“A petrodollar is a dollar earned by selling petroleum. Petrodollars flow into members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at a steady rate, and flow out at an almost equally steady rate as these countries invest petrodollars overseas. In fact, often money makes a round trip, flowing from a country like the United States to an OPEC member which in turn reinvests the funds in the United States. Prices for oil sales are generally given in United States Dollars (USD). In 1973, economist Ibrahim Oweiss wanted to come up with a term to describe the large volumes of currency changing hands as a result of oil sales. He coined the portmanteau “petrodollar,” referring to “petroleum” and the United States Dollar. People also use the term “oil money” or “petrocurrency” to describe petrodollars, although “petrocurrency” is also sometimes confusingly used to refer to the currency used by an oil producing country.

At various points in history, OPEC members have literally made more petrodollars than they knew what to do with. Rising oil prices resulted in such a flood of currency that these countries were unable to invest it on internal development projects. As a result, many nations started engaging in a practice known as petrodollar recycling, in which they promptly reinvest the currency in banks in regions like Europe and North America. Changes in oil prices can lead to ebbs and flows in the movement of the petrodollar and in the investment funds available to OPEC members. Some of these nations rely heavily on income from oil sales and are placed at a disadvantage when prices are depressed. In regions such as Dubai, the profound impact of petroleum sales on regional economies can be seen firsthand in the form of extravagant and rapid development reflecting the increasing wealth of some members of the population.

While the bulk of oil sales are conducted in USD and prices are quoted in USD, some countries have opted to sell in other currencies. The dominance of the USD in global commerce is credited in part to the petrodollar, and some theorists have suggested that changing economic trends may result in petrodollar warfare, in which there will be a push to denominate oil sales in other currencies. If, for example, the world switched to the petroeuro, based on the currency of the European Union, the United States Dollar might weaken as a result.”

Investment Management industry, 2003 — Present (7 years )
“I created and ran a privately-held blackbox hedge fund based off of a proprietary, in-house FIX protocol implementation. We cribbed custom algorithms from bioinformatics, were the first to apply autocorrelation attacks to the market, and first to apply wavelets to price stochastics. As part of the management of this fund, we created our own international shipping arm to ease exploitation of petrodollar/petroeuro arbitrage. The chief chunks of our fund are global macro, managed futures and short bias, but you name it– options, swaps, rate agreements, bonds– we trade it in the course of a given week.”

Petrodollar warfare: Dollars, Euros and the upcoming Iranian oil bourse
by William R. Clark / August 05 2005

“This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous…Having said that, all options are on the table.” — President George W. Bush, February 2005

Contemporary warfare has traditionally involved underlying conflicts regarding economics and resources. Today these intertwined conflicts also involve international currencies, and thus increased complexity. Current geopolitical tensions between the United States and Iran extend beyond the publicly stated concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear intentions, and likely include a proposed Iranian “petroeuro” system for oil trade. Similar to the Iraq war, military operations against Iran relate to the macroeconomics of ‘petrodollar recycling’ and the unpublicized but real challenge to U.S. dollar supremacy from the euro as an alternative oil transaction currency.

It is now obvious the invasion of Iraq had less to do with any threat from Saddam’s long-gone WMD program and certainly less to do to do with fighting International terrorism than it has to do with gaining strategic control over Iraq’s hydrocarbon reserves and in doing so maintain the U.S. dollar as the monopoly currency for the critical international oil market. Throughout 2004 information provided by former administration insiders revealed the Bush/Cheney administration entered into office with the intention of toppling Saddam.[1][2] Candidly stated, ‘Operation Iraqi Freedom’ was a war designed to install a pro-U.S. government in Iraq, establish multiple U.S military bases before the onset of global Peak Oil, and to reconvert Iraq back to petrodollars while hoping to thwart further OPEC momentum towards the euro as an alternative oil transaction currency ( i.e. “petroeuro”).[3] However, subsequent geopolitical events have exposed neoconservative strategy as fundamentally flawed, with Iran moving towards a petroeuro system for international oil trades, while Russia evaluates this option with the European Union.

In 2003 the global community witnessed a combination of petrodollar warfare and oil depletion warfare. The majority of the world’s governments – especially the E.U., Russia and China – were not amused – and neither are the U.S. soldiers who are currently stationed inside a hostile Iraq. In 2002 I wrote an award-winning online essay that asserted Saddam Hussein sealed his fate when he announced on September 2000 that Iraq was no longer going to accept dollars for oil being sold under the UN’s Oil-for-Food program, and decided to switch to the euro as Iraq’s oil export currency.[4] Indeed, my original pre-war hypothesis was validated in a Financial Times article dated June 5, 2003, which confirmed Iraqi oil sales returning to the international markets were once again denominated in U.S. dollars – not euros.

The tender, for which bids are due by June 10, switches the transaction back to dollars — the international currency of oil sales – despite the greenback’s recent fall in value. Saddam Hussein in 2000 insisted Iraq’s oil be sold for euros, a political move, but one that improved Iraq’s recent earnings thanks to the rise in the value of the euro against the dollar. [5]

The Bush administration implemented this currency transition despite the adverse impact on profits from Iraqi’s export oil sales.[6] (In mid-2003 the euro was valued approx. 13% higher than the dollar, and thus significantly impacted the ability of future oil proceeds to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure). Not surprisingly, this detail has never been mentioned in the five U.S. major media conglomerates who control 90% of information flow in the U.S., but confirmation of this vital fact provides insight into one of the crucial – yet overlooked – rationales for 2003 the Iraq war.

Concerning Iran, recent articles have revealed active Pentagon planning for operations against its suspected nuclear facilities. While the publicly stated reasons for any such overt action will be premised as a consequence of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, there are again unspoken macroeconomic drivers underlying the second stage of petrodollar warfare – Iran’s upcoming oil bourse. (The word bourse refers to a stock exchange for securities trading, and is derived from the French stock exchange in Paris, the Federation Internationale des Bourses de Valeurs.)

In essence, Iran is about to commit a far greater “offense” than Saddam Hussein’s conversion to the euro for Iraq’s oil exports in the fall of 2000. Beginning in March 2006, the Tehran government has plans to begin competing with New York’s NYMEX and London’s IPE with respect to international oil trades – using a euro-based international oil-trading mechanism.[7] The proposed Iranian oil bourse signifies that without some sort of US intervention, the euro is going to establish a firm foothold in the international oil trade. Given U.S. debt levels and the stated neoconservative project of U.S. global domination, Tehran’s objective constitutes an obvious encroachment on dollar supremacy in the crucial international oil market.

From the autumn of 2004 through August 2005, numerous leaks by concerned Pentagon employees have revealed that the neoconservatives in Washington are quietly – but actively – planning for a possible attack against Iran. In September 2004 Newsweek reported:

Deep in the Pentagon, admirals and generals are updating plans for possible U.S. military action in Syria and Iran. The Defense Department unit responsible for military planning for the two troublesome countries is “busier than ever,” an administration official says. Some Bush advisers characterize the work as merely an effort to revise routine plans the Pentagon maintains for all contingencies in light of the Iraq war. More skittish bureaucrats say the updates are accompanied by a revived campaign by administration conservatives and neocons for more hard-line U.S. policies toward the countries…’

…administration hawks are pinning their hopes on regime change in Tehran – by covert means, preferably, but by force of arms if necessary. Papers on the idea have circulated inside the administration, mostly labeled “draft” or “working draft” to evade congressional subpoena powers and the Freedom of Information Act. Informed sources say the memos echo the administration’s abortive Iraq strategy: oust the existing regime, swiftly install a pro-U.S. government in its place (extracting the new regime’s promise to renounce any nuclear ambitions) and get out. This daredevil scheme horrifies U.S. military leaders, and there’s no evidence that it has won any backers at the cabinet level. [8]

Indeed, there are good reasons for U.S. military commanders to be ‘horrified’ at the prospects of attacking Iran. In the December 2004 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows reported that numerous high-level war-gaming sessions had recently been completed by Sam Gardiner, a retired Air Force colonel who has run war games at the National War College for the past two decades.[9] Col. Gardiner summarized the outcome of these war games with this statement, “After all this effort, I am left with two simple sentences for policymakers: You have no military solution for the issues of Iran. And you have to make diplomacy work.” Despite Col. Gardiner’s warnings, yet another story appeared in early 2005 that reiterated this administration’s intentions towards Iran. Investigative reporter Seymour Hersh’s article in The New Yorker included interviews with various high-level U.S. intelligence sources. Hersh wrote:

In my interviews [with former high-level intelligence officials], I was repeatedly told that the next strategic target was Iran. Everyone is saying, ‘You can’t be serious about targeting Iran. Look at Iraq,’ the former [CIA] intelligence official told me. But the [Bush administration officials] say, ‘We’ve got some lessons learned – not militarily, but how we did it politically. We’re not going to rely on agency pissants.’ No loose ends, and that’s why the C.I.A. is out of there. [10]

The most recent, and by far the most troubling, was an article in The American Conservative by intelligence analyst Philip Giraldi. His article, “In Case of Emergency, Nuke Iran,” suggested the resurrection of active U.S. military planning against Iran – but with the shocking disclosure that in the event of another 9/11-type terrorist attack on U.S. soil, Vice President Dick Cheney’s office wants the Pentagon to be prepared to launch a potential tactical nuclear attack on Iran – even if the Iranian government was not involved with any such terrorist attack against the U.S.:

The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing – that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack – but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections. [11]

Why would the Vice President instruct the U.S. military to prepare plans for what could likely be an unprovoked nuclear attack against Iran? Setting aside the grave moral implications for a moment, it is remarkable to note that during the same week this “nuke Iran” article appeared, the Washington Post reported that the most recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) of Iran’s nuclear program revealed that, “Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years.”[12] This article carefully noted this assessment was a “consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies, [and in] contrast with forceful public statements by the White House.” The question remains, Why would the Vice President advocate a possible tactical nuclear attack against Iran in the event of another major terrorist attack against the U.S. – even if Tehran was innocent of involvement?

Perhaps one of the answers relates to the same obfuscated reasons why the U.S. launched an unprovoked invasion to topple the Iraq government – macroeconomics and the desperate desire to maintain U.S. economic supremacy. In essence, petrodollar hegemony is eroding, which will ultimately force the U.S. to significantly change its current tax, debt, trade, and energy policies, all of which are severely unbalanced. World oil production is reportedly “flat out,” and yet the neoconservatives are apparently willing to undertake huge strategic and tactical risks in the Persian Gulf. Why? Quite simply – their stated goal is U.S. global domination – at any cost.

To date, one of the more difficult technical obstacles concerning a euro-based oil transaction trading system is the lack of a euro-denominated oil pricing standard, or oil ‘marker’ as it is referred to in the industry. The three current oil markers are U.S. dollar denominated, which include the West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI), Norway Brent crude, and the UAE Dubai crude. However, since the summer of 2003 Iran has required payments in the euro currency for its European and Asian/ACU exports – although the oil pricing these trades was still denominated in the dollar.[13]

Therefore a potentially significant news story was reported in June 2004 announcing Iran’s intentions to create of an Iranian oil bourse. This announcement portended competition would arise between the Iranian oil bourse and London’s International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), as well as the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX). [Both the IPE and NYMEX are owned by U.S. consortium, and operated by an Atlanta-based corporation, IntercontinentalExchange, Inc.]

The macroeconomic implications of a successful Iranian bourse are noteworthy. Considering that in mid-2003 Iran switched its oil payments from E.U. and ACU customers to the euro, and thus it is logical to assume the proposed Iranian bourse will usher in a fourth crude oil marker – denominated in the euro currency. This event would remove the main technical obstacle for a broad-based petroeuro system for international oil trades. From a purely economic and monetary perspective, a petroeuro system is a logical development given that the European Union imports more oil from OPEC producers than does the U.S., and the E.U. accounted for 45% of exports sold to the Middle East. (Following the May 2004 enlargement, this percentage likely increased).

Despite the complete absence of coverage from the five U.S. corporate media conglomerates, these foreign news stories suggest one of the Federal Reserve’s nightmares may begin to unfold in the spring of 2006, when it appears that international buyers will have a choice of buying a barrel of oil for $60 dollars on the NYMEX and IPE – or purchase a barrel of oil for €45 – €50 euros via the Iranian Bourse. This assumes the euro maintains its current 20-25% appreciated value relative to the dollar – and assumes that some sort of US “intervention” is not launched against Iran. The upcoming bourse will introduce petrodollar versus petroeuro currency hedging, and fundamentally new dynamics to the biggest market in the world – global oil and gas trades. In essence, the U.S. will no longer be able to effortlessly expand credit via U.S. Treasury bills, and the dollar’s demand/liquidity value will fall.

It is unclear at the time of writing if this project will be successful, or could it prompt overt or covert U.S. interventions – thereby signaling the second phase of petrodollar warfare in the Middle East. Regardless of the potential U.S. response to an Iranian petroeuro system, the emergence of an oil exchange market in the Middle East is not entirely surprising given the domestic peaking and decline of oil exports in the U.S. and U.K, in comparison to the remaining oil reserves in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. What we are witnessing is a battle for oil currency supremacy. If Iran’s oil bourse becomes a successful alternative for international oil trades, it would challenge the hegemony currently enjoyed by the financial centers in both London (IPE) and New York (NYMEX), a factor not overlooked in the following (UK) Guardian article:

Iran is to launch an oil trading market for Middle East and Opec producers that could threaten the supremacy of London’s International Petroleum Exchange.

…Some industry experts have warned the Iranians and other OPEC producers that western exchanges are controlled by big financial and oil corporations, which have a vested interest in market volatility. [emphasis added]

The IPE, bought in 2001 by a consortium that includes BP, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, was unwilling to discuss the Iranian move yesterday. “We would not have any comment to make on it at this stage,” said an IPE spokeswoman. [14]

During an important speech in April 2002, Mr. Javad Yarjani, an OPEC executive, described three pivotal events that would facilitate an OPEC transition to euros.[15] He stated this would be based on (1) if and when Norway’s Brent crude is re-dominated in euros, (2) if and when the U.K. adopts the euro, and (3) whether or not the euro gains parity valuation relative to the dollar, and the EU’s proposed expansion plans were successful. Notably, both of the later two criteria have transpired: the euro’s valuation has been above the dollar since late 2002, and the euro-based E.U. enlarged in May 2004 from 12 to 22 countries. Despite recent “no” votes by French and Dutch voters regarding a common E.U. Constitution, from a macroeconomic perspective, these domestic disagreements do no reduce the euro currency’s trajectory in the global financial markets – and from Russia and OPEC’s perspective – do not adversely impact momentum towards a petroeuro. In the meantime, the U.K. remains uncomfortably juxtaposed between the financial interests of the U.S. banking nexus (New York/Washington) and the E.U. financial centers (Paris/Frankfurt).

The most recent news reports indicate the oil bourse will start trading on March 20, 2006, coinciding with the Iranian New Year.[16] The implementation of the proposed Iranian oil Bourse – if successful in utilizing the euro as its oil transaction currency standard – essentially negates the previous two criteria as described by Mr. Yarjani regarding the solidification of a petroeuro system for international oil trades. It should also be noted that throughout 2003-2004 both Russia and China significantly increased their central bank holdings of the euro, which appears to be a coordinated move to facilitate the anticipated ascendance of the euro as a second World Reserve Currency. [17] [18] China’s announcement in July 2005 that is was re-valuing the yuan/RNB was not nearly as important as its decision to divorce itself form a U.S. dollar peg by moving towards a “basket of currencies” – likely to include the yen, euro, and dollar.[19] Additionally, the Chinese re-valuation immediately lowered their monthly imported “oil bill” by 2%, given that oil trades are still priced in dollars, but it is unclear how much longer this monopoly arrangement will last.

Furthermore, the geopolitical stakes for the Bush administration were raised dramatically on October 28, 2004, when Iran and China signed a huge oil and gas trade agreement (valued between $70 – $100 billion dollars.) [20] It should also be noted that China currently receives 13% of its oil imports from Iran. In the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, the U.S.-administered Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) nullified previous oil lease contracts from 1997-2002 that France, Russia, China and other nations had established under the Saddam regime. The nullification of these contracts worth a reported $1.1 trillion created political tensions between the U.S and the European Union, Russia and China. The Chinese government may fear the same fate awaits their oil investments in Iran if the U.S. were able to attack and topple the Tehran government. Despite U.S. desires to enforce petrodollar hegemony, the geopolitical risks of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities would surely create a serious crisis between Washington and Beijing.

It is increasingly clear that a confrontation and possible war with Iran may transpire during the second Bush term. Clearly, there are numerous tactical risks regarding neoconservative strategy towards Iran. First, unlike Iraq, Iran has a robust military capability. Secondly, a repeat of any “Shock and Awe” tactics is not advisable given that Iran has installed sophisticated anti-ship missiles on the Island of Abu Musa, and therefore controls the critical Strait of Hormuz – where all of the Persian Gulf bound oil tankers must pass.[22] The immediate question for Americans? Will the neoconservatives attempt to intervene covertly and/or overtly in Iran during 2005 or 2006 in a desperate effort to prevent the initiation of euro-denominated international crude oil sales? Commentators in India are quite correct in their assessment that a U.S. intervention in Iran is likely to prove disastrous for the United States, making matters much worse regarding international terrorism, not to the mention potential effects on the U.S. economy.

…If it [ U.S.] intervenes again, it is absolutely certain it will not be able to improve the situation…There is a better way, as the constructive engagement of Libya’s Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has shown…Iran is obviously a more complex case than Libya, because power resides in the clergy, and Iran has not been entirely transparent about its nuclear programme, but the sensible way is to take it gently, and nudge it to moderation. Regime change will only worsen global Islamist terror, and in any case, Saudi Arabia is a fitter case for democratic intervention, if at all. [21]

A successful Iranian bourse will solidify the petroeuro as an alternative oil transaction currency, and thereby end the petrodollar’s hegemonic status as the monopoly oil currency. Therefore, a graduated approach is needed to avoid precipitous U.S. economic dislocations. Multilateral compromise with the EU and OPEC regarding oil currency is certainly preferable to an ‘Operation Iranian Freedom,’ or perhaps another CIA-backed coup such as operation “Ajax” from 1953. Despite the impressive power of the U.S. military, and the ability of our intelligence agencies to facilitate ‘interventions,’ it would be perilous and possibly ruinous for the U.S. to intervene in Iran given the dire situation in Iraq. The Monterey Institute of International Studies warned of the possible consequences of a preemptive attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities:

An attack on Iranian nuclear facilities…could have various adverse effects on U.S. interests in the Middle East and the world. Most important, in the absence of evidence of an Iranian illegal nuclear program, an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities by the U.S. or Israel would be likely to strengthen Iran’s international stature and reduce the threat of international sanctions against Iran. [23]

It is not yet clear if a U.S. military expedition will occur in a desperate attempt to maintain petrodollar supremacy. Regardless of the recent National Intelligence Estimate that down-played Iran’s potential nuclear weapons program, it appears increasingly likely the Bush administration may use the specter of nuclear weapon proliferation as a pretext for an intervention, similar to the fears invoked in the previous WMD campaign regarding Iraq. If recent stories are correct regarding Cheney’s plan to possibly use a another 9/11 terrorist attack as the pretext or casus belli for a U.S. aerial attack against Iran, this would confirm the Bush administration is prepared to undertake a desperate military strategy to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions, while simultaneously attempting to prevent the Iranian oil Bourse from initiating a euro-based system for oil trades.

However, as members of the U.N. Security Council; China, Russia and E.U. nations such as France and Germany would likely veto any U.S.-sponsored U.N. Security Resolution calling the use of force without solid proof of Iranian culpability in a major terrorist attack. A unilateral U.S. military strike on Iran would isolate the U.S. government in the eyes of the world community, and it is conceivable that such an overt action could provoke other industrialized nations to strategically abandon the dollar en masse. Indeed, such an event would create pressure for OPEC or Russia to move towards a petroeuro system in an effort to cripple the U.S. economy and its global military presence. I refer to this in my book as the “rogue nation hypothesis.”

While central bankers throughout the world community would be extremely reluctant to ‘dump the dollar,’ the reasons for any such drastic reaction are likely straightforward from their perspective – the global community is dependent on the oil and gas energy supplies found in the Persian Gulf. Hence, industrialized nations would likely move in tandem on the currency exchange markets in an effort to thwart the neoconservatives from pursuing their desperate strategy of dominating the world’s largest hydrocarbon energy supply. Any such efforts that resulted in a dollar currency crisis would be undertaken – not to cripple the U.S. dollar and economy as punishment towards the American people per se – but rather to thwart further unilateral warfare and its potentially destructive effects on the critical oil production and shipping infrastructure in the Persian Gulf. Barring a U.S. attack, it appears imminent that Iran’s euro-denominated oil bourse will open in March 2006. Logically, the most appropriate U.S. strategy is compromise with the E.U. and OPEC towards a dual-currency system for international oil trades.

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes…known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few…No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. — James Madison, Political Observations, 1795

[1]. Ron Suskind, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’ Neill, Simon & Schuster publishers (2004)
[2]. Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, Free Press (2004)
[3]. William Clark, “Revisited – The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War with Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth,” January 2003 (updated January 2004)
[4]. Peter Philips, Censored 2004, The Top 25 Censored News Stories, Seven Stories Press, (2003) General website for Project Censored: Story #19: U.S. Dollar vs. the Euro: Another Reason for the Invasion of Iraq
[5]. Carol Hoyos and Kevin Morrison, “Iraq returns to the international oil market,” Financial Times, June 5, 2003
[6]. Faisal Islam, “Iraq nets handsome profit by dumping dollar for euro,” [UK] Guardian, February 16, 2003,12239,896344,00.html
[7]. “Oil bourse closer to reality,”, December 28, 2004. Also see: “Iran oil bourse wins authorization,” Tehran Times, July 26, 2005
[8]. “War-Gaming the Mullahs: The U.S. weighs the price of a pre-emptive strike,” Newsweek, September 27 issue, 2004.
[9]. James Fallows, ‘Will Iran be Next?,’ Atlantic Monthly, December 2004, pgs. 97 – 110
[10]. Seymour Hersh, “The Coming Wars,” The New Yorker, January 24th – 31st issue, 2005, pgs. 40-47 Posted online January 17, 2005. Online:
[11]. Philip Giraldi, “In Case of Emergency, Nuke Iran,” American Conservative, August 1, 2005
[12]. Dafina Linzer, “Iran Is Judged 10 Years From Nuclear Bomb U.S. Intelligence Review Contrasts With Administration Statements,” Washington Post, August 2, 2005; Page A01
[13]. C. Shivkumar, “Iran offers oil to Asian union on easier terms,” The Hindu Business Line (June 16, ` 2003). 2003061702380500.htm
[14]. Terry Macalister, “Iran takes on west’s control of oil trading,” The [UK] Guardian, June 16, 2004,3604,1239644,00.html
[15]. “The Choice of Currency for the Denomination of the Oil Bill,” Speech given by Javad Yarjani, Head of OPEC’s Petroleum Market Analysis Dept, on The International Role of the Euro (Invited by the Spanish Minister of Economic Affairs during Spain’s Presidency of the EU) (April 14, 2002, Oviedo, Spain)
[16]. “Iran’s oil bourse expects to start by early 2006,” Reuters, October 5, 2004
[17]. “Russia shifts to euro as foreign currency reserves soar,” AFP, June 9, 2003
[18]. “China to diversify foreign exchange reserves,” China Business Weekly, May 8, 2004
[19]. Richard S. Appel, “The Repercussions from the Yuan’s Revaluation,”, July 27, 2005
[20]. China, Iran sign biggest oil & gas deal,’ China Daily, October 31, 2004. Online:
[21]. “Terror & regime change: Any US invasion of Iran will have terrible consequences,” News Insight: Public Affairs Magazine, June 11, 2004
[22]. Analysis of Abu Musa Island,
[23]. Sammy Salama and Karen Ruster, “A Preemptive Attack on Iran’s Nuclear Facilities: Possible Consequences,” Monterry Institute of International Studies, August 12, 2004 (updated September 9, 2004)

Interview with Author Frank Touby / September 9, 2010

Worldpress: In your book “Burning Sands” you write about your experience fighting the oilfield fires in Kuwait that Saddam Hussein lit 19 years ago. You got a position as a trainee oilfield firefighter with Safety Boss Ltd., of Calgary, Alberta, to essentially better entrench yourself as a journalist. Some of the scenes you describe are quite intense. Can you tell us a bit about that experience?
Frank Touby: It was the most fascinating and virtuous adventure of my life. We worked 14-hour days with no days off, and yet we were eager to get out there again at the start of each day. When we quenched a fire on a wild well that had been burning for five or more months we pinched off a toxic smoke trail that had stretched for thousands of miles around the earth. As the tail end of that noxious smoke stream trailed into the sky there was such a sense of exhilaration that came with participating in a truly worthy effort. I especially gained an appreciation for the skills and intelligence of farm boys, who provide most of the labor in the oil patch. They can operate almost any piece of heavy equipment for the first time just by looking at it. They are smart, dependable and energetic. I’m a guy whose career resulted from formal education and had an inclination to disregard such people whose work gets them dirty and who speak in less-than-correct English. Never again. On the other hand, these guys were so strong, so competent in their rightwing universes, that many of them couldn’t imagine others being truly needy of aid that government properly must provide. Not entirely their fault.

WP: Can you elaborate on that last point? What do you mean by “so competent in their rightwing universes…”?
FT: Sure. They were brought up in that rugged frontier milieu of independence, strength, self-made personhood and self-reliance. You look after yourself, your buds and your family in that model and everyone else does the same. So there is no need for crooked politicians or carpet-bagging bureaucrats to come in and tell you what to do with your land, your property and yourself. The men I worked with at Safety Boss, the blowout company, were Canadians mainly from Alberta and Saskatchewan. But it was very much the same with many of them. Mike Miller, the owner of Safety Boss, was not like that at all. He is a more urbane, philosophical man and a great, considerate leader. His company set a world record that likely will never be duplicated: 126 wild wells “killed” in five months. It probably won’t ever happen again because nobody will again set so many wells ablaze. There’s no point to it since it’s now proven that the wild wells can be quenched in a relatively short period of time. But nobody knew that at the time Saddam had his troops and sappers spend over a year preparing 700-plus wells to be torched.

WP: What did it teach you about the effects of war over resources?
FT: I must admit to having a jaded view that didn’t come from my experiences in Kuwait, but from events that transpired ever since. In short, I think war is almost a requirement to keep certain resources scarce and their prices high. Monopoly also serves that purpose—as it does with diamonds and with oil refineries that produce gasoline. War also accommodates the needs of the cabal Dwight Eisenhower warned us against as he left the presidency in 1961: “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” So far we have failed.

WP: How do you think the BP oil spill compares to the oil fires in Kuwait?
FT: Aside from being wild wells, they couldn’t be more dissimilar. While the desert in Kuwait was aflame with over 700 oil fires, BP managed to contaminate an area larger than that from a single well. Kuwait was heartless and malicious; BP, to the best of our knowledge, was heartless and incompetent. I fear the harm from BP will both overshadow the severity and outlast the harm from six months of wild wells in Kuwait.

WP: What do you think government’s role should be in getting developed countries off oil?
FT: There’s no excuse for our dependency on oil from any source. It’s solely caused by the control transnational corporations hold over governments. Alcohol (ethanol) is a better fuel than petroleum: higher octane, clean burning, endlessly renewable. It’s what the Model T Ford originally used before J. D. Rockefeller gave huge funds to the Women’s Christian Temperance League to get it outlawed, allegedly so his oil wells would be worth a fortune. (It’s detailed in David Blume’s book “Alcohol Can Be a Gas: Fueling an Ethanol Revolution for the 21st Century.”) Ethanol poses a threat to corporate monopolists because it can be produced by little guys, in contrast to the millions of dollars worth of refinery that it takes to produce gasoline. Ethanol doesn’t have to be made from corn grain, which is an atrocity since that’s a food crop. Almost any vegetable matter will work, including corn stalks that normally go to waste. Bulrushes, or cattails, are especially productive. Government’s role should be to encourage such oil replacements, but that won’t happen so long as corporatists control politicians and corporations are considered equal to real human beings in our laws.

WP: Do you have any ideas as to how people can break that corporate stronghold? Because you’re right; in the United States, for example, we’ve seen Congress’ attempt at an energy bill fail miserably. Certainly corporate influence had something to do with that.
FT: Yes. The situation in Canada is nearly the same as in the U.S. Corporations buy politicians and universities. The latter are the principal mechanisms of corruption since universities produce the civil service and also issue the various scientific dictates that are used to justify regulations favored by their corporate patrons. The effects of purchased politicians need no explanation. In Canada both the Liberal and Conservative parties are on the same corporatist pages, just as Republicans and Democrats are identically compromised in the States. Government ministries or departments, such as the regulators of pharmaceuticals and broadcasters, function as advocates for the corporations they’re nominally regulating. The solution is simple to state and perhaps impossible to remedy, short of a revolution either by law or by arms. It requires an end to corporate personhood: the ridiculous notion that a business corporation has human rights identical to those of real human beings. That was recently confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court (Citizens United vs. FEC), which ruled that corporations mustn’t be denied the human right of freedom of speech by limiting the money they can spend on election campaigns. The result will naturally be that corporations can own any elections they choose. Enabled by government “regulators,” junk-food giants wreck the health of billions of people with unhealthful restaurant fare; farm and chemical oligopolies harm our food supplies; drug giants waste our health resources by ignoring or concealing unprofitable health alternatives while inventing new “diseases” and investing their research dollars on marketing schemes to sell prescription cures for such contrivances as “acid reflux disease” (aka, “heartburn,” effectively countered with baking soda); oil companies write their own environmental rules. Practically everything government regulates is now compromised by multinational corporations for their profit purposes. An intermediate step to remediate the harm might be to change tax codes in the U.S. and Canada, since both nations have well-established different tax categories for corporations than for individuals. Prohibit businesses from deducting any expenses and require them to report all worldwide revenues. It would have marked impact on each economy to start with, since many businesses and charities exist because of corporations’ abilities to write off related expenses. It would eliminate “charitable” deeds that are done in corporate names, but really those are promotional expenses. Corporations and all businesses can’t be expected to operate in any way except in their own interests. Regulation by government is needed to avoid oligopolies and other cancerous growths that strangle free enterprise or harm consumers and workers.
Universities should be prohibited from accepting funds from individuals or corporations to ensure their independence from corruption. They should be entirely funded by government, which has a responsibility to provide education just as it has to provide the military, healthcare, currency, police, fire departments, roads, regulation of enterprise and so forth. In other words, using the phrase of Seattle-based radio commentator Thom Hartmann, it’s incumbent on government to ensure and maintain “The Commons” that comprise civilization.

Petrodollars, Petroeuros and the Iranian Oil Bourse
by Luigi Frascati / 2007

“This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous […]. Having said that, all the options are on the table” (President George W. Bush, February 2005)

Who would have ever imagined it?
Forget about the Prophet Mohammed, Islam, the Koran, President Ahmadinejad and his nuclear program, Islamofascism and all the umpah-pah. The Mullahs do not like American Dollars anymore. As reported by Reuters UK ([]) Iran announced that it has ordered its Central Bank to start using Euros for foreign transactions, and to transform the nation’s Dollar-denominated assets held abroad into the single European currency. “The government has ordered the Central Bank to replace the Dollar with the Euro to limit the problems of the executive organs in commercial transactions,” government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham told reporters.

Coming from OPEC’s fourth oil producer, this is a move that will undoubtedly have both deep economic reverberations and grave political consequences worldwide. It would certainly appear that rather than ‘wiping out Israel’ from the face of the planet, Iran is setting the tempo to wipe out American capitalism and influence everywhere. To understand the implications of such a move in financial affairs, one has to first revert to the importance of money in our economic systems and the effects that the ravages of inflation have over it.

Money is one of man’s most amazing inventions. Imagine the difficulty of our daily lives without those metal coins and coloured pieces of paper. To make any kind of transaction – from shopping for groceries to purchasing a real estate asset – you would have to find someone who had what you want and who wanted what you have, and then the two of you could barter. In a world with thousands of products, one would spend most of the time looking for trading partners and devoting very little time to actually earn an income. The alternative to avoid having to find trading partners would be for each and everyone of us to do a little bit of everything by ourselves.

But with money on the scene everything becomes more straightforward, simple and less time-consuming, and all of us can increase our productivity by and through specialization – that is doing what we do best, and then trade with our partners. As a direct and proximate consequence of our increased productivity, each of us can therefore become richer. It is easy to lose sight of the very basic economic point that we all owe a large part of our high living standards to the existence of money, its possession and the spending power that stems out of it. But there is a catch: money works best when its value is stable over time. And this is nowhere more true than in international trade.

Economically speaking, the power of the American Dollar and its influence in economic and financial affairs worldwide was born during the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference held at Bretton Wood, New Hampshire in July 1944. The Conference was attended by the delegates of all 45 allied nations directly and indirectly involved in the fight against the powers of the Axis – Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy, and their socio-economic doctrines. As a result of the Bretton Woods Conference, a system of exchange rate among different currencies was set up anchored on the American Dollar, which was made convertible to gold – the common denominator and measure of wealth worldwide. Thus, the American Dollar became de facto the reserve currency of the world, accepted and traded everywhere. This system remained in place until the early 1970’s and it allowed countries to accumulate reserves in American Dollars, as opposed to gold.

When in 1970-1971 an economically resurgent Western Europe began demanding payment for their US Dollars, as it became clear that the American Government did not have enough gold reserves to buy back all those Dollars, the US Treasury under the Nixon Administration rather than defaulting on its payment ‘de-anchored’ the Greenback – that is it severed the link between the Dollar and gold. To avoid an international collapse of the American currency in world markets, however, the US treasury had to substitute gold with another valuable commodity so as to entice foreign countries to keep their foreign reserves in Dollars and to continue accepting the American currency.

Thus in 1972-73 an iron-clad arrangement was made with Saudi Arabia to support the power of the House of Saud in exchange for accepting only U.S. Dollars for its oil. The rest of OPEC was to follow suit and also accept only American Dollars. Because the world had to buy oil from the Arab oil-producing countries, it now had the reason to hold Dollars as payment for oil. Because the world needed ever increasing quantities of oil at ever increasing oil prices, the world’s demand for Dollars could only increase. Even though Dollars could no longer be exchanged for gold, they were now exchangeable for oil. The Petrodollar was born.

In 2000, the first man who actually began demanding Euros for his oil was none other than Saddam Hussein of Iraq – and we all know what has happened to him. To be more specific, in fact, Saddam Hussein Abd al-Majid al-Tikriti (1937-2006), former President of Iraq, made two strategic mistakes, the second one of which would ultimately cost him his neck – literally. Firstly, on August 2, 1990 he invaded Kuwait, a country very friendly with both the United Kingdom and the United States, and holding approximately ten percent of the world’s oil reserves. Saddam, furthermore, became a real threat to Saudi Arabia as well. By invading Kuwait and threatening Saudi Arabia, Saddam breached the Carter Doctrine postulated by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, which states that “[…] 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.” The Carter Doctrine was later on upheld by President George H.W. Bush in 1989 with National Security Directive 26, which declares that “Access to Persian Gulf oil and the security of key friendly states in the area are vital to U.S. national security […].” The Gulf War ensued in January 1991.

The second mistake of Saddam was to start demanding payment for his oil in Euros. At first, his demand was met with ridicule, later with neglect, but as it became clearer that he meant business the need arose to make an example of anyone who demanded payment in currencies other than U.S. Dollars. The punishment came with the worsening of the geo-political situation after the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers and an increased perception and worry about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction – which he had used extensively against the Kurds and his own citizens. President Bush’s Shock-and-Awe intervention in Iraq followed, which ultimately brought about the demise of the Iraqi dictator.

Contemporary warfare has traditionally involved underlying conflicts regarding economics and resources. Today these intertwined conflicts also involve international currencies, and thus increased complexity. Current geopolitical tensions between the United States and Iran extend beyond the publicly stated concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear intentions, and likely include a proposed Iranian “petroeuro” system for oil trade – the Iranian Oil Bourse (‘Bourse’ is the French word for Stock Exchange). The proposed Iranian Oil Bourse signifies that without some sort of US intervention, the Euro is going to establish a firm foothold in the international oil trade.

This is so, because the Europeans would no longer have to buy and hold Dollars in order to secure their payment for oil, but would instead pay with their own currency. The adoption of the Euro for oil transactions would provide the European currency with a reserve status that would benefit the European at the expenses of the Americans. Given U.S. foreign debt levels and trade deficit, Tehran’s objective constitutes an obvious encroachment on the Dollar supremacy in the crucial international oil markets, and America can hardly afford that to happen. It is really a case of lethal economic terrorism and financial warfare, a matter of life and death.

And speaking of economic terrorism and financial warfare, it is very interesting and worth mentioning the link between oil and Euros on one side and Iran’s nuclear programme on the other side that Gholam Hossein Elham has made during the foresaid announcement. He has stated: “They (the Westerners) should put an end to their hostilities towards our nation and should also be aware that we are capable of achieving nuclear technology through very transparent and legal methods – something that they must respect. They must not waste their time with venting hostility against this nation, otherwise they will be harmed, more so than us.”

If Iran follows up with the intention to charge Euros for its oil, the upcoming Iranian Bourse will introduce Petroeuros currency hedging in direct competition with traditional Petrodollars. More than that, in political terms, it will pit America, Israel and Sunni Islam against Iran, Syria and Shiite Islam and will fundamentally create new dynamics and competition into the biggest markets in the world – those of global oil and gas trade. One of the Federal Reserve’s nightmares may well begin to unfold if it appears that international buyers will have a choice of buying a barrel of oil for USD 60 on the NYMEX and IPE – or purchase a barrel of oil for €45 – €50 through the Iranian Bourse. In essence, America would no longer be able to expand effortlessly its debt-financing with the issuance of US Treasury bills, and the international demand and liquidity of the American Dollar would fall. This is a very good reason to go to war.

Undersea Cable Cuts and the Iranian Oil Bourse

“Through the research that I have exhaustingly done over the past few days, this is the one that has struck me as the most likely reason for the damages that have occurred to submarine internet cables. The Iranian oil bourse is going to be a stock market for petroluem, petrochemicals and gas. What’s the big catch here? The exchange planned on being ran with currencies excluding the U.S. dollar. If you remember from earlier in the post, Iran stopped allowing purchases of their oil with the U.S. dollar in December of 2007. So, obviously, the U.S. is not going to be happy about this. The biggest piece of information linking this to the recent damages is the proposed location of the bourse: the island of Kish. This is the island that is right next to at least two of the cuts that have recently occurred…”

Iranian Oil Bourse Opens
by Steve Austin / 2008.02.06

The Iranian Oil Bourse establishing Euro-based pricing of oil is set to open on February 17th 2008 and could have devastating effects on the US dollar. Currently all three major oil markets (WTI, NYMEX, IPE) trade barrels of oil in US dollars. Consequently any country buying oil needs dollars to pay for it. This enables the US Federal Reserve to issue huge volumes of dollars to meet increasing demand for oil. In return oil producing nations invest dollar proceeds in US treasury bills, allowing for the current US budget deficit. But this balance may become unsettled after a fourth major oil market opens this month, trading in Euros: the Iranian Oil Bourse (IOB).

Unlike other bourses, the IOB relies on a peer-to-peer trading model, using the Internet. IOB has been in the works for several years and encountered many hurdles on the way, the last of which are severed underwater internet cables creating an Internet outage throughout the Middle East days before the IOB’s opening and prompting conspiracy theories. In recent years the US has outfitted some of its submarines with the capability to splice optical fiber underwater so these theories may not be far-fetched. Having the world’s second largest oil reserves of 136 gigabarrels, Iran will likely extend its influence on financial markets when the IOB opens. Although under-reported by the media, this historical shift and its consequences should be watched closely.

Iran’s bourse booms despite sanctions
by Robin Pomeroy / Sep 30, 2010

In the busy foyer of the Tehran Stock Exchange an old woman in a black chador clutches her shopping bag and gazes up hopefully at the electronic display showing the latest share prices. Like the other Iranians bustling past her, she is betting on a market that has soared to record highs despite ever-tightening international sanctions, lackluster oil prices and political uncertainty after last year’s disputed presidential election. While U.S. diplomats were busy upping Iran’s economic punishment over nuclear activities Washington fears are aimed at making a bomb, Iranian shares, which might have been expected to fall, have, instead, gone through the roof. Tehran’s Tepix index has risen 65 percent to all-time highs this year. Its latest record was set on Sept. 18, when it hit 18,658, up from 11,295 at the start of the year. By comparison, New York’s S&P 500 Index has made no major gains this year as the U.S. economy struggles to recover from the financial crisis.

Officials say privatisation, cheap valuations and moves to cut red tape and encourage private investors have lured Iranians away from the once-booming property market, the traditional home of the Iranian nest egg, which stagnated in late 2008. The world’s fifth-largest oil exporter hopes to raise $12.5 billion by privatising over 500 state firms during the 2010-11 year, and plans to sell all of its refineries and petrochemicals units, promising potential investors a solid pipeline of IPOs. Iranians are also increasingly reluctant to park their spare cash in the bank, where interest on instant access savings has fallen from about 12.5 percent three years ago to 6 percent now. Those rates seem healthy compared to Western economies, where central bank rates are near zero, but are no match for the rewards promised by a bourse which already boasts more than 330 listed firms and a market capitalisation above $70 billion.

Speaking in his office on the upper floors of the stock exchange, bourse chief Hassan Ghalibaf Asl summed up the logic: “The opportunities and good factors affecting the growth of the capital market and attracting investors are more important, and the weight of them is more, than bad factors.” Few dispute however, that the bad factors are there. From a lack of transparency to tightening sanctions, myriad challenges belie the Tehran Stock Exchange’s stellar performance. Firms related to the elite Revolutionary Guards and other state bodies have bought large stakes in privatised companies, further muddying the waters between public and private in a country where powerful quasi-official foundations pervade.

Last year, a consortium linked to the Revolutionary Guards took a controlling stake in the Telecommunications Company of Iran for $7.8 billion, raising concern that some firms being put up for sale are just being transferred within the public sector. Investments by these vast semi-official or politically connected organisations have caused the surges in stock prices that small investors have been happy to ride, Meir Javedanfar, an Iran expert at Middle East analysis firm Meepas, said. “Very few stock exchanges have record gains in a country where sanctions, economic isolation, unemployment and inflation are increasing,” he said. “All indicators point to this boom being a government-made bubble. It’s difficult to predict when it will burst.” Even in parliament, questions are being asked about the disconnect between soaring share prices and an economy facing not just sanctions but looming cuts to multi-billion-dollar state subsidies that currently guarantee cheap fuel to domestic industries and reduce the cost of goods for Iranian consumers. Many small investors are ordinary Iranians, who could end up suffering the most if boom turns to bust.

Sheltering from the blazing sun under the porticos of the bourse building, a man sits on a fold-out stool and sells economics text books laid at his feet on sheets of newspaper. Traders, the majority apparently amateurs, pass him on their way inside to swap rumours as they crowd around touchscreens, looking up data provided by the bourse on their chosen stocks. Iranians can place orders with professional brokers, without having to go in person to the bourse, but the building, with its atmosphere of anticipation, attracts scores of people, placing their cash alongside institutions like Iran’s pension funds. Apart from one turbaned cleric and a handful of women, most are middle aged men, and the mood is optimistic though smaller trades are driven largely by rumour, since rules requiring listed firms to disclose their performance and plans are lax.

With his boy-band haircut, jeans and T-shirt, 26-year-old Navid Sadri is not the typical day-trader on Tehran’s bourse, but he has been making his living on the market for eight years, long enough to know that a boom usually ends in a bust. “Eight months ago there was a very small crowd,” he says, pointing to the amateur traders hovering in the corridors above the bourse’s modest trading floor. “If every day there’s a bigger crowd it’s a sign that there will be a drop.” While domestic investment in the bourse booms, international sanctions and political uncertainty are hampering the flow of foreign funds and expertise that Iran needs to modernize. Foreign investment on the Tehran bourse accounts for just 0.5 percent of the shares, according to the bourse chief. “We don’t even look at the Iranian market. There is just too much political risk involved,” Robert McKinnon of ASAS Capital, an asset management company in Dubai, said in June, when bourse officials travelled to the city to drum up foreign interest.

In an effort to attract cash from abroad, Iran revoked a rule this year that had forced foreign investors to hold their initial capital in the Islamic Republic for three years. While foreign investors can now repatriate their capital whenever they want, U.S. rules ban any bank that does business with the United States from making transactions with Iran. That rule is enough to keep most major international banks at bay. So far, Tehran’s bourse has lured only a handful of smaller institutions willing to gamble on the world’s riskier markets. Fund management company Castlestone calls Iran stocks “a jaw-dropping opportunity” and plans to include them in a new high-growth emerging markets fund. Turquoise Partners, an investment firm with offices in Tehran and London, manages a $100 million fund on behalf of foreign investors wanting a piece of the Iranian action. “We’ve had a flood of money coming into the market in the last one and a half years,” Ali Mashayekhi, head of investment research at Turquoise, said.

Petrodollar or Petroeuro? A new source of global conflict
by Cóilín Nunan

No observer of the lead-up to the war in Iraq and its aftermath could have failed to notice that the level of cooperation between Europe and America was extremely low. France and Germany were very strong opponents of the US/UK invasion and even after the war was declared over, disagreements persisted over the lifting of sanctions and how Iraq should be run. So was this just a one-off tiff or was it a symptom of deeper flaws in the relationship? I believe that the war on Iraq illustrated for the first time that continental Europe, led by France and Germany, no longer wishes to follow the Americans politically, although what has been termed a ‘clash of civilisations’ [1] is probably better viewed as a ‘clash of economies’.

While disagreements over the US trade barriers on steel imports or the European restrictions on imports of American genetically modified crops have attracted widespread comment, the most intense economic rivalry of all has received far less media attention than it perhaps should: this is the rivalry between the dollar and the euro for the position of world reserve currency, a privileged status that has been held by the dollar ever since the Bretton Woods agreement nearly 60 years ago.

At present, approximately two thirds of world trade is conducted in dollars and two thirds of central banks’ currency reserves are held in the American currency which remains the sole currency used by international institutions such as the IMF. This confers on the US a major economic advantage: the ability to run a trade deficit year after year. It can do this because foreign countries need dollars to repay their debts to the IMF, to conduct international trade and to build up their currency reserves. The US provides the world with these dollars by buying goods and services produced by foreign countries, but since it does not have a corresponding need for foreign currency, it sells far fewer goods and services in return, i.e. the US always spends more than it earns, whereas the rest of the world always earns more than it spends. This US trade deficit has now reached extraordinary levels, with the US importing 50% more goods and services than it exports. So long as the dollar remains the dominant international currency the US can continue consuming more than it produces and, for example, build up its military strength while simultaneously affording tax cuts.

Getting a share of this economic free lunch has been one of the motivations, and perhaps the main motivation, behind setting up the euro [2]. Were the euro to become a reserve currency equal to, or perhaps even instead of, the dollar, countries would reduce their dollar holdings while building up their euro savings. Another way of putting this would be to say that Eurozone countries would be able to reduce their subsidy to American consumption and would find that other countries were now subsidising Eurozone consumption instead.

A move away from the dollar towards the euro could, on the other hand, have a disastrous effect on the US economy as the US would no longer be able to spend beyond its means. Worse still, the US would have to become a net currency importer as foreigners would probably seek to spend back in the US a large proportion of the estimated three trillion dollars which they currently own. In other words, the US would have to run a trade surplus, providing the rest of the world with more goods and services than it was receiving in return. A rapid and wholesale move to the euro might even lead to a dollar crash as everyone sought to get rid of some, or all, of their dollars at the same time. But that is an outcome that no-one, not even France or Germany, is seeking because of the huge effect it would have on the world economy. Europe would much prefer to see a gradual move to a euro-dollar world, or even a euro-dominated one.

It turns out that there is a small group of countries which is playing the arbiter in this global contest. These are the world’s oil exporters, in particular OPEC and Russia. Ever since the days when the US dominated world oil production, sales of oil and natural gas on international markets have been exclusively denominated in dollars. This was partly a natural state of affairs since, up until the early 1950s, the US accounted for half or more of the world’s annual oil production. The tendency to price in dollars was additionally reinforced by the Bretton Woods agreement which established the IMF and World Bank and adopted the dollar as the currency for international loans.

The vast majority of the world’s countries are oil importers and, since oil is such a crucial commodity, the need to pay for it in dollars encourages these countries keep the majority of their foreign currency reserves in dollars not only to be able to buy oil directly but also to protect the value of their own currencies from falling against the dollar. Because a sudden devaluation of a country’s currency against the dollar would lead to a jump in oil prices and a possible economic crisis, every country’s central bank needs dollar reserves so as to be able to buy its own currency on the foreign exchange markets when its value needs to be supported.

The fact that oil sales and loans from the IMF are dollar-denominated also encourages poorer countries to denominate their exports in dollars as this minimises the risk of losses through any fluctuations in the value of the dollar. The knock-on effect of this is that, since many of these exports are essential raw materials which richer countries need to import, their denomination in dollars reinforces the need for rich countries to keep their own currency reserves in dollars.

While the denomination of oil sales is not a subject which is frequently discussed in the media, its importance is certainly well understood by governments. For example, when in 1971 President Nixon took the US off the gold standard, OPEC did consider moving away from dollar oil pricing, as dollars no longer had the guaranteed value they once did. The US response was to do various secret deals with Saudi Arabia in the 1970s to ensure that the world’s most important oil exporter stuck with the dollar [3]. What the Saudis did, OPEC followed. More recently, in June 2003, the Prime Minister of Malaysia publicly encouraged his country’s oil and gas exporters to move from the dollar to the euro. The European and American reactions were polar opposites: the EU’s Energy Commissioner, Loyola de Palacio, welcomed the suggestion, saying that ‘in the future the euro is [going to be] taking a place in the international markets in general as the money of exchange’ and that this was ‘a matter of realism’ [4]. Her counterpart in the US, the director of the Energy Information Administration, Guy Caruso, said that he couldn’t see ‘any particular merit’ in the move and that over the long run ‘the dollar’s always won out’ [5]. Either way, Malaysia is only a relatively minor oil exporter, so what it does can only have a very limited effect. A switch by a major oil exporter would be of far greater significance.

The first country to actually make the switch was a very important oil exporter indeed: Iraq, in November 2000 [6,7]. Before the war in Iraq began, some observers, myself included, argued that this might well be a major reason for the US desire to invade and the strong Franco-German opposition to the invasion [8,9]. Corroborating evidence included the apparent influence which loyalty (or lack thereof) to the dollar seemed to have on the US attitude towards other OPEC members. Iran had been talking of selling its own oil for euros [6,10] and was subsequently included in George Bush’s ‘axis of evil’. Venezuela, another important oil exporter, had started bartering some of its oil, thus avoiding the use of the dollar, and was encouraging OPEC to do likewise [11] – and the US was widely suspected in having played a part in the attempted coup against the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez.

Semi-official confirmation that petro-currency rivalry was at the heart of the split between France and Germany, on the one hand, and the US, on the other, was provided by Howard Fineman, the chief political correspondent for Newsweek, in an article he wrote in April 2003, in the aftermath of the war. The Europeans and Americans were then arguing over whether the UN’s oil-for-food programme in Iraq should remain in place or not. Using the term ‘clash of civilisations’ to describe the divide which was developing, Fineman explained that the disagreement had little to do with the French calls for the search for weapons of mass destruction to resume and for sanctions to remain in place until the search was complete. Instead, Fineman said, it was mainly about the dollar vs the euro. Citing White House officials and a presidential aide, he explained that the dispute between the two continents was really about ‘who gets to sell – and buy – Iraqi oil, and what form of currency will be used to denominate the value of the sales. That decision, in turn, will help decide who controls Iraq, which, in turn, will represent yet another skirmish in a growing global economic conflict. We want a secular, American-influenced pan-ethnic entity of some kind to control the massive oil fields (Iraq’s vast but only real source of wealth). We want that entity to be permitted to sell the oil to whomever it wants, denominated in dollars.’ Fineman concluded his article by confidently predicting that future Iraqi oil sales would be switched back to dollars [1].

Fineman’s White House sources would appear to have been reliable as that is precisely what has happened: when Iraqi oil exports resumed in June of last year, it was announced that payment would be in dollars only [12,13]. It was also decided that the billions of Iraqi euros which were being held in a euro account, controlled by the UN under the oil-for-food programme, were to be transferred into the Development Fund for Iraq, a dollar account controlled by the US [13,14,15].

Furthermore, Youssef Ibrahim, a former senior Middle East correspondent for the New York Times and energy editor on the Wall Street Journal, who is a member of the influential Council on Foreign Relations, has called Iraq’s switch to the euro ‘another reason’ for the war, saying that a general move by oil producers to the euro would be a ‘catastrophe’ for the US [16].

America’s willingness to use violence to defend its economic interests does not seem to have reduced the number of oil exporters considering switching to the euro as they recognise that their use of the dollar enables the US to build up its military strength. In addition to Malaysia, Indonesia has the switch under consideration [17] while Iran has been shifting its currency reserves into euros. Moreover, according to the Vice-President of the Iranian central bank, it has actually sold some of its oil to Europe for euros and is encouraging members of an Asian trade organisation, the Asian Clearing Union, to pay for Iranian oil in the European currency [18]. Along with Malaysia, it is also at the forefront of efforts to establish a new gold-backed currency, the Islamic Gold Dinar, to be used in international trade amongst Muslim countries instead of both the dollar and the euro [19]. In a further development, in June 2004, Iran announced that it had plans to establish an oil-trading market for Middle Eastern and OPEC producers which could threaten the dominance of London’s International Petroleum Exchange and New York’s Nymex [20]. Such a move could help remove some of the technical difficulties that exist with a switch away from dollar-denomination of oil sales.

It is therefore not surprising to find that, just as with Iraq, the European Union and the US are dealing with Iran in very different ways. While the EU has been holding trade negotiations with Iran [21] and involved in dialogue about its nuclear programme, the US has refused to get involved in direct talks with the Iranian government which it views as ‘evil’. The American Enterprise Institute, a highly influential American ‘think tank’, has in fact been actively calling for ‘regime change’ [22] and, although this policy has yet to be officially endorsed by the Bush administration, in July 2004 it was claimed in the British press that a senior official of the Bush administration had indicated that, if re-elected, Bush would intervene in the internal affairs of Iran in an attempt to overturn the Iranian government [23,24].

European enthusiasm for the ‘petroeuro’ also appears undampened by the US takeover of Iraq. Since the war, the European Union has been actively encouraging Russia, another opponent of the US invasion, to move to euro oil and gas sales. In October 2003, during a joint press conference with Germany’s Prime Minister Gerhard Schroeder, the Russian President Vladimir Putin declared that Russia was thinking about selling its oil for euros. A few days later, the European Commission President, Romano Prodi, said, after a summit between Russia and the European Union, that Russia was now drawn to having its imports and exports denominated in euros [25,26].

In December 2003, speculation about the future roles of the dollar and the euro increased when OPEC Secretary General Alvaro Silva, a former Venezuelan oil minister, said that the organisation was now considering trading in euros or in a basket of currencies other than the dollar, as the US currency was declining in value [27] . Although a few days later the Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi said that OPEC would not be discussing a switch to the euro at its next meeting (comments reinforced by the Qatari President of OPEC and the Algerian oil minister [28]), articles discussing a possible move continued to appear in the media [29,30] and the euro’s value against the dollar soared. Despite the speculation, no decision to move to the euro was taken at OPEC’s meeting in early February 2004 and thereafter the euro’s value fell back again.

In fact, close inspection of the dollar-euro exchange rate shows that since the euro’s introduction in January 1999, petro-currency rivalry appears to have played an important part in swinging the rate one way or the other. The markets, it seems, have noticed the importance of what is happening. On the other hand, the lack of an open discussion of the issues suggests that politicians and bankers are keen to move ahead with their plans with little or no explanation to the general public.

Should we not, however, be debating more openly what kind (or kinds) of international financial structure(s) we want to adopt, since the question has potentially huge implications for the stability of the world economy and for peace and stability in oil-exporting countries? A good starting point for such a debate would be the recognition that no country or countries should be allowed to dominate the system by controlling the issuance of the currency or currencies used. Similarly fundamental would be to prevent any country from running a persistent trade surplus or deficit so as to avoid the build up of unjust subsidies, unpayable debts and economic instability. At Bretton Woods, John Maynard Keynes, who understood how important these two conditions were, proposed a system which would have met them, but his proposal was rejected in favour of the dollar.[31] The dollar, though, is no longer a stable, reliable currency: the IMF has warned that the US trade deficit is so bad that its currency could collapse at any time.[32] Will we really have to wait for a full-blown dollar crisis before a public debate about creating a just and sustainable trading system can begin?

1. Howard Fineman, ‘In Round 2, it’s the dollar vs. euro’, April 23 2003, Newsweek,
2. Anon., ‘Will the euro rule the roost?’, January 1 1999, BBC News, u/225434.stm
3. David E. Spiro, The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets, Cornell University Press, 1999
4. Anon., ‘EU says oil could one day be priced in euros’, 16 June 2003, Reuters
5. Irene Kwek, ‘EIA Says Oil Price Switch To Euro From Dollar Unlikely’, 16 June 2003, Dow Jones Newswires
6. Recknagel, Charles, ‘Iraq: Baghdad Moves to Euro’, November 1 2000,Radio Free Europe,
7. Faisal Islam, ‘When will we buy oil in euros?’, February 23 2003, The Observer,,6903,900867,00.html
8. William Clark, ‘The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War With Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth’, January 2003,
9. Cóilín Nunan, ‘Oil, currency and the war on Iraq’, January 2003,
10. Anon., ‘Iran may switch to euro for crude sale payments’, Alexander Oil and Gas, September 5 2002,
11. Hazel Henderson, ‘Globocop v. Venezuela’s Chavez: Oil, Globalization and Competing Visions of Development’, April 2002, InterPress Service,
12. Carola Hoyos and Kevin Morrison, ‘Iraq returns to international oil market’, June 5 2003, Financial Times
13. Coalition Provisional Authority Regulation Number 2,
14. UN Security Council Resolution 1483,
15. Judy Aita, ‘U.N. Transfers Oil-for-Food Program to CPA, Iraqi Officials Nov 22’, November 2003, Washington File,
16. Catherine Belton, ‘Why not price oil in euros?’, October 10 2003, Moscow Times
17. Kazi Mahmood, ‘Economic Shift Could Hurt U.S.-British Interests In Asia’, March 30 2003,
18. C. Shivkumar, ‘Iran offers oil to Asian union on easier terms’, June 16 2003,
19. Anon, ‘Malaysia, Iran discuss the use of gold dinar’, July 3 2003, Asia Times,
20. Terry Macalister, ‘Iran takes on west’s control of oil trading’, June 16 2004, The Guardian,,3604,1239644,00.html
21. Hooman Peimani, ‘EU and Iran talk trade, not war’, June 7 2003, Asia Times,
22. Guy Dinmore, ‘US lobbyists tune in for regime change in Iran’, December 5 2003, Financial Times
23. Michael Binyon and Bronwen Maddox, ‘US sets sights on toppling Iran regime’, July 17 2004, The Times
24. Jennifer Johnston, ‘Regime change in Iran now in Bush’s sights’, July 18 2004, The Sunday Herald,
25. Lisa Jucca and Melissa Akin, ‘Europe Presses Russia on Euro’, October 20 2003, Moscow Times
26. Simon Nixon, ‘What’s that in euros?’, October 18 2003, The Spectator,§ion=current&issue=2003-10-18&id=3619
27. Anon., ‘OPEC may trade oil in euros to compensate for dollar decline’, December 9 2003, Associated Press,,00020008.htm
28. Anon., ‘Saudi Arabia: Dollars only please’, December 13 2003, Reuters, .saudi.reut/
29. Patrick Brethour, ‘OPEC mulls move to euro for pricing crude oil’, January 12 2004, Globe and Mail,
30. Anon., ‘To euro or not: should oil pricing ditch the dollar?’, February 9 2004, AFP
31. Michael Rowbottom, Goodbye America! Globalisation, Debt and the Dollar Empire, Jon Carpenter Publishing, 2000
32. Charlotte Denny and Larry Elliott, ‘IMF warns trade gap could bring down dollar’, September 19 2003, The Guardian,,3604,1045193,00.html


At Capitol, slavery’s story turns full circle
BY Michael Kranish  /  December 28, 2008

Washington – When Barack Obama takes the oath of office at the US
Capitol, the first African-American to become president will be
standing amid stonework laid by slaves more than two centuries ago. He
will appear before a crowd massed on the Mall, where slaves were once
held in pens, ready for auction. He will end his inauguration route at
the White House, where the foundations were laid by slaves, and where
eight presidents held blacks as their human property.

At nearly every turn of Obama’s march to history, the thread that
deeply intertwines the founding of the nation with its great stain,
slavery, will be evident. Yet for all the attention on Obama’s racial
breakthrough, the full story of slavery in the nation’s capital
remains beneath the surface.

While the Lincoln Memorial on the far end of the Mall draws attention
to the fight to end slavery, there is no memorial at the spot near the
Capitol where slaves were once kept and sold in a three-story building
called the Yellow House. “Many people come down to the National Mall
and never realize that they are walking on the site of the slave
markets,” said Jesse J. Holland, author of the recent book, “Black Men
Built the Capitol.” Now, with Obama’s inauguration, historians are
hoping that the role of slaves in the history of building Washington
will become more widely recognized.

Obama is the son of a black African father and a white Kansan mother,
while his wife, Michelle, has a direct connection to America’s history
of enslavement, as Obama noted during the presidential campaign,
saying the next first lady “carries within her the blood of slaves and
slave owners.” Her great-great grandfather, on her father’s side, was
born into slavery and is believed to have lived in a small cabin at a
coastal South Carolina rice plantation.

Thus, a story that begins with slavery comes full circle with the
arrival of the Obamas. “It is an affirmation of the whole democratic
ideal in American history,” said historian William Seale, author of
“The President’s House.”

It was in the early 1790s that the government of the United States,
founded on the notion that “all men are created equal,” began to pay
slaveholders for the work of their slaves on both the Capitol and the
White House. “Keep the yearly hirelings at work from sunrise to sunset
– particularly the Negroes,” the commission that oversaw construction
of the Capitol instructed a supervisor, according to documents in a
recently compiled congressional report. From 1795 to 1801, there were
385 payments for what was called “Negro hire,” referring to the hiring
of slaves from their masters to help build the Capitol.

From quarrying sandstone to sawing giant logs, the slaves gradually
shaped the Capitol’s foundation. While the building has been
reconstructed and expanded many times over the years, the stonework
laid by slave labor can still be seen at the west elevation of the old
North Wing, near where Obama will take the oath of office. Relatively
little is known about the slaves who helped build the Capitol, but pay
records do provide some of their names, including Gerrard, who was
leased for $13, and Will, who was leased for $12.91. One record notes
that “Caleb Varnal’s Negro Sawyer” was leased for $20.33 on July 6,
1795. The documents don’t specify the duration of the slaves’ service.

Overlooking the inaugural scene will be the Statue of Freedom, the
figure that stands grandly atop the Capitol dome. Yet, as documented
in a congressional report, it was a slave named Phillip Reid who
played a crucial role in turning a plaster cast into the statue. It is
“one of the great ironies in the Capitol’s history,” the report says,
that the statue was made possible by “a workman helping to cast a
noble allegorical representation of American freedom when he himself
was not free.” Reid, who had been purchased for $1,200, later did
become free and may have seen the statue hoisted atop the dome.

Similarly, the President’s House, as the White House was first known,
was constructed with significant help from slave labor, as well as
free blacks and whites. Slaves lived in huts amid a cacophony of brick
kilns and sawing operations, probably on the site of what is now
Lafayette Park. One slave, George, was owned by James Claggett and
leased to the federal government for five months, according to a pay
stub recently put on display by the National Archives. The document,
in elegant script, says that “the commissioners of the Federal
District” paid Claggett “for hire of Negro George,” for “working at
the President’s House.”

The construction of the President’s House began in 1792, with slaves
often toiling “seven days a week during the high construction summer
months alongside white workers and artisans,” according to a history
compiled by the White House Historical Association. An estimated 120
slaves helped dig the foundation of the White House and brought
stonework to the site. Some of the stonework can still be seen in the
exterior of the original, central portion of the building.

The first president to move into the mansion, John Adams of
Massachusetts, was antislavery. But his successor, Thomas Jefferson,
at various times brought a number of slaves to live with him in the
White House. The other presidents who owned slaves while living in the
White House were James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, John
Tyler, William Henry Harrison, James Polk, and Zachary Taylor,
according to the historian Seale.

Part of the history of slaves who lived in the White House is
preserved in the thin but remarkable memoir of Paul Jennings, who was
owned by Madison and published a volume titled, “A Colored Man’s
Reminiscences of James Madison.” “When Mr. Madison was chosen
President, we came on and moved into the White House,” Jennings wrote.
“The east room was not finished, and Pennsylvania Avenue was not
paved, but was always in an awful condition from either mud or dust.
The city was a dreary place.”

Jennings recalled how he set up a table at the White House with “ale,
cider, and wine, and placed them in the coolers,” when a free black
raced up and announced that British invaders were on their way into
the city. “Clear out, clear out!” the man yelled. The Madison family
and Jennings fled just before the arrival of the British, who “ate up
the very dinner, and drank the wines, &c., that I had prepared for the
President’s party,” Jennings wrote.

After Madison died, Jennings was able to buy his freedom from Dolley
Madison, who later became relatively destitute for a time. Jennings,
hearing of the plight of Mrs. Madison, wrote that he “occasionally
gave her small sums from own pocket, though I had years before bought
my freedom of her.”

Now, exactly two centuries after Madison became president and brought
slaves with him to the White House, Barack and Michelle Obama will
move into the home.

A previous president from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, signed the
Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. Asked to explain his
decision, Lincoln sat in his White House office, in what is now known
as the Lincoln Bedroom, and took out a piece of Executive Mansion
stationary. “If slavery is not wrong,” Lincoln wrote, “nothing is

Insights on Slavery, the Capitol, and Obama’s Inauguration  /
January 16, 2009

JESSE J. HOLLAND: “My name is Jesse J. Holland. I wrote the book
“Black Men Built The Capitol: Discovering African-American History in
and Around Washington, D.C.” One of the things that I found was that
actual African-American slaves were used in the construction of the
U.S. Capitol and the White House. Out of just about the 600 or so
people who worked on the Capitol, maybe about 400 were African-
American slaves.

So, they would bring in all these slaves from these plantations around
Washington, D.C. And the area where Barack Obama is going to take his
oath of office, right in front of that, there will be hundreds of
thousands of people sitting in chairs. That area used to be a tent
city for these slaves and workers. On Inauguration Day, that area will
be filled with dignitaries. It will be filled with politicians. But,
on that land where they’re sitting, African-American slaves actually
used to live while they worked on the Capitol.

The Statue of Freedom was created by an American art student named
Thomas Crawford. He actually won the competition to decide which
statue would crown the Capitol. He put together a statue of a woman.
And, on top of the statue, he put a liberty cap, which is a small hat.

The person in charge of the Capitol construction vetoed the whole
project. The person in charge was Jefferson Davis. And, when he saw
the picture of the Statue of Freedom, he noticed the cap that was on
top of the statue. And, being a student of Roman history, Jefferson
Davis knew that the only people in Roman history who wore liberty caps
were freed slaves.

Well, Jefferson Davis, who goes on to be the president of the
Confederacy, says, there’s no way he’s going to allow them to put a
statue of a freed slave on top of the Capitol. So, he tells Thomas
Crawford that, you either change the statue, or we’re going the
commission to someone else.

Now, like I said, Crawford was an art student. Art students always
need money. So, instead of changing the statue, what Thomas Crawford
did was, he took the liberty cap off, and he put an American eagle
helmet on. So, most people look at the Statue of Freedom now and they
think, this is the statue of an American Indian on top of the Capitol.
No, it’s not. It’s actually a statue of a freed slave with an American
eagle helmet on top.

D.C. had ‘robust’ slave trade
Slaves also helped construct the White House from the very beginning.
Pierre L’Enfant, the person who designed Washington, D.C., contracted
with slave owners to use their slaves to dig the foundation of the
White House. James Hoban, the architect of the White House, actually
brought some of his own personal slaves up to Washington, D.C., from
South Carolina to work on the White House.

What a lot of people don’t know about the National Mall, Capitol,
Supreme Court area is that African-American slaves were held in
bondage in slave jails on some of these sites. Here, on the site of
the Supreme Court, was a building that was called the Old Brick
Capitol. That’s the building that Congress used after the Capitol was
burned in the war of 1812.

Well, the slave market was so robust in the District of Columbia that
slave owners ran out of space to hold their slaves. So, they would
rent public jail space to use for storage for African-American slaves.
And one of the places they did this was here, at the Old Brick
Capitol, on the site of where the Supreme Court is right now. That
also happened on the National Mall in places like Robey’s Tavern,
which sits in between the Department of Education and the Smithsonian
Air & Space Museum is today, and also on the site of the National

White House used slave labor
There were large numbers of slaves in Washington, D.C., simply because
it was such a hub for travel. And, especially with Virginia being
right across the river, Washington, D.C. and the National Mall became
a natural point for people to bring slaves for sale. But very few
people took the time to actually record what the day-to-day lives of
African-American slaves were in Washington, D.C.

Some of the slaves who worked in the White House, we know that they
got to dress in fine clothes. We know that they were taught French
cuisine. But we also know that they must have not loved their life,
because we have records of several slaves who attempted to escape from
the work areas at the Capitol and at the White House.

Many unaware of D.C. slave history
They were still enslaved, and they still wanted to be free. That
history, the history of slavery in Washington, D.C., isn’t always
talked about. That’s one of the things that I hope that people can
take away from my book. They can look at it and say, this is a part of
that history that we don’t know, that we should actually take time to
go back and look at.

It closes a circle in American history to have an African-American
taking the oath of office, and becoming the most powerful person in
the United States, and yet still live in a building that was built by
some of the least powerful people in the United States, African-
American slaves. It shows the progress that we have made as a

Pennsylvania Avenue paved with pain, progress
BY Faye Fiore  /  January 19, 2009

When Barack Obama takes his triumphant ride along Pennsylvania
Avenue Tuesday, he will retrace the path of Ku Klux Klan marches and
roll past the ghosts of hotels and movie theaters that used to turn
away people like him.

This historic stretch, book-ended by the Capitol on one end and the
White House on the other, has witnessed many of the milestones that
made an Obama presidency possible. The Emancipation Proclamation and
the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were signed here. But it’s doubtful that
even a Harvard-educated wonder can get his arms around the scope of
the civil-rights drama that has played out on this 1.2-mile slice of
real estate.

There are places more famous for their scars — Selma, Birmingham —
but none captures the sweep of the story the way Pennsylvania Avenue
does, where laws were passed to enslave people and laws were passed to
free them, and at least a dozen of Obama’s predecessors would sooner
have considered him a piece of property than a peer.

Nearly every president has made this ceremonial trek since Thomas
Jefferson did it on horseback. But never has the setting been as
connected to the nation’s shame as much as its glory. “That
juxtaposition is the way I always think of Pennsylvania Avenue — a
place of great possibility and of great evil,” said Lonnie Bunch,
director of the National Museum of African American History and
Culture. “It is a mirror of change in America.”

Obama and his family will ride up the promenade in an armored 2009
black Cadillac limo after he takes the oath of office on Capitol steps
built by slaves. At 3rd Street, the motorcade will pass what used to
be the St. Charles Hotel, a popular stop in the early 1800s where
slaves were kept in underground cells while their owners enjoyed the
luxuries upstairs; reimbursement was guaranteed if any escaped. “That
hotel became a favorite of black patrons after the Civil War,” said
Charles Cobb, an author and professor of Africana studies at Brown

At 4th Street, a block from the hotel that made sure no slave escaped,
the new president will pass what used to be the American Colonization
Society Hall, founded in 1816 to return emancipated blacks to Africa,
an effort fueled in part by whites who believed there was no place in
America for a free black community.

Tension between races was inborn for a democracy founded on a
contradiction — 12 of the early presidents were slave holders, eight
while in the White House. From the start, the heart of the nation’s
capital — a broad avenue designed by Pierre L’Enfant that was a dusty
mess until it became the town’s first paved street — was a place of
mixed signals. Some freed blacks operated successful businesses while
their brethren continued to be sold off in chains.

While in the White House, President Jackson kept 150 house and field
slaves back on his Tennessee farm. It was under his nose one night in
1835, at 6th and Pennsylvania, that a white mob ransacked the
Epicurean Eating House and tried to lynch its black owner, a man named
Beverly Snow.

Today, just a few doors down, an elegant pink building with twin
spires stands as a monument to the civil-rights struggle: The National
Council of Negro Women headquarters, purchased with the help of Oprah
Winfrey six years ago, is the only black-owned property on this famous

Inside, Dorothy Height, 96, a lifelong activist and president emeritus
of the civil-rights advocacy group, keeps an office. “No inaugurated
president will leave the Capitol to go to his house without passing
our house,” she likes to say. Known for her trademark hats — one day
last week ti was dusty blue with a big rhinestone-studded bow — she
was preparing to attend a swearing-in ceremony she did not think she
would live to see.

“Barack Obama presents a strong symbol of what we have achieved under
the hardest conditions,” said Height, who won a scholarship to Barnard
College as a young woman but was denied admission because of her skin
color. The symbolism is even bolder considering the building is steps
from 7th and Pennsylvania, where a teeming market of slaves, penned up
in filth and misery awaiting sale, was a lucrative enterprise.

Obama will be halfway to the White House when he passes it. There is
little to mark that it even existed. But, according to Bunch, a
visiting British writer once noted that the business going on in the
Capitol was drowned out by the anguished wails of families being
separated and sold. “We forget, but slavery was so embedded into the
American system, it shouldn’t be a surprise that slaves were traded
within the shadow of the Capitol,” Bunch explained.

Slavery was outlawed by 1865, but the inequality persisted. Blacks
were barred from jobs, hotel rooms, toilets and restaurant counters.
Pennsylvania Avenue led the nation in a dance: two steps forward and
one step back. Franklin Roosevelt opened the war-industry jobs to
blacks after he was threatened with a massive march on Washington.
Woodrow Wilson segregated the federal workplace to appease his
offended wife.

And somewhere along this street, a sailor named Sam Harmon, stationed
in Virginia during World War II, was denied admittance to a movie
theater when the clerk saw the hand that reached for the ticket was
black. He walked the streets that night in tears. “As you move into
the ’50s and ’60s, Pennsylvania Avenue is reflective of a segregated
America,” Cobb said. “Black people cooked in the restaurants that
served the capital but couldn’t eat in them.”

For nearly 100 years after slavery was outlawed, Pennsylvania Avenue
did little to advance justice. Then in 1964, President Johnson signed
the landmark Civil Rights Act outlawing discrimination in hotels,
restaurants and department stores. Martin Luther King Jr. stood over
his shoulder at the White House. Four years later, smoke could be seen
rising from Pennsylvania at 7th Street when riots broke out as word
reached black neighborhoods north of downtown that King had been

At 10th Street, Obama will pass within a block of Ford’s Theater,
where Lincoln was shot by actor and Confederate sympathizer John
Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865. As if in a flurry to honor his legacy,
Congress would adopt the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments outlawing
slavery, making former slaves citizens and giving black men the right
to vote. One result: Black businessman James Wormley opened the
capital’s first integrated hotel at 15th and Pennsylvania, a block
from the White House.

Obama’s ceremonial journey will end at the nation’s most famous
address — 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. For decades, the windows offered a
view of slaves servicing the elegant homes on Lafayette Square. Today,
in that same spot, record crowds will gather — braving confounding
security, epic bathroom lines and biting cold — to watch Pennsylvania
Avenue dance another step forward.


Baghdad, Iraq (CNN)  — Their faces and darker skins make them look
different. They are routinely called “slave” by the majority, whatever
their profession. But Iraq’s black population hopes that Barack
Obama’s rise to the White House will mark a turning point for
minorities not just in the United States, but also in their country.

Jalal Thiyab Thijeel, general secretary of the “Movement of Free
Iraqis,” followed every detail of Obama’s election campaign.
“Inspiring,” he calls it. Inspiring politically, and personally. Like
Obama, Thijeel has family roots in Africa.

“We told our people, Inshalla, God willing, Obama is going to win, and
if he wins, it will be a victory for all black people in the world,”
he recalls. “We’re going to make him a model to follow. Even our old
women were praying for him to win.”

When news broke that Obama had won the election, it was early in the
morning of November 5 in Basra — but Thijeel excitedly called a
fellow member of his political party.

It was a moment, he tells me as we talk on a street in Baghdad, that
he’ll never forget. “Now we, the dark-skinned people, feel even closer
to the American people because Obama is one of us.”

Thijeel’s organization estimates there are approximately 2 million
black Iraqis. The country’s total population is more than 28 million,
most of them ethnic Arabs. It’s impossible to verify Thijeel’s
estimate, since the government does not keep statistics on race, but
there is no denying there are many black Iraqis in the southern city
of Basra.

Their history goes back 1,000 years to the time when Africans were
brought as slaves to the south of Iraq to drain marshes and build

Many Iraqis still call blacks “abed,” an Arabic word that means
“slave.” Thijeel grimaces when he pronounces it. It’s demeaning, he
says, and he wants the government to forbid its use. Many white Iraqis
claim the word isn’t meant to offend, but Thijeel says they have no
idea how hurtful it is. “I never want my son to go through this,” he

He also wants his son — and his daughters — to have access to good
jobs, something that is not the case now, he says. In Basra, many
black Iraqis have menial jobs. Although no one can point to any
official discrimination, there are no black members of the Iraqi

The Movement of Free Iraqis was founded two years ago and on January
31 it will run the first slate of black candidates in Iraq’s modern

Thijeel hands me the party’s documents that spell out its demands.
Foremost is that the government recognize blacks as an official
minority in Iraq. This is key, because power in Iraq is apportioned
along ethnic, religious and even tribal lines. The party also wants an
apology for slavery, although it is not asking for financial
reparations. The movement also wants laws to combat racial

The party has found some nonblack political allies. Awad Al-Abdan of
the National Dialogue Front says, “There’s been social oppression for
a long time. We have a tribal-based society and, according to
traditions and customs, the black man is considered to have lower

Some white Iraqis say that founding a political party on racial lines
is divisive, especially when Iraqis of different communities need to
pull together. But Thijeel, quoting Barack Obama, says it’s time for
change. Although he’s speaking in Arabic, he uses the English word

“There’s a change in international politics,” he tells me. “Obama won,
and not that long ago, in his country, black people were marginalized,
so this event has shattered all barriers.”

From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]



lèse-majesté, lese majesty:
is a French phrase (literally meaning “injured majesty”) that is
pronounced either lez MAZH-es-TAI or lez MAJ-es-tee and is spelled
usually with the grave and acute accents. Today it means “an offense
against a sovereign” or, more generally, any slight or insult that
wounds someone’s dignity. [See FOREIGN PHRASES.]

Kleptocracy (sometimes Cleptocracy) (root: Klepto+cracy = rule by
thieves) is a pejorative, informal term for a government so corrupt
that no pretense of honesty remains. In a kleptocracy the mechanisms
of government are devoted to taxing the public at large, or using
their control of government processes in order to amass substantial
personal fortunes for the rulers and their cronies (collectively,
kleptocrats), or to keep said rulers in power through redistribution


a synopsis of Chapter 14: From Egalitarianism to Kleptocracy
by Jared Diamond, speaking on levels of societal organization

“The band has 5 to 80 people, are usually related by blood, typically
nomadic, have 1 language and ethnicity, have egalitarian government
with informal leadership, no bureaucracy, no formal structures for
conflict resolution, no economic specialization (e.g., Bushmen,

The tribe has hundreds of people, often fixed settlements, consist of
kin-based clans, still 1 ethnicity and language, have egalitarian or
“big-man” government, informal and often difficult conflict resolution
problems (e.g., much of New Guinea, Amazonia).

Chiefdoms have thousands of people, have 1 or more villages possibly
with a paramount village, have class and residence relationships,
still 1 ethnicity, have centralized often hereditary rule, include
monopoly and centralized conflict resolution, justify kleptocracy and
a redistributive economy (requiring tribute), have intensive food
production, early division of labor, luxury goods, etc…. (e.g.,
Polynesia, sub-Saharan Africa, etc.)

States have over 50,000 people, have many villages and a capital, have
class and residence based relationships, 1 or more languages and
ethnicities, centralized government, many levels of bureaucracy,
monopolies of force and information, have formalized laws and judges,
may justify kleptocracy, have intensive food production, division of
labor, pay taxes, public architecture, etc.

Kleptocrats maintain power by disarming the populace and arming the
elite, making the masses happy by redistributing the tribute, keeping
order and curbing violence (compared to bands and tribes), promoting
religion and ideology that justifies kleptocracy (and that promotes
self-sacrifice on behalf of others), building public works, etc.

States are especially good at developing weapons of war, providing
troops, promoting religion (fanaticism) and patriotic fervor that
makes troops willing to fight suicidally.  States arise not just from
the natural tendency of man (as Aristotle suggested), but by social
contract, in response to needs for irrigation (“hydraulic theory”),
and regional population size.  The large populations require intensive
food production, which contributes (1) seasonal workers for other
purposes, (2) stored food surpluses which feed specialists and other
elite, (3) sedentary living.  Increased opportunities in states for
conflicts forces the development of laws.  The processes by which
states form virtually never include voluntary merger, but rather (1)
merger under threat of force (e.g., the Cherokee Indian federation),
or (2) merger by conquest (e.g., the Zulus)–when population density
is high, the defeated men are often killed and the women taken in

Jared Diamond
email : jdiamond [at] geog [dot] ucla [dot] edu


‘I am re-reading Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond and just
finished his chapters on kleptocracy, which is, broadly, “A government
characterized by rampant greed and corruption” [from the Greek
kleptein, to steal].

Specifically, Diamond is describing the ruling class of a nation state
that transfers tribute from producers to an elite (p. 276-277, Norton
trade paperback, 2003). I was struck by Diamond’s “four solutions,”
the ones that rulers have used to gain popular support while still
maintaining power (and riches)…and how much his model could be applied
to the world’s current crop of humongously compensated CEOs.

I’m as capitalistic as any businessman. I work hard for my earnings
and don’t – mainly – begrudge others’ higher salaries. But there’s a
parallel between what Diamond’s ruling kleptocrats have done
historically and what a number of C-level executives do with their

So very briefly, I’m putting down Diamond’s four solutions, and a
corporate interpretation of each.

Disarm the populace and arm the elite. – Well, think about what the
corporations do to “disarm” their employees, like fostering dependence
on healthcare benefits; and their stockholders, like forbidding them
to ask pointed questions during shareholders’ meetings. Corporations
arm their elites with similar (but smaller) executive compensation
packages and privileges.

Make the masses happy by redistributing much of the tribute received.
– How about slightly better returns on share price, or bonuses for
workers, or giving substantially to charity? Hmmm? Aren’t these ways
of “sharing the wealth,” but not very much of it?

Use the monopoly of force to promote happiness. – In other words, the
company will fire your keister if you question its behavior. Isn’t
that what happened to several of the Enron whistle-blowers? Or, the
company will move offshore, depriving the community of much-needed
jobs (which keep employees and their families happy).

Construct an ideology or religion justifying kleptocracy. – This one’s
pretty easy if you presume that capitalism is the reason and the
justification. But since I am a capitalist myself – without the hefty
salary – I would rather offer the “ideology of corporate entitlement,”
which has been heavily displayed by Enron, HealthSouth, and a few
other companies: we’re the best, so we deserve to be able to treat you
like peasants.” This kind of attitude runs throughout a given
organization…every employee feels the same way, no matter how little
he or she is involved in corporate management.

None of this is new. Wasn’t it Al Capp who coined the phrase more than
50 years ago, “What’s good for General Motors is good for the USA?” Or
was this from the musical version?’

‘After defining kleptocracy, author Jared Diamond says that the issue
with a kleptocracy is always how to maintain it. After all, this
system of government involves a small but powerful elite exploiting a
large population. (Sadly, I am growing convinced that America
abandoned democracy for corporate kleptocracy some time ago.) Diamond
says there are four solutions to the problem of how a kleptocracy can
maintain itself. Of likely interest to you, here is #4:

“The remaining way for kleptocrats to gain public support is to
construct an ideology or religion justifying kleptocracy” (p. 277).

Religious impulses almost certainly predate civilization. However, it
appears that most kleptocracies, starting with small chiefdoms and
extending through modern national governments, have recognized the
utility of religion. Superstitious beliefs may have originated as
methods for explaining confusing natural phenomena, but it seems that
they may persist today largely because of their role in justifying
kleptocracy. Without state sponsorship through the ages, the type of
organized religion we have today would not have been possible.

Diamond does not explicitly apply this to modern politics (at least
not in what I have read so far), but I can’t resist doing so. When I
examine contemporary American politics, I see the Republican party
talking the loudest about their religiosity. Why? Because their
policies are the most kleptocratic (i.e., they favor the wealthy at
the expense of the poor). In fact, they have few qualms about
exploiting the poor and even blame them for being poor! The need to
publicly announce their religion has been less necessary for Democrats
because their policies provide a more significant benefit to the
masses. Remember I said that Diamond gives four solutions to the
problem of maintaining a kleptocracy? #2 involves the redistribution
of wealth through popular public programs, and this describes the

The points I’m making here are not new. They have been made repeatedly
throughout historical and political literature. And yet, they are not
brought up often enough in modern political discourse. While we
continue to criticize Republican efforts to merge church and state,
let us also expose why they need religion so much.’

‘Diamond sees social structure, a kleptocracy, as ultimately a factor
intrinsic to growing, settled, agricultural populations. He sees it as
inevitable. The best the oppressed can do, in Diamond’s opinion, is to
oust one group of kleptocrats for hopefully a more benevolent group of
kleptocrats; and the big questions of history were determined largely
by environmental, geographic and techological factors, not even
individual human agency. For Diamond, if you develop a settled,
agricultural society… you are inevitably headed towards an
exploitive state.

Obviously, this is a problematic view for anarchists.

I actually studied Marx’s ethnographic notebooks, and Engels. I read
Morgan. I focused in on the Iroquois, the primary example Marx, Engels
and Morgan use for a stateless communist society of
“barbarians” (though Morgan over emphasizes “the hunt” and thus makes
“savages” out of the Iroquois at the point in their history of their
lowest population in the 1800s).’

‘The obvious corollary of this theory is that most successful modern
societies are, in fact, kleptocracies. The key is to use the four
methods to gain popular support in order to redistribute as much
wealth to the ruling class as the populace will support. If the ruling
class takes too much, it will be overthrown by a new ruling class
(which’ll do ditto).

So, is the US a kleptocracy? Of course, it is! Is that bad? Well, it
depends on who you are in society, and whether the kleptocracy is
efficient and fair over the long term.’

Our President’s Statement on Kleptocracy

“For too long, the culture of corruption has undercut development and
good governance and bred criminality and mistrust around the world.
High-level corruption by senior government officials, or kleptocracy,
is a grave and corrosive abuse of power and represents the most
invidious type of public corruption. It threatens our national
interest and violates our values. It impedes our efforts to promote
freedom and democracy, end poverty, and combat international crime and
terrorism. Kleptocracy is an obstacle to democratic progress,
undermines faith in government institutions, and steals prosperity
from the people. Promoting transparent, accountable governance is a
critical component of our freedom agenda.

At this year’s G-8 meeting in St Petersburg, my colleagues joined me
in calling for strengthened international efforts to deny kleptocrats
access to our financial systems and safe haven in our countries;
stronger efforts to combat fraud, corruption, and misuse of public
resources; and increased capacity internationally to prevent
opportunities for high-level public corruption. Today, I am announcing
a new element in my Administration’s plan to fight kleptocracy, The
National Strategy to Internationalize Efforts against Kleptocracy,
which sets forth a framework to deter, prevent, and address high-
level, public corruption. It identifies critical tools to detect and
prosecute corrupt officials around the world, so that the promise of
economic assistance and growth reaches the people.

Our objective is to defeat high-level public corruption in all its
forms and to deny corrupt officials access to the international
financial system as a means of defrauding their people and hiding
their ill-gotten gains. Given the nature of our open, accessible
international financial system, our success in fighting kleptocracy
will depend upon the participation and accountability of our partner
nations, the international financial community, and regional and
multilateral development institutions. Together, we can confront
kleptocracy and help create the conditions necessary for people
everywhere to enjoy the full benefits of honest, just, and accountable

2007/09/05  /  The United States, World’s First Corporate Kleptocracy

“When Ronald Reagan said, “…government is not the solution to our
problem; government is the problem,” many people thought it would
usher in a new era of fiscal responsibility, but to the contrary,
taxes decreased, government spending increased, and the national debt
went through the roof. In fact, it took 6 of 8 years of the Clinton
administration to turn those deficits into surpluses, and then only by
virtue of the fact that the economy boomed in the 90s. But now, with
the Bush oligarchy coming to an end, we see what really became of the
Reagan’s legacy. The GOP has turned our nation into the world’s first
fully functional ‘Corporate Kleptocracy’, a government/corporate
partnership whose goal is acquire as much of the nation’s wealth as

In a traditional kleptocracy, the government directly extends the
power and wealth of the ruling class through taxes and the looting of
wealth in natural resources. The United States is no longer rich in
resources but is rich in the productivity of its workers. Our country
is also rich in geo-political influence and military might. And so we
find the Bush Administration, at almost every turn, advancing policies
that indirectly transfer wealth to the powerful by:

1) Removing regulations on, curtailing oversight of, or blocking
corrective action against predatory industries. Example: Enron and the
gaming of California’s electrical markets with FERC blocking
corrective action after the fact.

2) Creating geo-political instability designed to enhance the profits
of particular industries. Example: The Iraq War with it’s direct and
indirect benefits for the defense and petroleum industries.

3) Actively supporting inefficient, but highly profitable, corporate
service delivery systems instead of more efficient government systems.
Examples: Private insurer health care and mandatory non-governmental
retirement financing

4) Supporting predatory laws that amount to non-tax “taxes” that favor
corporations over individuals. Examples: Bankruptcy reform, medical
savings accounts, privatized social-security

5) Massive politicization of the regulatory (EPA, OSHA), investigative
(DoJ, FBI, BATF, Customs), military, and judicial functions of
government, thereby ensuring compliance that supports the other four

Sort of makes you feel like Neo in The Matrix, doesn’t it? Not a
battery…a wealth creation machine for corporations. The proof in the
stats. Real income for the majority of Americans has not increased in
7 years while corporate profits have ballooned and are, for certain
industries, at historic highs. Productivity continues to climb while
wages fall, even during a period of low inflation.

One wonders how long such a system can last since most kleptocracies
fail, bloodily, when there is no more wealth to loot. The powerful
leave, and poor fight each other for what’s left.”






Kleptocracy and Divide-and-Rule: A Model of Personal Rule
‘Many developing countries have suffered under the personal rule of
‘kleptocrats’, who implement highly inefficient economic policies,
expropriate the wealth of their citizens, and use the proceeds for
their own glorification or consumption. The incidence of kleptocracy
is a serious impediment to development. Yet how do kleptocrats
survive? How can they apparently exploit the entire citizenship of
countries and not foment successful opposition? In this research we
argue that the success of kleptocrats rests on their ability to use a
particular type of political strategy, which we refer to as ‘divide-
and-rule’. Members of society need to cooperate in order to depose a
kleptocrat. A kleptocrat, however, may defuse such cooperation by
imposing punitive rates of taxation on any citizen who proposes such a
move, and redistributing the benefits to those who need to agree to
it. Thus kleptocrats can intensify the collective action problem by
threats that remain off the equilibrium path. In equilibrium, all are
exploited and no one challenges the kleptocrat because of the threat
of divide-and-rule. The divide-and-rule strategy is made possible by
the weakness of the institutions in these societies, and highlights
the different nature of politics between strongly- and weakly-
institutionalized polities. We show that foreign aid and rents from
natural resources typically help kleptocratic rulers by providing them
with greater resources to buy off opponents. Kleptocratic policies are
also more likely to arise when opposition groups are shortsighted and
when the average productivity in the economy is low. We also find that
greater inequality between producer groups may constrain kleptocratic
policies because more productive groups are more difficult to buy

Daron Acemoglu
email : daron [at] mit [dot] edu


“The answer is a kind of corruption of the political process. Or
better, a “corruption” of the political process. I don’t mean
corruption in the simple sense of bribery. I mean “corruption” in the
sense that the system is so queered by the influence of money that it
can’t even get an issue as simple and clear as term extension right.
Politicians are starved for the resources concentrated interests can
provide. In the US, listening to money is the only way to secure
reelection. And so an economy of influence bends public policy away
from sense, always to dollars.

The point of course is not new. Indeed, the fear of factions is as old
as the Republic. There are thousands who are doing amazing work to
make clear just how corrupt this system has become. There have been
scores of solutions proposed. This is not a field lacking in good
work, or in people who can do this work well.

But a third person — this time anonymous — made me realize that I
wanted to be one of these many trying to find a solution to this
“corruption.” This man, a Republican of prominence in Washington,
wrote me a reply to an email I had written to him about net
neutrality. As he wrote, “And don’t shill for the big guys protecting
market share through neutrality REGULATION either.”

“Shill.”  If you’ve been reading these pages recently, you’ll know my
allergy to that word. But this friend’s use of the term not to condemn
me, but rather as play, made me recognize just how general this
corruption is. Of course he would expect I was in the pay of those
whose interests I advanced. Why else would I advance them? Both he and
I were in a business in which such shilling was the norm. It was
totally reasonable to thus expect that money explained my desire to
argue with him about public policy.

I don’t want to be a part of that business. And more importantly, I
don’t want this kind of business to be a part of public policy making.
We’ve all been whining about the “corruption” of government forever.
We all should be whining about the corruption of professions too. But
rather than whining, I want to work on this problem that I’ve come to
believe is the most important problem in making government work.

And so as I said at the top (in my “bottom line”), I have decided to
shift my academic work, and soon, my activism, away from the issues
that have consumed me for the last 10 years, towards a new set of
issues: Namely, these. “Corruption” as I’ve defined it elsewhere will
be the focus of my work. For at least the next 10 years, it is the
problem I will try to help solve.

I do this with no illusions. I am 99.9% confident that the problem I
turn to will continue exist when this 10 year term is over. But the
certainty of failure is sometimes a reason to try. That’s true in this

Nor do I believe I have any magic bullet. Indeed, I am beginner. A
significant chunk of the next ten years will be spent reading and
studying the work of others. My hope is to build upon their work; I
don’t pretend to come with a revolution pre-baked.

Instead, what I come with is a desire to devote as much energy to
these issues of “corruption” as I’ve devoted to the issues of network
and IP sanity. This is a shift not to an easier project, but a
different project. It is a decision to give up my work in a place some
consider me an expert to begin work in a place where I am nothing more
than a beginner.”

Lawrence Lessig
email : lessig [at] lessig08 [dot] org / lessig [at] pobox [dot] com


“Following the good practice of others, and following suggestions of
inconsistency by others, I offer the following disclosure statement.

How I make money
I am a law professor. I am paid to teach and write in fields that
interest me. Never is my academic research directed by anyone other
than I. I am not required to teach any particular course; I am never
required or even asked by anyone with authority over me to write about
a particular subject or question. I am in this important sense a free

Business Attachments
I have no regular clients. I am on board of a number of non-
profits, including EFF, FSF, PLOS, Software Freedom Law Center,
FreePress, PublicKnowledge, MusicBrainz, and Creative Commons.

I serve on no commercial boards. I don’t take stock-options to
serve on boards or advisory boards.

The Non-Corruption (NC) Principle
It is a special privilege that I have a job that permits me to say
just what I believe, and not what I’m paid to say. That freedom used
to be the norm among professionals. It is less and less the norm
today. Lawyers at one time had a professional ethic that permitted
them to say what they believe. Now the concept of “business conflicts”
— meaning, a conflict with the commercial interests of actual or
potential clients — silences many from saying what they believe.
Doctors too are hired into jobs where they are not allowed to discuss
certain medical procedures (See, e.g., Rust v. Sullivan). Researchers
at “think tanks” learn who the funders are as a first step to deciding
what questions will be pursued. And finally, and most obviously, the
same is true of politicians: The constant need to raise money just to
keep their job drives them to develop a sixth sense about what sorts
of statements (whether true or not) will cost them fundraising

With perhaps one exception (politicians), no one forces
professionals into this compromise. (The exception is because I don’t
see how you survive in politics, as the system is, without this
compromise, unless you are insanely rich.) We choose the values we
live by ourselves. And as the freedom I have to say what I believe is
the most important part of my job to me, I have chosen a set of
principles that limit any link between money and the views I express.

I call these principles “non-corruption” principles because I
believe that behavior inconsistent with these principles, at least
among professionals, is a kind of corruption. Obviously, I don’t mean
“corruption” in the crudest sense. Everyone would agree that it is
wrong for a global warming scientist to say to Exxon, “if you pay me
$50,000, I’ll write an article criticizing global warming.” That is
not the sort of “corruption” I am talking about.

I mean instead “corruption” in a more subtle sense. We all
understand that subtle sense when we look at politicians. We don’t
recognize it enough when we think about lawyers, doctors, scientists,
and professors.

I want to increase this recognition, even at the risk of
indirectly calling some of my friends “corrupt.” Norms are uncertain
here. I hope they change. But until they change, we should not condemn
those with differing views. We should engage them. I intend this to be
the beginning of that engagement.

So, the NC principle:
The simple version is just this: I don’t shill for anyone.

The more precise version is this: I never promote as policy a
position that I have been paid to advise about, consult upon, or write
about. If payment is made to an institution that might reasonably be
said to benefit me indirectly, then I will either follow the same
rule, or disclose the payment.

The precise version need to be precisely specified, but much can
be understood from its motivation: “Corruption” in my view is the
subtle pressure to take views or positions because of the financial
reward they will bring you. “Subtle” in the sense that one’s often not
even aware of the influence. (This is true, I think, of most
politicians.) The rule is thus designed to avoid even that subtle

But isn’t disclosure always enough?
Some would say this principle is too strict. That a simpler rule
— indeed the rule that governs in most of these contexts — simply
requires disclosure.

I don’t agree with the disclosure principle. In my view, it is too
weak. The best evidence that it is too weak is the United States
Congress. All know, or can know, who gives what to whom. That hasn’t
chilled in the least the kind of corruption that I am targeting here.
More generally: if everyone plays this kind of corruption game, then
disclosure has no effect in stopping the corruption I am targeting.
Thus, in my view, it is not enough to say that “Exxon funded this
research.” In my view, Exxon should not be directly funding an
academic to do research benefiting Exxon in a policy dispute.

What the NC principle is not
The NC principle is about money. It is not about any other
influence. Thus, if you’re nice to me, no doubt, I’ll be nice to you.
If you’re respectful, I’ll be respectful back. If you flatter me, I
doubt I could resist flattering you in return. If you push causes I
believe in, I will likely push your work as well. These forms of
influence are not within the scope of the NC principle — not because
they are not sometimes troubling, but because none of them involve
money. I mean the NC principle only to be about removing the influence
of money from the work of a professional. I don’t think there’s any
need to adopt a rule to remove these other influences.”

‘Recent thoughts:
* kleptocracy – associated with state and the necessary
redistribution that comes with high specialization, population and
population density. Teaches one to devalue things that have value
(e.g. time, health, relationships etc.) and to value things that have
little real value (e.g. name brands, popularity, etc.) Derives power
from the fears and insecurities of the citizens. Stands in opposition
to more egalitarian societies of the past (recent and distant), in its
class divisions and allowance of slavery
* megaklept – a tool of the kleptocracy that takes your money/time
and gives you nothing in return (e.g. insurance companies,
* gigaklept – a tool of the kleptocracy that leaves you in worse
condition than before you interacted with it (e.g. the tobacco
* kleptocrat – an agent of the kleptocracy
* major kleptocrat – an agent of the kleptocracy that imposes
kleptocratism on others, often against their will (e.g. my uncle who,
without anyone’s permission, gave me a perm when I was three years
* minor kleptocrat – an unwitting agent of the kleptocracy. (e.g.
parents who let their children watch way too much TV)
* kleptovision – the TV. A very powerful tool of the kleptocracy.
* kleptonet – the internet, when used as a tool of the

Hypothesis – those that are slaves to the kleptocracy are often
unhappy and their joi de vivre would return if they began to emerge
from and limit their interaction with the kleptocracy.

Goal – to eliminate all interaction with gigaklepts and minimize
interaction with megaklepts in an effort free oneself from the global
kleptocracy and decrease its wide-ranging power.

Challenge – to find ways to minimize the power of the kleptocracy in
one’s life.

Root out the kleptocrats at

Definitions (and some words) by Althea Grant and Karama Neal. Inspired
by Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond.’
email : karama [at] alum [dot] emory [dot] edu





Secret Report: Corruption is “Norm” Within Iraqi Government
BY David Corn  /  08/30/2007

As Congress prepares to receive reports on Iraq from General David
Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and readies for a debate on
George W. Bush’s latest funding request of $50 billion for the Iraq
war, the performance of the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-
Maliki has become a central and contentious issue. But according to
the working draft of a secret document prepared by the U.S. embassy in
Baghdad, the Maliki government has failed in one significant area:
corruption. Maliki’s government is “not capable of even rudimentary
enforcement of anticorruption laws,” the report says, and, perhaps
worse, the report notes that Maliki’s office has impeded
investigations of fraud and crime within the government.

The draft–over 70 pages long–was obtained by The Nation, and it
reviews the work (or attempted work) of the Commission on Public
Integrity (CPI), an independent Iraqi institution, and other
anticorruption agencies within the Iraqi government. Labeled
“SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED/Not for distribution to personnel outside
of the US Embassy in Baghdad,” the study details a situation in which
there is little, if any, prosecution of government theft and sleaze.
Moreover, it concludes that corruption is “the norm in many

The report depicts the Iraqi government as riddled with corruption and
criminals–and beyond the reach of anticorruption investigators. It
also maintains that the extensive corruption within the Iraqi
government has strategic consequences by decreasing public support for
the U.S.-backed government and by providing a source of funding for
Iraqi insurgents and militias.

The report, which was drafted by a team of U.S. embassy officials,
surveys the various Iraqi ministries. “The Ministry of Interior is
seen by Iraqis as untouchable by the anticorruption enforcement
infrastructure of Iraq,” it says. “Corruption investigations in
Ministry of Defense are judged to be ineffectual.” The study reports
that the Ministry of Trade is “widely recognized as a troubled
ministry” and that of 196 corruption complaints involving this
ministry merely eight have made it to court, with only one person

The Ministry of Health, according to the report, “is a sore point;
corruption is actually affecting its ability to deliver services and
threatens the support of the government.” Investigations involving the
Ministry of Oil have been manipulated, the study says, and the “CPI
and the [Inspector General of the ministry] are completely ill-
equipped to handle oil theft cases.” There is no accurate accounting
of oil production and transportation within the ministry, the report
explains, because organized crime groups are stealing oil “for the
benefit of militias/insurgents, corrupt public officials and foreign

The list goes on: “Anticorruption cases concerning the Ministry of
Education have been particularly ineffective….[T]he Ministry of Water
Resources…is effectively out of the anticorruption fight with little
to no apparent effort in trying to combat fraud….[T]he Ministry of
Labor & Social Affairs is hostile to the prosecution of corruption
cases. Militia support from [Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr] has
effectively made corruption in the Ministry of Transportation
wholesale according to investigators and immune from prosecution.”
Several ministries, according to the study, are “so controlled by
criminal gangs or militias” that it is impossible for corruption
investigators “to operate within [them] absent a tactical [security]
force protecting the investigator.”

The Ministry of the Interior, which has been a stronghold of Shia
militias, stands out in the report. The study’s authors say that
“groups within MOI function similarly to a Racketeer Influenced and
Corrupt Organization (RICO) in the classic sense. MOI is a ‘legal
enterprise’ which has been co-opted by organized criminals who act
through the ‘legal enterprise’ to commit crimes such as kidnapping,
extortion, bribery, etc.” This is like saying the mob is running the
police department. The report notes, “currently 426 investigations are
hung up awaiting responses for documents belonging to MOI which
routinely are ignored.” It cites an episode during which a CPI officer
discovered two eyewitnesses to the October 2006 murder of Amer al-
Hashima, the brother of the vice president, but the CPI investigator
would not identify the eyewitnesses to the Minister of the Interior
out of fear he and they would be assassinated. (It seemed that the
killers were linked to the Interior Ministry.) The report adds, “CPI
investigators assigned to MOI investigations have unanimously
expressed their fear of being assassinated should they aggressively
pursue their duties at MOI. Thus when the head of MOI intelligence
recently personally visited the Commissioner of CPI…to end
investigations of [an] MOI contract, there was a clear sense of
concern within the agency.”

Over at the Defense Ministry, the report notes, there has been a
“shocking lack of concern” about the apparent theft of $850 million
from the Iraqi military’s procurement budget. “In some cases,” the
report says, “American advisors working for US [Department of Defense]
have interceded to remove [Iraqi] suspects from investigations or
custody.” Of 455 corruption investigations at the Defense Ministry,
only 15 have reached the trial stage. A mere four investigators are
assigned to investigating corruption in the department. And at the
Ministry of Trade, “criminal gangs” divide the spoils, with one
handling grain theft, another stealing transportation assets.

Part of the problem, according to the report, is Maliki’s office: “The
Prime Minister’s Office has demonstrated an open hostility” to
independent corruption investigations. His government has withheld
resources from the CPI, the report says, and “there have been a number
of identified cases where government and political pressure has been
applied to change the outcome of investigations and prosecutions in
favor of members of the Shia Alliance”–which includes Maliki’s Dawa

The report’s authors note that the man Maliki appointed as his
anticorruption adviser–Adel Muhsien Abdulla al-Quza’alee–has said
that independent agencies, like the CPI, should be under the control
of Maliki. According to the report, “Adel has in the presence of
American advisors pressed the Commissioner of CPI to withdraw cases
referred to court.” These cases involved defendants who were members
of the Shia Alliance. (Adel has also, according to the report,
“steadfastly refused to submit his financial disclosure form.”) And
Maliki’s office, the report says, has tried to “force out the entire
leadership of CPI to replace them with political appointees”–which
would be tantamount to a death sentence for the CPI officials. They
now live in the Green Zone. Were they to lose their CPI jobs, they
would have to move out of the protected zone and would be at the mercy
of the insurgents, militias, and crime gangs “who are [the] subjects
of their investigations.”

Maliki has also protected corrupt officials by reinstating a law that
prevents the prosecution of a government official without the
permission of the minister of the relevant agency. According to a memo
drafted in March by the U.S. embassy’s anticorruption working group–a
memo first disclosed by The Washington Post–between September 2006
and February 2007, ministers used this law to block the prosecutions
of 48 corruption cases involving a total of $35 million. Many other
cases at this time were in the process of being stalled in the same
manner. The stonewalled probes included one case in which Oil Ministry
employees rigged bids for $2.5 million in equipment and another in
which ministry personnel stole 33 trucks of petroleum.

And in another memo obtained by The Nation–marked “Secret and
Confidential”–Maliki’s office earlier this year ordered the
Commission on Public Integrity not to forward any case to the courts
involving the president of Iraq, the prime minister of Iraq, or any
current or past ministers without first obtaining Maliki’s consent.
According to the U.S. embassy report on the anticorruption efforts,
the government’s hostility to the CPI has gone so far that for a time
the CPI link on the official Iraqi government web site directed
visitors to a pornographic site.

In assessing the Commission on Public Integrity, the embassy report
notes that the CPI lacks sufficient staff and funding to be effective.
The watchdog outfit has only 120 investigators to cover 34 ministries
and agencies. And these investigators, the report notes, “are closer
to clerks processing paperwork rather than investigators solving
crimes.” The CPI, according to the report, “is currently more of a
passive rather than a true investigatory agency. Though legally
empowered to conduct investigations, the combined security situation
and the violent character of the criminal elements within the
ministries make investigation of corruption too hazardous.”

CPI staffers have been “accosted by armed gangs within ministry
headquarters and denied access to officials and records.” They and
their families are routinely threatened. Some sleep in their office in
the Green Zone. In December 2006, a sniper positioned on top of an
Iraqi government building in the Green Zone fired three shots at CPI
headquarters. Twelve CPI personnel have been murdered in the line of
duty. The CPI, according to the report, “has resorted to arming people
hired for janitorial and maintenance duty.”

Radhi al-Radhi, a former judge who was tortured and imprisoned during
Saddam Hussein’s regime and who heads the CPI, has been forced to live
in a safe house with one of his chief investigators, according to an
associate of Radhi who asked not to be identified. Radhi has worked
with Stuart Bowen Jr., the Special Inspector General for Iraq
Reconstruction, who investigates fraud and waste involving U.S.
officials and contractors. His targets have included former Defense
Minister Hazem Shalaan and former Electricity Minister Aiham
Alsammarae. And Radhi himself has become a target of accusations. A
year ago, Maliki’s office sent a letter to Radhi suggesting that the
CPI could not account for hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses
and that Radhi might be corrupt. But, according to the US embassy
report, a subsequent audit of the CPI was “glowing.” In July, the
Iraqi parliament considered a motion of no confidence in Radhi-a move
widely interpreted as retaliation for his pursuit of corrupt
officials. But the legislators put off a vote on the resolution. In
late August, Radhi came to the United States. He is considering
remaining here, according to an associate.

Corruption, the report says, is “one of the major hurdles the Iraqi
government must overcome if it is to survive as a stable and
independent entity.” Without a vigorous anticorruption effort, the
report’s authors assert, the current Iraqi government “is likely to
loose [sic] the support of its people.” And, they write, continuing
corruption “will likely fund the violent groups that our troops are
likely to face.” Yet, according to the report, the U.S. embassy is
providing “uncertain” resources for anticorruption programs. “It’s a
farce,” says a U.S. embassy employee. “There is a budget of zero
[within the embassy] to fight corruption. No one ever asked for this
report to be written. And it was shit-canned. Who the hell would want
to release it? It should infuriate the families of the soldiers and
those who are fighting in Iraq supposedly to give Maliki’s government
a chance.”

Beating back corruption is not one of the 18 congressionally mandated
benchmarks for Iraq and the Maliki government. But this hard-hitting
report–you can practically see the authors pulling out their hair–
makes a powerful though implicit case that it ought to be. The study
is a damning indictment: widespread corruption within the Iraqi
government undermines and discredits the U.S. mission in Iraq. And the
Bush administration is doing little to stop it.

For Iraq’s Oil Contracts, a Question of Motive
BY Peter S. Goodman  /  June 29, 2008

From the first days that American-led forces took control of Iraq, the
conquering army took pains to broadcast that it was there to liberate
the country, not occupy it, and certainly not to cart off its riches.
Nowhere were such words more carefully dispensed than on the subject
of Iraq’s oil.

As they surveyed facilities in the weeks after Saddam Hussein’s
government fell, American officials said they were merely advising
Iraqis on how to increase production to finance the democratic nation
being erected across desert sands that, conveniently, held the third-
largest oil reserves on earth.

Many critics of the invasion derided that characterization. In Arab
countries and among some people in America, there was suspicion that
the war was a naked grab for oil that would open Iraq to multinational
energy giants. President Bush had roots in the Texas oil industry.
Vice President Cheney had overseen Halliburton, the oil services
company. Whatever else happened, such critics said, energy players
with links to the White House would surely wind up with a nice piece
of the spoils.

Behind those competing conceptions was a fundamental reality that
forms the wallpaper for American engagement in the Middle East: oil,
and its critical importance to the American economy, has for decades
been a paramount interest of the United States in the region. Almost
everything the United States has tried to do there — propping up
autocrats or seeking democracy, fighting terrorism or withstanding
Soviet influence, or, in this case, toppling the dictator Saddam
Hussein — could affect the availability of oil for American markets
and therefore entailed some calculation about it.

Today, the question hanging over Iraq is whether its natural endowment
will be used to help create a sustainable new state, or will instead
be managed in ways that reward the cronies and allies of the country
whose army toppled Mr. Hussein. Or perhaps both at the same time.

That basic question was yanked back to the fore recently when word
emerged from Baghdad, in a report in The New York Times, that the
Iraqi oil ministry was close to awarding contracts to service its oil
fields to some of the largest Western oil companies. While relatively
small, these contracts could serve as a foot in the door for much more
lucrative licenses to explore widely for Iraqi oil.

Some 40 companies from around the world had jockeyed for the
contracts, but they were being awarded without competitive bids, the
report said. Those about to land the deals — Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP
and Total — had held oil rights in Iraq before Mr. Hussein
nationalized the fields and kicked them out more than three decades
ago. They all came from countries that had either been stalwart allies
of the Bush administration or — in the case of France, which is home
to Total — had lately increased their support for the American-led
campaign to isolate Iran.

Just as striking were the companies that failed to capture a foothold:
the Russian oil giant Lukoil, which had signed a deal to exploit a
huge field in southern Iraq while Mr. Hussein was still in power, only
to see it revoked just before he fell, and Chinese firms with their
own claims. Before the 2003 invasion, the Russian and Chinese
governments had lent muscle on the United Nations Security Council
toward fending off American-led sanctions aimed at the Hussein

Iraqi officials said the no-bid deals reflected nothing more than
pragmatic stewardship. Iraq needs to get more oil out of the ground to
finance reconstruction, they said, and the oil giants getting the
contracts have the skill to make that happen.

But those most suspicious of the Bush administration’s motives fixed
on the contracts as validation. They accused the administration of
pulling strings and shelving concerns about preserving Iraqi
sovereignty, in favor of expedient deal-making in a time of exploding
oil prices. “There does seem to be pressure from American officials
brought on the Iraqi oil ministry to favor friendly countries and
punish unfriendly countries,” said Michael T. Klare, a political
scientist at Hampshire College and author of the recent book “Rising
Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy” (Henry Holt).
“That’s the way it has to look to an outsider.”

In the days after word of the deals leaked out, three senators,
including Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat, demanded that the
Bush administration somehow cancel the contracts, arguing that they
would damage American credibility.

The White House disowned any role and said the senators were being
hypocritical. Here they were, in effect, accusing the administration
of orchestrating the deals, while calling for orchestration to make
them disappear. “Iraq is a sovereign country,” the White House
spokeswoman, Dana Perino, told reporters. “It can make decisions based
on how it feels that it wants to move forward.”

Sovereignty has been a subject wrapped in thorns ever since American-
led forces drove Mr. Hussein from his palace. Arguments over who
really makes decisions in Iraq, and for whose benefit, cut to the
heart of the very point of the war.

This tension has often hamstrung American efforts, making it difficult
for those on the ground to act decisively. When looting swept across
the country after Mr. Hussein’s government fell, American and British
forces traced their failure to crack down against civilians in part to
a reluctance to be seen as strong-armed occupiers. But their inaction
instead aroused the disgust of many Iraqis when the looters dismantled
much of the nation. Oil has been a more delicate area. Any future
Iraqi government would clearly need hefty oil revenues, and that
requires significant modernization.

In the early days after the Americans took over in May 2003, I drove
with a team from the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Kirkuk
to meet with the head of the North Oil Company, one of two state-owned
giants. The Americans were keen that North Oil hire a private security
firm to guard local installations.

On the way over, the American commanding officer reminded his men that
they were there as advisers, and should treat the Iraqi executive with
deference. But within minutes the Americans were haranguing the
company chief for moving too slowly. Later, the Americans vented about
how much easier things would be if they were simply running the show.
“I like to think of us as really nice conquerors,” one of the
Americans said.

The Pentagon dispatched Phillip J. Carroll, a former head of Shell’s
operations in the United States, to advise the Iraqi oil ministry.
Among critics of the war, it was assumed that Mr. Carroll was there to
make sure that Mr. Hussein’s allies would be walled out of the future
Iraqi oil business while the United States and its friends got the
choice opportunities.

Mr. Carroll dismissed such talk when I spoke with him shortly after he
arrived in Baghdad, but he signaled that the shelf life of any
contract dating back to Saddam might be brief. “There will have to be
an evaluation by the ministry of those contracts and a determination
of whether they were made in the best interests of the Iraqi people,”
Mr. Carroll said.

Five years later, the Iraqi oil ministry is about to hand out secretly
negotiated contracts to a few companies that Saddam Hussein removed,
while excluding firms from the countries that had better relations
with the dictator.

In an interview last week, Mr. Carroll said he assumed critics would
assert unsavory motives, but he said that missed the point. “These
companies are long familiar with Iraq and have wonderful technology
and loads of money,” he said. “The Iraqis could develop their own
skills by learning from the international oil companies.” But energy
experts argue that Iraq is one of the easier places on earth to summon
oil from the ground, making the pedigree of the companies less

No oil law has yet been agreed upon concerning how the oil royalties
will be shared among Iraq’s factions. So, as the Bush administration
enters its final months, much about the future of Iraq’s oil remains a
mystery — expect for which companies will get the first shot at the
rewarding business of extracting more of it.





Mugabe Victory in Zimbabwe Elections a ‘Joke’
BY Louis Weston & Peta Thornycroft  /  June 30, 2008

HARARE, Zimbabwe — President Mugabe was last night sworn in to a sixth
term as president of Zimbabwe, extending his 28 years in power after
officials proclaimed he had been re-elected by a landslide.
Maintaining the fiction that the vote was a contested poll, the
Zimbabwe Election Commission said that Mr. Mugabe received 2,150,269
votes — or more than 85% — against 233,000 for Morgan Tsvangirai, the
leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change who won the
first round in March.

Between the two polls Mr. Mugabe’s Zanu-PF movement launched a
campaign of violence against the opposition in which at least 86
people were killed, and Mr. Tsvangirai pulled out of the election.
“This is an unbelievable joke and act of desperation on the part of
the regime,” the MDC’s spokesman, Nelson Chamisa, said. “It qualifies
for the Guinness Book of Records as joke of the year. Mugabe will
never win an election except when he’s contesting against himself.”

Prayers at the inauguration were led by an Anglican ally who broke
away from the church, Nolbert Kunonga. “We thank you Lord for this
unique and miraculous day,” he said. “You have not failed our leader.”
Mr. Mugabe waved a Bible as he recited “so help me God,” to cheers
from his supporters.

Mr. Tsvangirai was invited to the event but declined. “The
inauguration is meaningless,” he said. “The world has said so,
Zimbabwe has said so. So it’s an exercise in self-delusion.”
Ambassadors in Harare were conspicuous by their absence from the

Although Mr. Mugabe offered to hold talks with the opposition the
absence of the word “negotiations” was noticeable and analysts said he
intends to remain in office as long as possible. “It is my hope that
sooner rather than later, we shall as diverse political parties hold
consultations towards such serious dialogue as will minimize our
difference and enhance the area of unity and co-operation,” Mr. Mugabe

Election observers from the Southern African Development Community
said that the poll failed to reflect the will of the people. Almost
400,000 Zimbabweans defied the threat of violent retribution by Mr.
Mugabe’s thugs to vote against him or spoil their ballot papers,
official results released on yesterday show.

According to the Zimbabwe Election Commission’s figures, the turnout
of 42% was almost exactly the same as the first round. But many
polling stations were virtually deserted throughout election day.
Papers were spoiled. With 21,127 votes in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second
largest city and an opposition stronghold, Mr. Mugabe lost to the
combined total of 13,291 votes for Mr. Tsvangirai and 9,166 spoiled

Only a few independent observers were accredited for the election. And
the Zimbabwe Election Support Network — which mounted the most
comprehensive monitoring exercise in the first round — pulled out in
protest. Consequently, no unbiased verification of the figures is
possible and the true tallies may never be known.

For weeks, Zanu-PF militias have terrorized Zimbabweans, warning them
they will launch Operation Red Finger, which will target anyone whose
digit is not marked with ink to show that they cast a vote. They will
also target anyone who checks show to have backed Mr Tsvangirai.

Militias force some to vote for Zimbabwe’s Mugabe
BY Cris Chinaka  /  June 27, 2008

HARARE — Many Zimbabweans boycotted their one-candidate election on
Friday but witnesses and monitors said government militias forced
people to vote for 84-year-old President Robert Mugabe in some areas.
The vote, held despite a storm of condemnation from inside and outside
Africa, was denounced as a sham by Western powers and opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai, who won the first round on March 29, pulled out of the
poll a week ago and took refuge in the Dutch embassy because of state-
backed violence he said had killed almost 90 of his supporters. He
told a news conference millions of people were staying away from the
polls despite intimidation. “What is happening today is not an
election. It is an exercise in mass intimidation with people all over
the country being forced to vote,” Tsvangirai said.

A witness in Chitungwiza town, south of Harare, told Reuters voters
were forced to hand the serial number of their ballot paper and their
identity details to an official from Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party so he
could see how they voted. The Zimbabwe Crisis Coalition rights group
said village heads had “assisted” teachers to vote in some rural areas
after forcing them to declare they were illiterate.

Turnout was low in urban areas where Tsvangirai’s Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) is traditionally strong. But it was not clear
how many voters went to the polls in rural districts that are
difficult for independent journalists to visit. State television
denounced foreign media reports of low turnout. It showed long queues
in rural and semi-rural constituencies and said voters ignored appeals
to abstain.

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a monitoring group, said its
observers reported that traditional leaders forced people to vote in
most rural areas. It said the poll would not reflect the will of the
people. ZESN also reported militias and traditional leaders were
noting the names of voters and asking for the serial numbers of their
ballot papers as they left polling stations. ZESN said before the vote
it could not deploy properly because of intimidation of its monitors.
Tsvangirai had urged people to abstain but said they should vote if
they were in danger.

Turnout was much lower in many areas than in parliamentary and
presidential elections in March, when people queued from the early
hours. Tsvangirai won that poll but fell short of the majority needed
for outright victory. The G8 group of rich nations lambasted Zimbabwe
for going ahead with the run-off and the United States said the U.N.
Security Council may consider fresh sanctions next week. Tsvangirai
said pro-Mugabe militias had threatened to kill anybody abstaining or
voting for the opposition. Voters had their little finger dyed with
purple ink. “There is no doubt turnout will be very low,” said Marwick
Khumalo, head of monitors from the Pan African Parliament. Another
African election monitor, who asked not be to named, said turnout was
low except in some ZANU-PF strongholds.

Mugabe voted with his wife at Highfield Township, on the outskirts of
Harare. Asked how he felt, he told journalists: “Very fit, optimistic,
upbeat,” before being driven away. The African Union is optimistic it
can solve the Zimbabwe crisis. “I am convinced we will sort it out and
that our credibility will be maintained,” AU Commission chairman Jean
Ping said during a foreign ministers meeting in Sharm el Sheikh,
Egypt, ahead of an AU summit next week.

Tsvangirai said he understood South African President Thabo Mbeki
planned to recognise Mugabe’s re-election. But he said it would be a
“dream” to expect his MDC to join a national unity government with
Mugabe’s ZANU-PF. Mbeki, the designated regional mediator in Zimbabwe,
has been widely criticised for a soft approach towards Mugabe despite
an economic crisis that has flooded South Africa and other countries
with millions of refugees.

Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu, often seen as South Africa’s moral
conscience, said Mbeki must join other African leaders in declaring
Mugabe illegitimate if he claimed victory. Calling Zimbabwe’s crisis a
“sad tragedy,” Archbishop Tutu said Mbeki should admit his diplomatic
approach had failed. “Everybody would support him if he now turned the
screws on his colleague Mr Mugabe. I know he would be doing it
reluctantly,” Tutu told Reuters television.

In the affluent Greendale suburb of Harare in the morning there were
scores of people queuing for bread at a shopping centre but only 10 at
a polling station nearby. “I need to get food first and then maybe I
can go and vote … I heard there could be trouble for those who
don’t,” said Tito Kudya, an unemployed man. Mugabe has presided over
an economic collapse accompanied by hyperinflation, 80% unemployment,
food and fuel shortages. A loaf of bread costs 6-billion Zimbabwe
dollars, or 150 times more than at the time of the first round of

A middle-aged man waiting for a bus said it was dangerous to talk
about politics. “Your tongue can cost you your teeth,” he told
Reuters, adding that he would vote. Analysts said Mugabe was pressing
ahead with the election to try to cement his grip on power and
strengthen his hand if he was forced to negotiate with Tsvangirai. A
security committee of the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) called earlier this week for the vote to be postponed, saying
Mugabe’s re-election could lack legitimacy.

But Mugabe, who thrives on defiance, remained unmoved and said he
would attend an AU summit to confront his opponents. Mugabe says he is
willing to sit down with the MDC but will not bow to outside pressure.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Japan that Washington
would raise the issue of further sanctions at the U.N. Security
Council. The European Commission described the run-off as “a sham.”

Zimbabwe’s Tipping Point?
By Roger Bate  /  June 27, 2008

“As I write, a few Zimbabweans are at the polls, some brought
forcibly, to vote in a meaningless election with only one candidate,
dictator Robert Mugabe. Mugabe’s party, ZANU PF, is vainly keeping up
the pretence that democracy exists in Zimbabwe — a fiction that not
even neighboring states are still willing to believe. The normally
vacillating UN has condemned Mugabe’s attempts to rig another election
now that Zimbabwe’s trading partners, Russia and China, have been
persuaded to add their voices; the Mugabe regime probably only has
weeks left.

On Wednesday, three members of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC), Swaziland, Angola, and Tanzania, urged Zimbabwe to
postpone today’s election, acknowledging that conditions in the
country would not permit it to be free and fair. Even the previously
silent South African ruling party, the African National Congress,
issued a statement noting that given “the ugly incidents and scenes
that have been visited on the people of Zimbabwe . . . a run-off
presidential election offers no solution to Zimbabwe’s crisis.” While
he did not mention Mugabe by name, former South African president
Nelson Mandela, speaking at a private dinner in London, cited the
“tragic failure of leadership” in Zimbabwe.

Mugabe’s downfall is long overdue, but he may also take down South
Africa’s president in the process. Thabo Mbeki’s inability to put any
pressure on Mugabe over the past eight years of election rigging and
violence has left his reputation in tatters. Dubbed Thabo “What
Crisis?” Mbeki, he seems to have lost any hope of the international-
diplomacy role he desired upon retiring as South African president
next April.

The fallout for those doing business with the regime is already
starting, too. Angry protestors are today gathering in Munich outside
the headquarters of Giesecke and Devrient, the company which is
printing the money used to prop up Mugabe’s regime. G&D printed
trillions of Zimbabwean dollars in February and March (432,000 sheets
of banknotes were sent to the government-controlled Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe each week, equivalent to nearly Z$173 trillion (U.S. $32

Cato Institute analyst Stephen Hanke says that the Zimbabwean
government was “financing most of its spending” through money printed
and lent by the RBZ. As inflation deepened and tax revenues dried up,
the government demanded that RBZ print more and more money. G&D
enabled this to happen. This money was used to bribe the army prior to
the March election. The German Minister for Development, Heidemarie
Wieczorek-Zeul, told German radio this morning that she was demanding
that the company stop doing business with the Mugabe regime.

In Britain, pressure is building on Barclays Bank, which has affiliate
offices in Zimbabwe, to shut down operations there. According to a UK
treasury official, the bank has received hundreds of complaints and is
losing numerous valuable bank accounts. Furthermore, Anglo American —
the South African–British mining firm — which has new platinum
investments in Zimbabwe, was told by the British Government that it
was being monitored for any breach of existing sanctions. Like many
businesses, Anglo American argues (with little justification) that its
involvement benefits the Zimbabwean people. It may employ local
people, but all the revenue goes to the treasury — which provides hard
currency for the regime.

Most importantly, the Zimbabwean opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) has warned EU firms that licenses permitting foreign
companies to operate would be “revisited” when Mugabe is finally
overthrown. Roy Bennett, the MDC Treasurer, who spent many months in
jail for pushing a ZANU PF politician in 2006, says that all
“companies need to be careful because their rights will be
scrutinized.” He also warned that a future MDC government would not
repay recent loans to the Mugabe regime — a veiled threat to the
Chinese, North Koreans, and Malaysians who have financed weaponry and
military training for Mugabe’s army.

Universal Tobacco of Richmond, Virginia, also operates subsidiaries in
Zimbabwe. Like many businesses, they have faced difficult decisions
about remaining in the country, citing the employment of hundreds of
local people (in a country with 80 percent unemployment) as a key
reason not to leave. Unlike Anglo American, they employ many locals
and more of their activities reach the poor. When I interviewed
company officials some time ago about their tobacco processing
operations in Zimbabwe, the company defended its role — but said that
they were closely monitoring the situation. If the company wants to
operate in Zimbabwe, they’d better talk with opposition leaders soon —
waiting till Mugabe goes will be too late. The opposition wants
companies like Anglo American, Barclays, and Universal Tobacco to pull
out now — to remove the few solvent parts of a collapsing economy,
driving Mugabe to sue for a political resolution — and if the
companies don’t, they will be punished by a future MDC Government.

The saying, “It’s always darkest before the dawn” is applicable to
today’s Zimbabwe. For the millions suffering the privations of
Mugabe’s kleptocracy, it is as gloomy as it could be — but their
prospects could brighten in only a matter of weeks. It is up to
regional leaders and business leaders to ensure that is the case.”

[Roger Bate is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise

The African Union has an historic chance at its summit in Egypt to
unite against Robert Mugabe and chart a brighter future for his
country  /  June 28, 2008

Before Robert Mugabe voted yesterday, his enforcers had guaranteed him
a victory of sorts by murdering at least 90 people in his name. They
burned a six year-old boy alive in his home, along with his pregnant
mother. Another woman was found horribly dismembered in her kitchen.
Her crime: to have been married to an opposition councillor. Ten
thousand people have been injured. Two hundred thousand have been

The repugnant image of Zimbabwe’s dictator casting a ballot in his one-
candidate re-election insults the memory of his victims. It compounds
the suffering of their families and challenges the whole of Africa to
condemn him out of hand at last, to isolate him and to end his
country’s nightmare by hastening his departure from power.

Africa’s better leaders have a chance to shed their inhibitions and
start this process almost at once. Mr Mugabe has vowed to attend the
Africa Union summit at Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt on Monday, there to
confront anyone brave enough to denounce him and “see if those fingers
would be cleaner than mine”. His point is well taken. Too many AU
member states are still pernicious kleptocracies with little to boast
of by way of democracy. From the Republic of Congo to the summit’s
host country, led by the repressive Hosni Mubarak, misrule is the

But there are exceptions that keep hope alive. Ghana, Botswana,
Namibia and South Africa enjoy rankings comparable with some of the
EU’s newer members in a global survey of democratic institutions.
Botswana and South Africa beat Slovakia and Greece in international
corruption rankings. In Africa as elsewhere, there is a clear,
positive correlation between strong democratic credentials and strong
economic growth rates, and the countries that lead these tables are
leading a growing chorus of denunciation of the terror that Mr Mugabe
is inflicting on his people.

Without waiting for the lead offered by Nelson Mandela in London this
week, President Levy Mwanawasa of Zambia said that for Zimbabwe’s
neighbours to stay silent on its suffering would embarrass them and
the entire continent. Botswana has given warning that it may not
recognise the result of an election from which Morgan Tsvangirai was
forced to withdraw for fear of further butchery of his supporters. The
ANC has declared itself “deeply dismayed” by the violence (even if
South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki has yet to see reality), and
Tanzania’s President has called the AU’s silence so far on Zimbabwe

These statements come late. Mr Mugabe’s wilful destruction of his
country started eight years ago. But Africa is finally taking a stand
and deserves recognition for it.

The AU must now heed Tanzania’s warning and go much farther, by
refusing to recognise either yesterday’s blood-soaked parody of an
election or the regime that will claim a spurious mandate for more
power as a result of it. For the bleak truth is that Zimbabwe’s plight
eclipses every green shoot of good governance elsewhere in Africa. In
the land of the six billion-dollar loaf, rampaging paramilitaries and
remorseless Zanu (PF) “re-education” teams have turned the fertile
heartland of southern Africa into a vortex of misery that is
destabilising the entire region.

The AU’s duty in the next 48 hours is clear. Zimbabwe’s neighbours in
the South African Development Community (SADC) have an even more vital
role. They must unite to isolate Mr Mugabe and his inner circle. With
their help, the world can tighten sanctions, targeting the few dozen
men with the blood of so many on their hands. Without it, the shame
that Mr Mugabe has heaped on his country will only spread.

Comment: intervention in Zimbabwe is the only solution
The idea that Mugabe will cave in to sanctions or diplomatic pressure is absurd
David Aaronovitch  /  June 24, 2008

Maybe this time,” sang Lord Malloch-Brown on the Today programme
yesterday. “Something’s bound to begin. It’s got to happen, happen
sometime. Maybe this time I’ll win.”

Well, all right, I am – like postmodernist scholars – decoding the
metatext. What the Minister of State for Africa, Asia and the UN
actually said was that the mood around the world had so turned against
Robert Mugabe and his various cronies that their combined diplomatic
effort would bring him down.

Till now, Lord Malloch-Brown allowed, there had only been a “fairly
limited set of measures” taken against the Zimbabwean President. This
was changing. The Australians were kicking out the kids of Zanu (PF)
officials being educated in Oz. The EU would be freezing bank
accounts. The African Union and the Southern African Development
Community would not be recognising Mr Mugabe’s imminent second-round
election theft thus delegitimising him, and the UN would “force in”
election observers to monitor that second-round (from which Morgan
Tsvangirai had already withdrawn) or – in a manner unspecified –
“force some change of government”. These were “powerful steps – as
long as you accept that there are pressures short of military action”.

Perhaps, I thought, his lordship simply knows something we don’t about
back-channels and internal divisions in Mugabe’s apparat. Because,
unless you regard the recent burnings, rapes, beatings, murders,
threats, arrests, starvings and raids as some kind of exotic preamble
to negotiation, then what seems clear is that the Zanu (PF) military-
security group has no intention of allowing any transfer of power to
an elected opposition, no matter what a whingeing world says about it.

Or am I missing a clue, cleverly hidden in the present repression? If
so, it seems that Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic
Change missed it too when he took refuge in the Dutch Embassy in
Harare on Sunday night. Recalling Bosnia, one can only hope that the
Dutch keep their embassies safer than they did their UN safe havens.

This obduracy on the part of the Zimbabwean junta is not so
incomprehensible. The regime represents that astonishing phenomenon,
the ideo-kleptocracy, which believes that its enrichment and
corruption is a historically necessary reversal of colonialism. “The
people of Zimbabwe,” one senior Zanu (PF) minister said yesterday,
“have declared war against any force that would recolonise Zimbabwe”;
and that would take away his money, power, foreign assets, yachts and
mistresses and – at best – slap him in chokey for the rest of his

What might embolden him is the record. He might reflect that, over
nearly 30 years, he and his comrades have repeated the same essential
pattern of behaviour, each time taking Zimbabwe’s people on another
downwards journey, and have got away with it over and over and over
again. For most of my adult life we have witnessed the incremental and
inevitable destruction of a nation, almost in slow motion. After
initially ignoring the repression and violence, we have for two
decades applied the same strategies of pressure, minor sanction,
condemnation, talks, aid and buck-passing, only to enjoy the same
flickering hopes, to bemoan their subsequent betrayal and to start

Right from the beginning it was all there, in Mugabe’s 1980 revelation
that he believed in a one-party state. It was evident in his 1982-83
suppression of the Ndebele-based opposition of Joshua Nkomo using the
notorious 5th Brigade trained by North Koreans; in the 20,000
resulting deaths and the use of starvation as a political weapon; in
the intimidation of the opposition by Zanu (PF) “youth brigades”
during the 1985 elections; in the 1987 absorption of Nkomo’s Zapu and
Mugabe’s extolling of “one single, monolithic and gigantic political
party”. But we didn’t take too much notice, because there were no
whites involved.

And then the farm grab started, ostensibly redistributing white land
to the poor, and in fact giving it to the ideo-kleptocrats, in whose
hands it became barren. It was all there, this time for the whites:
the roving groups of thugs, the murders and the round-ups. The same
with the stolen election of 2000. The same with the stolen election of
2002. The same with the stolen election of 2004. Each time there were
hopes that maybe the ageing Mugabe would mellow, or that his party
would bring down the curtain and begin to compromise and each time it
all got worse. We chucked him out of the Commonwealth, he macheted a
few more opponents, we refused to shake his hand, he killed another
opposition election worker.

We believed – understandably – in the crucial role of South Africa.
South Africa, led by Thabo Mbeki, in turn believed in quiet diplomacy,
in secret talks, in dignified exits that might be delayed by
incautious condemnations, in governments of national unity between the
raped Opposition and their rapers. Several times President Mbeki, who
dislikes Mugabe intensely, would manage to get the Zimbabwean leader
into talks about this or that aspect of an imaginary future – land
settlement, development, whatever – only to have Mugabe renege the
instant the two men were back in their own capitals.

And what do we imagine now? That Zambia’s crossness, Angola’s
criticism (only a few weeks after that country passed on Chinese
weapons to the armed forces of Zimbabwe) and Botswana’s rather valiant
anger will persuade the Harare murderers that the game is up,
especially now we are investigating freezing their European assets?
Again, one asks, do the diplomats know something we don’t, and that
the historical record fails to suggest? Is there some Zimbabwean
Admiral Dönitz or Juan Carlos, waiting to arrange the transition? Why
aren’t we just as likely to get Mugabe’s Heydrich, Emerson Mnangagwa,
the Joint Operations Command strongman?

“Military intervention,” said one BBC person yesterday, expressing the
views of the consensus, “is not a realistic option.” It might be
better if it was. How many South African or British soldiers would it
take to unseat the junta and disperse the Zanu (PF) “veterans”, who
are now veterans only of whipping and gouging defenceless people, or
raping women without the slightest chance of resistance?

Instead, the suffering people of Zimbabwe (life expectancy, 37) get
what the Foreign Secretary called yesterday “the worst rigged election
in African history”.


A Bad Man In Africa
BY Matthew Sweet  /  Mar 16, 2002

North of the Zambezi, they have long known about the suppression of
free speech, about the bloody redistribution of land along racial
lines, about politicians happy to employ armed – and sometimes
uniformed – mobs to kill their opponents. They are practices imported
to this region, along with the railways, by the British.

Unlike the African press, the Western media rarely invoke the name of
Cecil John Rhodes: nearly a century after his death – on 26 March 1902
– his name is more associated with Oxford Scholarships than with
murder. It’s easier to focus on the region’s more recent, less Anglo
white supremacists: Ian Smith, for instance, who – despite his
Scottish background – seems cut from the same stuff as those Afrikaner
politicians who nurtured and maintained apartheid farther south.

But it was Rhodes who originated the racist “land grabs” to which
Zimbabwe’s current miseries can ultimately be traced. It was Rhodes,
too, who in 1887 told the House of Assembly in Cape Town that “the
native is to be treated as a child and denied the franchise. We must
adopt a system of despotism in our relations with the barbarians of
South Africa”. In less oratorical moments, he put it even more
bluntly: “I prefer land to niggers.”

For much of the century since his death, Rhodes has been revered as a
national hero. Today, however, he is closer to a national
embarrassment, about whom the less said the better. Yet there are
plenty of memorials to him to be found. In Bishop’s Stortford, his
Hertfordshire birthplace, St Michael’s Church displays a plaque. The
town has a Rhodes arts centre, a Rhodes junior theatre group, and a
small Rhodes Museum – currently closed – which houses a collection of
African art objects. In Oxford, his statue adorns Oriel College, while
Rhodes House, in which the Rhodes Trust is based, is packed with
memorabilia. Even Kensington Gardens boasts a statue – of a naked man
on horseback – based on the central feature of his memorial in Cape

But his presence is more strongly felt – and resented – in the
territories that once bore his name. Delegates at the Pan Africanist
Congress in January argued that “the problems which were being blamed
on [President Robert] Mugabe were created by British colonialism,
whose agent Cecil Rhodes used armed force to acquire land for
settlers”. He is the reason why, during the campaign for the
presidential election in Zimbabwe, Mugabe’s Zanu-PF described its
enemies – white or black – as “colonialists”; why, when Zimbabwe
gained full independence in 1980, Rhodes’s name was wiped from the
world’s maps.

The prosecution case is strong. Rhodes connived his way to wealth in a
lawless frontier culture, then used that fortune to fund a private
invasion of East Africa. He bought newspapers in order to shape and
control public opinion. He brokered secret deals, issued bribes and
used gangs of mercenaries to butcher his opponents, seizing close to a
million square miles of territory from its inhabitants. Although he
did this in the name of the British Empire, he was regarded with some
suspicion in his home country, and when it suited him to work against
Britain’s imperial interests – by slipping pounds 10,000 to Parnell’s
Irish nationalists, for example – he did so without scruple.

Rhodes was born in the summer of 1853, the fifth son of a parson who
prided himself on never having preached a sermon longer than 10
minutes. A sickly, asthmatic teenager, he was sent to the improving
climate of his brother’s cotton plantation in Natal. The pair soon
became involved in the rush to exploit South Africa’s diamond and gold
deposits – and unlike many prospectors and speculators who wandered,
dazed and luckless, around the continent, their claim proved fruitful.

When Rhodes began his studies at Oriel College, he returned to South
Africa each vacation to attend to his mining interests – which, by his
mid-thirties, had made him, in today’s terms, a billionaire. By 1891,
he had amalgamated the De Beers mines under his control, giving him
dominion over 90 per cent of the world’s diamond output. He had also
secured two other important positions; Prime Minister of the British
Cape Colony, and president of the British South Africa Company, an
organisation that was formed – in the manner of the old East India
companies – to pursue expansionist adventures for which sponsoring
governments did not have the stomach or the cash. The result of his
endeavours produced new British annexations: Nyasaland (now Malawi),
Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).

Rhodes imprinted his personality on the region with monarchical
energy: dams, railway engines, towns and anti-dandruff tonics were all
named after him. But his expansionist zeal was not always matched at
home in Britain. “Our burden is too great,” Gladstone once grumbled.
“We have too much, Mr Rhodes, to do. Apart from increasing our
obligations in every part of the world, what advantage do you see to
the English race in the acquisition of new territory?” Rhodes replied:
“Great Britain is a very small island. Great Britain’s position
depends on her trade, and if we do not open up the dependencies of the
world which are at present devoted to barbarism, we shall shut out the
world’s trade. It must be brought home to you that your trade is the
world, and your life is the world, not England. That is why you must
deal with these questions of expansion and retention of the world.”

At around the same time, Henry John Heinz was outlining a comparable
manifesto: “Our field,” he pronounced, “is the world.” By 1900, his 57
varieties were available in every continent. Global capitalism and
imperial expansion developed in collaboration; shared aims,
aspirations, patterns of influence. Today, most of the world’s
political empires have been dissolved and discredited, but the routes
along which capital moves remain the same. After Rhodes came Nestle,
Coca-Cola, BP, McDonald’s, Microsoft.

In 1896, Rhodes’s name was linked with the Jameson Raid – a disastrous
(and illegal) attempt to annex Transvaal territory held by the Boers,
and a principal cause of the South African War of 1899- 1902. His
reputation in Britain accrued a lasting tarnish. A defence of his
character, published in 1897 and co-authored by the pseudonymous
“Imperialist”, offers an insight into the charges against him:
“Bribery and corruption”, “neglect of duty”, “harshness to the
natives” and the allegation that “that Mr Rhodes is utterly
unscrupulous”. His lifelong companion Dr Leander Starr Jameson – a
future premier of the Cape Colony and the leader of the ill-fated raid
– added a postscript insisting that some of Rhodes’s best blacks were
friends: “His favourite Sunday pastime was to go into the De Beers
native compound, where he had built them a fine swimming bath, and
throw in shillings for the natives to dive for. He knew enough of
their languages to talk to them freely, and they looked up to him –
indeed, fairly worshipped the great white man.”

Did anyone buy this stuff? After Rhodes’s fatal heart attack on 26
March 1902, the death notices were ambivalent. News editors across the
world cleared their pages for obituaries and reports of public grief
in South Africa, but few wholehearted endorsements of his career
emanated from London. “He has done more than any single contemporary
to place before the imagination of his countrymen a clear conception
of the Imperial destinies of our race,” conceded The Times, “[but] we
wish we could forget the other matters associated with his name.”
Empire-builders such as Rhodes, the paper said, attracted as much
opprobrium as praise: “On the one hand they are enthusiastically
admired, on the other they are stones of stumbling, they provoke a
degree of repugnance, sometimes of hatred, in exact proportion to the
size of their achievements.” Jameson and “Imperialist”, it seems, had
not succeeded in rehabilitating their mentor.

But the story of Rhodes’s posthumous reputation is just as complex and
contentious as that of his life and career. And curiously, his
sexuality was one of the main battlegrounds. In 1911, Rhodes’s former
private secretary Philip Jourdan wrote a biography of his late
employer in order to counter “the most unjust libels with reference to
his private life [which] were being disseminated throughout the length
and breadth of the country”. Despite the aggressive romantic
attentions of a Polish adventuress and forger named Princess Catherine
Radziwill, Rhodes was indifferent to women and gained a reputation for
misogyny. His most intense relationships were with men – his private
secretary Neville Pickering, who died in his arms; Jameson, whom he
met at the diamond mines in Kimberley where, the doctor recalled, “we
shared a quiet little bachelor establishment”; and Johnny Grimmer, of
whom Jourdan (defeating the purpose of his memoir) said: “He liked
Johnny to be near him… The two had many little quarrels. On one
occasion for a couple of days they hardly exchanged a word. They were
not unlike two schoolboys.”

Rhodes’s excuse for remaining single was the one used today by members
of boy bands: “I know everybody asks why I do not marry. I cannot get
married. I have too much work on my hands.” Instead, he accumulated a
shifting entourage of young men, known as “Rhodes’s lambs”. It’s
probable that these relationships were more homosocial than
homosexual, but that didn’t stop the gossips or biographical
theoreticians. In 1946, Stuart Collete suggested Rhodes was “one of
those who, passing beyond the ordinary heterosexuality of the common
man, that the French call l’homme moyen sensual, was beyond
bisexuality, beyond homosexuality and was literally asexual – beyond
sex. It appears to have had no literal meaning to him except as a
human weakness that he understood he could exploit in others”. The
same biographer wove these comments into an analysis of Rhodes’s
appeal to another set of posthumous acolytes: the Nazis.

As the 20th century moved on, Rhodes’s memory became increasingly
attractive to extreme (and eventually moderate) right-wing opinion.
Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West (1918) hailed him as “the
first precursor of a Western type of Caesar – in our Germanic world,
the spirits of Alaric and Theodoric will come again – there is a first
hint of them in Cecil Rhodes”.

It’s easy to see why Spengler, and later Hitler, were fans. Asked by
Jameson how long he would endure in memory, Rhodes replied: “I give
myself four thousand years.” To the journalist WT Stead he said: “I
would annex the planets, if I could. I often think of that.” When, in
1877, he first made his will, he urged his executors to use his
fortune to establish a secret society that would aim to redden every
area of the planet. He envisioned a world in which British settlers
would occupy Africa, the Middle East, South America, the Pacific and
Malay islands, China and Japan, before restoring America to colonial
rule and founding an imperial world government. “He was deeply
impressed,” Jameson recalled, “with a belief in the ultimate destiny
of the Anglo-Saxon race. He dwelt repeatedly on the fact that their
great want was new territory fit for the overflow population to settle
in permanently, and thus provide markets for the wares of the old
country – the workshop of the world.” It was a dream of mercantile
Lebensraum for the English: an empire of entrepreneurs, occupying
African territories in order to fill them with Sheffield cutlery, Tate
& Lyle’s Golden Syrup and Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls.

But it was Rhodes’s Alma Mater that did most to brighten his prestige.
In 1899, Oxford University, an institution with a long and continuing
history of accepting money from morally dubious millionaires, agreed
to administer a more cuddly and less clandestine version of the
“Imperial Carbonari” of the 1877 will: the Rhodes Scholars. In 1903,
the first names were selected. A group of men fitted for “manly
outdoor sports”, who would display “qualities of manhood, truth,
courage, devotion to duty, sympathy for the protection of the weak,
kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship” – men such as Bill Clinton,
the CIA director Stansfield Turner, the first Secretary General of the
Commonwealth Sir Arnold Smith, and the Nato Supreme Commander Bernard

By 1936, ML Andrews was praising Rhodes’s “vision of world peace, to
be brought about by the domination of the English-speaking nations”.
In the same year the Gaumont-British film company produced the
hagiographic movie, Rhodes of Africa. Two years later, the little
Rhodes Museum was founded in Bishop’s Stortford. When it reopens next
year, children will, for a fiver, be able to sign up as one of
“Rhodes’s Little Rhinos”.

A 1956 children’s book, Peter Gibbs’s The True Book About Cecil Rhodes
– one of a series that also profiled Marie Curie, Captain Scott and
Joan of Arc – is the best example of how, in the mid-20th century,
Rhodes was reclaimed as a national hero. More unalloyed in its
enthusiasm for Rhodes than any comparable 19th-century text, it makes
for queasy reading. Especially, perhaps, if you were voting in
Zimbabwe last weekend. Southern Rhodesia, it reports, is now “tamed
and civilised and cultivated, and many thousands of white people have
settled there, and made it their home. Today there are beautiful
modern towns; homes, gardens, parks, towering blocks of offices and
flats; factories, railways and airports. It is a new and thriving
country of the British Commonwealth, where but recently only savages
and wild animals dwelt. And it started from the dreams of one young
Englishman – Cecil Rhodes”.

When natural resources are a curse
BY John Kay  /  Financial Times  /  12 November 2003

It is in human, rather than natural resources, that the origins of
material prosperity are to be found. John describes why natural
resources may be a burden rather than a blessing for some developing

Saudi Arabia has more natural resource wealth per head than any large
nation in the world. But it is a troubled country, whose potential
instability is held in check by an increasingly fragile autocracy. It
is as much a target for terrorism as the US, and more vulnerable.

For centuries, natural resources were believed to be the bedrock of
national prosperity. Expeditions were launched and wars fought to
obtain silver, gold and diamonds, to find Lebensraum and to secure oil

Yet prosperity today is not based on natural resources. The World Bank
has prepared estimates of the value of such endowments – oil and other
minerals, forests, agricultural land – for most big economies. Only a
few rich countries such as New Zealand and Canada have resources in or
on the ground whose value exceeds a year’s industrial production.
European countries such as Germany and Belgium generate income every
two or three months greater than the entire value of their resource

Jeffrey Sachs, the economist, has found that among poor countries
ownership of resources depresses growth rather than stimulates it.*
Abundant resources are a problem, not a benefit. Resource discoveries
attract gamblers, crooks and opportunists, from Francisco Pizarro and
Robert Clive to Cecil Rhodes, and it is not by such people that great
businesses and disinterested governments are built.

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was the result of his discovery of
the horror unleashed in the Congo by the plundering of its assets. The
curse of Mr Kurtz lingered in the Congo even after the Belgians pulled
out. The country was immersed in a civil war that ended only when one
of the nastiest kleptocracies in recent history seized power. When
Joseph Mobutu’s regime collapsed, the country’s infrastructure was in
ruins, its mines were idle and the money that commercial lenders and
the World Bank had disgracefully continued to provide for 20 years had
been dissipated through foreign bank accounts.

The once-poor countries that have grown explosively in post-colonial
decades – such as South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore – are
exceptionally poor in natural resources, as is Japan.

Those countries where stable if undemocratic political structures have
maintained control of resources, as in Saudi Arabia, have been better
off. But they have still enjoyed little economic growth. In an economy
distorted by oil wealth it is impossible for the basic manufacturing
industries that represent the first stages of economic development to
come into being. Wages and exchange, boosted by resource exports, are
too high. In the most prosperous oil states, even jobs in service
industries are filled by immigrants.

Imperialism was largely motivated by the search for resources.
Colonialism ended, and territorial expansions petered out, because the
cost of these adventures exceeded their benefits. It is no accident
that one of the world’s richest countries – Switzerland – is also one
of its most inward-looking. Few resources. No empire, no wars, just
ever-increasing wealth.

The distribution of natural resources remains a source of
international instability, but for different reasons. Resources have
been discovered in countries that have neither the political nor the
economic institutions to handle them. Lucky are those countries – such
as Canada, Australia and New Zealand – where the discovery of
resources coincided with the import of cultures and political systems
to cope with them. Lucky is Botswana, almost the only poor country in
which good government and diamond mines have brought prosperity to
many. But the luckiest of all are those countries such as Norway and
Iceland that made large resource discoveries when they already enjoyed
developed economic and political institutions. It is in human, rather
than natural, resources that the origins of material prosperity are to
be found.

* J. Sachs and A. Warner, Natural Resource Abundance and Economic

The Curse of Riches  /  BY Geoffrey Wheatcroft  /  Nov 3, 2007
on DIAMONDS, GOLD AND WAR by Martin Meredith Simon & Schuster, pp.
569, ISBN 9780743286183

“When the second half of the 19th century began, South Africa was
barely even a geographical expression, as Metternich had
contemptuously called Italy. It certainly wasn’t a country, but merely
an ill-defined area which included two Boer republics, the Transvaal
and the Orange Free State, two British colonies, the Cape and Natal,
and a number of African principalities. The British had acquired the
Cape from the Dutch during the Napoleonic wars not quite in a fit of
absence of mind, but with little enthusiasm, and although the Cape of
Good Hope itself was of great strategic importance, commanding the
passage to India and the Far East, James Stephen of the Colonial
Office unpresciently called the lands of the interior ‘the most
sterile and worthless in the whole Empire’.

Everything was changed by geology, or by its accidental interaction
with human history. Just as it’s a random fact of life, but full of
significance for all of us, that Shiites, although only a one-in-five
minority among Muslims as a whole, happen to sit on top of most of the
world’s oil, so a capricious Providence decided to place most of the
world’s diamonds and gold beneath the bush and desert south of the
Tropic of Capricorn.

How this changed the whole course of South African — and to no small
extent world — history is the enthralling story told by Martin
Meredith in Diamonds, Gold and War.

First came the rush to Griqualand, where immensely rich diamond pipes
were found in 1871. Diggers flooded in and created a vast patchwork of
little claims. After feuding and rebellion, a few men, led by Cecil
Rhodes, Alfred Beit and Barney Barnato, gradually established control
of the mines, while the British ruthlessly acquired what had been a
disputed territory. The diamond town was now named Kimberley, for the
Colonial Secretary of the time (which is why American girls are still
called, at third hand, after the Norfolk village whence the Wodehouse
family took their title).

If the diamonds had lain in a debatable land, the immense gold field
discovered in 1886 did not. ‘The ridge of white water’ —
Witwatersrand — belonged to the Transvaal, or South African Republic,
a statelet of sorts created by Dutch-speaking Boers escaping
northwards from British rule. Incomers came in large numbers to the
Rand and its new boom town called Johannesburg, which was soon
producing an immense output of gold, and which was soon also in a
state of unarmed revolt against the Transvaal.

But there was a fascinating difference between these two mining
business, of which Meredith could have made more. In both cases a
cartel was established, but with diametrically opposite purposes.
Although Kimberley fuelled the great new fashion for engagement rings,
the demand for diamonds was essentially artificial, and with such a
limitless and easily mined supply the price fluctuated wildly, often
plunging downwards. And so the answer for the mine owners was monopoly
in the strict sense of a sellers’ market, controlling production and
thus keeping up the price.

By contrast, from the early 18th century until the Great War the price
of gold was fixed by the gold standard. The Rand was incomparably the
greatest gold field ever found in terms of quantity, but its quality
was very poor, so that in order to make the field payable, as mining
managers say, costs had to be controlled by means of monopsony, a
buyers’ market for the crucial commodity of labour, whose price could
be kept down. It is not too much to say that from these financial and
geological facts the whole history of modern South Africa flows.

Throughout the 1890s the Randlords, the mine owners, chafed under the
regime of Paul Kruger. In 1895 Rhodes promoted the disgraceful Jameson
Raid with the help of the brutally unprincipled Joseph Chamberlain,
now Colonial Secretary.

Far from learning restraint from the failure of the Raid, Chamberlain
sent out as High Commissioner Alfred Milner, a different brand of
villain, who colluded with Rhodes to bring about the Boer war in 1899.

Meredith gives one of the best accounts I have read of how this was
done, a scoundrelly business which has few parallels in British
history, apart from the way we were taken into the Suez escapade and
the present Iraq war, and which no Englishman can read to this day
without a sense of shame.

Militarily disastrous to begin with, morally calamitous at the end,
the Boer war earned this country deep hatred throughout the world. But
the way in which the British dealt with South Africa after the war was
almost worse in terms of its longer effects.

The wretched Milner tried to encourage large British immigration,
supposing that a balance of three to two British to Boer among the
white population would provide safety but that ‘if there are three
Dutch to two of British, we shall have perpetual difficulty’ (he was
right about that), while his oppressive and insulting treatment of
those Dutch inflamed feeling, and may even have stimulated the growth
of Afrikaans as a literary language.

In his eagerness to restore the mines to profitability, Milner
fatefully allowed the introduction of dirt-cheap Chinese indentured
labourers, with awful consequences both human and political. ‘Chinese
slavery’ destroyed any British claim to moral superiority, although
the haughty Milner could do no more than respond petulantly about
‘perpetual faultfinding, this steady drip, drip of deprecation, only
diversified by occasional outbursts of hysterical abuse’. Then the
black majority were deprived of almost all such rights as they had
enjoyed before, a job thoroughly done by the time Meredith’s book ends
with the creation of the Union of South Africa in 1910. What was
called apartheid after 1948 was different in degree rather than kind
from the previous system.

Much of this story, and plenty of the anecdotes, will be familiar to
those of us who have read or indeed written books on the subject, but
Martin Meredith has made good use not only of recent scholarly work
but also of contemporary sources, some of which were unknown to me.
The illustrations are also excellent, though why on earth is there no
list of them after the contents page? He offers no striking new
interpretation, but tells the story lucidly so that the reader can
draw his own moral. It was the Boer war that inspired Kipling’s phrase
‘no end of a lesson’, but those words might be used of the whole story
of South Africa since that day nearly 140 years ago when a few shiny
pebbles were picked up besides a dry watercourse in Griqualand.”

Diamonds – A Blessing or Curse?
By Michael Russell  /  May 30, 2007

“Diamonds should be known as the ‘misery stone’ because of the over-
importance we have placed on them since the Great Hole of Kimberly was
formed in the nineteenth century. Throughout history, diamonds have
always attracted attention and with the discovery of every large new
stone a ‘story’ or tale spread around that gem and so the legends

During the Colonial times, Cecil Rhodes and Charles Rudd founded “De
Beers”, a company created to mine and market diamonds; and no other
business has enjoyed so much protection from the crown and successive
governments since then. This created a diamond monopoly for that
business and at one stage it accounted for over 80% of the world’s
supply and trade in diamonds.

No other company or business has enjoyed such protectionism as De
Beers and its right to trade in raw or uncut diamond gem stones in
both South Africa and on the world markets. It was only by the late
nineteen eighties that its iron-like grip on the market started to
loosen. However, as the past shows they will not be laying down their
so-called ‘divine right’ to trade in diamonds very easily.

In South Africa today it is still a criminal offence for anyone to
trade the raw uncut stones without going though De Beers. There is an
entire police department known as the Diamond and Gold Squad whose
sole purpose is to uncover and prosecute people who want to, or are
trying to, do this. Would this situation exist in the United States or
any country that values the individual’s right to pursue their chosen
path to business success? Of course it would not be tolerated!

Because of the grip this company wanted to have on the entire market
the diamond has become one of the most overpriced commodities around.
Its artificially high price has attracted some of the most notorious
and greedy minded people in the world and it has been used to fund
wars all over the African continent.

At one time or another “blood diamonds” (which is what the illegally
mined stones became known as) have funded dictators, coups and rebels
alike in central and West Africa over the last 20 years. Great
publicity was made about these diamonds and the world was encouraged
not to support or buy them at all. However, how do you stop people
trading in things one can pick up like a bit of dirt and then turn
around and get thousands of dollars for it?

One can’t!  De Beers – or the Central Selling Organization (CSO is the
marketing arm of the company) – has been behind some very successful
sales and marketing campaigns over the last 5 decades, starting with
the well known marketing slogan “a diamond is forever!”

Now with the advent of laboratory made artificial gemstones where you
can now purchase a “diamond” made in the lab at 5% of the cost of the
real stone and not be able to tell the difference, there are some
people predicting the end of the diamond as we know it. We don’t
believe this will happen if this De Beers has its way and keeps alive
just a few of the tales that have accompanied this precious stone in
becoming the most talked about stone in history!”


Fact Sheet: National Strategy to Internationalize Efforts Against

Today, The President Unveiled His National Strategy To
Internationalize Efforts Against Kleptocracy, Pledging To Confront
High-Level, Large-Scale Corruption By Public Officials And Target The
Proceeds Of Their Corrupt Acts. This Strategy Is A New Component Of
His Plan To Fight Corruption Around The World. Public corruption
erodes democracy, rule of law, and economic well-being by undermining
public financial management and accountability, discouraging foreign
investment, and stifling economic growth and sustainable development.

* Kleptocracy Is A Threat To The Governments And Citizens Of Both
Developing And Developed Countries. Corruption by senior officials in
executive, judicial, legislative, or other official positions in
government can destabilize whole societies and destroy the aspirations
of their people for a better way of life.

The President’s National Strategy To Internationalize Efforts Against

This New National Strategy Builds On The President’s Commitment Made
With The G-8 Leaders At Their Recent Summit In St. Petersburg. At the
G-8 summit, President Bush committed to promote legal frameworks and a
global financial system that will reduce the opportunities for
kleptocracies to develop and to deny safe haven to corrupt officials,
those who corrupt them, and the proceeds of corrupt activity.

* The Strategy Has As Its Foundation In The President’s
Proclamation, Made In January 2004, To Generally Deny Entry Into The
United States Of Persons Engaged In Or Benefiting From Corruption.

* The Strategy Advances Many Of The Objectives In The National
Security Strategy By Mobilizing The International Community To
Confront Large-Scale Corruption By High-Level Foreign Public Officials
And Target The Fruits Of Their Ill-Gotten Gains.

* The Strategy Reaffirms The President’s Commitment To Ensure That
Integrity And Transparency Triumph Over Corruption And Lawlessness
Around The World, Expand The Circle Of Prosperity, And Extend
America’s Transformational Democratic Values To All Free And Open

Specifically, The Strategy Promotes Our Objectives By Committing To:

* Launch A Coalition Of International Financial Centers Committed
To Denying Access And Financial Safe Haven To Kleptocrats. The United
States Government will enhance its work with international financial
partners, in the public and private sectors, to pinpoint best
practices for identifying, tracing, freezing, and recovering assets
illicitly acquired through kleptocracy. The U.S. will also work
bilaterally and multilaterally to immobilize kleptocratic foreign
public officials using financial and economic sanctions against them
and their network of cronies.

* Vigorously Prosecute Foreign Corruption Offenses and Seize
Illicitly Acquired Assets. In its continuing efforts against bribery
of foreign officials, the United States Government will expand its
capacity to investigate and prosecute criminal violations associated
with high-level foreign official corruption and related money
laundering, as well as to seize the proceeds of such crimes.

* Deny Physical Safe Haven. We will work closely with
international partners to identify kleptocrats and those who corrupt
them, and deny such persons entry and safe haven.

* Strengthen Multilateral Action Against Bribery. The United
States will work with international partners to more vigorously
investigate and prosecute those who pay or promise to pay bribes to
public officials; to strengthen multilateral and national disciplines
to stop bribery of foreign public officials; and to halt bribery of
foreign political parties, party officials, and candidates for office.

* Facilitate And Reinforce Responsible Repatriation And Use. We
will also work with our partners to develop and promote mechanisms
that capture and dispose of recovered assets for the benefit of the
citizens of countries victimized by high-level public corruption.

* Target And Internationalize Enhanced Capacity. The United States
will target technical assistance and focus international attention on
building capacity to detect, prosecute, and recover the proceeds of
high-level public corruption, while helping build strong systems to
promote responsible, accountable, and honest governance.

The President’s Announcement Builds On Established U.S. Leadership In
The International Fight Against Corruption. The U.S. actively supports
development and implementation of effective anticorruption measures in
various international bodies and conventions. In addition to the G-8,
we have promoted strong anticorruption action in the:

* UN Convention Against Corruption
* OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and the OECD Working Group on
* Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
* Council of Europe Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO)
* OAS Mechanism for Implementing the Inter-American Convention
Against Corruption
* Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum’s Anticorruption and
Transparency (ACT) Initiative
* Broader Middle East and North Africa (BMENA) “Governance for
Development in Arab States” (GfD) Initiative.






1. How do I know this is not a fraud?

Prime View Lunar Properties (1 acre); Deed with your name printed on
The properties on the Moon with your name printed on the deed. The
ultimate gift for yourself or a loved one. Each single property comes
with three documents (The Lunar Deed, the Lunar Map and the Lunar
Constitution and Bill of Rights), as well as the short story: “YOU OWN
THE WHAT?” which includes the declaration of ownership filed with the
United States, the USSR and the United Nations. All documents are
individually marked by us and indicate the precise location of your
property. All of the certificates are printed on 11 inch x 14 inch
simulated parchment paper suitable for framing.

Further, all the details pertaining to your properties are recorded in
our computerized registry of extraterrestrial property owners, which
is treated completely confidentially. All properties have a prime view
onto planet Earth. If you order more than one property, the properties
will be next to eachother.


* In 1952, the Elves, Gnomes and Little Men’s Science Fiction,
Chowder and Marching Society of Berkeley, Calif., put its stamp on a
triangular area in the Sea of Tranquility, informing both the United
Nations and the U.S. president of their ownership. It was a “publicity
gag” intended to boost their reputation in the Bay Area; instead, it
made the headlines across the globe. Their claim did not go however
unchallenged; the objection came from one Alexander F. Victor of the
Monterey peninsula, who informed the Little Men that they couldn’t
make a claim on the Moon — because he already owned it.

* In 1953, Jenaro Gajardo Vera, a Chilean lawyer, published a deed
to the moon in his nation’s official record three times, an act he
said made the Moon his. His will left it to the people of Chile.

* In 1955, Robert R. Coles, chairman of New York’s famed Hayden
Planetarium, called the Moon his own and sold parcels for one dollar
per acre.

* And in 1966, 35 citizens of Geneva, Ohio, signed a “Declaration
of Lunar Ownership.” Emulating the US “Declaration of Independence”,
the document avows: “When in the course of human events and space-age
accomplishments, the destiny of mankind becomes influenced … [by] the
presence of a particular controversial Celestial Body unclaimed and
unregulated … it should be advisable and honourable … to lay
definitive and prior claim to the entire physical mass and any and all
aura, aspect, imaginative or otherwise, of … the Moon.”

There are at least a dozen other less-publicized “claims” that have
been made over the years, not one of them any more (or less) valid
than Hope’s dubious claim — only Hope has done a better job promoting


Moon Over Ohio: Residents Claimed Lunar Ownership in 1966  /  April
30, 2004

Who really owns the Moon? A group of Geneva, Ohio, residents say they
claimed Luna as their own back in 1966. And they have the paperwork to
prove it.

GENEVA, OH — Donald Miles, 76, of Geneva is certain he has a deed to
some land on the moon. He just cant remember where he put it. Dick
Whaley, 73, doesnt have a deed, but thanks to his wife Janets sharp
memory, he was able to put his hands on the document in which Geneva
laid claim to the lunar landscape 38 years ago. Miles and Whaley are
among the 35 signatories on the Declaration of Lunar Ownership,” which
was unveiled to the world April 12, 1966, in the auditorium of Geneva
High School. More than 200 persons attended the announcement

…the city this morning is awaiting cablegrams of congratulations
from throughout the world,” noted the Geneva Free Press the following
day. As yet, no word has been received from the Soviet Union.”

The claim was laid in conjunction with a celebration of the citys
100th anniversary, held in early June. The stunt was the brainchild of
the late George Spencer, a furniture store owner who had a knack for
marketing. George was a very innovative guy when it came to
advertising,” recalls Miles.

Miles says Spencer also organized a militia of bearded men to protect
the citys claim to the moon. And Whaley says he recalls the Centennial
Committee building a rocket to the moon where the convenience store
stands on South Broadway. He witnessed the liftoff. The smoke poured
out of it like it was going to the moon,” Whaley says. Everybody
gathered around to watch it, but it just sat there and looked silly.”

The verbose declaration, largely forgotten by the surviving
signatories, declared that The Physical property of the Moon shall
belong exclusively to the citizens of Geneva, Ohio, and any act or
encroachment upon this claim shall be deemed an unfriendly act upon
that lovely little city that is ‘in the know and on the Go, with Ohio
and shall be responded to with all human dignity and moral

The document also gave the city the right to rent or lease its moon
holdings with a two-thirds vote of the citys entire population. And it
provided for the sale of 100 deeds for 100 acres each at a price of
$100. “Yes, I remember them selling them,” says Miles, but I have no
idea how many were sold.”

In justifying the citys claim, City Councilman John Haeseler told the
citizens that the rays of the Geneva moon were the reason for many of
the advantages to living and doing business in Geneva. His politically
incorrect speech argued that Geneva women are more beautiful than
women from any other location in the world. The moonbeams mature,
soften and perfect their complexions, statures and general loveliness
better than any other place on earth.” The moonbeams also were
credited for producing superior fruit, mops, rubber products, golf
shafts and weather.

The stunt was evidently quickly forgotten and nothing more ever made
of the citys bogus claim. Further, in 1967, the United Nations Outer
Space Treaty stipulated that no government could own extraterrestrial
property. The treaty was not ratified, however.

Had Genevas committee done its homework, it would have discovered that
in February 1952, a Berkley science fiction fan club laid claim to a
section of the moon. The following year, a Chilean lawyer, Jenaro
Gajardo Vera, claimed ownership and published that claim in three
issues of the Chilean official journal.

President Richard Nixon even acknowledged the Chilean claim. In May
1969, Nixon sent a telegram to Vera through a U.S. Embassy
representative requesting his authorization for the U.S. astronauts to
land on the satellite that belongs to you.” However, he apparently
didnt bother to get Genevas permission.

Nor was selling lunar land a new idea. In 1952, Robert R. Coles,
former chairman of New Yorks Hayden Planetarium, incorporated to sell
lots on the moon for a buck an acre. Inflation must have been
nonexistent from 1955 to 1966.

More recently, many Internet sites offer a piece of the moon for
unwary buyers. A United Kingdom seller was offering an acre for under
$15 on eBay. The most prominent of moon-selling sites is Dennis Hopes
Lunar Embassy (, which claims to
have found a loophole in the 1967 United Nations treaty. Hope, who
claims to have sold more than 300 million lunar acres since 1980, says
he has legal claim because the treaty didnt forbid individuals or
corporations from owning the moon.

Inflation has taken its toll, however, from the days when Geneva
offered 100 acres for $100. Hopes lunar landscape starts at $29.95 an

So, if you were among those who bought 100 acres from Geneva 36 years
ago, you might want to dig deep into the safe deposit box or desk
drawer, dust off that old piece of paper … and use it to start a
fire in the hearth some moonlit night.


Time, equipment, and costs to repair cratered runways.
BY J.J. O’Sullivan

“Part of a larger study on strategic air base systems which examines
the cost of repairing craters of varying sizes. Several levels of
facilities for repair are considered, together with multiple and
single cratered runways. In addition, the time for operating and
assembling the machinery is discussed.”

Laboratory and Field Investigations of Small Crater Repair
BY Lucy P. Priddy; Jeb S. Tingle; Timothy J. McCaffrey; Ray S.

ABSTRACT: In support of the U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command, the
U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) was tasked
to develop and test innovative techniques, materials, and equipment
for expedient and sustainment repairs of small bomb craters in
airfield pavements. This airfield damage repair (ADR) investigation
consisted of laboratory testing of selected crater fill and capping
materials, as well as full-scale field testing of small crater repairs
to evaluate field mixing methods, installation procedures, and repair
performance. After 3 hr of cure, each crater was trafficked under
controlled traffic conditions to determine the ability of the repairs
to support the gross load of an F-15E aircraft. Results of the traffic
tests identified multiple repair materials that can be used for
expedient and sustainment repairs of concrete airfield pavements. Both
the laboratory and full-scale traffic tests were conducted at the ERDC
in Vicksburg, MS, from February to November 2006. Experimental results
were used to develop ADR criteria for rapidly repairing small craters.

System for rapid repair of damaged airfield runways
Document Type and Number: United States Patent 4404244

ABSTRACT: A membrane of fiberglass-reinforced polyester resin is used
as a traffica cover over a compacted backfilled crater and crushed
stone base to impart strength to the repair and prevent foreign object
damage to aircraft. The membrane cover is usually prefabricated from
several fiberglass matting layers of chopped fiberglass strands
chemically bonded to woven fiberglass roving and impregnated with a
polyester resin; an anchoring system consisting of holes along the
cover perimeter and torque set rock bolts are used in conjunction with
special steel bushings to secure the cover to airfield pavement
surrounding the crater.

Crater repair project no problem for “Can Do!” Seabees in Iraq
FROM All Hands; BY Suzanne Speight  /   Feb, 2005

In true “Can Do!” spirit, Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction
Battalion (NMCB) 23 have made permanent repairs to 31 giant-size
craters at the Al Asad airfield–a military runway critical to
operations in northern Iraq. The airfield, once a military hub
accommodating F/A-18 Hornet fighters, C-130 Hercules and C-5 Galaxy
cargo planes, had been out of service with battle damage for more than
a year when the Seabees moved in.

According to LT Donald Panthen, assistant operations officer, 1st
Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) Engineer Group, the Seabees’
performance has been outstanding despite a number of project
difficulties. “The Seabees completed this job ahead of schedule and in
spite of material shortages, contractor delays and insurgent
activity,” Panthen said. When NMCB 23 officially took on the project
in October, work was already behind schedule by more than three weeks,
and additional existing craters had been added to the project.

Permanent crater repairs require extensive measures, such as cutting
and removing the damaged pavement adjacent to the craters, excavating
the soft, filling the hole and compacting with structural fill
material, and then capping the craters with concrete. “It’s comparable
to patching giant potholes, each five feet deep and up to 80 feet
across,” said LT Stephen Fichter, project officer. The crew produced
more than 3,600 cubic yards of concrete for the job, utilizing more
than 6,000 tons of patching material. “Operating in a war zone adds
another layer of difficulty to an already challenging project,”
Fichter said.

According to Fichter, quality sand and gravel are in short supply in
the Al Anbar province, and there are only a few nearby quarries for
obtaining the scarce raw material. “Getting stone and sand from the
quarries is dangerous due to the security situation in that area,” he
said. “We can’t just order up material and have it delivered. Here, we
have to go and get our own stone and sandy.” In addition, an explosive
ordnance disposal team must visit supply sites prior to loading
material to check for the presence of improvised explosive devices and
supply convoys must travel at night with tight security.

In spite of these obstacles, the Desert Bees completed one runway
three weeks ahead of schedule. “From the start, we’ve empowered our
Seabees on the ground to find what works and get the job done,”
Fichter said. The Seabees produced their own formulas for concrete,
considering that the quality of sand and gravel vary widely from
source to source. “It’s like trying to make cookies all taste the
same, even though your ingredients are different in every batch,”
Fichter said. “We keep adjusting our recipe, depending on what kind of
material we have at the time.” The Seabees produced concrete for the
project using only two “crete-mobiles,” a major accomplishment
considering the diminutive mobile concrete mixers are designed for a
much smaller workload.

“This project has not been easy,” Fichter said. “I think our positive
attitude has been a key aspect of this project. We have established
good working relationships with fellow Soldiers and Marines, so when
we need repair parts or additional equipment, they are glad to help
out. Good will goes a long way and is easily built using the diverse
skills found in ordinary Seabees.”

For related news, visit the Commander, 1st Naval Construction Division
Navy NewsStand page at Story by JOC
Suzanne Speight, who is assigned to public affairs with the 1st Marine
Expiditionary Engineer Group, Al Asad, Iraq / COPYRIGHT 2005 U.S.
Navy / Gale Group


The theme of avoidance characterizes the early history of what is now
Craters of the Moon National Monument. The lava fields and formations
of the Great Rift, with their sharp surfaces, heat, and aridity,
discouraged entry and exploration by both native peoples and Euro-
Americans. Similarly, the hostile environment did not appeal to
westering pioneers seeking cheap, arable lands, and valuable minerals.
Encounters with the region were of a transitory nature.

Evidence of human occupation in the proximity of the monument dates to
ten thousand years before present. Yet archaeological sites within the
monument suggest that it was not until thirty-five hundred years ago
that small bands of hunters and gatherers, the Northern Shoshoni and
Bannock, occupied parts of the area. Even then, they did so only
during their annual summer migrations, their passage marked by trails
of polished lava and cairns. Many of the known sites are composed of
stone windbreaks and rock rings–used perhaps for hunting blinds,
religious purposes, or temporary shelters. Artifacts such as tools,
arrowheads, and projectile points are strewn throughout the lava
flows. From this evidence, it is believed that indigenous peoples
entered the lavas to forage and hunt in small groups and stayed only
short periods of time. Restricted to what the volcanic environment
offered, they concentrated mostly in the northwestern section of the
monument where travel was easier and resources more abundant. Until
Euro-American settlement wiped out or drove off most of the wildlife
near the monument, Indians hunted and lived among bison, elk, wolf,
grizzly and black bear, cougar, and bighorn sheep. [1]

Early explorations of the Snake River country by Euro-Americans also
avoided the Craters landscape. Expeditions under John Jacob Astor’s
Pacific Fur Company in 1811, the North West Company the following
decade, and the Hudson’s Bay Company after 1821 penetrated southern
Idaho in search of furs. With its commercial goals, the fur trade
circumvented the arid region that supported few beaver-rich streams.
However, depletion of beaver and an increase of independent American
trappers within the Snake River system expanded the search closer to
the monument’s vicinity in the 1820s and 1830s. In 1823, a Hudson’s
Bay Company fur trader, Thyery (or Antone) Godin, ventured onto the
Big Lost River, which for a time bore his name. Another Bay Company
trapper, Antoine Sylvaille, arrived on the Big Wood River in 1828. [2]

While these efforts netted little in the way of furs, they did provide
the first documentation of the monument’s periphery, as well as the
first visual description of the region. By Washington Irving’s
account, United States Army Captain Benjamin L. E. Bonneville neared
the volcanic district between 1833 and 1834. The military explorer and
fur trade entrepreneur viewed it as a vacant and lifeless place. A
threat to human life and absent the desired economic resources, “the
volcanic plain in question forms an area of about sixty miles in
diameter, where nothing meets the eye but a desolate and awful waste;
where no grass grows nor water runs, and where nothing is to be seen
but lava.” [3]With that, Bonneville cast a lasting, negative
impression of the unnamed monument.

Another lasting influence of the fur expeditions was that they drew
more people closer to the present monument. Segments of the overland
route blazed by the Astorian party of Wilson Price Hunt and Donald
Mackenzie in 1811 became part of the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s.
The fur trading posts of Forts Hall and Boise, permanently established
after 1834, functioned as service centers for emigrants. Missionaries
headed first for Oregon Country and were followed in the 1840s by
thousands of westward-trekking pioneers. They traveled well to the
south of today’s monument along the Snake River, at the southern rim
of the Snake River Plain. Like the fur traders before them, these
early westerners sought treasures in the land that lay beyond Craters
of the Moon–fertile soil in the Willamette Valley or gold in
California. Beginning in the 1850s, though, many overland travelers
opted for an alternate route, afterward called Goodale’s Cutoff, that
sent them to the northern rim of the great lava plain, and brought
them to the landscape of Craters of the Moon. [4]

This secondary trail departed Old Fort Hall, branched northwest from
the river, passed Big Southern Butte, neared Arco by about eight
miles, and from there arched southwest; it skirted the flanks of the
Pioneer Mountains and the northern section of the present Craters of
the Moon before it stretched on to rejoin the main trail at Boise. The
cutoff represented a well established travel path. Indians crossed the
lava fields in the monument’s north end on their way to Camas Prairie,
a valuable food source of Camas roots. Later, mountain men, fur
traders, and finally emigrants exploited the route. John J. Jeffrey,
hoping to profit from a ferry across the Snake River, promoted the
cutoff for emigrant traffic between 1852 and 1854. After that year,
however, the venture failed, and the trail went unused until the era
of the Civil War migration, when Tim Goodale guided his party over it
in 1862. [5]

Goodale, an experienced trapper, trader, and guide of the Far West,
led the emigrants over the cutoff because they wanted a shorter and
safer route to their destinations. By 1862, gold had been discovered
at Salmon River and the Boise River Basin, and the travelers were
eager to reach the new mines as quickly as possible. That year as
well, Indian hostilities diverted emigrants north of the main overland
trail. In August, Shoshoni tribes, antagonistic toward white settlers
infiltrating their homelands, attacked a party of emigrants at what
became known as Massacre Rocks. The group that Goodale guided in 1862
eventually numbered 1,095 people, 795 men and 300 women and children.
Although the Northern Shoshoni were irritated by the wagon train’s
presence, especially as it departed the future monument and entered
into Camas Prairie, the train’s size and Goodale’s leadership saw the
company through to Boise unscathed. Thankful, some of the emigrants
then named the cutoff for their guide. [6]

Even though individuals chose to travel through what is now the
monument, they still perceived it as a place to avoid–a place along
the way to somewhere else. Exposed to the seemingly desolate lava
fields, emigrants endured the harshness and bleakness of the landscape
of Craters of the Moon and pressed on. One year after the creation of
Idaho Territory, Julius Caesar Merrill described what it was like
putting the Craters of the Moon Lava Field behind him and his party in

It was a relief to see the distance widening between us and those
volcanic strata. It was a desolate, dismal scenery. Up or down the
valley as far as the eye could reach or across the mountains and into
the dim distance the same unvarying mass of black rock. Not a shrub,
bird, nor insect seemed to live near it. Great must have been the
relief of the volcano, powerful the emetic, that poured forth such a
mass of “Black Vomit.” [7]

In subsequent years, Goodale’s Cutoff served as a popular emigrant
route through southcentral Idaho. Various modifications and the
construction of a ferry crossing on the Snake River transformed the
trail into a more accessible road. Because railroads arrived late in
the century to this section of Idaho, the cutoff received heavy use by
overland travelers. As emigrant traffic tapered off, it functioned as
a stage route after 1879, ferrying travelers to and from the mining
districts of southcentral Idaho, and points west and east. It also
evolved into a freight route, then into a road for farm families
settling the region, and finally into a section of a modern highway.
Even with all of this activity, the lava landscape remained a
formidable and barren place to those who crossed it. [8]


“The crowded conditions give some indication of growing pressures on
monument resources.”


Robert Limbert’s experience traversing the contorted landscape helped
him to “appreciate its scenic value.” Where others had seen only a
barren waste, he found solace and beauty. Here, he wrote, the “human
voice seems a sacrilege in the amphitheater [sic] of nature such as
these huge craters seem to be.” Visually, he was enamored of the
“immense rolls and folds of fantastically formed lava…colored blue,
black, and brown…the scores of crater rims and walls that start at
your very feet and dot the landscape to the horizon line….”
Exploring this strange landscape took Limbert to some of the “grandest
sights imaginable,” from the heights of the great craters to their
“deep somber depths.” It was awe-inspiring to descend from the scenic
feast of surrounding space and sky to crater bottom, and become
enveloped in a “red walled funnel,” where “one feels little and
insignificant, a fly on the wall of the world.” [25]

The impression was lasting and moving, and in his descriptions he
captured the essence of the area. As he watched the light of sun and
moon dance across the cobalt blue lavas of the Blue Dragon Flow, it
changed from a “twisted, wavy sea” to a “glazed surface” with a
“silvery sheen.” Not simply day and night, but all the “changing
conditions of light and air” make this a “place of color and silence,”
a place, with few exceptions, unequaled in “variety of formation,
color, and scenic effects” in the world. [26]

Limbert’s expression for the lava country’s unique beauty found its
way into the April 10, 1921 Idaho Sunday Statesman, where he stated
that “no more fitting tribute to the volcanic forces which built the
great Snake [R]iver [V]alley could be paid than to make this [region]
into a national park.” [27] True to the promoter that he was, Limbert
asserted that the site would attract thousands of visitors, once
adequate roads were constructed so travelers could reach the Craters
area as they motored to Yellowstone National Park via the Lincoln
Highway. All people, he believed, should have the chance to see “these
wonders of nature for themselves.” [28]

Impassioned about this issue, Limbert called for the state’s public to
pressure Idaho senators to “introduce a bill suitably framed to give…
[Craters] the recognition it deserves.” Not only did the area’s scenic
values drive Limbert’s preservation plea, but also what he saw as the
threat to the district’s archaeological features (Indian cairns and
rock hunting blinds), which could be “torn down and destroyed with
their contents carried off for the personal gratification of an
unthinking few.” [29] It was this perception that led Limbert to
spearhead a movement on both a local and national level to create a
“new national park or monument in many respects the equal and in some
easily the peer of many…now within our boundaries.” [30]

Following his 1920 exploration, Limbert conducted free lectures around
southern Idaho, meeting with civic groups to drum up support for
converting the lava district into a national park unit. Heartened by a
positive response, he decided to attract national attention by guiding
several more trips with scientists and reporters. In June 1921, the
explorer-promoter led his most famous investigation of the Craters
area for the Idaho Statesman. The party consisted of ten men, who were
“equipped to make an exhaustive study of the lava formations, bird and
animal life, and explore the many craters.” The end result would be a
study placed before Congress emphasizing “the possibilities of this
wonderland as a national park.” Included in the group were local
residents, Samuel Paisley and Era Martin; civic leaders, Clarence A.
Bottolfsen and Jo G. Martin; as well as two scientists representing
both the Biological Survey and the Smithsonian Institution, Luther
Goldman and W.E. Crouch. The trip spanned two weeks, during which
Limbert snapped more than 276 still photos, recorded an estimated 1400
feet of motion-picture film, as well as produced maps of the lava
country’s features: ice caves, “bottomless pits,” and craters
previously uncharted. [31]

Upon his return, Limbert announced that the scenery and natural
wonders of the “Moon Valley” were “unexcelled by either the
Yellowstone National Park or the Garden of the Gods.” [32] To ensure
this message reached a wide audience, he published photo essays of the
area in a number of regional and national newspapers and magazines.
His most famous piece appeared the March 1924 National Geographic. His
essay, “Among the Craters of the Moon,” with its photographs and map
detailed the 1921 expedition’s route, though it represented a
composite of his several trips. Originally submitted in the fall of
1921, the article was delayed going to press by the Society, which
questioned Limbert’s findings, and held up publication until his
observations could be confirmed. [33]

Two months after the National Geographic appeared, the monument was
established. Limbert’s role, given the course of events, was
instrumental to this outcome. His explorations and essays–both
written and photographic–exposed a historically and geographically
isolated region to the public at large. [34] More importantly, he
espoused a positive attitude for the lava fields that before had been
largely unknown or actively avoided.

As the delay by the National Geographic suggests, Robert Limbert
needed help to succeed in establishing a national park for the Craters
region. Although evidence of the movement to create the monument
outside Limbert’s efforts is limited, enough information exists to
imply that Limbert himself galvanized the public to action. But at the
same time, it should be noted that his reception was positive, hinting
that a majority of people already shared his feelings on the
uniqueness of the region, or saw its removal from the public domain as
insignificant. [35]

When the account of Limbert’s 1920 expedition appeared in the spring
of 1921, for example, the Idaho Statesman voiced that a movement was
already afoot “to have the lava country designated a national park.”
Stating what reflected, most likely, the stir surrounding Limbert’s
preparation for his 1921 expedition, the paper noted that “Eastern
scientists have expressed great interest in the proposition [to create
a park] and Idaho commercial clubs and women’s organizations are
making individual investigations.” Moreover, the paper reported what
seems to have been a dominant hope for an isolated and young western
state–the establishment of national park. For once that occurred and
the area became accessible, “this spot in Idaho may become as great a
mecca for tourists as Yellowstone Park.” [36]



To build public support for parks in its founding years, the National
Park Service encouraged tourism. By welcoming automobiles, and
developing roads, campgrounds, and hotels, the agency enabled more
Americans to enjoy the nation’s wonders, and visitation soared. The
Service’s leaders, however, never intended to grid the parks with
roads and mar the landscape with subdivisions, but rather to make the
most spectacular sites accessible to tourists and concentrate other
developments in a central location–leaving the majority of park lands
as wilderness. While this approach reflected the Park Service’s
mission to balance visitor use and resource protection, park promotion
attracted larger and larger numbers of tourists pressuring the agency
to increase development. [1]

During the 1930s, the New Deal emergency work relief programs injected
park management with the necessary manpower and appropriations to meet
these growing demands, marking one of the most important phases in
park developments. The next phase, perhaps the most significant,
responded to an even greater crisis. The war years had backlogged
critical maintenance and development projects, and a visitor explosion
in the 1950s had swamped the already inadequate park physical plants.
In the mid-1950s, Mission 66, the Park Service’s ten-year
rehabilitation program, arrived and with over a billion dollars in
appropriations renovated the overwhelmed facilities of the national
parks. The program strove to upgrade all areas, some for the first
time, repairing and constructing thousands of miles of roads,
campgrounds, employee housing, and sanitation systems. Innovations
such as the visitor center incorporated interpretive facilities and
administrative offices, containing in some instances concessionaire
services and auditoriums. Since this period, development programs in
the Park Service have concentrated mostly on maintaining Mission 66
facilities, but as has often been the case, increased visitation and
staffing have outpaced the capacity of existing park developments. [2]



Issues And Highlights
Natural resource management at Craters of the Moon National Monument
constitutes the majority of management concerns. Historically,
protection of the geologic resources has been the primary management
focus because the volcanic formations were the basis for the area’s
creation and are its central theme. Protection of wildlife,
vegetation, water, and air quality have formed a secondary but
nonetheless important management emphasis. In all cases, custodians
and superintendents have pursued policies of mitigation, education,
and enforcement to strike the balance between preservation and use of
the monument’s varied natural resources.

Geologic Resources
Attracting the majority of visitor activity and visitor related
impacts, the lava formations are plagued with the chronic problems of
illegal collection, vandalism, and other forms of human erosion.
Unlike biological resources, the volcanic features are frozen in time.
Where grass or trees can regenerate, only a new eruption can replenish
the lavas. Until then, they will breakdown. While a natural process,
erosion is accelerated by visitor contact. Federal laws and National
Park Service regulations prohibit unauthorized collection and
vandalism, yet both exist. [11]

To the untrained eye, the lavas seem indestructible, when in fact the
opposite is true; they are deceptively fragile–realized all too
starkly by the disappearance of known formations and the degradation
of others. Thus efforts to protect the sensitive terrain have required
vigilance from monument managers. Balancing preservation and use has
led to changes ranging from modifications in the types of acceptable
visitor behavior and activity to rehabilitation of popular features.
Similar to other aspects of Craters of the Moon’s management, the long
term effects of depletion and damage from visitor use were not readily
apparent nor rigorously managed until mid-century when visitation
accelerated and the monument’s administration grew in response to
increasing pressures. Although the majority of damage occurs within
the monument’s developed interior, among the outstanding natural
features, resource problems are not isolated to these sites alone.
Finding a way to protect the geologic resources has meant combating
the perception that the already broken, twisted, and contorted
landscape is not susceptible to alteration, when it is even by the
most incidental human contact.

Impacts to the lava terrain, many of them through benign actions,
predated the establishment of the monument. At the turn of the
century, scientific groups entered the lava flows of Craters of the
Moon and by the early 1920s unrestrained sightseers roamed the
formations by foot, horse, or auto. As promotion of the area
accelerated, so did visitation and souvenir hunting. Lava bombs, tree
molds, squeeze tubes, and loose fragments of aa and pahoehoe lava were
among the volcanic specimens attractive to scientists for research and
to individuals for souvenirs. Commercial interests, to a degree, also
threatened the reserve’s “great scientific and scenic wonders.” Before
the monument was established, at least one entrepreneur had “had sold
several hundred dollars’ worth of curiously formed lava bombs” taken
from “the slopes of the volcanoes.” [12]

Even after the Park Service placed Custodian Samuel Paisley in charge
in 1925, it was evident that fascination with volcanic rocks would
persist. In January, the Arco Advertiser reported what was then and is
now a common reason for impacts to geologic features: “There is the
general desire on the part of visitors to take home specimens of the
different kinds of lava to show friends.” Similarly, universities were
conducting scientific outings at an increasing rate. [13] Perhaps the
most famous rock collector was Park Service Director Horace Albright
himself. Demonstrating the attractive qualities of the monument’s lava
rocks, Albright “tried to carry an armful of `lava bombs’ for half a
mile or so” during his 1924 inspection, “in order to make them
available for photographing.” Sensing his mistake, however, he
concluded: “I finally got them to the car, but resolved that I would
never again gather specimens at Craters of the Moon National
Monument.” [14]

From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]


OIL STAIN REMOVER,2041,DIY_14119_2275175,00.html

“To remove oil stains from your garage floor just sprinkle regular or
clumping cat litter heavily on the stain. Then, take your foot and
really twist the litter into the stain (figure A). For about two
weeks, every time you think about it, come out and twist, adding more
litter as needed. Sweep away and then treat with oven cleaner and then
rinse with a hose.”


Document Says Oil Chiefs Met With Cheney Task Force
BY Dana Milbank and Justin Blum  /  November 16, 2005

A White House document shows that executives from big oil companies
met with Vice President Cheney’s energy task force in 2001 —
something long suspected by environmentalists but denied as recently
as last week by industry officials testifying before Congress.

The document, obtained this week by The Washington Post, shows that
officials from Exxon Mobil Corp., Conoco (before its merger with
Phillips), Shell Oil Co. and BP America Inc. met in the White House
complex with the Cheney aides who were developing a national energy
policy, parts of which became law and parts of which are still being

In a joint hearing last week of the Senate Energy and Commerce
committees, the chief executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp.
and ConocoPhillips said their firms did not participate in the 2001
task force. The president of Shell Oil said his company did not
participate “to my knowledge,” and the chief of BP America Inc. said
he did not know.

Chevron was not named in the White House document, but the Government
Accountability Office has found that Chevron was one of several
companies that “gave detailed energy policy recommendations” to the
task force. In addition, Cheney had a separate meeting with John
Browne, BP’s chief executive, according to a person familiar with the
task force’s work; that meeting is not noted in the document.

The task force’s activities attracted complaints from
environmentalists, who said they were shut out of the task force
discussions while corporate interests were present. The meetings were
held in secret and the White House refused to release a list of
participants. The task force was made up primarily of Cabinet-level
officials. Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club unsuccessfully sued to
obtain the records.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who posed the question about the task
force, said he will ask the Justice Department today to investigate.
“The White House went to great lengths to keep these meetings secret,
and now oil executives may be lying to Congress about their role in
the Cheney task force,” Lautenberg said.

Lea Anne McBride, a spokeswoman for Cheney, declined to comment on the
document. She said that the courts have upheld “the constitutional
right of the president and vice president to obtain information in

The executives were not under oath when they testified, so they are
not vulnerable to charges of perjury; committee Democrats had
protested the decision by Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) not
to swear in the executives. But a person can be fined or imprisoned
for up to five years for making “any materially false, fictitious or
fraudulent statement or representation” to Congress.

Alan Huffman, who was a Conoco manager until the 2002 merger with
Phillips, confirmed meeting with the task force staff. “We met in the
Executive Office Building, if I remember correctly,” he said.

A spokesman for ConocoPhillips said the chief executive, James J.
Mulva, had been unaware that Conoco officials met with task force
staff when he testified at the hearing. The spokesman said that Mulva
was chief executive of Phillips in 2001 before the merger and that
nobody from Phillips met with the task force.

Exxon spokesman Russ Roberts said the company stood by chief executive
Lee R. Raymond’s statement in the hearing. In a brief phone interview,
former Exxon vice president James Rouse, the official named in the
White House document, denied the meeting took place. “That must be
inaccurate and I don’t have any comment beyond that,” said Rouse, now

Ronnie Chappell, a spokesman for BP, declined to comment on the task
force meetings. Darci Sinclair, a spokeswoman for Shell, said she did
not know whether Shell officials met with the task force, but they
often meet members of the administration. Chevron said its executives
did not meet with the task force but confirmed that it sent President
Bush recommendations in a letter.

The person familiar with the task force’s work, who requested
anonymity out of concern about retribution, said the document was
based on records kept by the Secret Service of people admitted to the
White House complex. This person said most meetings were with Andrew
Lundquist, the task force’s executive director, and Cheney aide Karen
Y. Knutson.

According to the White House document, Rouse met with task force staff
members on Feb. 14, 2001. On March 21, they met with Archie Dunham,
who was chairman of Conoco. On April 12, according to the document,
task force staff members met with Conoco official Huffman and two
officials from the U.S. Oil and Gas Association, Wayne Gibbens and
Alby Modiano.

On April 17, task force staff members met with Royal Dutch/Shell
Group’s chairman, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart, Shell Oil chairman Steven
Miller and two others. On March 22, staff members met with BP regional
president Bob Malone, chief economist Peter Davies and company
employees Graham Barr and Deb Beaubien.

Toward the end of the hearing, Lautenberg asked the five executives:
“Did your company or any representatives of your companies participate
in Vice President Cheney’s energy task force in 2001?” When there was
no response, Lautenberg added: “The meeting . . . ”

“No,” said Raymond.

“No,” said Chevron Chairman David J. O’Reilly.

“We did not, no,” Mulva said.

“To be honest, I don’t know,” said BP America chief executive Ross
Pillari, who came to the job in August 2001. “I wasn’t here then.”

“But your company was here,” Lautenberg replied.

“Yes,” Pillari said.

Shell Oil president John Hofmeister, who has held his job since
earlier this year, answered last. “Not to my knowledge,” he said.


“In the late spring of 2001, Vice President Cheney held a series of
top secret meetings with the representatives of Exxon-Mobil, Conoco,
Shell and BP America for what was later called the Energy Task-force.
Their job, ostensibly, was to map out America’s Energy future. Since
late 2001 several public interest groups, including the very
conservative Judicial Watch, sued to have the proceedings of those
meetings opened to public scrutiny. In March 2002, the Commerce
Department turned over a few documents from the Task-force meetings to
Judicial Watch, among which was the map of Iraq’s Oil Fields, dated
March 2001 (above) and a list of the existing “Foreign Suitors” for
Iraq Oil. Since that time, Cheney’s office has fought fiercely (and so
far, successfully), right up to the Supreme Court, to keep the
proceeding secret and to keep any of the private industry officials
from disclosing any information about the meetings. Since we all now
know the Bush administration’s energy policy, there can be only one
explanation for the extraordinary efforts Cheney has taken to keep
this secret-he was discussing the potential for a takeover of Iraq’s
oil  with the companies that might manage the resource, even before
9/11 gave him the excuse to do it.

A little context would be helpful. In early 2001, the Saudi’s were
growing impatient that the large American Military presence in their
land was causing tension from Muslim clerics who joined Bin Laden’s
1996 call for the “infidel to leave the Holy places of Islam”. In late
2001, the Saudi’s prevented the U.S. from using our Saudi Air Base for
attacks on Afghanistan. As the New York Times reported, our departure
from Saudi Arabia was abrupt.
user: re_print /  pass: re_print

The Prince Sultan base, which at the height of the war this spring
housed 10,000 American troops and 200 planes, has now been supplanted
as the Middle East’s main American military air operations center by
Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

This last phase of the American departure from the base occurred
with almost no fanfare, attracting only minor mention in the Saudi
press. “It was as if they were never here,” a senior Saudi official
said. “They left very quietly.”

Most of the senior policy makers in the Bush administration had as
early as January 26, 1998 (while they were still out of power) made
explicit their Iraq regime change policy in an extraordinary open
letter to President Clinton.

In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake military
action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it means
removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now needs to
become the aim of American foreign policy.

So for Cheney in the spring of 2001, the desired outcome of U.S.
control of Iraq was not in doubt. What was of concern as you can see
from the “Oil Suitor List” (here and here) was that both China and
Russia had signed “production sharing contracts” with the Iraq Oil
Ministry to develop most of the major fields. The reason this becomes
important now is that with yesterday’s agreement in the Iraqi
Parliament over Amnesty and Revenue Sharing, the American Embassy is
now pushing hard for an Iraq Oil Law which would open up huge new
concessions to the Oil Companies that were part of Cheney’s Task
force. This rush for a new law confuses the Iraqis.

And as Tariq Shafiq, one of the three-member team charged with
drafting the petroleum law for the Iraq Ministry of Oil suggested at
the hearing, because Iraq itself doesn’t need to develop those
untapped reserves for another decade, pressure to immediately
implement any provision that would open them up for exploration and
development “fuels the argument” that the Americans and British “are
there for the oil.”

There has been a very informed discussion on these pages recently,
about the role of U.S. Hard Power in a world increasingly dominated by
economic and cultural Soft Power moves by our commercial rivals around
the globe. If we are to have an honest discussion about imperialism,
mercantilism and the role of our government in an everchanging
landscape, wouldn’t shining a little sunlight on the discussions of
the Cheney Energy Task-force be a place to start?”


January 26, 1998

The Honorable William J. Clinton
President of the United States
Washington, DC

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing you because we are convinced that current American
policy toward Iraq is not succeeding, and that we may soon face a
threat in the Middle East more serious than any we have known since
the end of the Cold War.  In your upcoming State of the Union Address,
you have an opportunity to chart a clear and determined course for
meeting this threat.  We urge you to seize that opportunity, and to
enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S.
and our friends and allies around the world.  That strategy should
aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power.
We stand ready to offer our full support in this difficult but
necessary endeavor.

The policy of “containment” of Saddam Hussein has been steadily
eroding over the past several months.  As recent events have
demonstrated, we can no longer depend on our partners in the Gulf War
coalition to continue to uphold the sanctions or to punish Saddam when
he blocks or evades UN inspections.  Our ability to ensure that Saddam
Hussein is not producing weapons of mass destruction, therefore, has
substantially diminished.  Even if full inspections were eventually to
resume, which now seems highly unlikely, experience has shown that it
is difficult if not impossible to monitor Iraq’s chemical and
biological weapons production.  The lengthy period during which the
inspectors will have been unable to enter many Iraqi facilities has
made it even less likely that they will be able to uncover all of
Saddam’s secrets.  As a result, in the not-too-distant future we will
be unable to determine with any reasonable level of confidence whether
Iraq does or does not possess such weapons.

Such uncertainty will, by itself, have a seriously destabilizing
effect on the entire Middle East.  It hardly needs to be added that if
Saddam does acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass
destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the
present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our
friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a
significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will all be put at
hazard.  As you have rightly declared, Mr. President, the security of
the world in the first part of the 21st century will be determined
largely by how we handle this threat.

Given the magnitude of the threat, the current policy, which depends
for its success upon the steadfastness of our coalition partners and
upon the cooperation of Saddam Hussein, is dangerously inadequate. The
only acceptable strategy is one that eliminates the possibility that
Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass
destruction. In the near term, this means a willingness to undertake
military action as diplomacy is clearly failing. In the long term, it
means removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. That now
needs to become the aim of American foreign policy.

We urge you to articulate this aim, and to turn your Administration’s
attention to implementing a strategy for removing Saddam’s regime from
power. This will require a full complement of diplomatic, political
and military efforts. Although we are fully aware of the dangers and
difficulties in implementing this policy, we believe the dangers of
failing to do so are far greater. We believe the U.S. has the
authority under existing UN resolutions to take the necessary steps,
including military steps, to protect our vital interests in the Gulf.
In any case, American policy cannot continue to be crippled by a
misguided insistence on unanimity in the UN Security Council.

We urge you to act decisively. If you act now to end the threat of
weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. or its allies, you will
be acting in the most fundamental national security interests of the
country. If we accept a course of weakness and drift, we put our
interests and our future at risk.


Elliott Abrams    Richard L. Armitage    William J. Bennett

Jeffrey Bergner    John Bolton    Paula Dobriansky

Francis Fukuyama    Robert Kagan    Zalmay Khalilzad

William Kristol    Richard Perle    Peter W. Rodman

Donald Rumsfeld    William Schneider, Jr.    Vin Weber

Paul Wolfowitz    R. James Woolsey    Robert B. Zoellick


From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]


“Music has been used in American military prisons and on bases to
induce sleep deprivation, “prolong capture shock,” disorient detainees
during interrogations–and also drown out screams. Based on a leaked
interrogation log, news reports, and the accounts of soldiers and
detainees, here are some of the songs that guards and interrogators


Disturbing New Photos From Abu Ghraib  /  02.28.08

“NSFW: VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED. As an expert witness in the
defense of an Abu Ghraib guard who was court-martialed, psychologist
Philip Zimbardo had access to many of the images of abuse that were
taken by the guards themselves. For a presentation at the TED
conference in Monterey, California, Zimbardo assembled some of these
pictures into a short video. obtained the video from
Zimbardo’s talk, and is publishing some of the stills from that video
here. Many of the images are explicit and gruesome, depicting nudity,
degradation, simulated sex acts and guards posing with decaying
corpses. Viewer discretion is advised.”


zim [at] stanford [dot] edu


A Simulation Study of the Psychology of Imprisonment, Conducted at
Stanford University

“Welcome to the Stanford Prison Experiment web site, which features an
extensive slide show and information about this classic psychology
experiment, including parallels with the abuse of prisoners at Abu
Ghraib. What happens when you put good people in an evil place? Does
humanity win over evil, or does evil triumph? These are some of the
questions we posed in this dramatic simulation of prison life
conducted in the summer of 1971 at Stanford University.

How we went about testing these questions and what we found may
astound you. Our planned two-week investigation into the psychology of
prison life had to be ended prematurely after only six days because of
what the situation was doing to the college students who participated.
In only a few days, our guards became sadistic and our prisoners
became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. Please join me on
a slide tour describing this experiment and uncovering what it tells
us about the nature of human nature.”     –Philip G. Zimbardo


TED 2008: How Good People Turn Evil, From Stanford to Abu Ghraib
BY Kim Zetter  /  02.28.08

MONTEREY, California — Psychologist Philip Zimbardo has seen good
people turn evil, and he thinks he knows why.

Zimbardo will speak Thursday afternoon at the TED conference, where he
plans to illustrate his points by showing a three-minute video,
obtained by, that features many previously unseen
photographs from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (disturbing content).

In March 2006, published 279 photos and 19 videos from Abu
Ghraib, one of the most extensive documentations to date of abuse in
the notorious prison. Zimbardo claims, however, that many images in
his video — which he obtained while serving as an expert witness for
an Abu Ghraib defendant — have never before been published.

The Abu Ghraib prison made international headlines in 2004 when
photographs of military personnel abusing Iraqi prisoners were
published around the world. Seven soldiers were convicted in courts
martial and two, including Specialist Lynndie England, were sentenced
to prison.

Zimbardo conducted a now-famous experiment at Stanford University in
1971, involving students who posed as prisoners and guards. Five days
into the experiment, Zimbardo halted the study when the student guards
began abusing the prisoners, forcing them to strip naked and simulate
sex acts.

His book, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil,
explores how a “perfect storm” of conditions can make ordinary people
commit horrendous acts.

He spoke with about what Abu Ghraib and his prison study can
teach us about evil and why heroes are, by nature, social deviants.

Wired: Your work suggests that we all have the capacity for evil, and
that it’s simply environmental influences that tip the balance from
good to bad. Doesn’t that absolve people from taking responsibility
for their choices?

Philip Zimbardo: No. People are always personally accountable for
their behavior. If they kill, they are accountable. However, what I’m
saying is that if the killing can be shown to be a product of the
influence of a powerful situation within a powerful system, then it’s
as if they are experiencing diminished capacity and have lost their
free will or their full reasoning capacity.

Situations can be sufficiently powerful to undercut empathy, altruism,
morality and to get ordinary people, even good people, to be seduced
into doing really bad things — but only in that situation.

Understanding the reason for someone’s behavior is not the same as
excusing it. Understanding why somebody did something — where that
why has to do with situational influences — leads to a totally
different way of dealing with evil. It leads to developing prevention
strategies to change those evil-generating situations, rather than the
current strategy, which is to change the person.

Wired: You were an expert defense witness in the court-martial of Sgt.
Chip Frederick, an Abu Ghraib guard. What were the situational
influences in his case?

Zimbardo: Abu Ghraib was under bombardment all the time. In the
prison, five soldiers and 20 Iraqi prisoners get killed. That means
automatically any soldier working there is under high fear and high
stress. Then the insurgency starts in 2003, and they start arresting
everyone in sight. When Chip Frederick [starts working at Abu Ghraib]
in September, there are 200 prisoners there. Within three months
there’s a thousand prisoners with a handful of guards to take care of
them, so they’re overwhelmed. Frederick and the others worked 12-hour
shifts. How many days a week? Seven. How many days without a day off?
Forty. That kind of stress reduces decision-making and critical
thinking and rationality. But that’s only the beginning.

He [complained] to higher-ups on the record, “We have mentally ill
patients who cover themselves with [excrement]. We have people with
tuberculosis that shouldn’t be in this population. We have kids mixed
with adults.”

And they tell him, “It’s a war zone. Do your job. Do whatever you have
to do.”

Wired: How did what happened at Abu Ghraib compare to your Stanford
prison study?

Zimbardo: The military intelligence, the CIA and the civilian
interrogator corporation, Titan, told the MPs [at Abu Ghraib], “It is
your job to soften the prisoners up. We give you permission to do
something you ordinarily are not allowed to do as a military policeman
— to break the prisoners, to soften them up, to prepare them for
interrogation.” That’s permission to step across the line from what is
typically restricted behavior to now unrestricted behavior.

In the same way in the Stanford prison study, I was saying [to the
student guards], “You have to be powerful to prevent further
rebellion.” I tell them, “You’re not allowed, however, to use physical
force.” By default, I allow them to use psychological force. In five
days, five prisoners are having emotional breakdowns.

The situational forces that were going on in [Abu Ghraib] — the
dehumanization, the lack of personal accountability, the lack of
surveillance, the permission to get away with anti-social actions —
it was like the Stanford prison study, but in spades.

Those sets of things are found any time you really see an evil
situation occurring, whether it’s Rwanda or Nazi Germany or the Khmer

Wired: But not everyone at Abu Ghraib responded to the situation in
the same way. So what makes one person in a situation commit evil acts
while another in the same situation becomes a whistle-blower?

Zimbardo: There’s no answer, based on what we know about a person,
that we can predict whether they’re going to be a hero whistle-blower
or the brutal guard. We want to believe that if I was in some
situation [like that], I would bring with it my usual compassion and
empathy. But you know what? When I was the superintendent of the
Stanford prison study, I was totally indifferent to the suffering of
the prisoners, because my job as prison superintendent was to focus on
the guards.

As principal [scientific] investigator [of the experiment], my job was
to care about what happened to everybody because they were all under
my experimental control. But once I switched to being the prison
superintendent, I was a different person. It’s hard to believe that,
but I was transformed.

Wired: Do you think it made any difference that the Abu Ghraib guards
were reservists rather than active duty soldiers?

Zimbardo: It made an enormous difference, in two ways. They had no
mission-specific training, and they had no training to be in a combat
zone. Secondly, the Army reservists in a combat zone are the lowest
form of animal life within the military hierarchy. They’re not real
soldiers, and they know this. In Abu Ghraib the only thing lower than
the army reservist MPs were the prisoners.

Wired: So it’s a case of people who feel powerless in their lives
seizing power over someone else.

Zimbardo: Yes, victims become victimizers. In Nazi concentration
camps, the Jewish capos were worse than the Nazis, because they had to
prove that they deserved being in this position.

Wired: You’ve said that the way to prevent evil actions is to teach
the “banality of kindness” — that is, to get society to exemplify
ordinary people who engage in extraordinary moral actions. How do you
do this?

Zimbardo: If you can agree on a certain number of things that are
morally wrong, then one way to counteract them is by training kids.
There are some programs, starting in the fifth grade, which get kids
to think about the heroic mentality, the heroic imagination.

To be a hero you have to take action on behalf of someone else or some
principle and you have to be deviant in your society, because the
group is always saying don’t do it; don’t step out of line. If you’re
an accountant at Arthur Andersen, everyone who is doing the defrauding
is telling you, “Hey, be one of the team.”

Heroes have to always, at the heroic decisive moment, break from the
crowd and do something different. But a heroic act involves a risk. If
you’re a whistle-blower you’re going to get fired, you’re not going to
get promoted, you’re going to get ostracized. And you have to say it
doesn’t matter.

Most heroes are more effective when they’re social heroes rather than
isolated heroes. A single person or even two can get dismissed by the
system. But once you have three people, then it’s the start of an

So what I’m trying to promote is not only the importance of each
individual thinking “I’m a hero” and waiting for the right situation
to come along in which I will act on behalf of some people or some
principle, but also, “I’m going to learn the skills to influence other
people to join me in that heroic action.”


From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]






REGIS: So I went to the annual Phil Donahue/Marlo Thomas Christmas
party last night.

KELLY: Yes, tell me.

REGIS: Well, it’s just a lot of fun, you know. And the violins are

KELLY: It’s beautiful. They have a beautiful home, right?

REGIS: Yeah, it’s a penthouse up on Fifth Avenue. Just great. And so–
and Phil is there with the bowtie. Incidentally, Phil produced a
documentary that got a lot of acclaim at the Golden Globes, got his
nomination for it. And they’re thinking maybe it could get a
nomination for the Academy Awards, too.

KELLY: Oh, my gosh!

REGIS: It’s Body of War. It’s a documentary on Iraq. You know, you
don’t know what Phil Donahue is doing, because it’s so quiet, and then
all of a sudden this movie is coming out. Anyway, Mike Wallace was

KELLY: Love Mike Wallace.

REGIS: Mike Wallace looks absolutely fabulous, looks like, honest to
God, like a leading man… But then you’ve got to worry about who you’re
going to sit with and what kind of a conversation you’re going to
have. So anyway, on my left was Elaine May, you know, the screenwriter


REGIS:–former comedian, very funny lady. And on my right was Amy
Goodman. And so, I didn’t–I was unfamiliar with the name. “What do you
do, Amy?” She says, “Well, I have a show on PBS.”


REGIS: “What do you do?” She says, “We cover global events.”

KELLY: Oh, my gosh!

REGIS: Global news.

KELLY: No wonder we haven’t seen it.

REGIS: Well, now, excuse me, but what am I going to have in common
with someone who covers global news?

KELLY: What is the global news?

REGIS: The beautiful baby contest? That ain’t going to do it!

KELLY: Right.

REGIS: Santa Claus getting pawed? No!


REGIS: I’ve got nothing in common.

KELLY: Yes. I know what you’re saying. I’ve been there.

REGIS: Sure.

KELLY: I’ve been in that anxiety situation, where you realize that you
are the weak link at the table, where you go, “Oh, I see. I’m the weak
link. I’m the person that–

REGIS: You may be better known than anyone else, because they see you
every day on television, but what have we got to say? Nothing.

KELLY: Nothing.

REGIS: We’ve got nothing to say.

KELLY: Nothing. And they know–and they already know what you’ve got
going on, because you’ve talked about it that day.

REGIS: We’ve got nothing.

KELLY: Right.

REGIS: So, what did you do? We talk about nothing.

KELLY: Right.

REGIS: That’s it.

KELLY: Mm-hmm.

REGIS: That’s it.

KELLY: And then it’s sweet, though, because like heady people who are
very accomplished–

REGIS: Very smart, very sharp.

KELLY:–they’re very good at like, you know, sounding interested, or
like, “Well, it must be fascinating, what you’re doing.” I’m like,
“It’s very fun. We had hot toys on yesterday. And then, today we’re
going to make our own shirts out of waste.”

REGIS: You’re absolutely right. You realize then–

KELLY: You’re lacking contribution.

REGIS:–what you are doing. You’re doing nothing!

KELLY: Nothing! Gosh, how can you stand us?

REGIS: It’s just so sad. It really is. Anyway–

KELLY: You know what you should do, you should make things up that
you’re doing.

REGIS: Yeah.

KELLY: You know.

REGIS: Oh, yeah. We’ve covered the Iraq situation. We’re moving on now
to global warming.

KELLY: Good, yes. Say that. And I’ll stand by you.

REGIS: Absolutely.

KELLY: In case I ever get invited to a dinner party, I’ll say that,

REGIS: “What are you doing about global warming?” “We’re staying
cold.” Woman was very interesting, so I tuned her in. She’s on from
8:00 to 9:00 in the morning.

KELLY: Oh, fantastic!

REGIS: Channel 34, one of those PBS stations. And not only do they
have it on TV, but then they take that hour, and they play it on, I
guess, PBS radio. PBS have a radio thing, too? Yeah. They play it on
the radio from 9:00 to 10:00.

KELLY: That’s great!

REGIS: In case you missed the 8:00 to 9:00. So anyway–

KELLY: That’s really good. So I’m going to tune her in, too.

REGIS: Yeah. Yes, Amy Goodman.


935 Lies (and Counting): Study Documents Bush Admin’s False Statements
Preceding Iraq War

We speak with the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, Charles

A new study from the Center for Public Integrity has revealed
President Bush and top administration officials made a total of 935
false statements about Iraq’s alleged national security threat in the
two years following the 9/11 attacks.

President Bush made the most false statements – 260. Colin Powell, his
then secretary of state, made 254 false statements.

The authors of the study concluded “The cumulative effect of these
false statements-amplified by thousands of news stories and broadcasts-
was massive, with the media coverage creating an almost impenetrable
din for several critical months in the run-up to war.” On October 7,
2002, for example, Bush repeatedly lied about the threat posed by Iraq
in a prime-time speech in Cincinnati Ohio.

Charles Lewis joins us in Washington. He is the founder of the Center
for Public Integrity. He created and directed the study titled “Iraq:
The War Card.” He is the president of the Fund for Independence in
Journalism in Washington.

Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity. He created
and directed the “Iraq War Card” project. He is the president of the
Fund for Independence in Journalism in Washington, a distinguished
journalist in residence at American University, and the coauthor of
five books.






The Fund for Independence in Journalism
phone : 202-293-4004
e-mail : charles [dot] lewis [at] tfij [dot] org
About the Author

Charles Lewis is a bestselling author and investigative journalist who
has founded or co-founded three nonprofit organizations based in
Washington, including of the largest nonprofit investigative reporting
organization in the world.

In late 1988, he quit a successful career as a producer for the CBS
News program 60 Minutes and began the Center for Public Integrity, a
nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog organization in Washington that
investigates political influence, corruption and other ethics-related
issues. With a full-time staff of 40 and an unprecedented network of
92 premier investigative journalists in 48 countries available on a
contract basis, the Center under Lewis published more than 250
investigative reports, including 14 books, its work honored by
Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), the Society of Professional
Journalists (SPJ), and others 35 times. During this period, the Center
raised and spent $30 million on its wide-ranging programmatic work,
utilizing roughly 200 paid intern researchers, its findings or
perspective appearing in roughly 10,000 news media stories.

Unfettered by the normal time and space limitations that confront most
traditional news organizations, the Center for Public Integrity is
“the best known of the independent journalism initiatives” operating
today, its work comparable to such legendary muckrakers as Lincoln
Steffens and I.F. Stone, according to a recent book, The Elements of
Journalism (Crown 2001).

Lewis wrote or co-wrote several of the Center’s studies and books that
systematically track political influence, including The Buying of the
President 2004 (Perennial 2004), on the New York Times short and
extended bestseller list for three months, The Cheating of America
(Morrow 2001), The Buying of the President 2000 (Avon 2000), The
Buying of the Congress (Avon 1998) and The Buying of the President
(Avon 1996).

PEN USA, the respected literary organization, gave its 2004 First
Amendment award to Lewis, “for expanding the reach of investigative
journalism, for his courage in going after a story regardless of whose
toes he steps on, and for boldly exercising his freedom of speech and
freedom of the press.” In 1998, he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship
by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

From 1990 through 2004, Lewis conducted more than 30 news conferences
at the National Press Club, many of them nationally televised.
National Journal once called Lewis and the Center a “watchdog in the
corridors of power.” The Chicago Tribune said that, “if Lewis didn’t
exist, somebody would have to invent him.”

In 2004, the Center received the George Polk Award for posting all of
the major U.S. contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan online, and first
revealing that Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company,
Halliburton, and its subsidiaries had received by far the most money
in contracts there. The Village Voice called Lewis “the Paul Revere of
our time” in early 2003 after he obtained a copy of the Justice
Department’s draft legislation “sequel” to the U.S.A. Patriot Act, and
posted it on the Center’s Website,

In 1996, The New Yorker called Lewis’ organization the center for
campaign scoops.” During that year’s presidential election campaign,
the Center repeatedly uncovered political information that resonated
with millions of Americans. The Lincoln Bedroom scandal, for instance,
in which hundreds of campaign contributors spent the night at the
Clinton White House, was broken by the Center in its publication, The
Public i, earning it the Society of Professional Journalists’ 1996
Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Newsletter Journalism.

Another Center report, Under the Influence II: The 1996 Presidential
Candidates and Their Campaign Advisers caused a firestorm. At a news
conference releasing it, just days before the New Hampshire primary,
Lewis asked why the co-chairman of the Pat Buchanan campaign was
involved with white supremacy groups such as Aryan Nations. Within an
hour, Buchanan placed Pratt “on leave” from his presidential campaign.

Four years later, The Buying of the President 2000 first revealed that
Enron was George W. Bush’s top career patron. The Buying of the
President quadrennial series which began in 1996 marks the only
commercially-published, investigative book profiling the major
presidential candidates and political parties in the U.S. and the
special interests behind them.

Lewis has been interviewed hundreds of times about corruption-related
issues by the national and international news media. He has been a
guest lecturer at on corruption or journalism at more than 25
respected colleges and universities and other institutions. Since
1992, Lewis has spoken publicly in Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Brazil,
China, Denmark, Egypt, England, France, Hungary, Ireland, Jamaica, the
Netherlands, Norway Russia, Sweden and South Africa. In early 1997, he
traveled to the troubled Ferghana Valley region of Uzbekistan and
Kyrgystan in Central Asia as part of a Council on Foreign Relations
conflict-prevention fact-finding mission. Since 2000, he has gathered
book-related research in the Bahamas, Belize and India.

Lewis initiated several new, innovative Center projects. In late 1997,
he began the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
(ICIJ,, an unprecedented network of the world’s premier
investigative reporters collaborating to produce across-border, public
service journalism on such subjects as cigarette smuggling by the
major manufacturers, the human rights impact of U.S. military aid,
private military companies, the privatization of water, and the
politics of oil. In 1998, Lewis and the Center undertook a nationwide
investigation of corruption in America’s state legislatures, in which
more than 7,000 state lawmakers were individually contacted by phone
or mail, and their annual financial disclosure forms were posted on
the Internet.

In 2001, he created a groundbreaking Center project to monitor and
report on corruption, government accountability and openness around
the world. In 2004, utilizing 200 respected social scientists and
investigative reporters in 25 countries on six continents, the 750,000-
word Global Integrity Report and The Corruption Notebooks were
published and covered around the world. Lewis recommended and the
Center Board agreed that the project ought to become a separate, new
nonprofit organization, Global Integrity (
That occurred in 2005, and he now serves on its Advisory Board.

For eleven years, from 1977 through 1988, Lewis did investigative
reporting at ABC News and at CBS News as a producer for senior
correspondent Mike Wallace at 60 Minutes. His stories twice received
Emmy nominations in the “Outstanding Investigative Reporting” category
by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Lewis has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los
Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, Columbia Journalism Review,
The Nation and many other publications. He began his first job in
journalism at the age of seventeen, working nights in the sports
department of the Wilmington (Delaware) News-Journal.

He is president and CEO of the Fund for Independence in Journalism
( in Washington, which was created to foster quality
investigative journalism, including as a support organization to the
Center for Public Integrity and possibly others. Lewis also serves on
the board of the Fund for Investigative Journalism, the Advisory Board
of the International Reporting Project, and as an “international
associate” of the Open Democracy Advice Centre in Cape Town, South
Africa. He is a member of the Committee of Concerned Journalists, the
Committee to Protect Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors,
the National Press Club, PEN USA and the Society of Professional
Journalists. In 2005, Lewis was a paid consultant on access to
information issues to the Carter Center in Atlanta.

Today Lewis is a Distinguished Journalist in Residence and professor
of journalism at American University in Washington, D.C. He was a
Ferris Professor at Princeton University in 2005, and a Shorenstein
Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in

A native of Newark, Delaware, Lewis holds a master’s degree from Johns
Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in
Washington and a B.A. in political science with honors and distinction
from the University of Delaware.