Culture Change   Home Page

A project of the Sustainable Energy Institute - Promoting eco-democracy since 1988

About SEI

Culture Change Letter
via email
76 75 74 73 72 71 70 69 68 67 66 65 64 63 62
61 60 59 58 57 56 55 54 53 52 51 50 49 48 47 46 45 44 43 42 41 40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 31 30 29 28 27 26 25 24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14 13 12 11 10  9  8  7  6  5  4  3  2 1  subscribe  index  feedback

Culture Change print magazine issues: 20  19  18  17  16  15  14  13  12  11  10  9  8  index

Pedal Power solutions to petroleum dependence and polluting vehicles: Arcata Library Bikes, Pedal Power Produce, and more!

CAOE - Committee Against Oil Exploration - stop offshore oil drilling to protect sensitive habitats and cut petroleum dependence.

Culture Change through music! The Depavers eco-rock!

Take our Pledge for Climate Protection and learn about the Global Warming Crisis Council.

SEI hometown action!
Arcata city council's proclamation against war on Iraq and Kyoto Protocol proclamation.

Overpopulation has become a reality.  Overpopulation Resources and News Tidbits

Sail Transport Network

Fact Sheets
Press Releases

Long Distance


by Pincas Jawetz (
Culture Change Media, International Editor 
New York, NY. 
October 18, 2004

Climate Change was mentioned just once in the four election debates (the three Presidential debates and the one VP debate). Senator Kerry used up the major part of one of his 30 second slots to talk about the subject as part of the second Presidential debate. The economy's present addiction to oil did not rate even so much as a few seconds. 

Saturday, October 9, 2004, two days after that second debate, at an open house at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, remarked that the 100 questions relating to Iraq actually dealt with the oil question. Simply put - when looking at the Middle East, "we see in them our gas station and they see in us their occupiers". Neatly put ! Thus, to make some sense, forget the "politikos" and try some "academics". 

Friday, October 15, 2004, the Center for Global Affairs at New York University held a day long event: "What's at Stake? - The 2004 U.S. Election and The Implications For Global Affairs". The Keynote Speaker was James F. Hoge Jr., Editor-in-chief, Foreign Affairs. Foreign Affairs has now a circulation of 140,000 and has also editions in Spanish, Japanese and Russian; Mr. Hoge, as a journalist received six Pulitzers. 

Mr. Hoge's 50 minutes long presentation covered the main issues of the campaign, i.e., nuclear terrorism, plain terrorism, Iraq, preventive wars, the need to re-engage and try to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the problems of global trade. He noted that Korea and Iran will have to be the first issues to be addressed after the elections. 

In the ten minutes that were left for the Q&A, I managed to bring up at the end, Prof. Sach's statement and the fact that for global environmental reasons, the European Union, in its member states, will be starting, by law, January 2005, a system that will put them on the path of decreasing CO2 emissions. Considering the expense this will cause the Europeans, they will be entitled to fine imports from non-cooperating states, such as the U.S. and Australia, applying some sort of equalizing tax. This in turn may then bring down the World Trade Organization. 

Mr. Hoge had really no time left to get to the points of the question but managed to remark that the Kyoto Protocol was flawed, the problem real, there will be the need to consider nuclear and some form of clean coal. 

Monday, October 18, 2004, as part of the Foreign Policy and World Peace with James F. Hoge series, at the 92 Street Y in New York, Mr. Hoge was going to have as his guest Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who is rumored to be at the top of the short list for Secretary of State in a Kerry Administration. Mr. Hoge made it clear at the outset that he expects to hear views from the Kerry camp. 

Mr. Holbrooke explained that the debates were just a show. In the field are housed one thousand journalists from all over the world, perhaps eighty surrogates of the candidates, plus handlers, spinners. In effect, nobody has actually seen the debate, but they question to get sound bites. 

Mr. Holbrooke, in a terribly honest way declared that we are all part of a fraud - meaning the circus in that field house. He also criticized the notion of fairness. The facts are that one side puts in more distortions then the other side but the press in a fake notion of fairness balances things out. 

He explained the insubordination because of the lack of enough armored vehicles for the fuels supply unit that hit the news. The fact is that 45% of the forces in Iraq are 35-45 years old reservists or National Guard members out of shape. He belongs to the ABA club (Anyone But Arrafat) when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and expects Kerry to re-appoint a senior envoy to the area. 

He gave a description of security failures i.e. the fact that 95% of containers are not checked at all and the remaining 5% not enough. The real priorities of a government are reflected in the budget and he found much talk by the present Administration without sign of intent in several areas. He made it clear that terrorism is a tactic and you can not have war against a tactic. It happens that terrorism is now used by Moslems. This was not always so, i.e. the Irish. Also not a billion Moslems are responsible - it is only certain groups. He spoke about what democracy could mean in the Middle East and the fact that in some countries, i.e. Saudi Arabia, this could only bring to power the elements that hate the United States. 

Eventually, at the Q&A time, seemingly Mr. Hoge remembered the lack of time he had to do better justice to my question three days earlier, let me voice a question. This time I decided to get closer to the topics discussed, thus not to bring up the climate change issue. Rather I opted to ask about oil in general and the fact that it is the money we spend on our addiction to oil - this money coming back to haunt us - actually it is us who pay for the harm done to us. 

Mr. Holbrook came back beautifully to what I asked. He stated that we lost two decades. The last President that did something on the subject was Jimmy Carter. Since then it is all downhill. President Carter started Project Independence and it was President Reagan that dismantled it. 

Now the issue is so important because of the fragility of Saudi Arabia. Even President Bush is starting to talk about it. We will never be independent but we can be less dependent. Before it was only our problem, now with China and India increasing their energy use per capita he would hope that this will become a bipartisan issue. Mr. Hoge, probably realizing that the answer was partial and missed another important aspect of the topic, added here - "keep an eye on the automobile emissions also". 

After the event was over Mr. Holbrooke said to me that he was not happy with the answer he gave me and I love him for that. He showed that the subject stuck in his mind and hopefully is ready to enlarge on the answer further. I do thus feel that we would be lucky to have him as Secretary of State, as he is a person that is ready to consider an issue, is not afraid of saying that his answer was not complete, and is ready to improve. 

After all, what we need is someone who does not project self righteousness and has no stakes that do not allow him to adjust to the reality as it pops up unexpectedly.

Oil as glue
by Pincas Jawetz 
for Culture Change Media
New York, July 24, 2004

It would appear to be politically impossible for Washington to leave the Iraqi Sunnis without the income from oil.  If the nation is split up amongst the three main populations, the Sunnis get left behind in oil resources.  So, the need to placate the Saudis and the other Sunni rulers of the Gulf states is the real reason that causes the U.S. to perpetuate the Iraqi internal warfare. - PJ

New York  -  The U.S. Mission to the United Nations on July 23, 2004 organized a briefing on human rights abuses in Iraq under the former regime.  The meeting was held across the street from the United Nations in New York and was chaired by Mr. Andrew S. Natsios, the Washington D.C.-based Administrator of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

The panel included Mr. Jano Rosebiani, Director-Producer of Evini Film Productions, who is an expert on Iraq's Mass Graves; an Iraqi Kurd; Taimour, a second Iraqi Kurd (last name withheld) who was only 12 years old in 1988 when he survived a massacre.  One hundred ten members of his own extended family were slaughtered by machine guns in mass graves, so he fled to the United States and hopes to testify in the trial of Saddam Hussein.  Lastly, on the panel was Ibrahim Razzouki, member of a politically important Shia family from Baghdad who was in and out of Saddam's jails 1986-2003.  When liberated he established The Free Prisoners Association of Iraq with offices in 17 locations in Iraq, his group also provides funding to dig up mass graves and uncover locations of secret prisons.  Eventually, from the audience, a Sunni former Iraqi police officer living now in the U.S. expressed that only about 5% of the Iraqis benefited from the regime and 95% suffered, thus only a minority of the Sunnis actually backed Saddam and these came from very clear groups.
We watched a 12 minutes excerpt from an Evini documentary on the mass graves and the members of the panel made short presentations.  When the floor was opened to questions, the first question was the most obvious question about Iraq:  "Iraq was an artificial creation by young Winston Churchill, then heading the Admiralty or the equivalent of the Ministry of War. Churchill glued together three distinctly different provinces of the Ottoman Empire thus joining together people that were not interested to live in one common state; this created friction - why does the United States perpetuate this situation rather then allow the three different groups to go their own ways as they do not want to be together.  Will this not perpetuate the warfare?"

The American chair said that if the Iraqi's would like to break up into separate states, this is for them to do, and the Iraqi government is the right body to decide on such steps. The Iraqi members of the panel then jumped upon this opportunity to speak up with full gusto, and unexpected frankness. Their answers took about twenty minutes and overshadowed the event.

The Kurdish moviemaker, after thanking the questioner for this question and saying that he was of the same opinion, made it clear that the Kurds would have preferred to go their own way, as they tried for years, but had to consider what is possible, so they opted for a true federation. "In a perfect world the federal system was the only way to keep Iraq as a whole.  There is some progress in infrastructure and village life is improving."  But the Kurds are unhappy watching how the federation is being shaped, and are asking for redress. When a follow up question from the UN representative of a US Federalists Non-governmental Organization (NGO) said that keeping the ethnic culture intact should be the goal of the Federation, the Kurdish movie maker immediately agreed and said that this is what they want but have difficulty already now in getting from the Iraqi Federal Government.

The Shia member of the panel, though acknowledging the US help as presented by the Administrator of USAID, ofered the fact that now the Shia in the south may have 12 hours of electricity a day as compared to two hours in Sadam's time.  The Shia's difficulty with the present attempt at a federation is that the central government, in order to govern, is reinstating members of the Baath party.  "First we have to seal the borders and keep out the Baathists that infiltrate the Sunni triangle."  He had a list of three points, seemingly prepared a long time ago, and it was clear he had no love left for the Sunnis.  He also had a story about Major Amr Tickriti who, in his effort to extricate a confession from a prisoner had eleven people rape the five months pregnant wife of the prisoner in front of him, then split up her abdomen with a sword in front of the husband and a whole group of other Shia prisoners holding her face up for them to see.  He did not believe in a lot of forgiving "because forgiving may be interpreted that the Shia are cowards."  With this he brushed away the intervention of a representative of an NGO that professed to work with rehabilitation of refugees in places like Bosnia.  She thought that there is not much revenge because of a feeling that "we do not want to be like them" -- so much for some outsiders understanding of this situation.

One question, from the Representative of the Center for UN Reform Education, asked what has the UN done all these years.  The only answer came from the Kurdish movie maker who said they condemned the chemical attack on his people.

The Administrator of USAID observed that the Iraqis have difficulty in accepting a guarantee of the rights of a minority under the concept of democracy.  They cannot see the concept of extra-majority that was built in by the U.S. constitution in order to safeguard the rights of minorities.  Democracy does not mean the replacement of the dictatorship coming from the majority.  The Administrator said that the extra-majority concept was rejected by the Shia majority, but clergy is starting to accept the need for such a clause.  The Shia contended that the true Muslim is not against democracy, and the Kurdish movie maker said that a "modified" form of democracy will have to be created. When the religious feelings are touched, a large aspect of democracy does not work -- perhaps a new name has to be used.  So much for those believing that present day Iraq can become a democracy -- Jeffersonian or not.  Iraq has now a history of 35 years of dictatorship -- there is no concept of democracy.  Let us be honest: better established states have difficulty with the concept of democracy.

When the event was over I continued to mill around and we had private conversations.  What became clear was that Iraq was created by the British because of the prospect of finding large reserves of oil, and Iraq is being held as one entity today just for the same economic reason. It is assumed that the Kurds are not left to go their own way because much of the oil is on their territory. But this is not the whole truth. In effect much of the oil is also found in the south - in the Shia areas.  The Sunnis, who dominated Iraq all these years, do not have a significant part of the oil wealth on their territory.  The Sunnis dominated under the British Occupation; there was a British-appointed king and an active British Petroleum Corporation. The fact is that U.S. oil interests had similar influence via Sunnis in the Arab Peninsula.  The Shia were ruling only in non-Arab Iran, being kept away from any government in the Arab world.  This offers a clue to the current perpetuation of the Churchill political blunder or success, depending on your point of view.  In effect President Wilson already foresaw that Iraq will be a center of friction. Churchill may have liked this -- remember "divide and rule"?
Now with the US Administration's strong commercial ties with the Saudi monarchy which is strongly influenced by the Wahhabi strict form of the (Sunni) Islam, it would appear to be politically impossible for Washington to leave the Iraqi Sunnis without the income from oil. So, it is the need to placate the Saudis, and the other Sunni rulers of the Gulf states, that is the real reason to perpetuate the Iraqi internal warfare.  The US itself will continue to bleed in order to satisfy mainly the Saudi regime while, in the process, nevertheless, also undermines them when considering the Bin Laden extremists that want to see the oil money finance changes they envision for the Arab world at large along with an eventual restart of Muslim conquest of the infidel.
So, maybe the war in Iraq was not started for oil, but the war in Iraq will continue because of oil - the glue that has created the artificial state of Iraq.

Further, Turkey may be opposed to a Kurdish state on its borders.  On the other hand, it could be argued that Turkey, with the prospect of being accepted into the European Union, could actually relish a change to a bi-national Turkish-Kurdish democratic state.

The oil economy of Kurdish Iraq could bring this about much easier than United States' unwelcome advice to Europe on accepting Turkey in order to help "stabilize" Iraq in its present borders.  The Iraqi Kurds are in effect the most advanced part of Iraq, when it comes to trying for a democratic government.  That was the real underpinning of the Kurdish movie maker's comment on a different form of democracy in order to placate the difficulties with the Shia and Sunni regions of Iraq.


Visit  more of Pincas Jawetz' articles: UN Climate webpage


Articles of interest:
Measuring and controlling the actions of governments 

Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results. 
WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius 

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.


Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California. Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)

Culture Change/Sustainable Energy Institute mailing address: P.O. Box 3387 , Santa Cruz , California 95063 USA
  Telephone 1-215-243-3144 (and fax)

Culture Change (Trademarked) is published by Sustainable Energy Institute (formerly Fossil Fuels Policy Action), a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) California non-stock corporation. Contributions are tax-deductible.