From the May 2006 Idaho Observer:
Part I: Disintegration of the Bush Presidency
By drawing attention to Iraq and the obvious role oil plays in U.S. policy today, the Bush-Cheney administration has done just that: They have drawn the world’s energy-deficit powers’ attention firmly to the strategic battle over energy—especially oil. This is already having consequences for the global economy in terms of $75 a barrel crude oil price levels. Now it is taking on the dimension of what one former U.S. Defense Secretary rightly calls a "geopolitical nightmare" for the United States.
This nightmare for Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld and company is also the backdrop to comprehend the dramatic political shift within the U.S. establishment in the past six months, away from the Bush Presidency. Simply put: Bush/Cheney and their band of neo-conservative warhawks, with their special relationship to the capacities of Israel in Iraq and across the Mideast, were given a chance. The chance was to deliver on the U.S. strategic goal of control of petroleum resources globally in order to ensure the U.S. role as first among equals over the next decade and beyond.
Not only have the neocons failed to "deliver" that goal of U.S. strategic dominance, they have also threatened the very basis of continued U.S. hegemony or, as the Rumsfeld Pentagon likes to term it, "Full spectrum dominance."
The move by Bolivian President Evo Morales, following meetings with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, to assert national control over oil and gas resources is only the latest demonstration of the decline in U.S. power projection.
Future of the "Bush Doctrine"
in the balance
As the reality of U.S. foreign policy is obscured by the endless rhetoric of "defending democracy" and similar cliches, it is useful to recall that U.S. foreign policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union has been open and explicit. It is to prevent at any cost the congealing of a potential combination of nations that might challenge U.S. dominance. This is the U.S. policy as elaborated in Bush’s June, 2002 West Point speech.
There the president outlined a radical departure in explicit U.S. foreign policy in two vital areas: A policy of preventive war, should the U.S. be threatened by terrorists or by rogue states engaged in the production of weapons of mass destruction. Second, the right of self-defense authorized the U.S. launching pre-emptive attacks against potential aggressors, cutting them off before they are able to launch strikes against the U.S.
The new U.S. doctrine, the Bush Doctrine, also proclaimed, "the duty of the U.S. to pursue unilateral military action when acceptable multilateral solutions cannot be found."
It went further and declared it U.S. policy that the "United States has, and intends to keep, military strengths beyond challenge." The U.S. would take whatever actions necessary to continue its status as the world’s sole military superpower. This resembled British Empire policy before World War I, namely, that the Royal Navy must be larger than the world’s next two largest navies put together.
The policy also included pro-active regime changes around the world under the slogan of "extending democracy." As Bush stated at West Point, "America has no empire to extend or utopia to establish. We wish for others only what we wish for ourselves — safety from violence, the rewards of liberty, and the hope for a better life."
Those policy fragments were gathered into an official policy in September, 2002, in a National Security Council text entitled the "National Security Strategy of the United States." That text was drafted for the president’s signature by then NSA head Condi Rice. She in turn took an earlier policy document prepared under the 1992 Bush senior Presidency by neo-conservative Paul Wolfowitz.
The Bush Doctrine of Rice had been fully delineated in 1992 in a Defense Planning Guidance "final draft" done by then Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Paul Wolfowitz, and is known in Washington as the "Wolfowitz Doctrine." Wolfowitz declared then that, with the threat of a Soviet attack gone, the U.S. was the unchallenged sole superpower and should pursue its global agenda including pre-emptive war and unilateral foreign policy actions.
An internal leak of the draft to the New York Times then led President Bush senior to announce it was "only a draft and not U.S. policy."
By 2002 it was officially U.S. policy.
The Bush Doctrine stated that "military pre-emption" was legitimate when the threat was "emerging" or "sufficient, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack."
That left a hole large enough for an Abrams tank to roll through, according to critics. Afghanistan, as a case in point, was declared a legitimate target for U.S. military bombardment, because the Taliban regime had said it would turn Osama bin Laden over only when the U.S. demonstrated proof he was behind the September 11 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks. Bush didn’t give proof. He did launch a "pre-emptive" war. At the time, few bothered to look to the niceties of international law.
The Bush Doctrine was and is a neo-conservative doctrine of preventive and pre-emptive war. It has proven to be a strategic catastrophe for the United States role as sole superpower. That is the background to comprehend all events today as they are unfolding in and around Washington.
The future of that Bush Doctrine foreign policy and in fact the future ability of the U.S. as sole superpower—or sole anything—is what is now at stake in the issue of the future of the Bush presidency. Useful to note is that Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz wrote his 1992 draft for then Defense Secretary, Dick Cheney.
Bush Administration in crisis
The most fascinating indication of a change within the American political establishment towards the Bush Doctrine and those who are behind it is the developing debate around the 83-page paper, first published on the official website of Harvard University, criticizing the dominant role of Israel in shaping U.S. foreign policy.
The paper, ‘The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,’ was written by two highly respected U.S. foreign policy realists and consultants to the State Department. John J. Mearsheimer is a political science professor and co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago. Stephen M. Walt is academic dean and a chaired professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Both are members of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy. They are so-called "realists" along with Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski..
Though the authors are neither neo-Nazi skinheads nor anti-Semites, the paper was initially trashed by the ADL of B’nai Brith and select neo-conservative writers as "anti-semitic," which it is not. One commentator tried to smear it as "echoing the views of former KKK leader and white power advocate David Duke," who has also attacked the Israel lobby.
However, profoundly significant is the fact that, this time, leading mainstream media journalists, including Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, have come to the defense of Walt and Mearsheimer. Even certain Israeli presses have done so. The taboo of speaking publicly of the pro-Israel agenda of neo-conservatives has apparently been broken. That suggests that the old-guard foreign policy establishment types such as Brzezinski, Scowcroft and their allies, are stepping up to retake foreign policy leadership. The neo-cons have proved a colossal failure in their defense of America’s real strategic interests as the realists see it.
Some of their conclusions about the Israel lobby’s goals:
• "No lobby has managed to divert foreign policy as far from what the American national interest would otherwise suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that U.S. and Israeli interests are essentially identical."
• American supporters of Israel promoted the war against Iraq. The senior administration officials who spearheaded the campaign were also in the vanguard of the pro-Israel lobby, e.g., then Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith; Elliott Abrams, Mideast affairs at the White House; David Wurmser, Mideast affairs for Vice President Richard Cheney; Richard Perle, first among neocon equals, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, an influential advisory body of strategic experts.
• A similar effort is now under way to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.
• The American/Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) is fighting registering as foreign agents because this would place severe limitations on its congressional activities, particularly in the legislative electoral arena. American politicians remain acutely sensitive to campaign contributions and other forms of political pressure and major media outlets are likely to remain sympathetic to Israel no matter what it does.
It’s useful to quote the official goals of the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, of which Walt and Mearsheimer are members, to have a better indication of their factional line-up in the current factional battle inside the US elite. The website of that Coalition states,
"Against the backdrop of an ever-bloodier conflict in Iraq, American foreign policy is moving in a dangerous direction toward empire.
"Worrisome imperial trends are apparent in the Bush administration’s National Security Strategy. That document pledges to maintain America’s military dominance in the world, and it does so in a way that encourages other nations to form countervailing coalitions and alliances. We can expect, and are seeing now, multiple balances of power forming against the U.S. People resent and resist domination, no matter how benign.
"Authors Walt and Mearsheimer also note that Richard Perle and Douglas Feith put their names to a 1996 policy blueprint for Benjamin Netanyahu’s then incoming government in Israel, titled, ‘A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm [Israel].’"
In that document, Perle and Feith advised Netanyahu that the rebuilding of Zionism must abandon any thought of trading land for peace with the Palestinians, i.e., repeal the Oslo accords. Next, Saddam Hussein must be overthrown and democracy established in Iraq, which would then prove contagious to Israel’s other Arab neighbors. That was in 1996, seven years before Bush launched a near unilateral war for regime change in Iraq.
When NBC’s Tim Russert on the widely-watched "Meet the Press" asked Perle about his geopolitical laundry list for Israel’s benefit, Perle replied, "What’s wrong with that?"
For all this to succeed, Perle and Feith wrote, "Israel would have to win broad American support."
To ensure this support, they advised the Israeli prime minister to use "language familiar to Americans by tapping into themes of past U.S. administrations during the Cold War, which apply as well to Israel."
An Israeli columnist in Ha’aretz accused Perle and Feith of, "walking a fine line" between "their loyalty to American governments and Israeli interests."
Today, Perle has been forced to take a low profile in Washington after initially heading Rumsfeld’s Defense Policy Board at the Pentagon. Feith was forced to leave the State Department for the private sector. That was more than a year ago. Wolfowitz is now head of the World Bank.
Wave of Bush resignations underway
Now White House Chief of Staff and a man who was a Bush family loyal retainer for 25 years, Andrew Card, has left. And, in an announcement that apparently shocked neo-conservative hawks like William Kristol, on May 5, Bush’s pro-neo-con CIA head, Porter Goss, abruptly announced his resignation in a one-line statement.
Goss’ departure was preceded by the growing scandal involving Goss’ Number 3 man at CIA, Executive Director Kyle "Dusty" Foggo. Last December the CIA Inspector General opened an investigation into Foggo’s role in Pengaton-CIA contract fraud. Foggo is also being linked to an emerging White House-GOP sex scandal which could pale the Monika Lewinsky affair. As Goss violated seniority precedence in naming Foggo to No. 3 at CIA, the Goss resignation and the imminent breaking sex and bribery scandals around Foggo are being linked by some media outlets.
The Foggo case is tied to disgraced Republican Congressman Randall ‘Duke’ Cunningham. Federal prosecutors have accused, as an un-indicted co-conspirator, one of Foggo’s closest friends, San Diego businessman Brent Wilkes, of participating in a scheme to bribe Cunningham, the former GOP congressman from San Diego.
Cunningham, in turn, is linked to convicted Republican money launderer and fix-it man, Jack Abramoff. Foggo oversaw contracts involving at least one of the companies accused of paying bribes to Congressman Cunningham. The Wall Street Journal reports that Foggo has been a close friend, since junior high school, with California defense contractor Brent R. Wilkes. They report that an ongoing "criminal investigation" centers on whether Foggo used his postings at the CIA to improperly steer contracts to Mr. Wilkes’s companies.
Wilkes was implicated in the charges filed against Cunningham as an un-indicted co-conspirator who allegedly paid $630,000 in bribes to Cunningham for help in obtaining federal defense and other contracts. No charges have been filed against Wilkes, though federal prosecutors in San Diego are working to build a case against both he and Foggo.
The FBI and federal prosecutors are investigating evidence that Wilkes had given gifts to Foggo and paid for various services, including alleged sex orgies at the Watergate (now Westin), while Foggo was in a position to help him gain particular CIA contracts.
The CIA inspector general has opened an investigation into Foggo and his connections to two defense contractors accused of bribing a member of Congress and Pentagon officials.
The Goss resignation follows on the heels of public calls for Secretary Rumsfeld’s immediate resignation over the Iraq military debacle coming from a growing chorus of retired U.S. military generals.
The latest in the slow, systematic "let ‘em twist in the wind" process of downsizing the Bush regime was an incident in Atlanta last May 4 before a supposedly friendly foreign policy audience where Rumsfeld spoke. During the question period, he was confronted with his lying about the reason for going to war in Iraq.
Ray McGovern, a 27-year CIA veteran who once gave then-President George H.W. Bush his morning intelligence briefings, engaged in an extended debate with Rumsfeld. He asked why Rumsfeld had insisted before the Iraq invasion that there was "bulletproof evidence" linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda. "Was that a lie, Mr. Rumsfeld, or was that manufactured somewhere else? Because all of my CIA colleagues disputed that and so did the 9/11 Commission," McGovern queried a startled Rumsfeld. "Why did you lie to get us into a war that was not necessary?"
Significant in terms of the shift reflected in how the establishment media handles Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush today is the following account in the Los Angeles Times:
"At the start of the exchange, Rumsfeld remained his usual unflappable self, insisting, ‘I haven’t lied; I did not lie then,’ before launching into a vigorous defense of the administration’s prewar assertions on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.
"But Rumsfeld became uncharacteristically tongue-tied when McGovern pressed him on claims that he knew where unconventional Iraqi weapons were located. ‘You said you knew where they were,’ McGovern said.
"’I did not. I said I knew where suspected sites were,’ Rumsfeld retorted.
"McGovern then read from statements the Defense secretary had made that weapons were located near Tikrit, Iraq, and Baghdad…"
Rumsfeld was stone silent. The entire episode was filmed and shown on network television. Rumsfeld’s days are clearly numbered.
Karl Rove is rumored to be days away from being co-indicted with Cheney aide Lewis Libby for the Valerie Plame/CIA leak affair. That controversy was over alleged Niger uranium evidence as basis for convincing Congress to waive a War Declaration on Iraq and give Bush carte blanche. All threads are being carefully woven, evidently by an emerging realist faction, into a tapestry which will likely spell impeachment for President Bush, perhaps also of Vice-president Dick Cheney—the real power behind this presidency.
Part II: Disintegration of strategic US influence in Eurasia
A Foreign Policy disaster over China
In this context, the recent diplomatic insult from Bush to visiting China President Hu Jintao, is doubly disastrous for the U.S. foreign position. Bush acted on a script written by the anti-China neo-conservatives, to deliberately insult and humiliate Hu at the White House. First was the incident of allowing a Taiwanese "journalist," a Falun Gong member, into the carefully-screened White House press conference, to rant in a tirade against Chinese human rights for more than three minutes at a White House-filmed press conference. Then came the playing of the Chinese National Hymn for Hu. The ‘Chinese’ hymn, however, was the (Taiwan) Republic of China hymn; not the (Beijing) Peoples’ Republic hymn.
This was no "slip-up" by the professional White House protocol people. It was a deliberate attempt to humiliate the Chinese leader. The problem is that the U.S. economy has become dependent on Chinese trade imports and on Chinese holdings of U.S. Treasury securities. China today is the largest holder of dollar reserves in the form of U.S. Treasury paper with an estimated $825 billion. Were Beijing to decide to exit the U.S. bond market, even in part, it would cause a dollar free-fall and collapse of the $7 trillion U.S. real estate market, a wave of U.S. bank failures and huge unemployment. It’s a realistic option for China—even if unlikely at the moment.
China’s Hu didn’t waste time or tears over the Bush affront. He immediately went on to Saudi Arabia for a three-day state visit where both signed trade, defense and security agreements. Needless to say, this is no small slap in the face to Washington by the traditionally "loyal" Saudi Royal House.
Hu signed a deal for SABIC of Saudi Arabia to build a $5.2 billion oil refinery and petrochemical project in northeast China. At the beginning of this year, King Abdullah was in Beijing for a full state visit.
Hmm. Since the Roosevelt-King Ibn Saud deal giving U.S. Aramco and not the British exclusive concession to develop Saudi oil in 1943, Saudi Arabia has been regarded in Washington as a core strategic sphere of interest.
Hu then went on to Morocco, another traditional U.S. sphere of interest, then Nigeria and Kenya, also traditionally regarded as U.S. spheres of interest. Hmm. Only two months ago Rumsfeld was in Morocco to offer U.S. arms. Hu is now offering to finance energy exploration there.
The SCO and Iran events
The latest developments around the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and Iran further underscore the dramatic change in the geopolitical position of the United States.
The SCO was created in Shanghai on June 15, 2001, by Russia and China along with four former Soviet Central Asian republics— Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Prior to September 11 2001, and the U.S. declaration of an Axis of Evil in January, 2002, the SCO was merely background geopolitical chatter as far as Washington was concerned. Today, the SCO, which has to date been blacked out almost entirely in U.S. mainstream media, is defining a new political counterweight to U.S. hegemony and its "one-polar" world.
At the next June 15, 2006, SCO meeting, Iran has been invited to become a full SCO member.
Last month in Teheran, Chinese Ambassador Lio G. Tan announced that a pending oil and gas deal between China and Iran is ready to be signed.
The deal is said to be worth at least $100 billion and includes development of the huge Yadavaran onshore oil field. China’s Sinopec would agree to buy 250 million tons of liquid natural gas over 25 years. No wonder China is not jumping to back Washington against Iran in the UN Security Council. The U.S. had been trying to put massive pressure on Beijing to halt the deal, for obvious geopolitical reasons, to no avail. Another major defeat for Washington.
Iran is also moving on plans to deliver natural gas via a pipeline to Pakistan and India. Energy ministers from the three countries met in Doha recently and plan to meet again this month in Pakistan.
The pipeline progress is a direct rebuff to Washington’s efforts to steer investors clear of Iran. Ironically, U.S. opposition is driving these countries into each others’ arms— Washington’s "geopolitical nightmare."
At the same June 15 SCO meeting, India, which Bush is personally attempting to woo as a geopolitical Asian "counterweight" to China, will also be invited to join SCO. As well, Mongolia and Pakistan will be invited to join SCO. SCO’s geopolitical influence is growing rapidly and substantially.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi told ITAR-Tass in Moscow last April that Iranian membership in SCO could "make the world more fair."
He also spoke of building an Iran-Russia "gas-and-oil arc" in which the two giant energy producers would coordinate activities.
U.S. out in the cold in Central Asia
The admission of Iran into SCO opens many new options for Iran and the region. By virtue of SCO membership, Iran can now take part in SCO projects, which in turn means access to badly-needed technology, investment, trade and infrastructure development. It will have major implications for global energy security.
The SCO has reportedly set up a working group of experts ahead of the June summit to develop a common SCO Asian energy strategy and to discuss joint pipeline projects, oil exploration and related activities. Iran sits on the world’s second largest natural gas reserves and Russia has the largest. Russia is the world’s second largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia. These moves are extremely significant.
India is desperate to come to terms with Iran for energy but is being pressured by Washington not to.
The Bush administration last year tried to get "observer status’" at SCO but was turned down. The rebuff—along with SCO’s demands for a reduced American military presence in Central Asia, deeper Russia-China cooperation and the setbacks to U.S. diplomacy in Central Asia—have prompted a policy review in Washington.
After her October 2005 Central Asian tour, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced re-organization of the U.S. State Department’s South Asia bureau to include the Central Asian states, and a new U.S. "Greater Central Asia" scheme.
Washington is trying to wean Central Asian states away from Russia and China. Hamid Karzai’s government in Kabul has not responded to SCO’s overtures. Given his ties historically to Washington, he likely has little choice.
Gennady Yefstafiyev, a former general in Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, says, "The U.S.’s long term goals in Iran are obvious: To engineer the downfall of the current regime; to establish control over Iran’s oil and gas and; to use its territory as the shortest route for the transportation of hydrocarbons under U.S. control from the regions of Central Asia and the Caspian Sea, bypassing Russia and China. This is not to mention Iran’s intrinsic military and strategic significance."
Washington had based its strategy on Kazakhstan being its key partner in Central Asia. The U.S. wants to expand its physical control over Kazakhstan’s oil reserves and formalize Kazakh oil transportation via the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, as well as creating the dominant U.S. role in Caspian Sea security. But Kazakhstan isn’t playing ball. President Nursultan Nazarbayev went to Moscow last April 3 to reaffirm his continued dependence on Russian oil pipelines. And China, as noted back in December, is making major energy and pipeline deals with Kazakhstan as well.
To make Washington’s geopolitical problems worse, despite securing a major U.S. military basing deal with Uzbekistan after September 2001, Washington’s relations with Uzbekistan today are disastrous. The U.S. effort to isolate President Islam Karimov, along lines of the Ukraine "Orange Revolution" tactics, is not working—Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Tashkent in late April.
As well, Tajikistan relies heavily on Russia’s support. In Kyrgyzstan, despite covert U.S. attempts to create dissensions within the regime, President Burmanbek Bakiyev’s alliance with Moscow-backed Prime Minister Felix Kulov is holding.
In the space of 12 months Russia and China have managed to move the pieces on the geopolitical "chess board" of Eurasia away from what had been an overwhelming U.S. strategic advantage, to the opposite, where the U.S. is increasingly isolated. It is potentially the greatest strategic defeat for the U.S. power projection of the post World War II period. This is also the strategic background to the re-emergence of the so-called "realist faction" in U.S. policy.
F. William Engdahl, has been researching and writing about global economics and geopolitics for 35 years and is the author of "A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order,"(Pluto Press Ltd). He may be contacted at
www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.The U.S. ‘geopolitical nightmare’ and Eurasian strategic energy arrangements by F. William Engdahl
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