Michael Meacher, a former British
environment minister, vindicates FTW's position
on 9/11, the war on terrorism, and peak oil.
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This war on terrorism
The 9/11 attacks gave the US an ideal pretext to use force
to secure its global domination
Saturday September 6, 2003
Massive attention has now been given - and rightly so
- to the reasons why Britain went to war against Iraq.
But far too little attention has focused on why the US
went to war, and that throws light on British motives too.
The conventional explanation is that after the Twin Towers
were hit, retaliation against al-Qaida bases in Afghanistan
was a natural first step in launching a global war against
terrorism. Then, because Saddam Hussein was alleged by
the US and UK governments to retain weapons of mass destruction,
the war could be extended to Iraq as well. However this
theory does not fit all the facts. The truth may be a great
We now know that a blueprint for the creation of a global
Pax Americana was drawn up for Dick Cheney (now vice-president),
Donald Rumsfeld (defence secretary), Paul Wolfowitz (Rumsfeld's
deputy), Jeb Bush (George Bush's younger brother) and Lewis
Libby (Cheney's chief of staff). The document, entitled
Rebuilding America's Defences, was written in September
2000 by the neoconservative think tank, Project for the
New American Century (PNAC).
The plan shows Bush's cabinet intended
to take military control of the Gulf region whether or
not Saddam Hussein
was in power. It says "while the unresolved conflict
with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need
for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends
the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein."
The PNAC blueprint supports an earlier
document attributed to Wolfowitz and Libby which said
the US must "discourage
advanced industrial nations from challenging our leadership
or even aspiring to a larger regional or global role".
It refers to key allies such as the UK as "the most
effective and efficient means of exercising American global
leadership". It describes peacekeeping missions as "demanding
American political leadership rather than that of the UN".
It says "even should Saddam pass from the scene",
US bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait will remain permanently...
as "Iran may well prove as large a threat to US interests
as Iraq has". It spotlights China for "regime
change", saying "it is time to increase the presence
of American forces in SE Asia".
The document also calls for the
creation of "US space
forces" to dominate space, and the total control of
cyberspace to prevent "enemies" using the internet
against the US. It also hints that the US may consider
developing biological weapons "that can target specific
genotypes [and] may transform biological warfare from the
realm of terror to a politically useful tool".
Finally - written a year before
9/11 - it pinpoints North Korea, Syria and Iran as dangerous
regimes, and says their
existence justifies the creation of a "worldwide command
and control system". This is a blueprint for US world
domination. But before it is dismissed as an agenda for
rightwing fantasists, it is clear it provides a much better
explanation of what actually happened before, during and
after 9/11 than the global war on terrorism thesis. This
can be seen in several ways.
First, it is clear the US authorities did little or nothing
to pre-empt the events of 9/11. It is known that at least
11 countries provided advance warning to the US of the
9/11 attacks. Two senior Mossad experts were sent to Washington
in August 2001 to alert the CIA and FBI to a cell of 200
terrorists said to be preparing a big operation (Daily
Telegraph, September 16 2001). The list they provided included
the names of four of the 9/11 hijackers, none of whom was
It had been known as early as 1996
that there were plans to hit Washington targets with
aeroplanes. Then in 1999
a US national intelligence council report noted that "al-Qaida
suicide bombers could crash-land an aircraft packed with
high explosives into the Pentagon, the headquarters of
the CIA, or the White House".
Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers obtained their visas in
Saudi Arabia. Michael Springman, the former head of the
American visa bureau in Jeddah, has stated that since 1987
the CIA had been illicitly issuing visas to unqualified
applicants from the Middle East and bringing them to the
US for training in terrorism for the Afghan war in collaboration
with Bin Laden (BBC, November 6 2001). It seems this operation
continued after the Afghan war for other purposes. It is
also reported that five of the hijackers received training
at secure US military installations in the 1990s (Newsweek,
September 15 2001).
Instructive leads prior to 9/11 were not followed up.
French Moroccan flight student Zacarias Moussaoui (now
thought to be the 20th hijacker) was arrested in August
2001 after an instructor reported he showed a suspicious
interest in learning how to steer large airliners. When
US agents learned from French intelligence he had radical
Islamist ties, they sought a warrant to search his computer,
which contained clues to the September 11 mission (Times,
November 3 2001). But they were turned down by the FBI.
One agent wrote, a month before 9/11, that Moussaoui might
be planning to crash into the Twin Towers (Newsweek, May
All of this makes it all the more astonishing - on the
war on terrorism perspective - that there was such slow
reaction on September 11 itself. The first hijacking was
suspected at not later than 8.20am, and the last hijacked
aircraft crashed in Pennsylvania at 10.06am. Not a single
fighter plane was scrambled to investigate from the US
Andrews airforce base, just 10 miles from Washington DC,
until after the third plane had hit the Pentagon at 9.38
am. Why not? There were standard FAA intercept procedures
for hijacked aircraft before 9/11. Between September 2000
and June 2001 the US military launched fighter aircraft
on 67 occasions to chase suspicious aircraft (AP, August
13 2002). It is a US legal requirement that once an aircraft
has moved significantly off its flight plan, fighter planes
are sent up to investigate.
Was this inaction simply the result
of key people disregarding, or being ignorant of, the
evidence? Or could US air security
operations have been deliberately stood down on September
11? If so, why, and on whose authority? The former US federal
crimes prosecutor, John Loftus, has said: "The information
provided by European intelligence services prior to 9/11
was so extensive that it is no longer possible for either
the CIA or FBI to assert a defence of incompetence."
Nor is the US response after 9/11
any better. No serious attempt has ever been made to
catch Bin Laden. In late
September and early October 2001, leaders of Pakistan's
two Islamist parties negotiated Bin Laden's extradition
to Pakistan to stand trial for 9/11. However, a US official
said, significantly, that "casting our objectives
too narrowly" risked "a premature collapse of
the international effort if by some lucky chance Mr Bin
Laden was captured". The US chairman of the joint
chiefs of staff, General Myers, went so far as to say that "the
goal has never been to get Bin Laden" (AP, April 5
2002). The whistleblowing FBI agent Robert Wright told
ABC News (December 19 2002) that FBI headquarters wanted
no arrests. And in November 2001 the US airforce complained
it had had al-Qaida and Taliban leaders in its sights as
many as 10 times over the previous six weeks, but had been
unable to attack because they did not receive permission
quickly enough (Time Magazine, May 13 2002). None of this
assembled evidence, all of which comes from sources already
in the public domain, is compatible with the idea of a
real, determined war on terrorism.
The catalogue of evidence does,
however, fall into place when set against the PNAC blueprint.
From this it seems
that the so-called "war on terrorism" is being
used largely as bogus cover for achieving wider US strategic
geopolitical objectives. Indeed Tony Blair himself hinted
at this when he said to the Commons liaison committee: "To
be truthful about it, there was no way we could have got
the public consent to have suddenly launched a campaign
on Afghanistan but for what happened on September 11" (Times,
July 17 2002). Similarly Rumsfeld was so determined to
obtain a rationale for an attack on Iraq that on 10 separate
occasions he asked the CIA to find evidence linking Iraq
to 9/11; the CIA repeatedly came back empty-handed (Time
Magazine, May 13 2002).
In fact, 9/11 offered an extremely
convenient pretext to put the PNAC plan into action.
The evidence again is
quite clear that plans for military action against Afghanistan
and Iraq were in hand well before 9/11. A report prepared
for the US government from the Baker Institute of Public
Policy stated in April 2001 that "the US remains a
prisoner of its energy dilemma. Iraq remains a destabilising
influence to... the flow of oil to international markets
from the Middle East". Submitted to Vice-President
Cheney's energy task group, the report recommended that
because this was an unacceptable risk to the US, "military
intervention" was necessary (Sunday Herald, October
Similar evidence exists in regard
to Afghanistan. The BBC reported (September 18 2001)
that Niaz Niak, a former
Pakistan foreign secretary, was told by senior American
officials at a meeting in Berlin in mid-July 2001 that "military
action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle
of October". Until July 2001 the US government saw
the Taliban regime as a source of stability in Central
Asia that would enable the construction of hydrocarbon
pipelines from the oil and gas fields in Turkmenistan,
Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, through Afghanistan and Pakistan,
to the Indian Ocean. But, confronted with the Taliban's
refusal to accept US conditions, the US representatives
told them "either you accept our offer of a carpet
of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs" (Inter
Press Service, November 15 2001).
Given this background, it is not
surprising that some have seen the US failure to avert
the 9/11 attacks as creating
an invaluable pretext for attacking Afghanistan in a war
that had clearly already been well planned in advance.
There is a possible precedent for this. The US national
archives reveal that President Roosevelt used exactly this
approach in relation to Pearl Harbor on December 7 1941.
Some advance warning of the attacks was received, but the
information never reached the US fleet. The ensuing national
outrage persuaded a reluctant US public to join the second
world war. Similarly the PNAC blueprint of September 2000
states that the process of transforming the US into "tomorrow's
dominant force" is likely to be a long one in the
absence of "some catastrophic and catalyzing event
- like a new Pearl Harbor". The 9/11 attacks allowed
the US to press the "go" button for a strategy
in accordance with the PNAC agenda which it would otherwise
have been politically impossible to implement.
The overriding motivation for this political smokescreen
is that the US and the UK are beginning to run out of secure
hydrocarbon energy supplies. By 2010 the Muslim world will
control as much as 60% of the world's oil production and,
even more importantly, 95% of remaining global oil export
capacity. As demand is increasing, so supply is decreasing,
continually since the 1960s.
This is leading to increasing dependence
on foreign oil supplies for both the US and the UK. The
US, which in 1990
produced domestically 57% of its total energy demand, is
predicted to produce only 39% of its needs by 2010. A DTI
minister has admitted that the UK could be facing "severe" gas
shortages by 2005. The UK government has confirmed that
70% of our electricity will come from gas by 2020, and
90% of that will be imported. In that context it should
be noted that Iraq has 110 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves
in addition to its oil.
A report from the commission on America's national interests
in July 2000 noted that the most promising new source of
world supplies was the Caspian region, and this would relieve
US dependence on Saudi Arabia. To diversify supply routes
from the Caspian, one pipeline would run westward via Azerbaijan
and Georgia to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Another would
extend eastwards through Afghanistan and Pakistan and terminate
near the Indian border. This would rescue Enron's beleaguered
power plant at Dabhol on India's west coast, in which Enron
had sunk $3bn investment and whose economic survival was
dependent on access to cheap gas.
Nor has the UK been disinterested
in this scramble for the remaining world supplies of
hydrocarbons, and this
may partly explain British participation in US military
actions. Lord Browne, chief executive of BP, warned Washington
not to carve up Iraq for its own oil companies in the aftermath
of war (Guardian, October 30 2002). And when a British
foreign minister met Gadaffi in his desert tent in August
2002, it was said that "the UK does not want to lose
out to other European nations already jostling for advantage
when it comes to potentially lucrative oil contracts" with
Libya (BBC Online, August 10 2002).
The conclusion of all this analysis
must surely be that the "global war on terrorism" has
the hallmarks of a political myth propagated to pave
the way for a wholly
different agenda - the US goal of world hegemony, built
around securing by force command over the oil supplies
required to drive the whole project. Is collusion in this
myth and junior participation in this project really a
proper aspiration for British foreign policy? If there
was ever need to justify a more objective British stance,
driven by our own independent goals, this whole depressing
saga surely provides all the evidence needed for a radical
change of course.
Michael Meacher MP was
environment minister from May 1997 to June 2003
Meacher sparks fury over claims on September
11 and Iraq war
Fury over Meacher claims
Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor
Saturday September 6, 2003
Michael Meacher, who served as a minister for six years
until three months ago, today goes further than any other
mainstream British politician in blaming the Iraq war on
a US desire for domination of the Gulf and the world.
Mr Meacher, a leftwinger who is close to the green lobby,
also claims in an article in today's Guardian that the
war on terrorism is a smokescreen and that the US knew
in advance about the September 11 attack on New York but,
for strategic reasons, chose not to act on the warnings.
He says the US goal is "world hegemony, built around
securing by force command over the oil supplies" and
that this Pax Americana "provides a much better explanation
of what actually happened before, during and after 9/11
than the global war on terrorism thesis".
Mr Meacher adds that the US has
made "no serious
attempt" to catch the al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden.
He also criticises the British government, claiming it
is motivated, as is the US, by a desire for oil.
The US government last night expressed
abhorrence at Mr Meacher's views. An embassy spokesman
in London said: "Mr
Meacher's fantastic allegations - especially his assertion
that the US government knowingly stood by while terrorists
killed some 3,000 innocents in New York, Pennsylvania and
Virginia - would be monstrous, and monstrously offensive,
if they came from someone serious or credible.
"My nation remains grateful
for the steadfast friendship of the British people and
Her Majesty's government as we
face, together, the serious challenges that have arisen
since September 11 2001."
Downing Street also distanced itself
from the views of an MP who only a few months ago was
in the government. "The
prime minister has responded to those who argue it was
about oil," a spokeswoman said, adding that oil profits
from Iraq are to be fed back into the country's development.
Former ministers such as Robin Cook and Clare Short have
criticised the British government for misleading the public
over the reasons for going to war. But Mr Meacher has gone
much further in his analysis of US and British motives.
He says that the plans of the neo-conservatives in Washington
for action against Afghanistan and Iraq were well in hand
before September 11. He questions why the US failed to
heed intelligence about al-Qaida operatives in the US and
the apparent slow reaction of the US authorities on the
day, as well as the subsequent inability to lay hands on
He argues that the explanation makes sense when seen against
the background of the neo-conservative plan.
"From this it seems that the
so-called 'war on terrorism' is being used largely as
bogus cover for achieving wider
US strategic geopolitical objectives."
He adds: "Given this, it is
not surprising that some have seen the US failure to
avert the 9/11 attacks as creating
an invaluable pretext for attacking Afghanistan in a war
that had clearly already been well planned in advance."
Mr Meacher, who was environment
minister, says: "The
overriding motivation for this political smokescreen is
that the US and the UK are beginning to run out of secure
hydrocarbon energy supplies."
He is critical of Britain for allegedly
colluding in propagating the myth of a global war of
terrorism. He asks: "Is
collusion in this myth and junior participation in this
project really a proper aspiration for British foreign
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003
Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies
By Richard Heinberg