31 March, 2008

ZBIG gives the word - US oil export TO Iraq

The Smart Way Out of a Foolish War

By Zbigniew Brzezinski -- Sunday, March 30, 2008; Page B03

Both Democratic presidential candidates agree that the United States should end its combat mission in Iraq within 12 to 16 months of their possible inauguration. The Republican candidate has spoken of continuing the war, even for a hundred years, until "victory." The core issue of this campaign is thus a basic disagreement over the merits of the war and the benefits and costs of continuing it.

The case for U.S. disengagement from combat is compelling in its own right. But it must be matched by a comprehensive political and diplomatic effort to mitigate the destabilizing regional consequences of a war that the outgoing Bush administration started deliberately, justified demagogically and waged badly. (I write, of course, as a Democrat; while I prefer Sen. Barack Obama, I speak here for myself.)

The contrast between the Democratic argument for ending the war and the Republican argument for continuing is sharp and dramatic. The case for terminating the war is based on its prohibitive and tangible costs, while the case for "staying the course" draws heavily on shadowy fears of the unknown and relies on worst-case scenarios. President Bush's and Sen. John McCain's forecasts of regional catastrophe are quite reminiscent of the predictions of "falling dominoes" that were used to justify continued U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Neither has provided any real evidence that ending the war would mean disaster, but their fear-mongering makes prolonging it easier.

Nonetheless, if the American people had been asked more than five years ago whether Bush's obsession with the removal of Saddam Hussein was worth 4,000 American lives, almost 30,000 wounded Americans and several trillion dollars -- not to mention the less precisely measurable damage to the United States' world-wide credibility, legitimacy and moral standing -- the answer almost certainly would have been an unequivocal "no."

Nor do the costs of this fiasco end there. The war has inflamed anti-American passions in the Middle East and South Asia while fragmenting Iraqi society and increasing the influence of Iran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent visit to Baghdad offers ample testimony that even the U.S.-installed government in Iraq is becoming susceptible to Iranian blandishments.

In brief, the war has become a national tragedy, an economic catastrophe, a regional disaster and a global boomerang for the United States. Ending it is thus in the highest national interest. Terminating U.S. combat operations will take more than a military decision. It will require arrangements with Iraqi leaders for a continued, residual U.S. capacity to provide emergency assistance in the event of an external threat (e.g., from Iran); it will also mean finding ways to provide continued U.S. support for the Iraqi armed forces as they cope with the remnants of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The decision to militarily disengage will also have to be accompanied by political and regional initiatives designed to guard against potential risks. We should fully discuss our decisions with Iraqi leaders, including those not residing in Baghdad's Green Zone, and we should hold talks on regional stability with all of Iraq's neighbors, including Iran.

Contrary to Republican claims that our departure will mean calamity, a sensibly conducted disengagement will actually make Iraq more stable over the long term. The impasse in Shiite-Sunni relations is in large part the sour byproduct of the destructive U.S. occupation, which breeds Iraqi dependency even as it shatters Iraqi society. In this context, so highly reminiscent of the British colonial era, the longer we stay in Iraq, the less incentive various contending groups will have to compromise and the more reason simply to sit back. A serious dialogue with the Iraqi leaders about the forthcoming U.S. disengagement would shake them out of their stupor. Ending the U.S. war effort entails some risks, of course, but they are inescapable at this late date. Parts of Iraq are already self-governing, including Kurdistan, part of the Shiite south and some tribal areas in the Sunni center. U.S. military disengagement will accelerate Iraqi competition to more effectively control their territory, which may produce a phase of intensified inter-Iraqi conflicts. But that hazard is the unavoidable consequence of the prolonged U.S. occupation. The longer it lasts, the more difficult it will be for a viable Iraqi state ever to reemerge.

It is also important to recognize that most of the anti-U.S. insurgency in Iraq has not been inspired by al-Qaeda. Locally based jihadist groups have gained strength only insofar as they have been able to identify themselves with the fight against a hated foreign occupier. As the occupation winds down and Iraqis take responsibility for internal security, al-Qaeda in Iraq will be left more isolated and less able to sustain itself. The end of the occupation will thus be a boon for the war on al-Qaeda, bringing to an end a misguided adventure that not only precipitated the appearance of al-Qaeda in Iraq but also diverted the United States from Afghanistan, where the original al-Qaeda threat grew and still persists.

Bringing the U.S. military effort to a close would also smooth the way for a broad U.S. initiative addressed to all of Iraq's neighbors. Some will remain reluctant to engage in any discussion as long as Washington appears determined to maintain its occupation of Iraq indefinitely. Therefore, at some stage next year, after the decision to disengage has been announced, a regional conference should be convened to promote regional stability, border control and other security arrangements, as well as regional economic development -- all of which would help mitigate the unavoidable risks connected with U.S. disengagement.

Since Iraq's neighbors are vulnerable to intensified ethnic and religious conflicts spilling over from Iraq, all of them -- albeit for different reasons -- are likely to be interested. More distant Arab states such as Egypt, Morocco or Algeria might also take part, and some of them might be willing to provide peacekeeping forces to Iraq once it is free of foreign occupation. In addition, we should consider a regional rehabilitation program designed to help Iraq recover and to relieve the burdens that Jordan and Syria, in particular, have shouldered by hosting more than 2 million Iraqi refugees.

The overall goal of a comprehensive U.S. strategy to undo the errors of recent years should be cooling down the Middle East, instead of heating it up. The "unipolar moment" that the Bush administration's zealots touted after the collapse of the Soviet Union has been squandered to generate a policy based on the unilateral use of force, military threats and occupation masquerading as democratization -- all of which has pointlessly heated up tensions, fueled anti-colonial resentments and bred religious fanaticism. The long-range stability of the Middle East has been placed in increasing jeopardy.

Terminating the war in Iraq is the necessary first step to calming the Middle East, but other measures will be needed. It is in the U.S. interest to engage Iran in serious negotiations -- on both regional security and the nuclear challenge it poses. But such negotiations are unlikely as long as Washington's price of participation is unreciprocated concessions from Tehran. Threats to use force on Iran are also counterproductive because they tend to fuse Iranian nationalism with religious fanaticism.

Real progress in the badly stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process would also help soothe the region's religious and nationalist passions. But for such progress to take place, the United States must vigorously help the two sides start making the mutual concessions without which a historic compromise cannot be achieved. Peace between Israel and Palestine would be a giant step toward greater regional stability, and it would finally let both Israelis and Palestinians benefit from the Middle East's growing wealth.

We started this war rashly, but we must end our involvement responsibly. And end it we must. The alternative is a fear-driven policy paralysis that perpetuates the war -- to America's historic detriment. Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter. His most recent book is "Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower."

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/27/AR2008032702405_2.html

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Bush Oil Policy in Iraq War

Conservative Magazine Blasts Bush Administration

by Sherwood Ross -- March 29, 2008

Just in case you think all conservatives are cheering on President Bush for persisting in his war against Iraq, I call to your attention the March 10th cover story of "The American Conservative" magazine, titled, "Oil For War." Accompanying the drawing of a fuel hose pumping gasoline into the desert sands, which is what the Pentagon is doing at a fabulous clip, there are two telling subheads: "Fuel Imported Into Iraq---3 million gallons/day" and "Cost to the U.S.--$929 million/week."

That.s right.  The article by author Robert Bryce, a.k.a managing editor of "Energy Tribune" magazine, leaves little doubt that he views the Bush regime.s oil policy as bankrupt.  Just look at his conclusion: "As the U.S. military pursues it occupation of Iraq---with the fuel costs approaching $1 billion per week---it.s obvious that the U.S. needs to rethink the assumption that secure energy sources depend on militarism."

Bryce observes sagely, "The emerging theme of the 21st-century energy business is the increasing power of markets. The U.S. can either adapt or continue hurtling down the road to bankruptcy." (Sounds like a pro-business, anti-military posture to me. Maybe conservatives and liberals do share common ground.)

Going back to a few months before the invasion, Bryce noted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld declared the looming war had "nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil." This assertion (okay, so it.s a lie, not an assertion) was undercut, Bryce pointed out, as "The first objectives of the invading forces included the capture of key Iraqi oil terminals and oilfields." Sadly, Marine Lt. Therral Childers, the first American combat casualty, was killed fighting to gain control of, yup, the Rumaylah oil field.

And when U.S. troops reached Baghdad on April 8, Bryce wrote, "the National Library of Iraq, the National Archives, and the National Museum of Antiquities were all looted and in some cases burned" while "the oil ministry building was barely damaged" as a detachment of G.I..s plus assault vehicles stood guard to preserve this vital edifice and its records. 

The American Conservative scrolls forward to an October, 2006, press conference at which Bush declared the U.S. could not "tolerate a new terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East with large oil reserves that could be used to fund its radical ambitions or used to inflict economic damage on the West." (Not a war for oil?)

Today, Bryce writes, the average G.I. in Iraq consumes 20.5 gallons of fuel per day, so that in order to secure the third-richest oil country on the planet (9.5% of the world total), the Pentagon is chugalugging over 3 million gallons per day in Iraq, "and nearly every drop of that fuel is imported." About 5,500 tanker trucks are involved in this lovely, oil-burning up exercise so that "the U.S. is spending $923 million per week on fuel-related logistics in order to keep 157,000 G.I.s in Iraq." Lovely, that is, for the "defense" contractors.

Little, if any, of Iraq.s own oil is being used by the U.S. military. Instead, it.s being trucked in from an oil complex south of Kuwait City and from Turkey, which, in turn, gets some of its oil from as far away as Greece. Those who have followed this oil importation scandal closely will recall that Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney.s former place of employment, got a controversial, multi-billion no-bid contract to truck in the oil. Cheney, of course, boosted the Iraq invasion from the get-go.  As Paul Buchheit, founder of Global Initiative Chicago,  writes in "American Wars: Illusions and Realities"(Clarity), Halliburton "is the most notorious war profiteer, with over half the Pentagon contracts for war services. Halliburton.s revenue in 2006 was $22.5 billion, three times its revenue from 2004."

Recall it was Cheney.s goodbuddy, war architect Paul Wolfowitz,  who told a Congressional panel in March, 2003, Iraq.s oil revenues would fetch up to $100 billion over the next several years and predicted "we are dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction and relatively soon." As historian James Carroll noted in "House of War"(Houghton Mifflin)Wolfowitz as far back as 1992 wrote a "Defense Planning Guidance" document that "imagined war against, yes, Iraq. And the justification for such a war was blatantly identified: the protection of U.S. access to .the region.s oil.."

American motorists are painfully aware the price of a gallon of gas since Bush took office has doubled and that the oil majors are reaping record profits, in Exxon.s case the largest profits of any corporation in history. What many do not know, as Greg Palast pointed out in "Armed Madhouse"(Plume), is the oil firms hold title to vast underground deposits that are super gushers as prices rise at the pump. The value of Exxon.s reserves, Palast says, have increased by $666-billion since the war began, and other oil outfits have enjoyed like windfalls. During World War II, a conflict that began when America was attacked and not the other way around, defense contractors were thrilled to get an eight percent profit. Today, Big Oil is reaping record billions while motorists and home owners struggle to find a way to pay for groceries and heating fuel.  And, of course, every time President Bush threatens Iran, he further destabilizes the oil market, pushing prices up higher, "The New Yorker" magazine has reported.

Getting back to The American Conservative article, Bryce writes, "In today.s multi-polar world, economic interests, not military force, predominate." He quotes G.I. Wilson, a recently retired Marine Corps colonel back from Iraq and  terrorism authority as stating: "It used to be that the side with the most guns would win." Today, the side "with the most guns goes bankrupt."

Hey, isn.t that us? Quick, somebody, warn that man in the White House! 


Sherwood Ross is a Miami, Fl-based public relations consultant and writer who covers military and political topics. Reach him at sherwoodr1@yahoo.com.

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posted by u2r2h at Monday, March 31, 2008

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