Obama Signals Turkey

April 6, 2009

America’s new boy king, Barack Obama, has brought his charm offensive to Turkey.  Wasn’t it just a few days ago that  he was posing for cameras at the G20 and offering half-baked ideas about rogue capitalism and stimulus packages, European cooperation and more NATO  troops for Afghanistan?   Later, to a swooning crowd, he offered a John Lennonish imagining about a nuclear free world.  Only not yet, he hastened to add.  That’s a lot on a plate for a boy king.

Before his detractors could scratch their groins and mumble WTF???? And even before his devoted followers could murmur “where in the world is Carmen San Diego? the boy king popped up on the red carpet in Ankara.  With great fanfare, and many more photo-ops he rejoiced that, unlike his first magical mystery tour  to Pakistan in 1981, he could  he could enter an Islamic country with an American passport.

Turkey and its neighbors

Turkey and its neighbors

It’s easy to see why, like Bush before him, Obama is currying favor with the Turks.  The military and the oil men want him to.  Israel wants him to.  And why shouldn’t he smooth over the rift Bush opened with his disingenuous and poorly managed attack on Iraq?  There is still much to be gained in a Turkish deal:  NATO airbases for an attack on Iraq or Afghanistan or western Pakistan, the re-supply of our permanent troop support to protect the pipeline, and water, the watershed of the Tigris and Euphrates as it flows downstream from Turkey and through Iraq and Syria.  Perhaps a new water deal with thirsty Israel will be possible.

Turkey can be an interlocutor among Egypt, Hamas, Syria, Israel, Palestine.  Then, there’s pesky Iran.  Operation pincher.  Iran between the nutcrackers of Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan.  How long will it be before someone insists there, too, are weapons of mass destruction.

What does King Obama offer Turkey in exchange for her delights?  Entry into the European Union.  Obama has offered Turkey, in his churlishly arrogant way, Europe’s hand in marriage; whether the Europeans like it or not.  Europe has strongly intimated that it does not want a shotgun marriage.  Turkey is not Western enough and certainly not Christian.  Being tacitly secular, for a former Islamic state, is not enough.  Europe is full to the gills with undigested Muslims.  Why doesn’t Obama offer the Turks American citizenship?

One other pesky problem:  the Armenian genocide, which the Turks deny and the Armenians and the rest of the world avow.  During the campaign for the presidency, Obama’s website stated the the Armenian genocide was an “admitted fact”.  A House resolution is slated, yet again, to deal with the question of the massacres that cost 1.5 million Armenian lives during WWI. But it is currently being reported that “no one can predict” what the little king’s expedient stance will be now that he as been elected.

We all know how pretty little Obama can change his mind on matters that he used to be certain about.  He can keep mighty quiet about things like genocide-recall Indonesia 1965-1968 and East Timor 1975-1999.


It’s All About Oil. Part II … Venezuela

April 4, 2009

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

mapscaor

Venezuela.  This is an interesting tale of a Latin American coup that failed. It was a garden variety coup like the failed Indonesian coup of 1958;  certainly not as horrifying as the 1965-1999 massacres and land grabs in Indonesia and East Timor, but definitely instructive in its political architecture.

Moreover, the cast of characters and their methods never really change. Breathtakingly, American political operatives are able to set policies, carry them out and then step back into the comfort and riches of defense contracts and think tanks.

The more things change…

Will Obama, President Fauxgressive, be any different?  So far, I’m thinking: NAAH!

Perhaps the most important thing to know about Venezuela is that it is an oil exporting country, the fifth largest in the world, with the largest reserves of conventional oil (light and heavy crude) in the western hemisphere and the largest reserves of non-conventional oil (extra-heavy crude) in the world.

Thus begins Gregory Wilpert’s 2003 article concerning the politics of Venezuelan oil and the April 2002 coup that briefly ousted President Hugo Chavez.

Venezuela’s oil boom years encompassed 1912-1943. Standard Oil and Shell Oil were the first companies to drill on Venezuelan soil. Things changed in 1943 with Venezuela’s  Hydrocarbons Act which declared that no foreign oil interest could make more profit on Venezuelan oil than the Venezuelan state. Oil revenues increased.   However, as oil production rose, other parts of the economy suffered and the populous became more dependent upon state services provided by oil revenues rather than income taxes.

In the 1950’s large international surpluses of oil (especially in the Middle East) drove  prices to record lows, causing social instability in a nation economically dependent on one resource. So

In 1960, the world’s main oil exporting countries, largely due to the prodding of the Venezuelan government, decided to form the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Also in 1960, Venezuela created the Venezuelan Oil Corporation, which later formed the basis for the nationalization of Venezuela’s oil industry.

Political stability in a petro state necessitated a “pacted democracy” which guaranteed proportional access to state produced wealth by oligarchs of both parties regardless of which was in power.

Sound familiar?

The 1973 embargo of Middle East oil had a huge impact on Venezuela, quadrupling its oil revenues. By 1976 the country moved to fully nationalize its oil industry with the creation of Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). PDVSA outsourced many of its general operations, including accounting and information technology.

The government promised to “sow the oil”, raising all boats in a nation coasting on oil. The article cited above also points out:

Critics of the nationalization process, such as Carlos Mendoza, say that the newly nationalized oil industry was nothing more than a Trojan Horse. Venezuela’s oil industry maintained an anti-statist and transnational corporatist management culture throughout its existence. The ties to the former owners of the nationalized Venezuelan companies were maintained primarily through technical assistance contracts with the former owners and through commercialization contracts, which heavily discounted the price of oil to their former owners.

By the 1990’s the world’s over-supply of oil had, once again, plunged Venezuela into the economic doldrums.

Hugo Chavez was elected by popular referendum in 1998. Almost immediately, Chavez pressured members of OPEC and the non-OPEC producers to hold the line on production quotas. When Chavez moved to replace the PDVSA board with other technical resources, PDVSA joined a work stoppage against the government. More from the article cited above –

Perhaps the most important instance of outsourcing, in terms of the management of PDVSA, is the joint venture it engaged in with the U.S.-based company SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation) to create INTESA (Informática, Negocios, y Tecnología, S.A.) in 1996. INTESA was to manage all of PDVSA’s data processing needs.

A recent investigation into INTESA, and especially into its majority owner SAIC (60%), revealed some information that ought to be quite disturbing to the government of Hugo Chávez. That is, INTESA, which controlled all of PDVSA’s information, is in turn controlled by SAIC, a Fortune 500 company … that is deeply involved in the U.S. defense industry, particularly as it relates to nuclear technology, defense intelligence, and computing technology. Its managers included two former U.S. Secretaries of Defense (William Perry and Melvin Laird) and two former CIA directors (John Deutch and Robert Gates). Its current Board of Directors includes the former commander of the U.S. Special Forces (Wayne Downing), a former coordinator of the National Security Council (Jasper Welch), and the former director of the National Security Agency (Bobby Ray Inman)           (italics mine).

Recall that Robert Gates served in the Reagan and Bush II administrations. He now serves President Barack Obama’s as Defense Department chief.

The government moved from taxing oil industry profits to charging royalties, making oil extraction more expensive. Chavez also re-directed Venezuelan oil supplies to non-U.S. buyers.

Then in 2002 came the attempted coup.

2002 Venezuelan coup d’état attempt

The Venezuelan coup attempt of 2002 was a failed coup d’état on April 11, 2002 that lasted only 47 hours, whereby the head of state President Hugo Chávez was illegally detained, the National Assembly and the Supreme Court dissolved, and the country’s Constitution declared void.

Venezuelan Federation of Chambers of Commerce (Fedecámaras) president Pedro Carmona was installed as interim president. In Caracas, the coup led to a pro-Chávez uprising that the Metropolitan Police attempted to suppress. Key sectors of the military and parts of the anti-Chávez movement refused to back Carmona. The pro-Chávez Presidential Guard eventually retook the Miraflores presidential palace without firing a shot, leading to the collapse of the Carmona government and the re-installation of Chávez as president.

The coup was publicly condemned by Latin American nations (the Rio Group presidents were gathered together in San José, Costa Rica, at the time, and were able to issue a joint communiqué) and international organizations. The United States and Chile quickly acknowledged the de facto pro-US Carmona government, but ended up condemning the coup after it had been defeated.

And more from Gregory Wilpert in his 2003 article:

Matters reached a boiling point in April 2002 with the coup d’etat against Chavez Frias which surprisingly lasted only two days as millions of Venezuelan poor came to his defense. The 48-hour usurper, Carmona, moved almost instantaneously to turn around ChavezFrias’ Bolivarian policies and consolidate what amounts to an “oiligarchy.” Within 48 hours, he dissolved the parliament and the supreme court, dismissed all mayors and governors, stopped the shipment of oil to Cuba, and started a massive wave of repression across the country. But there is more…

According to the British paper The Observer

… one of those giving the nod to the attempted coup was Elliot Abrams, a member of the Reagan team involved in the dirty wars in Central America convicted over actions during the Iran-Contra Affair. He was later pardoned by George Bush, Sr. Another coup advocate was Cuban, Otto Reich, assistant administrator for USAID 1981-1983 and named ambassador to Caracas in 1986.

There it is again, USAID. For those of you who doubted USAID, a benevolent agency of the U.S. government, might be converted to covert uses, enjoy the view.  My previous post noted that Ann Dunham Soetoro was engaged in “microfinance” with USAID in Indonesia in the 1970’s and 1980’s  — during one of the worst human rights atrocities of the century — and perhaps Pakistan in the 1980’s.

Next step:  let’s see what the World Bank, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and East-West Center, University of Hawaii, were up to.


The Soetoros and the Indonesian Massacres 1965-1999

March 24, 2009

No wonder Barack Obama didn’t write a book called Dreams from My Mother.

The president has said that he wished he had written a biography of  his mother, the late Ann Dunham Soetoro, rather than his father, Barack Obama, Sr.  And he might have done it well since he lived with her for lengthy periods. But perhaps that tome would have been called Nightmares from My Mother, or Bad Dreams from My Mother and Stepfather.  The more I read about the Dunham family the more fictionalized and fabricated they seem; Obama’s mother, in particular, since she is so often trotted out posthumously for photo ops.  Her story, as presented by Obama, is simple:  she was a free spirit who transcended type casting, spent her life doing for others and preserving native Indonesian crafts.  Lolo Soetoro was hardly worth mentioning.O.K., but this is the way it really was:

Indonesia 1965-1968. There was an ongoing massacre of PKI party communists and suspected communists in Jakarta and across Java by the Indonesian Army and anti-communist Muslim student jihadists. There is no doubt that the U.S. had strategic and economic interests in the Indonesia controlled by Sukarno, and those interests had a bloody reprise.

Time magazine described it this way: “Communists, Red sympathizers and their families are being massacred by the thousands…Army units executed thousands after interrogation in remote jails. Armed with wide-blade knives called parangs, Moslem bands crept at night into the homes of Communists, killing entire families, burying the bodies in shallow graves. The murder campaign became so brazen in parts of rural East Java that Moslem bands placed the heads of victims on poles and paraded them through villages….Travelers from these areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies, river transportation has at places been seriously impeded.”
Pretty horrific by any standards, even genocidal ones.
Yet, Ann Dunham Soetoro, according to all of the MSM hype and Obama’s whitewash of an autobiography, was teaching English as an American Embassy employee while her husband, Lolo, an Army Colonel under the monster Suharto was busy working as an oil company geologist cum government liaison. The Dark Side of Paradise, by Geoffrey Robinson, makes clear the implication of complicity in the monstrous events by both the Army and the U.S. Embassy.  I can’t link to p. 284 so I’ll quote: “the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta noted in a cable to the department of State…the U.S. government is generally admiring of what the army is doing”. Approval (for the killings) came from the U.S. Embassy.  Excerpt

Approval for the release of the names came from the
top U.S. Embassy officials, including former
Ambassador Marshall Green, deputy chief of mission
Jack Lydman and political section chief Edward
Masters, the three acknowledged in interviews.

Obama’s autobiography says little or nothing about the dread which must have been prevalent among the peasant populous during this period despite the fact that more than a million were imprisoned and used by the big corporations (timber, mining, oil) as slave laborers.  In his autobiography, Obama says virtually nothing about his step-father Colonel Lolo Soetoro, save that he was easygoing, friendly.

According to one fluff article available on the internet Obama returned to Indonesia for Christmas and summer holidays with his mother for many years.  During those years, Obama would have been mature enough to take note of the intense political oppression imposed by Suharto and the dread connected with reprisals directed at any party brave enough to criticize the regime.  The U.S. supported the dictator and Ann Soetoro went from her English teaching job with the embassy to employment with USAID and the (allegedly) CIA connected Ford Foundation in 1965 or this in 1966.

More questions than answers attach to Ann Soetoro during her lengthy stay in Indonesia.  The more one investigates the paucity of information about her activities the more one wonders about the lack of detail.  The blizzard of banal impressions about Ann Soetoro’s personality has buried or replaced the record of her life.  These are some of the nagging questions:

I have not been able to locate Ann Soetoro’s curriculum vitae.  Did she produce any scholarly work other than her long awaited dissertation?

Did Ann Soetoro work in Ghana and Thailand?  If so, during what years and for whom did she work?

What “scholarships” enabled young Obama to attend the prestigious and elite Punau school in Hawaii while his mother was “too poor” to afford it?  Ann Soetoro was also allegedly the recipient of a “scholarship” to continue her M.A. anthropology studies at the Univ. of Hawaii.

Why did she earn an undergraduate degree in math and then switch to anthropology?

Micro-financing of peasant women in East or West Timor seems like a front for something else (CIA?) since the massacres within that province wiped out nearly a third of the population and in many areas the gendercide of males was as high as 80%.  Much of the population of East Timor was relocated to West Timor.  (See my earlier posts on this subject).

To whom was Ann Soetoro teaching English while under U.S. Embassy auspices during the horrifying massacres and imprisonments during 1967-1968 and the decades long slave labor and torture regime?

Why would the Ford Foundation finance anthropological studies into native fabrics and iron working during this time? Or was this Ann Soetoro’s cover for another kind of research in the countryside?

And Obama says nothing about his mother’s residence in Indonesia during the brutal Suharto invasion and occupation of East Timor beginning in 1975.

My developing theory is that the important shaping of Obama’s character is connected to Indonesia, as much as or more than either Hawaii or Chicago.  If his step-father  was a top honcho in the brutal Suharto regime and Lolo had plenty of American military friends from the embassy, how might that have affected the boy?  If his mother’s work was of such great importance that she stayed on in Indonesia while her son returned home, are we to believe cataloging native crafts was this important work?

If Obama returned often to Indonesia to see his mother as he grew older wouldn’t he have been aware of the horrific events in Indonesia during his stays there and mentioned them as critical events in his otherwise superficial life story?

How are we to believe his stories of reacting strongly to racial and color slights when he lived in a land of genocide without being scarred or apparently even particularly moved by that fact?

And ,finally, what should one make of Obama’s appointment of Admiral Dennis Blair as the new Director of National Intelligence while it it is widely alleged that Blair helped win approval for a resumption of military cooperation with Indonesia  in  1999 despite yet another massacre carried out by Indonesian troops at Dili, East Timor?


Ann Dunham Soetoro in East Timor, Indonesia

March 20, 2009

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post summarizing some of the information collected about Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham Soetoro, her work history and residence in Indonesia.  Following the bread crumbs of an important public personage who accrued a long career in public agencies shouldn’t be difficult, but it is.  Although the mother of the president has had a lot written about her much of it is as inconsequential and not revealing as this, mostly fluff beyond a brief summary of countries and agencies.  I have found little in the way of job titles, bosses names, verifiable projects, specific accomplishments.

One thing does stand out sharply, the absence of the mention by Obama or Soetoro or any of the “friends” that claim to have been intimate with the family, of one of the great massacres of the twentieth century. As far as I know the MSM has also been strangely incurious about the context of Ann Soetoro and Barack Obama’s Indonesian existence, although some must be of an age to remember the events. Reports confirm that at least 500,000 suspected communists were slaughtered by the Indonesian military and religious militias between 1965 and 1968, most between 1965-1966.  Up to 2,000,000 were killed and imprisoned between 1965-1975.  Obama’s autobiography, Dreams from My Father, speaks about his personal awakening to “cruelty” during his four year residence in Jakarta, but does not discuss mass murder, murder and political opression that must have been facts of every day life.  Ann Soetoro, an anthropologist, focused specifically on poverty and women’s issues, while working in rural areas, could not have failed to register the murder and disappearance of so many victims during and after Suharto took power.

Ann Soetoro lived many years in Indonesia under the Suharto dictatorship.  Her husband had been an army engineer and later a government liaison to Mobil Oil Co.  As such the family must have been well positioned and well off in the employ of the Suharto government.  Ann returned to Hawaii, allegedly for educational purposes, several times but spent most of her career in Indonesia.  However, between 1960 and 1999 Indonesia remained a subject of controvery due to its egregious human rights violations.  Ann Soetoro and Obama make no mention of these horrors.

In 1975  Indonesia invaded East Timor, a small former colony of Portugal, and oil producing neighbor state.  A pattern of mass murder and male gendercide was quickly established by the invaders.  The slaughter and the logistical support given to it by the Ford administration were denounced by the United Nations.  Hundreds of thousands of East Timor residents were forceably displaced into West Timor.

See the report and documentaton here.  Excerpt:

East Timor Truth Commission report uses declassified U.S. documents to reveal support for Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor from 1975 until U.N. sponsored vote in 1999

National Security Archive provides more than 1000 documents to East Timor Truth Commission after Bush Administration refuses cooperation

East Timorese youth being tortured and killed by member of the Indonesian military (Released by Mr. Jose Ramos-Horta in 1996)

“I’m assuming you’re really going to keep your mouth shut on this subject?”
– National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger to his staff in October 1975 in response to reports that Indonesia had begun its attack on East Timor.

Washington, D.C., November 28, 2005 – Today, East Timorese President Xanana Gusmão transmits to Parliament the final report of East Timor’s Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) on human rights violations committed in East Timor between 1974 and 1999, and the National Security Archive is making available to the public some of the more than 1,000 formerly classified U.S. documents that it provided to assist the work of the CAVR.

A report from the University of Hawaii where Ann received received her PhD. indicate that Ann Soetoro was living in West Timor during this period while she pursued cultural preservation of native weaving and Obama visited her there on his way to Pakistan in 1981.

Curious.