Wednesday, July 06, 2005

JAG, Central Asia, Peak Oil

1) Real JAG:

Subject: The perils of colonial justice in Iraq

The perils of colonial justice in Iraq
By Ashraf Fahim

Among its more vociferous opponents, the American project in Iraq is characterized as a classic colonial adventure, indistinguishable in nature or intent from the deepest, darkest chapters in Northern oppression of the South: America is to Iraq as Britain was to India or Belgium to the Congo. Proponents, on the other hand, argue the inherent benevolence of American empire - the export of democracy and egalitarianism in contrast to the transparent racist imperialism of yore.

One possible way to arbitrate this dispute is by observing the dispensation of justice with regard to American servicemen accused of the "unlawful killing" (in military parlance) of Iraqi civilians. In this area, as with the infamous cases of torture in Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, impunity is the rule of thumb for both the rank and file and their superiors. In the overwhelming majority of cases over the course of the war, prosecutions have either not taken place, or if court martials have occurred, there have been acquittals or token sentences dispensed.

No matter how profound the inequities of US military justice, the transitional Iraqi government of Ibrahim Jaafari has no means to challenge them. The trend towards impunity, therefore, would seem to validate the grievances of the opponents by demonstrating the uneven distribution of power that defines relations between the US and the transitional Iraqi government.

It is difficult to determine the precise number of US servicemen accused or convicted of unlawful killings during the war. A June 6 Associated Press article concluded that "since the Iraq war began, at least 10 US military personnel have been convicted of a wide array of charges stemming from the deaths of Iraqi civilians. But only one sentence has exceeded three years." Those 10 convictions do not reflect the dozens of investigations that have not produced court martials nor the large number of prosecutions that have led to acquittals.

The case of Ilario Pantano is typical of the way the scales of justice tip in occupied Iraq. Pantano was a Marine lieutenant accused of killing two Iraqi captives, Hamadaay Kareem and Taha Ahmed Hanjil, in April 2004, after the platoon he commanded captured them as they drove away from a house the Marines had just raided as a suspected insurgent hideout. The two officers with Pantano at the time allege that he ordered the captives' handcuffs removed, had them assume defensive positions, instructed his soldiers to look away, then shot Kareem and Hanjil in the back. Pantano emptied two magazines into them.

One of the officers present, Sergeant Daniel Coburn, stated that Pantano had become agitated when weapons were discovered in the suspected hideout and apparently wanted to "teach [the insurgents] a lesson". Pantano's defense, which has been successful in similar cases (such as the execution of a wounded insurgent in a Fallujah mosque famously captured by an NBC television reporter) was that the unarmed Iraqis moved suddenly, leading him to fear they were about to carry out an attack. Pantano faced the death penalty on charges of premeditated murder, but was cleared in a pretrial hearing in late May, and resigned from the military.

Terrorizing the natives, poisoning the well
M Cherif Bassiouni, a renowned professor of international law at Depaul University, is as familiar as any jurist with the legal dimension of US-Iraqi relations. Bassiouni is currently the director of a project to reform Iraq's legal system, as well as a project to aid the transitional government's drafting of a permanent constitution. Also, as the United Nations' Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Afghanistan in 2004, Bassiouni was apparently a little too effective, as his mandate was not renewed after heavy US pressure.

There is nothing unusual in American soldiers being judged under US jurisdiction (and by their peers, as they are in the military justice system) rather than the Iraqi courts, Bassiouni says. Such matters are usually covered by a so-called Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that defines relations between US forces and their host country - like the one between the US and Japan. "In the SOFA the US has the primary jurisdiction to prosecute," Bassiouni told Asia Times Online, "but it has the obligation to prosecute." If it fails to do so, the host country gets the opportunity. "But the Bush administration has refused to have a SOFA not only with Iraq but with Afghanistan," Bassiouni notes. This affords American soldiers total impunity from Iraqi or Afghani courts.

Bassiouni points out that the issue surfaced on Afghan President Hamid Karzai's June 15 pilgrimage to the White House. "[When] Karzai was here he raised the question once again. He said we need a SOFA, you have no right to detain Afghani citizens in Afghanistan," says Bassiouni. "And Bush says absolutely not. I mean, that arrogance of power." Instead, a "memorandum of understanding" for a long-term security "partnership" was signed, offering only joint "consultation" on military operations.

Michael Ratner, who heads the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York, has tackled the issue of impunity head on. CCR is currently trying to prosecute US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the former top military officer in Iraq, General Ricardo Sanchez, for their roles in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal. Ratner says the policy of giving US servicemen and high officials impunity to order or carry out torture or killings is no accident.

"I think it's intentional," Ratner told Asia Times Online. "The military is saying, in Afghanistan and Iraq, 'if you mess with us you're going to die and no one is going to be held accountable'." The motivation is twofold, he believes. "Part of it is terrorizing the population and part of it is they want our army to be killers. They're frightened that if they discipline or prosecute them, they'll hold back."

If the intention is to terrorize the population, ordinary Iraqis are apparently getting the message. Reports from Iraq indicate that Iraqis stay as far away as possible from trigger-happy convoys of US troops, which are a prime target of insurgent attacks. But the use of excessive force and concomitant impunity is also poisoning what little remains in the well of Iraqi goodwill towards America.

"What we are doing politically through the Abu Ghraib situation, through the non-punishment of people, through the policy of basically giving plausible deniability to all of the officers," says Bassiouni, "is reinforcing the popular perception of anti-Americanism and that's the strongest support we're giving to the resistance."

The lonesome death of Zaidun Hassun
The demise of Zaidun Hassun in the depths of the river Tigris at 11pm two days after New Year, 2004, is surely one of the war's most arbitrary killings. Hassun and his cousin Marwan Fadil were stopped at a checkpoint by US troops near a bridge in Samarra for breaking curfew. Once detained, Sergeant Tracy Perkins ordered his men to throw them into the river, apparently to teach them a lesson. Hassun drowned, but Fadil survived to tell their harrowing tale. There was a subsequent investigation and then a court martial that cleared Perkins and his men of involuntary manslaughter. Perkins was found guilty of assault and obstruction of justice, however, charges that held a maximum penalty of 11 years in prison. He got 45 days.

One reason for Perkins' exoneration on the manslaughter charge was because the defense argued that Hassun might not really be dead, since no US doctor had examined his body. Oddly, no one bothered to exhume Hassun's grave, and photographic evidence of his corpse provided by his family, as well as the testimony of Fadil, held little weight among the soldiers sitting in judgment of their colleague. When soldiers judge soldiers, says Ratner, a slanted outcome is always a risk. "The theory of military tribunals is that military officers understand the combat situation best and therefore you want those people to judge," he says. "So first, they're sympathetic already, and second they probably see themselves in that situation."

The Hassun case illustrates the hierarchies of race that corrupt the dispensation of US military justice and indeed the wider Iraqi-US relationship. As such, the US is reproducing the kind of colonial justice practiced by the British in India, the French in Algeria or the Israelis in Occupied Palestine. Overt racism is rife in the military's internal investigations, says Ratner.

"One of the things that comes out from the CID [Criminal Investigations Division] of the army investigations is that they're shoddy and they never believe the victim or the witnesses who were Iraqi," he says. "It's almost like what we had in the American south during the post-civil war period, where they never believed the black witness in a trial against a white." US soldiers, says Ratner, "have been taught that Muslims are terrorists, so it doesn't take a big leap to say 'I'm not going to believe their testimony'."

It is not only Iraqis who feel hard done by Bush-era US military justice. When Italian special forces agent Nicola Calipari was shot dead by US soldiers on March 4 while driving towards a checkpoint as he attempted to deliver Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena to Baghdad airport (after apparently freeing her from her insurgent kidnappers) , many assumed America's relations with its key coalition ally would ensure due diligence. But despite evidence that little warning was given before US soldiers fired on the Italian convoy, a joint US-Italian investigation - the conclusions of which the Italians refused to cosign - found no US soldier at fault.

The Calipari case shows that the US is willing to go to great lengths to hold its soldiers above the law, says Ratner. "Right now the Bush administration is not about to prosecute anybody for any crime in a serious way," he says. "Even with someone who politically they had to get along with like the Italians, it didn't make any difference to their bigger aim, which is to protect their soldiers and basically have them be looked at as a killing force that's just not accountable."

The high cost of impunity
That American soldiers are perceived by Iraqis as being above the law has serious implications for the US-Iraqi relationship. It feeds Iraqi cynicism about the legitimacy of the transitional government and reinforces assumptions that Americans are the ultimate arbiters of Iraq's purported sovereignty.

"[Iraqis] have absolutely no illusions that the present government has very little ability to exercise sovereignty," says Professor Bassiouni. "Thirty years under Saddam's regime brought people a certain type of realism. Power, control - corrupt absolutely. Saddam controlled absolutely, now the Americans are controlling absolutely."

While the Jaafari government is amenable to the US presence for now, that writ is not eternal. Jaafari's administration "obviously receives its policy directives from [Grand Ayatollah Ali] al-Sistani," Bassiouni notes. "And Sistani's basic position has been made very clear. He wants a government to be in place, an orderly transition made, and the Americans out. The US has to leave, period."

Once the constitution is in place, elections are held and the word "transitional" erased from government stationary, the colonial relationship demonstrated by the impunity US soldiers on Iraqi soil could begin to chafe unbearably. And sovereign Iraq's rulers may not be as patient in demanding jurisdiction over foreign forces as the ever-genial Hamid Karzai. Sooner rather than later, Iraqis will tire of US soldiers hurling their young men into the Tigris and getting off scott free.

Ashraf Fahim is a freelance writer on Middle Eastern affairs based in New York and London. His writing can be found at

(Copyright 2005 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us for information on sales, syndication and republishing.)

2) If you like geo-politics, and the connection between "democratization" and realpolitik oil concerns, read the next two articles in their entirety (yes, they're long) -- and draw your own conclusions about the connections between them:

Revolution, geopolitics and pipelines
By F William Engdahl

After a short-term fall in price below the $50 a
barrel level, oil has broken through the $60 level and
is likely to go far higher. In this situation one
might think the announcement of the opening of a major
new oil pipeline to pump Caspian oil to world markets
might dampen the relentless rise in prices.

However, even when the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries agreed on June 15 to raise its
formal production quota by another 500,000 barrels
per day (bpd), the reaction of NYMEX oil futures
prices was to rise, not fall. Estimates are that world
demand in the second half of 2005 will average at
least 3 million barrels a day more than the first half
of the

Oil has become the central theme of world political
and military operations planning, even when not always
openly said.

Caspian pipeline opens a Pandora's box In this
situation, it is worth looking at the overall
significance of the May opening of the Baku to Ceyhan,
Turkey, oil pipeline. This 1,762 kilometer long oil
pipeline was completed some months ahead of plan.
The BTC (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan) pipeline was begun in
2002 after four years of intense international
dispute. It cost about US$3.6 billion, making it
one of the most expensive oil projects ever. The main
backer was British Petroleum (BP), whose chairman,
Lord Browne, is a close adviser to Britain's Prime
Minister Tony Blair. BP built the pipeline through a
consortium including Unocal of the US, Turkish
Petroleum Inc, and other partners.

It will take until at least late September before 10.4
million barrels can provide the needed volume to start
oil delivery to the Turkish port of Ceyhan on the
Mediterranean Sea. Ceyhan is conveniently near to the
US airbase Incirlik. The BTC has been a US strategic
priority ever since president Bill Clinton first
backed it in 1998. Indeed, for the openingceremonies
in May, US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman attended and
delivered a personal note of congratulations from US
President George W Bush.

As the political makeup of the Central Asia Caspian
region is complex, especially since the decomposition
of the Soviet Union opened up a scramble in the
oil-rich region of the Caspian from the outside, above
all from the US, it is important to bear in mind the
major power blocs that have emerged.

They are two. On the one side is an alliance of
US-Turkey-Azerbaijan and, since the "Rose" revolution,
Georgia, that small but critical country directly on
the pipeline route. Opposed to it, in terms of where
the pipeline route carrying Caspian oil should go, is
Russia, which until 1990 held control over the entire
Caspian outside the Iran littoral. Today, Russia has
cultivated an uneasy but definite alliance with Iran
and Armenia, in opposition to the US group. This
two-camp grouping is essential to understanding
developments in the region since 1991.

Now that the BTC oil pipeline has finally been
completed, and the route through Georgia has been put
firmly in pro-Washington hands, an essential
precondition to completing the pipeline, the question
becomes one of how Moscow will react. Does President
Vladimir Putin have any serious options left short of
the ultimate nuclear one?

A clear strategy
A geopolitical pattern has become clear over the past
months. One-by-one, with documented overt and covert
Washington backing and financing, new US-friendly
regimes have been put in place in former Soviet states
which are in a strategic relation to possible pipeline
routes from the Caspian Sea.

Ukraine is now more or less in the hands of a
Washington-backed "democratic" regime under Viktor
Yushchenko and his billionaire Prime Minister Yulia
Timoshenko, known in Ukraine as the "gas princess" for
the fortune she made as a government official,
allegedly through her dubious dealings earlier with
Ukraine Energy Minister Pavlo Lazarenko and Gazprom.
The Yushchenko government's domestic credibility is
reportedly beginning to fade as Ukrainian "Orange"
revolution euphoria gives way to economic realities.
In any event, on June 16 in Kiev, Yushchenko hosted a
special meeting of the Davos World Economic Forum to
discuss possible investments into the "new" Ukraine.

At the Kiev meeting, Timoshenko's government announced
that it planned to build a new oil and gas pipeline
from the Caspian across Ukraine into Poland, which
would lessen Ukraine's reliance on Moscow oil and gas
supplies. Timoshenko also revealed that the Ukrainian
government was in positive talks with Chevron, the
former company of US Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice, for the project.

It goes without saying that such a project would run
counter to the Russian regional interest. One reason
for Washington's strong backing for Yushchenko last
year was to counter a decision by the Kuchma
government and parliament to reverse the flow of the
Brody-Odessa pipeline from a planned route from the
Black Sea port into Poland. The initial
Odessa-to-Poland route would have tied Ukraine to the
West. Now Ukraine is discussing with Chevron to build
a new pipeline doing the same. The country presently
gets 80% of its energy from Russia.

A second project Ukraine's government and the state
NAK (Naftogaz Ukrainy) are discussing is with France's
Gaz de France to build a pipeline from Iran for
natural gas to displace Russian gas. Were that to
happen it would simultaneously weaken ties of mutual self-interest between Russia and Iran, as well as Russia and France.

On the same day as the Kiev conference, Kazakhstan's
government told an international investors' conference
in Almaty that it was in negotiations with Ukraine to
route Kazakh oil as well through the proposed new
Ukrainian pipeline to the Baltic. Chevron is also the
major consortium leader developing Kazakh oil in
Tengiz. Given the political nature of US "big oil", it
is more than probable that Rice, Vice President Dick
Cheney and the administration in Washington are
playing a strong role in such Ukraine pipeline talks.
The "Orange" revolution, at least from the side of its
US sponsors, had little to do with real democracy and
far more with military and oil geopolitics.

Pipelines and US-Azeri ties
The Baku-Ceyhan pipeline was originally proclaimed by
BP and others as the project of the century. Former US
national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski was a
consultant to BP during the Bill Clinton era, urging
Washington to back the project. In fact, it was
Brzezinski who went to Baku in 1995, unofficially, on
behalf of Clinton, to meet with then-Azeri president
Haidar Aliyev, to negotiate new independent Baku
pipeline routes, including what became the BTC

Brzezinski also sits on the board of an impressive, if
little-known, US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce
(USACC). The chairman of USACC in Washington is Tim
Cejka, president of ExxonMobil Exploration. Other
USACC board members include Henry Kissinger and James Baker III, the man who in 2003 personally went to Tbilisi to tell Eduard Shevardnadze that Washington wanted him to step aside in favor of the US-trained Georgian president Mikhail Shaakashvili. Brent Scowcroft, former national security adviser to George H W Bush, also sits on the board of USACC. And Cheney was a former board member before he became vice president. A more high- powered Washington team of geopolitical fixers would be hard to imagine. This group of prominent individuals certainly would not give a minute of their time unless an area was of utmost geopolitical strategic importance to the US or to certain powerful interests there.

Now that the BTC pipeline to Ceyhan is complete, a
phase 2 pipeline is in consideration undersea,
potentially to link the Caspian to Kazakhstan and
Turkmenistan with its rich gas reserves, directing
that energy away from China to the West in a
S-UK-controlled route.

In this context, it's worth noting that Bush himself
made a trip to Tbilisi on May 10 to address a crowd in
Freedom Square, promoting his latest war on tyranny
campaign for the region. He praised the US-backed
"color revolutions" from Ukraine to Georgia. Bush went
on to attack Franklin D Roosevelt's Yalta division of
Europe in 1945. He made the curious declaration, "We
will not repeat the mistakes of other generations,
appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom
in the vain pursuit of stability," the president said.
"We have learned our lesson; no one's liberty is
expendable. In the long run, our security and true
stability depend on the freedom of others." Bush
continued, "Now, across the Caucasus, in Central Asia
and the broader Middle East, we see the same desire
for liberty burning in the hearts of young people.
They are demanding their freedom - and they will have it."

What color will the Azeri revolution take?
Not surprisingly, that speech was read as a "go"
signal for opposition groups across the Caucasus. In
Azerbaijan four youth groups - Yokh! (No!),
Yeni Fikir (New Thinking), Magam (It's Time) and the
Orange Movement of Azerbaijan - comprise the emerging
opposition, an echo of Georgia, Ukraine and Serbia,
where the US Embassy and specially trained non-
governmental organizations operatives orchestrated the
US-friendly regime changes with help of the US
National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House and
the Soros Foundations.

According to Baku journalists, Ukraine's Pora (It's
Time), Georgia's Kmara (Enough) and Serbia's Otpor
(Resistance) are cited by all four Azeri opposition
organizations as role models. The opposition groups
also consider Bush's February meeting in Bratislava
with Pora leader Vladislav Kaskiv as a sign that
Washington supports their cause.

It seems the same team of Washington regime-change
experts are preparing for a "color revolution" for the
upcoming November elections in Azerbaijan as were
behind other recent color revolutions.

In 2003, on the death of former Azeri president Haider
Aliyev, his playboy son, Ilham Aliyev, became
president in grossly rigged elections which Washington
legitimized because Aliyev was "our tyrant", and also
just happened to hold his hand on the spigot of Baku

Ilham, former president of the state oil company
SOCAR, is tied to his father's power base and is
apparently now seen as not suitable for the new
pipeline politics. Perhaps he wants too big a share of
the spoils. In any case, both Blair's UK government and the US State Department's AID are pouring money into Azeri opposition groups, similar to Otpor in Ukraine. US Ambassador Reno Harnish has stated that Washington is ready to finance "exit polling" in the elections. Exit polling in Ukraine was a key factor used to drive the opposition success there.

Moscow is following Azeri events closely. On May 26,
the Moscow daily Kommersant wrote, "While the pipeline
will carry oil from the East to West, the spirit of
'color revolutions' will flow in the reverse
direction." The commentary went on to suggest that
Western governments wanted to promote democratization
in Azerbaijan out of a desire to protect the
considerable investment made in the pipeline. That is
only a part of the strategic game, however. The other
part is what Pentagon strategists term "strategic

Until recently the US had supported the corrupt
ruthless dictatorship of the Aliyev's as the family
had played ball with US geopolitical designs in the
area, even though Haider Aliyev had been a career top
KGB officer in the Soviet Mikhail Gorbachev era. Then
on April 12, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld went to
Baku, his second visit in four months, to discuss
demands to create a US military base in Azerbaijan, as
part of the US global force redeployment involving
Europe, the Mideast and Asia.

The Pentagon already de facto runs the Georgia
military, with its US Special Forces officers, and
Georgia has asked to join the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO). Now Washington wants to
have direct bases in Azerbaijan proximate to Russia as
well as to Iran.

The Pentagon has also allocated $100 million to build
a Caspian Guard of special forces military, ostensibly
to guard the new BTC pipeline, though the latter was
deliberately built underground to make it less
vulnerable, one reason for its high cost. Part of the
Pentagon money would go to build a radar-equipped
command center in Baku, capable of monitoring all sea
traffic in the Caspian. The US wants airbases in
Azerbaijan, which naturally would be seen in Tehran
and Moscow as a strategic provocation.

In all this maneuvering from the side of Washington
and 10 Downing Street, the strategic issue of
geopolitical control over Eurasia looms large. And
increasingly it is clear that not only Putin's Russia
is an object of the new Washington "war on tyranny".
It is becoming clear to most now that the grand design
in Eurasia on the part of Washington is not to
pre-empt Osama bin Laden and his "cave dwellers".

The current Washington strategy targets many Eurasian
former Soviet republics which per se have no known oil
or gas reserves. What they do have, however, is
strategic military or geopolitical significance for
the Washington policy of dominating the future of Eurasia.

That policy has China as its geopolitical, economic
and military fulcrum. A look at the Eurasian map and
at the target countries for various US-sponsored color
revolutions makes this unmistakably clear. To the east
of the Caspian Sea, Washington in one degree or
another today controls Pakistan, Afghanistan,
potentially Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.
These serve as a potential US-controlled barrier or
buffer zone between China and Russian, Caspian and Iranian energy sources. Washington is out to deny China easy land access to either Russia, the Middle East or to the oil and gas fields of the Caspian Sea.

Whither Kyrgystan?
Since early 2005, when a series of opposition protests
erupted over the fairness of parliamentary elections in February and March, Kyrgystan has joined the growing list of Eurasian republics facing major threat of regime change or color revolution. The success of former Kyrgystan premier Kurmanbek Bakiev in replacing ousted president Askar Akayev in that country's so-called "Tulip" revolution, becoming interim president until July presidential elections, invited inevitable comparisons with the "Orange" revolution in Ukraine and the Georgian "Rose" revolution.

Washington's Radio Liberty has gone to great lengths
to explain that the Kyrgystan opposition is not a US
operation, but a genuine spontaneous grass-roots
phenomenon. The facts speak a different story however.
According to reports from mainstream US journalists,
including Craig Smith in the New York Times and Philip
Shishkin in the Wall Street Journal, the opposition in
Kyrgystan has had "more than a little help from US
friends" to paraphrase the Beatles song. Under the
Freedom Support Act of the US Congress, in 2004 the
dirt-poor country of Kyrgystan received a total of
$12 million in US government funds to support the
building of democracy. This will buy a lot of
democracy in an economically desolate, forsaken land
such as Kyrgystan.

Acknowledging the Washington largesse, Edil Baisolov,
in a comment on the February-March anti-government
protests, boasted, "It would have been absolutely
impossible for this to have happened without that
help." According to the New York Times' Smith,
Baisolov's organization, the Coalition for Democracy
and Civil Rights, is financed by the National
Democratic Institute for International Affairs, a
Washington-based non-profit organization in turn
funded by Rice's State Department. Baisolov told Radio
Liberty he had been to Ukraine to witness the tactics
of their "Orange" Revolution, and got inspired.

But that isn't all. The whole cast of democracy
characters has been busy in Bishkek and environs
supporting American-style democracy and opposing
"anti-American tyranny". Washington's Freedom House
has generously financed Bishkek's independent printing
press, which prints the opposition paper, MSN,
according to its man on the scene, Mike Stone.

Freedom House is an organization with a fine-sounding
name and a long history since it was created in the
late 1940s to back the creation of NATO. The chairman
of Freedom House is James Woolsey, former Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) director who calls the
present series of regime changes from Baghdad to Kabul
"World War IV". Other trustees include the ubiquitous
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former Clinton commerce secretary
Stuart Eizenstat, and national security adviser
Anthony Lake. Freedom House lists USAID, US
Information Agency, the Soros Foundations and the
National Endowment for Democracy among its financial

One more of the many non-governmental organizations
active in promoting the new democracy in Kyrgystan is
the Civil Society Against Corruption, financed by the
National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The NED which,
with Freedom House, has been at the center of all the
major color revolutions in recent years, was created
during the Ronald Reagan administration to function as
a de facto privatized CIA, privatized so as to allow
more freedom of action, or what the CIA likes to call
"plausible deniability". NED chairman Vin Weber, a
former Republican congressman, is close to neo-
conservative Bill Bennett. NED president since 1984 is
Carl Gershman, who had previously been a Freedom House
scholar. NATO General Wesley Clark, the man who led
the US bombing of Serbia in 1999, also sits on the NED
board. Allen Weinstein, who helped draft the
legislation establishing NED, said in 1991, "A lot of
what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by
the CIA."

Not to be forgotten, and definitely not least in
Kyrgystan's ongoing "Tulip" revolution is Soros' Open
Society Institute - which also poured money into the
Serbian, Georgian and Ukraine color revolutions. The
head of the Civil Society Against Corruption in
Kyrgystan is Tolekan Ismailova, who organized the
translation and distribution of the revolutionary
manual used in Serbia, Ukraine and Georgia written by
Gene Sharp, of a curiously named Albert Einstein
Institution in Boston. Sharp's book, a how-to manual
for the color revolutions, is titled From Dictatorship
to Democracy. It includes tips on non-violent
resistance - such as "display of flags and symbolic
colors" - and civil disobedience.

Sharp's book is literally the bible of the color
revolutions, a kind of "regime change for dummies".
Sharp created his Albert Einstein Institution in 1983,
with backing from Harvard University. It is funded by
the US Congress' NED and the Soros Foundations, to
train people in and to study the theories of "non-
violence as a form of warfare". Sharp has worked with
NATO and the CIA over the years training operators in
Myanmar, Lithuania, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and
Taiwan, even Venezuela and Iraq.

In short, virtually every regime which has been the
target of a US-backed soft coup in the past 20 years
has involved Gene Sharp and usually, his associate, Colonel Robert Helvey, a retired US Army intelligence specialist. Notably, Sharp was in Beijing two weeks before student demonstrations at Tiananmen Square in 1989. The Pentagon and US intelligence have refined the art of such soft coups to a fine level. RAND planners call it "swarming", referring to the swarms of youth, typically linked by short message services and weblogs, who can be mobilized on command to destabilize a target regime.

Then Uzbekistan ...?
Uzbekistan's tyrannical President Islam Karimov had
early profiled himself as a staunch friend of the
Washington "war on terror", offering a former Soviet
airbase for US military actions, including the attack
on the Taliban in Afghanistan in late 2001. Many
considered Karimov too close to Washington to be in
danger. He had made himself a "good" tyrant in
Washington's eyes.

That's also no longer a sure thing. In May, Rice
demanded that Karimov institute "political reforms"
following violent prison uprisings and subsequent
protests over conditions in the Ferghana Valley region
in Andijan. Karimov has fiercely resisted independent
inquiry into allegations his troops shot and killed
hundreds of unarmed protesters. He insists the
uprisings were caused by "external" radical Muslim
fundamentalists allied with the Taliban and intent on
establishing an Islamic caliphate in Uzbekistan's
Ferghana Valley bordering Kyrgystan.

While the ouster of Karimov is unclear for the moment,
leading Washington backers of Karimov's "democratic
reform" have turned into hostile opponents. As one US
commentator expressed it, "The character of the
Karimov regime can no longer be ignored in deference
to the strategic usefulness of Uzbekistan." Karimov
has been targeted for a color revolution in the
relentless Washington "war on tyranny".

In mid-June, Karimov's government announced changes in
terms for the US to use Uzbekistan's Karshi-Khanabad
military airbase, including a ban on night flights.
Karimov is moving demonstrably closer to Moscow, and
perhaps also to Beijing, in the latest chapter of the
new "Great Game" for geopolitical control over

Following the Andijan events, Karimov revived the
former "strategic partnership" with Moscow and also
received a red-carpet welcome at the end of May in
Beijing, including a 21-gun salute. At a June Brussels
NATO meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ivanov
backed Karimov, declaring there was no need for an
international investigation of what happened in

Tajikistan, bordering Afghanistan and China, is so far
the only remaining Central Asian republic not yet to
undergo a successful US-led color revolution. It's not
for lack of trying. For several years Washington has
attempted to woo Dushanbe away from its close ties to
Moscow, including the economic carrot of US backing
for Tajik membership in the World Trade Organization.
Beijing has also been active. China has recently
upgraded military assistance to Tajikistan, and is
keen to strengthen ties to all Central Asian republics
standing between it and the energy resources to the
Eurasian west, from Russia to Iran. The stakes are the
highest for the oil-dependent China.

Washington playing the China card
The one power in Eurasia that has the potential to
create a strategic combination which could checkmate
US global dominance is China. However, China has an
Achilles' heel, which Washington understands all too
well--oil. Ten years ago China was a net oil exporter.
Today China is the second-largest importer behind the

China's energy demand is growing annually at a rate of
more than 30%. China has feverishly been trying to
secure long-term oil and gas supplies, especially
since the Iraq war made clear to Beijing that
Washington was out to control and militarize most of
the world's major oil and gas sources. A new wrinkle
to the search for black gold, oil, is the clear data
confirming that many of the world's largest oilfields
are in decline, while new discoveries fail to replace
lost volumes of oil. It is a pre-programmed scenario
for war. The only question is, with what weapons?

In recent months Beijing has signed major oil and
economic deals with Venezuela and Iran. It has bid for
a major Canadian resources company, and most recently
made the audacious bid to buy California's Unocal, a
partner in the Caspian BTC pipeline. Chevron
immediately stepped in with a counter bid to block

Beijing has recently also upgraded the importance of
the four-year-old organization, the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization, or SCO. SCO consists
of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan
and Tajikistan. Not surprisingly, these are many of
the states which are in the midst of US-backed
attempts at soft coups or color revolutions. SCO's
July meeting list included an invitation to India, Pakistan and Iran to attend with observer status.

This June, the foreign ministers of Russia, China and
India held a meeting in Vladivostock where they
stressed the role of the United Nations, a move
aimed clearly at Washington. India also discussed its
project to invest and develop Russia's Far East
Sakhalin I, where it has already invested about
$1 billion in oil and gas development. Significantly,
at the meeting, Russia and China resolved a decades-
long border dispute, and two weeks later in Beijing
discussed potentials for development of Russia's
Siberian resources.

A close look at the map of Eurasia begins to suggest
what is so vital here for China, and therefore for
Washington's future domination of Eurasia. The
goal is not only strategic encirclement of Russia
through a series of NATO bases ranging from Camp Bond
Steel in Kosovo to Poland, to Georgia, possibly
Ukraine and White Russia, which would enable NATO to
control energy ties between Russia and the EU.

Washington policy now encompasses a series of
"democratic" or soft coup projects which would
strategically cut China off from access to the vital
oil and gas reserves of the Caspian, including
Kazakhstan. The earlier Asian Great Silk Road trade
routes went through Tashkent in Uzbekistan and Almaty
in Kazakhstan for geographically obvious reasons, in a
region surrounded by major mountain ranges.

Geopolitical control of Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan and
Kazakhstan would enable control of any potential
pipeline routes between China and Central Asia,
just as the encirclement of Russia allows for the
control of pipeline and other ties between it and
Western Europe, China, India and the Mideast.

In this context, the revealing Foreign Affairs article
from Zbigniew Brzezinski from September/October 1997
is worth again quoting:

Eurasia is home to most of the world's politically
assertive and dynamic states. All the historical
pretenders to global power originated in Eurasia. The
world's most populous aspirants to regional hegemony,
China and India, are in Eurasia, as are all the
potential political or economic challengers to
American primacy. After the United States, the next
six largest economies and military spenders are there, as are all but one of the world's overt nuclear powers, and all but one of the covert ones. Eurasia accounts for 75% of the world's population, 60% of its GNP [gross national product], and 75% of its energy resources. Collectively, Eurasia's potential power overshadows even America's.

Eurasia is the world's axial supercontinent. A
power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive
influence over two of the world's three most
economically productive regions, Western Europe and
East Asia. A glance at the map also suggests that a
country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically
control the Middle East and Africa. With Eurasia now
serving as the decisive geopolitical chessboard, it no
longer suffices to fashion one policy for Europe and
another for Asia. What happens with the distribution
of power on the Eurasian landmass will be of decisive
importance to America's global primacy ...

This statement, written well before the US-led bombing
of former Yugoslavia and the US occupations in
Afghanistan and Iraq, or the BTC pipeline, helps put
recent Washington pronouncements about "ridding the
world of tyranny" and about spreading democracy into a
somewhat different context from the one usually
mentioned by Bush.

"Elementary, my dear Watson. It's about global
hegemony, not democracy, you fool."

F William Engdahl, author of A Century of War:
Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order,
from Pluto Press Ltd.

3) See also Juan Cole's analysis of the significance of the below appeal in :

Will US be asked to leave key military bases?

Chinese-led regional security group urges US to set timetable for withdrawal of troops.

By Matthew Clark |

A six-nation security bloc comprised of China, Russia, and four former Soviet states has urged the US-led coalition in Afghanistan to set a deadline for withdrawing troops from member states, reports BBC.
Meeting in the Kazakh capital of Astana, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) - which includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, China, and Russia - issued a joint statement saying the active military phase of the Afghan operation was coming to an end and calling on the US-led coalition to agree to a deadline for ending the temporary use of bases and air space in member countries.

There are about 18,000 coalition forces in Afghanistan, and the US has hosted bases in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan since the anti-Taliban operations began in 2001.

"Considering that the active phase of the military anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan has finished, member states... consider it essential that the relevant participants in the anti-terrorist coalition set deadlines for the temporary use" of bases in Central Asia, the declaration read.

AFX News, a global news agency, points out that this is the SCO's first meeting since the ouster of Kyrgyz leader Askar Akayev in March and a military crackdown in Uzbekistan in May. AFX also reports that "the leaders also included a clause on the inadmissibility of 'monopolizing or dominating international affairs' – apparently a reference to growing US influence in Central Asia."

Today's declaration echoes a similar one on the '21st century international order' signed by Putin and Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in Moscow last week.
It follows a string of complaints by leaders such as Uzbek President Islam Karimov suggesting that the West was behind uprisings in three former Soviet republics in the last two years – Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan.

"There should be no place for interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states," Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said.

Mr. Karimov said outside forces were threatening to "hijack stability and impose their model of development" on the region., Uzbekistan's largest business Internet portal, reports that Secretary-General of the SCO Zhang Deguang said three evils – terrorism, extremism, and separatism – are the main threat to peace and security in the region.

Sergei Prikhodko, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that Central Asian states will ask US-led forces when they plan to leave Uzbek and Kyrgyz bases, reports MosNews.

The active phase is now being completed and it's important to know when they will go home. ... No one is telling them it should be tomorrow, in a month, in five months or in a year and a half, but it's just straightforward that SCO members know by when the anti-terrorist coalition will leave.
"Speeches at the summit by the leaders of China and Uzbekistan included veiled criticism of Western influence in the region and they follow hawkish comments by Russian officials criticizing attempts by unspecified foreign forces to destabilize Central Asia," according to MosNews.
"Correspondents say the statement appears to reflect increasing concerns that the US is encouraging the overthrow of Central Asia's authoritarian governments," reports BBC.

Radio Free Europe writes "the summit highlights China's continuing efforts to build influence in Central Asia – and gain greater access to its energy resources – by making common cause with Russia and the Central Asian states against militant groups."

Beijing, the major force behind the SCO, has poured more resources into maintaining it than have any of the other member states. And often, Beijing has found itself trying to push the others along in its efforts to develop the SCO into a major regional alliance.
RFE points out that a Kazakh oil pipeline to China with up to 20 million tons capacity is due to be completed by December.

4) This is a long analysis about peak oil, concentrating on Saudi Arabia's reserves:

The Saudi oil bombshell
By Michael T Klare

For those oil enthusiasts who believe that petroleum will remain abundant for decades to come - among them President George W Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, and their many friends in the oil industry - any talk of an imminent "peak" in global oil production and an ensuing decline can be easily countered with a simple mantra: "Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia."

Not only will the Saudis pump extra oil now to alleviate global shortages, it is claimed, but they will keep pumping more in the years ahead to quench our insatiable thirst for energy. And when the kingdom's existing fields run dry, lo, they will begin pumping from other fields that are just waiting to be exploited. We ordinary folk need have no worries about oil scarcity, because Saudi Arabia can satisfy our current and future needs. This is, in fact, the basis for the Bush administration's contention that we can continue to increase our yearly consumption of oil, rather than conserve what's left and begin the transition to a post-petroleum economy. Hallelujah for Saudi Arabia!

But now, from an unexpected source, comes a devastating challenge to this powerful dogma: in a newly released book, investment banker Matthew R Simmons convincingly demonstrates that, far from being capable of increasing its output,
Saudi Arabia is about to face the exhaustion of its giant fields and, in the relatively near future, will probably experience a sharp decline in output. "There is only a small probability that Saudi Arabia will ever deliver the quantities of petroleum that are assigned to it in all the major forecasts of world oil production and consumption," Simmons writes in Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy. "Saudi Arabian production," he adds, italicizing his claims to drive home his point, "is at or very near its peak sustainable volume ... and it is likely to go into decline in the very foreseeable future."

If only ......

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