Skip to comments.Pipe Dreams: The origin of the "bombing Afghanistan for oil pipelines" theory (Lefties Proved Liars)
Posted on 12/10/2001 9:04:18 AM PST by Timesink
The origin of the "bombing-Afghanistan-for-oil-pipelines" theory.
By Seth Stevenson
Posted Thursday, December 6, 2001, at 11:32 AM PT
A theory making the rounds on the Internet, on the airwaves, and in the press claims that the bombing of the Taliban has nothing to do with a "war on terrorism" but everything to do with the oil pipeline the West wants to build through Afghanistan. Where did this theory start, and how did it spread?
The California energy company Unocal seriously pursued building an Afghanistan pipeline in the 1990s, but back then the theorists, such as this Middle East specialist in 1998, argued that the West was propping up the Taliban in hopes that they would cooperate on building a pipeline. On March 8, 2001, a think-tanker and former CIA analyst noted in a New York Times op-ed that "[i]n 1996, it seemed possible that American-built gas and oil pipelines from Central Asia could run through an Afghanistan ruled by one leader. Cruelty to women aside, we did not condemn the Taliban juggernaut rolling across the country."
The beauty of conspiracy theories is that even the most contradictory evidence can be folded into a new conspiracy theory. For example, after the events of Sept. 11, the pipeline conspiracy theorists spun 180 degrees from
We're supporting the Taliban so we can build a pipeline while we pretend we don't care about their links to terrorism (and, to a lesser degree, their cruelty to women).
We're bombing the Taliban so we can build a pipeline while we pretend we care about their links to terrorism (and, to a lesser degree, their cruelty to women).
The turnaround can be tracked within a single news agency. On Oct. 7 of this year, right before the U.S. bombing began, Agence France-Presse wrote up the old theory: "Keen to see Afghanistan under strong central rule to allow a US-led group to build a multi-billion-dollar oil and gas pipeline, Washington urged key allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to back the militia's bid for power in 1996." Just four days later, AFP wrote that "experts say the end of the Islamic militia [the Taliban] could spell the start of more lucrative opportunities for Western oil companies."
Nearly all sites pushing the newer theory point to two pieces of evidence: 1) This U.S. Department of Energy information page on Afghanistan, updated September 2001, which espouses the pipeline idea but says Afghanistan is too chaotic for it to work. 2) This 1998 testimony by a Unocal vice president to the House Committee on International Relations, in which he states that a pipeline will never be built without a stable Afghan government in place.
How did the new theory spread? After the Sept. 11 attacks, no one says anything oil-related for a respectable mourning period. Then, in the cover story of its Sept. 21-27 issue, L.A. Weekly makes the case that "it's the oil, stupid." The piece doesn't mention the pipeline specifically, but soon after, someone else does. On Sept. 25, the Village Voice's James Ridgeway and Camila E. Fard write that the 9/11 terrorist attack "provides Washington with an extraordinary opportunity" to overthrow the Taliban and build a pipeline. Ridgeway fails to make the direct link to Unocal, though. On Oct. 1, we see the whole theory come together on the Web site of the Independent Media Center. This article links to both the Unocal testimony and the DOE page and says they "leave little doubt as to the reasons behind Washington's desire to replace the Taliban government." After this, the floodgates open. The theory never evolves muchit just gets passed around.
Oct. 5: An India-based writer for the Inter Press Service says Bush's "coalition against terrorism" is "the first opportunity that has any chance of making UNOCAL's wish come true." The story is reprinted the following day in the Asia Times.
Oct. 10: The Village Voice's Ridgeway makes his claim in stronger terms but still doesn't mention Unocal.
Oct. 11: A Russian TV commentator says oil is the real reason for the war. In a transcript from Russias Ren TV, the commentator refers to Unocal.
Oct. 12: An essay on TomPaine.com and another by cartoonist Ted Rall both join the chorus.
Oct. 13: The Hindu, an Indian national newspaper, asserts that the pipeline, not terrorism, is driving the U.S. bombing. The Hindu quotes the DOE page and adds the point that both President Bush and Vice President Cheney are "intimately connected with the U.S. oil industry."
Oct. 14: The Washington Times reports that a Taliban ambassador says the war is more oil than Osama. Also, the International Action Center (an anti-militarism site) runs the Unocal theory.
Oct. 15: An essay at the libertarian site LewRockwell.com makes the Unocal case. The following day it's reprinted by Russia's Pravda and posted in a Yahoo! newsgroup.
Oct. 19: Green Party USA gets in on the fun.
Oct. 23: Britain's Guardian quotes the Unocal testimony and says that while the United States is in part fighting terrorism, it "would be naive to believe that this is all it is doing." Pakistan's Dawn reprints the essay two days later.
Oct. 24: The Guardian strikes again, writing that any pipeline would require the creation of a stable government and that "[t]his, it can be argued, is precisely what Washington is now trying to do."
Oct. 25: Britain's Channel 4 says the pipeline is "an important subtext" to the war.
Oct. 29: The cover story of the Britain's Daily Mirror screams, "This War Is a Fraud." Meanwhile, the BBC says the pipeline theory is in the air and recaps its basic points, but then dismantles it.
The pipeline theory has continued to bounce around, showing up on every "progressive" Web site out there. It ran in the Syrian daily Tishrin on Nov. 29, from which it was picked up on Dec. 2 by Pakistan's Frontier Post. It may never die.
Why does the bombing-for-pipelines theory hold such appeal? For the same reason the supporting-the-Taliban-for-pipelines theory attracted so many: There's evidence that points in that direction. Unocal did want to build a pipeline through Afghanistan and did cozy up to the Taliban. Bush and Cheney do have ties to big oil. But theories like these are ridiculously reductionist. Their authors don't try to argue conclusions from evidencethey decide on conclusions first, then hunt for justification. Also, many thinkers are comfortable with the conditioned response that dates back to Ida Tarbell vs. Standard Oil: When in Doubt, Blame Oil First.
What's absurd about the pipeline theory is how thoroughly it discounts the obvious reason the United States set the bombers loose on Afghanistan: Terrorists headquartered in Afghanistan attacked America's financial and military centers, killing 4,000 people, and then took credit for it. Nopemust be the pipeline.
It seems that with the anti-capitalists, it is ALWAYS about the oil. The notion that Bush and Cheney woke up one morning and said, "Since we're so intimately tied to the oil industry, we're going to go out and bomb Afghanistan" is ludicrous. I'm waiting for some conspiracy nuts to claim that our government planned and executed the 9/11 attacks just so Bush and Cheney could go to war with Afghanistan to help out their oil buddies; or have they already claimed that?
Because there was strong Unocal influence (via their ties with Occidental Petroleum) on the previous administration.
It's been six months since the US Government told India there would be an invasion of Afghanistan in October,
three years since Congress discussed removing the government of Afghanistan to make way for an oil pipeline,
five months since BBC heard about the planned invasion of Afghanistan,
ten months since Jane's Defense got word of the planned invasion of Afghanistan,
and of course, only two months since the attacks on the World Trade Towers that got the American people angered into support of the war that everybody on the planet BUT Americans had been told was on the way.
Everybody has a tie to something. Clinton - Hookers, Cigar Makers, Attorneys and Interns. Hillary - Black Panthers and Black Pantsuits. Gore - Tobacco, Slumlord, Mineral Mining.
...Nevermind the fact that the Caspian Sea pipeline goes nowhere NEAR Afghanistan... or have certain conspiracists STILL not bothered to check that on the map...?
Loosen your tinfoil beanie. It'll give your brain more circulation.
Here's another candidate for the "American Press on Parade" segment on the Show. I'm driving to Washington on Wednesday, so I'll flag a maximum number of items for your attention before I leave.
It is tedious but productive work to trace a story back to its origins. The value of it is the exposure of which "reporters" and which "news" organizations will search far and wide for a lie with which to attack the truth. The chain of use of this "oil pipeline" story includes Pravda as a sidelight, and the Village Voice as a prime mover. The central but unstated premise is the standard line of the socialists and communists -- America must have greedy, capitalistic reasons for all major actions, including this war.
We have fought one phony war in our history. Once the wreckage of the USS Maine was brought up a year or so ago, scientific evaluation of the explosion that sank her was equally or more consistent with a coal dust explosion inside the ship as with a bomb planted on her hull. Yet at the time the Heast newspaper chain claimed the Maine was bombed by the Spaniards, and single-handedly drove us into the Spanish-American War.
If you views the military history of the United States honestly, you DO find a number of deadly warts. The history of this pipeline story, however, demonstrates that the left-wing media insist on finding warts in EVERY military action by the United States.
Every American who honestly considers his / her reaction to their viewing of the World Trade Centers attack knows why this nation has gone to war. The bottom feeders in this chain of repetition of the "pipeline reason" simply cannot tolerate the truth, so they invent and propgate a lie. It's as simple as that.
"(Lefties Proved Liars)"
TS, I'd have to say, "Not yet they ain't." Exactly what is the objective, of the "world alliance", for the near future government in Afghanastan to be? Maybe "stable"? Peace and love, George.
I'd also venture to say that this particular branch of the pipeline would not be built for a LONG time, if ever.
Sorry, bud, but neither Big Oil, nor the Build-a-burgers, nor Sven Svenson from St. Olaf run the world.
I gotta get me a web site too!
You can even copy them into this thd (that will prove you at least went to the site.)
You posted a map, and I checked it to see if it was from a reputable source.
End of story.
Does the "Yawn" mean you are still asleep or is it just sarcasum(sp?)?
World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Gulf War
You're right, Im sure it's not only about the oil.
Its called Geopolitics, and power projection of influence.
Everything else is a cover story to motivate the foot soldiers and rally round the flag.
Then you must also remember that a few freepers in those days were saying that we were only in there to secure the area for a pipeline because the only other way to get the oil through would be to build the pipeline through Afghanistan.
I think there is a good chance that the above statement is true. Commercial interests, and the pressure that they may have exerted on some politicians, may, in fact, have led the U.S. to misread the situation in Afghanistan.
This however, does not lead to the conclusion that we are currently bombing Afghanistan to build a pipeline. Nothing in the article above disproves that the U.S. may have been seeking to prop up the Taliban, either.
"five months since BBC heard about the planned invasion of Afghanistan,"
Nope. A Pakistani official claimed (in September, after the WTC bombing) that he was told in July (5 months ago) that the US planned to invade Afghanistan -- so the BBC didn't hear about it 5 months ago, but only after 9-11.
And, funny, but it was supposedly about handing over bin Laden even then. Guess we knew he was a bad guy, even before 9-11 (might have had something to do with his blowing up two of our embassies and one of our Navy ships -- I don't think the Bush team was as willing to let bin Laden continue his terrorist ways as the Clinton team was.)
Why are you sending folks on errands again? Aren't you embarassed enough?
"ten months since Jane's Defense got word of the planned invasion of Afghanistan, "
This link says nothing about a planned invasion of Afghanistan, just that India, Russia, the US and Iran were covertly supporting the Northern Alliance as part of anti-terror (not oil pipeline) initiatives.
There's a million valid reasons to be against our "incursion" there, but some lefties (and folks at this site, like the Cooperites) are quite lazy when it comes to reasoning, so a bogeyman must be created to front for their emotions.
Goes on the lists!
To find all articles tagged or indexed using taliban_list
Click here: taliban_list
To find all articles tagged or indexed using above index words
Go here: OFFICIAL BUMP(TOPIC)LIST
and then click the topic to initiate the search! !
Fact: Afghanistan('s ruling regime) was harboring terrorists which, as it turned out, attacked our country, prompting us to attack back.
Fact: Afghanistan('s territory) is considered a good place to put a pipeline but the situation thus far has been deemed too unstable.
Some people draw the conclusion from these two things that somehow the war Isn't Really About The Attack, It's About The Oil. (Or even further, some will imply that the attack was allowed....) From this view, the oil pipeline need for "stability" (somehow) caused the attack and ensuing war.
But doesn't it make more sense to say that they are both caused by the same underlying factor? Both the "harboring terrorists" and "bad for a pipeline" situations are caused by the fact that Afghanistan has been ruled by a brutal theocracy. So it's not surprising that there is a correlation between the war and oil interests, but that doesn't imply that oil "caused" the war.
"Even if ways were found to get oil and gas out of Central Asia -- a task that will be expensive and difficult -- the unhappy truth is that there just isn't enough fuel there to make a significant difference."
Being in the Oil Business thought you might have some observations, if not just ignore!
BTW, almost don't you mean "toolate"?
Criminal Number 18F
Also, many thinkers are comfortable with the conditioned response that dates back to Ida Tarbell vs. Standard Oil: When in Doubt, Blame Oil First.
Even normally sane Freepers often have this response. Every time gasoline prices rise in this country, many here blame it on a conspiracy of Big Oil. Yet, they are silent when gasoline prices fall 40 cents a gallon like they have in the last 3 months. You might think that if Big Oil were so powerful, they wouldn't allow that to happen.
Big Oil is the favorite target of the left and they use it as a whipping boy whenever they can. Most of us grew up learning nothing but hostility toward oil companies, because that is the mindset of the media. We didn't have Free Republic around when we were kids to provide a truth check to what we were being told.
Anyway, these conspiracy theories are a crock and more people are becoming educated enough to understand that. There will still be some who continue to blame oil for everything and I'll continue to comment whenever I think it will be helpful.
Thanks for the flag!
Yeah, they probably won't end up piping oil through Afghanistan. That will end up going through one of the other 'Stans to the north. Natural gas for India's electrical generation might well go though Afghanistan and Pakistan though. That would be a good thing from everyone's perspective: fostering economic ties and interdependencies between India and Pakistan.
Development of Central Asian oil resources, and economically viable infrastructure to get the oil and gas to market, would also be good from everyone's perspective (except maybe the autocratic, fundamentalist fostering, wealth hoarding Arab oil states, but screw them).
In fact I think the lefties pushing the "it's all about oil" B.S. need to be challenged on this score at every opportunity. Oil IS important. It's important to maintaining a world economy which provides food, water and shelter and (ideally) resources for education and betterment to the earth's six billion souls.
On any resonable moral theory all humans are corporately responsible for the wellfare of all our fellow humans, and those with the largest and most influencial economies (i.e., The U.S. and Europe) are most responsible for maintaining the effectiveness and prosperity of the world economy. An American President should (in part as a MORAL imperative) be thinking about the future stability of the world's oil supply. A significant interruption would lead to a recession or depression that would KILL tens or hundreds of millions worldwide, and disproportionately affect the poor and oppressed the lefties pretend to be so concerned about. (Even mild recessions, that may only cause those in the prosperous West to take on a second mortgage, or cancel vacation plans, lead to significantly increased DEATH rates in more economically marginal regions.)
It just drives me nuts when these lefties posture about defending the poor, and then turn around and work stalwartly AGAINST their interests on so many fronts. For example the lefties and anti-globablists (read "anti-capitalists") fighting free trade are the ones insisting that trade be tied to universal "environmental" and "labor" standards which the developing world cannot meet. The third world countries clearly (and correctly) see such measures as devices of PROTECTIONISM by the developed world, but that doesn't stop the lefties (almost all priveledged elistists) from pretending to be "on their side". The nihilistic and/or utopian ideals of the left would bring death, degradation and oppression on a truly massive scale if put into practice, and those already most impoverished and degraded would suffer first and worst. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds.
I thank God we have an adminstration that IS concerned about the welfare of our country, our civilization AND the wider world, and which understands the material factors on which these things depend. Adults know there are things in life which must be provided for. Children think it all happens as if by magic.