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What is an appropropriate response?
Political and philosophical considerations after the attack on the Word Trade Center

Oil Omissions
Bush Sr., Cheney Have Big Stakes in Saudi Status Quo

by Laura Flanders
Oct 18, 2001

The New York Times ran an interesting article Sunday, as interesting for 
what it did not say as for what it did.

Headlined, "Fears, Again, of Oil Supplies at Risk," the piece by Neela 
Banerjee addressed the nightmares that George W's war has raised among 
those concerned about oil. Politicians and oil executives imagine, says 
Banerjee, a potential domino effect that could end up with angry Persian 
Gulf states cutting off the flow of oil to the west, terrorism blocking 
its transport through the Strait of Hormuz and even Osama bin Laden taking
control of Saudi Arabia from a toppled Saud family.

"If bin Laden takes over and becomes king of Saudi Arabia, he'd turn off 
the tap," Roger Diwan, a managing director of the Petroleum Finance 
Company, a consulting firm in Washington, told Banerjee. "He said at one 
point that he wants oil to be $144 a barrel - about six times what it 
sells for now." And Saudi Arabia, the Times reminds us, is Osama bin 
Laden's Enemy No. 1: "Mr. bin Laden has long made clear that his ultimate 
goal, more than wreaking havoc in the West, is toppling the Saud family. 
And Saudi Arabia would be a crucial target for anyone seeking to cut 
deeply into the world oil flow."

Banerjee restates other points that need emphasizing, such as the fact 
that while U.S.-dependence on Gulf oil is down to 13 percent of overall 
use, Saudi Arabia is still the country's biggest single supplier of crude.
Moreover, "The Saudis are the only ones with enough spare oil-field 
capacity to call on if there is a severe disruption elsewhere," he writes.
There are some major omissions, however, in Banerjee's piece.

The first of these is that in an article focusing on Saudi Arabia, oil and
the United States, there is no acknowledgement of the Bush family's ties to
the corrupt Kingdom of Saud, and its explicit investment in maintaining the
status quo in that fundamentalist country.

Most obviously, ex-President and ex-CIA Director George Bush has been 
working his assets for the Washington-based Carlyle Group, a $12 billion 
private equity firm, since he left office. He specializes in Saudi Arabia 
and certainly has in interest in the Kingdom's enduring profitability.

The public-interest law firm Judicial Watch earlier this year strongly 
criticized this situation, pointing out in a March 5 statement that it is 
a "conflict of interest [which] could cause problems for America's foreign
policy in the Middle East and Asia." In a Sept. 29 statement, Judicial 
Watch added that, "This conflict of interest has now turned into a scandal.
The idea of the president's father, an ex-president himself, doing 
business with a company under investigation by the FBI in the terror 
attacks of September 11 is horrible." They demanded President Bush make 
his father pull out of the Carlyle Group.

Additionally, an article about oil supplies that doesn't mention the 
Caspian Sea is quite something to see. Banerjee entirely ignores the story
that is burning up progressive talk radio waves this month, and buzzing 
around thoughtful alternative Web sites. Hidden behind President Bush's 
war to avenge the victims of September 11, could there be an Oil Agenda? 
Michael Klare, author of "Resource Wars," has suggested that the long-term
Bush/Cheney plan is to establish a Pax Americana in Central Asia and secure
the vast oil resources of the Caspian Basin.

U.S. oil companies have been negotiating with the post-Soviet republics of
Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan for access to the oil for years, but have been 
stymied by political instability in the region. Oil conglomerates were 
torn between two possible pipeline routes to Western markets: west through
the war-torn Caucasus Mountains to Turkey, or south through war-torn 
Afghanistan to Pakistan and the Arabian Sea.

Until it was put on hold in 1998, Unocal, which spearheaded the Afghan 
project was to have built a 1,005-mile oil pipeline and a companion 918-
mile natural gas pipeline, in addition to a tanker loading terminal in 
Pakistan's Arabian Sea port of Gwadan. The company projected annual 
revenues of $2 billion, or enough to recover the cost of the project in 
five years. As reported by journalist Jan Goodwin, Unocal opened offices 
in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Turkmenistan and got every faction
of the Afghan Northern Alliance to sign on. Even former Secretary of State 
Henry A. Kissinger got on board to help sell the project in the region. [
See: New York Times, 12/5/98]

Backing the Caspian plan is none other than Vice President Dick Cheney, 
who, as CEO of Halliburton was successful in winning contracts from 
Caspian Sea states to be part of any future development. In 1994, Cheney 
helped to broker a deal between the oil company Chevron and the state of 
Kazakhstan when he sat on the Oil Advisory Board of that former soviet 

The Amarillo Globe-News reported on a 1998 talk to oil executives in which
Cheney said that "the current hot spots for major oil companies are the oil
reserves in the Caspian Sea region. Former Soviet states Azerbaijan, 
Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan all are seeking to quickly develop their oil 
reserves, which languished during the years of Russian domination." The 
stakes in that region could be as much as 200 billion barrels of oil and 
natural gas, he told the crowd.

"The potential for this region turning as volatile as the Persian Gulf, 
though, does not concern Cheney," the article continued. "You've got to go
where the oil is," he said. "I don't worry about it a lot."

In a story about oil fears and worries, the New York Times failed to ask 
the obvious question: Is Cheney worried now? And if not, why not?