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Phillip Agee on the Origins of the Persian Gulf War

From @pucc.PRINCETON.EDU:RIVERA@CERNVM.BITNET Mon Feb 4 09:59:16 1991
Received: from pucc.PRINCETON.EDU by Ra.MsState.Edu (4.1/6.5m-FWP);
id AA01586; Mon, 4 Feb 91 09:59:13 CST
Date: Mon, 04 Feb 91 16:55:14 SET
From: fernando
Subject: (1) Las razones de Bush

Amigos: A continuacion un articulo que circulo la red peruana. Creo que, tal vez, lo encuentren interesante. Se trata de las opiniones de un ex-agente de la CIA, sobre los verdaderos motivos que llevaron a Bush a la guerra. Como es bastante largo, lo he dividido en 3 entregas.

Gracias, Hasta luego. Fernando Rivera G.

Date: Sun, 3 Feb 91 19:50:23 CST

SOBRE LA GUERRA EN EL GOLFO PERSICO.

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PRODUCING THE PROPER CRISIS a speech by Philip Agee, formerly of the CIA.

>From Z magazine, Oct. 1990

On the eve of Philip Agee's 20-city tour to campuses and community groups throughout the U.S. the Nicaraguan foreign ministry revoked his Nicaraguan passport preventing him from traveling freely. Jean Caiani of Speak Out!, who organized his tour, is helping coordinate a national campaign to regain his original passport which was revoked in 1979 on the grounds that Agee's writings and speaking pose "a serious threat to the national security of the United States." Following is the speech that Agee planned to give at his scheduled engagements.

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Sooner or later it had to happen: the fundamental transformation of U.S. military forces was really only a matter of time. Transformation, in this sense, from a national defense force to an international mercenary army for hire. With a U.S national debt of $3 trillion, some $800 billion owned by foreigners, The United States sooner or later would have to find, or produce, the proper crisis - one that would enable the president to hire out the armed forces, like a national export, in order to avoid conversion of the economy from military to civilian purposes. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, encouraged, it seems, by the Bush administration, is the necessary crisis.
Not long after the invasion, I watched on Spanish television Bush's call to arms, when he said "our way of life" is at stake. For days afterwards I kept watching and reading for news of the tens of millions of people in this country, who would take to the streets in joy, in celebration that their days of poverty, homelessness, illiteracy and uncared-for illness might soon end. What I saw instead, like most of you, was the Bush "way of life" - fishing, boating, and golfing on the coast of Maine like any respectable member of the Eastern elite. Bush's military machismo of recent weeks reminded me of what General Noriega said about Bush a couple of years ago, before Bush decided to smash Panamanian nationalism for the foreseeable future. You remember? Noriega told his deputy in the Panamanian Defense Forces, who later made it public, he said, "I've got George Bush - by the balls."
When I read that, I thought, how interesting - one of those rare statements that contain two revelations. Back in the 1970s, when he was director of the CIA, Bush tried to get a criminal indictment against me for revelations I was making about CIA operations and personnel. But he couldn't get it, I discovered later in documents I received under the Freedom of Information Act. The reason was that in the early 1970s the CIA had committed crimes against me while I was in Europe writing my first book. If they indicted and prosecuted me, I would learn the details of those crimes, whatever they were: conspiracy to assassination, kidnapping, a drug plant. So they couldn't indict because the CIA under Bush, and before him under William Colby, said the details had to stay secret. So what did Bush do? He prevailed on President Ford to send Henry Kissinger, then Secretary of State, to Britain where I was living, to get them to take action. A few weeks after Kissinger's secret trip a Cambridge policeman arrived at my door with a deportation notice. After living in Britain nearly five years, I had suddenly become a threat to the security of the realm. During the next two years I was not only expelled from Britain, but also from France, Holland, West Germany, and Italy - all under U.S. pressure. For two years I didn't know where I was living, and my two sons, then teenagers, attended four different schools in four different countries.
The latest is the government's attempt to prevent me from speaking in the U.S now. Where this will end, we still don't know. How many of you have friends or relatives right now in Saudi Arabia or the Persian Gulf area? I wonder how they feel, so close to giving their lives to protect a feudal kingdom where women are stoned to death for adultery, where a thief is punished by having his hand amputated, where women can't drive cars or swim in the same pool as men? Where bibles are forbidden and no religion save Islam is allowed? Where Amnesty International reports that torture is routine, and that last year 111 people were executed, 16 of them political prisoners, all but one by public beheading. And not by clean cut, with a guillotine, but with that long curved sword that witnesses say requires various chops. Not that Saudi Arabia, or Kuwait before the invasion, are any different in terms of political repression than any number of U.S.-supported allies. But to give your life for those corrupt, cruel, family dictatorships? Bush says we're topping aggression." If that were true, the first thing U.S. forces would have done are carrying out the worst aggression against their own people, especially women. Mainstream media haven't quite said it yet, as far as I know, but the evidence is mounting that George Bush and his entourage wanted the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, encouraged it, and then refused to prevent it when they could have.

I'll get back to Bush later, but first, a quick review of what brought on this crisis. Does the name Cox bring anything special to mind? Sir Percy Cox? In a historical sense this is the man responsible for today's Gulf crisis. Sir Percy Cox was the British High Commissioner in Baghdad after World War I who in 1922 drew the lines in the sand establishing for the first time national borders between Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. And in each of these new states the British helped set up and consolidate ruling monarchies through which British banks, commercial firms, and petroleum companies could obtain monopolies. Kuwait, however, had for centuries belonged to the Basra province of the Ottoman Empire. Iraq and the Iraqis never recognized Sir Percy's borders. He had drawn those lines, as historians have confirmed, in order deliberately to deprive Iraq of a viable seaport on the Persian Gulf. The British wanted no threat from Iraq to their dominance in the Gulf where they had converted no less than ten sheikdoms, including Kuwait, into colonies. The divide and rule principle, so well-practiced in this country since the beginning. In 1958 the British-installed monarchy in Iraq was overthrown in a military coup. Three years later, in 1961, Britain granted independence to Kuwait, and the Iraqi military government massed troops on the Kuwaiti border threatening to take the territory by force. Immediately the British dispatched troops, and Iraq backed down, still refusing to recognize the border. Similar Iraqi threats occurred in 1973 and 1976.
This history, Saddam Hussein's justification for annexing Kuwait, is in the books for anyone to see. But weeks went by as I waited and wondered why the International Herald Tribune, which publishes major articles from the Washington Post, New York Times and wire services, failed to carry the background. Finally, a month after the invasion, the Herald Tribune carried a Washington Post article on the historical context written by Glenn Frankel. I've yet to find this history in Time or Newsweek. Time, in fact, went so far as to say that Iraq's claims to Kuwait were "without any historical basis." Hardly surprising, since giving exposure to the Iraqi side might weaken the campaign to Hitlerize Saddam Hussein. Also absent from current accounts is the CIA's role in the early 1970s to foment and support armed Kurdish rebellion in Iraq. The Agency, in league with the Shah of Iran, provided $16 million in arms and other supplies to the Kurds, leading to Iraqi capitulation to the Shah in 1975 over control of the Shat al Arab. This is the estuary of the Tigris and Euphrates, that separates the two countries inland from the Gulf and is Iraq's only access to Basra, its upriver port. Five years later, in 1980, Iraq invaded Iran to redress the CIA-assisted humiliation of 1975, and to regain control of the estuary, beginning the eight year war that cost a million lives.
Apart from Iraq's historical claims on Kuwait and its need for access to the sea, two related disputes came to a head just before the invasion. First was the price of oil. OPEC had set the price at $18 per barrel in 1986, together with production quotas to maintain that price. But Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates had long exceeded their quotas, driving the price down to around $13 in June. Iraq, saddled with a $70 billion debt from the war with Iran, was losing billions of dollars in oil revenues which normally account for 95 precent of its exports. Meanwhile, industrialized oil consumers like the United States were enjoying the best price in 40 years, in inflation-adjusted dollars. Iraq's other claim against Kuwait was theft. While Iraq was occupied with Iran during the war, Kuwait began pumping from Iraq's vast Rumaila field that dips into the disputed border area. Iraq demanded payment for oil taken from this field as well as forgiveness of Kuwaiti loans to Iraq during the war with Iran. Then in July, Iraq massed troops on the Kuwaiti border while OPEC ministers met in Geneva. That pressure brought Kuwait and the Emirates to agree to honor quotas and OPEC set a new target price of $21, although Iraq had insisted on $25 per barrel. After that Hussein increased his troops on the border from 30,000 to 100,000. On August 1, Kuwaiti and Iraqi negotiators, meeting in Saudi Arabia, failed to reach agreement over the loans, oil thefts, and access to the sea for Iraq. The next night Iraq invaded. Revelations since then, together with a review of events prior to the invasion, strongly suggest that U.S. policy was to encourage Hussein to invade and, when invasion was imminent, to do nothing to discourage him. Consider the following.

From @pucc.PRINCETON.EDU:RIVERA@CERNVM.BITNET Mon Feb 4 10:20:25 1991
Received: from pucc.PRINCETON.EDU by Ra.MsState.Edu (4.1/6.5m-FWP);
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Date: Mon, 04 Feb 91 17:05:11 SET
Subject: (2) Las razones de Bush
Date: Sun, 3 Feb 91 19:50:23 CST
SOBRE LA GUERRA EN EL GOLFO PERSICO.
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PRODUCING THE PROPER CRISIS a speech by Philip Agee, formerly of the CIA.
>From Z magazine, Oct. 1990
............ Continuacion ............
During the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980s, the U.S. sided with Iraq and continued this policy right up to August 2, the day of the invasion. In April, the Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East, John Kelly, testified before Congress that the United States had no commitment to defend Kuwait. On July 25, with Iraqi troops massed on the Kuwait border, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, met with Hussein. Minutes of the meeting were given by the Iraqis to the Washington Post in mid-August. According to these minutes, which have not been disputed by the State Department, the Ambassador told Hussein that Secretary of State James Baker had instructed her to emphasize to Hussein that the U.S. has "no opinion" on Iraqi-Kuwait border disputes. She then asked him, in light of Iraqi troop movements, what his intentions were with respect to Kuwait. Hussein replied that Kuwait's actions amounted to "an economic war" and "military action against us." He said he hoped for a peaceful solution, but if not, he said, "it will be natural that Iraq will not accept death..." A clearer statement of his intentions would be hard to imagine, and hardly a promise not to invade. The Ambassador gave no warning from Baker or Bush that the U.S. would oppose an Iraqi takeover of Kuwait. On the contrary she said, "I have a direct instruction from the President to seek better relations with Iraq." On the same day Assistant Secretary of State Kelly killed a planned Voice of America broadcast that would have warned Iraq that the U.S. was "strongly committed" to the defense of its friends in the Gulf, which included, of course, Kuwait. During the week between the Ambassador's meeting with Hussein and the invasion, the Bush administration forbade any warning to Hussein against invasion, or to the thousands of people who might become hostages. The Ambassador returned to Washington as previously scheduled for consultations. Assistant Secretary Kelly, two days before the invasion, again testified publicly before Congress to the effect that the U.S. had no commitment to defend Kuwait. And, according to press reports and Senator Boren, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, the CIA had predicted the invasion some four days before it happened.
Put these events together, and add the total absence of any public or private warning by Bush to Hussein not to invade, together with no U.S. effort to create international opposition [...garbled in transmission] attention from the S&L scandal, for example, to be paid not by the crooks but by ordinary, honest people.
Second, we know that the system is not fair, that about one in three people are economically deprived, either in absolute poverty or so close that they have no relief from want. We also know that one in three Americans are illiterate, either totally or to the degree that they cannot function in a society based on the written word. [Note: Mr. Agee is incorrect when he asserts that 33% of Americans are economically deprived and illiterate. He may be incorrect on other things that he asserts.]We also know that one in three Americans does not register to vote, and of those who register 20 percent don't vote. This means we elect a president with about 25 percent or slightly less of the potential votes. The reasons why people don't vote are complex, but not the least of them is that people know their vote doesn't count.
Third, we know that during the past ten years these domestic problems have gotten even worse thanks to the Reagan-Bush policy of transferring wealth from the middle and poor classes to the wealthy, while cutting back on social programs. Add to this the usual litany of crises: education, health care, environment, racism, women's rights,
homophobia, the infrastructure, productivity, research, and inability to compete in the international marketplace, and you get a nation not only in crisis, but in decline as well. In certain senses that might not be so bad, if it stimulates, as in the Soviet Union, public debate on the reasons. But the picture suggests that continuation of foreign threats and crises is a good way to avoid fundamental reappraisal of the domestic system, starting where such a debate ought to start, with the rules of the game as laid down in the constitution.
What can we do? Lots. On the Gulf crisis, it's getting out the information on what's behind it, and organizing people to act against this intervention and possible war. Through many existing organizations, such as Pledge of Resistance, there must be a way to develop opposition that will make itself heard and seen on the streets of cities across the country. We should pressure Congress and the media for answers to the old question: During that week between Ambassador Glaspie's meeting with Hussein, "What did George know, when did he know it, and why didn't he act publicly and privately to stop the invasion before it happened?" In getting the answer to that question, we should show how the mainstream media, in failing to do so, have performed their usual cheerleading role as the government's information ministry.
The point on the information side is to show the truth, reject the hypocrisy, and raise the domestic political cost to Bush and every political robot who has gone along with him. At every point along the way we must not be intimidated by those voices that will surely say: "You are helping that brute Saddam Hussein." We are not helping Hussein, although some may be. Rather we are against a senseless destructive war based on greed and racism. We are for a peaceful, negotiated, diplomatic solution that could include resolution of other territorial disputes in the region. We are against militarist intervention and against a crisis that will allow continuing militarism in the United States. We are for conversion of the U.S. and indeed the world economy to peaceful, people-oriented purposes. In the long run, we reject one-party elitist government, and we demand a new constitution, real democracy, with popular participation in decision-making. In short, we want our own glasnost and restructuring here in the United States. If popular movements can bring it to the Soviet Union, that monolithic tyranny, why can't we here in the United States?