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Oil Hunger Held Cause of U.S. Middle East invasions

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OIL SEEN AS REASON FOR U.S. MIDDLE EAST INVASIONS

By Sherwood Ross

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

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

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

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

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

# Unocal hired former President Nixon's national security adviser Henry Kissinger to negotiate with Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
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# Kissinger worked with Turkmenistan's top consultant, none other than his own former White House aide Gen. Alexander Haig, later President Regan's Secretary of State.

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

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

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

"It should be recalled," Johnson writes, Khalilzad joined NSC on May 23, 2001, "just in time to work on an operational order for an attack on Afghanistan."
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Johnson writes "it would appear that the attacks of September 11 provided an opportunity for the United States to act unilaterally to remove the Taliban, without assistance from Russia, India, or any other country."

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

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

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Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular "Workplace" column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public (more...)
 

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