The Model for Bush Globalization
The Roots of the Bush-Cheney's Oil Government

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Nightmare in Indonesia: The Roots of the Bush-Cheney's Oil Government
By Cheryl Seal

     At Disney World's Epcot Center in sunny Orlando, Florida, crowds of
well-fed, smiling children and their parents dressed in bright summer cottons, crowd into the Universe of Energy attraction. There, surrounded by a dizzying array of special effects, they are treated to "Ellen's Energy Adventure," featuring a very young Ellen Degeneres and Bill Nye the Science Guy, who take them on a tour of the wonder world of energy - a crowd-pleasing experience complete with life-like dinosaurs.(1)
     A world away in the jungles of Sumatra in Indonesia, a bone-thin family of Aceh natives squat inside their tiny hut clad in worn rags, waiting to eat their meager midday meal. Suddenly, Indonensian soldiers burst through the door screaming "Where are the men? Where are the GAM (Gerakan Aceh Mer??, members ofthe Aceh freedom movement) hiding?" There is a terrified scream as one of the men seizes a tiny baby from the arms of its sister. He dashes the child to the ground outside the hut. In an act of hideous brutality, he pours the boiling water used to prepare the family dinner over the screaming child. No one is allowed to go to the baby's aid. The next day at sunrise, after the soldiers have left, the baby dies. (2)

What do these two seemingly unrelated and grossly different scenarios have in common? They were both "sponsored" by Exxon. While linking its name to fun-filled all-American experiences such Disneyworld, Exxon soaks up PR and pushes its agenda (which, of course, is fossil fuel) to kids and their parents. In Indonensia, by applying pressure to the unstable government, Exxon (d.b.a. ExxonMobil) has triggered a wave of violence against the Aceh natives who have been fighting for their independence and control of their homeland and future for three decades. Why? Beheath the forest floor in the Aceh homeland lays a rich reserve of natural gas, while off its coast lays vast, untapped oil
     But Aceh and Indonesia are not "just another" foreign conflict. In this
struggle and its history is the darkly mirrored image of the present U.S.
leadership, the past that shaped it, and, if nothing is done to prevent it, the
future of our own nation.

Spices, Oil, and Blood: the Shaping of Modern Indonesia

     Indonesia has long been a dream come true for opportunists (until this
century they were called "explorers"). With its 17,000 islands sprinkled across the equator in the South Pacific atop a zone of tectonic upheaval, it is a land of incredible biodiversity and dramatic landscapes. Among its main islands are Sumatra, Borneo, Java, Timor (East and West), and Bali (of "South Pacific" fame). Its forests and mountains are treasure chests of exotic plants and animals, while its human population is just as diverse - as recently as the 1980s, an estimated 250 different languages were spoken here.

The first westerners to exploit the region were the Portuguese, who, in the
17th century, began to "mine" the forests for spices while dominating the
natives. These fragrant exports earned the region the name of "the Spice
Islands." Since then, this land, whose native inhabitants in some regions have lineages extending back as much as one million years, has been the focus of a greedy tug-of-war between different foreign powers and between these powers and the Indonesian native peoples. No Indonesian resources have been at the center of more collective strife, bloodshed, and environmental damage than oil and natural gas (unless it is gold - which is the subject of Part III).

     After World War II, Indonesia made a determined stand for its autonomy and by 1950 had thrown off domination by the Japanese (who had commandeered the oil and liquid natural gas supplies during the war), then the British and Indian armies, and, finally, the Dutch. The new Indonesian leader Sukarno (not to be confused with the later brutal dictator Suharto) eventually became the country's first president. Sukarno was a visionary who pursued an ideal he called "Pancasilo," a state of Indonesian unity in which ethnic and religious tolerance would prevail. It was a dream that was doomed to failure; half-way round the globe, forces were massing that would ultimately topple Sukarno and his

     In the United States, after World War II, the age of the automobile had
dawned. Americans in geometrically growing numbers were heading off to "See the U.S.A in their Chevrolets" - great big gas-guzzling Chevrolets. They came home from their cruises to modern oil-heated homes in proliferting suburbs. 'Existing U.S. sources, already heavily exploited, soon couldn't match the demand for abundant, cheap fuel and so the oil companies looked places such as Indonesia.  At that time, oil-rich Southeast Asia was struggling for autonomy, urged on by the growing Asian communist party. To address this impediment to the
oil companies, as early as 1953, the U.S. National Security Council had adopted a policy of "appropriate action in collaboration with friendly countries to prevent permanent communist control of Indonesia."

     By the late 1950s, the U.S. was pouring $20 million per year into the
Indonesian military. However, Sukarno wanted increasingly less to do with
foreign "supporters." He wanted to deprivatize all industrial and commercial holdings and return the wealth to the people. In keeping with this view, he leaned increasingly toward the left, allying himself with the growing Indonesian communist party PKI. In 1964, Sukarno refused to accept anymore aid from the U.S. government. But his push for independence and socialization were his downfall. The CIA had begun to create and disseminate vicious anti-communist propaganda, while quietly continuing to funnel money and arms to the Indonesian military, all the while cultivating an alliance with the ultra-right-wing General Suharto.

     In the global wings, U.S. corporations were circling like sharks, waiting
to go in for the kill. For example, in 1965, Freeport Sulfur cut a private deal - with Henry Kissinger reportedly the deal broker - with Indian officials for a share in a proposed gold-copper mining, while Mobile Oil Indonesia entered into a contract with the Indonesian state oil company, Pertamina.  Over a dozen other oil companies were waiting for their chance to pounce. All that was needed to complete the scheme was to get rid of Sukarno to avoid the risk of most profits got to the Indonesian people.

     The CIA helped Suharto plan and Stage a three-part coup. First, in 1965, all of the left-leaning military leaders were murdered and their deaths blamed on the PKI.  Second, by convincing the public and Sukarno that the communists were trying to topple the government, Sukarto got clearance to lead an all-out slaughter of communists. Between 1965-1966 an estimated 500,000 to one million men, women, and children known or suspected of being communists were massacred. Some were murdered in their beds, and a large percentage were killed with U.S.-supplied weapons. "Time" magazine reported during this period that "travelers from [some] areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies."

     In the final step of the coup, Suharto deposed Sukarno. What followed was a feeding frenzy by Suharto, his henchmen and U.S. corporations. Like a warlord, Suharto approriated the best of everything he could for himself and his family - oil wells, timber lands, and sugar plantations. Thousands of acres of land were seized by companies with the blessings of Suharto. Tens of thousands of native people were killed, displaced, or "disappeared" to make way for mining, logging, and drilling operations. The Freeport gold operation Kissinger (see "Bloody Hands Full of Gold") helped orchestrate (and of which he is today the primary stockholder, as well as collecting $500,000 a year as its chief legal rep through his law firm Kissinger Associates) was the first company to be officially licensed after the coup. By 1969, nineteen U.S. oil companies were vying for the rights to the oil beneath Indonesia's coastal waters, while Weyerhaueser, International Paper, and Boise Cascade were hacking down huge tracts of tropical forests in Sumatra as fast as they could hack. Meanwhile, now
that the U.S. had "saved" the Indonesian people from communism, they forced the natives to work in the new factories and industrial operations at an average wage of 10 cents an hour.

     It is certainly no coincidence that during the same "formative years" of
the exploitation of Southeast Asia - 1965-1969 - that the war in Vietnam was being launched and prosecuted full force. Why? The main oil shipping corridor from Indonesia to Japan (and thence to the U.S.) lays between Indonesia and Vietnam. It is interesting to note that Hainan Island also lies in this corridor - the same area that was the center of our recent spy plane incursion. This corridor is mentioned in Baker Institute reports on U.S. energy policy as being a "keep out of the hands of the Chinese at all costs" zone. The main shipping corridor to India (another growing oil consumer at that time and now as well) lays between northwestern Indonesia and Cambodia, a fact which just may explain Henry Kissinger's otherwise inexplicable decision during the Vietnam war to bomb neutral Cambodia back into the stone age (sending the country from thence into
the nightmare of life under the Khmer Rouge).

     While the U.S. companies ripped billions of dollars out of the Indonesian landscape, over 60% of the nation lived below the poverty line, many at the point of starvation. Yet, the Suharto government would always point to all of the new schools and the improved education system as proof of his compassion for his country. (Sound familiar?)

     As always, when it comes to corporate greed, enough is never enough. By  1974, the U.S. had lost Vietnam and, under Suharto's despotic, corrupt rule, there were constant outbreaks of rebellion in Indonesia. Nowhere was the push for independence more well-organized and persistent than in East Timor.  The progressive governor there decided to allow the formation of multiple political parties, which in turn lead to an intensified push for independence from the oppression of Suharto and foreign interests. The prospect of East Timorese autonomy dismayed Suharto because he and his friends had very valuable holdings in the region, including three oil wells. If the push for independence succeeded, he might lose his "investments" (or should we say seizures). Worse yet, the push for independence could spread through the country, threatening other interests, such as Kissinger's gold mine!

     In 1975, Kissinger orchestrated a surprise invasion of East Timor by the Indonesian military (a fact supported by documents since revealed). Kissinger and Gerald Ford are believed (by many human rights observers and historians) to have been in on the planning of the invasion right up to the moment of initiation. In any case,  the two were visiting Suharto on December 6, 1975. The next day, just an hour or so after Air Force One had cleared Indonesian air space, headed for the U.S., the attack was launched and East Timor was declared Indonesia's 27th province. In the process, over 200,000 East Timorese people were slaughtered.  Since then, for the oil and mining industries in Indonesia, it has been business as usual.

     The 1997-1998 Asian economic crisis hit Indonesia hard and contributed to the long-hoped-for ouster of Suharto. He was replaced in May of 1998 by B.J. Habibe. But the Indonesian people had had enough of being oppressed and abused, of receiving a tiny percentage of the money - if any - generated by the exploitation of their natural resources. The push for freedom which had sporadically continued in some areas since the terrors of 1975 had reached new, widespread dimensions. In 1999, rioting broke out in Aceh, Ambon, Borneo, and Irian Jaya - all areas heavily exploited by American corporations.

     The threat of a new rebellion by East Timor, was, once more, particularly irksome to the corporations and to the oil-fed Indonesian government. A 38,000-square-mile zone called the Timor Gap had just been staked out off the coast of the country and promised to yield unheard of volumes of oil. Habibe was either colossally weak or extraordinarily Machiavellian (or, more likely, was advised by someone extraordinarily Machiavellian). In a show of democratic good will, he allowed East Timor to hold a referendum to decide its independence. An overwhelming 80% of all voters opted for independence. But, as soon as the results had been tallied, the Indonesian government stormed in, just as they had when Suharno had pressed for nationalization. Thousands of East Timorese were massacred, while one-third of the country's residents were forced out of the region and 80% of all structures in the little nation were destroyed. UNICEF reported in 1999 that 114 children had died in concentration camps in West Timor where an estimated 200,000 East Timorese were held in squalid conditions. Hundreds more children were abuducted, many for sexual slavery.

     Habibe did nothing to stop the military. Meanwhile, he continued to scoop up the largesse of the oil companies. At the height of the slaughter, Philips Petroleum, which had heavy interests in East Timor, paid $2.9 million to the Indonesian government. According to human rights activist Jose Ramos Horta (a 1996 Nobel Peace Prize winner), Philips had at that point, never paid a cent to East Timor for the billions of barrels of oil it had removed from the country's waters.  Many Timorese activists believe that the destruction of 80% of the country's buildings was all part of the collusion between the Indonesian government and foreign powers, including the U.S. Since the tragedy, $1.2 billion in rebuilding funds have poured into East Timor, along with thousands of foreign "carpet baggers" eager to "rebuild." It was 1975 all over again "This is not much different from the [previous] Indonesian invasion," says Maria Bernadino of East Timor's "Rebuild Watch." "All they need to do now is to go around shooting people and torturing people." And, as always, all the jobs in
the "rebuilding" effort went (and are still going) to foreigners, while a
staggering 95% of natives have, on occasionin the past few years, been

     In a last crowing outrage - and proof of the repeating patterns at work -
as the political smoke subsided, in February 2000, Habibe's recently-appointed replacement Wahid announced that he had named Henry Kissinger his advisor. Just one year later, at the first big shingidg thrown in Washington, D.C. for newly-sworn in Bush, Kissinger was also be there, ready to advise - and help begin a new reign of energy despotism.this time on U.S. soil.

ExxonMobil's Dirty Little War
By Cheryl Seal

     ExxonMobil's liquid natural gas (LNG) production facility (PT Arun) in
Northern Sumatra, Indonesia (an area known as Lhokseumawe in the district of North Aceh) was originally owned by Mobil Oil Indonesia. The first thing the company did back in the 1960s as soon as it had identified the rich LNG reserves in the forests and cut a deal with the Indonesian state fuel company Pertamina, was to seize a huge tract of land and summarily displace all of the resident natives. It is a scenario that has repeated itself following countless oil/gas discoveries in the past, from Oklahoma to Africa. However, to Mobil's dismay, the Aceh people were committed to throwing off domination by exploitive foreign interests and the corrupt Suharto government that was so eager to aid the exploitation.

     In response to the Aceh resistance, the military, acting on behalf of
Mobil, beat down the opposition with a brutal fist. For example, when a handful of Achel rebels tried to sabotage a gas pipeline in 1977, the military systematically killed an estimated 900 natives. When the Aceh freedom movement GAM (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka) was officially launched in 1980, Aceh was promptly placed under military occupation. From the start, Mobil (and now ExxonMobil), has supported and condoned the military's atrocities. Many such crimes have, in fact, been committed on the company's own land, by "security officers" on the company's payroll. Mobil built two military barracks for the elite security division the Indonesian military sent them to protect the LNG facility.: Post 13 and Camp Rancong. According to eyewitness reports recounted to human rights investigators, Post 13 was on at least one occasion used as a
torture/interrogation facility.

     Since 1980, hundreds of Aceh natives have been murdered and/or tortured or have disappeared. An estimated 15,000-20,000 children have been orphaned during this same period as a direct result of Mobil's "protective forces." The company's operation of the LNG facility has taken a direct toll on the quality of human life and the integrity of the environment. The company repeatedly contaminated the crucial rice paddies or shrimp farms the villagers relied on for food. Not once did the company offer fair compensation for these transgressions. In fact, in 1992, when the village of Pu'uk sued the company for contamination of its land, Mobil marched out its high-powered battery of lawyers and (surprise, surprise!) defeated the poor villagers. In 1997, 1,600 villagers were displaced when LNG wells erupted, dumping tons of contaminated mud on their homes. In another case, four villagers sued the company for seizing their land without adequate compensation and for taking over a village cemetery for use as an airstrip for PT Arun. Of course, once again, the villagers lost their case.

The list of egregious violations (the same terminology recently applied to Exxon by a lawyer in Alabama when the company recently lost a $3.4 billion fraud case) of human rights and environmental ethics perpetrated by Mobil, Exxon, and ExxonMobil  is astounding. This is supposed to be an American company.Hell, this is supposed to be the 20th/21st century!

     Any protestors against this reign of terror are treated viciously. Of
course, Mobil and ExxonMobil have claimed total ignorance of such abuses, despite repeated complaints, despite the fact that Mobil (ExxonMobil) pays the military millions of dollars each year for the use of the military, despite the fact that their own earth-moving equipment has been used to dig mass graves and its roads have been used as regular routes for transporting prisoners and bodies. Mass graves dug with Mobil equipment were identified at Sentag Hill and Tengkorak (Skull) Hill in North Aceh in 1998 by human rights investigators. Bottom line: the company is ultimately in complete control of the situation, as was clearly pointed up by the chaos their recent suspension of production

     It was in 1998, during the increasing controversy over Mobil's activities that Exxon and Mobil merged, becoming ExxonMobil. Now, to the outside world, especially to the U.S., which, alas, rarely pays attention to the details of what is happening beyond its own borders, the name "ExxonMobil" would seem like a whole new horse of a different color. As a "nice touch," around the same time, Exxon started pushing its touchy-feely "we're so good to the environment" Save the Tiger PR campaign (how could these nice people ever do those awful things the Aceh accuse them of?). The company has recently also donated millions of dollars to malaria research. So self-sacrificing! Especially, since malaria will
be a major problem and (God forbid!) expense for the company as it deploys workers into new unexploited mosquito-laden forests in Indonesia. But a look through the company's history reveals one clear point: this monster does nothing that is not completely motivated from self-interest.

     In any case, the merger hasn't abated the carnage centered around the North Aceh facility. Last year, a human rights worker named Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, who was born in Aceh and lived for a while in Queens, NY, began receiving death threats after he started investigating  Mobil's transgressions. Soon after, he was kidnapped. A month later, his tortured, mutilated body was found, along with those of four other human rights workers. Within days of this tragedy, Safwan Idris, a promising candidate for Aceh governor, was found murdered as well. Human rights investigators have condemned the company and the U.S. for their complicity, direct or indirect, in the bloodbaths. Indonesian Democracy Japan has asserted that the U.S. "by association, is guilty of major human rights violations." No wonder they don't want us on the UN human rights commission.

     But human rights apparently pale in comparison to the stakes for which
Mobil and the Indonesian government are playing. Through the 1990s, one-fourth of all Mobil's global revenue came from the North Aceh facility. One corporate VP calls the facility "the jewel in the company's crown." If so, it is like the gory Hope diamond.  Meanwhile, the Indonesian government scoops in an estimated $2 billion per year from the plant.

     Things have, if one can imagine it, gotten worse in the past year and a
half. On October 20, 1999, Wahid was elected the new President of Indonesia by the People's Consultiuve Assembly (not by the PEOPLE, mind you). Almost immediately, Wahid sought to pass legislation to release foreign firms like ExxonMobil from regulatory approval requirements. Then, on February 28, 2000, just four months after being named Pres., Wahid appointed Henry Kissinger, one of the original authors of the nation's ongoing woes, as his advisor. On the same day, in fact the same hour (undoubtedly because the two things are so intimately intertwined), Wahid announced half a dozen new appointments to
Pertanima and the mineral industry - an industry close to Indonesian gold mine majority stock holder Kissinger's "heart" (or the black hole where one may once have been).

     All sorts of deadly games are being played out now, games which, since Bush was elected, have become increasingly more vicious.
      Let's back track and look at these games. In March of 2000, a US embassy report states that LNG gas fields in Northern Sumatra are being played out and that by 2001, some production will be discontinued. The same report mentions major new LNG and oil projects that are being planned for other areas, including Irian Jaya (the same area where Kissinger's mine is located). In addition, U.S. interests have expressed their intention to double coal output in Sumatra in the next five years.

     Now, put those pieces and recent developments together and what you come up with is truly Machiavellian. Here's how the game goes:
    First, you create a crisis in the LNG situation in North Aceh by making it appear that terrorists are escalating and threatening the security of the energy supply. (Hey, blaming terrorists worked for Kissinger and the CIA in 1966 to get  rid of Suharno, in Timor in 1975, in Chile, in the Congo, in's a great scam).  But better make sure the U.S. government doesn't step in and muck things up.
     Second, start threatening higher energy prices
     Third, shut down your LNG operation and scream about needing more security, while keeping your eye on other places you'd REALLY like to exploit, like the waters off North Aceh where a rich oil reserve has been found. Almost no one but you knows your Aceh facility is on the way out anyway.
     Fourth, play the terrorism card to its end and stand aside wringing your
hands as rebels are massacred, thereby daunting any other rebels who might try to make life difficult for you in other areas you plan to exploit.

     Just like clockwork, the above scenario has unfolded. In February and
March, 2001,  ExxonMobil began complaiing of escalating terrorism by GAM. GAM, on the other hand, which has never had any trouble claiming credit for its incursions against the military or Mobil when they WERE guilty, denies the charges. In early March, Exxon security claims an Aceh rebel lobbed a hand gredande into the facility - mysteriously, I could find no record or a death or injury from this "attack." Tengku Sofyan Daud, deputy of GAM, was angered by the charge. "We never threatened the company and we never told them to close down the plant."

     On March 8, ExxonMobil closes down the plant and around the same time, Wahid threatens to jack up fuel prices. Meanwhile, in early March, G.W. Bush expresses his support for the Indonesian military's tough stance against the rebels, while, Colin Powell makes it plain he does not want to link human rights issues to arms sales (I mean, what POSSIBLE link could there be between the two, right?).  By April, Wahid has called for an all-out assault on the Aceh natives, this time specifically targeting civilians. As the bodies mount up, ExxonMobil officials stand on the sidelines wringing their hands and saying and doing nothing - condoning the slaughter by their very inaction.

     Since February, at least 400 Aceh civilians have bee murdered, some, like the baby in Part I, horribly. Meanwhile, on its website, Pertanima reassures prospective oil entrepreneurs that the current "unrest" is temporary and won't affect their ability to do business. The same site echoes the National Security Council's 1953 statement in which it indicates it will take "appropriate action" to insure companies are unimpeded.

     Most frightening to me - as it should be to all Americans - is that our
country is now RUN by oil executives - men from the very same club to which the ExxonMobil's Indonesian robber barons with, it is becoming obvious, the very same attitude. In a reined-in repeat of the Suharno Coup and post-coup corporate feeding frenzy in which Suharto richly rewarded all those who aided him, the Bush-Cheney consortium has lost no time handing out the prizes, seeking to reduce regulations, promoting wholesale drilling, creating a phoney energy crisis and driving up fuel prices, stalking unspoiled wildlands and even trying to push for legislation to allow the fed to seize private land for energy interests. The series of coincidental fires at oil refineries and the rolling blackouts aren't so different from mysteriously lobbed hand-grenades.

     And lest we overlook it, the basic Bush energy plan appears to have been taken almost it for tat from the Baker Institute's "Strategic Energy Policy Changes for the 21st Century" report - a report created by a task force that includes two dozen major oil/energy moguls and also Kissinger Associates.  (now McCarty Kissinger)
    How can the behemoths (as one Indonesian writer described the American corporate-fueled government) be stopped?  The question that screams to be asked is: Why are the stockholders silent on the crimes of the company in which they hold a material interest? For that matter, why are there still any stockholders in Exxon at all, in the face of such crimes? Is money so important that nothing - however evil - matters any more?
      It is time for the Democrats, as the only opposition party to the new
leadership, to realize that compromise is not only impossible with these robber barons, it would be suicidal.

Date: Mon, 23 Sep 2002 19:42:39 EDT


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