In 1998, attending the Panhandle Producers and Royalty Owners Association annual meeting at Amarillo, TX, Dick Cheney, then CEO of Halliburton Co., assured the local Globe and News that despite its merger with petroleum processing company Dresser, Halliburton would still have an interest in older domestic oil fields, such as those in Texas. The real hot spots, though, Cheney admitted were the reserves in the Caspian Sea region, including former Soviet states Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. "These countries' economic success and survival depends upon these reserves," he said. At the time, reserves in the region were estimated as 200 billion barrels of oil and natural gas. Both Russia and the U.S had an interest in the construction of a pipeline that would route the oil to a port from which it could be shipped to the Mediterranean and Western Europe without passing through Iran. Brushing aside concerns about volatility in the region, Cheney, who served on the 12-man Kazakhstan Oil Advisory Board added, "You've got to go where the oil is.... I don't worry about it a lot."
by George Monbiot
Special report: attack on Afghanistan
If satire died on the day Henry Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize, then last week its corpse was exhumed for a kicking. As head of the United Nations peacekeeping department, Kofi Annan failed to prevent the genocide in Rwanda or the massacre in Srebrenica. Now, as secretary general, he appears to have interpreted the UN charter as generously as possible to allow the attack on Afghanistan to go ahead.
One month after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, DC, partisanship is alive and well, and perhaps nowhere more visible than in the debate over economic stimulus. The Bush administration offered its proposals on October 4, calling for $75 billion mostly in tax cuts for businesses and individuals, with about 20% targeted at laid-off workers. Democrats denounced the proposals as not offering enough for individuals affected by the economic slowdown. Congressional conservatives objected to the administration proposals because they did not contain calls for capital gains or corporate tax cuts. An administration spokesperson, attempting to prop up the facade of bipartisanship, said that Bush would accept Democratic demands that the stimulus package be evenly divided between tax cuts and spending. But the administration wants to count emergency appropriations that have already passed Congress -- including disaster relief, aid to airlines, and increased military spending -- as part of their current economic stimulus proposal. By their reckoning, only $15 billion would available for aid to the unemployed.
by Susan Eastman
Copyright 2001, Miami New Times. Reprinted with permission.
It happened in the waning days of one of the greatest orgies of conspicuous consumption in American history, an era when investors threw millions at baby-faced dot-commers, where the stock market reached stratospheric heights, and boomers saw their retirement nests get supersized to Jurassic proportions. It happened with terrifying ease. Terrorists hijacked American and United commercial airliners and rammed them into our greatest city, destroying a central symbol of our economic might, of our engineering hubris, plummeting the stock market into free fall. And they did it in the middle of the Today show, while Katie Couric watched. "Horrific," she said as the south tower collapsed. "Incredible." The level of comment failed to rise for the next four days.
Saddam Hussein is right again. The US was "reaping the fruits of its crimes against humanity," the Butcher of Baghdad muttered darkly after hearing about the horrific destruction of the World Trade Centre. And it's true.
Difficult though it may be for the Americans to admit, they seem now to be suffering the consequences of nearly fifty years of neo-colonialist dominance in the Middle East. There is a way out of this mess, but it means that we in the rich world - and the United States in particular - need to face up to some uncomfortable realities.
In the rush to bipartisan support for the Bush administration response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, let's not forget that what was wrong with Bush policies on September 10 is wrong with Bush policies on September 12. Criticism of administration policies that destroy the environment, marginalize the poor, line the pockets of corporate supporters, and increase the likelihood of armed conflict is not "partisan bickering" but an expression of patriotism. And from Britain to the Middle East commentators agree that Bush policies increased the potential of a terrorist attack against the US and limited US intelligence services' ability to detect it beforehand.
In an article on January 8 The Dubya Report highlighted the comments of unnamed "prominent conservative" to the New York Times. "Starve the beast," he said, referring to the strategy of reducing budget surpluses with a tax cut to the point that conservatives could argue that any programs they didn't like were fiscally unsound. In his news conference on August 25 in Crawford, TX, Bush effectively admitted that this had been his plan all along, saying the absent surplus was "incredibly positive news" because it would put Congress in a "financial straitjacket." Of course in January it seemed like Bush might have money in the budget for his own proposals, such as increased military spending, education, and a prescription drug plan. The economic reality, according to the recent Budget and Economic Outlook by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), is that there will be a $9 billion shortfall in 2001, even without the full cost of those programs, prompting The Guardian UK to declare "Bush's political fortunes hinge on budget."
All day Thursday, August 10, presidential aides and supporters dutifully spread the word that Bush's decision on stem cell research was based on principle rather than polls. In fact, the statement delivered on national television Thursday night was a carefully crafted study in ambiguity calculated to minimize political damage from an issue that has ardent partisans on both sides. Groundwork for the compromise had been laid by top Bush advisor Karl Rove, in meetings earlier this year. Concerned about the effect of a compromise position on stem cell research with politically active Catholics, pro-life activists, and other conservatives, Rove is reported to have reassured representatives of these constituencies that even though they might lose part of the stem cell debate, the president was on their side. Half an hour before the Bush speech, staffers began phoning supporters and critics with advance word of the decision in a clear attempt to influence political reaction. Given the ambiguous and sometimes misleading pronouncements of the decision itself, the event appears to have been more aimed dispelling the widespread image of Bush as an intellectual lightweight who is out of touch with the common folk than to actually address the underlying issues.
The Bush administration energy proposals that were presented this spring contained provisions to improve oil and gas distribution infrastructure, and review EPA regulations that might discourage refinery expansion, but nothing that would translate directly to improved industry profits in the short term. (Of course oil companies were enjoying record profits then, but that's another story.) Similarly the administration proposed spending $2 billion over 10 years for research in "clean coal technology." Why then does the bill that passed the House early in the morning of August 2nd contain $33.5 billion in tax cuts and incentives for the oil, coal, and nuclear energy industries?
"So now that I've kissed your ass, what do I have to do to get a deal?" Bush asked Representative Charles Norwood at a July 26 meeting according to the Washington Post. The answer was not recorded, or at least not communicated to the news media. But the meeting began a week of negotiations that ended with Bush and Norwood announcing an agreement Wednesday, August 1, on provisions of the patients' bill of rights that the Republican leadership had stalled in the House. Among those surprised by the announcment were the bill's sponsors, Rep. Greg Ganske, Republican of Iowa, and Rep. John Dingell, Democrat of Michigan. According to Salon.com Norwood had promised Ganske and Dingell that he would consult before compromising with the White House. Marion Berry of Arkansas, with whom Norwood had scheduled a meeting during the time he was announcing his deal to the press, said ""I consider this a breach of a bipartisan effort that has been going on for years. That is unfortunate, because it means that we will not pass a patients' bill of rights through the Congress this year. Even if the House passes the compromise, the Senate will certainly kill it.... There was nothing bipartisan about the White House approach to this issue, which is a shame, because this has always been a bipartisan effort on our side."