The Carlyle Group
Alfred Mendes looks at a single US investment corporation and asks some pertinent questions about democracy, terrorism and power.
It is quite extraordinary, and not a little frightening, how little attention is paid to the unexpressed aims of Corporate America in its on-going act of achieving global economic and political domination. Whereas its expressed aims, such as promoting a ‘new’ and ‘humanitarian’ world freed of ‘terrorism’, are constantly propounded in both print and speech, the causal problems underlying these recent crises (of which ‘terrorism’ is the most prominent) are not being examined rationally. That Americas’ expressed aims are false can be readily proven: (1) financed to the tune of $2 billion and armed by the USA, its NATO ally, Turkey, has been ‘ethnically cleansing’ its Kurdish minority for the past decade & a half - within view, as it were, of a US Intelligence Base just outside Diyarbakir - while it, the USA, has been bringing its ‘humanitarian values’ to the Balkans; (2) those two paradigms of ‘terrorism’ - Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein - could not have achieved power without the active assistance of the USA.
To understand more clearly the role being played by this superpower, it is first necessary to accept the fact that the US Administration is - and has been for decades - under the control of its capitalist corporations, a group wielding enormous power due to its vast industrial capacity and world-wide capital investments - to say nothing of its cabalistic, cohesive nature. To confirm this, one has only to scan the lists of the top individuals in both the US Administration and the corporate boards over the past few decades to see the close linkage between the two. As for the post of President: this is an executive post carrying such autocratic power that the Corporate Establishment ensures that ‘their man’ is elected. This election is, in effect, an auction, as exemplified by the fact that oil companies contributed $1.8 million towards George W. Bush’s campaign in the year 2000 - thirteen times as much as they gave his opponent! Again, the Electric utilities donated $447,000 to Bush, but only $65,000 to Al Gore, etc. And, inasmuch as the President-to-be appoints administrators who are, in effect, the policy-makers, the Corporate Establishment - as the highest bidder in the ‘auction’ - ensures that it is well-placed in the seat-of-power. Is this the form of democracy the Athenians had in mind!?
The following recent news report epitomises this close bond between government and business concisely: on the 27th September ‘01, the Wall Street Journal revealed that the bin Laden family firm in Saudi Arabia was a major investor (1 of 450 such investors) in the prestigious American investment firm, the Carlyle Group, and that George Bush Snr., on behalf of this group, had brokered the deal. The report added that the FBI had subpoenaed the bin Laden family’s bank records, there being doubt that the family had broken all ties with Osama. This calls for a closer examination of the Carlyle Group in order to unearth more germane facts., and an efficient way to accomplish this is to begin by listing the senior officers of the company - with very brief (incomplete) C.V’s added. (It should be noted here that the European Chairman is John Major, the ex-British PM, but he warrants no further mention in this article as he is of little import to the subject in hand).
Chairman: Frank C. Carlucci His ties with the US Administration go back to the ‘70’s, (Dept. of Health, Education & Welfare, etc.) and - more importantly - includes stints as Deputy Director of CIA (‘78 - ‘81) under Carter; Deputy Secretary of Defense (‘81 - ‘82) and National Security Adviser (‘87 - ‘89) both under Reagan.
Senior Counselor: James Baker III. Chief of Staff (‘81 -‘85), and Secretary of Treasury (‘85 - ‘89) both under Reagan; and Secretary of State (‘89 - ‘93) under Bush Snr.
Broker: George Bush Snr. Director of CIA (‘76 - ‘77) under Ford; Vice-President (‘81 - ‘89) under Reagan; and President (‘89 - ‘93).
The Corporate Establishment can readily be portrayed as a complex web of interlinked companies and executives, and the fact that Carlyle holds ownership stakes in 164 companies and ranks as the eleventh largest defence contractor in the US further emphasises its pre-eminence within this web, and the somewhat disproportionate links to the intelligence services listed above is reflected in its ownership - via BDM International - of the CIA-front company, Vinnell Corp., which has been operating under contract in Saudi Arabia since 1975. It is of pertinence to note here (if only to stress the close relationship between the Administration and the corporate establishment) that BDM’s President & CEO is one Philip Odeen who served as Chairman of Clinton’s National Defense Panel. Another filament of this web: in 1990 George W. Bush - now President - was on the board of directors of one of Carlyle Group’s subsidiaries, Caterair, an airline catering company.
It needs little delving into the background of the senior Carlyle officers listed above to trigger memories of events that have a direct bearing on today’s crisis of ‘terrorism’. (1) One week after his inauguration as President, and with Vice-President Bush Snr. by his side, Reagan called a cabinet meeting to discuss ‘terrorism’ - the overthrow of Iran’s Shah by the Ayatollah Khomeini still fresh in memory. As reported by Bob Woodward in his book The Veil, Anthony Quaint, the State department’s expert on terrorism, stated at that discussion that “it’s possible for a terrorist group to strike directly at the United States in the United States. The United States is vulnerable”. Now, 20 years later, the US government can hardly claim they were not forewarned! (2) As reported by Leslie Cockburn in her book Out Of Control covering the Nicaraguan Iran/Contra crisis: while the notorious Lt. Col. Oliver North was serving “on the Interdepartmental Group on Terrorism and on the Terrorist Incident Working Group, both of which reported to the Crisis Pre-Planning Group and the Special Situation Group, both of which in turn shared the same chairman: Vice-President George Bush”, the US government was, at the same time, engaged in trading guns for drugs, as revealed by one of the pilots so engaged, ‘Mickey’ Tolliver, in a CBS interview in 1987 (Cockburn had worked for CBS since 1978). On one trip he had carried 28,000 lbs. of guns and ammunition to the Contra supply base in Honduras, and returned with a 25,360 lb. load of marijuana - landing at Homestead Air Force Base in Florida! (3) In the aftermath of the disastrous bombing of both the US Embassy and the US Marine Base in Beirut in ‘83, there ensued a spate of hostage-taking. America accused Iran of aiding the suspect ‘terrorist’ groups guilty of these activities. Result: America arranged for Israel to sell 508 TOW missiles to Iran in exchange for the release of the hostages! (4) In the aftermath of the Lockerbie bombing in ‘86, America for the first 2 or 3 years accused Iran (once again) and Syria of responsibility for the act - only to drop all accusations against them when it became necessary to co-opt Syria as an ally in the inevitable war against Iraq, the new ‘Satan’.
There were a number of other subsequent events of a similar ‘terrorist’ nature, and in retrospect, it is clear that America was using the term ‘terrorism’ in order to conceal their real aim, which was to achieve economic and political domination on a global scale - as expressed in the opening sentence of this article. This subject of terrorism is best treated by drawing attention to the crux of the problem - the inequity and bias inherent within the capitalist system itself, whereby a comparative few garner profit from the labour of many, inevitably fostering that most dangerous of emotions: frustration. Is not frustration the mother of terrorism? And would not the most rational means of solving this problem be to examine the source of this frustration? Which is precisely why America cannot afford to take this rational road: to do so would mean questioning the system itself - Mammon forbid! In view of the foregoing, is it not thus reasonable to harbour grave doubts as to the validity of America’s declared aim in this conflict with Afghanistan?
A further delving into the background of the listed Carlyle officers is called for here - and whom better to start with than its chairman, Carlucci. As noted in his C.V. above, he had strong ties with the intelligence agencies, as confirmed by Philip Agee in his book, “On The Run”: “Carlucci had been on the team in Kinshasa when Patrick Lumumba was assassinated and the Congolese revolution stopped. Then he worked four years in Brasil following the military coup in 1964”. Agee was in Portugal not long after the April ‘75 coup by the communist-led Armed Forces Movement had overthrown the dictatorship of Salazar - as a result of which, President Ford had sent Carlucci as ambassador to Portugal. As Agee writes: “If the new ambassador, Frank Carlucci, was any indication, the Ford administration was determined, both alone and in concert with European allies to stop the revolution”...”He would be in charge of coordinating all efforts to ‘save Portugal’”. But more pertinent to his role in later years were the many directorships he held, among which were General Dynamics, Westinghouse Electrics, the Rand Corp. - and Ashland Oil (among others). He had also been a college classmate of Donald Rumsfeld, the present Secretary of Defense. Perhaps his most interesting relationship was with the very right-wing Dr. Constantine Menges of the Hudson Institute who had worked for Carlucci in the Department for Health, Education and Welfare. As Bob Woodward revealed in The Veil: “ In a 1980 article (The New York Times), Menges stated that events in Iran, Afghanistan and Nicaragua marked a ‘turning point in the invisible war between radical and moderate forces’ for control of oil (this author’s italics), the Middle East and Central America”. This was a significant slip-of-the-tongue on the part of Menges, and was to prove correct. After the collapse of the USSR, the American oil companies wasted no time in moving in on the Caucasian oil & gas fields (see author’s article “The Thin End Of The Wedge). In ‘81, William Casey, Director of CIA, made Menges Intelligence Officer for Latin America, a position he held until, In 1983, and on the advice of Carlucci, he was transferred to the National Security Council, under Reagan.
It is of significance to note that Carlucci was not the only one of the three Carlyle officers covered by this article to be connected to an oil company (he was chairman of Ashland Oil); Bush Snr., had founded the oil drilling firm, Zapata; and last - but not least - Baker is on the board of the Azerbaijan International Oil Co. (AIOC) as legal representative, which should please him as his good friend from the days of the USSR, Eduard Shervardnadze, is President of neighbouring Georgia. It is necessary to note here that, contrary to the generally accepted belief that the US troops recently deployed in Uzbekistan was the first such deployment on ex-Soviet soil, Reuters reported, in June of this year, 2001, that 4000 troops from eleven countries (including the USA) held NATO exercises near the Georgian port of Poti on the Black Sea, and were welcomed whole-heartedly by Shervardnadze, who stated that this was “confirmation of the readiness of our country to move towards deeper Euro-Atlantic integration”, This, from the man who was Foreign Minister of the USSR when it collapsed! (Any causal linkage here?).
The filaments of the oil web are too numerous to be covered in detail in an article of this length, but, with the AIOC fresh in mind, a few more examples of the role played by oil companies in the sensitive area of the Caucasus region would not be amiss. As its name implies, AIOC is an Azerbaijan consortium - in which US oil companies hold a 40% stake. Two of these companies are Amoco and Pennzoil. (1) Zbigniew Brzezinski, who had been National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter, was on Amoco’s payroll, and (2) General Brent Scowcroft, who had been National Security Advisor to George Bush Snr., was on Pennzoil’s payroll. But, had not the US Congress in ‘92 passed Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act to restrict US assistance to Azerbaijan until such time as it, Azerbaijan, stopped its offensive and adopted a more ‘humanitarian’ attitude to its neighbours, Armenia and Ngorno Karabahk? The answer is found in the short paragraph of the Act which reads: “Section 907 does not prevent Trade and Development Agency guarantees and insurance for US firms, or Foreign Commercial Service operations, or the activities of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and the Export-Import Bank. Thus, US businesses are not placed at a competitive disadvantage.” (authors’ italics).
1997 saw the formation of the Central Asia Gas Pipeline consortium (Centgas) with the intention of running a 790-mile-long pipeline from the gas fields of Turkmenistan through neighbouring Afghanistan to Multan, in Pakistan (at a cost of $1.9 billion) - with a possible future extension to New Delhi, in India (cost: $600 million). This was a project under the control of the California oil company, UNOCAL, who held the controlling stake of 46.5% in the consortium. At the instigation of UNOCAL, a Taliban ministerial delegation held talks in Washington with the US Undersecretary of State, Karl Underforth, in December 1997 to discuss this pipeline project - but, due to the ever-worsening instability in Afghanistan, UNOCAL aborted the project in December 1998. However, as reported in the Pakistani publication “Business Recorder” in 2000, the remaining members of Centgas - Delta Oil Group of Saudi Arabia, the Turkmenistan government, Indonesian Petroleum, ITOCHU of Japan, Hyundai of South Korea and the Crescent Group of Pakistan - had not given up hope. The crucial point to note here is that, without the participation of an American oil partner such a project is impossible, and given the very influential clout carried by the oil industry in the US Administration (as noted above), it is reasonable to assume that these considerations would have been in the forefront of the minds of the US government officials, and would thus have played a crucial role in determining America’s response to Afghanistan in the aftermath of the WTC bombing. This attack, in affect, had supplied the US with a convenient reason for taking control of Afghanistan under the pretext of destroying ‘terrorism’ when, in fact, already well-ensconced in the nearby ex-Soviet republics of the Caucasus region, this was merely another step in Corporate America’s inexorable advance eastwards in its search for more lucrative markets - for its oil industry in particular.
This poses the obvious, crucial question: which of the two protagonists in this struggle is the real terrorist?
Alfred Mendes was born in Trinidad in 1920 and is of Portuguese extraction. His varied career included wartime service both at sea and in the British Army and work as a coal miner and oil driller in several parts of the world. He has been retired for twenty years.