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an oldie on OIL

by tom paine Saturday, Feb. 16, 2002 at 10:26 PM

this may be from october, 2001, but look at how downright believable this appears in light of Enron, et. al..... there's some horse trading going on ..... and it looks like the public is getting stuck paying for the hay.



Nina Burleigh has written for The Washington Post, The

Chicago Tribune, and

New York magazine. As a reporter for TIME, she was among

the first American

journalists to enter Iraq after the Gulf War.

AUDIO: Click here to listen to Ms. Burleigh's commentary.

Recently I attended one of those legendary Washington

dinner parties,

attended by British cosmopolites and Americans in the know.

A few courses in,

people were gossiping about the Bush family's close and

enduring friendship

with the Saudi ambassador, Prince Bandar, dean of the

diplomatic corps in

Washington. By the end of the evening, everyone was talking

about how the

unfolding events were going to affect the flow of oil out

of Central Asia.

I left wondering whether 6,000 Americans might prove to

have died in New York

for the royal family of Saud, or oil, or both. But I didn't

have much more

than insider dinner gossip to go on. I get my analysis from

the standard

all-American news outlets. And they've been too focused on

a) anthrax and

smallpox, or b) the intricacies of Muslim fanaticism, to

throw any reporters

at the murky ways in which international oil politics and

its big players

have a stake in what's unfolding.

A quick Nexis search brought up a raft of interesting leads

that would keep

me busy for 10 years if the economics of this war was my

beat. But only two

articles in the American media since September 11 have

tried to describe how

Big Oil might benefit from a cleanup of terrorists and

other anti-American

elements in the Central Asia region. One was by James

Ridgeway of the Village

Voice. The other was by a Hearst writer based in Paris and

it was picked up

only in the San Francisco Chronicle.

In other words, only the Left is connecting the dots of

what the Russians

have called "The Great Game" -- how oil underneath the

'stans' fits into the

new world order. Here's just a small slice of what ought to

provoke deeper

research by American reporters with resources and talent.

Start with father Bush. The former president and ex-CIA

director is not

unemployed these days. He's been globetrotting as a member

of Washington's

Carlyle Group, a billion private equity firm which

employs a motorcade of

former ranking Republicans, including Frank Carlucci, Jim

Baker and Richard

Darman. George Bush senior and colleagues open doors

overseas for The Carlyle

Group's "access capitalists."

Bush specializes in Asia and has been in and out of Saudi

Arabia and Kuwait

(countries that revere him thanks to the Gulf War) often on

business since

his presidency. Baker, the pin-striped midwife of 'Election

2000' was working

his network in the 'stans' before the ink was dry on

Clinton's first

inaugural address. The Bin Laden family (presumably the

friendly wing) is

also invested in Carlyle. Carlyle's portfolio is heavy in

defense and

telecommunications firms, although it has other holdings

including food and

bottling companies.

The Carlyle connection means that George Bush Senior is on

the payroll from

private interests that have defense business before the

government, while his

son is president. Hmmm. As Charles Lewis of the

Washington-based Center for

Public Integrity, has put it, "in a really peculiar way,

George W. Bush

could, some day, benefit financially from his own

administration's decisions,

through his father's investments. And that to me is a


Why can we assume that global businessmen like Bush Senior

and Jim Baker care

about who runs Afghanistan and NOT just because it's home

base for lethal

anti-Americans? Because it also happens to be situated in

the middle of that

perennial vital national interest -- a region with abundant

oil. By 2050,

Central Asia will account for more than 80 percent of our

oil. On September

10, an industry publication, Oil and Gas Journal, reported

that Central Asia

represents one of the world's last great frontiers for

geological survey and

analysis, "offering opportunities for investment in the


production, transportation, and refining of enormous

quantities of oil and

gas resources."

It's assumed we need unimpeded access in the 'stans' for

our geologists,

construction workers and pipelines if we are going to

realize the

conservation-free, fossil-fueled future outlined recently

by Vice President

Cheney. A number of pipeline projects to carry Central

Asia's resources west

are already under way or have been proposed. They would go

through Russia,

through the Caucasus or via Turkey and Iran. Each route

will be within easy

reach of the Taliban's thugs and could be made much safer

by an American

vanquishment of Muslim terrorism.

There's also lots of oil beneath the turf of our

politically precarious

newest best friend, Pakistan. "Massive untapped gas

reserves are believed to

be lying beneath Pakistan's remotest deserts, but they are

being held hostage

by armed tribal groups demanding a better deal from the

central government,"

reported Agence France Presse just days before September


So many business deals, so much oil, all those big players

with powerful

connections to the Bush administration. It doesn't add up

to a conspiracy

theory. But it does mean there is a significant MONEY

subtext that the

American public ought to know about as "Operation Enduring

Freedom" blasts

new holes where pipelines might someday be buried.

This is Nina Burleigh for TomPaine.com.

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