Sept. 11, oil and conspiracies

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Jul 24 08:14:59 MDT 2002

American Prospect, Volume 13, Issue 14. August 12, 2002.
No War for Oil!
Is the United States really after Afghanistan's resources? Not a chance.

Ken Silverstein

The war in Afghanistan is a sham. The Bush administration had advance
knowledge of the September 11 attacks but took no action, using the
assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as an excuse to topple
the Taliban regime and legitimize the takeover of Afghanistan. Well-placed
government insiders, knowing of the impending attacks, made fortunes by
betting on a huge fall in airline stocks. The war is not about terrorism
but about America's desire to control energy in Central Asia and promote
corporate plans to plunder the region's reserves. The chief U.S. concern
all along has been to help Unocal Corporation build a pipeline across
Afghanistan, which would carry natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan.

By now all of this is obvious -- that is, it's obvious if you get your
information from the Internet or from certain far-right or left-wing
circles, where conspiracy theories about the war run rampant. A classic
example was a story by Patrick Martin on, a Web site whose great
popularity suggests that much of the U.S. population is terminally
paranoid. "The American media has conducted a systematic cover-up of the
real economic and strategic interests that underlie the war against
Afghanistan, in order to sustain the pretense that the war emerged
overnight, full-blown, in response to the terrorist attacks of September
11," Martin wrote.

These sorts of conspiracy theories, especially the ones concerning oil
supplies, aren't just circulating in fringe circles; they've found their
way into mainstream outlets, too. In England, John Pilger of the New
Statesman wrote that President George W. Bush's "concealed agenda is to
exploit the oil and gas reserves in the Caspian basin ... [which could]
meet America's voracious energy needs for a generation. Only if the
pipeline runs through Afghanistan can the Americans hope to control it."
Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, a former French intelligence
analyst and a journalist, respectively, who co-authored the international
bestseller Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth, claim that the Clinton
administration and then the Bush team heavily pressured the Taliban to
allow the Unocal pipeline. When the Taliban refused, the administration
threatened it with military reprisals, which may in turn have led to the
9-11 strikes.

On this side of the Atlantic, a March 18 op-ed in the Chicago Tribune by
Salim Muwakkil ("Pipeline Politics Taint U.S. War") treated such theories
with measured respect and said it was no wonder that so many foreigners
were skeptical about the Bush administration's expressed war aims. Even The
New York Times dipped its toes in the conspiracy waters, in a story last
December that discussed the Caspian's potential role as an energy supplier
and the possibility that the Unocal pipeline would now be revived.

What's common to all these theories, from the most delusional to the more
sophisticated, is that their authors display little understanding of the
Caspian or of energy markets. Many of the heavy-breathing conspiracy
theorists don't even realize that the major Unocal pipeline would have
moved natural gas, not oil. Like Pilger, some also seem to believe that the
Caspian's energy reserves are going to be shipped to America, presumably to
warm our homes and fuel our SUVs, when in fact most of the oil and gas from
the Caspian is destined for markets in Russia, Europe and Central Asia itself.


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