Engdahl William - A century of war

Author : Engdahl William
Title : A century of war Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order
Year : 2004

Link download : Engdahl_William_-_A_century_of_war.zip

The fall of the Berlin Wall at the end of the 1980s and the collapse of the Soviet Union were hailed by many as the dawn of a new era of peace and prosperity. Some authors, such as Francis Fukuyama, proclaimed it as the beginning of the end of history. The entire world seemed to open to economic cooperation, to investment, to democratic ideas. Trade barriers fell, doors opened. Little more than a decade later, the optimism was long forgotten as the outlines of a very different world were emerging. As this preface to the new edition of A Century of War was written, the world was mired in a bloody series of wars, the most serious being the war in Iraq. It soon became clear to the world that the decision of President George W. Bush to go to war against Iraq had little to do with the threat of weapons of mass destruction. It was also increasingly clear that the U.S. agenda in Iraq had little to do with the proclaimed effort to ‘bring democracy’ to a once despotic Iraq. That naturally raised in many minds the question of why the United States put so much of its credibility, of its reputation, of what some call its soft power, at risk, for apparently so little. The answer to the question was a short one: it was about oil. But not about oil in the simple sense many believed. This war was not an issue of corporate greed. It was about power, and geopolitical power above all. War in Iraq was about the very basis of America’s ‘national security,’ of future American power. America’s role as the sole hegemon was the unspoken reason for the war, and for this reason neither of the major presidential candidates offered an alternative to American military occupation of the vast oilfi elds of Mesopotamia. Iraq, as hawkish Pentagon strategists put it, was part of the American post-cold war agenda, U.S. pursuit of ‘full spectrum dominance.’ The role of oil in the war, and the role of oil in most of the wars of the past century or more forms the heart of this study of power and geography. It is the thread running through the chapters of this book. In 1904, a British geographer, Halford Mackinder, presented a series of theses to the Royal Geographic Society in London under the title ‘The Geographical Pivot of History.’ Almost a century later, American security adviser and strategist Zbigniew Brzezinski spoke in admiration of the work of Mackinder and his theory of Eurasian geopolitics. It quietly but clearly guided American global strategy. The occupation of the oilfi elds of Iraq, the war in Kosovo and the Balkans, endless civil wars in Africa, fi nancial crises across Asia, the dramatic collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent emergence of a Russian oligarchy, blessed by the International Monetary Fund and by Washington, all assumed coherence in a world where geopolitics, power and control dictated relations. This book is no ordinary history of oil. The bare facts can be found elsewhere. The causal force driving the events is rarely spoken of. Here we present a sometimes controversial description of power and war, fi nance and economic warfare, and the relation of oil and fi nance to that power. One year after the U.S. occupation of Baghdad, the goals and aims of the world’s only superpower were being questioned as they had not been since the Vietnam War. Degrading scenes of Iraqis being tortured fi lled the pages of world media. Allegations of corruption and collusion reaching up to the highest levels of Washington offi cialdom were commonplace. Outrage across the Islamic world was growing against a Washington foreign policy that had little in common with the policies of the U.S. Founding Fathers. Yet too much of the debate failed to take into account the fundamentals of American national security or its power. In 1945, the sun fi nally set on the British Empire. A year later in Fulton, Missouri, Winston Churchill helped light the spark of what came to be four decades of cold war. It was the emergence of the system which Henry Luce termed the American Century. The American Century, stripped of the rhetoric of freedom, peace and democracy, was based on clear US hegemony among nations. It rested on two pillars. The one pillar was the uncontested role of US military power, a dominance which no combination of powers had been able to challenge since the end of the Second World War in 1945. The Soviet Union ultimately collapsed amid ruin in the effort to challenge that hegemony. In 1979 China decided to cooperate with that hegemony and realized, perhaps too late, that it had been a double-edged sword. The second pillar of American power was the uncontested role of the dollar as world reserve currency. The United States created the Bretton Woods System in 1944, in order to establish this unique role. The dollar served as reserve currency long after it had not one ounce of gold to back it. The combined power of its military dominance and monetary dominance allowed the United States the enviable luxury of printing endless paper certifi cates, its dollars, and giving them to the rest of the world in exchange for well-engineered cars, machinery, textiles and every imaginable product. It was the greatest confi dence game the world had ever seen. Americans bought the imports with more dollar debt, creating an edifi ce of dollar debt on which the entire world was dependent. This special hegemony also allowed the United States to become the world’s largest debtor, to run endless trade imbalances, to infl ate its currency beyond imagination, to create a buildup of private and public debt unprecedented in world history. So long as other nations depended on American markets for their trade, and on American military protection for their national security, the game appeared endless. Japan’s role as ‘lender of last resort’ to the U.S. was supplemented at the turn of the century by China. Hundreds of billions of dollars in Japanese, Chinese and other foreign purchases of U.S. Treasury debt, U.S. real estate debt, and other assets, propped up the American economy long after it made any economic sense. The power of the dollar and the power of the U.S. military had been uniquely intertwined with one commodity, the basis of the world economic growth engine, since before the First World War. That commodity was petroleum, and in its service British, American, German, French, Italian, and other nations called their soldiers to war. As Henry Kissinger once expressed this importance: ‘control energy and you control the nations.’ Oil played a decisive role in the collapse of the Soviet Union. Oil defi ned American foreign policy in much of the world during the cold war. And oil defi nes American military actions since the end of the cold war as never before. The how and why of that process defi ne our theme here. In 1919 Mackinder termed the winning of a British Mandate over Palestine the most important geopolitical outcome of the First World War. In the fi rst decade of the third millennium, Palestine and Israel and Middle East geopolitics were still at the heart of world power politics, even if the players in the power complex had changed. How the destiny of the American Century was tied to the destiny of this small part of the world was a question of heated debate and discussion. A group of ultra-conservative ideologues largely around the Republican Party of George Bush were been accused of turning American foreign policy into a unilateral pursuit of military empire. Some defenders boasted of being democratic imperialists. Other Republicans and Democrats called for a return to traditional American foreign policy, a hegemony in which consensus among its Allies was essential. Both sides of this debate were misleading. Both factions accepted the underlying assumptions of an economic and political power which was no longer sustainable nor healthy for the United States nor for the rest of the world. This book seeks to shed light on some lesser known aspects of our history, in an effort to provoke thinking beyond the moment, beyond embedded journalist impressions of reality, or major media sound-bite versions of reality, to encourage ordinary citizens to refl ect on longer-term consequences of what our governments do with our mandate. If it leads to some critical questions being asked, its aim will have been met. F. William Engdahl Hochheim am Main June 2004. ...

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