Ruth N. Caplan
Alliance for Democracy National Convention
Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA
June 9, 2002

It is a special honor to share the platform with Rear Admiral Eugene Carroll who such a wealth of first-hand knowledge about how the military operates and has provided invaluable insights into the military-industrial complex.

I assume our goal in having this plenary is to deepen our understanding of the military crisis in order to develop effective action related to our basic mission of reducing corporate power and promoting alternatives for a people-centered democracy. This means we need to examine the root causes of the military crisis which I will argue are inexorably linked to corporate globalization. More specifically, I will focus on resources which must be controlled to keep the US-led corporate globalization machine humming.

While selecting this focus, I also want to recognize that there are major causes of global unrest which feed into the military crisis. These are the anger over US imperialism, imperialist aspirations by other countries, and ethnic conflicts fueled by grinding poverty and manipulation by the superpowers.

In preparing my comments, I owe a large debt of gratitude to Michael Klare, Director of the Five College Program in Peace and World Security at Hampshire College, who has written a fine book titled Resource WARS. While this came out before S11, it provides important insights into how the Bush administration has responded to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center


Let us begin with the Caspian Sea Basin: Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan -- new post-Soviet Union countries which most of us can barely locate on the map--plus, Russia (including Dagestan and Chechnya) and Iran. In addition there is
* Kyrgyzstan just to the east of Uzbekistan and northwest of China and
* Afghanistan just to the Southeast of Uzbekistan
* Georgia strategically located between the land-locked Caspian and Black Sea ports

US strategic interests in the region pre-dates September 11th. It is deeply rooted in the Clinton presidency.

--April 1997: The State Department report to Congress first the articulated strategic nature of American interest in the Caspian region. Klare says it has become U.S. policy "to promote rapid development of Caspian energy resources" to "reinforce Western energy security." (Klare,3)

--July 21, 1997: Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott: "It would matter profoundly to the United States," he declared, if U.S. oil companies were denied access to "an area that sits on as much as 200 billion barrels of oil."(Klare, 4) Actually DOE estimates there are 270 billion barrels or 1/5th of world's total proven reserves of oil plus one-eighth of the world's gas reserves (Klare,3)

--August 1, 1997: President Clinton met with Heydar Aliyev, president of Azerbaijan who once served as senior KGB official and member of the Soviet Politburo (ah, how soon we forget) to discuss American involvement in exploitation of Azerbaijan's vast energy supplies. Clinton assured Aliyev " 'In a world of growing energy demand our nation cannot afford to rely on any single region for our energy supplies."' By working closely with Azerbaijan to tap the Caspian's resources, 'we not only help Azerbaijan to prosper, we also help diversify our energy supply and strengthen our nation's security." (Klare 4, emphasis added)

So far so good. Just setting up trading partners, right?

Then just six weeks later, telling the story in Klare's words, "On the morning of September 15, 1997, five hundred American paratroopers from the army's 82nd Airborne Division jumped into an arid battle zone near the Tien Shan mountains in southern link up with friendly forces from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan...Heading the American contingent-and first to make the jump-was General John Sheehan, a highly decorated marine officer and the commander in chief of the U.S. Atlantic Command....the exercise began with the longest airborne operation in human history, entailing a flight of some 7,700 miles from Fort Bragg, North Carolina...." This exercise was called CENTRAZBAT (Klare, 1-2)

"In justifying this elaborate operation, Pentagon officials maintained that their sole objective was to demonstrate American support for the continued stability of the former Soviet republics. 'What we need here are independent, sovereign states that are able to defend themselves' explained Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Catherine Kelleher, the highest-ranking Pentagon official to attend the event." (Klare, 2)

In 1999, Klare reports that "Army Training and Doctrine Command devised an elaborate computer model of the Caspian basin for use in testing possible scenarios for U.S. intervention in the area." (Klare, 5)

Klare also reports that even before S11, American and Azerbaijani officials discussed establishing a permanent U.S. military base in Azerbaijan.

With this in mind, let's turn to the October 6, 2001, Washington Post front page headline "U.S. to Base Troops, Planes In Uzbekistan" which leads with "Uzbekistan gave official permission today for an unprecedented U.S. military presence on former Soviet territory, announcing it will allow American troops and aircraft to base operations here as the first wave of 1,000 ground combat troops was scheduled to arrive soon." The story goes on, "In a demonstration of how the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington have led to once-unlikely partnerships to fight terrorism, Uzbeck President Islam Karimov announced the deal after a meeting today with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfield." Later in the article, "The 10th Mountain Division were in the air as he spoke and were slated to arrive in Uzbekistan a few hours after he left."

--Karimov, whose "authoritarian government has waged an effective campaign against all forms of internal dissent."

--The 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum --they have been there before. Klare reports that "A second CENTRAZBAT exercise held in September 1998, brought several hundred U.S. soldiers from Fort Drum, New York, to Tashkent in Uzbekistan, and then to a military training area in northern Kyrgyzstan." (Klare, 5)

Six months later, the NYT runs a story "Today's Silk Road Might Carry Black Gold." (3/17/02) which comes right out and says "The Afghan conflict, the first major war in Central Asia since the oil and gas finds, has reshuffled the geopolitical deck and made a pipeline through Afghanistan, for which some American oil executives were lobbying as recently as the mid-1990s, feasible once again." Well, we know who they were --none other than Unocal.

The article continues. S. Frederick Starr, chairman of the Central Asia-Caucusus Institute at Johns Hopkins University is quoted as saying, "'Whoever can shape the way that pipeline map looks will shape the future of a huge part of the world.'"

The article concludes by saying, "As President Bush considers these issues, he has some experienced advisers close at hand. Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-American he appointed as American envoy to Afghanistan, once advised Unocal on ways to build its pipeline there."

It is not surprising then, that President Bush, in a Rose Garden appearance with interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzi, announces "'The United States is committed to playing a leading role in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.'" (WP 1/29/02) Bush also "announced that the Overseas Private Investment Corporation [which financed Enron's disastrous pipeline through the world's largest wetland in Brazil and Bolivia] would finance an initial $50 million of credit to promote U.S. private sector investment.'" Wonder what that money is for?

The U.S. is also looking to Georgia in the west to protect strategic oil pipelines. The Wash Post reports in February (2/28/02) that the U.S. plans "to train and equip the Georgian military to fight what officials of both countries consider a growing terrorist threat in Georgia's remote Pankisi Gorge" noting that this has "set off a wave of consternation here [in Moscow] today as the Kremlin confronted the prospect of a fresh American military presence at Russia's back door."

In April, the NYT reports on an oil field in Kazakhstan where "American companies alone have said they are ready to invest as much as $200 billion in the next 5 to 10 years." It would be mighty convenient, and perhaps essential, to have the protection of the American military for investments of this magnitude. History of the U.S. involvement in the Persian Gulf shows that these corporations may even regard this as their right.

Perhaps you too wondered if there might have been a more effective way of capturing Osama bin Laden than the failed massive military assault on a devastated country, but covert actions using Afghan factions opposed to the Taliban would not have resulted in the United States becoming a powerful player in Afghanistan and positioning itself militarily in the larger Caspian Basin.

The Wash Post story "Footprints in Steppes of Central Asia" published in February (2/9/02) carried a story making all this crystal clear. After reporting that the U.S. Air Force is building a base in Kyrgyzstan which "within months will be home to 3,000 personnel and nearly two dozen American and allied aircraft," they note "the Pentagon, rather than searching for an exit strategy for Afghanistan, is focusing on the opposite: establishing a foothold." What a surprise. "All told," they report, "more than 50,000 U.S. military personnel now live and work on ships and bases stretching from Turkey to Oman and eastward to [Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan just]300 miles from the Chinese border."

Now listen to this. "'The imperial perimeter is expanding into Central Asia,' Thomas Donnelly, deputy executive director of the Project for the New American Century, wrote in a recent e mail circulated among leading military analysts.'" (emphasis added)

Not surprisingly, the article reports that "Chinese analysts have expressed concern that the United States is seeking to use the war on terrorism to expand its influence in Central Asia and the Pacific." So, in the name of national security, we have managed to alarm two powerful countries --Russia and China.

Strange, that the whole article is written with nary a word about oil. Yet as early as last October, the NYT (10/25/01) ran an article headlined "Long Before War, Green Berets Built Military Ties to Uzbekistan" in which they refer to the goal of creating "a reliable ally near the Caspian Sea, a region with reserves of untapped oil." The article also notes that "Uzbekistan maintains an intense security apparatus over its citizens" and notes that "Human rights advocates say that because the Uzbeck security police torture suspects, intelligence gleaned from their interrogations is uneven, with accurate information mixed with contrived confessions from innocent detainees." Yet the article reports "Government and military officials also said that enrolling Uzbek officers in American military schools, had also proved a productive investment." How many years have activists done civil disobedience at the School of the Americas over just such training of military for dictators?

But declining to consistently connect the dots, the NYT runs a piece in December (12/2/02) saying "There is talk of a new American empire. But what kind of empire?" an empire focusing on "helping the world unify against an array of new threats" in which oil is never mentioned.

Connecting the dots for me leads to the conclusion that the war on terrorism is a convenient cover for the U.S. to consolidate and expand its military presence in areas where natural resources are key to America's imperialist expansion.


Let's pause for a moment and look at the origins of the oil and national security link.

Carter Doctrine
: President Jimmy Carter made clear the link between national security interests and use of military force to protect that interest. Following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1980, Carter told a Joint Session of Congress: "An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an attack on the vital interests of the United States of America [and] will be repelled by any means necessary including military force." This is now referred to as the Carter Doctrine. But it didn't start with Carter.

In 1943, Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized U.S. military assistance to Saudi Arabia in anticipation of needing oil from the Gulf. Then in 1945, FDR met with King Saud and assured him of America's support, an alliance where the U.S. protects the royal family in return for oil, an alliance which continues to this day and led Osama bin Laden, angry with the House of Saud, to turn against the U.S.

Key to this strategy is oil for arms. From 1990-1998, the U.S. transferred $41.6 billion in arms to the Gulf States according to the Arms Control Association. Of this over $8 billion went to the United Arab Emirates (size of Maine with 2.4 million of which 1.6 million are non nationals) located on the strategic Strait of Hormiz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf through which all oil tankers must pass. (Klare 67-68)

The Wash Post reports in a February feature series on Saudi Arabia (2/11/02) that "The Saudis spent well over $100 billion on American weapons, construction, spare parts and support, and for years have ranked first in the world as a customer for American arms makers. They bought F-5 and F-16 fighter jets, AWACs observation aircraft, Abrams M-1 tanks, Bradley armored vehicles, naval vessels and much more."

Back in the early 1970s, after the British withdrew from the Gulf, the U.S. was still fighting the Vietnam War and so developed a Surrogate Strategy with Saudi Arabia and Iran, selling $20 billion in sophisticated weaponry to Iran to keep the oil flowing. Rep. Gerry Studds referred to this as "the most rapid build-up of military power under peacetime conditions of any nation in the history of the world." (Klare 60) By 1979, the Shah of Iran was replaced by the radical Islamic regime which continues in power today.

From 1998-2000, the U.S. gave over $1 billion in military and economic assistance to the Caspian Basin States, with 70% of the military assistance going to Georgia according to the State Department.(96) Referring to the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline through Georgia and Turkey, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said, "This is not just another oil and gas deal, and this is not just another pipeline. It is a strategic framework that advances America's national security interests." (Klare 102) It hardly needs saying that this whole area of the globe is highly unstable and as we have learned in Afghanistan, weapons provided for one purpose can easily be used for other purposes.

The military's interest in securing reliable oil supplies is not just to help the U.S. economy grow. The military itself is a major consumer of oil. Hitler invaded Russia in order to get access to the major oil supply in Baku, now part of Azerbaijan. It is not an accident that FDR went to King Saud during World War II or that the U.S. paid such a high price to Iran for its oil during the Vietnam War. Although I have been unable to find figures, there is no question that modern warfare consumes large quantities of oil as fuel for its weapons and troop movements and indirectly as fuel for manufacturing the weapons and as petrochemical feedstock for equipment and ammunition.

In this context we can better understand the statement made by John Gannon, deputy director of the CIA, in 1996: "'We have to recognize that our nation will not be secure if global energy supplies are not secure.'" (Klare 6)

Yet the very methods of securing oil has led to greater insecurity.

Oil drives the global economic machine and is critical to the functioning of the military. If our economy, indeed the global economy, could turn to locally-based renewable energy resources, would our country's geo-political considerations no longer be based on military might? Unfortunately, I think not. It is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition.

This is because the military is not just needed to assure oil supplies, although they are central to successful expansion in the global market place. The military is essential to the neo-liberal trade regime.


Let me first show you the cover of the March 28, 1999, New York Times Magazine which has the image of a raised fist painted with stars and stripes. Those of you who heard me speak in the months leading up to the WTO ministerial in Seattle, have seen this before. For me, it is still as powerful today as it was when I first saw it.

The cover story written by Thomas Friedman is titled "What The World Needs Now." The article begins: "A Manifesto for the Fast World. From supercharged financial markets to Osama bin Laden, the emerging global order demands an enforcer. That's America's new burden." This was written more than three years ago. It is not just one man's opinion. It is the mantle given that opinion by the New York Times with no voice countering Friedman's thesis.

Friedman clearly lays out the relationship between America as a military superpower and corporate globalization with these words:

"The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist -- McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps."

He concludes the article by saying:

"The global system cannot hold together without an activist and generous American foreign and defense policy. Without America on duty, there will be no America Online."

Well, Klare has taught me some history. Back in the late 1800s, "the nation's leading naval strategist, Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan, won widespread support for his argument that growing U.S. participation in international trade required the establishment of a large and powerful navy." (Klare 6) This, when the populist farmers were busy fighting the railroads and Eastern banks.

More than a hundred years later, the Institute for National Security Studies prepared a Pentagon study which states "National security depends on successful engagement in the global economy." (Klare 7)

Whoa, what is being said here? National security has already been linked to the military and the military to globalization. Now the logical circle is closed with national security linked directly to our success in the global economy so the US military is not just needed to create a safe environment for corporate globalization, but to ensure U.S. success!

How is this any different from imperialism? The dictionary tells us imperialism is "The policy of extending a nation's authority by territorial acquisition OR by the establishment of economic and political hegemony over other nations."

Didn't we fight a revolution to free ourselves from such imperialism? Could we possibly understand how other peoples might resent our imperialist policies? How blind can we be?

If we want to counter terrorism and create true national security, this just might be a good place to start--by not suppressing or even by supporting peoples movements for liberation!


Before going on, I must address the role of the WTO.

Thomas Friedman does not lay out how the trade and investment agreements are directly linked to the growth in military power, so for this I turn to Steven Staples, with the International Network on Disarmament and Globalization. He says

"The WTO is based on the premise that the only legitimate role for governments is to provide for a military to protect the interests of the nation and a police force to ensure order within. And so while social and environmental policies are constantly under attack, the war industry is protected through the 'security exception' in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Article XXI of the GATT, the principal agreement of the WTO, allows governments free reign for actions taken for national security interests. It states that a country can't be stopped from taking any action 'it considers necessary for the protection of its essential security interests...relating to the traffic in arms, ammunition and implements of war and such traffic in other goods and materials as is carried on directly for the purpose of supplying a military establishment (or) taken in time of war or other emergency in international relations.'"
--"Confronting The Military-Corporate Complex" in Guns Globalization Greed, A Guide to the New World Economy, Edited by Christopher Ney, War Resisters League. Presented at the Hague Appeal for Peace, The Hague, May 12th 1999.

Note that the emphasis is on trade in arms, not national defense per se.

How can Staples assert this? He can because local and state regulations governing all other activities, such as those promoting sustainability, can be challenged by WTO dispute panels and determined to be "more burdensome than necessary" to international trade or to subsidize domestic production. The result is significant trade sanctions against the offending country if the offending regulations or laws are not modified.

Staples takes the argument a step further, showing how the military exemption is used to benefit corporations in industrial countries:

"The answer is becoming clear: industrialized countries negotiate free trade and investment agreements with other countries, but exempt military spending from the liberalizing demands of the agreement. Since only the wealthy countries can afford to devote billions on military spending, they will always be able to give their corporations hidden subsidies through defence contracts, and maintain a technologically advanced industrial capacity."

The result, according to Staples, is that "Governments must use the military to promote jobs, new emerging industries, or high-tech manufacturing." This assertion is backed up by a WTO ruling in 1999 that Canada could not use its Technology Partnerships program, originally set up to subsidize Canada's aerospace and defense industry, to subsidize building of regional passenger jets for export. But of course military subsidies could continue.

Wouldn't it be preferable if governments could subsidize production of sustainable technologies such as wind energy for export? That's not how the corporate globalization system works. Maybe we should be talking about the military/corporate globalization complex!


On Thursday, there was quite a hubbub at the Ronald Reagan Center in downtown DC. The building was swarming with corporate salesmen attending a fancy event sponsored Tom Ridge, Director of Homeland Security. Like the annual arms bazaar which takes place across town, the corporate salesforce was looking to sell their wares.

The Wash Post reported the phenomenon back in February, noting that "homeland security has become a growth industry since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Concerns about homeland security permeate virtually every facet of the fiscal 2003 budget that Bush sent to Congress last week.

"'The huge increase in defense spending and the doubling of the homeland defense budget provides great opportunities for industry,' said Thomas E. Mann, a government scholar with the Brookings Institution. 'There will be a tremendous scrambling for those resources.'

"Executives of many of these companies are operating at the nexus of patriotism and capitalism, and they are careful to make the case that any boost in their homeland security business will mean enhanced security for Americans." Enough said.


Here are just two figures which reflect the growing inequity resulting from corporate globalization.

* "The gap in per capita income between the industrial and developing worlds tripled from 1960 to 1993." UN 1996 Development Report, cited in Field Guide to the Global Economy

* "In 1999, the wealth of the world's 475 billionaires was greater than the combined incomes of the poorest half of humanity." cited in Field Guide to the Global Economy

It is self-evident that such a system cannot be sustained without military repression to prevent popular revolts. Why are we in Columbia today? Why were we in Nicaragua?

Martin Luther King's words come to mind. In his famous speech, "A Time to Break Silence," delivered at Riverside Church on April 5, 1967, Rev. King said:

"A few years ago.... It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube."

But it was more than just the cost of the Vietnam War. King later says in that same speech:

"This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala....why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, 'Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.'"

Contrast this with the words of Thomas Friedman.

"As the country that benefits most from global economic integration, we have the responsibility of making sure that this new system is sustainable .... Globalization-is-[us spelled] U.S."

The bottom line is that military repression, not just military power, is necessary to keep the ship of corporate globalization, based on unfettered capitalism, afloat.

The lie told over and over by the administration, whether Democrat or Republican, that trade is the way to create democracy is the height of hypocrisy. It is also a myth which Americans, from schoolchildren on up, are fed in order to mask the true agenda.

This deception is amplified and polished by the media which, while occasionally printing eye opening investigations and insightful articles, fails the very next day to connect the dots.

If we want to counter terrorism, the government telling the truth and the media holding the government strictly accountable might be another good place to start!


Whatever we do will have to be one step at a time and the Alliance already took an important step when we joined in the call for the revocation of Unocal's charter of incorporation by the CA attorney general. One of the concerns was Unocal's cozying up to the Taliban in their quest to build an oil pipeline following an Eastern route from the Caspian region of Turkmenistan to Pakistan.

We have also been taking steps in opposing the trade rules which provide essential underpinning to corporate globalization. It is not an accident that national security is given full exemption from such agreements. Nor should it come as any surprise that the anti-corporate globalization movement is seen as a threat to national security.

We also need to hook up with existing media watch organizations and holding our local media accountable.

Once out of the starting gate, we might want to start thinking about what other kind of economic system might work better. Are there global rules which could reign in capitalism to avoid these disastrous outcomes? Is it really true that capitalism is the only viable economic system? Dare we imagine something better?

How about transforming corporations to hold them accountable for deaths from their war machines and from the military's interventions to protect corporate markets.

On the positive side, there are already initiatives such as Consumer Supported Agriculture, local currency or time dollars, and simple living. More broadly there is a need for a return to import substitution so that everything does not depend on trade. And even more broadly there is a need for solid systemic thinking.

The Alliance, through Dave Lewit's work on the CAIS, has made an important start in modeling a global system of governance grounded in the local. The CAIS document and an article discussing it are available on the Alliance website.

Also, several years ago, the Economics Working Group which I coordinated, developed the beginning of an alternative system called a General Agreement on a New Economy, GANE not GATT, which has its own website

In the face of terrorists, the U.S. military-corporate complex, and increasing threats to civil liberties, we must move forward with the confidence that "Another World Is Possible."


Anderson, Sarah and John Cavanagh with Thea Lee, Field Guide to the Global Economy, The New Press, New York: 2000.

Caplan, Ruth, "A General Agreement on a New Economy, GANE," A World That Works, edited by Trent Schroyer, Bootstrap Press, New York: 1997
For a full presentation of GANE, go to

Friedman, Thomas L. "What the World Needs Now," New York Times Magazine, March 28, 1999.

King, Martin Luther Jr., "A Time to Break Silence," address delivered at Riverside Church, New York City, April 4, 1967

Klare, Michael T. , Resource Wars, Henry Holt, New York: 2001. (Note: page references are to this book.)

Lapham, Lewis H., "American Jihad," Harper's , January: 2002

Staples, Stephen, "The WTO and War: Making the Connection," in Guns Globalization Greed, edited by Christopher Ney, War Resisters League.

Note: News clips not listed here.