Posted by: Lister | September 30, 2007

Miles Ignotus

A little less obvious than calling himself Kenry Hissinger. It means “Unknown soldier”.

I read about this story on Ray McGovern’s article in Couterpunch. McGovern is a former CIA analyst.

In 1975 in Harpers, then-secretary of state Henry Kissinger authored under a pseudonym an article, “Seizing Arab Oil.” Blissfully unaware that the author was his boss, the highly respected career ambassador to Saudi Arabia, James Akins, committed the mother of all faux pas when he told a TV audience that whoever wrote that article had to be a “madman.” Akins was right; he was also fired.

I did some googling on Akins, hence the previous post. I found the article at Harper’s, but I can’t read it without a subscription. And here’s the story at Mother Jones — The 30 year itch:

If you were to spin the globe and look for real estate critical to building an American empire, your first stop would have to be the Persian Gulf. The desert sands of this region hold two of every three barrels of oil in the world — Iraq’s reserves alone are equal, by some estimates, to those of Russia, the United States, China, and Mexico combined.

[...] “Controlling Iraq is about oil as power, rather than oil as fuel,” says Michael Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and author of Resource Wars. “Control over the Persian Gulf translates into control over Europe, Japan, and China. It’s having our hand on the spigot.”

[...] “It’s the Kissinger plan,” says James Akins, a former U.S. diplomat. “I thought it had been killed, but it’s back.”

Akins learned a hard lesson about the politics of oil when he served as a U.S. envoy in Kuwait and Iraq, and ultimately as ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the oil crisis of 1973 and ’74.

[...] In 1975, while Akins was ambassador in Saudi Arabia, an article headlined “Seizing Arab Oil” appeared in Harper’s. The author, who used the pseudonym Miles Ignotus, was identified as “a Washington-based professor and defense consultant with intimate links to high-level U.S. policymakers.” The article outlined, as Akins puts it, “how we could solve all our economic and political problems by taking over the Arab oil fields [and] bringing in Texans and Oklahomans to operate them.” Simultaneously, a rash of similar stories appeared in other magazines and newspapers. “I knew that it had to have been the result of a deep background briefing,” Akins says. “You don’t have eight people coming up with the same screwy idea at the same time, independently.

“Then I made a fatal mistake,” Akins continues. “I said on television that anyone who would propose that is either a madman, a criminal, or an agent of the Soviet Union.” Soon afterward, he says, he learned that the background briefing had been conducted by his boss, then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Akins was fired later that year.

Kissinger has never acknowledged having planted the seeds for the article. But in an interview with Business Week that same year, he delivered a thinly veiled threat to the Saudis, musing about bringing oil prices down through “massive political warfare against countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran to make them risk their political stability and maybe their security if they did not cooperate.”

[...] In January 1980, President Carter effectively declared the Gulf a zone of U.S. influence, especially against encroachment from the Soviet Union. “Let our position be absolutely clear,” he said, announcing what came to be known as the Carter Doctrine. “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” To back up this doctrine, Carter created the Rapid Deployment Force, an “over-the-horizon” military unit capable of rushing several thousand U.S. troops to the Gulf in a crisis.

[...] Reagan tried to organize a “strategic consensus” of anti-Soviet allies, including Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia. The United States sold billions of dollars’ worth of arms to the Saudis in the early ’80s, from AWACS surveillance aircraft to F-15 fighters. And in 1987, at the height of the war between Iraq and Iran, the U.S. Navy created the Joint Task Force-Middle East to protect oil tankers plying the waters of the Gulf, thus expanding a U.S. naval presence of just three or four warships into a flotilla of 40-plus aircraft carriers, battleships, and cruisers.

[...] Until 1991, the United States was unable to persuade the Arab Gulf states to allow a permanent American presence on their soil. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, while maintaining its close relationship with the United States, began to diversify its commercial and military ties; by the time U.S. Ambassador Chas Freeman arrived there in the late ’80s, the United States had fallen to fourth place among arms suppliers to the kingdom. “The United States was being supplanted even in commercial terms by the British, the French, even the Chinese,” Freeman notes.

All that changed with the Gulf War. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states no longer opposed a direct U.S. military presence, and American troops, construction squads, arms salesmen, and military assistance teams rushed in. “The Gulf War put Saudi Arabia back on the map and revived a relationship that had been severely attrited,” says Freeman.

In the decade after the war, the United States sold more than $43 billion worth of weapons, equipment, and military construction projects to Saudi Arabia, and $16 billion more to Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates, according to data compiled by the Federation of American Scientists. Before Operation Desert Storm, the U.S. military enjoyed the right to stockpile, or “pre-position,” military supplies only in the comparatively remote Gulf state of Oman on the Indian Ocean. After the war, nearly every country in the region began conducting joint military exercises, hosting U.S. naval units and Air Force squadrons, and granting the United States pre-positioning rights. “Our military presence in the Middle East has increased dramatically,” then-Defense Secretary William Cohen boasted in 1995.

Then the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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