Michael C. Ruppert. Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil. Gabriola Island, Canada: New Society Publishers, 2004. Paperback, xix + 674 pages.
I vividly remember September 11, 2001. I woke up with an ominous feeling, which got worse as time went by. It seemed to culminate in the personal calamity I experienced that same morning, which involved the devastating loss of a friendship. A little bit later, I learned of the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York, which was a far greater tragedy the repercussions of which have, I fear, not yet peaked.
When watching the televised images of the two hijacked planes crashing into the twin towers, I also clearly remember wondering out loud how this terrorist act could not have been prevented. I frankly suspected foul play on the part of the US government and uneasily announced to my office staff that this would give the Bush regime the necessary excuse for war in the Middle East to boost its falling ratings and secure its oil interests.
Ruppert’s mammoth work confirms my worst suspicions. It carefully documents the blunders and deceptions committed by the US government surrounding the terrorist attack. More significantly, his book provides the broad context in which we must understand the causes leading to the attack and the US response to it. Ruppert proceeds like the state prosecutor who should have investigated the entire fiasco and the US government’s behavior in the aftermath but who predictably failed to show up. Ruppert marshals a vast array of facts, supported by hundreds of references for anyone to follow up, and by carefully connecting all the dots of the puzzle arrives a convincing and utterly condemning picture of American politics.
In brief, Ruppert argues that in its greed for oil, which is needed to sustain American economic and political supremacy, the US government has committed reprehensible criminal acts. These include deliberately ignoring prior information about the terrorist attack, silencing dissenting insiders, sabotaging existing security networks to make the attack possible, engaging the US in an unauthorized unlawful war on Iraq, hoodwinking the population by concealing the true motives for the war, overturning civil rights guaranteed by the American constitution, and more. Curiously, thus far there has been no successful conviction of anyone allegedly responsible for the attack! The accusations leveled against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda immediately after the disaster (and without prior investigation!) have never been proven either.
Ruppert, a journalist who publishes From the Wilderness newsletter read by over 16,000 subscribers, is a former narcotics investigator with the Los Angeles Police Department. He was among those who exposed the criminal involvement of the CIA in the drug trade. His latest work exposes the rot at the core of the US government and the movers and shakers behind it.
The picture he paints is of a society that is in the middle of a process of collapse. With the acknowledgment that the existing oil reserves are far more limited than hitherto thought, America’s capitalist economy, which is based on readily available fossil fuel, has entered a state of severe crisis. Politicians along with industrialists are now busy trying to secure whatever resources they can around the world in order to maintain the status quo. As Michael Meacher, a member of the parliament and a former environment minister of Great Britain, wrote in The Guardian: “The 9/11 attack gave the US an ideal pretext to use force to secure its global domination. . . . The overriding motivation for this political smokescreen is that the US and the UK are beginning to run out of secure hydrocarbon energy supplies.” (Quoted by Ruppert)
The war on terrorism stands revealed as a pretext for America’s ruthless imperialist policies. The invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 managed to completely destroy that already war-torn nation in a few short months. The “rebuilding” that supposedly happened after the rain of bombs had ceased can only be described as a travesty, which has a single benefactor: the American conqueror.
In 2002, one of the main public TV channels in Germany—ARD—aired the documentary Massacre in Afghanistan—Did the Americans Look On?, produced by Irish filmmaker Jamie Doran. The film had previously been shown by Channel 5 in Britain RAI in Italy. Based on eye-witness accounts, Doran accused the US of torturing and killing several thousand Taliban prisoners, who had voluntarily surrendered. Since then other newspapers have brought further articles revealing war atrocities committed by American soldiers in that part of the world. The US government of course has consistently denied all allegations and, revealingly, has refused to release any relevant information or collaborate in a neutral investigation.
In my view, America’s war against the Iraqis started with the trade embargo after the Iraq-Kuwait war in 1990/91. The sanctions caused the Iraqi people untold suffering, and the situation was described as “a human rights catastrophe of monumental proportions.” The 2003 invasion of Iraq is simply the culmination of a systematic brutalization of that country. President Bush repeatedly justified the war by claiming that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. Only after US soldiers failed to find such weapons, did the Bush regime reluctantly and after many blatant lies admit to having made a mistake.
In the meantime, according to some sources, over 20,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed. The fatalities continue, however, because of America’s lethal weaponry. The depleted uranium used during the Middle East battles (over 300 tons) not only caused great devastation at the time, but continues to wreak havoc in those areas. According to Leuren Moret, writing in The San Francisco Bay View (November 7, 2001), on a windy day gamma meters register the radioactive fallout in the Middle East as far away as Greece. In case you didn’t know, uranium 238, or “depleted uranium,” has a half life of four billion (!) years.
I am generally wary of conspiracy theories, but in this case the evidence is overwhelming, and Ruppert’s scenario unfortunately has the ring of truth to it. Apart from this, we should not forget that the US government has been shown to have deceived the public about the Vietnam debâcle, the war on drugs in South America and at home, and very likely Pearl Harbor.
One of the most stunning and alarming aspects of Ruppert’s exposé is his virtual equation of Wall Street with the CIA. By looking at past and present key players in the CIA, he has been able to establish a direct and strong link between the CIA and the engine of America’s financial empire. At the same time, to make matters worse, he connected the CIA with money laundering on a huge scale—money obtained from illegal drugs. Back in 1997, the United Nations estimated that the global drug trade generates annually the enormous sum of 440 billion. Ruppert speculates that today the yearly revenues of the narcotics industry might be as high as $600 billion, but the figure could be still higher. Much of this seems to go into American pockets.
When we have these facts before us, the all-out war against the Talibans is no longer a mystery. America’s invasion of Afghanistan was apparently not prompted by altruistic motives or even revenge, but to secure the opium production in that country, which until then was the largest producer of opium. Just one year before America declared war on Afghanistan, the Talibans had banned opium growing in their country. Manifestly, this cut into the profits of the money laundering banks. Today Afghanistan’s opium production is greater than ever—with nearly 4,000 metric tons in 2004. Ruppert simply followed the trail of the smoking gun . . . all the way to the CIA.
In following up on some of Ruppert’s statements, I found an interesting article by Pulitzer-prize-winning journalist Seymor Hersh on the Internet that talks about a Pentagon-commissioned report by retired Army Colonel Henry Rothstein, who had served in the Army Special Forces for more than 20 years. He was asked to assess the post-war situation in Afghanistan, but then was instructed to abbreviate his report and soften his conclusions. Among other things, he noted how the American intervention had given a new impetus to warlordship, banditry, and—voila!—opium production!
Ruppert, by the way, reminds skeptics that for a conspiracy to occur, it really does not take a great many players. Most of those involved would have only partial knowledge. I for one I am convinced, saddened, and outraged by the evidence. Nor is he the only credible investigator documenting the fading American dream. The data is readily available to anyone with an open mind and willing to hear the bad news.
The question that remains is: What do we do about it? Having had a writing career devoted to nonpolitical subjects, notably spirituality, I have with the present book review and my recent review of Richard Heinberg’s Power Down switched gears. But I feel it is essential that we know and understand the times we live in. As a responsible writer, I am beholden to my readers to share my best insights with them. While I will continue to focus in my life and work on positive, constructive solutions, I am motivated to henceforth also include in my considerations the realities of present-day politics and social issues more than I have done in my past publications. I trust that each of my readers will find his or her own appropriate response.
Copyright ©2006 by Georg Feuerstein. All rights reserved.
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