Wagons East—NATO oil trade route war

By J. Robbins
23 June 1999

J. Robbins is a guest contributor. The WSWS encourages readers to send comments intended for publication to comment@wsws.org

One worldview of history is that wars are fought to achieve economic goals. From this viewpoint, the 1991 Gulf War is seen as a conflict over who will control the vast oil reserves of Kuwait. The UN goal of restoring the Kuwaiti feudal monarchy is seen as a political means to an economic end.

Could it be that the NATO war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) was really "about the economy, stupid?" At the beginning of the war, President Bill Clinton candidly admitted that: "If we're going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world, Europe has got to be a key.... That's what this Kosovo thing is all about.” John Keegan, the eminent British historian, later concluded that he "sees the war as a victory not just for air power but for the 'New World Order.'"

Sean Gervasi, first warned of the potential for NATO to serve as the military security force for this globalist New World Order while at the 1996 Prague Conference on the Enlargement of NATO. His paper, “Why is NATO in Yugoslavia,” demonstrated that Yugoslavia stands at the crossroads of a oil trade and transportation route combining Emperor Charlemagne's dream of a great European waterway with the fabled Silk Road.

The importance of joining the two trade routes was also summed up in 1997 by William Ramsay, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy, Sanctions, and Commodities: "We think oil and gas pipelines, roads, railways and fiber optics can make this 21st century Silk Road a superhighway linking Europe and Central Asia." This optimism is based largely on reports by the US Geological Survey (USGS) that Caspian Sea oil reserves are estimated to 100-200 billion barrels. Regional natural gas reserves are estimated to be three times larger with those of the United States. In comparison, the Kuwait oilfields recaptured from Iraq during the Gulf War have been estimated to contain 94 billion barrels of oil.

US Energy Secretary Pena best conveyed the urgency of opening this route in a November 1997 visit to the Caspian Sea region. He stated that "the next 12 to 18 months are a crucial period in Caspian development." On September 8, 1998 the TRACECA (Transport Corridor Europe Caucasus Asia) program was implemented at Baku to provide sustainable access to Trans-European and Trans-Asian transport networks. The European Union next initiated the INOGATE program designed to promote the security of energy supplies and internationalize trade routes. On April 24, 1999, the Silk Road Declaration was designed to "promote the effective use of the international transport corridor Europe—the Caucasus". Coincidentally, the first secure pipeline from the Azerbaijan Caspian Sea port of Baku to the Georgian Black Sea port of Suspa was ceremonially opened in December 1998 and the first oil tanker, destined for Spain, was loaded in March of 1999. Georgia has thus emerged as the beachhead for Western oil consortiums seeking to transport the vast oil reserves to European markets.

The excitement over exploiting these vast oil and gas reserves has been dampened by civil wars along the Russian pipeline route and congested freighter traffic through the narrow Strait of Bosporus. Turkey, fearing an Exxon Valdez type oil disaster, also limited the number of oil tankers passing through the Bosporus. The TRACECA program has planned oil pipelines between Bulgaria-Greece, Bulgaria-Macedonia-Albania, and Azerbaijan-Southern Turkey to circumvent the Bosporus bottleneck. However, none of these routes solves the problem of how to economically transport oil to Germany and the surrounding Northern European countries and finished products to markets in the former Soviet Union.

The importance of Yugoslavia to this twenty-first century superhighway is evident from its position straddling the Danube along the Danube-Main-Rhine canal connecting the Black Sea with the North Sea. Remarkably, Yugoslavia was the only country west of the Ural Mountains that was quietly, but deliberately, excluded from the TRACECA and INOGATE programs. It is obvious that Yugoslavia was perceived as an island of nationalism in a sea of pan-European globalism. Somehow Yugoslavia would have to be pacified and assimilated to ensure a safe economic climate for "free trade"!

This promotion of "free trade" by high interest loans in the 1980s, followed by IMF-ordered economic austerity measures was the root cause of the Balkan wars according to the Canadian economist Michael Chossudovsky. The massive economic crisis from these economic policies, including the loss of approximately 2 million jobs by the end of 1980, had ignited ethnic hatreds, exacerbated by authoritarian leaders, leading to brutal wars of ethnic cleansing by Serb, Croat and Muslim forces beginning in 1991. The Reverend Jesse Jackson once remarked in a presentation to 11 African heads of state at Liberville, Gabon, "They no longer use bullets and ropes. They use the World Bank and the IMF." In reality, atrocities attributable in the Balkan wars, by Serb, Croat and Muslim forces were approximately proportional to their respective populations and had their roots in IMF policy. Most people in the region never realized that the true "butchers of the Balkans" of the late twentieth century were the IMF and World Bank leaders who inflicted pain and suffering with a pen.

Undoubtedly, NATO leaders mistook the willingness of the President Slobodan Milosovic's government to negotiate at the Dayton Accords, following a short NATO bombing campaign against the Bosnian Serb forces, for weakness. The added ease of which Franjo Tudjman's US and German trained Croat army was able to capture Krijana in Operation Storm, killing approximately 10,000 Serbs and ethnically cleansing some 250,000 Serbs, added to this misconception. It is revealing that Clinton had welcomed Operation Storm, suggesting that it may open the way to a solution of the Yugoslav conflict.

The new NATO alliance mission: "NATO: Out of Area or Out of Business" apparently had its roots in a new White House strategy of international relations. According to John Roberts, in his American Spectator article "Roots of Allied Farce," this strategy was to "realign NATO and OSCE to deal with new security problems in Europe and urge military intervention under humanitarian guises."

The tacit goal of pacifying the FRY was evident to anyone who bothered to read Appendix B of the Rambouillet ultimatum. By signing, Yugoslavia would be submitting to occupation by 30,000 NATO troops, not only in Kosovo and Metahuji (Kosmet), but also throughout Serbia and Vojvodina. Morton Abramowitz, United States top advisor in Rambouillet, stated that: "Our intention was to get the UCK people to accept our plan and face Milosevic with an ultimatum (...) The result was that we never really negotiated. The contact group just begged UCK to sign, so we could put pressure on Milosevic." The expected refusal of the Serbs to relinquish sovereignty provided the justification needed for the immediate coalition bombing campaign! The Reverend Jesse Jackson later judged that "a diplomacy with no diplomacy is no diplomacy; that bombing and forcing an enemy to capitulate with no other dialogue is wrong."

Apparently the bombing campaign was expected to result in the immediate capitulation of Yugoslavia rather than face the most powerful air force in world history. NATO Commander General Wesley Clark went so far as to tell US Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, "Duke, NATO only wanted to bomb one day and quit." Unfortunately, Clinton and his advisors did not consider that Slobodan Milosevic would choose to respond with the Switzerland military strategy of inflicting a Pyrrhic victory on the attacking forces. The results of the NATO miscalculation are the tragic social costs and the economic price tag of rebuilding the Balkans. The costs will continue to climb according to John Pike, a expert for the Federation of American Scientists. He stated, "These people are also going to be involved in keeping the peace for years, as opposed to fighting the war for weeks.''

The US Senate voted to prevent reconstruction funding to the FRY as long as Milosevic remained in power. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright confirmed this policy by stating, on June 11, 1999, that Yugoslavia would be left out of the Balkan reconstruction. The logical aftermath of this war will thus involve an economic siege of the FRY until the ultimate installation of a leadership that is willing to relinquish sovereignty to Brussels. Eventually, the assimilated Balkan economies could be reengineered under OSCE mandates, IMF and World Trade Organization assistance to meet the needs of globalistic economic interests. Governments are likely to serve as real estate agents, as in the case of US Commerce Secretary Ron Brown's ill-fated trip to Bosnia along with dozens of business leaders.

The planned deindustrialization of Serbia, Kosmet and Vojvodina, by the destruction of key national refinery, communication and transportation assets serves to reduce the sale price of the damaged assets. The control of oilfields in Vojvodina, approximately 5 billion in mineral deposits and the second largest European deposit of lignite coal (17 billion tons), in Kosmet, are just secondary prizes.

In this geopolitical worldview, the peoples of the Balkans are just collateral damage in a war to safeguard the security of a recently opened oil trade route against a preconceived economic threat by the FRY. A fitting slogan for this postwar New World Order campaign is "Buy up the Balkans and bring on the oil barges."

The continued Eastward march of the New World Order and NATO security forces into the Caspian Sea region has already begun. NATO is increasingly perceived as the cavalry for a great crusade of opening up the new oil frontier, while placing the "savages" on out of the way reservations. Thus far the Western powers have failed to appreciate the dynamic complexity of the Balkan and Caspian Sea economic situations and the interrelationships of various groups. The New World Order may ultimately fail to heed an old Russian proverb that roughly translates as "do not sell the hide of the bear until the bear is dead.”