The Audacity of Hype
by Richard W. Behan
President Obama's West Point speech was a brutal disappointment. Arguing to escalate the Afghan war, the President simply parroted the exaggerations, deceptions, and lies George Bush used so effectively in launching it.
The similarity, mostly ignored by our mainstream media, was apparent to the foreign press. In Germany the Spiegel Online lamented, "Never before has a speech by President Obama felt as false as his Tuesday address announcing America's new strategy for Afghanistan. It seemed like a campaign speech combined with Bush rhetoric..."
Mr. Obama's overarching untruth was his claim the Afghan war was a direct retaliation for al Qaida's terrorism of 9/11. That was President Bush's assertion as well, but it is intractably false. The commitments to invade and occupy both Iraq and Afghanistan were made by the Bush Administration within weeks of taking office in January of 2001, many months before the terrorist attacks.
9/11 was not the genesis of our adventures in the Middle East, and it did not call for full scale military warfare. Other nations victimized by international terrorism have always relied on police action to apprehend the criminals, but the Bush Administration meant to overthrow regimes instead: only warfare would accomplish that.
9/11 provided the Bush Administration a spectacular alibi for warmaking, and a heaven-sent opportunity to disguise its long-planned scheme of premeditated, unprovoked military aggression. The opportunity was seized in a heartbeat: a "War on Terror" -- fraudulent beyond any conceivable doubt -- was invented, and trumpeted incessantly for the rest of George Bush's tenure.
Having spoken the overarching untruth, President Obama then repeated the corollary lies: "We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation's resources."
But Mr. Bush's premeditated wars were designed to do exactly those things, and they have been alarmingly successful.
The War in Iraq
We know of a National Security Council memorandum of February 3,2001 addressing "...actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields" in Iraq. We know Mr. Cheney's "Energy Task Force" at the same time was scrutinizing maps of the Iraqi oil fields and lists of prospective foreign oil company "suitors" to collaborate with Saddam Hussein's oil ministry. (Not a single major oil company from the U.S. or Britain was included.) We know the "Future of Iraq" policy development program was underway in the State Department a full year before Iraq was invaded; among other things it designed the postwar deconstruction and privatization of Iraq's nationalized oil industry. So the evidence is compelling: we invaded Iraq to gain access to the country's immense petroleum resources for American and British oil companies.
On December 1, 2009, the day of Mr. Obama's Afghanistan speech, a New York Times story reported the war's success in doing so. The story begins: "More than six and a half years after the United States-led invasion that many believed was about oil, the major oil companies are finally gaining access to Iraq's petroleum reserves." It tells how British Petroleum will soon be operating in the Rumaila oil field, among the largest on earth, which contains an estimated 17.8 billion barrels of oil. Exxon-Mobil and Royal Dutch/Shell will be working in the West Qurna field -- 8.6 billion barrels. California's Occidental Petroleum will be active in the Zubayr field, thought to contain 4.1 billion barrels. Before the end of the year development rights to ten more fields will be auctioned off to the oil companies.
President Obama must have missed the story altogether. "We will not claim another nation's resources," he said at West Point later in the day.
The War in Afghanistan
Waiting on President Bush's desk when he took office was an offer from the Taliban to surrender Osama bin Laden. It had been negotiated in the final days of the Clinton Administration, a result of the al Qaida attack on the U.S.S. Cole. The Bush Administration refused the offer three times in the nine months before the tragedy of 9/11, as it bargained with the Taliban for pipeline routes across Afghanistan -- a project desperately sought by America's Unocal Corporation. (Unocal has since been absorbed by Chevron/Texaco.) The Bush Administration offered a "carpet of gold" but threatened a "carpet of bombs," and twice during this period the Administration telegraphed its intent to launch a military action in Afghanistan "before the middle of October," if the pipeline negotiations failed. They did fail, on August 2, 2001, at the final negotiating meeting in Islamabad.
Six weeks later, on September 11, Osama bin Laden struck once more. The Taliban immediately sweetened the offer to surrender bin Laden: now they would also shut down his bases and training camps if the U.S. would forego a massive retaliatory bombing of Afghanistan. Still the Bush Administration refused, and on October 7, 2001, the carpet of bombs rained down -- precisely as the Administration had promised long months before the Trade Towers fell.
Soon the Bush Administration installed Hamid Karzai, previously a consultant to the Unocal Corporation, as the head of a provisional government. He signed a contract with President Musharraf of Pakistan for a pipeline across the two countries, and within a year the Bush Administration stood ready to finance its construction, through three federal agencies. And an oil industry trade journal announced "...the United States was willing to police the pipeline infrastructure through permanent stationing of its troops in the region."
But the immense pool of Iraqi crude -- 115 billion barrels -- was the ace of trumps. Building and policing the Afghan pipeline was put on hold when Mr. Bush turned his attention to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.
During the presidential campaign, candidate Obama criticized the Bush Administration severely for doing this. Iraq was a "dumb war." The important struggle was in Afghanistan, and success was mandatory.
President Obama wasted little time in pursuing it. Earlier this year he sent 21,000 fresh troops to Afghanistan. Now he'll send 30,000 more, bringing the total to 101,000 in the country. Unannounced and scarcely noticed has been a 40% increase in the number of paramilitary "contractors" in Afghanistan; 104,000 mercenaries are now deployed there.
The United States has built and maintains 102 military bases in Afghanistan: 32 Camps; 37 Forward Operating Bases; 15 Fire Bases; 2 Compounds, one each in Gardez and Kabul; and 16 airfields. The bases blanket the pipeline routes.
Beyond question the "pipeline infrastructure," when it is built, will be adequately "policed."
How "permanently?" Mr. Obama pledged to start bringing the troops home in 2011, but Secretaries Clinton and Gates quickly assured the nation this might amount only to a "handful of troops." It is not meant to be an exit strategy. Mr. Gates said a significant U.S. military presence might remain in Afghanistan for as much as four years or more, depending on "conditions on the ground."
2013 and counting. Afghanistan will have been dominated by an American military presence for twelve years or more.
Does that not constitute, Mr. President, an occupation?
We have already ripped to shreds in Iraq the entire fabric of cultural, social, political, and economic institutions, for the huge and permanent advantage of Exxon/Mobil, British Petroleum, Royal Dutch/Shell, and Occidental Petroleum. Mission, finally, accomplished.
We have also ripped apart Afghanistan, but the situation there has not yet stabilized -- to provide a huge and permanent advantage to Chevron-Texaco. This mission of the Bush Administration has yet to be accomplished.
President Obama intends to finish the job, it seems.
Author's note: This essay is drawn largely from the author's 2008 electronic book, The Fraudulent War, which fully documents the story told above. The book in PDF format is available at no cost here: http://coldtype.net/Assets.08/pdfs/0308The%20Fraudulent%20War.pdf
Richard W. Behan lives and writes on Lopez Island, off the northwest coast of Washington state. He can be reached at email@example.com