human being on Sat, 3 Apr 1999 19:28:21 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Oil, NATO and Yugoslavia

 contra Agre (with respect) regarding the connection between war and oil-
 geopolitical machines (like these computers) being fueled like they are...


--- begin forwarded text

Date: Sat, 3 Apr 1999 10:25:24 +0000
Sender: PHILosophy OF HIstory and theoretical history <PHILOFHI@YORKU.CA>
From: "Nikolai S. Rozov" <>
Organization: Novosibirsk State University
Subject:      Oil, NATO and Yugoslavia

>From Sean Gervasi's "Why is NATO in Yugoslavia?", delivered to the
Conference on the Enlargement of NATO in Eastern Europe and the
Mediterrenean, in Prague, Czech Republic, January 13-14, 1996. The complete
paper is at Gervasi
was a frequent contributor to Covert Action Quarterly and taught in
Belgrade at the Institute of International Politics and Economics in the
1980s. He died in July, 1996. The kind of life he led and the example he
set is described in a London Telegraph obit that follows this excerpt from
his paper. Gervasi was probably the most forceful defender of peace and
social justice in former Yugoslavia that we had.


Yugoslavia is significant not just for its own position on the map, but
also for the areas to which it allows access. And influential American
analysts believe that it lies close to a zone of vital US interests, the
Black Sea-Caspian Sea region.

This may be the real significance of the NATO task force in Yugoslavia.

The United States is now seeking to consolidate a new European-Middle
Eastern bloc of nations. It is presenting itself as the leader of an
informal grouping of Muslim countries stretching from the Persian Gulf into
the Balkans. This grouping includes Turkey, which is of pivotal importance
in the emerging new bloc. Turkey is not just a part of the southern Balkans
and an Aegean power. It also borders on Iraq, Iran and Syria. It thus
connects southern Europe to the Middle East, where the US considers that it
has vital interests.

The US hopes to expand this informal alliance with Muslim states in the
Middle East and southern Europe to include some of the new nations on the
southern rim of the former Soviet Union.

The reasons are not far to seek. The US now conceives of itself as being
engaged in a new race for world resources. Oil is especially important in
this race. With the war against Iraq, the US established itself in the
Middle East more securely than ever. The almost simultaneous disintegration
of the Soviet Union opened the possibility of Western exploitation of the
oil resources of the Caspian Sea region.

This region is extremely rich in oil and gas resources. Some Western
analysts believe that it could become as important to the West as the
Persian Gulf

Countries like Kazakhstan have enormous oil reserves, probably in excess of
9 billion barrels. Kazakhstan could probably pump 700,000 barrels a day.
The problem, as in other countries of the region, at least from the
perspective of Western countries, has been to get the oil and gas resources
out of the region and to the West by safe routes. The movement of this oil
and gas is not simply a technical problem. It is also political.

It is of crucial importance to the US and to other Western countries today
to maintain friendly relations with countries like Kazakhstan. More
importantly, it is important to know that that any rights acquired, to pump
petroleum or to build pipelines to transport it, will be absolutely
respected. For the amounts which are projected for investment in the region
are very large.

What this means is that Western producers, banks, pipeline companies, etc.
want to be assured of "political stability" in the region. They want to be
assured that there will be no political changes which would threaten their
new interests or potential ones.

An important article in THE NEW YORK TIMES recently described what has been
called a new "great power game" in the region, drawing an analogy to the
competition between Russia and Great Britain in the northwest frontier of
the Indian subcontinent in the nineteenth century. The authors of the
article wrote that, "Now, in the years after the cold war, the United
States is again establishing suzerainty over the empire of a former foe.
The disintegration of the Soviet Union has prompted the United States to
expand its zone of military hegemony into Eastern Europe (through NATO) and
into formerly neutral Yugoslavia. And -- most important of all -- the end
of the cold war has permitted America to deepen its involvement in the
Middle East." [12]

Obviously, there have been several reasons which prompted Western leaders
to seek the expansion of NATO. One of these, and an important one, has
clearly been a commercial one. This becomes more evident as one looks more
closely at the parallel development of commercial exploitation in the
Caspian Sea region and the movement of NATO into the Balkans.

On May 22, 1992, the North Atlantic Treay Organization issued a remarkable
statement regarding the fighting then going on in Transcaucasia. This read
in part as follows: "[The] Allies are profoundly disturbed by the
continuing conflict and loss of life. There can be no solution to the
problem of Nagomo-Karabakh or to the differences it has caused between
Armenia and Azerbaijan by force. "Any action against Azerbaijan's or any
other state's territorial integrity or to achieve political goals by force
would represent a flagrant and unacceptable violation of the principles of
international law. In particular we [NATO] could not accept that the
recognized status of Nagorno-Karabakh or Nakhichevan can be changed
unilaterally by force." [13]

This was a remarkable statement by any standards. For NATO was in fact
issuing a veiled warning that it might have to take "steps" to prevent
actions by governments in the Caspian Sea region which it construed as
threatening vital Westem interests.

Two days before NATO made this unusual declaration of interest in
Transcaucasion affairs, an American oil Company, Chevron, had signed an
agreement with the government of Kazakhstan for the development of the
Tengiz and Korolev oil fields in the Westem part of the country. The
negotiations for this agreement had been under way for two years prior to
its being signed. And reliable sources have reported that they were in
danger of breaking down at the time because of Chevron's fears of political
instability in the region. [14]

At the time that NATO made its declaration, of course, there would have
been little possibility of backing up its warning. There was, first of all,
no precedent at all for any large, out-of-area operation by NATO. NATO
forces, furthermore, were far removed from Transcaucasia. It does not take
a long look at a map of the Balkans, the Black Sea the Caspian Sea to
realize that the situation is changing.

--- end forwarded text

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