Why the War? The Kuwait Connection

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This originally
appeared in the May 1991 Rothbard-Rockwell Report

Why, exactly,
did we go to war in the Gulf? The answer remains murky, but perhaps
we can find one explanation by examining the strong and ominous
Kuwait Connection in our government. (I am indebted to an excellent
article in an obscure New York tabloid, Downtown, by Bob
Feldman, “The Kissinger Affair,” March 27.) The Sabahklatura
that runs the Kuwait government is immensely wealthy, to the tune
of hundreds of billions of dollars, derived from tax/”royalty”
loot extracted from oil producers simply because the Sabah tribe
claims “sovereignty” over that valuable chunk of desert real estate.
The Sabah tribe has no legitimate claim to the oil revenue; it
did nothing to homestead or mix its labor or any other resource
with the crude oil.

It is reasonable
to assume that the Sabah family stands ready to use a modest portion
of that ill-gotten wealth to purchase defenders and advocates
in the powerful United States. We now focus our attention on the
sinister but almost universally Beloved figure of Dr. Henry Kissinger,
a lifelong spokesman, counselor, and servitor of the Rockefeller
World Empire. Kissinger is so Beloved, in fact, that whenever
he appears on Nightline or Crossfire he appears
alone, since it seems to be lse-majest (or even blasphemy)
for anyone to contradict the Great One’s banal and ponderous Teutonic
pronouncements. Only a handful of grumblers and malcontents on
the extreme right and extreme left disturb this cozy consensus.

In 1954,
the 31-year-old Kissinger, a Harvard political scientist and admirer
of Metternich, was plucked out of his academic obscurity to become
lifelong foreign policy advisor to New York Governor Nelson Aldrich
Rockefeller. Doctor K continued in that august role until he assumed
the mastery of foreign policy throughout the Nixon and Ford administrations.
In that role, Kissinger played a major part in prolonging and
extending the Vietnam War, and in the mass murder of civilians
entailed by the terror bombings of Vietnam, the secret bombing
of Cambodia, and the invasion of Laos.

Since leaving
office in 1977, Dr. Kissinger has continued to play a highly influential
role in U.S. politics, in the U.S. media, and in the Rockefeller
world empire. It was Kissinger, along with David Rockefeller,
who was decisive in the disastrous decision of President Carter
to admit the recently toppled Shah of Iran, old friend and ally
of the Rockefellers into the United States, a decision that led
directly to the Iranian hostage crisis and to Carter’s downfall.
Today, Kissinger still continues to serve as a trustee of the
powerful Rockefeller Brothers Fund, as a counselor to Rockefellers’
Chase Manhattan Bank, and as a member of Chase’s International
Advisory Committee. Kissinger’s media influence is evident from
his having served on the board of CBS, Inc., and having been a
paid consultant to both NBC News and ABC News. That takes care
of all three networks.

But
Kissinger’s major, and most lucrative role, has come as head of
Kissinger Associates in New York City, founded on a loan obtained
in 1982 from the international banking firm of E.M. Warburg, Pincus
and Company. Nominally, Kissinger Associates (KA) is an “international
consulting firm” but “consultant” covers many sins, and in KA’s
case, this means international political influence-peddling for
its two dozen or so important corporate clients. In the fullest
report on KA, Leslie Gelb in the New York Times Magazine
for April 20, 1986, reveals that, in that year, 25 to 30 corporations
paid KA between $150,000 and $420,000 each per annum for political
influence and access.” As Gelb blandly puts it: “The superstar
international consultants [at KA] were certainly people who would
get their telephone calls returned from high American government
officials and who would also be able to get executives in to see
foreign leaders.” I dare say a lot more than mere access could
be gained thereby. KA’s offices in New York and Washington are
small, but they pack a powerful punch. (Is it mere coincidence
that KA’s Park Avenue headquarters is in the same building as
the local office of Chase Manhattan Bank’s subsidiary, the Commercial
Bank of Kuwait?)

Who were
these “superstar international consultants?” One of them, who
in 1986 was the vice chairman of KA, is none other than General
Brent Scowcroft, former national security advisor under President
Ford, and, playing the exact same role under George Bush, serving
as the chief architect of the Gulf War. One of the General’s top
clients was Kuwait’s government-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation,
who paid Scowcroft for his services at least from 1984 through
1986. In addition, Scowcroft became a director of Santa Fe International
(SFI) in the early 1980s, not long after SFI was purchased by
the Kuwait Petroleum Corporation in 1981. Joining Scowcroft on
the SFI board was Scowcroft’s old boss, Gerald Ford. One of SFI’s
activities is drilling oil wells in Kuwait, an operation which,
of course, had to be suspended after the Iraq invasion.

Brent Scowcroft,
it is clear, has enjoyed a long-standing and lucrative Kuwait
connection. Is it a coincidence that it was Scowcroft’s National
Security Council presentation on August 3, 1990, which according
to the New York Times (February 21) “crystallized people’s
thinking and galvanized support” for a “strong response” to the
Iraq invasion of Kuwait?

Scowcroft,
by the way, does not exhaust the Republican administrations’ revolving
door among Kissinger Associates. Another top KA official, Lawrence
Eagleburger, undersecretary of state under Reagan, has returned
to high office after a stint at KA as deputy secretary of state
under George Bush.

Also vitally
important at KA are the members of its board of directors. One
director is T. Jefferson Cunningham III, who is also a director
of the Midland Bank of Britain, which has also been a KA client.
The fascinating point here is that 10.5 percent of this $4 billion
bank is owned by the Kuwait government. And Kissinger, as head
of KA, is of course concerned to advance the interests of his
clients – which include the Midland Bank and therefore the
government of Kuwait. Does this connection have anything to do
with Kissinger’s ultra-hawkish views on the Gulf War? In the meantime,
Kissinger continues to serve on President Bush’s Foreign Intelligence
Advisory Board, which gives Kissinger not only a channel for giving
advice but also gives him access to national security information
which could prove useful to KA’s corporate clients.

Another KA
client is the Fluor Corporation, which has a special interest
in Saudi Arabia. Shortly before the August 2 invasion, Saudi Arabia
decided to launch a $30 to $40 billion project to expand oil production,
and granted two huge oil contracts to the Parson and Fluor corporations.
(New York Times, August 21)

One member
of KA’s board of directors is ARCO Chairman Robert O. Anderson;
ARCO, also one of KA’s clients, is engaged in joint oil-exploration
and oil-drilling in offshore China with Santa Fe International,
the subsidiary of the Kuwait government.

Other KA
board members are William D. Rogers, undersecretary of state in
the Eisenhower administration, and long-time leading Dewey-Rockefeller
Republican in New York; former Citibank (Rockefeller) Chairman
Edward Palmer; and Eric Lord Roll, economist and chairman of the
board of the London international banking house of S.F. Warburg.

Perhaps the
most interesting KA board member is one of the most Beloved figures
in the conservative movement, William E. Simon, secretary of treasury
in the Nixon and Ford administrations. When Simon left office
in 1977, he became a consultant to the Bechtel Corporation, which
has had the major massive construction contracts to build oil
refineries and cities in Saudi Arabia. In addition, Simon became
a consultant to Suliman Olayan, one of the wealthiest and most
powerful businessmen in Saudi Arabia. Long a close associate of
the oil-rich Saudi royal family, Olayan had served Bechtel well
by getting it the multi-billion contract to build the oil city
of Jubail. In 1980, furthermore, Olayan hired William Simon to
be chairman of two investment firms owned jointly by himself and
the influential Saudi Prince Khaled al Saud.

Bechtel,
the Rockefellers, and the Saudi royal family have long had an
intimate connection. After the Saudis granted the Rockefeller-dominated
Aramco oil consortium the monopoly of oil in Saudi Arabia, the
Rockefellers brought their pals at Bechtel in on the construction
contracts. The Bechtel Corporation, of course, has also contributed
George Shultz and Cap Weinberger to high office in Republican
administrations. To complete the circle, KA director Simon’s former
boss Suliman Olayan was, in 1988, the largest shareholder in the
Chase Manhattan Bank after David Rockefeller himself.

The pattern
is clear. An old New Left slogan held that “you don’t need a weatherman
to tell you how the wind is blowing.” In the same way, you don’t
need to be a “conspiracy theorist” to see what’s going on here.
All you have to do is be willing to use your eyes.

Murray
N. Rothbard
(1926–1995) was dean of the Austrian
School, founder of modern libertarianism, and chief academic
officer of the Mises Institute.
He was also editor — with Lew Rockwell — of The
Rothbard-Rockwell Report
, and appointed Lew as his
literary executor. See
his books.

The
Best of Murray Rothbard

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