Friday, March 31, 2006

War for Oil

War for Oil
By Congressman Mac Collins (Ret. R-GA)

For 22 years -- until Sept. 11, 2001 -- the lack of a military response to terrorist acts on US assets and interests built up our enemy’s strength and landed the United States in the mess it confronts today.

Weakness and appeasement on the foreign policy front brings nothing but trouble and anguish, not only to Americans but to freedom-loving people everywhere. Terrorists take advantage of those who are weak. The historical record speaks for itself:

In 1979, the Shah of Iran, a strong ally of the United States, was overthrown by Islamic fundamentalists led by Ayatollah Khomeini. In November of that same year, a militant Islamic mob took over our embassy in Tehran and held Americans hostage for 444 days. Their battle cry was, and remains, "Death to America." Decades of inertia toward the Iranian menace has led to a nuclear build-up that threatens to equal that of the Soviet menace during the cold war.
In April 1983, 17 Americans died when a suicide bomber in a pickup truck loaded with explosives rammed into the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. Reagan administration officials at the time said the attack was carried out by Hezbollah operatives, an anti-American militant Islamic group. Our government took no military response.

In October 1983, a suicide bomber detonated a truck full of explosives at the U.S. Marine barracks at Beirut's International Airport. Two hundred and forty-two Marines were killed in that attack and more than 100 others were wounded. Those Marines were a part of a multinational force that was sent to Lebanon to separate the warring factions there. Our government, again, took no military action.

In December 1983, the American embassy in Kuwait was bombed. Five Americans were killed. Our government, again, took no military action.

On September 20, 1984, a truck bomb exploded at the U.S. Embassy Annex in Aukar, Lebanon, northeast of Beirut. Twenty-four people were killed, two of whom were American military personnel. Again, our government took no unilateral response.

In October, 1985, an Italian cruise ship, the "Achille Lauro," was seized by four Palestinian gunmen off the coast of Egypt. The terrorists demanded the release of Palestinian prisoners in Egypt, Italy and other parts of the world. When their demands were not met, they threw 69-year-old Leon Klinghoffer, a disabled American tourist, overboard, killing him. This time our government did respond.

After the hijackers escaped the Achille Lauro and left Egypt by air, U.S. Navy fighter jets intercepted their plane and forced them to land in Italy where they were captured and tried by an Italian court and later imprisoned.

On December 17, 1985, airports in Rome and Vienna were bombed. U.S. officials linked Libya to that terror campaign. The following January, America responded by sending the Navy and its warplanes to patrol the Gulf of Sidra.

Libyan leader Moammar Qadaffi decided to push the envelope further. U.S. Intelligence forces discovered that it was Libya that was behind the bombing of a West Berlin discotheque, popular with off-duty American soldiers. That attack killed one American serviceman and a Turkish woman and injured 200 others. Retaliatory air strikes were ordered on Tripoli and Benghazi. One of Qadaffi's residences was bombed.

A short time later, the bodies of three American University of Beirut employees were discovered near the Lebanese capital after authorities determined they had been shot to death. The Arab Revolutionary Cells, a pro-Libyan group of Palestinians affiliated with terrorist Abu Nadal, claimed credit for the executions.

In December1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by Muslim extremists over Lockerbie, Scotland. Our government did nothing.

On the morning of August 2, 1990, Iraq's Saddam Hussein and units of the Iraqi Republican Guard invaded Kuwait and seized control of that country. That invasion triggered a United States response by our armed forces that became known as "Operation Desert Storm."

Iraq agreed to cease-fire terms in March 1991, and Kuwait's legitimate government was restored.

In February 1993, the World Trade Center in New York City was bombed by Muslim fanatics. Five people were killed and hundreds were injured. Our government did nothing.

In October 1993, 18 American GI's were killed in a firefight in Somalia. The body of one American was dragged through the streets of Mogadishu for the whole world to see. Somalians cheered. The U.S. responded by calling off the hunt for Mohammed Farrah Aidid, the leader of the forces challenging both the United States and United Nations presence in that country. Our troops were withdrawn from Somalia.

The terrorists' actions continued.........In November 1995, five Americans were killed and several wounded when a car bomb detonated by Muslim extremists exploded in Saudi Arabia.

In June 1996, a U.S. Air Force housing complex in Saudi Arabia was bombed. Our government took no military action. Later that same year, Saddam attacked Erbil, a Kurdish controlled city.

On August 7, 1998, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by Muslim extremists. At least 252 people died, including 12 Americans, and more than 5,000 were injured.

On August 20, 1998, the United States launched missile strikes against training bases in Afghanistan used by groups allegedly affiliated with Osama bin Laden.

In October 2000, the USS Cole was attacked by Muslim extremists and our government did nothing.

Before September 10, 2001, an estimated 800 Americans lost their lives in various terror attacks, but our government’s response up to that point was either nonexistent or unproductive.

Finally, on September 11, 2001, three thousand Americans lost their lives because of coordinated terrorist attacks on national landmarks in New York City and Washington, DC. Finally, our government, led by President George W. Bush, declared war on al Qaeda and took the war on terror straight to al Qaeda.

“You ask, what is our aim? …Victory in spite of all terrors.”
- Winston Churchill

The President’s actions have, ultimately, successfully liberated Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, both nations have democratic governments for the first time in their histories. However, despite our government’s successes, the United States and our allies still face a growing menace from anti-American extremism.

Al Qaeda and its various franchises still carry out terrorist attacks on a regular basis in Iraq. Despite this fact, or perhaps because of it, a large percentage of the American public supports appeasement. There are daily calls from Democratic politicians clamoring for the United States to withdraw its troops from Iraq, and repeated claims that we are fighting a war for oil rather than a war against terror. I will agree with these children of Chamberlain on one issue: The War on Terror is indeed about oil.

Recently, I had dinner with Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States, and one of the other guests asked the Prince an interesting question. The guest was a prominent Georgia Democrat and he wondered aloud “why the Republicans didn’t just admit that the war in Iraq was all about oil?”

I sat back, so as not to interrupt the gentleman, and then asked the Prince a question of my own: “Keeping in mind the strength of al Qaeda in Iraq today, and their relationship with Syria and Iran. What would it mean to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia if the United States prematurely withdrew its troops from Iraq and their government was to fall leaving the nation’s oil wealth in the hands of al Qaeda?” Prince Turki then looked me in the eye and said, “It would not be good. The United States must stay in Iraq.” Today, when we ask the question, ‘why must the United States keep our troops in Iraq?’ The answer to that question is “oil” and who controls that energy resource.

Short memories, Hard Times

Those calling for the United States to withdraw troops from Iraq have a very short memory of just how Saddam Hussein used his vast oil profits. Iraq’s oil wealth was routinely used to purchase chemical weapons of mass destruction, which he used against his own people in Iraq’s Kurdish north. In the south, Saddam used his national oil treasure to put down a Shi'ia rebellion by destroying entire towns and draining the marshlands upon which the local population was dependant upon for their very survival. Those crimes against humanity were made possible by Saddam’s total control of Iraqi oil and the profits he received by western oil consumption.

Saddam Hussein further used Iraq’s oil riches to support international terrorism. He routinely paid the families of Palestinian homicide bombers $25,000 as “incentive” for impoverished Palestinian youth to carry out terrorist attacks on Israelis. Furthermore, the 9/11 Commission Report uncovered that, “Bin Laden himself met with a senior Iraqi intelligence officer in Khartoum in late 1994 or early 1995”. The report also indicated that Hussein had personally approved of the meeting with Osama bin Laden. As reported by ABC News: “A newly released prewar Iraqi document indicates that an official representative of Saddam Hussein's government met with Osama bin Laden in Sudan on February 19, 1995, after receiving approval from Saddam Hussein. Bin Laden asked that Iraq broadcast the lectures of Suleiman al Ouda, a radical Saudi preacher, and suggested ‘carrying out joint operations against foreign forces’ in Saudi Arabia. … Saddam's presidency was informed of the details of the meeting on March 4, 1995, and Saddam agreed to dedicate a program for them on the radio.” While neither report shows a direct connection between Hussein and the 9/11 attacks, it is clear that the Iraqi government and Bin Laden had direct contact prior to September 11th.

Oil for Food? Oil for War.

Despite Hussein’s creative use of Iraq’s oil proceeds to conduct genocide against his own people and fund international terrorism, there was still more than enough money left over for him to build massive palaces for himself and his extended family. It should also not be forgotten that these palaces were built during a time while his own people were suffering from starvation and a lack of essential medical care during the United Nation’s corrupt ‘oil for food’ program. The United States’ liberation of Iraq put an end to this madness and introduced democracy to the oppressed people of this nation.

By supporting Iraq’s fledgling democracy with the United States’ military might, we are preventing the Iraqi government from falling into the hands of al Qaeda. Today, al Qaeda in Iraq, under the command of Abu Musaab al Zarqawi, is conducting a well-funded and organized insurgency movement. Zarqawi’s terrorist movement is being directly funded by Iran and supporters throughout the radical Islamic world with the hope of over-throwing Iraq’s newly elected democratic government. The reality is that if the United States were to withdraw from Iraq, prematurely, then al Qaeda would likely succeed in overthrowing the Iraqi people’s new democratic government. Such an outcome would place Iraq’s oil wealth directly under the control of al Qaeda. There is no doubt that if this scenario were to be played out the resulting power vacuum would be devastating to Middle Eastern stability.

"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
- Prime Minister Winston Churchill

With Iraq’s oil wealth under the control of Bin laden and Zarqawi, al Qaeda would have a free hand to promote insurgency movements against the governments of the United States and our allies in the region such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Israel. Bin Laden’s dream of establishing a new Caliphate under his control would be well on its way to reality. The end result would be economic and political chaos in both the United States and Europe as a result of our over dependence on Middle Eastern oil. It would also bring the front in the War against Terror from the streets of Iraq to our homeland, a scenario never before dealt with in modern times and undeniably catastrophic to our nation’s security.