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Date: Thu, 4 Jul 1996 08:25:36 -0500
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>>> Item number 6582, dated 96/07/03 10:35:11 — ALL
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 1996 10:35:11 CDT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: NY Transfer News Collective <nyt@blythe.org>
Subject: Struggle deepens to dominate oil region

Congress tightens sanctions

By Sara Flounders, Workers World 4 July 1996

Without one dissenting vote or any national debate or discussion, Washington extended its global use of sanctions on June 20. The U.S. House of Representatives imposed harsh new economic sanctions on Iran and Libya.

The vote was 415 to zero, showing how both capitalist parties act as a rubber stamp for foreign policy decisions crafted largely by the strategists for Big Oil and the military. The sweeping measure extends to foreign companies that invest in either country.

The new legislation attacking Iran and Libya is much like the Helms-Burton Act, which punishes foreign companies that invest in or trade with Cuba.

The Clinton administration has already endorsed and is expected to quickly sign this legislation. The Senate passed it last December, also without one dissenting vote.


The other imperialist countries in Europe and Japan are outraged by these unilateral restrictions imposed by the U.S. government on their trade and investments. They see both this legislation and the Helms-Burton Act as an infringement on their sovereignty.

The new restrictions expose U.S. imperialism's ruthless struggle for complete domination and control of the Middle East's oil wealth. Under the legislation, foreign companies that invest over $40 million in Iran's energy sector would be subject to U.S. sanctions.

While $40 million could seem like a large amount, setting this sum as the limit restricts almost all oil investment, which is reckoned in billions, not millions of dollars.

European and Asian companies have invested billions to guarantee their access to Middle East oil supplies. The French oil company Total S.A. recently signed a $1 billion deal with Iran to develop two large offshore oilfields. This was after Conoco, a U.S. corporation, was forced to withdraw because of the U.S. embargo on investments in Iran.

Robin West, president of the Petroleum Finance Co., an international petroleum strategy company, told the New York Times: The Germans are absolutely apoplectic about this bill. ... Throughout Europe, there is this fear that Congress will use this kind of mechanism more and more to pre-empt the foreign economic policy of other countries. (June 20)

The bill says the imposition of sanctions curtailing investment in Libya would be at Washington's discretion. These sanctions could quickly be tightened. An aide to New York Sen. Alphonse D'Amato, who sponsored the Senate bill, cynically told the Wall Street Journal, We're certainly not afraid of taking a shot at Libya. It's a convenient target. (June 20)

The sanctions are cloaked for public consumption in charges that Iran, Libya, Iraq, Korea and Cuba are terrorist countries and a threat to world peace. According to the Pentagon, these small, developing countries must be isolated and overthrown.

The charges border on the ridiculous considering that the Pentagon spends more than the military forces of the rest of the world combined and that 75 percent of all weapons sold are manufactured by U.S. corporations.

In early July the U.S. government is expected to again demand that the UN Security Council extend its six years of sanctions on Iraq. The steady media drumbeat of charges that Iraq is hiding weapons of mass destruction precedes the Security Council vote every two months.


U.S.-imposed sanctions have become a weapon of mass destruction. They are an instrument of undeclared war intended to create bankruptcy, unemployment, shortages, wild inflation and economic ruin. Their impact reaches into the very fabric of life.

The full extent of the pain is monitored and measured. The United Nations' own agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization estimate that over 30 percent of the children in Iraq are now stunted and maimed by malnutrition. More than half a million have died of hunger and preventable disease caused by the sanctions.

The threat of sanctions against other developing countries is a powerful weapon brandished to force economic policies that favor U.S. multinational corporations. The first demand of U.S. corporations and banks is privatization of resources that had been previously nationalized.

The issue is not just having access to oil as a vital product. There is no shortage of oil in the world. The issue is capitalist monopoly control over oil production, refining and marketing in order to extract superprofits.

Capital must expand or die. U.S. corporations are in ruthless competition with capital from other imperialist countries, which are also desperately seeking markets to exploit.

Washington's new legislation demands that foreign-owned corporations subordinate their trade policies to U.S.- imposed sanctions or lose the right to do business in the United States.

These brazen demands are sparking resistance, not only from the target countries but from other capitalist predators and rivals. Some of the very institutions that the U.S. government created in order to try to control global development are now becoming forums of opposition.


The annual meeting of the top imperialist countries, known as the G7, in Lyon, France, on June 27 is expected to be contentious. European officials claim they intend to take the United States to the new court for international trade disputes, the World Trade Organization in Geneva. They want a ruling that would either overturn the U.S. legislation or impose retaliatory trade sanctions against U.S. corporations.

U.S. big business fought to create this world trade organization. In the name of free trade—the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the North American Free Trade Agreement, and other international trade agreements—Washington hammered relentlessly to knock down any barriers erected by smaller capitalist countries trying to protect their local industries through subsidies, quotas and import restrictions.

Both Mexico and Canada have objected to the Helms-Burton Act on the grounds that it is a direct violation of the NAFTA treaty. Both are considering specific legislation of their own blocking any compliance with the provisions of Helms-Burton.

On June 5 all the nations in the Organization of American States except the United States passed a stinging condemnation of the U.S. blockade of Cuba.

U.S. capital's need to economically dominate every area of the globe is reaching new levels of political bullying. On June 20 Washington announced it would veto a second term for UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. Supposedly the secretary general is elected by the entire 185-nation General Assembly, although the Security Council makes a recommendation.

The U.S. decision was announced in the press before the Clinton administration even bothered to consult its allies. A UN official told the New York Times, Once again the United States has managed to offend 180 nations. (June 21)

Even though Boutros-Ghali went along with U.S. use of the United Nations for its war on Iraq, the continuing sanctions on Iraq, and U.S. intervention in Somalia and Haiti, he is under attack because he hesitated to authorize NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serb forces in Bosnia. The United States wants an even more pliant tool.

Boutros-Ghali has announced he will seek support among other nations and will stand for re-election despite the threatened U.S. veto. A majority vote in the General Assembly to reject any U.S.-proposed candidate is now a possibility, according to press reports. As Ahmad Fawzi, a spokesperson for the Secretary General, said, A veto can be vetoed.