Pompeo, Big Oil and the attack on Iran Deal

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

All you need to know about Mike Pompeo, the four-term congressman from Kansas who is actually from California, is that most of his life he has been in business with the Koch brothers. His appointment as Secretary of State puts a seal on Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accords.

More dangerously, Trump was straightforward that he put Pompeo in to replace Rex Tillerson in order to destroy the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action treaty between the United Nations Security Council and Iran.

Pompeo, despite his obvious brilliance, appears to be driven by profound currents of anger, resentment and vindictiveness, and to be unable to feel remorse for purveying falsehoods. His shameful performance at the circus he ran attempting to blame Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the 2011 Benghazi attack and its aftermath demonstrated a willingness to play fast and loose with the facts and an inquisitorial, McCarthyite mindset.

His lack of a moral compass makes his connection to the Kochs especially dangerous.

Charles and David Koch, the notorious billionaires gnawing like termites at the foundations of American democracy, are all about petroleum. They fund phony climate denialism with a Potemkin village of foundations and expert frauds, to make sure oil keeps its value for as long as possible (even at the cost of visiting catastrophes on our children and grandchildren, since burning oil is causing catastrophic global heating).

The Koch brothers have worked by exploiting the shameful corruption of US campaign finance, where candidates are forced to raise large sums of money to pay for radio and television ads over the public airwaves. It turns out that even small campaign donations can have a huge effect on public policy. Hence, their use of the American Legislative Exchange Council, where the “exchange” refers to state and national lawmakers’ exchange of their conscience for corporate campaign funds. The Koch-backed ALEC has singlehandedly worsened environmental protections and harmed workers in most states in the nation.

The mystery here is the difference between Koch-backed politicians and Exxon-Mobil-linked ones on the Iran deal.

Rex Tillerson was also from the world of Big Oil, but was, as Trump said with annoyance, all right with the JCPOA.

Pompeo is a huge Iranophobe (and also a fierce bigot against Muslim Americans).

The Kochs fund Libertarian groups (who fondly imagine that the rule of unelected giant corporations would be kinder than that of elected governments), which in turn have tended to be anti-war. The Trumps and their interest groups opposed the Iraq War of 2003-2011.

So if Pompeo is tight with the Kochs, why is he so truculent with regard to Iran?

Let me just speculate here. One aim of the Iraq War, revealed by Rupert Murdoch, was to reduce vastly the cost of petroleum. For small oil services companies like Dick Cheney’s Halliburton, the advantages of gaining access to Iraqi bids (which would become possible once regime change had caused Congressional sanctions on Saddam Hussein to lapse) outweighed the likelihood of lower prices.

But for Big Oil, with many long-term bids and perhaps ownership of fields, having Iraqi oil come online would be undesirable, since their assets would be worth less if Iraq flooded the market. Hence the Kochs had an economic reason to oppose that war, and the consequent lifting of sanctions on Iraqi petroleum.

The Iran Deal of 2015 also has the effect of reducing oil prices, since it allows Iran to export more oil and increases supply at a time of stagnant growth in demand. Moreover, there is no prospect of American companies getting any of the Iranian profits.

Finding a way to put Iran back under sanctions would firm up oil prices and make billions of dollars for the Kochs. Hence the desire to roll back the Iran deal.

Even if this explanation is incorrect or insufficient, what seems clear is that Pompeo is very bad news for stability in the Middle East, because of his obsession with finding a way to hurt Iran.


Bonus video:

The Real News: “Newly Tapped Sec of State Mike Pompeo Comes with Deep Ties to the Koch Brothers”

15 Responses

  1. The USA continues its slide in values and role in the world.

    A couple of days ago the 5 day statue of limitations passed allowing James Clapper to avoid being prosecuted for lying to congress.

    Tillerson leaves after destroying the State Dept as an institution. A major piece of the destruction of the US is to destroy institutions and Tillerson did his job.

    The new head of the CIA ran torture sites and is under indictment in the EU so not clear if she can travel there.

    And Pompeo, the loyal Koch worker, who published a love letter about the Kochs a couple of years ago, proceeds to the State department.

    Here is a link to Pompeo’s letter and the fact that I took the time and space to even provide the link shows how stupid the whole thing has become.

    “Stop harassing the Koch brothers” 2/2/12 in Politico

    link to politico.com

    And the big worry as Juan pointed out is if these changes and both Netanyahu and Trump need a bump in their support at home so they might conspire to start a war with Iran

    Will the Democratic party stand up and grill these candidates or is the legacy of Obama to continue to pass this disease onto the future?

  2. Pence is also a Koch man. I think Trump needs the Brothers a lot more than they need him. Trump is helpless when it comes down to getting things done. A good recent demonstration was his capitulation to the NRA on gun control, just days after he spoke like a gun control advocate, and chided congress for being intimidated by the NRA.

    One hat in hand visit to Charles Koch is worth more than a thousand rallies with the lock-er-up deplorables.

    ( As an aside, I think “Koch Brothers” is misleading. From what I have read, Charles Koch is the brains and muscle. His brother might be on the same page politically, but he is not a driving force in the Koch archipelago.)

  3. I share your final caveat that oil may not explain everything, even as it usually pays to follow the money. On that basis a full integration of Iran into the world economy would be in everyones best interests.

    No, there seems to be a set of deeper, more malicious and dedicated pathologies involved.

    Frankly, I’ve yet to read a fully satisfying explanation

    • You have to include the likelihood that buried subconscious tribal (on an imperial scale) urges play a steady motivating role in the continuing crusade against Persia from so-called democracies (Athenian to American), and from the starkly religious Crusades of the Middle Ages onward. The Khomeini revolution was merely a trigger for the deeper loathing to emerge.

      • This could almost be taken for sarcasm, but of course you’re absolutely right. There seems to be a fate bearing down on us here that might be deflected or delayed, but not avoided. This apparently inevitable explosion might best be explained by some mix of psychology and anthropology.

        There seem to be too many forces driving for a big kinetic conflict to avoid one. There ARE understandable pressures, thinking in terms of three big insecure kids on a particular geopolitical block, combined with the personal agendas and inadequacies of Netanyahu and MbS. But those things shouldn’t be enough to take us collectively over the edge.

        What’s more troubling and harder to understand is the corruption of the US, which allows its ME policy to be distorted by third parties against its own best interests. This is especially true given how elite theory says checks are in place against such madness. The influence of the Christian Right is also a factor, which when you look at it more closely is quite literally a death-wish. Something to ask those psychologists about.

        What I also don’t get is why ostensibly capable and cunning people like Pompeo so very much want this outcome. And how the CIA director designate led their tortore program. And why, in reality, did Americans really choose DJT? Time to look that ugly reality in the face. I could understand his election if it was simply America giving a big middle finger to the evident corruption of the electoral system, illustrated so eloquently by HRC. But, support is consolidating behind Trump from the republic establishment and the republican polity in general.

        The wheel goes around, with ups and downs. Civilizations inevitably fall, some faster than others or more dramatically. It may just be that the luck of the US has simply run out. The difference in this particular fall is that if the US catches cold, the rest of the world may catch more that just a nasty case of flu. In our small world, the ramifications of its demise are far nastier, be it a “small” nuclear war, for which this Administration is assiduously preparing to wage with its masters (whose name can not be spoken), or climate change.

        Thinking positively: Maybe Iran can ride this thing out, allowing for deepening ties between them and a reinvented EU, in some combination with the rest of the sane world. The US thence becomes the outlaw nation it seems bent on becoming, and the rest of the world saves itself, at least in some form.

  4. The following is making the rounds on social media:
    Despite Iran’s supplying of arms to Muslims in Bosnia in the mid-1990s, as encouraged by the Clinton administration, which assisted the US in having the parties reach the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement; despite Iran’s assistance to the US in overthrowing the Taliban in 2001; despite Iran’s vital support of the December 2001 Bonn Agreement to stabilize Afghanistan; despite Iran’s support of the 2002 Arab League peace initiative toward Israel; despite Iran’s generous 2003 Proposal to reset Iran-US relations; despite Iran’s fair treatment of its Jewish citizens; despite the 2013 and 2017 fair elections of moderate Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s president; despite the US Director of National Intelligence removing Iran from its list of terrorism threats in early 2015; despite Iran’s adherence to the July 2015 nuclear deal (as confirmed multiple times by the IAEA and the US); and, despite the Islamic Republic of Iran having never launched an aggressive war of conquest against another country (unlike the US), anti-Iran ideologues like Secretary of Defense James Mattis, National Security Adviser HR McMaster, and Mike Pompeo somehow reason that Iran can never be trusted, and the only rational US policy toward Iran is regime change. H/t: link to detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com

  5. I expect John Bolton, another twisted far right-wing hawk from the Bush admin, and now a Trump sycophant like Pompeo, to have his name promoted by the Trump admin, most likely replacing National Security advisor H. R. McMaster. Expect more American aggression in the region. Dunno if Clinton would or wouldn’t have had a hawkish foreign policy herself, but this argument about Trump being isolationist and less militaristic was always clearly a bogus myth.

    • You’re right to mention the ascendency of Bolton. And the people Trump is promoting give real evidence that some enemy of the US (forgetting US politics) must be pulling his strings.

      What could be worse for the US than Bolton replacing McMasters?

      How about Bolton replacing Matthis? That other moderating, disloyal voice.

      Remember, the question is, where can Bolton do the most damage? And if Bolton went in as NSA, who could be tapped for Defence, given the apparent staffing objectives?

      You heard the question here first.

  6. The Koch bros. were convicted of selling petrochemical equipment to Iran when it was illegal about 10 years ago, and
    many other criminal offenses over the years.
    It’s hard to figure out what goes through their head besides greed.

    link to theatlantic.com

    • Besides greed? Resentment, envy, revenge, gloating, especially intense sadistic schadenfreude, and cowardly self-annihilating fear of having to compete honestly and fairly.

  7. Pompeo is described as a far right, Christian zealot and an apocolyptic, Islamophobic fanatic who has stated that politics is a “never-ending struggle until the rapture.” What could possibly go wrong?

    • By himself he proves the chain tying the Koch “libertarians” to torture, imperialism and theocracy. There should be a term “Pinochetian libertarian” to describe people like them and Paul Ryan: liberty for the rich, torture for everyone else.

  8. As a cadet at the US Military Academy, Pompeo had to live by the cadet honor code, which says that one does not lie, cheat or steal. Apparently he believes that the code became irrelevant once he graduated.

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