence Council (NIC), December 2000, This paper was approved for publication by the National Foreign Intelligence Board under the authority of the Director of Central Intelligence

(6)

(7)

(1) Time February 3, 2003: page 41
(3) Pipeline through Iran cheaper and more direct route to Asia
Alexander’s Gas & Oil Connections, News & Trends Central Asia
Volume 3, issue #16 – 09-06-1998
A

“Those that control the oil routes out of Central Asia will impact all future direction and quantities of flow and the distribution of revenues from new production, said energy expert James Dorian recently in Oil & Gas Journal on September 10.

Key documents on Iraq forged, experts say

March 7, 2003, 11:35PM
By JOBY WARRICK
Washington Post

A key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program appears to have been fabricated, the United Nations’ chief nuclear inspector said Friday in a report that called into question U.S. and British claims about Iraq’s secret nuclear ambitions.

Documents that purportedly showed Iraqi officials shopping for uranium in Africa two years ago were deemed “not authentic” after careful scrutiny by U.N. and independent experts, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the U.N. Security Council.

ElBaradei also rejected a key Bush administration claim — made twice by the president in major speeches and repeated by Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday — that Iraq had tried to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes to use in centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Also, ElBaradei reported finding no evidence of banned weapons or nuclear material in an extensive sweep of Iraq using advanced radiation detectors.

“There is no indication of resumed nuclear activities,” ElBaradei said.

Knowledgeable sources familiar with the forgery investigation described the faked evidence as a series of letters between Iraqi agents and officials in the central African nation of Niger. The documents were given to U.N. inspectors by Britain and reviewed extensively by U.S. intelligence.

The forgers had made relatively crude errors that eventually gave them away — including names and titles that did not match up with the individuals who held office at the time the letters were purportedly written, the officials said.

“We fell for it,” said one U.S. official who reviewed the documents.

A spokesman for the IAEA said the agency did not blame either Britain or the United States for the forgery. The documents “were shared with us in good faith.”

The discovery was a further setback to U.S. and British efforts to convince reluctant U.N. Security Council members of the urgency of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Powell, in his statement to the Security Council on Friday, acknowledged ElBaradei’s findings but also cited “new information” suggesting that Iraq continues to try to get nuclear weapons components.

Last September, the U.S. and British governments issued reports accusing Iraq of renewing its quest for nuclear weapons.

President Bush, in his speech to the U.N. Security Council on Sept. 12, said Iraq had made “several attempts to buy high-strength aluminum tubes used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.”

Doubts about both claims began to emerge shortly after U.N. inspectors returned to Iraq last November. In early December, the IAEA began an intensive investigation of the aluminum tubes, which Iraq had tried for two years to purchase by the tens of thousands.

A number of independent experts on uranium enrichment have sided with IAEA’s conclusion that the tubes were at best ill-suited for centrifuges. Several have said that the “anodized” features mentioned by Powell are actually a strong argument for use in rockets, not centrifuges.

The Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based research organization that specializes in nuclear issues, reported Friday that Powell’s staff had been briefed about the implications of the anodized coatings before Powell’s address to the Security Council last month. “Despite being presented with the falseness of this claim, the administration persists in making misleading arguments about the significance of the tubes,” the institute’s president, David Albright, wrote in the report.