21 January, 2007

beware the great have-not

Michael T. Klare:

Unlike Islamo-fascism, Energo-fascism will, in time, affect nearly every person on the planet. Either we will be compelled to participate in or finance foreign wars to secure vital supplies of energy, such as the current conflict in Iraq; or we will be at the mercy of those who control the energy spigot, like the customers of the Russian energy juggernaut Gazprom in Ukraine, Belarus, and Georgia; or sooner or later we may find ourselves under constant state surveillance, lest we consume more than our allotted share of fuel or engage in illicit energy transactions. This is not simply some future dystopian nightmare, but a potentially all-encompassing reality whose basic features, largely unnoticed, are developing today.

These include:

* The transformation of the U.S. military into a global oil protection service whose primary mission is to defend America's overseas sources of oil and natural gas, while patrolling the world's major pipelines and supply routes.

* The transformation of Russia into an energy superpower with control over Eurasia's largest supplies of oil and natural gas and the resolve to convert these assets into ever increasing political influence over neighboring states.

* A ruthless scramble among the great powers for the remaining oil, natural gas, and uranium reserves of Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia, accompanied by recurring military interventions, the constant installation and replacement of client regimes, systemic corruption and repression, and the continued impoverishment of the great majority of those who have the misfortune to inhabit such energy-rich regions.

* Increased state intrusion into, and surveillance of, public and private life as reliance on nuclear power grows, bringing with it an increased threat of sabotage, accident, and the diversion of fissionable materials into the hands of illicit nuclear proliferators.

Together, these and related phenomena constitute the basic characteristics of an emerging global Energo-fascism. Disparate as they may seem, they all share a common feature: increasing state involvement in the procurement, transportation, and allocation of energy supplies, accompanied by a greater inclination to employ force against those who resist the state's priorities in these areas. As in classical twentieth century fascism, the state will assume ever greater control over all aspects of public and private life in pursuit of what is said to be an essential national interest: the acquisition of sufficient energy to keep the economy functioning and public services (including the military) running.
. . .

All of these countries [United States, China, Japan, and the European powers] have undertaken major reviews of energy policy in recent years, and all have come to the same conclusion: Market forces alone can no longer be relied upon to satisfy essential national energy requirements, and so the state must assume ever-increasing responsibility for performing this role. This was, for example, the fundamental conclusion of the National Energy Policy adopted by the Bush administration on May 17, 2001 and followed slavishly ever since, just as it is the official stance of China's Communist regime. When resistance to such efforts is encountered, moreover, government officials only wield the power of the state more regularly and with a heavier hand to achieve their objectives, whether through trade sanctions, embargoes, arrests and seizures, or the outright use of force.

. . . Already we have the beginnings of the energy equivalent of a classic arms race, combined with many of the elements of the "Great Game" as once played by colonial powers in some of the same parts of the world. By militarizing the energy policies of consuming nations and enhancing the repressive capacities of client regimes, the foundations are being laid for an Energo-fascist world.
. . .

Of course, senior officials and foreign policy elites are generally loath to acknowledge such crass motivations for the utilization of military force -- they much prefer to talk about spreading democracy and fighting terrorism. Every once in a while, however, a hint of this deep energy-based conviction rises to the surface. Especially revealing is a November 2006 task force report from the Council on Foreign Relations on "National Security Consequences of U.S. Oil Dependency." Co-chaired by former Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger and former CIA Director John Deutsch, and endorsed by a slew of elite policy wonks from both parties, the report trumpeted the usual to-be-ignored calls for energy efficiency and conservation at home, but then struck just the militaristic note first voiced in the 2000 CSIS report (which Schlesinger also co-chaired): "Several standard operations of U.S. regionally deployed forces [presumably Centcom and Pacom] have made important contributions to improving energy security, and the continuation of such efforts will be necessary in the future. U.S. naval protection of the sea-lanes that transport oil is of paramount importance." The report also called for stepped up U.S. naval engagement in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Nigeria.

When expressing such views, U.S. policymakers often adopt an altruistic stance, claiming that the United States is performing a "social good" by protecting the global oil flow on behalf of the world community.
. . .

The last face of Energo-fascism to be discussed here is the inevitable rise in state surveillance and repression attendant on an expected increase in nuclear power. As oil and natural gas become scarcer, government and industry leaders will undoubtedly push for a greater reliance on nuclear power to provide additional energy. This is a program likely to gain greater momentum from rising concerns over global warming -- largely a result of carbon-dioxide emissions created during the combustion of oil, gas, and coal.
. . .

The only way to increase reliance on nuclear power, therefore, is to federalize the permit process by shunting local agencies aside and giving federal bureaucrats the unfettered power to issue permits for the construction of new reactors.

Unlikely, you say? Well consider this: The Energy Policy Act of 2005 established a significant precedent for the federalization of such authority by depriving state and local officials of their power to approve the placement of natural gas "regasification" plants. These are mammoth facilities used to reconvert liquified natural gas, transported by ship from foreign suppliers, into a gas that can then be delivered by pipeline to customers in the United States. Several localities on the East and West coasts had fought the construction of such plants in their harbors for fear that they might explode (not an entirely far-fetched concern) or become targets for terrorists, but they have now lost their legal power to do so. So much for local democracy.

Here's my worry: That some future administration will push through an amendment to the Energy Policy Act giving the federal government the same sort of placement authority for nuclear reactors that it now has for regasification plants. The feds then announce plans to build dozens or even hundreds of new reactors in or near places like Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, and so on, claiming an urgent need for additional energy. People protest en masse. Local officials, sympathetic to the protestors, refuse to arrest them in droves. But now we're speaking of defiance of federal, not state or municipal, ordinances. Ergo, the National Guard or the regular Army is called up to quell the protests and protect the reactor sites — Energo-fascism in action.

(from "Is Energo-fascism in Your Future? The Global Energy Race and Its Consequences," Part 1 & Part 2 by Michael T. Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author of Blood and Oil: The Dangers and Consequences of America's Growing Dependence on Imported Petroleum (Owl Books

John Bellamy Foster (June 2006):


At present the world is experiencing a new age of imperialism marked by a U.S. grand strategy of global domination. One indication of how things have changed is that the U.S. military is now truly global in its operations with permanent bases on every continent, including Africa, where a new scramble for control is taking place focused on oil.
. . .

For the United States today what is at stake is no longer control of a mere portion of the globe, but a truly global Pax Americana. Although some commentators have seen the latest U.S. imperial thrust as the work of a small cabal of neoconservatives within the Bush administration, the reality is one of broad concurrence within the U.S. power structure on the necessity of expanding the U.S. empire. One recent collection, including contributions by administration critics, is entitled The Obligation of Empire: United States’ Grand Strategy for a New Century.
. . .

Iran’s geopolitical importance, moreover, stretches far beyond the Middle East. It is a key prize (as in the case also of Afghanistan) in the New Great Game for control of all of South-Central Asia, including the Caspian Sea Basin with its enormous fossil fuel reserves. U.S. strategic planners are obsessed with fears of an Asian energy-security grid, in which Russia, China, Iran, and the Central Asian countries (possibly also including Japan) would come together economically and in an energy accord to break the U.S. and Western stranglehold on the world oil and gas market—creating the basis for a general shift of world power to the East. At present China, the world’s fastest growing economy, lacks energy security even as its demand for fossil fuels is rapidly mounting. It is attempting to solve this partly through greater access to the energy resources of Iran and the Central Asian states. Recent U.S. attempts to establish a stronger alliance with India, with Washington bolstering India’s status as a nuclear power, are clearly part of this New Great Game for control of South-Central Asia—reminiscent of the nineteenth-century Great Game between Britain and Russia for control of this part of Asia.

The New Scramble for Africa

If there is a New Great Game afoot in Asia there is also a “New Scramble for Africa” on the part of the great powers. The National Security Strategy of the United States of 2002 declared that “combating global terror” and ensuring U.S. energy security required that the United States increase its commitments to Africa and called upon “coalitions of the willing” to generate regional security arrangements on that continent. Soon after the U.S. European Command, based in Stuttgart, Germany—in charge of U.S. military operations in Sub-Saharan Africa—increased its activities in West Africa, centering on those states with substantial oil production and/or reserves in or around the Gulf of Guinea (stretching roughly from the Ivory Coast to Angola). The U.S. military’s European Command now devotes 70 percent of its time to African affairs, up from almost nothing as recently as 2003.
. . .

At present the main, permanent U.S. military base in Africa is the one established in 2002 in Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, giving the United States strategic control of the maritime zone through which a quarter of the world’s oil production passes. The Djibouti base is also in close proximity to the Sudanese oil pipeline. (The French military has long had a major presence in Djibouti and also has an air base at Abeche, Chad on the Sudanese border.) The Djibouti base allows the United States to dominate the eastern end of the broad oil swath cutting across Africa that it now considers vital to its strategic interests—a vast strip running southwest from the 994-mile Higleig-Port Sudan oil pipeline in the east to the 640-mile Chad-Cameroon pipeline and the Gulf of Guinea in the West. A new U.S. forward-operating location in Uganda gives the United States the potential of dominating southern Sudan, where most of that country’s oil is to be found.

In West Africa, the U.S. military’s European Command has now established forward-operating locations in Senegal, Mali, Ghana, and Gabon—as well as Namibia, bordering Angola on the south—involving the upgrading of airfields, the pre-positioning of critical supplies and fuel, and access agreements for swift deployment of U.S. troops. In 2003 it launched a counterterrorism program in West Africa, and in March 2004 U.S. Special Forces were directly involved in a military operation with Sahel countries against the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat—on Washington’s list of terrorist organizations. The U.S. European Command is developing a coastal security system in the Gulf of Guinea called the Gulf of Guinea Guard. It has also been planning the construction of a U.S. naval base in São Tomé and Principe, which the European Command has intimated could rival the U.S. naval base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The Pentagon is thus moving aggressively to establish a military presence in the Gulf of Guinea that will allow it to control the western part of the broad trans-Africa oil strip and the vital oil reserves now being discovered there. Operation Flintlock, a start-up U.S. military exercise in West Africa in 2005, incorporated 1,000 U.S. Special Forces. The U.S. European Command will be conducting exercises for its new rapid-reaction force for the Gulf of Guinea this summer.

Here the flag is following trade: the major U.S. and Western oil corporations are all scrambling for West African oil and demanding security. The U.S. military’s European Command, the Wall Street Journal reported in its April 25th issue, is also working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to expand the role of U.S. corporations in Africa as part of an “integrated U.S. response.” . . .

The U.S. military buildup in Africa is frequently justified as necessary both to fight terrorism and to counter growing instability in the oil region of Sub-Saharan Africa. . . .

Hence there are incessant calls and no lack of seeming justifications for U.S. “humanitarian interventions” in Africa. The Council on Foreign Relations report More than Humanitarianism insists that “the United States and its allies must be ready to take appropriate action” in Darfur in Sudan “including sanctions and, if necessary, military intervention, if the Security Council is blocked from doing so.” Meanwhile the notion that the U.S. military might before long need to intervene in Nigeria is being widely floated among pundits and in policy circles. Atlantic Monthly correspondent Jeffrey Taylor wrote in April 2006 that Nigeria has become “the largest failed state on earth,” and that a further destabilization of that state, or its takeover by radical Islamic forces, would endanger “the abundant oil reserves that America has vowed to protect. Should that day come, it would herald a military intervention far more massive than the Iraqi campaign.”

Still, U.S. grand strategists are clear that the real issues are not the African states themselves and the welfare of their populations but oil and China’s growing presence in Africa. . . .

What is certain is that the U.S empire is being enlarged to encompass parts of Africa in the rapacious search for oil. The results could be devastating for Africa’s peoples. Like the old scramble for Africa this new one is a struggle among great powers for resources and plunder—not for the development of Africa or the welfare of its population.
. . .

U.S. imperial grand strategy is less a product of policies generated in Washington by this or that wing of the ruling class, than an inevitable result of the power position that U.S. capitalism finds itself in at the commencement of the twenty-first century. U.S. economic strength (along with that of its closest allies) has been ebbing fairly steadily. The great powers are not likely to stand in the same relation to each other economically two decades hence. At the same time U.S. world military power has increased relatively with the demise of the Soviet Union. The United States now accounts for about half of all of the world’s military spending—a proportion two or more times its share of world output.

The goal of the new U.S. imperial grand strategy is to use this unprecedented military strength to preempt emerging historical forces by creating a sphere of full-spectrum dominance so vast, now encompassing every continent, that no potential rivals will be able to challenge the United States decades down the line. This is a war against the peoples of the periphery of the capitalist world and for the expansion of world capitalism, particularly U.S. capitalism. But it is also a war to secure a “New American Century” in which third world nations are viewed as “strategic assets” within a larger global geopolitical struggle.

(from ""A Warning to Africa: The New U.S. Imperial Grand Strategy," Monthly Review, June 2006, by John Bellamy Foster, author of Naked Imperialism: The U.S. Pursuit of Global Dominance)


Nicola Nasser [3 Jan 2007]:

The U.S. foreign policy blundering has created a new violent hotbed of anti-Americanism in the turbulent Horn of Africa by orchestrating the Ethiopian invasion of another Muslim capital of the Arab League, in a clear American message that no Arab or Muslim metropolitan has impunity unless it falls into step with the U.S. vital regional interests.

The U.S.-backed Ethiopian invasion of the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Dec. 28 is closely interlinked in motivation, methods, goals and results to the U.S. bogged down regional blunders in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Sudan as well as in Iran and Afghanistan, but mainly in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

Mogadishu is the third Arab metropolitan after Jerusalem and Baghdad to fall to the U.S. imperial drive, either directly or indirectly through Israeli, Ethiopian or other proxies, and the fourth if the temporary Israeli occupation of Beirut in 1982 is remembered; the U.S. endeavor to redraw the map of the Middle East is reminiscent of the British-French Sykes-Pico colonial dismembering of the region and is similarly certain to give rise to grassroots Pan-Arab rejection and awaking with the Pan-Islamic unifying force as a major component.

The U.S. blunder in Somalia could not be more humiliating to Somalis: Washington has delegated to its Ethiopian ally, Mogadishu's historical national enemy, the mission of restoring the rule of law and order to the same country Addis Ababa has incessantly sought to dismember and disintegrate and singled Ethiopia out as the only neighboring country to contribute the backbone of the U.S.-suggested and U.N.-adopted multinational foreign force for Somalia after the Ethiopian invasion, thus setting the stage for a wide-spread insurgency and creating a new violent hotbed of anti-Americanism.
. . .

Pre-empting intensive Arab, Muslim and European mediation efforts between the UIC and the transitional government, Washington moved quickly to clinch the UN Security Council resolution 1725 on Dec. 6, recognizing the Baidoa government organized in Kenya by U.S. regional allies and dominated by the warlords as the legitimate authority in Somalia after sending Army Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, to Addis Ababa in November for talks with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on bailing out the besieged transitional government by coordinating an Ethiopian military intervention.

Resolution 1725 also urged that all member states, "in particular those in the region," to refrain from interference in Somalia, but hardly the ink of the resolution dried than Washington was violating it by providing training, intelligence and consultation to at least 8,000 Ethiopian troops who rushed into Baidoa and its vicinity before the major Ethiopian invasion, a fact that was repeatedly denied by both Washington and Addis Ababa but confirmed by independent sources.
. . .

Real Security Concerns of Ethiopia

Regionally, the U.S. pretexts used by Addis Ababa to justify its invasion could thinly veil the land locked Ethiopia's historical and strategic aspiration for an outlet on the Red Sea by using the Somali land as the only available approach to its goal after the independence of Eritrea deprived it of the sea port of Assab.

Agreed upon peaceful arrangements with Somalia and Eritrea is the only other option that would grant Ethiopia access to sea - whether to the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and Bab el Mandeb or the Arabian Sea, and through these sea lanes to the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. This option is pre-empted by the empirical dreams of Greater Ethiopia that tempted the successive regimes of Emperor Hailie Selassie, the military Marxist rule of Mengistu Haile Mariam and the incumbent U.S.-backed oppressive regime of Meles Zinawi, which were deluded by the military means of the only country with a semblance of a nation state and a military might in a regional neighborhood disintegrated into the poorest communities of the world by tribal strife left over by the British, French and Italian western colonialist powers; hence the Ethiopian wars with Eritrea and Somalia.

The Eritrean fear of an Ethiopian invasion of Assab via Somalia is realistic and legitimate, given the facts that Ethiopia's borders are, like Israel's, still not demarcated, its yearning for an access to sea as a strategic goal is still valid and its military option to achieve this goal is still not dropped because of the virtual state of war that still governs its relations with both Somalia and Eritrea. Hence the reports about the Eritrean intervention in Somalia, denied by Asmara, and the regional and international warnings against the possible development of the Ethiopian invasion into a wider regional conflict that could also involve Djibouti and Kenya.

Internally in Ethiopia, the successive regimes since Hailie Selassie were dealing with the demographic structure of the country as a top state secret and incessantly floating the misleading image of Ethiopia as the Christian nation it has been for hundreds of years, but hardly veiling the independent confirmation that at least half of the population are now Muslims, a fact that is not represented in the structure of the ruling elite but also a fact that explains the oppressive policies of the incumbent U.S.-backed regime.
. . .

Ethiopia's justification of its invasion by Washington's pretexts of the U.S. war on terror is misleading and encouraging Addis Ababa to justify its invasion by the "Islamic threat," leading some UIC leaders to declare "Jihad" against the "Christian invasion" of their country and in doing so contributing to turning an Ethiopian internal and regional miscalculations into seemingly "Muslim-Christian" war, which have more provocateurs in Addis Ababa than in Mogadishu.

The sectarian war among Muslims fomented by the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq within the context of "divide and rule" policy could now be coupled with a "religious war" in the Horn of Africa to protect the U.S. military presence that is "defending" the Arab oil wealth in the Arabian Peninsula and Iraq against a threat to its mobility from the south, a war that could drive a new wedge between Arabs and their neighbors, in a replay of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, and in tandem with a 60-year old Israeli strategy of sowing divide between them and their Ethiopian, Iranian and Turkish geopolitical strategic depth.

(from "Somali: New Hotbed of Anti-Americanism, The Latest Misadventure" Counterpunch, 3 Jan 2007, by Nicola Nasser, a veteran Arab journalist based in Ramallah, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories)

U.S. Air Strikes in Somalia Condemned for Killing Innocent Civilians

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 19 (OneWorld) . . . According to the human rights organization Oxfam, U.S. and Ethiopian air strikes in Somalia last week killed 70 nomadic herdsmen who had no connection to any international terrorist group, including al-Qaeda, which the Pentagon said was the target of its attacks.

"There were no combatants amongst them," Oxfam's Wyger Wentholt said from neighboring Kenya.

"We suppose that it was a mistake and that they were wrongfully targeted," he said. "It could possibly be related to a bonfire that the herdsmen had lit at night, but that's something they normally do to keep animals and mosquitoes away from their herd."

Oxfam received its information from local Somali organizations that have been providing communities in the country's Afmadow district with emergency medical supplies, essential household items, and water chlorination services, as well as distributing food in areas where food is not locally available.

Wenthold said essential water sources were also damaged in the bombing.

The United Nations' refugee agency, UNHCR, also reported that an estimated 100 people were wounded by U.S. AC-130 gun-ships firing on the Somalia-Kenya border area of Ras Kamboni.

The human rights organization Amnesty International also protested the air strikes, noting that international humanitarian law prohibits direct attacks on civilians as well as attacks that do not distinguish between military targets and civilians, and those that, although aimed at a military target, have a disproportionate impact on civilians or civilian objects.
. . .

"The situation is not yet calming down," cautioned Oxfam's Wentholt. "There are indications that conflict will persist and I think that depends a lot on what comes out of the political developments."

Since late December, Oxfam estimates violence in Somalia has forced an estimated 70,000 people from their homes, and has exacerbated an already dire humanitarian situation. Last year, Somalia was hit first by severe drought and then the worst flooding in 50 years, leaving some 400,000 people homeless.

U.S. AC-130 'gun-ship'

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