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11 March 2007


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"This war in my personal view goes back not to 9/11, but to the First Persian Gulf War."
Not at all wrong Grumpy but I'd take it back at least to 1949.

What changed with Desert Storm was the big battalions came noisily ashore. That may have offended the natives as you say.

"Unless versed in the history of the Gulf and the evolution
of U.S.-Gulf relations, the average person is not likely to be
aware that U.S. presence in the region outdates by many
years the Gulf War, or that it has had a host of interests
encompassing political, economic, and geo-strategic
objectives. The low-key and generally unobtrusive presence
of U.S. forces tends to be anomalous to the pattern of
forward presence with the objective of deterrence. During
the Cold War years, the U.S. military stationed in Europe or
Asia, for example, were very much visible. Their deterrent
value was enhanced by such visibility. Now that the United
States is the sole remaining superpower, it deems it
prudent, due to local circumstances, to lower the profile of
its military footprint in the Gulf.
U.S. security strategy for the region was primarily
motivated by the three factors of interest in oil; the
geo-strategic centrality of the Middle East, particularly for
Great Britain.s imperial lifeline (e.g., Suez Canal as
demonstrated in the 1956 war); and the reality of the Cold
War. After WWII, containment of the Soviet Union rapidly
became the critical factor for the steady increase in U.S.
military presence in the Middle East.
Initially, Admiral Richard C. Conolly, Northeastern
Atlantic and Mediterranean commander-in-chief based in
London (CINCNELM), established Task Force 126 on
January 20, 1948. It consisted of tankers in the Gulf to take
on oil to meet the increasing dependence of the U.S. Navy on
refined Gulf petroleum products. In 1949 the command was
named Middle East Force, and in 1951 a rear admiral was
placed in its command. Since then the U.S. Navy has
maintained a permanent presence in the Gulf and operated
from Bahrain, the site of a major British base. Ras Tannura
and Dhahran in Saudi Arabia were the other ports
frequently visited by U.S. naval vessels.37 This presence
reflected the U.S. policy of promoting expansion in Gulf oil
production to meet the higher demand in the West."


Chris Marlowe


Your quote:

"I think that the move of Halliburton HQ to Dubai is indicative that there is money to be made in the Persian Gulf; it will be considered as a vote of (economic) confidence in Dubai and in that region."

"Secondarily, I think that the presence of Halliburton in Dubai is useful to the development & modernization of that region since the local people would be exposed to the business practices of a US company: more accountability, less nepotism; more share-holder value, less theft; more professional governance, less venality."

It goes way beyond that: essentially the American ruling class is saying that America is not worth investing in anymore. THEY ARE LEAVING THE US. There is more money to be made in places like Dubai.

Excuse me, but did you say something like Halliburton and professional governance? This is a company which has financials which say that it is losing money in spite of winning HUGE no-bid contracts in Iraq.

HOW DO YOU DO THAT? Doesn't that make you a little suspicious about their financial reporting?

What makes you think that they are interested in professional governance? When you get THAT big, you don't want corporate governance. That is only something your corporate communications department mentions occasionally in press releases to the media as a sop to the masses.

I like your confidence in "American accountability". I have sat in a few boardrooms, and I find that vote of confidence amusing, to say the least. The Bush administration has less nepotism? Are you kidding?

As far as I'm concerned, Washington DC has become the most corrupt place on earth. From their point of view, the US has a good defense industry for making money, and is a good "muscle" country where you can whip up people to "sacrifice for freedom and democracy". And now the US is no longer a fun place to make money for other purposes, so they are going to relocate some of their operations to Dubai, their first offshore base of operations where they are in tight with the royal family.

Think of all the flight time they can save going to Riyadh and Tel Aviv! That jet lag is a real drag...

Come on Babak, let's get real!


Babak Makkinejad

Chris Marlowe:

I think that my statements were making an implicit comparison of US business culture with the prevailing business culture of the Middle East. In my opinion the standards of transparency, accountability and governance of the businesses in the Persian Gulf area is very much lacking - the best you can say about them is that corruption, venality, and nepotism is built into their laws.

Of course, everything is relative and per chance Halliburton is in the same category as the local firms in that area of the world - but I seriously doubt it.

Now, I have no experience sitting on boards of corporations and I do not doubt that there you have witnessed shady deals that skirted the Law or broke the Law. However, my impression of US business culture has been that in all manners that I mentioned it is still superior to the Persian Gulf area. I just do not think that there is a comparable notion of Law and respect thereto there. Of course, that area is not unique in that respect - India is not much different!

As regards to the US ruling class: I think you must admire their courage in opening their country to the winds of global competition and thus forcing their own population to be a nation of hustler for a buck. This is in contradistinction to EU, Japan, and Korea with their relatively closed economies (compared to US).

I think the area in which you legitimately can criticize US ruling classes is the policy of pursuing to be the financial hub of the world at the expense of manufacturing.

In fact. finance capital in US, since the middle 1980s, has been making more money than the manufacturing operations. And the way things are going, unless US introduces socialized medicine, there will be no manufacturing left in US.

Now, UK did a similar thing, in my opinion, starting late in 19-th century and they damned near lost WWII since they had gutted their manufacturing capacity.

Brent Wiggans


Maybe Halliburton moved to a region more congenial to their business practices. Wonder if they took their books with them.


Some of you may be aware that there has been a rash of "Private Equity" deals going on in the world EXCEPT as far as I can tell America, even though these deals are made by American private equity firms.

All the deals involve American investors buying high quality assets everywhere in the world EXCEPT America.

What does that tell you? What does Americas foriegn debt tell you? What does the housing bubble tell you? And of course...what is Haliburton telling you?

Chris Marlowe


The difference between American corruption and the corruption of other countries is that the Americans always have lawyers.

Lawyers can be used offensively and defensively. If you are playing offensively, then you get the lawyers to change the laws you don't like. This is easy in the US, because more than half of all politicians in the US have legal backgrounds.

The thing is in the US, it is not called corruption, it is called lobbying. Since the politicians come from legal backgrounds, they try to legalize it and regulate it. I call it corruption and sometimes I refer to it as "wholesale politics" where special interest groups which have more money wield far more power and influence than their voter base's numbers would suggest.

When the US opened itself to globalization in the 90s, the US was the dominant world economy by far. It was not courage; it's that the US did not foresee the effects of technology and most importantly, China.

Let me give you an example: A top-tier university graduate in the US in computer programming can make $3K a month. In China, you can get a top-tier university graduate with two years' work experience for US$300 a month. And he won't ask for a raise because you can hire someone else for US$250 a month.

How do you compete with that?

So, it wasn't courage, it was failure to predict what would happen. Two very different things.

Now, US corporations and other corporations are able to exploit these differences to their profit. That is what I meant when I said in another posting that capital has no homeland.

Brent Wiggans--
You bet they'll take their books with them to Dubai! That's the whole idea!

The past six years have been great for US global corporations for some reasons mentioned above. They have found new markets in China and India, and have lowered their manufacturing costs. Of course, that means the US and European middle class is screwed, but that's not their problem.
In business, you go where your markets and profits are.

Babak Makkinejad

Chris Marlowe:

I stand by what I said and I will raise you by stating that you do not seem to be aware of the scale and depth of corruption and un-savory business and political practices outside of the so-called West.


- ENRON's power plant in India, a victim of the Indian political racket culture.

- Union-Carbide's Bophal plant which was deliberately sabotaged - in a botched operation - by Indians to try to extract money.

- UK-Saudi Tank deal a few months ago.

Chris Marlowe


You are right, I am not aware of the specifics of those cases.

I stand by my claim that in dollar amounts, those figures are smaller than many cases which are never reported or which are not depicted as corruption in the media.

The most damaging cases, on both national and corporate levels, are those which are finessed and made legal. That is what has happened in the US and in global markets.

We are talking about two entirely different issues. I would call it the difference between wholesale corruption (what I'm talking about) and retail corruption (what you are talking about). In size and volume (and in the end, damage to political systems), wholesale trumps retail.

Babak Makkinejad

Chris Marlowe:

Under retail corruption you cannot easily make a living without becoming soiled with the same corruption.

Wholesale corruption leaves some space for ordinary people to make a living without duress.


The suggestion that "legislation which seeks to direct and limit the president and commander in chief of the armed forces as to how he should employ US forces" is "of dubious constitutionality" is widely expressed these days, but this appears to be regarded as incorrect by a number of legal scholars.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on this in January, which may be of interest:


Clifford Kiracofe

Per data: A scrap to be sure but an item from US News and World Report that raises questions pollsters should be analyzing. Perhaps there is more data out there of late.

["Military Support for GOP Is in Free Fall
By Bonnie Erbe
US News and World Report

Wednesday 14 March 2007

Pardon my tardiness. While searching online for interesting political tidbits, I came across a two-month-old story of towering significance that received a paltry amount of media exposure. The Los Angeles Times reported in January that the Military Times's annual poll of active-duty service members found support among them for the Republican Party is dropping significantly. So significantly, in fact, that the 30-year trend of "Republicanization" of the military has reversed and is in a free fall.

The Times reported on a one-year decline of 10 points from 56 to 46 percent from January 2006 to January 2007 among active-duty service personnel who self-identify as Republicans. The year before, a 4-point drop cut Republican identification from an all-time high of 60 percent.

One has to infer the Iraq war is taking its toll on Republican supremacy not only at the voting booth but also among the good and honorable folks actually doing the fighting.

Dr. Clifford Kiracofe

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