Posts Tagged ‘Exxon’

RT’s Lee Camp on What the US Military Is Doing in Niger

November 5, 2017

‘All the things we ever needed
I don’t need them now.
And all the things we did
Were confidential,
And hidden from me anyhow.’

– The Sisters of Mercy, Something Fast, early 1990s.

Remember those five US squaddies, who were killed in Niger the other week, but the American government couldn’t tell anyone what they were doing there in the first place? In this short piece from RT’s Redacted Tonight, comedian Lee Camp reveals what America is doing in this country in West Africa, and how the American military-industrial complex, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have worked to screw over yet another country.

He begins by stating that Africa possesses many of the vital mineral resources needed by the modern world – gold, diamonds, oil and so on. However, American investment and hegemony over the continent is being challenged by China, which has secured deals in recent years with African nations covering nearly ever sector of the continent’s economy. To maintain their military readiness for conflict in the region, in 2008 the Americans set up AFRICOM. From 2010 to 2017 the number of US troops in African increased by 2000 per cent. Most African countries don’t allow American drones to be armed. Niger was the one exception that was open to the Americans flying armed drones within its borders. The country has rich deposits of cobalt, manganese, chromium and platinum, metals that are used in modern weapons systems. It does not have any of the yellow cake uranium that Bush and co. claimed Niger was supplying to Saddam Hussein in preparation for Iraq making a nuclear bomb. This didn’t stop the claim being revived again in 2011, when it was alleged that Niger was sending the mineral to Iran.

Between 1990 and 1995 there was a Tuareg rebellion in Niger and Mali against poverty, corruption and exploitation. This came to end when the rebel leader was killed in a plane crash, which many of them blamed on the C.I.A. It looked suspicious, because an autonomous Tuareg region in the north of Niger threatened the plans of Exxon and other American oil and mining corporations to have a free hand in exploiting the region around Lake Chad.

This was followed by a famine, which was created not by a shortage of grain, but through the deregulation of the grain markets and the price of oil ordered by the I.M.F. and World Bank. The civilian government was then overthrown by a military coup in 2011, which suspended the constitution. The American government has a policy of not supporting governments that have come to power through military action. But Obama’s administration showed that they were as ready to embrace them, as they were to embrace the military regimes that had also seized power through C.I.A. sponsored coups in Honduras and Paraguay.

Then there was the NATO bombing of Libya and its assistance for the rebels, who overthrew and assassinated Colonel Gaddafi. As part of their policy of regime change, the American government also armed and gave aid to various Islamist groups connected to al-Qaeda. After the fall of Gaddafi’s government, these groups spread out across north Africa, and moved south across the Sahel down to Niger, to cause trouble to American corporations in the region in another example of the blowback that has come from terrorist groups armed as part of American imperialism.

Camp then goes to explain why Americans should care about the situation in Niger. It’s because this is where Americans’ tax dollars are going. He states that America now has a military government in charge. It is also another area in which America’s brave young men and women are fighting, and from where they’re coming back in coffins.

The clip concludes with comments from John Perkins, the author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman, who states that after the Fall of the Soviet Union, America had the opportunity to practise good business practices around the world. They didn’t, and instead did exactly the opposite, promoting exploitation. As a result, the Chinese are stepping in to take advantage of the mistakes America has made.

The video’s entitled ‘What They Won’t Tell You About US Troops in NIGER’, and my guess is that they really aren’t going to be keen about the folks on this side of the Atlantic knowing about it either. Because whatever America is doing, we have to join in as part of the Special Relationship. Which means that we cling to our status as a world power by riding on the Americans’ coat-tails, acting as their poodle. Just as we did under Blair, and as we have done ever since World War II. And under Blair, we also sent ‘peace-keeping’ missions into West Africa – I think one of them was in Sierra Leone during their civil War in the late ’90s and early part of this century. So it really isn’t going to surprise me if it’s revealed that we’ve also got troops in there, or will have to send some in shortly if the situation escalates further.

As for the famine created by the demands of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, that scenario has been played out in just about every country across the globe which has been forced to go to them for help. Way back in the 1990s there was a short film on Channel 4 about the IMF had trashed the economy of one of the countries in Southern Africa. The country was in dire economic straits, but had a healthy industry cultivating and exporting peanuts under government control. So the I.M.F. insisted that the industry be privatised and deregulated, with the result that the industry fell apart, creating more poverty and economic stagnation.

This isn’t the exception to the rule. This is the rule. Many of the countries in the Developing World, which have prospered, have done so precisely because they told the I.M.F. and World Bank where they could stick their recommendations. And these recommendations are always that industry should be privatised, deregulated and whatever there is of a welfare system should be cut back. Lobster has also described them as another important component of American imperialism, as they always recommend that the privatised industries should be sold to an American company.

Once again, American forces are being deployed in another part of the world to defend and expand American corporate interests against Chinese competition, and terrorist action by the same groups American armed against Colonel Gaddafi.
But the squaddies’ presence has been explained away as just being in an advisory role. Just like they were explained away in Vietnam.

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Political Dynamite! American Unions Vote to Form Labor Party

November 2, 2017

This is an absolute bombshell! In this piece from the Jimmy Dore Show, Dore and his co-host, Ron Placone, discuss the sensational news that a meeting of union leaders that convened on October 24 have passed a resolution condemning the two-party system and pledging them to consider setting up a separate, independent labour party.

The resolution was introduced by the chair of the political committee of AFL-CIO, Lee Saunders, and Randi Weingarten, the head of the teacher’s union. This is particularly remarkable, as Weingarten was responsible for throwing the union’s weight behind Hillary Clinton regardless of the views of its members. Dore states that when they asked American teachers how they felt about their union supporting Killary, they said they weren’t consulted. Those are America’s two largest unions.

Weingarten said that the system had failed working people for decades, and that it had taken away the pillars supporting working people’s rights to good jobs and benefits on behalf of the rich and corporations. The resolution was passed at a meeting of about 50 delegates in an upstairs room where the convention was being held. The delegates contended that both the Republicans and the Democrats were under corporate domination.

Mark Dimondstein, who was the foremost promoter of the idea of a labour party, is the president of the postal workers’ union. He has been calling for it ever since NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement – was set up in 1993, which he said showed that both the Republicans and Democrats were in the pockets of the capitalists. Dore and Placone chuckle over the fact that Dimondstein must be having the biggest ‘I told you so’ moment, and encourage him to gloat all he wants, as he’s earned it.

The meeting was split over whether they should first start up an organisation and start discussing issues, or get into political races and risk becoming the ‘spoilers’ in the current two-party system. Dore states in response to this that it’s the two-party system that’s rigged. That’s how Americans now have Trump: it was due to a rigged Democratic primary and electoral college. One delegate, Velasquez, stated that the new party should compete in politics, but start at the local and state levels. Dore asks rhetorically why they should, and argues instead that they should compete at all levels. All the delegates agreed, however, that the Democrats have not done them any favours. They never have, and they never will. Dore believes that the reason why Velasquez wanted them to limit themselves to local and state level politics, was so that they don’t get called ‘Ralph Nader’, after the left-wing American politician, who attempted to run as a third party candidate.

Saunders and Weingarten are also members of the Democratic National Committee. The main resolution, however, said that they would set a pro-worker agenda, that would stand regardless of party. Dore states that this is similar to what they had in mind when they went to Canada for Peter Alard. That all the progressives would get together and produce a litmus test. They will thus endorse any political candidate in any party, provided that they support their pro-worker objectives.

Dimondstein said that they couldn’t take half a loaf, a quart of a loaf, an eighth of a loaf, or even crumbs any more. Dore states that they weren’t even being offered that under the present system. And he was applauded when he said that even when the Democrats got control of both the presidency and Congress in the 2008 election, they did not follow through with reform of labour legislation and other priorities for working people, but instead passed the Transpacific Partnership – TPP – the free trade deal. Dore and Placone states this was done by Barack Obama. They also make the point that it wasn’t done by Russian secret agents amongst the DAPL and Black Lives Matter activists. Dore states that it wasn’t the Russians, who threw the election but Barack Obama, Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, Haliburton, Exxon, the Koch brothers, the people in New York, who had 200,000 people thrown of the voting rolls, and the Electoral College. He stated that the Democratic Party hadn’t done anything for them despite having the presidency, the Congress and the Senate. Dore states that this is what he and other progressives had been saying, but they were told they were stupid, petulant, children. Now the labour unions agree with them, and its those who called them stupid and so on, who now have no political sense. The people in the Democratic Party, who called them that and gave America Hillary Clinton are the people that are ultimately responsible for Trump. They are everything that’s broken in the Democrat Party.

Dimondstein stated that the Republicans entrenched union-busting, Bill Clinton deregulated Wall Street, and Jimmy Carter deregulated trucking. Dore reminds his viewers that, thanks to Carter, we now have truckers working 18 hours or so and taking methamphetamines to get to their destinations on time. Dimondstein made it clear that constructing a labour party would be a long-term plan and require both community and labour support, but it would be wrong to confine the movement for a labour party to the current two-party system. Dore goes on to say that if everyone, who felt this way had actually voted for the Green Party at the last election, it would have radically changed the political landscape. They might still have had Trump, but the Democrats would have been wiped out and the opposition instead would have been the Green Party with a genuinely radical agenda. Instead, half or eighty per cent of all progressives are trying to reform the Democrats, which he thinks is a fool’s errand.

Dore and Placone are amazed that this story has received so little press attention. It should receive more, as the 2016 election showed how little footing the Democrat Party now has with the working class. Placone states that it’s now time for progressives and working class organisations to stop endorsing the lesser of two evils, because that can result in the more evil getting into power, and the lesser evil becoming worse. He states that we have now reached the crisis point with that, and if we haven’t, he doesn’t know what will wake people up. But whatever it is, it’ll be too little, too late. Dore suggests that it might be when the ice caps finally melt so that the coastline is now in Minnesota. Obama would probably come back to open the arctic for drilling just one more time. He has been responsible for opening it up to drilling twice. Dore also points out that there are a lot of people interested in forming a third party – progressives, Greens and others – and it’ll eventually happen.

This is absolutely stunning. If it goes ahead – and I sincerely hope it does – then America will be transformed into a country, whose political system is far more like that of Europe. Especially if Bernie and the progressives manage to get single-payer healthcare passed.

What the American unions are discussing is precisely what the British Labour party went through a century and more ago. The Labour party has its roots in the Lib-Labs, the trade unionists elected to parliament as working class members of the Liberal Party. Then after the passage of the Taft Vale judgement, which ruled that trade unions could be sued for damages and losses caused by strikes, they then decided to form an independent party to press for working class policies. This was the Independent Labour Party. The Labour Party as it is now was founded in 1901 as a party formed from the unions and various socialist organisations and societies.

As for pressing for all political parties to put forward pro-worker policies, that was the goal of the Fabian Society when it was founded. There’s a lot of sheer rubbish spouted by the American right-wing conspiracy nuts about how it was some kind of secret society. It wasn’t. And it’s still around. It became part of the Labour party. I should know. I was a member briefly in the 1980s. I’ve blogged about some of their pamphlets I bought and read, even citing them. Unfortunately, they’ve now been heavily infiltrated by the Blairites, and are one of the chief sites of anti-Corbyn activism in the party.

And something similar appears to have happened in Canada in the 1960s and ’70s, when hippy radicals formed the New Democrat Party up there.

If this does go through, it should encourage similar left-wing movements around the world, and strengthen the genuine socialists in the British Labour party and the European socialist parties.

And I’ve no doubt that the capitalists and big corporations will now try and throw everything they can at it to stifle this vital new change. I’m not surprised that very few newspapers carried the story, because the newspapers generally represent the interests of big business. And big business and the capitalist class is absolutely terrified of the unions and genuinely working class organisations. That’s why the British press, including the pro-Labour Mirror, has been so consistently against Jeremy Corbyn.

However, it has also been pointed out that before the First World War, America did indeed have a very strong left-wing movement. There were the Communists, the Wobblies and Eugene Debs and his attempt to form a labour party for America. What set this back was the Cold War, which allowed the forces of the right to smear and vilify them as part of the global Communist threat. Now that Communism has fallen, fewer Americans are being taken in by this ruse, and the spirit of Eugene Debs lives on.

I hope this all goes through, and that it’s successful. If that happens, then the world will be a fair bit better for working people.

God bless it, and American working women and men!

Private Eye on the Western Firms Seeking to Grasp the Iraqi Oil Fields

March 3, 2016

Private Eye in their issue of 9th 22nd December 2005 also ran an article on the ‘Production Sharing Agreements’ issued to British and other western firms, which effectively handed control of the Iraqi oil fields to them, taking millions from the Iraqis themselves. All under the pretext that it’s helping to rebuild the economy of the invasion.

Rebuilding Iraq
I’m Oil Right, Jack

Good to see that Britain is doing its bit to “assist” Iraq – and help private western oil companies bolster their already massive profits at the same time.

As is well known, the United States is putting pressure on Iraq’s fragile government to accept “production sharing agreements”, or PSAs, to develop the Iraqi oil fields. These PSAs, previously unknown in the big middle eastern oilfields, will mean vast profits for western oil giants. Indeed, according to a report from the campaign group Platform, War on Want and the New Economics Foundation, western companies could make returns on investment of between 42 percent and 162 percent, while Iraq itself could lose some $100 bn by agreeing to the PSAs.

While the pressure from the US for PSAs is well known, it now emerges that Britain’s own Foreign Office is equally involved in lobbying the Iraqis. It is doing so through a little known but powerful business group called the International Tax and Investment Centre (ITIC). Originally formed to help business get the right laws to “encourage” investment in the former Soviet Union, ITIC is now central to the oil industry’s efforts in Iraq. An Anglo-American outfit jointly chaired by a senior US businessman and the former Tory trade minister Lord Walker, it is funded by the likes of BP, Shell and Exxon.

ITIC began its “Iraq project” in July 2003 and claims it did so “following several requests from advisors from western governments and international organizations for private sector input as they prepare their technical assistance programs for Iraq”. Among those keen to hear ITIC’s advice were the World Bank and the British government.

Iraqi ministers were presented with an ITIC report recommending that their oil industry entre into PSAs with western firms at meetings organized by the IMF and World Bank in Beirut earlier this year. At the same time ITIC reported a “meeting held with UK Treasury and Foreign Office to discuss coordination and cooperation of Full Report presentation”. In other words, two British government departments became agents for ITIC, helping it persuade the Iraqis to accept PSAs.

The Foreign Office denies it has been involved in specific lobbying on Iraqi oil, but documents released to Platform under the Freedom of Information Act show the true extent to which the British government has represented ITIC. The Foreign Office presented Iraqi oil ministers with a ‘code of practice for the Iraqi oil industry” last autumn. This code was supposed to persuade the oil ministers they needed to have open, transparent deals to avoid corruption. However, the FO documents quoted extensively from ITIC’s own Iraq report – before it was published and without acknowledging that the report was itself funded by western oil firms.

The FO document also goes beyond its brief and says that “Iraq would need to engage with the international oil companies to provide appropriate levels of foreign direct investment” to develop its oil. Other solutions that do not hand such profits to western oil firms – like borrowing money and directing its own oil exploitation – are for some reason not discussed.

In addition the British government has, via the Foreign Office, paid £147,700 to fund advisers to the Iraqi oil ministry, including two BP executive, Terry Adams and Bob Morgan.

This adds more evidence to the revelations that the invasion of Iraq was never about protecting us from al-Qaeda or terrorism, but simply a cynical strategy to steal that nation’s oil.

Destabilising the Global Price of Oil – the Real Reason for the Ousting of Saddam Hussein

September 6, 2013

Don’t Destroy the oil wells.

– George ‘Dubya’ Bush’s demand to preserve the oil infrastructure during the invasion of Iraq.

‘Gosh, no, we won’t go, we won’t die for Texaco’

-Chant of American anti-war protestors during Gulf War 1, ‘Desert Storm’.

War is theft by other means.

– Joseph Bronowski, British scientist and Fabian Socialist.

I’ve already mentioned that one of the causes of increased American hostility to Assad’s regime was Syria’s breach of the oil embargo on Iraq through the illegal importation of Iraqi oil through the Kirkuk-Banyas pipeline. In fact it was Saddam Hussein’s repeated and unpredictable breaches of the quota limits placed by Big Oil and OPEC on Iraqi oil production that was one of the real reasons for the invasion of Iraq and his removal by Bush and Blair. Following Calouste Gulbenkian’s acquisition of exclusive oil rights from King Faisal of Iraq in 1925, the major oil companies – Anglo-Persian, now BP, Royal Dutch Shell, CFP of France and Standard Oil, now Exxon and its sister companies – agreed to maintain high oil prices by deliberately limiting oil production in Iraq. These companies, including Gulbenkian’s own, had the right to drill for oil everywhere in Iraq. In practice, only 0.5 per cent of the country was actually drilled for oil. Iraq has 74 known oil fields. Of these, only fifteen were producing oil in 2006. There are 526 known pools of oil. Only 125 of these have been drilled. from 2003 to 2005 Iraq’s oil output was less than under the oil for food programme. The profits of the five major US oil companies were massively increased following Bush’s invasion. In 2005 these were $89 billion, three times the amount in 2002.

In December 2000 a meeting of the major oil companies as part of the Joint Task Force on Petroleum of the James A. Baker III institute and the Council on Foreign relations criticised Saddam Hussein’s Iraq as a ‘swing producer, posing a difficult situation for the US government’ due to tight markets having left America and the rest of the world increasingly vulnerable to disruption and provided their enemies with a potential influence over the price of oil. Hussein would one minute cut oil production down to a minimum out of support for the Palestinian Intifada. A week or so later he would increase oil production to the maximum limit provided under the oil for food programme. This meant that oil prices across the globe rose and fell unpredictably. The Task Force’s report concluded that ‘Saddam is a “destabilizing influence … to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East”. In 2002 the US attempted to launch a coup against President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. According to OPEC’s secretary general, Ali Rodriguez, this was because Colonel Gaddafi had contacted Rodgriguez to say that he and Hussein were planning to launch another Arab oil embargo. Venezuela had already broken the 1973 Arab oil embargo, and Big Oil was afraid that it would do the same under Chavez. Hence the US hurried prepared a coup. Rodriguez contacted Chavez, and with 48 hours the coup had collapse. Hussein’s actions in Iraq could affect oil production and prices across the world, encouraging countries like Venezuela, Iran or Russia to break the tariffs level by OPEC. The Council on Foreign Relations thus concluded that

‘Saddam Hussein has demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon to manipulate oil markets … United States should conduct an immediate policy review towards Iraq, including military, energy, economic, and political/diplomatic assessments’.

This report was seized on by Dick Cheney and the Neo-Cons, who wished to remove Hussein in order to create a low tax, completely free market state in Iraq and the decision made in 2001 to invade and removed Saddam Hussein.

Obama and Cameron’s demands for military strikes against Syria have little to do with the use of chemical weapons on civilians. Indeed, James A. Baker III had been Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff when the US was providing Hussein with the intelligence to target the Kurds and Iranians with poison gas and other weapons. Rather it is a continuation of one of the aims for the invasion of Iraq: to control that nation’s oil industry.

Sources

Michael Young, ‘Syria, the US and Terrorism’, in Christopher Heffelfinger, ed., Unmasking Terror: A Global Review of Terrorist Activities (Washington D.C., The Jamestown Foundation 2005) 223-6.

Greg Palast, Armed Madhouse: ‘Who’s Afraid of Osama Wolf?’, The Best Legal Whorehouse in Texax’, ‘No Child’s Behind Left’ and Other Tales of Class Combat in a Dying Regime (London: Penguin 2006).