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Oil, al-Qaeda and West Africa

by Anthony Gancarski

A friend of mine with an interest in gambling on sports informed me with delight that it was now possible to place wagers on WWE professional wrestling events. The idea of betting on an openly predetermined activity — theater, precisely — seemed to him a logical extension of the idea that professional sports are never far from being fixed anyway. It’s a given that certain teams and players get the benefit of favorable calls down the stretch, and on some level those adjustments are acceptable to consumers and producers alike.

Just as people are generally willing to overlook inconsistencies from professional athletes and those who officiate their games, they are willing to cut some slack to their so-called democratically elected leaders in the games they play. Whether they are Democrats who accept Maddie Albright’s description of the United States as an “Indispensible Nation” or Republicans who cling to Tom Delay’s assertion that the US is a “Super Duper Power”, the people of the United States have been willing to sacrifice untold treasures in the service of a state that has cultivated allies only to declare them mortal enemies continuously since the 1930s. One can only speculate as to the number of nuclear families broken up because both parents had to work to meet rent, or as to the number of children shafted by an education system standardized into mediocrity and irrelevance by way of meeting the Soviet threat. Somewhat less speculation is necessary when figuring out how many families, both here and abroad, have been torn asunder by people sacrificing body and soul alike to enhance the portfolios of the global elite.

In spite of all the good work done in countries most Americans can’t find on maps, there are still battles to be fought — and won. If we are to believe Donald Rumsfeld, Al Qaeda is operational in over sixty countries. Most recently, we have heard allegations — as usual, unsubstantiated — that Al Qaeda has operations in Iraq. It is only a matter of time until we find those baby incubators those rascally Iraqis stole from the then-unliberated Kuwaitis, and then the joy of the Fox News All Stars will be matched only by the pending bloodshed of bombing and occupation.

That said, it is perhaps foolish for us to focus on Iraq to the exclusion of other deserving targets in this War of Terror. After all, man cannot live by Bombs Over Baghdad alone. So, in the spirit of ecumenical inclusion, we should turn our attention to the seeds of conflict, freshly planted in West Africa for eventual harvest.

In the August 13 edition of The Final Call, Assistant Secretary of State Walter Kansteiner was quoted as saying at a meeting of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS) that oil reserves of Angola and Nigeria are a “national strategic interest” of the United States. This assertion is in accordance with IASPS’s position that “Congress and the (Bush) administration should declare the Gulf of Guinea an area of ‘vital interest’ to the U.S.” Oil from the Gulf of Guinea comprises 15% of US imports, and it is unsurprising that the US would seek to rely more heavily on these mostly non-OPEC nations as it builds to war on the populations of Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and — if luck is with us — Egypt.

Of course, all of this sounds innocuous enough. Just a little oil deal, is all. But the US has a habit of using phrases like “national strategic interest” to justify or to provide pretext for all sorts of adventure. Of late, we’ve developed the ability to discover Al Qaeda in nations direly in need of US military intervention as well. If my friend from the first paragraph were able to place bets on where US forces might materialize next in this War of Terror, he could do worse than to put cash down on the proposition that the US might need to root out Al Qaeda cells from Angola or Nigeria sooner than later.

Anthony Gancarski resides in Spokane, Washington, where he attends Gonzaga Law School.

He can be reached at New! Print Edition of CounterPunch Available Exclusively to Subscribers:

War Talk As White Noise: Anything to Get Harken and Halliburton Out of the Headlines; First Hilliard, Then McKinney: Jewish Groups Target Blacks Brave Enough to Talk About Justice in the Middle East; Intimidation is the Name of the Game; Smearing “Insane” McKinney As Muslims’ Pawn; The Missing Terrorist? Calling Scotland Yard: “Where’s Atif?” They Never Booed Dylan!: Tape Transcript Shows Famed Newport Folkfest Dissing of Electric Dylan Not True. The Catcalls were for Peter Yarrow! New Shame from the Liffey Shriker

ANTHONY GANCARSKI is a regular CounterPunch columnist. He can be reached at

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