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July 12, 2004

Michael Moore, Richard Perle Join Forces


by Tanya Hsu
Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy

"Hijacking planes, terrorizing innocent people and shedding blood, constitute a form of injustice that cannot be tolerated by Islam, which views them as gross crimes and sinful acts. … Any Muslim who is aware of his teachings of his religion and who adheres to the directives of the Qur'an and the Sunn'ah will never involve himself in such acts because they will invoke the anger of God Almighty and lead to harm and corruption on earth." Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Senior Ulema, Sheikh 'Abdul-'Aziz Âlush, Sept. 15, 2001

Michael Moore's new film Fahrenheit 9/11 has done a tremendous favor for proponents of a war on the Arabian Peninsula. The film achieves what endless pages of conservative think-tank studies, panel discussions, PR and books have not: it spills gasoline on the anti-Saudi sparks in the United States. Moore's film lambastes the Saudis not only for their business relationships, but also for leaving the U.S. after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 (as did other non-Saudi officials that day). The overwhelming popularity of this documentary takes the anti-Saudi message to a whole new market. It is the latest rationale for a long-term plan to invade and occupy the Kingdom. In spite of its progressive producer and target audience, Fahrenheit 9/11 falls in lockstep with the agenda of neoconservative hawks: rid Arabia of the House of Saud, thereby granting the U.S. and allies full access to the Middle East's biggest prize.

There is a growing belief on the part of members Congress, diplomats, and the American public that the Bush administration is executing a "turnaround" in U.S. policy toward the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia because of neoconservative and interest group pressure. Those opposed to the current administration accuse the White House of maintaining ties to an enemy of America in exchange for lucrative business deals. In contrast, those who support ties with Saudi Arabia maintain that the U.S. has no intention of severing relations with a regional stabilizing force and with long term friends in the House of Saud. Who is correct?

Neither.

The U.S. has not had wholly "friendly" intentions toward the Kingdom for the past 30 years. Any appearance of such is only the visible veneer of real U.S. military policy. Declassified documents reveal that there has been a constant drumbeat behind closed doors to invade Saudi Arabia. The Pentagon has, for three decades, formulated and updated secret plans to seize Saudi oil wells and rid the Kingdom of the ruling House of Saud. This is not only a neoconservative cabal. Time and again, plans have been made for an invasion of Saudi Arabia for a larger purpose: U.S. control of Middle Eastern oil, with all the political power that would entail.

The most recent wave of charges that Saudi Arabia supports and/or condones terrorism signifies a secondary and more public attempt to gain support for a thirty-year-old plan to occupy Saudi Arabia. Other regional players' objectives (such as "securing" oil supplies, or "fighting terror") may create an unstoppable impetus for an American invasion.

Classified Plans Brought to Light

In 1973, the Nixon administration described a plan of attack against Saudi Arabia to seize its oil fields in a classified Joint Intelligence Report entitled "UK Eyes Alpha." British MI5 and MI6 were informed, and under British National Archive rules, the document was declassified in Dec. 2003. The oil embargo had been over for only three weeks but "Eyes Alpha" suggested that the "U.S. could guarantee sufficient oil supplies for themselves and their allies by taking the oil fields in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the Gulf State of Abu Dhabi." It followed that "preemptive" action would be considered, and that two brigades could seize the Saudi oilfields and one brigade each could take Kuwait and Abu Dhabi.

In Feb. 1975 the London Sunday Times revealed information from a leaked and classified U.S. Department of Defense plan. The plan was code-named "Dhahran Option Four" and provided for an invasion of the world's largest oil reserves, namely Saudi Arabia. (See exhibit #1)

Exhibit 1 The Take-Over Plan
(Source: London Sunday Times, February 1975, retouched by IRMEP)

Also in 1975, Robert Tucker, U.S. intelligence and military analyst, wrote an article for Commentary magazine, owned by the Jewish American Committee, entitled "Oil: The Issue of American Intervention." Tucker stated that, "Without intervention there is a distinct possibility of an economic and political disaster bearing … resemblance to the disaster of 1930s. …The Arab shoreline of the Gulf is a new El Dorado waiting for its conquistadors." And this was followed in February of the same year by an article in Harper's magazine by a Pentagon analyst using a pseudonym, Miles Ignotus, emphasizing the need for the U.S. to seize Saudi oilfields, installations and airports, entitled "Seizing Arab Oil." According to James Akins, former U.S. diplomat, the author was probably Henry Kissinger, secretary of state at the time. Kissinger has neither confirmed nor denied the charge.

Further, in Aug. 1975, a report entitled, "Oil Fields as Military Objectives: A Feasibility Study," was produced for the Committee on Foreign Relations. This report stated that potential targets for the U.S. included Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Venezuela, Libya and Nigeria. "Analysis indicates … [that military forces of OPEC countries were] quantitatively and qualitatively inferior [and] could be swiftly crushed."

The real premise of an attack against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been around since the Cold War. The idea was, however, revived under the aegis of a new "war against terrorism" on the charge of that the Saudi state supported strikes against the west. One nexus of this drive is Richard Perle.

Neoconservative Designs on Saudi Arabia

Richard Perle is an outspoken critic of any Americans doing business with the Kingdom, despite his own attempt to secure $100 million in Saudi investment for his private venture capital firm. His ill-fated attempt to become a power-broker with one foot in the door of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board and another foot in the door of Trireme capital investments is well documented. He has since become more hardline, telling National Review, "I think it's a disgrace. The Saudis are a major source of the problem we face with terrorism. " (Perle had to resign from the Defense Policy Board when his secret and extortive fundraising meetings with Saudi Arabian businessmen became public.)

Perle's efforts to rearrange the dynamics of the region, including Saudi Arabia, have gone on for many years. Incoming Israeli Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked Perle to draft a regional strategy paper for Israel. The Institute for Advanced Strategic & Political Studies, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., and Jerusalem, published "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," which emphasized the need to overturn the Oslo Accords and Middle East peace process. It demanded Yasser Arafat be blamed for every act of Palestinian terror; it called for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and the Ba'athist regimes in Iraq and Syria; and it recommended that the force of democracy be foisted upon the entire Arab world plus Iran. One senior Israeli intelligence officer said the goal was to make Israel the dominant power in the region and expel the Palestinians. Perle's efforts to neutralize international funding for the Palestinian resistance have driven his policy recommendations ever since.

Another author of "A Clean Break" was David Wurmser. In Sept. 2003, Wurmser was moved to the U.S. State Department to work directly under Vice President Dick Cheney and his Chief of Staff Lewis Libby. David Wurmser's wife, Meyrav, ran MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) alongside Colonel Yigal Carmon of Israeli Army Intelligence. MEMRI specializes in selective retrieval, searching and translating especially plucked Arab language documents that confirm MEMRI's bias that the Arab world despises the West. Meyrav Wurmser received her doctorate at George Washington University on the life of Vladimir Jabotinsky, founder of Revisionist Zionism, declared fascist and hero of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and the Likud Party.

Saudi Arabia was again declared an enemy of the United States on July 10, 2002, when RAND Corporation's Laurent Murawiec gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Defense Policy Board at the invitation of Perle. Like Meyrav Wurmser, Murawiec is also from George Washington University and listed as a past faculty member. He was also a follower of the Lyndon LaRouche cultist organization. This group indoctrinates its members to abandon their homes because "family values are really immoral," according to those who left the group. (Lyndon LaRouche is a convicted felon, conspiracy theorist and UFO believer.)

Entitled "Taking Saudi Out Of Arabia," the PowerPoint presentation named "Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot" and declared that the Kingdom is an enemy of the U.S. It advocated the U.S. seize the Kingdom and its oil fields, invade Mecca and Medina and confiscate Saudi Arabian financial assets unless the Kingdom stop supporting anti-Western terrorist activities.

Saudi Arabia was declared as the "kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent" in the Middle East. Murawiec claimed, "Since independence, wars have been the principal output of the Arab world" and that "plot, riot, murder, coup are the only available means to bring about change. … Violence is politics, politics is violence. This culture of violence is the prime enabler of terrorism. Terror as an accepted, legitimate means of carrying out politics has been incubated for 30 years. …" James Akins explained the overall plans thusly: "It'll be easier once we have Iraq. Kuwait, we already have. Qatar and Bahrain too. So it's only Saudi Arabia we're talking about, and the United Arab Emirates falls into place."

The connections between individuals pressing for a U.S. invasion of Saudi Arabia run deep. Richard Perle's lifelong mentor was the RAND corporation's late Albert Wohlstetter, the grandfather of neoconservative analysts. Wohlstetter also befriended Ahmed Chalabi at the University of Chicago. Chalabi, the leader of the Iraqi National Congress who provided information to the U.S. government regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, is an indicted criminal in Jordan, where he has been sentenced to more than 20 years' hard labor for currency manipulation and embezzlement through Jordanian Petra Bank.

The analytical and populist groundswell of denunciation against Saudi Arabia as a state sponsor of terrorism from progressive and conservative circles alike may culminate in an invasion sooner rather than later. Supporters within the current U.S. administration can use this unity to execute another "blueprint" for U.S. policy. Anti-Saudi Rhetoric can work just as Saddam Hussein's "imminent threat toward America" and Iraq's WMD served as the principle rationale for the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Target Saudi Arabia: Taking the Case From Think Tank to Theater

In reality there has been no hard evidence linking Saudi Arabian leaders and officials to terrorism, little evidence of Saudi subjects playing a mindful role and far fewer financial ties to terrorism than could be found in most nations with a banking system. In fact, the U.S. State Department lists the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Australia and indeed the United States itself as having al-Qaeda financial ties and connections. However, facts may not be enough to stem rising anti-Saudi sentiment among policymakers and average Americans.

The Murawiec PowerPoint indictment also claimed that Saudi Arabia is "[a]n instable group: … Wahhabism loathes modernity, capitalism, human rights, religious freedom, democracy, republics, an open society" and that "Wahhabism is spreading world-wide" [sic] based upon Iran's Revolution led by Shi'ite Ayatollah Khomeini; that "Wahhabism moves from Islam's lunatic fringe," and that there was a "[s]hift from pragmatic oil policy to promotion of radical Islam. … [Saudi Arabians are] treasurers of radical, fundamentalist, terrorist groups."

Saudi Arabia is then charged with being "the chief vector of the Arab crisis … active at every level of the terror chain … [it] supports [U.S.] enemies [and has] virulent hatred against U.S. … There is an 'Arabia' but it need not be 'Saudi.' … [U.S. must] stop any funding and support for any fundamentalist madrassa, mosque, ulama, predicator anywhere in the world. … Dismantle, ban all the kingdom's 'Islamic charities,' confiscate their assets ... [and] what the House of Saud holds dear can be targeted – Oil … the Holy Places … Saudi Arabia [is] the strategic pivot."

Had these presentations not been heard by top-level Bush administration officials they could be dismissed as simplistic absurdity. However, the sparks of a mass movement to demonize Saudi Arabia had already begun, and on June 6, 2002, the right-wing Hudson Institute held a seminar called "Discourses on Democracy: Saudi Arabia, Friend or Foe?" with Laurent Murewiec and Richard Perle in attendance.

Of even further interest is the ironic and direct link between Richard Perle and terrorism. A recent fundraiser in support of the victims of the Iranian earthquake in Bam, sponsored by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, asked Richard Perle to be their keynote speaker. Despite rejections by other groups to speak at the event, based upon the U.S. State Department's official designation of the MEK as a "foreign terrorist organization," Richard Perle ignored it and was happy to oblige and raise money – money that was immediately seized after the event by U.S. Treasury agents. The MEK is the same terrorist organization that attempted to assassinate Richard Nixon in 1972.

Two weeks after the PowerPoint presentation to the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board, the American Enterprise Institute held yet another seminar by Dore Gold, former UN Ambassador from Israel, to promote his new book, Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism. Despite having never visited the country, Gold has been promoted on broadcast television networks as an "expert" on Saudi Arabia (when not introduced as "an advisor to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon").

Gold claims that the al-Haramain group has channeled massive funding to al-Qaeda, while omitting that Saudi Arabia shut down the organization and froze its assets. Gold's strongest claim is an Israeli document claiming funds to Hamas come from Saudi Arabia. Hamas has strongly denied the charge of any Saudi government involvement, and Saudi Arabia also dismissed the charges as false. Gold uses the book to promote the Netanyahu/Perle/Bush agenda to pursue Saudi Arabia "far more aggressively if Middle Eastern security is to be protected." He also argues that Israel has only a "minor role" in al-Qaeda-related acts of terrorism because Saudi Arabia is to blame for funding the "global jihad of al-Qaeda." Gold has also testified before the United States Congress about the inherent evil of Saudi Arabia. Yet, throughout the book, Gold only confirms that terrorism connections come from foreigners who infiltrate Saudi Arabia, and through foreign governments.

Hudson Institute cofounder and neoconservative Max Singer sent a paper to the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment in May 2002 urging the outside breakup of Saudi Arabia. On Oct. 7, 2003, fellow neoconservative William Kristol, editor of Weekly Standard, said he was upset that the U.S. had not gone beyond the war on Iraq to the "next regime change" of the "next horrible" Middle East dictator, Bashar Assad of Syria.

Before publication of his book Sleeping With The Devil, Robert Baer, ex-CIA officer, was ordered by the CIA to remove multiple passages claiming special CIA knowledge of Saudi royals having funneled money to al-Qaeda for terrorism, assassination plots and even Chechen rebels. He asserts that Saudi Arabia is a "powder keg waiting to explode," the royal family is "corrupt," "hanging on by a thread" and "as violent and vengeful as any Mafia family." Baer, filled with loathing toward the Saudis, relies upon a tacit, yet rejected CIA stamp of approval, but also shows little hard evidence. Baer refused to comply with the CIA's request "just [to] defy them." The CIA is considering filing a lawsuit against Baer, who, like Gold, has also never visited Saudi Arabia.

Another author who has made the best-seller list is Gerald Posner, who wrote Why America Slept, which connects Osama bin Laden and the Saudi government. In Posner's view, the rulers have been paying hush money to bin Laden for years in order to prevent terrorist attacks upon the Kingdom. One might consider it strange that there have been multiple fatal attacks upon civilians in Saudi Arabia if bin Laden receives such bribes. And how was Posner able to create a book with such a detailed indictment within a few months, when U.S. intelligence has taken years? Posner presents no clarifications.

The U.S. government itself not only unknowingly harbored and sponsored terrorists (9/11 al-Qaeda members, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, Mujahedin-e-Khalq [MEK], IRA, etc.), it also consciously negotiated with Iranian terrorist groups to secure U.S. troops' safety from attack in Iraq in exchange for Iraqi weapons. From the mid-Nineties until 2001, the U.S. dealt directly with the Taliban for oil pipeline rights, agreeing to pay the Taliban a tax on every one of the million cubic feet of fuel that would have passed through Afghanistan daily. Vice President Dick Cheney, Halliburton CEO at the time, stated, "Occasionally we have to operate in places where, all things considered, one would not normally choose to go. But we go where the business is." During this time, Hamid Karzai was the Taliban's deputy foreign minister and a former UNOCAL consultant (UNOCAL led these negotiations, along with Paul Wolfowitz aide Zalmay Khalilzad). On Nov. 9, 2003, Israel confirmed that it had failed in secret negotiations with Hizbollah. (In January 2004 the Israeli negotiations with their designated terrorist group Hizbollah bore fruit, when a prisoner swap occurred.)

Whatever inconsistencies exist between U.S. public relations and the "war on terror," the efforts to tie the Saudi government or Saudis in general to terrorism are having an effect. Merit and evidence are not the issues; passion and mobilization are. The movie Fahrenheit 9/11, true to its title, turns up the heat through an entirely new American audience: Democrats and progressives.

The Approaching Decision

On June 25, 2004, Michael Moore's film, Fahrenheit 9/11 opened to 500 screens and insatiable crowds. The film's message to audiences is clear and simple: the U.S.-Saudi relationship must end. However, Americans should take time to go beyond the film, books and talk-show pundits to reexamine the complicated history between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and the real motives of those pushing for war.

Americans will soon be asked to make a decision about whether invasion is the proper course. An informed decision will serve America in a way that hidden plans, rationales and one-sided movies cannot.


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Tanya Hsu is Senior Political Analyst & Director of Program Development at the
Institute for Research: Middle East Policy.

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