Monday, January 24, 2005

Outposts of Empire; Power, Petropolitics and "The Great Game" 

Despite Lord Protector of the Realm George W. Bush's recent inaugural elucidation of prepared bromides on behalf of bestrewing "liberty" and "freedom" around the tortured planet, and the gushing mickey mouse club media encomium that followed, it seems fairly reasonable to conclude that any such lofty salutations on the part of the imperious blitzkrieg banderillos occupying the newly christened timocracy amounts to little more than so much fermented public relations tommyrot.

I don't believe for a moment that a sneering self aggrandizing fluke like George W. Bush believes any of the romanticized claptrap about liberty and freedom that he peddles. Furthermore, Bush is little more than a conductive comportment, a well polished PR point man for a long ago preordained objective. He is essentially a Bush family farm implement and a useful distraction. A kind of lightning rod bolted to the top of the barn where he can wave his appendages around and squint into any storm like some cracker barrel divine in the hopes that nothing will disturb the military industrial bucket shop or news managers or sheep dipper backchannel notionals running Poppy and Uncle Dicks milking operation in the stalls below. America is the Bush family business and we are its mooing herd. New pastures are its want. New pastures full of scarecrows and glistening barbed razor wire and crisscrossing pipelines pumping petrodollars into the pockets of imperium.

The Great Game
Supposedly it was a British officer who first called it the Great Game. He played it exuberantly, and lost it in the terrifying way in which one lost in Central Asia: an Uzbek emir cast him for two months into a well filled with vermin and reptiles, and then what remained of him was brought up and beheaded. The phrase "the Great Game" was found in his papers and quoted by a historian of the First Afghan War. ~ "The Great Game in Asia", by David Fromkin; Foreign Affairs, Spring 1980.

Norbizness posted some recent background information on some of the new pastures of freedom and liberty the Bush family collective has been plowing around in recently: See Do As I Incoherently Say, Not As My Allies Do for the complete rundown. Including the following on Uzbekistan:
Uzbekistan: Eyewitnesses said that during the past two weeks police have physically abused independent Muslim men in detention to coerce confessions. Officers beat men, hit them on the ears and genitals, burned them with lit paper and cigarettes, stuck metal pins under their fingernails, and anally raped male detainees with bottles and other objects. One man was stripped naked and beaten "until pulpy."

More: Uzbekistan/Amnesty International reports.

Khanabad military base located just north of the Afghan border:
By May 2002, a thousand American soldiers from the Tenth Mountain Division and a squadron of F-15E fighter jets were deployed there. Russian sources claim that Uzbekistan has leased the base to the United states for twenty-five years. The Pentagon denies this but refuses to say how long the lease actually is. [...] The Pentagon has given Vice President Cheney's old company, the Kellogg Brown & Root subdivision of Halliburton, an open-ended contract to provide logistics for the Khanadad base-... [source: Sorrows of Empire, Chalmers Johnson; pp 184]

"The Great Game II"
In the three years before the attack on the World Trade Center, the emphasis turned to great-power oil and gas rivalry. A section in Klare's Resource Wars was headed "The Great Game II: U.S.-Russian Competition in the Caspian." In these terms, the United States under Clinton had clearly started to play. So had a number of Bush allies, with Dick Cheney, James Baker, former White House chief of staff John Sununu, and former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft all signed up to counsel the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (a concortium 40 percent owned by Amoco, Pennzoil, Unocal, McDermott, and Exxon.) George W. Bush's futuer national secuity adviser, Condoleezza Rice, as a Chevron board member, advised the company on its Tenghiz-Chevroil joint venture in Kazakhstan.


According to Klare, the resource-war theorist, a Great Game guided George W. Bush in 2003: "Controlling Iraq is about oil as power, rather than oil as fuel. Control over the Persian Gulf translates into control over Europe, Japan and China. It's having our hand on the spigot." ~ American Dynasty, by Kevin Phillips; pp 256-257

1998: Dick Cheney, speaking to the Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association annual meeting:
"You've got to go where the oil is. I don't think about it [political volatility] very much," ~ Multinational Monitor

Again, via Norbizness:
Azerbaijan: The 61-page report, "Crushing Dissent: Repression, Violence and Azerbaijan’s Elections," documents hundreds of arbitrary arrests, widespread beatings and torture, and politically motivated job dismissals of members and supporters of the opposition following the October 15 presidential election, which was widely condemned by the international community as fraudulent.

The Azerbaijan Trade and Cultural Center/USACC:
US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce According to the official web site (http://www.usacc.org/), United States-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) is an "independent, non-profit American organization, whose purpose is to facilitate business and cooperation between the American people and the people of Azerbaijan." USACC is a nonprofit corporation in the District of Columbia and is recognized as a 501 (c)(6) tax-exempt organization under the Internal Revenue Code. [...] The USACC also owns and operates The Azerbaijan Trade and Cultural Center,...

ATCC Officers include - Honorary Council of Advisors: James Addison Baker III, Lloyd Bentsen, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Richard Bruce Dick Cheney (resigned November 2000), Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, John Sununu. Vice-Chairman of the Board: James A. Baker IV. Board of Directors: Richard Armitage (resigned February 2001). "Board of Trustees": Richard N. Perle. (Among others)

Winter 1996
Announcing The US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce - The United States-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce (USACC) has just been established in Washington, D.C. Their goal is to promote and advance the development of business and commerce between the US and Azerbaijan. The Chamber will facilitate the entry of US businesses into Azerbaijan's market, serve as a liaison between them and the Azerbaijani government, as well as help Azerbaijani businesses connect to markets here in the US.

The Chamber extends deep appreciation to the following companies which have contributed to its establishment: Amoco, BP America, Chevron, Exxon, Mobil, Occidental, Panalpina, and Unocal. ~ AZER

Ethnic Cleansing and Burma/Myanmar
In 1996, Cheney lobbied to lift sanctions under the U.S. Freedom Support Act against aid to Azerbaijan (the oil-rich former Soviet republic in the Caucasus), which had been motivated by concerns over Azerbaijani ethnic cleansing of the Abkhazians. Cheney claimed that the sanctions were largely the result of biased lobbying by Armenian Americans, but in 1997 Brown and Root bid on a major Caspian project from Azerbaijan International Operating Company. On a related front, Halliburton supported overturning the Massachusetts "Burma Law," which discouraged the state government from awarding contracts to companies doing business in repressive Burma (Myanmar). ~ [Source: American Dynasty, Kevin Phillips; 9pp 173-174.]

More on Burma and Halliburton and Cheney's lobbying efforts to lift sanctions against Azerbaijan (on behalf of Halliburton/Brown & Root Caspian project and the Azerbaijan International Operating Company.) - May 2001/Multinational Monitor

Feb. 1997
Some of the most knowledgeable and experienced business leaders working in Azerbaijan will be participants at the conference. T. Don Stacy, Chairman and President of Amoco Eurasia Petroleum Company and Co-Chair of USACC, will open the conference. The keynote address, entitled "U.S. Strategic Interests in Azerbaijan and the Caucasus," will be given by U.S. Senator Robert Byrd. The luncheon keynote speaker will be Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense under President Bush. - SOCAR (State Oil Company Of Azerbailan Republic), Major Trade Conference Washington, D.C. On February 18, 1997 - AZER

1- Uzbekistan: Pentagon's Foriegn Military Financing (FMF) fund provides money for weapons and training to countries such as Israel, Jordon, Colombia, India, Pakistan Turkey among others. Appropriations for such outlays are in the billions of dollars. Pentagon requested Over 4 billion in 2003. Uzbekistan received 8.75 million from this 2003 budget. (and 1.2 million from the State Departments International Military Education and Training (IMET) program. [source: Sorrows of Empire, Chalmers Johnson; pp 137]

2- Azerbaijan:
The Department of Defense at first proposed that Azerbaijan also receive an IMET grant of $750,000 and an FMF grant of $3 million in 2003 as part of the war on terrorism but later admitted that the funds were actually intended to protect U.S. access to oil in and around the Caspian Sea." [source: Sorrows of Empire, Chalmers Johnson; pp 137]

Bu$hCo: Emboldening "freedom" and "liberty" in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan: Human Rights Fact Sheet

For much of the 1990's Kyrgyzstan was described as an "island of democracy" in a region with corrupt and repressive political leaders. But after the country's first decade of independence following the breakup of the Soviet Union, its government, under President Askar Akaev, appeared to tighten its grip on power at the expense of fundamental rights.

Kyrgyzstan, a country of 4.75 million people with few natural resources, received minimal attention from the United States government prior to the Bush administration's declaration of a global campaign against terrorism and the decision to base U.S. troops at Kyrgyzstan's Manas airbase.

Kyrgyzstan's human rights record has steadily worsened since 2000, the year of presidential and parliamentary elections. Official actions in the past year indicate that the government's new relationship with the U.S. may have emboldened it, allowing it to suppress political opposition leaders without fear of diplomatic consequence.

Minibars of Freedom:
The biggest of the bases is located on thirty seven acres at the formerly civilian Manas International Airport, nineteen miles west of Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. [...] Kyrgyzstan initially leased Manas for a year, but President Akayev assured American officials that he was willing to renew the lease for as long as necessary. American military headquarters in Kyrgyzstan are not actually located at the base but in downtown Bishkek at the local Hyatt Regency, where the military also set up an employment office to hire local workers. [source: Sorrows of Empire, Johnson; pp 183-184]

So, it's all about oil and oligarchs and power. And ringing the globe with outposts of strategic military might. In a kind of "Great Game II" of Risk. And that's what it's always has been about.

You can trust your ass to the men who sell you gas.


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