|A painting by a ten-year-old Azerbaijani girl imaginatively portrays children carrying and pouring clean water into the Caspian Sea, to combat the falling sea level and the pollution that harms the seals and fishes.|
by Lenora Foerstel
The wars begun by U.S. and German interests in the Balkans have not yet ended. With the aid of NATO, these two countries intend to use the Balkans as a corridor to Eurasia and to move all the way to the Caspian Sea. Equally important is their goal to build capitalist economies dependent on western aid in all of the former socialist nations.
NATO expansion relates to what Washington calls a "new strategic concept," which seeks to have NATO, under U.S. leadership, become the key global player protecting U.S. interests. Expansion will bring NATO troops to Eastern Europe -- right up to the borders of Russia -- and will help western corporations take over the oil-rich area around the Caspian Sea. Top U.S. government officials are assisting the corporations in their drive for control over the Caspian territories.
Led by Amoco and Penzoil, U.S. oil companies and their supporters in Congress are mobilizing to increase awareness of the stakes in the Caspian basin. This region has an estimated $4 trillion in oil reserves and it has attracted a prestigious group of U.S. prospectors.
Involved in this effort--and bent on winning a stake in the bonanza for themselves and their companies--are two former national security advisors, Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Scowcroft was paid $100,000 in 1996 by Penzoil Company for consulting on special international projects. He also earned a $30,000 director's fee from the Azerbaijani International Operating Company (AIOC)--an oil consortium operating in the Caspian Sea. Brzezinski is a consultant to Amoco, another AIOC partner, advising the firm on Caspian oil matters.
Also interested in the potential profit from the Caspian Sea are President Bush's former White House chief of staff John Sununu, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State James Baker, as well as President Clinton's former Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen--all of whom have worked with the Azebaijani government. Bentsen also is a shareholder in Frontera Resources, an oil service company working in Azerbaijan.
Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski states, "A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world's most advanced and economically productive regions." The control of Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa's subordination and give access to the major resources of Oceania as well as access to the world's central continent.
The Eurasian Balkans hold an enormous concentration of natural gas and oil reserves as well as important minerals, including gold.
Brzezenski points out that most of the Eurasian countries suffer from serious internal difficulties. Each has frontiers that are either the object of claims by neighbors or are zones of ethnic resentment.
For example, Armenia and Azerbaijan are in conflict over Nagorno Karabakh. It is of interest that President Haidar Aliyev received a personal message from President Clinton concerning the Karabakh issue, and Secretary of State Madeline Albright invited President Aliyev to attend NATO's anniversary celebration. (Global Intelligence, April 15, 1999.)
The U.S. is also courting Georgia and the Ukraine. Azerbaijan, Georgia and the Ukraine held military exercises on April 16, 1999 under the auspices of NATO's Partnership for Peace Program. They are also involved in preparing for possible emergencies along the Baku-Supsa oil pipelines. Russia is, of course, threatened by these alliances along her borders and by the growing influence of NATO in the Caucasus.
After U.S. military officials toured the Azerbaijan Nasosnaya Air Base, Azerbaijan offered this base to U.S., Turkey and NATO forces. Russia's Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Alexander Bolkhin, warned that "if NATO is not taking Russia into account, their nuclear warheads and armed forces will create a grave danger to these smaller countries". (Global Intelligence April 15, 1999).
Armenian people clearly remember the brutal forced migration from Armenia into Syria and Mesopotamia during World War I. This operation, carried out by the Turks in 1915, caused the deaths and massacre of about 600,000 Armenians. They have declared that the deployment of Turkish or any other NATO forces to Azerbaijan is "impossible." Russia is now building up forces in Armenia, while Turkey and the Azerbaijan International Operating Company (AIOC), the international consortium developing Azerbaijan's Caspian oil resources, are nearing agreement on the construction of a pipeline from Baku to Ceylon, Turkey. (Global Intelligence April 15, 1999)
As the U.S. uses NATO troops to take over the Balkan countries, western corporations meet and hold conferences on how to change former socialist nations into capitalist economies. On July 29, 1999, The Balkan Assistance and Reconstruction Conference, was held in Washington, D.C. The Center for Reconstruction and Development, which sponsored the conference, is a division of Equity International Inc., an international business organization which focuses on the long-term economic development of "Southeastern Europe," the term now used for the Balkans.
Among the approximately 100 government, business, and diplomatic delegates at the conference was keynote speaker Dino Asanaj, representative of the Provisional Government of Kosovo. Also in attendance were the ambassadors from Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria, and senior executives from such corporations as Caterpillar, Halliburton/Brown & Root, International Paper, and Mitsubishi, all of which are negotiating large and lucrative "reconstruction" or "development" deals with all nations affected by the war (except Serbia).
Following Asanaj's statement blaming the United Nations for "causing friction by continuing Milosevic's policies," Macedonian Ambassador Ljubica Acevska quoted Tom Cruise from his film Jerry Maguire in which he said, "Show us the money." Acevska was the only speaker to mention the effects of the war on her country, noting that Macedonia had been burdened with 50,000 refugees. She added that Macedonia had suffered severe economic consequences due to the loss of an important partner in trade -Yugoslavia.
Janusz Bugajski, representing conference co-sponsor Center for Strategic and International Studies, introduced former U.S. Ambassador Marisa Lino, saying that she would "speak about the prospects for a Ballkan bonanza."
The conference made clear that the U.S. expects the European Union to bear the major burden of reconstruction in the Balkans. The U.S., on the other hand, plans to bring in corporations and banking investors as their contribution to change. The terms "Transitional Nations" and "Regulatory Governments" were frequently employed by conference participants. "Transitional Nations" are former socialist countries tht are moving into capitalism.
"Regulatory Governments" are the new governments the U.S. plans to set up in order to ensure that there exists a legal basis for private companies to operate (e.g. contract laws, bankruptcy laws, etc.). Tax and custom levels will also have to be adjusted to guarantee incentives for private sector development.
The need to develop a new "mind set" in Southeastern Europe was constantly emphasized in the conference. One got the feeling that the people of the Balkans were still in a primitive, pre-industrial stage and that it was essential that they be re-educated on how to live under a democratic, ie. capitalist, government.
The idea was to make these benighted people understand that there could be no democracy without capitalism. Highly paid Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) will be sent to the Balkans to instruct government officials on the process of privatization. Every opportunity will be exploited to involve opinion-makers from private and public newspapers, journals, TV, and radio in order to disseminate the lessons on how to conduct competitive capitalism.
In 1996, the World Bank Institute launched a program to bring privatization to Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, Romania and Bulgaria. Today, Bosnia-Heregovina is run by the IMF, the World Bank and International NGOs. It has been turned into a feudal system. Unemployment has become devastatingly high, not only in Bosnia, but in Romania, Bulgaria, and Albania as well. To the West, this constitutes success in the region, since all of these Balkan nations can now provide cheap labor and natural resources to all foreign investors.