Date: Wed, 20 Aug 97 08:47:44 CDT
From: "Workers World" <>
Organization: WW Publishers
Subject: U.S. oil giants drain Azerbaijan

Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the August 21, 1997 issue of Workers World newspaper

Where haved all the cold warriors gone? U.S. oil giants drain Azerbaijan

By Brian Becker, in Workers World,
21 August, 1997

In the last decade of the Cold War, as the Pentagon and CIA exerted a full-court press against the former Soviet Union, certain names of leading U.S. government officials filled the front pages of the newspapers every day. They worked for Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Jimmy Carter. They were the architects and spokes persons for the anti-communist crusade. They dominated Sunday morning talk shows; they gave endless interviews and news conferences. They spoke at the United Nations and universities.

They educated the public hourly about how the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union was a "worldwide battle between capitalist democracy and communist dictatorship."

Now that the Soviet Union has been defeated where are these freedom-loving Cold War officials?

The Washington Post reported July 6 that many of these officials are now getting rich--richer would be more correct--from looting the natural resources of the former USSR.

It is a modern-day confirmation of the message V.I. Lenin taught the workers in Russia: Bourgeois democracy means, in its essence, the bourgeoisie's freedom to exploit labor. According to Post reporters David B. Ottaway and Dan Morgan: "The last great oil rush of the 20th century-- targeted at a potential $4-trillion patch in Central Asia's Caspian Sea region--has lured a prestigious group of prospectors: former high-ranking government officials bent on winning a stake in the bonanza for themselves or their companies.

"These men come from different parties and different past administrations, but they are working together for policy changes that they say are needed to put [their] U.S. companies on equal footing with foreign competitors in Azerbaijan, a small nation that is at the center of a vast untapped oil basin.

"Involved in this effort are two former national security advisors, Gen. Brent Scow croft and Zbigniew Brzezinski; former White House Chief of Staff John N. Sununu; Defense Sec re tary Richard Che ney and Secretary of State James Baker from the Bush administration; and President Clinton's former treasury secretary, Lloyd Bentsen."


Pennzoil Co. paid Scowcroft, national-security adviser to George Bush, $100,000 in 1996 for consulting on special international projects. He earned a $30,000 director's fee from the company, which is a partner in the Azerbaijan International Oil Co., the principal foreign oil consortium in Azerbaijan.

Scowcroft told the Post: "I'm a big booster of Azerbaijan because the United States has big interests out there. That's a huge pool of oil."

Dick Cheney, the U.S. secretary of defense at the time of the collapse of the USSR, is now chair of Halliburton Inc., an oil services company operating in the Caspian Sea oil fields.

The law firm of James Baker, who was chief of staff during the Reagan administration and secretary of state under Bush, is the legal representative of the AIOC--in which U.S. companies have a 40-percent stake. That's a potential of 200 billion barrels of oil worth $4 billion.

John Sununu, chief of staff during the Bush years, is now chair of JHS Associates, which is negotiating a major contract with the Azerbaijan government.

Lloyd Bentsen, treasury secretary in the first years of the Clinton administration, presented the Azerbaijan prime minister with a pair of shiny cowboy boots from his home state of Texas at a reception on July 5.

Bentsen compared Azerbaijan's "independence" from the USSR with Texas' "struggle for independence" in 1848. This analogy is more revealing than the arrogant Bentsen might have wished. Texan "independence" was the result of a war of aggression against Mexico by U.S. slave owners pursuing the slavocracy's frantic expansionism.

By the way, Bentsen is also a shareholder in Frontera Resources, an oil services company working in Azerbaijan. Frontera is chaired by William H. White, a former Clinton deputy secretary of the treasury.

Remember that arch-hawk from the Carter administration, Zbigniew Brze zinski? He helped scuttle the START 2 nuclear- weapons-reduction treaty. He is now a consultant to Amoco, another AIOC partner. Brezinski's role is to "advise" Amoco on Caspian Sea oil issues.

The list of Cold War hotshots who are enriching themselves and their imperialist oil-monopoly patrons does not end here. A small army of high- and mid-ranking former officials is directly involved in exploiting the area's resources.


Azerbaijan, located in central Asia, is a nation of less than 8 million people. In the old USSR it was a full republic, one of the 15 republics that made up the Soviet Union.

It is only slightly bigger than the state of Maine. But Azerbaijan was made a full republic in 1922, with the same legal status as Russia--part of the revolutionary attempt by Lenin and other early leaders of the Soviet state to redress the racism and national oppression visited on the many non-Russian nationalities by the old czarist ruling clique.

In 1917 Azerbaijan had a predominately Moslem population that was 98-percent illiterate. Its people suffered great poverty and hunger. Little developed industry existed outside the capital city of Baku.

As a result of a deliberate affirmative-action program undertaken by the Soviet Union, however, the Azerbaijan Socialist Republic developed a diversified industrial development plan. Although the republic still lagged considerably behind Russia, steel, iron ore, cement, chemicals, petrochemical and textile industries grew up. By the time the USSR was overthrown in 1991, fully 97 percent of the population was literate. Women had been accorded full legal and civil rights.

Since the overthrow of the USSR in 1991 the working people's living standards have deteriorated throughout all the former Soviet republics. Production has dropped by 50 percent. In Azerbaijan the fallout is even worse. Production plummeted by 17 percent in 1995 alone.

The overthrow of socialism gave the workers nothing. So-called capitalist freedom has only allowed a small handful of corporate marauders to loot the precious resources and labor of the workers and peasants.

This, after all is said and done, was what the Cold War was all about.

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