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corporate dominance | imperialism & war


As the U.S. led genocide against the civilians of Afghanistan continues, and the coalition prepares for its inevitable ground war, the horrors of U.S. imperialism become more and more prevalent.
No War for Oil Part II
By Craig Rosebraugh

As the number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan continues to rise due to U.S. led bombing efforts, there is sufficient evidence demonstrating this alleged war on terrorism may be yet another war for oil and political power in the Middle East and Central Asia. This wouldn't be the first time that the U.S. has gone to war for oil, as George Bush senior proved in the early 1990s U.S. led Gulf War.

In 1995, the U.S. based Unocal oil company signed a tentative agreement with the Turkmenistan government to research the possibilities of constructing an oil pipeline to Pakistan by way of Afghanistan. As the project grew Unocal began to seek the agreement of the Taliban who had recently risen to power in October 1994. On two separate occasions in February and December 1997, Taliban officials were flown over to the U.S. to meet with and be wined and dined by Unocal executives.

The Taliban was also receiving pressure from an Argentinean oil company, Birdas, who simultaneously sought control of this proposed pipeline. Two demands were made by the Taliban to both companies before an agreement would be reached. Taliban officials wanted Unocal and Birdas to construct an open pipeline that could be tapped into from Afghanistan for local consumption. Secondly, they sought the involvement of the companies in building roads, water supplies, telephone lines, and electricity power lines. While Birdas agreed to meet these demands and build an open pipeline, Unocal refused wanting a closed pipeline for export only. Birdas initially reached an agreement with the Taliban which later fell through due to a lack in financing.

During the mid-1990s, the Unocal project received strong support from the U.S. government. From 1995-1998, especially after Taliban seized control of Kabul in September 1996, Clinton administration officials actively lobbied on behalf of Unocal before Taliban officials. The U.S. government showed little if any concern at this time over the mounting evidence of abuses of women's rights within the Taliban.

Despite an increasing lack of cooperation from the Taliban, Unocal continued to push the project. Testifying before the House U.S. Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on February 12, 1998, Unocal representative John Maresca argued the importance of the pipeline project and the increasing difficulties and opposition coming from the Taliban. "The region's total oil reserves may well reach more than 60 billion barrels of oil. Some estimates are as high as 200 billion barrels... From the outset, we have made it clear that construction of the pipeline we have proposed across Afghanistan could not begin until a recognized government is in place that has the confidence of governments, leaders, and our company."

A second pipeline was proposed in 1997, by the Central Asia Gas Pipeline Consortium, or CentGas, which Unocal held the major interest. The proposed line ran from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to markets in Pakistan and India. Conflicts again came from the Taliban as Maresca testified to Congress, "As with the proposed Central Asia oil pipeline, CentGas can not begin construction until an internationally recognized Afghanistan Government is in place."

Shortly after the 1998 U.S. embassies bombing and months after Al-Qaida issued their jihad declaration to "kill the Americans and their allies-civilian and military", Unocal still maintained its desire to see the pipeline projects through. In an August 30, 1998 interview with BBC, Unocal spokeswoman Terry Covington stated Unocal still "believes the project is both economically and technically feasible and can still be carried out once a stable government is in place in Kabul."

Due to rising concerns of financial backers in the instability of Afghanistan, Unocal pulled out of CentGas in December 1998. But the pipeline projects were not altogether abandoned. On its website,  http://www.unocal.com, Unocal claims to have completely abandoned the oil pipeline projects between Turkmenistan and Pakistan. Yet an article that appeared in the March 23, 2000 Business Recorder was titled "Unocal trying to re-enter Turkmen gas pipeline project." The article stated that "the US company is in dialogue with the Afghan authorities seeking guaranteed protection for its personnel while working on the Afghani terrain."

Enron, another U.S. based oil corporation, also has a strong presence in the region with involvement in a pipeline project from Turkmenistan to Turkey by way of Azerbaijan and Georgia. Enron, headquartered in Houston, TX was the largest contributor to George Bush Jr.'s presidential campaign giving at least $550,000 to Bush himself and an estimated $1.8 million to the Republican Party during the 2000 election.

To the U.S. government, the financial interests and political power to be gained within the Middle East/Central Asia regions are extremely important. By ousting the Taliban which provided so much resistance to U.S. economic interests, the U.S. can install a puppet regime in Afghanistan thereby gaining corporate control of a massive wealth of oil resources sure to bring billions in revenues.

As the U.S. led genocide against the civilians of Afghanistan continues, and the coalition prepares for its inevitable ground war, the horrors of U.S. imperialism become more and more prevalent. U.S. foreign policy, which has throughout history been directly related to imperialism and genocide, with massive violence and military action routinely utilized, needs to face an uncompromising opposition. Furthermore, U.S. domestic policies which historically have meant racism, classism and outright murder in the name of monetary gain and political power, need to become a focal point of anyone concerned with peace, justice, and real democracy. The "War Against Terrorism", meaning baby Bush's war for oil and regional power, needs to be brought home. U.S. imperialism needs to be fought by any means necessary.

Select Sources

Ahmad, I. (10.03.01) . US-Taliban relations: friend turns fiend as pipeline politics fail. Tehelka.com.
BBC (08.30.98) . World: South Asia gas pipeline could be a pipedream.
Chatterjee, P. (2000) . Meet Enron, Bush's biggest contributor. The Progressive.  http://www.progressive.org/pc0900.htm
Mir, H. (09.17.01) . The Taliban has brought peace to 95 percent of Afghanistan. Tehelka.com.
Maresca, J. (02.12.98) . Statement of John J. Maresca, Vice President of international relations, Unocal Corporation. The Congressional Record.
PBS Frontline (2001) . The new new power politics: Power business.  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/blackout/traders/power.html

Craig Rosebraugh is a political activist living in Portland, Oregon. He is a former spokesperson for the North American Earth Liberation Front, 1997-2001. He can be reached at  anon@tao.ca.