How much is the Bush administration’s push for war with Iraq motivated by its desire to gain control of Iraq’s oil fields? “Regime change” to a pro-U.S. government would permit the privatization of Iraq’s state-controlled oil resources—and a bonanza for U.S. oil companies. As former South African president Nelson Mandela said in a recent interview in Newsweek, “It is clearly a decision that is motivated by George W. Bush’s desire to please the arms and oil industries in the United States of America.”
This year, in late August 2002, the United Nations will hold the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), an international conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, ostensibly to create a new model of sustainable development that integrates economic development, social justice, and environmental imperatives. WSSD is supposed to be a ten year follow-up and implementation conference to the 1992 Rio de Janeiro UN Conference on Environment and Development–thus, its other name, “Rio plus 10.” In the Preparatory Committee (PrepComm) meetings that have preceded WSSD, (the latest in Bali, Indonesia held in late May through early June) a common theme has emerged–the United States government is bound and determined to undermine, overthrow, and sabotage any international treaties, agreements, and conferences that it believes restrict its sovereignty in any way as the world’s rogue superpower.
Since September 11, the war on terrorism has become the new rationale for doling out military assistance to repressive and politically unstable foreign governments. And just like during the cold war, the millions of dollars slated for our new allies in the war on terrorism have more to do with promoting American geostrategic interests than with protecting U.S. territory from external threats.
The arrival of U.S. troops in Georgia on April 29 raised as many glasses in Ankara and Baku as it did jitters in Moscow. Touted as a new front in the “war on terror,” the Bush administration is in reality scrambling for Caspian oil in a bid to oust Russia from its traditional backyard. Washington insists its “train and equip force'” of 10 combat helicopters and 150 military instructors is solely intended to help Georgia combat Islamic radicals in the lawless Pankisi Gorge, allegedly a safe haven for al Qaeda militants and their Chechen allies. But other motives became apparent, although largely unnoticed by the Western press when Georgian Defense Ministry official Mirian Kiknadze told Radio Free Europe on February 27: “The U.S. military will train our rapid reaction force, which is guarding strategic sites in Georgia–particularly oil pipelines.” He was referring to the embryonic Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) project, set to reduce Georgia’s and Azerbaijan’s energy reliance on Russia and bring the southern Caucasus into the U.S. fold.
Venezuela is one of the world’s leading oil producers. For decades it has been a reliable source of oil to consumers in the western hemisphere and, in particular, to the United States. This makes it critical to examine the role that oil may have played in the failed coup d’état of April 11. This is especially important because when he took office in February 1999, President Hugo Chávez launched a reform of Venezuela’s oil policy, overturning the previous decade’s process of “oil liberalization” and seeking to reinstate key aspects of traditional oil policy in Venezuela.
If former Enron boss Kenneth Lay were put in charge of the U.S. war on terrorism, he would probably conduct it much the same way his fellow Texas oilman and beneficiary of Enron largesse, George W. Bush, has.
When President Bush unveiled the findings of the National Energy Policy Development Group last May, consumer and environmental organizations said the report’s policy recommendations favored energy corporations over the public and the environment. In the wake of Enron’s collapse, new questions are being raised about the ways that Enron and other energy firms may have shaped the report’s recommendations. The refusal of Vice President Cheney, who headed the energy task force and was himself the former director of the oil services giant Halliburton, to release a list of individuals consulted by the committee has sparked a confrontation between the administration and the General Accounting Office.
“And there’s a mighty judgment coming, but I may be wrong.” – Leonard Cohen
It’s hard for Americans, even progressive Americans, to imagine a future in which the U.S. is no longer the “indispensable country.” This is as true when it comes to climate politics as it is in any other area, and for much the same reason: the U.S. looms so large that it simply cannot be ignored. We emit, in particular, such a high share of world’s carbon that, in the end, any climate regime to which we do not immediately subscribe is doomed to failure.