The New Zealand Herald
New US envoy to Kabul lobbied for Taleban oil rights 
January 11, 2002


Here's some fascinating information from the NEW ZEALAND HERALD that throws 
light on a question asked earlier in this space: Did the United States go 
to war for oil?

>The United States' new special envoy to Kabul once lobbied for the
>Taleban ...

The special envoy's name is Zalmay Khalilzad. And guess what? He used to 
work for Unocal, which wanted to build an oil pipeline through Afghanistan:

> But in 1997, as a paid adviser to the oil multinational Unocal, 
> he took part in talks with Taleban officials regarding the 
> possibility of building highly lucrative gas and oil pipelines. 
> He had drawn up a risk analysis report for the project that 
> would have exploited the natural reserves of the region, 
> estimated to be the world's second largest after the Persian 
> Gulf.
> At the same time, he urged the Clinton administration to take 
> a softer line on the Taleban. By 1997 some of the regime's 
> worst excesses had become public and bin Laden was ensconced 
> in Afghanistan. That year, the Secretary of State, Madeleine 
> Albright, described the Taleban's abuses of human rights as 
> "despicable".
> But Mr Khalilzad defended them in The WASHINGTON POST. "The
> Taleban do not practice the anti-US style of fundamentalism
> practised by Iran," he wrote. "We should ... be willing to 
> offer recognition and humanitarian assistance and to promote
>international economic reconstruction. It is time for the 
> United States to re-engage."

Mr. Khalilzad's attitude toward the evil Taleban seems to have correlated 
closely with the prospects for getting the pipeline built:

> American policy towards Afghanistan was increasingly being
> criticised because it seemed to be guided by oil and gas 
> interests. That changed in August 1998, when the US embassies 
> in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed and Washington blamed bin 
> Laden for the attacks. Unocal concluded that its pipeline was 
> no longer tenable as long as the Taleban were in power.
> At that point Mr Khalilzad, too, changed his tune....
> Engagement with the Taleban was no longer possible, he argued:
> indeed, the sanctuary given to bin Laden posed a grave threat
> to US interests at home and abroad. Opposition to the Taleban 
> should be orchestrated through both the Northern Alliance and
> anti-Taleban Pashtun groups, with talks on a successor regime
> channelled through the former king, Zahir Shah, in Rome.

This is fascinating stuff. Funny, but the December 31 AP story about
Khalilzad's appointment for some reason doesn't mention it. In fact, it
reads like a White House press release. Take a look:


The WASHINGTON POST's story had even less information than AP's, which
is interesting because back on November 23 they ran an article which,
while very friendly to Khalilzad, did mention his ties to the oil
industry and his formerly conciliatory attitude toward the evil Taleban:


With the extraordinarily short memory of today's public, the older article 
can just vanish down the memory hole. I haven't found anything in the major 
U.S. news media since Khalilzad's appointment that touches on these 
interesting issues, though there have been some stories in local papers. If 
the Ministry of Truth decides it ain't news, it ain't news.

Here's an example of Khalilzad's agitation for confrontation with the
Taleban, from an article by him and Daniel Byman published in the Winter 
2000 edition of the WASHINGTON QUARTERLY:

> Afghanistan has gone from one of Washington's greatest foreign 
> policy triumphs to one of its most profound failures. During 
> the Cold War, U.S. support to the anti-Soviet Afghan 
> resistance resulted in a debacle for Moscow, humiliating the 
> vaunted Red Army and discrediting the Soviets throughout the 
> Muslim world. After the Soviets withdrew, however, 
> Afghanistan has become a disaster for U.S. policy. The master 
> terrorist Osama bin Laden has taken shelter in Afghanistan, 
> using it as a base to indoctrinate and train militants who 
> strike at the United States and its allies. Afghan women face a 
> horrifying array of restrictions, among the most repressive in 
> the world.

Yes, we mustn't forget those horrifying restrictions on women. The memory 
of such horrors must make Afghan women ever so grateful for the U.S. bombs 
now killing hundreds of them in Afghanistan.

Of course, our Saudi allies don't treat women very well either. In addition 
to enslaving foreign female workers, they don't allow women to drive and 
require that everything but their faces be covered in public at all times. 
That last was very irritating to a female U.S. Air Force colonel, who is 
suing the Air Force for forcing her to cover up when outside her base in 
Saudi Arabia. Seeing that the Saudis are implicated in at least tacit 
support for the Master Terrorist Osama, maybe a U.S. bombing campaign 
against them might persuade her to drop the suit. It's worth a shot.

Khalilzad's background also seems to fill in some gaps in our understanding 
of the dynamics of Bushite foreign policy. From the NEW ZEALAND HERALD 

> In the 1980s, he worked on Afghanistan alongside Paul Wolfowitz, 
> now the Deputy Secretary of Defence and an ardent advocate of 
> military action to depose Saddam Hussein in Iraq -- a hardline 
> view that has also sometimes been voiced by Mr Khalilzhad.

Wolfowitz's is one of the most rabid pro-war, pro-Israel voices in the Bush 

Since working at the sinister Rand Corporation, Khalilzad has been working 
at the National Security Council as senior director for Southwest Asia, the 
Near East and North Africa, under National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice 
-- who also has links with the oil industry. She served on the board of 
Chevron as an expert on Kazakhstan, one of the states in the Caspian Sea 
region with large oil reserves.

Interestingly, the policies Khalilzad once advocated have now come to pass. 
The Northern Alliance was used to overthrow the Taleban, and the former 
king is being used to provide some semblance of legitimacy for the United 
State's client regime. Of course, none of this pipeline nonsense has 
anything to do with the Empire's reasons for going to war in Afghanistan. 
And remember, we have always been at war with Eastasia.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Sengupta and Gumbel story has also appeared in THE 
INDEPENDENT, (UK). It may be found at 
I mention here because there is no way of knowing which story will enjoy the 
longer shelf-life on the Net.

EDITOR'S POSTSCRIPT: On January 11, 2002, Gen. Wilma Vaught, USAF (Ret.), was 
interviewed on MSNBC's "News with Brian Wilson." In the course of her comments 
she said, "We're there because our interests are involved, including oil." It 
apparently did not occur to Lester Holt, sitting in for Wilson and ever 
clueless, to correct her to explain that "we" are there to defend democracy, 
freedom, and goodness and to battle "the evil ones."

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