they came up against a problem. Thanks to the power of the Armenian
lobby, their client state, Azerbaijan, was out of favor. Article
907 of the 1992 Freedom Support Act barred the U.S. government
from assisting the government of Azerbaijan as long as it maintained
the embargo against the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The oil companies did what everyone does in Washington. They hired
a lot of out-of-work politicians and third-rate habitues of NewsHour
and lobbied like mad to get this legislation repealed.
Secretary of State James Baker was on board. His law firm represents
the Azerbaijani International Operating Corporation (AIOC)a
$7.5 billion oil consortium consisting of twelve shareholder companies
including Pennzoil, Exxon and BP Amoco. Former Defense Secretary
Dick Cheney was also on hand. He is chairman and chief executive
officer of Halliburton Co., the worlds largest oil-field
services company. Former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft
was not to be left out either. He picks up a cool $130,000 as
adviser to Pennzoil. John Sununu also took part. His management
consulting firm, JHS Associates, has been very active in Azerbaijan.
Lloyd Bentsen, never one to go without, is a shareholder in Frontera
Resources, an oil services company working in Azerbaijan. Fronteras
chairman is William H. White, a former Clinton deputy secretary
of energy. Then there is our old friend Zbigniew Brzezinski. He
is a consultant to BP Amoco.
so many palms being greased, it was not surprising that payday
soon came around. In 1997, with enormous fanfare, Clinton received
the repulsive Azerbaijani dictator Heydar Aliyev at the White
House. There Chevron, Exxon and Mobil signed contracts with the
State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR). But greed got in the
way. Bill Clintons greed, that is. Remember Roger Tamraz?
He was a frequent guest at the White House. He liked to sit down
to coffee with Clinton and have barbecues and movie dinners. Tamraz
also contributed about $300,000 to the Democratic Party during
the 1996 campaign. He planned to contribute a lot more.
and Clinton got on well together. They had a lot in common. In
1989 an international warrant was issued for his arrest on charges
of embezzling $200 million from a Lebanese bank. In 1992, a Jordanian
court convicted him in absentia on these charges and sentenced
him to two years in prison. In addition, a French court has ordered
him to turn over $56 million in connection with a financial dispute.
It was Tamraz who suggested to Clinton that the U.S. government
help build a Central Asian pipeline that would bypass Russia.
Clinton, panting as ever for more money, got on the phone to his
Chief of Staff, Mack McLarty. He told him to meet Tamraz and then
to pressure the Energy Department into taking up Tamrazs
pipeline idea. From then, the U.S. Government became obsessed
with the Baku-Ceyhan project.
this was not what the oil companies had in mind. They thought
the Baku-Ceyhan route was ridiculous. Modernizing the existing
pipelines from Baku to the Black Sea port of Supsa in Georgia
or the port of Novorossisk in Russia would cost less than half
as much. Their real preference was to transport the oil from Baku
through Iran to the Kharg Island terminal on the Persian Gulf.
a notion would cause Administration officials, not to mention
the Bill Kristols and John Podhoretzes, to chew the rug. Yet pipelines
across Iran make a lot more sense than pipelines anywhere else.
Georgia scarcely exists as a country any longer as it falls apart
into innumerable secessionist wars. There have been innumerable
assassination attempts on its President, Eduard Shevardnadze.
Azerbaijan could renew its war against Armenia at any time. There
have been at least two coup attempts against Aliyev in the last
few years. Turkeys war against the Kurds appears to be ending,
though it could start up again.
then are Americas friends and allies. Compared to them,
Iran is a model of political stability. Yet logic never enters
into the calculations of our demented leaders. Recently the loathsome
Strobe Talbott warned the "nations throughout the [Caucasus]
region about the development of close relations with Iran. As
a state-sponsor of terrorism and a nation bent on the development
of weapons of mass destruction, Iran still poses a threat to all
We will continue to work with all the states
of the Caucasus to thwart the growth of Irans influence
in the region."
days are here again! Iran is forever the Iran of 1979. Russia
is forever ruled by Stalin. And anyone who lived under Soviet
rule is forever a freedom fighter. Todays heroes are Azerbaijans
Heydar Aliyev and Georgias Eduard Shevardnadze. Through
its Partnership for Peace program, NATO established the Central
Asian Peacekeeping Battalion, or CENTBAT. One of the first exercises
involved 500 members of the U.S. Armys 82nd Airborne Division
being parachuted into Kazakhstan following a 23-hour flight from
Ft. Bragg. Shevardnadze regularly demands that Georgia be admitted
into NATO. As in the Cold War, absurd dictators are hailed in
Washington as forces for "stability." In other words,
they can be relied on to protect American investments. This time
America may not get off so easily. One of these tin-pot Central
Asian dictators will get himself involved in a fight with Russia.
Then we will see how feeble the "new NATO" really is.