More Oil Wars -
The Bush-Cheney Oilygarchy's Idea of a Responsible Energy Policy for the 21st Century

by Paul Donahue
May 2002

There has been much in the news of late about the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy's energy plan, particularly in regard as to whether or not the large energy corporations played a major role in its formulation through their influence in the secretive energy task force of Dick Cheney. The Bush-Cheney oilygarchy is even defying a court order to release documents pertaining to this issue. However, despite all the talk about the energy plan, how many Americans have actually read it? It's such a long, tedious document that, in reality, few of us will ever read through the entire plan. Fortunately, we at the Forest Ecology Network have been able to get our hands on the yet-to-be published Reader's Digest version of it. It goes like this, "Drill everywhere, bomb or imprison anyone who gets in the way."

All joking aside, that does not seem to be far from the truth. The Bush-Cheney oilygarchy's idea of a sensible energy policy for the U.S. seems clear:

1. drill more oil wells, regardless of the pristine and critical natural habitats that may be irreparably despoiled (fortunately, they have been thwarted, for the moment, from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge);

2. import more oil from far-flung countries around the globe, regardless of the tremendous social cost to the local inhabitants, even if it means going to war to procure access to the oil;
3. and burn as much oil as possible, in total disregard of the climate change warnings from the vast majority of the world's climatologists, biologists, and other reputable scientists.

The issues of forest and environmental health, global warming, national energy policy, international policy and even war, are all intimately linked. A warming of Maine's climate will be bad news for our forests. A national energy policy that ignores renewable energy and conservation measures means more global warming. If renewable energy and conservation measures are ignored in our energy plan, it means we will have greater dependence on foreign oil. If we depend more on foreign oil, it will mean more US aggression abroad to secure those oil supplies. More US aggression abroad means increased spending on the military. More of our tax dollars going to the already obscenely huge Pentagon budget means fewer tax dollars available for vital environmental programs and agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency.

Back in the Fall 2001 issue of The Maine Woods, in an article titled "Another War for Oil", I outlined the numerous connections between the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy and the plan to construct a pipeline across Afghanistan to access the rich oil reserves of the Caspian Basin. Since then, evidence has continued to mount suggesting that, at the very least, the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy had advance warning of the September 11th attacks, or, at worse, that it even played a facilitative or instigative role. We have been told that because of the September 11th attack, we were justified in waging a war of unspeakable terror on the poor people of Afghanistan, a country in which one in every six children dies in the first year of life, 88 percent of children have no access to safe water, and one in every four children suffers from malnutrition.

But what if, instead, the events of September 11th had been orchestrated to provide cover for the procurement of an oil pipeline route across Afghanistan? It is a very scary thought, but the known facts, as well as the evidence that has emerged provide plenty of reason for having grave suspicions about the events surrounding September 11th and the so-called "War on Terrorism". I must confess up front to being obsessed with this whole issue since last September. I have been obsessed partly because of the environmental reasons outlined above, partly because I would like to think that I lived in a world where mass murderers can not escape justice, whoever they are, and partly because I strongly believe that my tax dollars should not be used to drop bombs on babies, whatever the excuse.

Below is a summary of the known facts and reports that have come to light. Unfortunately, labeling such a set of facts, connections, and coincidences as "conspiracy theory" has become an automatic way of dismissing uncomfortable realities we would prefer not to have to think about or face. For thirty years many Americans have been perfectly content to believe that John Kennedy was shot by a lone assassin from behind. Over and over they have watched film footage of the shooting, seeing Kennedy's head jerk backwards, purportedly in response to the bullet from Oswald's gun, but in total defiance of a basic principle of physics - for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

The unfortunate reality is that there are a lot of greedy, nasty, evil, and powerful people in the world who will go to whatever lengths necessary to accomplish their goals. That should be obvious enough from the thousands of years of recorded human history. What may not be so obvious to many Americans is that our enemies have not cornered the market on these bad traits, no more so than we in this country have cornered the market on goodness and kindness.

This list of details below is long, but necessarily so, to put the events of September 11th into perspective.

The United States is the world's largest consumer of oil. With less than 5% of the world's population, the US accounts for over 25% of the world's oil consumption. At present, due to our extremely bad national energy policies, the commodity is absolutely vital to the survival of our economy - in fact, it is the single most important commodity. But the US is resource poor when it comes to oil, with only 3% of the world's known oil reserves. Imports account for 60% of America's daily oil consumption, with13% of that coming from the Persian/Arabian Gulf States, which produce 18% of the world's supply of oil.

The Caspian Basin and the countries of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, to the north of Afghanistan, have the second largest known oil reserves in the world. The region could hold as much as 200 billion barrels of oil, estimated to be worth $4 -5 trillion dollars. Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan also have enormous quantities of natural gas worth another trillion dollars or so. US oil companies have been jostling since the early 1990's for access to this goldmine. Six US oil company giants - Unocal, Total, Chevron, Pennzoil, Amoco and ExxonMobil -have all invested heavily in the massive oilfield potential.

Access to these oil and gas resources requires pipelines. "Those who control the oil routes out of Central Asia will impact all future direction and quantities of flow and the distribution of revenues from new production," said energy expert James Dorian in Oil & Gas Journal on September 10, 2001. The only existing export routes from the Caspian Basin lead through Russia. Investors in Caspian oil and gas are interested in building alternative pipelines to Turkey, Europe and Asia. Afghanistan occupies a strategic position between the Middle East, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent and lies squarely between Turkmenistan and the lucrative, desirable and growing markets of India, China and Japan. Afghanistan also plays a key geographic role in a plan to construct a 1,005 mile oil pipeline to a tanker-loading terminal in Pakistan's Arabian Sea port of Gwadan.

From 1994 to1997, the Clinton administration negotiated with the Taliban for an oil pipeline across Afghanistan. Representatives of the Taliban visited the Texas headquarters of Unocal in December 1997 for negotiations regarding this pipeline. In February 1998, Unocal Vice President John J. Maresca – later to become a Special Ambassador to Afghanistan – testified before the House of Representatives that until a single, unified, friendly government is in place in Afghanistan, the needed trans-Afghani oil pipeline will not be built.

During the pipeline negotiations the Taliban actually hired a PR representative in Washington, Laila Helms. Helms was well-versed in the ways of U.S. intelligence agencies because her uncle, Richard Helms, was a former director of the CIA.

Until recently, the talks with the Taliban were thought to have collapsed in December 1998, when Unocal pulled out, citing civil unrest. However, soon after coming to power in January 2001 the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy resumed the flagging oil pipeline negotiations with the Taliban, believing they could be trusted to support the pipeline. The now infamous Enron corporation was another party to the pipeline negotiations, having done the feasibility study on the oil pipeline. According to one report, Enron had intimate contact with the Taliban. The energy giant's much-reviled Dabhol project in India was set to benefit from a hook-up with the pipeline. In May 2001 the US gave $43 million in aid to the Taliban regime. The pipeline negotiations finally collapsed in early August 2001, when the Taliban asked the US to help reconstruct Afghanistan's infrastructure and provide a portion of the oil supply for local needs. This was only five weeks before the attack on the World Trade Center.

The Bush-Cheney oilygarchy is heavily-laden with former oil company people, including Dick Cheney of Halliburton, National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice of Chevron, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, Commerce Secretary Dan Evans, and, of course, Bush himself. Before joining the Bush team, Cheney and Rice were both directly involved in negotiating the deal for an oil pipeline across Afghanistan. While with Halliburton, Cheney made strong public statements about the strategic significance of the Caspian Basin's oil reserves.

In January 2001 the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy ordered the FBI to back off investigations involving the Bin Laden family and the attacks on the US embassies and the USS Cole. According to Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, the authors of a best-selling book published in France in November and titled Bin Laden, la Verite Interdite (Bin Laden, the Forbidden Truth), one of the FBI's leading counter-terrorism agents, deputy director John O'Neill, resigned in July 2001 in protest over the Bush Administration's obstruction of his investigation into Osama Bin Laden. O'Neill had linked Bin Laden to our Saudi Arabian allies, and Bush was reluctant to offend them. Brisard and Dasquie interviewed him before he was killed on September 11th at his new job as head of security for the World Trade Center. Brisard claims O'Neill told him that, "the main obstacles to investigating Islamic terrorism were U.S. oil corporate interests and the role played by Saudi Arabia."

The FBI was on the trail of other members of the Bin Laden family for links to terrorist organizations both before and after September 11th. In particular, they were investigating the relationship of Abdullah Bin Laden and Omar Bin Laden with the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, WAMY - a suspected terrorist organization. The two brothers lived in Falls Church, Virginia, a short distance from the WAMY headquarters. Just three blocks down the road from the WAMY headquarters is where four of the alleged hijackers that attacked New York and Washington are listed as having lived. Interestingly, Abdullah and Omar's home was also within about five miles of CIA headquarters. On October 10th, FBI agents were ordered to curtail their investigation of the September 11th attack.

Early in 2001 US Army Rangers were training special troops in Kyrgyzstan, to the north of Afghanistan. There were also unconfirmed reports that they were training Tajik and Uzbek special troops.

Very disturbing is the recent revelation that one of the flight schools at the Venice, Florida airport, where the alleged pilots of the doomed flights trained, has a fairly strong link to the CIA. The alleged pilots actually trained at two different flight schools at the Venice airport. Both schools were owned by Dutch nationals, and both owners purchased their schools just shortly before the alleged pilots began their training. One of these flight school owners was Rudy Dekkers of Huffman Aviation. Brittania Aviation is a small airplane maintenance company working out of one of Dekkers' hangars at Huffman Aviation. They are also working under Dekkers' FAA license. During a contentious bid by Brittania Aviation for a maintenance contract at an airport in Virginia, it came out that Brittania is apparently a dummy company with virtually no assets, employees, or corporate history. It was revealed that their only claim to fame was that they had been providing aviation maintenance services for Caribe Air, a Caribbean carrier. Caribe Air just happens to be a notorious CIA proprietary airline. Among other scandals, Caribe Air had its aircraft seized by federal officials at the Mena, Arkansas, airport a decade ago, after the company was accused by government prosecutors of having used as many as 20 planes to ship drugs into this country.

According to a DEA source, Brittania Aviation has been given a "green light" by the DEA. He also said the local Venice Police Department had been warned to leave them alone. Interestingly, the Venice airport also surfaced briefly during the Iran-Contra hearings because of allegations of gun running to the Contras from the airport.

Michael Springmann worked for the US government for 20 years with the foreign service and consulate. In interviews on both CBC radio and BBC television he described a CIA operation he was involved in while working in the US Consulate office in Jeddah, a port city in Saudi Arabia. After having US passports issued to them in Jeddah, the CIA brought hundreds of people from the Middle East to the US, and then trained them to be terrorists. The CBC radio interview can be heard at:

According to a flurry of stories between September 15th and 17th in the Washington Post, Newsweek, and Knight-Ridder newspapers, as many as six of the alleged terrorists involved in the September 11th hijackings, including ringleader Mohammed Atta, also received training at US military facilities. The story in the Knight-Ridder newspapers was the most specific, stating Mohamed Atta had attended International Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.

In June of 2001 an Indian magazine reported that, “India and Iran will ‘facilitate’ US and Russian plans for ‘limited military action’ against the Taliban.” The story indicated that the fighting would be done by US and Russian troops with the help of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Especially distressing is a report published in the French newspaper Le Figaro. The newspaper reported that while in a Dubai hospital receiving treatment for a chronic kidney infection last July, Osama Bin Laden met with a top CIA official. This meeting, held in Bin Laden’s private suite, took place at the American hospital in Dubai at a time when Bin Laden was a wanted fugitive for the bombings of two US embassies and the attack on the USS Cole. Yet on July 14th Bin Laden was freely allowed to leave Dubai on a private jet for Quetta. The CIA agent in question returned to CIA headquarters in Virginia on July 15th, the day after Bin Laden’s departure.

Most distressing of all are the details of the United States' negotiations with the Taliban for the oil pipeline across Afghanistan, reported by Brisard and Dasquie in Bin Laden, la Verite Interdite. Brisard a private intelligence analyst, was until the late1990’s the Director of economic analysis and strategy for the French conglomerate Vivendi. He also worked for French secret services, and in 1997 wrote for them a report on the Al Qaeda network. Dasquie is an investigative journalist and publisher of Intelligence Online, a respected newsletter on diplomacy, economic analysis and strategy, available through the Internet. Unfortunately, their book, published in France, has yet to be released in an English edition. Brisard and Dasquie report that Pakistan's former foreign minister Niaz Naik has claimed that Tom Simons, the U.S. representative at the oil pipeline negotiations, openly threatened the Taliban and Pakistan. ''Simons said, 'either the Taliban behave as they ought to, or Pakistan convinces them to do so, or we will use another option'. The words Simons used were 'a military operation','' Naik claimed. Brisard and Dasquie state that at one moment during the negotiations, the U.S. representatives told the Taliban, "Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs."

Naik reports further that in July 2001 three American officials, Tom Simons (former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan), Karl Inderfurth (former Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian affairs) and Lee Coldren (former State Department expert on South Asia), met with Pakistani and Russian intelligence officers in Berlin and told them that the U.S. was planning military strikes against Afghanistan in October. Naik made these same claims in an interview published in The Guardian newspaper of London on September 22nd.

The weapons-grade Ames strain of Anthrax that first showed up in the offices of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) has been shown to have come from a US Army laboratory. Daschle was one of the most outspoken Senate critics of the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy's Patriot Act, the legislation that strips away many of our civil rights for the sake of the so-called "War on Terrorism" and the Anthrax appeared in his office shortly before the Senate was to vote on the draconian legislation. The second congressional Anthrax letter was sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Coincidentally, it was received right after Leahy announced hearings on the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy's military tribunals directive.

The US Army’s Dugway anthrax proving facility in Utah is where the only virtually identical Ames strain of silica-impregnated "hyper-weaponized" anthrax was found. The Battelle Memorial Institute, a contractor for both the CIA and the Pentagon, administers and supplies the Dugway facility. The Battelle Memorial Institute is also a partner with Bioport for the sole production of anthrax vaccine in the United States. Bioport is owned in part by the Carlyle Management Group, the multinational investment firm and defense contractor of which past President George H.W. Bush is a director.

Through the Carlyle Management Group, the 11th largest defense contractor in the U.S., George Bush, Sr. had financial ties with the Bin Laden family. In 1995 the Bin Laden Group bought a $2 million share in the Houston, Texas-based Carlyle Management Group. The Bin Laden Group divested their holdings in the company on October 26, 2001. In addition to George Bush, Sr., the other principals of the Carlyle Management Group include James Baker, the former president's Secretary of State, and former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci.

Among the Carlyle Group's many contracts was one to build the missile launching systems for US warships that earlier this year were firing missiles into Afghanistan, purportedly in an effort to eliminate Osama Bin Laden.

During the first 10 days of September 2001, two U.S. aircraft carrier battle groups arrived on station in the Gulf of Arabia just off the Pakistani coast - as close as ships can get to Afghanistan. This coincided with a British military exercise in Oman involving 23,000 troops.

Between September 6th and September 10th, 2001 highly abnormal levels of put options were purchased on the stock of United Airlines, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, AXA Re(insurance), which owns 25% of American Airlines, and Munich Re. All of these companies were directly impacted by the September 11th attacks. Many of the United Airlines put options were purchased through Deutschebank/AB Brown. Until 1998 that firm was managed by the current Executive Director of the CIA, A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard. The CIA and other intelligence agencies use highly advanced software to monitor stock trading and would have easily detected the abnormal change in those stocks.

Reuters news service reported that in August 2001 the FBI in Boston arrested an Islamic militant linked to Osama Bin Laden. French intelligence sources confirmed that the man was a key member of Bin Laden’s network. The FBI learned that he had been taking flying lessons, and at the time of his arrest the man was in possession of flight manuals and technical information on Boeing aircraft.

Another warning of the impending attack was delivered by Russian President Vladimir Putin who ordered Russian intelligence to warn the U.S. government “in the strongest possible terms” of imminent attacks on airports and government buildings. Still other, even more specific, warnings about the attack came from Germany, Iran, and the Cayman Islands. All these warnings sent in advance of September 11th have prompted Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) to call for a Congressional investigation into what the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy knew and when they knew it. In her words, "There was adequate warning. There were people who failed to act on the warning. And that's what ought to be investigated. But instead of requesting that Congress investigate what went wrong and why, we had President Bush…placing a call to Majority Leader Senator Tom Daschle asking him NOT to investigate the events of September 11th."

In late January, Bush personally asked Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to limit the congressional investigation into the events of September 11th. He asked that only the House and Senate intelligence committees look into the potential breakdowns among federal agencies that could have allowed the alleged terrorist attacks to occur, rather than a broader inquiry that some lawmakers have proposed. Dick Cheney also called Senator Daschle to ask him not to investigate the events that lead to September 11th.

Osama Bin Laden was blamed almost immediately by the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy for the September 11th attack, and the intent of his capture was used as the primary excuse for the US attack on Afghanistan. The oilygarchy claimed that it had plenty of proof linking Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaeda to September 11th, but they still have not presented it to us. All we have been shown is a couple of videotapes of suspicious origin, while US media outlets were asked not to broadcast in the US parts of another tape of Osama Bin Laden that was seen around the world. Now we are being told by the oilygarchy that Osama Bin Laden's role really wasn't very important after all.

In any case, the Taliban did not plan or execute the attack on September 11th and not a single Afghani was among the19 alleged perpetrators. On top of that, a point quickly dropped by the US media, is that shortly after September 11th the Taliban actually offered to turn Osama Bin Laden over to a neutral country, but the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy declined! Given those facts, can anyone explain to me, really explain to me, how somehow our mission in Afghanistan magically morphed from one of seeking Osama Bin Laden and the Al Quaeda members responsible for planning the attack on the World Trade Center into one of overthrowing the Taliban regime?

On the other hand, a majority of the alleged perpetrators were citizens of Saudi Arabia, our presumed ally, and major funding for Al Quaeda comes from Saudi Arabia. On top of that, the Saudis have been very uncooperative in our new "War on Terrorism". Have you heard anybody in the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy breathe a whisper about sending Special Forces ground troops into Saudi Arabia, or maybe doing a bombing run over Riyadh? I guess that stuff about being either with us or against us is only for countries that don't have huge amounts of oil that they're willing to sell to us at a reasonable price.

On September 11th there were two entire squadrons of combat-ready fighter jets at Andrews Air Force Base. Their job was to protect the skies over Washington D.C. They failed to do their job. Despite over one hour's advance warning of a terrorist attack in progress, not a single Andrews fighter tried to protect the city. Knowing that four simultaneous airline hijackings had occurred, the National Command Authority waited for 75 minutes before scrambling Air Force fighter jets to intercept.

The only private plane flying in the days immediately following September 11th was a special charter flight that whisked 11 members of Osama Bin Laden's family off to Saudi Arabia.

On Sunday, October 7, 2001 the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy and the US military began their bombing campaign on the poor people of Afghanistan. On October 10, 2001 U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlain paid a call on the Pakistani oil minister. The oil pipeline from Turkmenistan, across Afghanistan, to the Pakistani coast, was, “in view of recent geopolitical developments,” back on the table.

On December 25, 2001, Hamid Karzai, a former paid consultant for Unocal, was appointed as Afghanistan's new Prime Minister. Nine days later Bush appointed Zalamy Khalilzad, another former employee of Unocal and lobbyist for the Taliban, as a special envoy to Afghanistan. In early February Afghani Prime Minister Karzai and Pakistani leader General Musharraf announced their agreement to “cooperate in all spheres of activity”, including the proposed Central Asian oil pipeline.

If the oil pipeline route is superimposed on a map of the new, permanent US military installations we are constructing in Afghanistan, you find that the US bases are spotted along the pipeline's route. It should seem clear enough that the purpose of these military bases is not to rout out the last remnants of Al Qaeda or the Taliban, but to protect the pipeline. Some analysts are projecting a post-war Afghanistan where the US military is used as "pipeline police." Now, it seems that Halliburton, Dick Cheney's former company and one in which he still holds considerable stock, will receive the contract to construct the Afghanistan oil pipeline. Why am I not surprised?

So, how is your coincidence meter doing? If you've been paying attention, it should be well over into the red zone by now. Why is the US media almost completely ignoring all of this? Why are all these reports only being looked at seriously by media outside the US? Good questions! Motive, means and opportunity - aren't those the things that police detectives look for when investigating crimes? Try stacking up the above facts and reports against the available evidence that has been presented for Osama Bin Laden and Al Quaeda being the primary force behind the September 11th attack. It's not even a close contest, but, unfortunately, the evidence depicts a scenario that launches most Americans into fits of denial. Am I suggesting that I know what happened and who is responsible for September 11th? No, of course not. But what I do know for a fact is that the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy's official story line just doesn't wash. There are way, way too many suspicious coincidences for their version of events to be true.

However, as horrible as US involvement in the September 11th attack would be, it would not be the first time that a US administration has manufactured or orchestrated an excuse to go to war. It would not even be the second or third time. Back in the 1960's, "Operation Northwoods" was a plan actually designed by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff to commit domestic terror on Americans to whip them into a war hysteria, to support war efforts by the government. Sun Tzu (circa 400-320 B.C.) in "The Art Of War", comments that all war is based on deception. The people of an invading nation have to be deceived into thinking that they act in their own self defense; that they are the ones to have been attacked. …..It's nice to know that some things never change.

Now, leaving Afghanistan behind for the moment, let's look at what else our military has been up to around the world, still using September 11th as cover. ALL of the countries where we have sent troops or contemplated sending troops since September 11th have one thing in common. Can you guess what it is? If you guessed oil, than you just won a free tank of gasoline for your SUV.

Since October, the US has moved to extend its control over the Caspian Basin. We have established open-ended military presences in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The Bush-Cheney oilygarchy is now understood to be negotiating with Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev to send Kazakh troops to Afghanistan and to construct a military base. "It is clear that the continuing war in Afghanistan is no more than a veil for the US to establish political dominance in the region," a Kazakh government source said. "The war on terrorism is only a pretext for extending influence over our energy resources."

We have sent US Special Forces into the Philippines. According to the US Energy Information Administration web page on the Philippines, "the Malampaya gas field is estimated to also contain 50 million barrels of recoverable oil. Shell Philippines Exploration (SPEX) is conducting a well test that, if successful, could mean a project investment of $450 million and potential crude production of 35,000-50,000 bbl/d by 2003. Trans-Asia Oil and Energy Development Corporation has conducted exploratory drilling at the San Isidro well in the East Visayan Basin. This area may contain as much as 60 million barrels of oil according to some estimates. The Philippine government cites estimates of up to 246 million barrels in NW Palawan and 37.4 million barrels in the Minduro-Cuyo basin. "

We have sent Special Forces trainers to the republic of Georgia. Georgia lies along an important transit route for oil and gas pipelines from the Caspian region.

The Bush-Cheney oilygarchy plans to send some 100 military advisers to Yemen to help the army assert control over heavily armed tribal areas that have always resisted central control. Again, according to the US Energy Information Administration, "Yemen is important to world energy markets because of its oil and natural gas resources, as well as its strategic location at the Bab el-Mandab strait linking the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, one of the world's most active shipping lanes."

The Bush-Cheney oilygarchy has made rumblings about making desperately poor Somalia one of the next stops in the so-called "War on Terrorism". Again, courtesy of the US Energy Information Administration, oil exploration activities have been focused in northern Somalia, where Agip, Amoco, Chevron, Conoco and Phillips held concessions. These firms all pulled back following the collapse of the central government. Exploration activity remains hindered by the internal security situation, and the multiple sovereignty issues.

We have recently stepped up our military involvement in Colombia. Masquerading as a war on drugs, for years we have been supporting right wing paramilitaries and an army with a horrific human rights record, while our true purpose in Colombia was to fight leftist guerillas and protect our oil interests. It seems the guerillas figured out that blowing up oil pipelines was a good way to get attention for their cause. Through "Plan Colombia", US-supplied helicopters spray deadly herbicides over the countryside, destroying peasants' food crops along with coca fields.

In February, emboldened by its high approval ratings since September 11th, the Bush-Cheney oligarchy pledged to provide the Colombian military with $98 million in 2003 to protect the Cano Limon oil pipeline operated by the US company Occidental Petroleum. It is the conduit from Colombia's second-biggest oil field. Syndicated columnist Arianna Huffington described the aid package as "a shameless handout to a poor-little-me corporate mendicant." She likens the deal to the level of US government corruption exposed by the Enron scandal.

Calling for a ''unified campaign against narcotics trafficking and terrorist activities,'' the administration in March requested more than $500 million in supplemental spending to expand US military assistance in Colombia to counterinsurgency. The new aid for Colombia, being considered on Capitol Hill, would for the first time allow the US military to help and train forces in the battle against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the largest Colombian guerrilla group, which controls about 40 percent of the country. Previously, US law has limited American assistance to the Colombian government to fighting the drug trade.

On April 18th, in testimony before the House Appropriations Committee, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said, "Al Qaeda supporters have been active in the tri-border area of Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador." However, he did not specify what evidence the United States had to support the allegation. I have spent quite a bit of time in that region of South America myself, and while I can not recall ever having seen anyone there that looked to be of Islamic descent, I've seen quite a few big "gringos" wearing cowboy boots and talking with Texas accents. That's because it's not Al Qaeda that's active in the region, it's oil companies - lots of them. That portion of the western Amazon Basin is rich in oil. It's why Peru and Ecuador have gone to war over the border, and you can bet your last petro dollar that it is why the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy would like a bigger military presence there.

And then, of course, there is Iraq and Saddam Hussein, the nemesis of the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy. One last time, courtesy of the US Energy Information Administration, "Iraq holds more than 112 billion barrels of oil - the world's second largest proven reserves (after Saudi Arabia). Iraq also contains 110 trillion cubic feet of natural gas." Iraq exports 4% of the oil exported on world markets, amounting to 1-2 million barrels a day. That says it all, doesn't it? Are we really supposed to believe that the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy's concern is over weapons of mass destruction? Who's been bombing whom for the past ten years? Remember those oil figures when the experts start talking about the "complexities" of the situation with Saddam.

Last but not least, there is Venezuela, our third largest supplier of oil, where democratically-elected President Hugo Chavez was overthrown in a short-lived coup on April 12th. As they say in Latin America, there has never been a coup in the US because there's no American embassy there. Though we will probably never know the full story, as more details emerge, it seems fairly clear that the Bush-Cheney oilygarchy played a role in the coup. Of all the democratically-elected leaders in the western hemisphere, Bush was the only one who did not condemn the coup - but then Bush wasn't democratically elected. Venezuela has 77 billion barrels in proven reserves, the most of any country outside the Persian Gulf-Caspian Sea Basin area. The Chavez government's populist and nationalist rhetoric combined with its role in urging OPEC members to cut production has made it a target of Washington's wrath. In particular, the US government and the big oil companies are hostile to its vow to prevent the privatization of the national oil corporation.

In the end, the choice is ours. Do we want to live in a world where might makes right, and our nation is constantly at war to procure the oil it needs to keep its industrial engine cranking? Or do we want to live in a world where nations are at peace and our needed energy comes from renewable sources available to everyone? Do we want to live in a beautiful green world with a stable climate? Or do we want to live in a world fouled by petrochemicals, with a climate getting warmer and more unstable by the year as carbon emissions fill the sky? These are our choices, and they are choices we had better make soon, before the point of no return is passed.

The information in the above essay has come from many sources. I owe a special debt to the information provided by:

essays on the Common Dreams website at

the Drillbits & Tailings online journal at

the reports by Daniel Hopsicker and others in the Online Journal at

and the reports by Michael C. Ruppert of From The Wilderness Publications at and

In the end, however, I take responsibility for any factual errors that may have crept into the final product.