The Power Elite Playbook, Việt Nam – Plundered

Part 9

By Deanna Spingola
28 December 2007

 

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Under Ngo Dinh Diem, South Việt Nam’s U.S. puppet, things ran as expected for a while. Sure, there was religious persecution, rigged elections, prohibition of free speech, a managed press and the absence of liberty for the majority – all made acceptable by Article 98 of Ngo’s amended constitution. Despite the power perks, Ngo began to resent America’s escalating role. Between 1961 and 1963, the U.S. chaos-creating military presence had engaged in hundreds of firefights and thousands of bombing raids against Vietcong positions. This predictably provoked an angry response from North Việt Nam who wanted to eliminate the U.S. imperialists and the Ngo Dinh Diem clique and reunite the country. [1]

 

Ngo Dinh Nhu, the president’s brother and political advisor, further clinched the Ngo family fate when he told a news interviewer in the spring of 1963: “I am anti-communist from the point of view of doctrine, but I am not anti-communist from the point of politics of humanity. I consider the communists as brothers, lost sheep. I am not for an assault against the communists because we are a small country, and we only want to live in peace.” [2] Furthermore, the U.S. wanted to build a military base at strategic Cam Ranh Bay, great for aerial surveillance of South Việt Nam's coastal waters. That clinched it – The Ngo brothers Nhu were assassinated on November 1, 1963 on the instructions of W. Averell Harriman. The airfield at Cam Ranh Bay was opened on November 1, 1965. Pictures are here.

 

Almost four years after the Ngo assassinations, Nguyen van Thieu became America’s more obedient puppet president, serving from September of 1967 until just nine days before North Việt Nam’s invasion of Saigon in April 1975. He consolidated political power in the executive branch by seizing authority from congress. During the final days of the Saigon regime, Graham Martin, U.S. Ambassador to Việt Nam, micro-managed by Henry Kissinger, convinced Nguyen to resign. [3] He resigned in anger, saying the U.S. had failed to keep its monetary promises and its commitment to help South Việt Nam fight for its freedom. He also claimed that Kissinger tricked him into signing the Paris Peace (January 1973) by promising additional aid.

 

Rockefeller agent, Kissinger, purportedly orchestrated Watergate, a distracting media circus that ultimately benefited Kissinger, Ford and Rockefeller. [4] Nixon was replaced by the unelected Vice President Gerald Ford on August 9, 1974, possibly as a reward for his accommodating cover-up tactics on the Warren Commission. Ford then used the 25th Amendment to appoint presidential wannabe, Nelson Rockefeller, as his Vice President.

 

Attorney Hillary Rodham, along with Fred Thompson, Trent Lott, and Howard Baker,[5] were on the legal staff of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate fiasco to help prepare articles of impeachment against Nixon. She landed this job right out of law school, thanks to Ted Kennedy and Burke Marshall. According to researcher Jerry Zeifman, her legal procedures were ethically flawed. [6] [7] Later, Bill Clinton took up residence in the Arkansas Governor’s mansion with the assistance of the very influential Winthrop Rockefeller, a former governor of Arkansas. [8]

 

Mobil Oil and Pecten began exploration drilling in 1975 in the Nam Con Son and Cuu Long basins and found the largest oil field in the South China Sea. Nam Con Son is said to contain 20% of Việt Nam’s oil resources and Cuu Long is said to contain 30% of Việt Nam’s total hydrocarbon resources. [9] However, all exploration and drilling ended with the 1975 unification of Việt Nam. [10]  Mobil Oil Corp. would have to wait almost twenty years, until December 21, 1993, to finalize an agreement to continue exploiting Việt Nam’s oil in those same offshore basins. [11] [12]

 

The newly unified government understandably would not honor the paltry concession agreements previously made with the South Việt Nam puppet government. On June 3, 1974, the Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) of the Republic of South Việt Nam Foreign Ministry had this statement: “The Nguyen Van Thieu administration has no qualifications and right to represent the South Vietnamese people. All the agreements between the Nguyen Van Thieu administration with whatsoever foreign country, whatsoever foreign company or whatsoever corporation on the exploration and exploitation of natural resources in South Việt Nam including oil resources are illegal and unvaluable and completely have no bound on the South Vietnamese people and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the Republic of South Việt Nam.” [13]

 

However, the unified government was open to new joint venture agreements on the condition that they offered increased financial benefits for Việt Nam so they could rebuild their country. This request, rather than the POW/MIA situation, was probably the reason the corporate-controlled U.S. government imposed economic sanctions. Yes, the U.S., after years of destructive warfare, further challenged this small struggling country with destructive sanctions. 

 

By January 1976, American companies were prepared to take advantage of the business opportunities in Việt Nam with millions of potential consumers and well-educated, hard-working, inexpensive laborers. Việt Nam also had four billion untapped barrels of offshore oil. [14] The North Vietnamese had, through the war years, received free oil from their Russia allies. On October 31, 1976, Russia altered its Việt Nam oil policy and told the Vietnamese they would henceforth have to pay for their oil. [15]

 

Up until 1975, North Việt Nam had a state-owned bank – the National Bank of Việt Nam. Commercial facilities were non existent. Foreign trade was difficult until an import-export bank, advantageously established in 1989, promoted foreign investment and transactions. Thereafter, foreign commercial banks were allowed to establish branch offices. [16] Anxious to attract revitalizing capital, Việt Nam established very liberal foreign investment laws. However, the bulk of the new business profit predictably always ends up in foreign banks. [17]

 

Petro Việt Nam, established in 1975, chose to use Production Sharing Contacts (PSC) with oil companies which allowed greater flexibility and more rights for oil companies on a number of issues. But it wasn’t enough – oil companies wanted more. [18] Modifications were made! The Law of Foreign Investment in Việt Nam (1987) and the Petroleum Law (1993) plus a system of specialized legal documents and regulations “played an important role in attracting foreign investment into the oil and gas industry.” This included the Joint Operating Agreement (JOA). Further Amendments to the Petroleum Law since June 2000 have given even greater incentives (more money) for foreign investment in the industry. [19] PetroViệt Nam has foreign partners: BP Amoco of the United Kingdom, Conoco of the United States, and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. of India (ONGC). [20] Standard Oil (Rockefeller) bought out British Petroleum (BP) on January 27, 1988 and renamed the newly-merged company BP-America. Almost immediately, BP-America bought and merged with smaller companies and is now known as BP-AMOCO. [21] Standard Oil also owns Exxon-Mobil.

 

Việt Nam, through the 1980s failed to produce sufficient grain to feed its citizens. Years of war had created major agricultural problems. Catastrophic contamination and deforestation of 16% of the land by approximately 72 million liters of herbicides affected food production and Việt Nam's timber industry. In addition to the chemical warfare, large tracts of land in Việt Nam were bulldozed during the war, destroying both vegetation and topsoil. Finally, the nearly 25 million deep craters left behind from the war have left many rice paddies unusable. [22]

 

In 1991, the Soviet Union conveniently collapsed – a calamity to the already unstable Việt Nam economy. This cost Việt Nam almost $2 billion in trade and aid from their Soviet ally. Desperately, Việt Nam's leaders attempted to arrange trade agreements with their neighbors – China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore. In addition, they looked to America. [23]

 

In late 1992, George H. W. Bush allowed U.S. companies to open offices in Việt Nam to conduct feasibility studies, but they were prohibited from doing business. [24] Despite opposition from groups such as the National League of POW/MIA Families, the Việt Nam sanctions were lifted by Clinton in 1994 only after Việt Nam abandoned all claims for the promised war reparations or any future compensation, including damages for the horrific health consequences resulting from America’s chemical warfare. [25] Sanctions were never about the 2,000 men left in Việt Nam but was always about corporate culpability. Article 21 of the 1973 peace agreement promised reconstruction aid after the end of the war. President Nixon defined it further with a list of $3.25 billion worth of projects. [26] The Watergate happened! Rather than the U.S. paying for the willful obliteration of their infrastructure, Việt Nam had to borrow high-interest money from the World Bank, the plan all along. [27] The morning after Clinton lifted the sanctions, samples of Pepsi were handed out at street stands in Ho Chi Minh City. [28]

 

Additionally, the POW/MIA emotional argument was challenging for draft-dodger Clinton. Interestingly, the Senate resolution to lift the sanctions was sponsored by Democrat John Kerry and Republican John McCain, both Việt Nam veterans. That let Clinton off the proverbial political hook. Democrat Kerry received notoriety as a member of Việt Nam Veterans Against the War and Republican McCain allegedly spent seven years as a traditional prisoner of war. [29] Standard Oil money had backed the anti-war movement. Most dissenters probably never recognized that fact with the possible exception of Skull and Bones loyalist, John Kerry. Many citizens believe that the war came to an end due to strong anti-war sentiment and antagonism for the profitable military/industrial complex. [30] It ended because the goal had been achieved.

 

The vanquished Vietnamese had finally conceded! They were receptive to foreign investments, newspeak for pillaging. American businesses had paid millions of lobby dollars to compromised congressional leaders to normalize relations with a communist country, [31] a euphemism for access to cheap labor and increased profits for multinational companies. By 1994, BankAmerica, Caterpillar, Citibank and General Electric had offices in Hanoi and Saigon, now known as Ho Chi Minh City. [32]

 

After the oil and gas companies infested Việt Nam, opportunists from all areas of commerce, followed, from banking and tourism, to consumer goods and heavy machinery. [33] It is similar to the Halliburton bonanza in the Iraq feeding frenzy. In 1996, the U.S. government made an energy study of every country, like Herbert Hoover’s original study. You may see it here or as a PDF file. Privatization, sanctioned by the corporate-controlled U.S. government, puts the people’s resources into the hands of a few – the Power Elite! 

 

In 1993, annual production of crude oil in Việt Nam was 6.3 million tons and reached 7 million tons in 1994. In that year, 1994, oil made up 27% of Việt Nam's total exports of $3.6 billion, U.S. dollars. This ranked Việt Nam fourth amongst crude oil-exporting countries in South East Asia, after Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. Since 1988, PetroViệt Nam has signed 26 Production Sharing Contacts (PSCs), including a contract to develop and operate the Big Bear field with a consortium of foreign companies led by BP Petroleum (Rockefeller) and a contract with another consortium, which includes Mobil Corporation (Rockefeller).” [34] As of 2004, Việt Nam was the third-largest oil producer in Southeast Asia with an output of 400,000 barrels per day. Indonesia is the region's number one producer, followed by Malaysia. [35]

 

By 1995, about 70% of the population was employed in agriculture which generated 50% of GDP with rice as the top product. At that time Việt Nam was the world's third-largest rice exporter, with 1.7 million tons exported in 1993. Other major exports were rubber (80,000 tons exported in 1993), coffee (more than 100,000 tons), and tea (20,000 tons).” [36]

 

Việt Nam was required to join the Geneva-based World Trade Organization (WTO) [37] organized on January 1, 1995 as the successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Việt Nam applied on January 4, 1995 and finally met the rigid requirements to become the WTO's 150th member on 11 January 2007. [38] The goal of the WTO is the incremental destruction of sovereignty wherein corporations are identified as sovereign entities while legitimate countries are relegated to a subservient status upon which the organization imposes laws. Regulations are unconstitutionally imposed in all free trade agreements including the Bilateral Trade Agreement (BTA) between Việt Nam and the U.S. which was formalized on December 10, 2001. [39]

 

Despite rich natural resources – oil, natural gas, coal, minerals, agricultural land, forests and marine resources, Việt Nam is one of the world’s poorest countries. It is the 13th largest country in the world. In 1995, Việt Nam’s GDP (gross domestic product) was 14.86 billion but their per capita income was only $220. [40] [41] Currently, there are approximately 85.2 million people in the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam with a literacy rate of 90.3% and a per capita income in 2006 of $720. [42] The GDP in 2006 was $61 billion. The principle exports are: garments/textiles, crude oil, footwear, rice (now the second-largest exporter in world), sea products, coffee, rubber, and handicrafts. [43] Unprotected by inadequate environmental laws, Việt Nam, like China, endures serious pollution emanating from all of those new factories. Due to the economic boom, Việt Nam suffers from overcrowded cities, traffic jams, hard drugs, prostitution and the inevitable disintegration of families. [44]

 

At least 270 ships pass through the South China Sea region per day, including more than half the world’s tanker traffic. Tanker traffic through the South China Sea is over three times greater than through the Suez Canal and five times more than through the Panama Canal; twenty five percent of the world’s crude oil passes through the South China Sea. "Oil deposits have been found in most of the adjacent countries of the South China Sea. The South China Sea region has proven oil reserves estimated at about 7.0 billion barrels, and estimated oil production of around 2.5 million barrels per day.” [45]

 

In 2002, Việt Nam was the fifth largest producer of anthracite in the world, the sixth largest producer of crude petroleum, and one of the top producers of limonite and zirconium in Asia and the Pacific region. [46]

 

“BP and its partners, ConocoPhillips, ONGC Videsh Limited of India, and PetroViệt Nam, brought the first phase of the $1.3 billion Nam Con Son project on stream and delivered the first gas in November 2002. The project included development of an off shore gas field; construction of a 399-km pipeline to carry the gas ashore; development of onshore gas-processing facilities; and construction of the 716-megawatt Phu My 3 power plant, which was expected to come on stream in late 2003.” [47]

 

BP Magazine said in 2006: “After more than 15 years in Việt Nam, BP can fairly claim to have a stake in the country’s progress. Only a handful of other large foreign companies can boast the continuity of BP’s presence since Hanoi took the first steps towards re-opening Việt Nam to foreign investment in 1986 – 11 years after reunification of north and south in 1975 and the end of three decades of war and conflict. Việt Nam’s current president, Tran Duc Luong, has described BP as a ‘strategic partner’ in the country’s economic development.” [48]

 

That’s war and U.S. foreign policy. Empower third world countries by selling or giving them armaments. If those country’s leaders prove uncooperative, vilify and invade them under false pretenses; give no-bid contracts to corporate cronies to build permanent military bases to protect the energy resources in the surrounding area. [49] There are 702 American military bases worldwide which are justifiably the target of a growing anti-war movement. [50] This full-spectrum dominance strategy (total control of any situation), used for decades, was formally laid out in Joint Vision 2020, released May 30, 2000 and signed by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Henry Shelton. [51] That is what “America’s War in Việt Nam” was all about!

 


Click here for part -----> 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 1718, 19, 20
 

[1] Overthrow, America’s Century of Regime Change From Hawaii to Iraq by Stephen Kinzer, 2006, Chapter 7

[2] Ibid

[4] George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography --- by Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin, Chapter 7

[6] Without Honor: Crimes of Camelot and the Impeachment of President Nixon by Jerry Zeifman, New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1995, Chapter 1

[7] Hillary Rodham's 1974 Watergate “Procedures were Ethically Flawed,” by Jerry Zeifman, August 16. 1999

[11] New Goal in Vietnam Is Money, Not MIAs by Michael Rust, Insight on the News, Vol. 10, February 28, 1994.

[12] Back to Vietnam by Don Luce, The Nation. Volume: 258. Issue: 8, February 28, 1994. Page Number: 257

[13] PRG Statement on GVN Oil Exploration Activity, June 3, 1974, History of the Vietnam War in Microfilm as quoted by David G. Brown

[14] Vietnam By Barbara R. Farrell, James R. Downing, and Patricia Healy

[15] Ibid

[17] Back to Vietnam by Don Luce, The Nation. Volume: 258. Issue: 8, February 28, 1994. Page Number: 257

[19] Ibid

[21] The New U.S.-British Oil Imperialism, Part 1, By Norman D. Livergood

[22] Vietnam By Barbara R. Farrell, James R. Downing, and Patricia Healy

[23] Ibid

[24] New Goal in Vietnam Is Money, Not MIAs by Michael Rust, Insight on the News, Vol. 10, February 28, 1994.

[25] The Case of Agent Orange, by Michael G. Palmer, Contemporary Southeast Asia, Volume: 29. Issue: 1, 2007, Page 172+. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS)

[26] Back to Vietnam by Don Luce, The Nation. Volume: 258. Issue: 8, February 28, 1994. Page Number: 257

[27] Ibid

[28] Ibid

[29] New Goal in Vietnam Is Money, Not MIAs by Michael Rust, Insight on the News, Vol. 10, February 28, 1994.

[31] New Goal in Vietnam Is Money, Not MIAs by Michael Rust, Insight on the News, Vol. 10, February 28, 1994.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Vietnam By Barbara R. Farrell, James R. Downing, and Patricia Healy

[34] The Petroleum Industry, 1997 Price Waterhouse World Firm Services BV, Inc.

[35] Energy Bulletin, Vietnam oil find fuels China's worries by Tran Dinh Thanh Lam, October 26, 2004 by Asia Times Online/Inter Press Service

[36] Vietnam By Barbara R. Farrell, James R. Downing, and Patricia Healy

[40] Vietnam By Barbara R. Farrell, James R. Downing, and Patricia Healy

[41] V V G ~ Economic Indicators, Vietnam Venture Group, Inc., Updated September  21,  2007

[44] Back to Vietnam by Don Luce, The Nation. Volume: 258. Issue: 8, February 28, 1994. Page Number: 257

[47] Ibid

[48] BP Magazine, Issue One, 2006 – Vietnam,

[49] The New U.S.-British Oil Imperialism, Part 1, By Norman D. Livergood

[51] Joint Vision 2020 Emphasizes Full-spectrum Dominance By Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service

 

 

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