The World – American Style
Michael S. Rozeff
by Michael S. Rozeff
by Michael S. Rozeff: On
Encountering Support for the U.S. Military
The U.S. government
has a known and explicit policy, discussed below, concerning Persian
Gulf oil. The visible foreign results of this policy, so far, include
the Gulf War of 1990, the subsequent sanctions on Iraq, the U.S.
actions during the Iran-Iraq War, the U.S. attack and war on Iraq
(2003-present), the U.S. sanctions against Iran, and now the U.S.
war in Libya. This is not to say that these actions have been well
thought out or have succeeded in their aims with respect to the
government’s prime objective. In fact, blunders dominate the list.
results of this policy, so far, include such items as the Patriot
Act, curtailment of various freedoms and rights, the Transportation
Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, travel
restrictions, financial restrictions, militarization of police forces,
and vast invasions of privacy. Other results include the encouragement
of terrorism, the war on terror, use of torture, abductions, and
holding prisoners incommunicado for indefinite terms.
What then is
this policy? A RAND
document reviews the U.S. oil policy in the mid-East and associated
regions. It points out (p. 60) that President Carter enunciated
this policy on January 23, 1980 in his State of the Union Address:
our position be absolutely clear: 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
this, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in September of 1978 issued
a strategy assessment in which it wrote of "continuous access
to petroleum resources" as priority #1 in the region, along
with seeing that Israel survived. In 1979, the military put together
a "Rapid Deployment Force (RDF), which soon gained full, unified
command status as the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM)."
since Carter has supported this doctrine, added to it, strengthened
it, expanded it, or implemented it by policy actions including making
is no question that the U.S. considers the uninterrupted oil flow
from this region as a vital interest. The U.S. has made war over
Kuwait in 1990, in Iraq in this century, and now in Libya. It has
gone into related areas such as Somalia, Yemen, and Afghanistan.
It has confronted Iran for decades. It has armed and aided all sorts
of dictatorial regimes in the region.
The U.S. government
has done all of these things under the doctrine that oil flows must
not be interrupted. It has acted strongly even when such an interruption
was a remote prospect. It acted under false pretexts in Iraq. It
has imposed sanctions on Iran. It has threatened war on Iran over
its nuclear activities on more than one occasion.
The U.S. is
acting now in Libya. Although Libya poses little risk of interrupting
U.S. oil supplies, the U.S. wants to control the outcome in Libya.
The U.S. must demonstrate control if it is to maintain control in
neighboring regions such as Saudi Arabia where revolts, possible
revolts, and revolutions are likely.
There is more.
The Rand document informs us that the U.S. has "deepened its
ties – economic, political, and military – with oil-producing states
in central Asia, South America, and West Africa." An assistant
Secretary of State has stated that "African oil is of national
strategic interest to us." A U.S. supreme military commander
has observed that carrier groups in the future will spend "half
the time going down the west coast of Africa". The U.S. has
a permanent military presence in the Gulf of Guinea.
The U.S. government
acts as if oil is king. It doesn’t seize the oil or conquer the
countries that have the oil. It doesn’t try to get it for nothing
or for the costs of conquest. But it is establishing control over
the oil using all means at its disposal, including war. In this
way, the U.S. has made the oil the jointly-held property of the
U.S. and the regimes that control the countries where the oil sits.
In this sense, the U.S. government regards the oil as "ours"
and it has committed the U.S. to making sure that it stays "ours".
are large, continuing, and widespread. They raise the likelihood
of wars and multiple concurrent wars. In every land that has oil
and that forms connections with the U.S. on economic, political,
and military grounds, the U.S. becomes the de facto supporter of
the existing regime and rulers. There are always groups in any lands
that have problems with their governments. They then object to the
presence of U.S. forces, U.S. economic connections, and U.S. political
influence. These groups may have many other reasons for seeing the
U.S. as an enemy. They may adopt terror tactics. The U.S. then gets
drawn into a worldwide attempt to stamp out organizations using
policy, which is now the established U.S. policy, of viewing oil
as a vital interest of the U.S. and then using military force to
protect it leads to continual warfare. It has already done this.
The U.S. government decides when this vital interest is being threatened
and it acts on its own initiative because it has the power to do
so, the means to do so, and a compliant electorate. It naturally
leans over backwards to exercise this power even under the thinnest
of threats to oil. This shows everyone that it means business.
The bombs going
off in these foreign lands are supposed to demonstrate the ability
of the U.S. to control events and protect the oil flow. But at the
same time, the outcomes in Iraq and Afghanistan show the weakness
of this policy of control. The U.S. expenditures run up to fantastic
figures along with its debts. The U.S. blunders into regions and
upsets the political and religious equilibria. Consequently, it
strengthens Iran and increases the threats to Saudi Arabia and the
oil it wants to protect. Consequently, it increases the chance of
a larger war. It also stimulates Iran to develop nuclear weapons
against the threats that it feels coming from the U.S. Meanwhile
the U.S. imports terrorism and raises the chances of direct attacks
against Americans. It curtails the freedoms of its citizens and
subjects them to many indignities, assaults, and unconstitutional
I can easily
argue that, from the point of view of the American oil-user, the
Carter-Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama policy is totally useless
and counterproductive. Oil-users all over this earth who do not
have such a policy are buying and consuming vast quantities of oil
every day without interruption. They don’t need to use force to
get the oil they want. All they need is to produce some goods that
are in demand that they can exchange for that oil. And that is exactly
what people in hundreds of countries that do not have much oil of
their own do. They produce goods and they exchange them for other
goods they want, including oil.
intense focus on oil, it is not what primarily motivates the U.S.
government. Oil is a means to an end. If the U.S. possessed all
the oil it required, the U.S. government would still be projecting
itself and its power overseas. It would be seeking its main objective,
which is The World – American Style.
We have to
dig deeper than oil. Why did the U.S. government decide that oil
is a vital interest that needs its worldwide protection? Why does
it stick to this policy? A clear answer appears in a Council of
Foreign Relations document (National Security Consequences of Oil
Dependency) produced by establishment figures such as James Schlesinger.
energy consumers notably the United States, but other countries
as well are finding that their growing dependence on imported
energy increases their strategic vulnerability and constrains
their ability to pursue a broad range of foreign policy and national
This says that
the government wants to pursue its foreign policies without having
to take into account the threat of oil supply interruptions coming
from other countries that possess oil. The government wants to exercise
its power in foreign affairs in an unimpeded fashion. If, for example,
Iran controlled the Saudi Arabian and Iraqi oil fields, it might
threaten to interrupt supply to the world market or to the U.S.
unless the U.S. altered its policy toward Israel.
U.S. government, or at least some persons in it or near it, view
oil as something to control so that the government has freedom of
action, that is, unimpeded power in foreign affairs. This raises
questions: Exclusive of oil, which is a means to an end, what are
the foreign policies of the U.S.? What are its objectives? What
were its objectives when the Carter doctrine began? What are its
objectives now? These questions cannot be addressed in detail here,
but we can mention a few important facets of them.
Directive/NSC-30, dated February 17, 1978, stated that
shall be a major objective of U.S. foreign policy to promote the
observance of human rights throughout the world."
spelled this out in more detail:
shall be the objective of the U.S. human rights policy to reduce
worldwide governmental violations of the integrity of the person
(e.g., torture; cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment; arbitrary
arrest or imprisonment; lengthy detention without trial, and assassination)
and, to enhance civil and political liberties (e.g., freedom of
speech, of religion, of assembly, of movement and of the press;
and the right to basic judicial protections). It will also be
a continuing U.S. objective to promote basic economic and social
rights (e.g., adequate food, education, shelter and health)."
are strikingly at odds with what the U.S. government has actually
done! To LRC’s great credit, its archives contain hundreds of articles
documenting that the U.S. government, in its pursuit of a steady
flow of oil, has accomplished the very opposite of the objectives
listed here. Furthermore, this utter failure in the human rights
department, this complete inversion, is not getting any better.
It’s getting worse.
of oil flow stability was meant, among other things, to free up
U.S. activity in foreign affairs. One purpose of the foreign policy
was that the U.S. promote human rights. This pursuit has utterly
failed. It has brought about the very opposite.
greatly on what the foreign policy objectives of the U.S. have been
and are. Carter’s human rights directive reveals but one objective.
Carter’s National Security Advisor was Zbigniew Brzezinski. In one
passage, he tells us something very different:
the United States, Eurasian geostrategy involves the purposeful
management of geostrategically dynamic states and the careful
handling of geopolitically catalytic states, in keeping with the
twin interests of America in the short-term preservation of its
unique global power and in the long-run transformation of it into
increasingly institutionalized global cooperation. To put it in
a terminology that hearkens back to the more brutal age of ancient
empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are
to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the
vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep
the barbarians from coming together."
He says that
the interests of the U.S. empire are (1) to maintain its "unique
global power", and (2) turn it into institutions of "global
cooperation". That is to say, the objective is The World –
American Style. He wants the U.S. to prevent other states from ganging
up on it so that the U.S. can keep its power. In other words, the
U.S. needs steady oil so as to maintain its foreign policy, the
objective of which is the extension of the U.S. empire and power.
Power is to be used to maintain and extend power in ways that the
U.S. government prefers. This statement, by the way, does not preclude
that the U.S. government is the tool of special interest groups
that operate behind the scenes. The roles of many of these groups
and the persons who travel back and forth among lobbying positions,
foundation positions, university positions, and government positions
are well known.
power and putting it to work in its interests and those of its patrons
are the motivating forces at work behind the war-making decisions
of the U.S.. Their idea is that holding and applying this power
demands taking the oil in the sense of controlling it. Their idea
is to murder or lose this power. Kill or accede to the power of
many of us regard such wars as unjust and unethical, knowing for
a fact that they kill and maim hundreds of thousands of innocent
people and lead to even more people being killed, such as on 9/11/2001,
U.S. leaders sacrifice justice and rights for their own power. They
commit crimes so that they can keep and wield that power.
They do not
follow Carter’s directive. The objective is not human rights. The
objective is not an humanitarian concern for Libyan lives or Iraqi
lives living under Saddam Hussein. The U.S. leadership follows Brzezinski’s
objective: power and The World – American Style.
One of the
lines of propaganda or myths that the U.S. leaders put to the American
people is that oil is critical to the economy. Left unsaid is the
notion that this justifies murdering innocents abroad, but anyone
with eyes and ears knows that that is the second half of the equation.
We need only look at how many folks cheer this killing on. That
is a sad tale. It is very sad that so many Americans have been fooled
by the trick being played on them. They think that these murders
and wars are necessary for their own survival. Nothing of the sort
is the case. They’d be far better off without these wars and attempts
to control oil in so many different countries.
If oil’s criticality
explains America’s killing of innocents and America’s entering foreign
lands with armies or airplanes, then America has no argument against
acts of terror by non-Americans that kill and wound innocent people
for the sake of some urgent or critical needs that these non-Americans
perceive. Criticality is for America no argument against Osama bin
Laden’s or anyone’s terror tactics. The West cannot claim that it
has a better need than bin Laden or any other terrorist. In fact,
the West cannot even claim that its needs take precedence over the
needs of those whom it murders or those whose lives it disrupts,
wounds, and shortens. There is no way to make these comparisons
and build support for murder based on them. Simply being American
doesn’t elevate one’s claim to murder above the claim of a non-American,
such as a Palestinian who blows himself up and kills Israelis. What
we may call terrorist acts are, in the eyes of bin Laden and other
terrorists, worth the price paid, including the suicides of many
terrorists. People committing suicide in terrorist acts are soldiers
in the eyes of those fighting for their survival. In their eyes,
the Americans are the terrorists. Indeed, a fair evaluation of the
American actions is that the Americans are just as much terrorists
as the terrorists they condemn. American leaders cannot logically
invoke a "criticality" or "security" rationale
while condemning the people they are killing who have their own
will disagree with what I’ve just written. How can this man equate
brave American soldiers with terrorists? I don’t have to do the
equating. Our own leaders make it clear. Former Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright disagreed with this analysis. Her belief has
also been expressed on numerous occasions by other high American
officials, by neoconservatives, by President after President, and
by commentators. It is a belief that has seeped into the public
discourse. She said
we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the
indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future."
that being American did elevate the American claim to murder,
or that it explained why using force by us was called for or, reading
between the lines, was necessary or justifiable or right or a good
indispensable? I fail to see how its murders relate to anything
indispensable about it. Has any politician or any neoconservative
spokesperson ever made a coherent case for this indispensability?
Assertions that a murderous hegemony is benevolent do not make it
so. The facts tell the opposite story. There are certain ideas that
would set civilization back a long time if they were lost, but America
has no monopoly on these ideas. America has no inherent right to
use force on others except if it chooses to defend itself against
attack. America has no future vision superior to anyone else’s.
Ths condition of this country’s economy, culture, and politics hardly
suggest that American leaders have had a superior vision or have
no taller than any other nation. Albright is simply expressing a
species of nation-state superiority that reminds one of the nasty
racial superiority theories that were prevalent in earlier centuries
and still remain today. She is expressing a false rationale for
domination and thus murder. This rationale may comfort its users,
but they do not bring forward anything to support it.
It is important
from a religious point of view to mention that this rationale for
murder is also an un-Christian rationale despite the fact that many
who invoke it call themselves Christians and think of themselves
as good Christians. I single out Christians because America is thought
of by many as a Christian nation.
It is not hyperbole
to use the term "murder" within this analysis of western
action and to describe the actual killings and deaths that Americans
and other nations have brought about as murders. Madeleine Albright
was asked by Leslie Stahl regarding the U.S. sanctions on Iraq
have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's
more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price
this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price
is worth it."
Here we have
one of the highest American officials admitting to murders of innocents
far in excess of any terrorist activities because she thinks it
was worth it. If consciously bringing about the deaths of 500,000
children is not murder, what is? If this is not terrorism, what
the bottom line? The power structure in the U.S., comprising an
establishment elite that moves among positions in companies, foundations,
universities, political parties, lobbies, and government, has a
longstanding government policy that the U.S. control the flow of
oil to these shores.
of this policy is not oil itself. The deeper objective is freedom
of U.S. foreign policy to extend U.S. interests throughout the world
via a set of institutions that embed U.S. control and dominance.
The U.S. doesn’t want oil to be used to limit its foreign policy
actions. That is the reason for seeking to assure an uninterrupted
supply. The human rights objective of foreign policy that is often
invoked is a cover story. It is not an objective at all. The U.S.
routinely sacrifices and undermines human rights in its attempts
to control oil and thereby assure itself of freedom of action in
S. Rozeff [send him mail]
is a retired Professor of Finance living in East Amherst, New York.
He is the author of the free e-book Essays
on American Empire: Liberty vs. Domination and the free e-book
The U.S. Constitution
and Money: Corruption and Decline.
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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