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U.S. Considered Oil Invasion In 1973, Britain says

The United States seriously considered sending airborne troops to seize oilfields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi during the 1973 Arab oil embargo, according to a top-secret British intelligence memorandum released yesterday.

The document, titled Middle East - Possible Use of Force by the United States, said that, if faced with deteriorating conditions such as a breakdown of the ceasefire between Arab and Israeli forces following the October 1973 Yom Kippur War or an intensification of the embargo, "we believe the American preference would be for a rapid operation conducted by themselves" to seize the oilfields.

It cited a warning from then defence secretary James Schlesinger to the British ambassador in the US, Lord Cromer, that Washington would not tolerate threats from "under-developed, under-populated" countries and that "it was no longer obvious to him that the United States could not use force".

The 1973 embargo and production cuts, used by oil-rich Arab nations as a means to put pressure on the United States and Western Europe, caused a major global energy crisis and sent oil prices skyrocketing.

The committee of intelligence service directors calculated that the United States could guarantee sufficient oil supplies for themselves and their allies by taking oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, with total reserves of more than 28 billion tonnes.

It warned however that the U.S. occupation would need to last 10 years, as western nations developed alternative energy sources, and would lead to the "total alienation" of Arab states and many developing countries, as well as "domestic dissension" in the United States.
Henry Kissinger and Edward Heath in London on December 12, 1973.
Henry Kissinger and Edward Heath in London on December 12, 1973.
BREAKING NEWS INTERNATIONAL POSTED AT 8:30 AM EST Thursday, Jan. 1, 2004
 http://www.globeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20040101.wbritus0101/BNStory/International/

U.S. considered oil invasion in 1973, Britain says

Associated Press

London British spy chiefs warned after the 1973 Arab-Israeli war that they believed the United States might invade Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi to seize their oil fields, according to records released Thursday.

A British intelligence committee report from December, 1973, said the United States was so angry over Arab nations' earlier decision to cut oil production and impose an embargo on the United States that seizing oil-producing areas in the region was "the possibility uppermost in American thinking."

Details of the Joint Intelligence Committee report were released under rules requiring that some secret documents be made public after 30 years. The report suggested that Richard Nixon might have risked such a drastic move if Arab-Israeli fighting had reignited and the oil-producing nations imposed new restrictions.

The 1973 embargo and production cuts, used by oil-rich Arab nations as a means to put pressure on the United States and Western Europe, caused a major global energy crisis and sent oil prices skyrocketing.

The committee of intelligence service directors calculated that the United States could guarantee sufficient oil supplies for themselves and their allies by taking oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, with total reserves of more than 28 billion tonnes.

It warned however that the U.S. occupation would need to last 10 years, as western nations developed alternative energy sources, and would lead to the "total alienation" of Arab states and many developing countries, as well as "domestic dissension" in the United States.

Other records released Thursday showed that prime minister Edward Heath was furious at president Richard Nixon over the U.S. president's failure to tell him he was putting U.S. forces on a worldwide alert during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

Mr. Heath learned of the alert considered a high point in Cold War tensions from news reports while he waited in the House of Commons for foreign secretary Alec Douglas-Home to make a statement on the Middle East crisis,

Britain's intelligence listening post, Government Communications Headquarters, had learned of the alert but did not tell Mr. Heath's office or the Foreign Office because officials assumed Mr. Heath and Mr. Douglas-Home already knew about it, the papers showed.

Mr. Nixon said he put U.S. troops on high alert for just under a week, starting on Oct. 25, 1973, to show the Soviet Union that the United States would not allow it to send military forces to aid Arab states fighting Israel.

The alert covered U.S. forces stationed in Britain, and Mr. Heath wrote in a memo that he thought Mr. Nixon's move, which came in the midst of the Watergate scandal, had been deeply damaging.

"Personally I fail to see how any initiative, threatened or real, by the Soviet leadership required such a world wide nuclear alert," the prime minister wrote. "We have to face the fact that the American action has done immense harm, I believe, both in this country and worldwide."
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US plan to invade for oil: secret memo

January 2, 2004
 http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/01/01/1072908854403.html

America was prepared to use force to secure Arab oil supplies in 1973, reports Glenn Frankel in London.

The United States seriously considered sending airborne troops to seize oilfields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi during the 1973 Arab oil embargo, according to a top-secret British intelligence memorandum released yesterday.

The document, titled Middle East - Possible Use of Force by the United States, said that, if faced with deteriorating conditions such as a breakdown of the ceasefire between Arab and Israeli forces following the October 1973 Yom Kippur War or an intensification of the embargo, "we believe the American preference would be for a rapid operation conducted by themselves" to seize the oilfields.

It cited a warning from then defence secretary James Schlesinger to the British ambassador in the US, Lord Cromer, that Washington would not tolerate threats from "under-developed, under-populated" countries and that "it was no longer obvious to him that the United States could not use force".

Seizure of the oilfields, the memo said, was "the possibility uppermost in American thinking . . . reflected, we believe, in their contingency planning".

The document, dated December 13, 1973, and sent to then prime minister Edward Heath by Percy Cradock, head of Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee, also discussed the likely scenario for a US invasion, possible British help, and how the Arabs and the Soviet Union would respond.

Arab members of OPEC imposed the embargo on the US and other Western countries in October to try to force them to compel Israel to withdraw from Arab territories. The embargo, which lasted until March 1974, cut off only 13 per cent of US oil imports but caused steep petrol price increases worldwide.

At the time US officials hinted that retaliation was possible but did not describe the form it might take. At a news conference on November 21, 1973, secretary of state Henry Kissinger declared: "It is clear that if pressures continue unreasonably and indefinitely, then the United States will have to consider what countermeasures it may have to take."

In his memoir Years of Upheaval, Kissinger wrote: "These were not empty threats. I ordered a number of studies from the key departments on countermeasures against Arab members of OPEC if the embargo continued. By the end of the month, several contingency studies had been completed."

Neither Kissinger nor Schlesinger responded to requests for comment.

The British document describes in detail what the countermeasures might have been. Replacement of Arab rulers with "more amenable" leaders or assembling a show of force were deemed unworkable. It described an airborne military operation as the most feasible alternative, although "a move of last resort".

And it suggested two brigades would be needed for the initial force, one for the Saudi operation, one for Kuwait and possibly a third for Abu Dhabi.

Schlesinger's interview with Lord Cromer was distinctly unfriendly. "Couthness is not Schlesinger's strong point," the ambassador said in a cable.

But it was the substance of Schlesinger's remarks which set alarm bells ringing. "(One) outcome of the Middle East crisis," he told Lord Cromer, "was the (sight) of industrialised nations being continuously submitted to (the) whims of under-populated, under-developed countries, particularly (those in the) Middle East."

The document noted that military action could trigger a confrontation with the USSR, lead to a long occupation of Arab territory and deeply alienate Arab and Third World public opinion.

"The greatest risk of such confrontation in the Gulf would probably arise in Kuwait where the Iraqis, with Soviet backing, might be tempted to intervene," it said, presaging Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

- Washington Post, Guardian

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