Friday, March 21, 2008


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press.
Chapter 6: Nefarious Aggression Segment 3/14
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In the aftermath of World War I, chemical weapons were regarded much as nuclear weapons were after Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It thus comes as no real surprise that even before the 1948 Berlin blockade, Churchill privately urged the U.S. government to threaten the Soviet Union with nuclear attack unless the Russians withdrew from East Germany.7

In July 1958, a military coup by nationalist officers in Iraq threatened U.S.-British control of the oil-producing regions for the first time (a threat by the conservative nationalist government of Iran had been aborted by the U.S.-British intervention to restore the Shah five years earlier). The coup set off a wide range of reactions, including a U.S. Marine landing in Lebanon. In an analysis of the crisis based on the public record, William Quandt concludes that the U.S. "apparently agreed to help look after British oil interests, especially in Kuwait," while determining that an Iraqi move against Kuwait, infringing upon British interests, would not be tolerated, though it seemed unlikely. Quandt takes President Eisenhower to have been referring to nuclear weapons when, in his own words, he ordered Joint Chiefs Chairman General Twining to "be prepared to employ, subject to [Eisenhower's] approval, whatever means might become necessary to prevent any unfriendly forces from moving into Kuwait." The issue was "discussed several times during the crisis," Quandt adds. The major concern at the time was Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser -- the Hitler of the day -- and his Arab nationalism.8

Recently declassified documents add more information, though the U.S. record is defective because of heavy censorship, presumably reflecting the Reagan-era commitment to protect state power from the public. After discussions in Washington immediately after the Iraqi coup, British Foreign Secretary Selwyn Lloyd sent a secret telegram to the Prime Minister in which he considered two options with regard to Kuwait: "immediate British occupation" of this semi-dependency, or moves towards nominal independence. He advised against the harsher choice. Though "The advantage of this action would be that we would get our hands firmly on the Kuwait oil," it might arouse nationalist feelings in Kuwait and "The effect upon international opinion and the rest of the Arab world would not be good." A better policy would be to set up "a kind of Kuwaiti Switzerland where the British do not exercise physical control." But "If this alternative is accepted, we must also accept the need, if things go wrong, ruthlessly to intervene, whoever it is has caused the trouble." He stressed "the complete United States solidarity with us over the Gulf," including the need to "take firm action to maintain our position in Kuwait" and the "similar resolution" of the U.S. "in relations to the Aramco oilfields" in Saudi Arabia; The Americans "agree that at all costs these oilfields [in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar] must be kept in Western hands." Six months before the Iraqi coup, Lloyd had noted that "Minor changes in the direction of greater independence are inevitable" for Kuwait, such as taking over postal services. He also summarised "The major British and indeed Western interests in the Persian Gulf" as:

(a) to ensure free access for Britain and other Western countries to oil produced in States bordering the Gulf; (b) to ensure the continued availability of that oil on favourable terms and for sterling; and to maintain suitable arrangements for the investment of the surplus revenues of Kuwait; (c) to bar the spread of Communism and pseudo-Communism in the area and subsequently beyond; and, as a pre-condition of this, to defend the area against the brand of Arab nationalism under cover of which the Soviet Government at present prefers to advance.9

U.S. documents of the same period outline British goals in similar terms: "the U.K. asserts that its financial stability would be seriously threatened if the petroleum from Kuwait and the Persian Gulf area were not available to the U.K. on reasonable terms, if the U.K. were deprived of the large investments made by that area in the U.K. and if sterling were deprived of the support provided by Persian Gulf oil." These British needs, and the fact that "An assured source of oil is essential to the continued economic viability of Western Europe," provide an argument for the U.S. "to support, or if necessary assist, the British in using force to retain control of Kuwait and the Persian Gulf." The counterargument is that force will lead to confrontation with "radical Pan-Arab nationalism" and "U.S. relations with neutral countries elsewhere would be adversely affected." In November 1958, the National Security Council recommended that the U.S. "Be prepared to use force, but only as a last resort, either alone or in support of the United Kingdom," to insure access to Arab oil. Six months before the Iraqi coup, the National Security Council had advised that Israel might provide a barrier to Arab nationalism, laying the basis for one element of the system of control over the Middle East (called "security" or "stability").10

The concern that Gulf oil and riches be available to support the ailing British economy was extended by the early 1970s to the U.S. economy, which was visibly declining relative to Japan and German-led Europe. Furthermore, control over oil serves as a means to influence these rivals/allies. Capital flow from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the other Gulf principalities to the U.S. and Britain has provided significant support for their economies, corporations, and financial institutions. These are among the reasons why the U.S. and Britain have often not been averse to increases in oil price. The issues are too intricate to explore here, but these factors surely remain operative.11 It comes as no great suprise that the two states that established the imperial settlement and have been its main beneficiaries and guarantors are now girding for war in the Gulf, while others keep their distance.

Go to the next segment.

7 Marc Trachtenberg, International Security, Winter 1988/9.

8 Quandt, "Lebanon, 1958, and Jordan, 1970," in Barry Blechman and Stephen Kaplan, eds. Force without War (Brookings Institution, 1978), 247, 238. Emphasis Eisenhower's.

9 Telegram no. 1979, July 19, 1958, to Prime Minister from Secretary of State, from Washington; File FO 371/132 779. "Future Policy in the Persian Gulf," Jan. 15, 1958, F0 371/132 778.

10 Undated sections of NSC 5801/l, "Current Policy Issues" on relations to Nasser-led Arab Nationalism, apparently mid-1958; NSC 5820/1, Nov. 4, 1958. See chapter 1, pp. 53f.; Fateful Triangle, chapter 2. I am indebted to Kirsten Cale and Irene Gendzier for the British and U.S. documents, respectively. For excerpts and discussion, see Cale "`Ruthlessly to intervene,'" Living Marxism (London), Nov. 1990; Gendzier, "The Way they Saw it Then," ms., Nov. 1990.

11 For some discussion in the 1970s, see Towards a New Cold War, chapters 2, 11; Christopher Rand, Making Democracy Safe for Oil (Little, Brown and Co., 1975). KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.

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