- It has become the joke of the day that the Bush Administration
is stuffed full of "political dinosaurs" from the Cold War era
who want to rattle their sabers and make one last stand like geriatric
- They are everywhere, both in front of the curtain -Cheney,
Rumsfeld, Powell, et al.- and behind it -Bush, Sr., James Baker, Henry
Kissinger, and God only knows who else. However, what these men truly represent
is no joke at all.
- Behind the smokescreen of patriotism, national security
and ideology, they are driven by just one motive: greed. Every single one
of these players is a politician for reasons of expediency (power can buy
more power). First and foremost, they are corporate tycoons whose primary
goal is to advance the cause of corporations. Each one is worth millions
and each one is now in a position to engineer policies that will insure
they will ultimately be worth millions more.
- These policies are now in the process of being pushed
forward, and have so far being met with an astonishing lack of resistance.
This may be because many Americans, including some Congress members, are
too young to recall the true nature of the Cold War era. It may also be
that some have simply failed to make themselves sufficiently informed on
the nation's political history. It is impossible to believe that anyone
armed with the facts would fail to see the ugly template that is now being
forced down over the face of the nation.
- This article presents a chunk of political history that
we hope will serve as a cautionary tale. It clearly exemplifies what the
"political dinosaurs" now in charge of our nation are all about,
how they operated in the past, and how they still hope to operate. The
main figure, Henry Kissinger, personifies to a T the snake-like combination
of unscrupulousness and superficial charm that characterizes all of these
players, from Bush, Sr. to G.W. The setting, Indonesia, personifies all
areas of Earth where any natural resources may be left for a greedy few
to exploit in the name of "patriotism" and "national security,"
be it Africa, the Amazon, Ukraine, or northern Alaska.
- An Opportunist's Dream Come True
- 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 there.
- The first westerners to exploit the region were the Portuguese
(although the Dutch had a smaller settlement earlier). In the 17th century,
the Portuguese began to "mine" the forests for spices while dominating
the natives with a heavy hand. 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. Gold aside, no Indonesian resources have been at the center of
more collective strife, bloodshed, and environmental damage than oil and
- After World War II, Indonesia made a determined stand
for its autonomy. By 1950, they had thrown off domination by the Japanese
(who had commandeered the oil and liquid natural gas supplies during the
war), then pushed away the control of 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;
halfway round the globe, forces were massing that would ultimately topple
Sukarno and his government.
- 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 USA in their [great big gas-guzzling] Chevrolets".
They came home from their cruises to modern oil-heated homes in proliferating
suburbs. Existing US sources, already heavily exploited, soon could not
match the demand for abundant, cheap fuel and so the oil companies looked
elsewhere, to places such as Indonesia. At the same time, oil-rich Southeast
Asia was struggling for autonomy, urged on by the growing Asian communist
party, which wanted to distribute Asian wealth more evenly and shake off
western control. For western oil and mineral companies, an independent
Asia was a major impediment to the exploitation of Indonesia's resources.
To address this "impediment," as early as 1953, the US National
Security Council had adopted a policy of "appropriate action in collaboration
with friendly countries to prevent permanent communist control of Indonesia."
However, the only real threat to the US that communism in Southeast Asia
posed at that time was as a hindrance to corporations hoping to tap into
cheap labor, land, and natural resources.
- The history of Indonesia from 1957 on is the history
of the struggle of corporations, aided and abetted by the CIA and the corrupt
puppet governments they helped to set up, to maintain control over Indonesia's
resources. In 1957, the Indonesian state company Pertamina was created
under Sukarno for the purpose of developing and controlling oil and natural
gas for the advancement of Indonesia. This development was viewed with
alarm by US petroleum companies, who themselves wanted control over the
country's oil and gas resources. Until the mid-1960s, most of Pertamina's
business partners were Chinese, not American.
- In 1958, the CIA began to secretly finance, as well as
create, political factions aligned against Sukarno. The agency also funneled
money to a handful of corrupt, ambitious generals. Thus "fed,"
these generals quickly began to grow in power and influence, both in the
government and in business wheeling and dealing. Meanwhile, Sukarno was
in the midst of his "Guided Democracy Movement." Although he
himself identified most closely with the communist group called the PKI,
there were at that time three important political parties in Indonesia
-the PKI, the nationalistic PNI and the conservative Muslims. This represented
a greater democratic diversity than could be found in America at that time.
- By 1964, Sukarno had grown completely disgusted by American
efforts to buy influence in Indonesia and announced that he would no longer
accept any aid from the US. That was when the CIA, now operating chiefly
through the ambitious, greedy general Suharto, began to push forward with
a relentless, carefully orchestrated plan to topple Sukarno.
- The Corporate Takeover of Indonesia
- In the US a Harvard professor named Henry Kissinger was
steadily scooping up experience in international affairs and high-level
corporate wheeling and dealing -a combination that was to later prove deadly
for the people of Indonesia. From 1954 to 1969, Kissinger had his fingers
in a number of juicy pies. From 1954 until 1971 he was a professor at Harvard
University -though it is hard to see how he found time to teach- and was
in the college's Department of Government and its Center for International
Affairs From 1955-56, he served as Study Director of Nuclear Weapons and
Foreign Policy for the Council of Foreign Relations. From 1956-58 he was
Director of the Special Studies Project for the Rockefeller Brothers and
was also Director of the Harvard Defense Studies Program from 1958 to 1971.
- By the time Kissinger embarked on his career as a master
"diplomat" (i.e. corporate intriguer), he was extremely well
versed in espionage tactics. From 1943 (the year he came to the US from
Nazi Germany) to 1946, he served in the US Army Counter-Intelligence Corps
and from 1946 to 1949 was a Captain in the Military Intelligence Reserve.
After the war he was Director of the Psychological Strategy Board and of
the Operations Research Office. In the late 1950s, his influence in Washington
really began to send out tentacles. . Between 1959-68, Kissinger was, at
different or overlapping times, a consultant to: the US Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency, the Department of State, the Rand Corporation, the
National Security Council, and the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group of
the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
- Through this spider's web of connections, Kissinger was
privy to a bonanza of inside international information, both political
and corporate and was fast becoming especially well groomed in those pertaining
to Southeast Asia. By 1965, it is obvious Kissinger was using this information
to speculate for personal gain in Indonesia. It is also obvious that by
1965 many top corporate execs in the US mining, logging, oil, and gas industries
who had staked out potential claims in Indonesia, somehow knew that Sukarno
was going to be muscled out and were circling like sharks.
- In 1965, Freeport Sulfur, a company based in New Orleans,
cut a private deal with the Indonesian government, through Suharto (who
by now had immense power in the government) to create a copper-gold mine
in West Papua. Who was the deal broker, making sure Freeport got in on
the "ground floor"? There is little doubt this middle man was
Henry Kissinger. At the same time, Mobile Oil Indonesia was also entering
into contracts with Pertamina. It has been alleged that Kissinger also
served as a deal broker in this alliance. 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 engineer a coup, the CIA took a page from Hitler and
the 1950s GOP and turned the PKI into the "monster under the bed."
The agency composed and printed lurid, and largely false propaganda about
the communist "menace" and disseminated it throughout Indonesia.
Some of the literature called for all Muslims to declare a religious Jihad
against the PKI -even asserting that it was "God's will" that
all communists be killed. The coup engineers targeted young Muslim men
19-20 years of age, whom they whipped into a fear-filled, religious frenzy,
then armed with weapons supplied by the US
- What was most despicable about this plot was that until
the party began to be persecuted in 1965, the PKI had maintained a strict
policy of remaining within the law, conducting only legal protests and
remaining unarmed, so as not to provoke the Indonesian military. The "crime"
the PKI had committed in the eyes of corrupt generals and their western
landowning allies was to urge poor peasants to demand more rights and just
compensation from wealthy landowners. The PKI also demanded that the big
landowners cease violating the ancient Indonesian rules of crop sharing.
The peasants' land was being used to grow sugar and rubber -not the rice
that was vital to the survival of the poor. In some areas, the PKI created
"armies" of farmers, who took over tracts of land and planted
rice. Many of these farmers had been left without any access to land at
all due to the eruption of the Ganungagung volcano.
- In 1966, having set the stage by spreading suspicion,
anger and fear against the communists, the CIA and Suharto went into the
next act of what was to become known as the Untung Coup. Six generals still
considered loyal to Sukarno were brutally murdered by Suharto and his cohorts.
The communists were then framed for the crime, thereby providing Suharto
with the excuse he needed to unleash a wholesale "purge" of the
PKI. Hitler did much the same thing in Germany in the 1930s -he framed
a young Dutch man who belonged to the communist party for blowing up the
Reichstag, and thus was able to declare outright war on all communists,
which constituted the only faction in Germany that had posed a serious
roadblock to his complete domination.
- The largely unarmed PKI members were hunted down and
slaughtered in one of the most appalling bloodbaths of the 20th century.
The poor farmers who had taken a few acres of land were shot down by landowners
like turkeys in a shoot. Entire families in which a single member was suspected
of being a communist were murdered, including children, some while they
slept. Between 1965-1966 an estimated 500,000 to one million men, women,
and children were massacred -most with weapons supplied by the US. "Time"
magazine reported during this period that "travelers from [some] areas
tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with
bodies." However, "Time," like all media in the US in that
pre-Vietnam War era (the US presence in Vietnam was still a "police
action" then) was still well-indoctrinated by the anti-communist,
pro-corporate dogma created by the GOP in the 1950s and sustained by the
CIA and a cluster of powerful insiders through the decades ever since.
In the July 15, 1966 issue of "Time," the bloody Untung Coup
was hailed as "the West's best news in years."
- In the final step of the coup, Suharto deposed Sukarno.
What followed was a feeding frenzy by Suharto, his henchmen and US corporations.
Like a warlord, Suharto appropriated the best of everything he could for
himself and his family -oil wells, timberlands, 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. Suharto and the other corrupt officers of the Indonesian military
were involved in every imaginable money-generating scheme, including smuggling
-"a range of activities limited only by the imaginations of the military
commanders." In 1966, Suharto declared himself committed to aiding
the West in its exploitation of Indonesia. In 1967, the "Foreign Investment
Law" was passed, which officially threw Indonesia's doors wide open
to foreign exploitation. In 1967, guess what western company was the first
to be licensed under this new, corrupt and bloodstained regime: The Freeport
- A Feudal Regime Where Enough is Never Enough
- While the US 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 a handful of new schools as proof of his compassion for
his country. Even in 2001, Freeport-McMoRan offers a slick propaganda brochure
that shows scrubbed natives in front of a single school, and describes
a smorgasbord of corporate largesse, which doesn't really exist. The few
crusts thrown to the Indonesian natives by Freeport have been in spite
of the company; most real advances in the treatment of natives has occurred
between 1999-2001 and then only because of the growing public outcry.
- As always, when it comes to corporate greed, enough is
never enough. By 1974, the US had lost Vietnam and, under Suharto's 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 from 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".
Worse yet, the push for independence could easily spread into nearby West
Papua, threatening Suharto's other interests and Kissinger's gold mine
(in which Suharto had a hefty share).
- Evidence examined recently by researchers, including
investigative reporter Christopher Hitchens strongly indicates that in
1975, Kissinger helped orchestrate a surprise invasion of East Timor by
the Indonesian military. . Beyond any likely coincidence, Kissinger and
Gerald Ford were visiting Suharto on December 6, 1975, the night before
the invasion (although Ford may have been Kissinger's dupe, used as a legitimizing
"front" -or even fall guy). The next day, just an hour or so
after Air Force One had cleared Indonesian air space, carrying Kissinger
and Ford back to the US, the attack on East Timor was launched and the
region was soon declared Indonesia's 27th province. In the process, over
200,000 East Timorese people were slaughtered outright; tens of thousands
more died of starvation and disease later.
- For the next two decades, for the oil and mining industries
in Indonesia, and for Henry Kissinger, it was to be business as usual.
- The Rape and Murder of Irian Jaya
- Henry Kissinger has one sweet deal in the Freeport-McMoran
Copper and Gold Co (FCX on the NYSE). Not only does he make well over $500,000
a year just for sitting on the board of directors, his "consulting"
firm, Kissinger & Associates (Now Mclarty & Kissinger) rakes in
$300,000-500,000 per year as the company advisors, making sure no pesky
environmental regulations can ever be enforced and no poor native group
can ever win a settlement for having their land poisoned. But best of all
for him, he is also the majority stockholder in a company with reserves
estimated at $60 billion, making it the single largest gold deposit in
the world and third largest open-pit copper mine. That is, he was the majority
stockholder as of a few months ago -he may now be unloading certain damning
assets as fast as he can dump them in the face of the growing international
scrutiny by a list of countries he has harmed in the past 40 years. To
also throw the public off the scent, in January 2001, he named Roy J. Stapleton,
a former US ambassador to Singapore as "managing director" (i.e.
head lobbyist) of Kissinger & Associates. This accomplished two strategic
things for Kissinger: it got his name off the "masthead" as legal
rep. for FCX, and it will help carry on his own tradition of using inside
government information to insure he gains an unfair advantage as a lobbyist
- Yep, Kissinger's got a pretty good deal all right. Especially
when you consider that FCX has never had to pay much of anything to anybody
but a handful of stakeholders, which includes Kissinger, good ole boy Jim-Bob
Moffett (who came on board as CEO in 1981) and their golf-playing pal Suharto
(although I imagine his grip on the club might be a bit slippery, what
with all that blood on them from the over one million men, women and children
he has been responsible for slaughtering. If you want to get a feeling
for just what sort of person "Jim-Bob" is, check out this link.
- -but take your airbag along. Under Suharto's odious Contract
of Work, slapped together in 1967, Suharto handed 100,000 hectares of land
in the southern area of West Papua, also called Irian Jaya, to FCX for
its gold mine. Neither FCX nor Suharto cared that this was not their land
to carve up, but belonged to the Amaungme and Komoro people, whose lineages
go back as much as one million years, according to some anthropologists.
The corporation simply seized the land and booted off the natives. An estimated
2,000 people were shoved into concentration camp-like "settlements"
over the next few years so their land could be turned into a giant gold
mine, waste pits, processing buildings, airfields, roads, etc. (In FCX's
website, they claim no more than 1,000 people lived in the mine region
at the start, but the statistics indicate this is a minimizing lie).
- As the years went by, FCX gobbled up more and more forestland.
Today, the operation consumes a monstrous 5.75 million acres. Instead of
a few thousand natives scattered throughout the forest, able to sustain
themselves off their land, FCX actually boasts in its website that Irian
Jaya is now "home" to 100,000 people from all over the Indonesian
region. It doesn't add that most of them were displaced by other corporate
or military operations or that they now live in congested, filthy shantytowns
on the edge of the mining operation. The website says these people were
drawn by the economic opportunity offered by the mine. What economic opportunity?
There are only 7,000 or so jobs associated with the mining operation; most
of which are filled by imported workers. The few jobs held by natives are
- But any protests by native peoples against the FCX "improvements"
to Irian Jaya have been handled brutally. Thanks to Suharto and the steady
supply of US weapons, FCX has been well-protected from uprisings. In fact,
Irian Jaya is the most militarized zone in all of Indonesia, with a greater,
more heavily armed military presence than even East Timor. There have been
numerous human rights reports of atrocities by FCX's "security forces."
Natives have been shot along the road as if they were objects for target
practice, pulled off buses and murdered, others have been tortured, some
have had their villages torched, yet others report being held kidnapped
and held prisoner in FCX packing crates. In one particularly horrendous
instance, when natives blew up a slurry pipe carrying contaminated mine
wastes, the military retaliated and slaughtered an estimated 900 people.
- There is no doubt at all that Kissinger is completely
aware of these atrocities. But then, according to a growing body of evidence,
he was also aware of the atrocities in Chile, Cambodia, Argentina, and
elsewhere -not only aware but, in some cases, was actively involved in
helping orchestrate them. In any case, there is no doubt he has been fully
aware of the routine, environmentally devastating practices going on at
- Freeport-McMoran, which derives its name from its relationship
with Rio Tinto, a British/Australian mining conglomerate that owns a 12%
share in the operation, is outrageously wasteful by American standards
(which themselves leave something to be desired). For every 300,000 tons
of ore, only 0.42 parts per million in gold is extracted. This means that
to get at the tiny fraction of gold, the mountain must, literally, be chewed
to pieces. By 1996, nearly 400 feet had been ripped off the top of Puncuk
Jaya Mountain, a mountain that was not only sacred to local natives, but
also the highest peak between the Andes and the Himalayas.
- Today, the rubble from FCX's vast giant Grasberg Mine
is dumped into two neighboring valleys. In the next few decades, the company
expects to blast and bulldoze THREE BILLION TONS of rock, which will form
vast mounds of dangerous, slide-prone rubble. Although it is illegal to
dump tailings- slurry of crushed ore, water, cyanide, arsenic, and other
toxic chemicals used in ore processing - into American rivers, in Indonesia
it is a routine practice. That's because Kissinger and Jim-Bob are calling
all the shots -they share equal billing at the FCX website, each being
both CEO and chairman of the board of directors. Every week, millions of
tons of tailings are dumped into the Ajkwa River.
- The accumulated waste has blocked and flooded the river
several times, contaminating (cumulatively) over 100 square kilometers
of once productive land. The contamination is, for all intents and purposes
(as it may take hundreds of years to abate naturally) permanent. A recent
study of abandoned gold and copper mines in the American west shows that
land flooded by water laced by tailings is still contaminated decades after
the end of mining operations. Some patches have become wastelands, while
waters in some areas downstream of the origin of contamination are still
barren. The toxics accumulate in tissues of animals, so the contamination
level of fish and birds can gradually climb instead of abate.
- The Freeport-McMoran operation has now thoroughly contaminated
the region's watershed, an area that is home to the Lorentz Reserve, a
region rich in wetlands that contains one of just three equatorial glacier
zones left on Earth. As far as 80 miles downstream from the mine, villagers
have had to be relocated because of the danger that the dam holding back
the huge, noxious lake of tailings might break. Some people have refused
to leave. Said one elderly native: "God gave this land. I will not
be moved from it. If I go, what is there for my children?"
- The water in the Ajkwa river, which is the lifeblood
of Irian Jaya, is now unfit to drink along much of its length. Native people,
especially the elderly, who do not understand why they can no longer drink
the water or eat the fish from their father's and father's father's river,
stubbornly persist. As a result, many have been poisoned and many have
died from what the Indonesian medical personnel now call "mystery
diseases." Much like Gulf War Syndrome (which is believed to be caused
by a mix of toxic chemicals), natives with "mystery diseases"
develop strange skin lesions and rashes, chronic nausea, and may cough
up blood. The natives have said that the sweet potatoes and taro they traditionally
eat now have ominous discolorations, while the skin of the wild pigs that
serve as meat appears diseased. To avoid being poisoned, natives must travel
sometimes many miles to commercial markets and purchase food they once
hunted and gathered for free, thus fueling their poverty even more.
- Perhaps the harshest plight of all is that of the "relocated."
These once free, proud people of the forest are forced to live in squalid,
crowded shantytown settlements, little better than concentration camps.
There, they are plagued by high rates of malaria, cholera, tetanus, sexually-transmitted
diseases, and malnutrition. Infant mortality is high -twenty percent of
infants do not survive- while the average life expectancy of adults is
about 50 years (FCX's "brochure" touts an increase in life expectancy
in recent years, but, tellingly, fails to mention just what it is). Yet,
West Papua's central highlands have just ONE 70-bed hospital to serve 400,000
people. Despite the health risks posed by poverty coupled with a toxic
environment, the Amaungme and Komaro people who chose to remain in their
forest land near the mine have no access to any government medical care.
- At the FCX website, there is a very long (too long -methinks
they doth protest too much) section on how great things are going for the
natives, how wonderful the environmental standards of the company are,
how much the company has done for the natives. However, you will also notice
that the "good example" being held up is not Freeport-McMoRan,
but the Indonesian government's smaller operation called Freeport-PI. But
even the Freeport-PI accomplishments are somewhat pitiful. For example,
we are supposed to be impressed that a whole $166 million was spent over
an 11-year period on at least 100,000 people? That's less than $200 per
year per person. Meanwhile, Jim-Bob and HK probably hauled home at least
$166 million between them from FCX during the same time!
- The standard of life for the natives has little hope
of improving. Freeport-McMoran's labor practices systematically exclude
natives, despite what their rosy little brochure would have you believe.
Of over 17,000 workers (in 2000), just 100 or so were local natives, who
were paid 70 cents per hour. FCX claims that as of 2001, just over 1,500
jobs are now held by natives -however, it doesn't specify if those are
local natives or just natives of Indonesia (i.e., workers imported from
urban centers like Jakarta). The 1% fund the company set up for local natives
has caused more problems and conflicts than it has helped -intentionally,
say some human rights observers. Those overseeing the distribution of the
funds are often corrupt; little of the money actually ever reaches those
it was intended to help, and payments from FCX have been called arbitrary
- FCX's approach to environmental outrages has consisted
of liberal coats of whitewash. For example, FCX tried to make a $248,000
grant to HAMAK (Foundation for Human Rights Anti-Violence), an organization
directed by Ms. Josepha Alomung, an activist who won the Goldman environmental
prize in 2001. But Alomung was angered by the grant and refused to accept
it. First of all, she had never applied for the grant, so it was obvious
that FCX was trying to grab some "gain by association" it did
not deserve through deceitful means. Even more glaringly, Alomung said
she would never accept cash from an outfit whose activities ran so completely
counter to her principles. Yet, in their website, FCX boasts that Ms. Alomung
has been written them a letter of appreciation!
- To date, FCX has never spent a dime on cleaning up the
past devastation wrought by the mine -which is the equivalent in its extent
of several of the largest "superfund sites" in the US. The local
people receive what amounts to $300 a piece per year compensation from
profits -a gesture even more pitiful than Bush's $300 per head tax rebate.
Meanwhile good ole boy turned gold baron Jim Bob Moffett once scoffed at
the idea that the monster mine was poisoning the river -dumping tailings
into the Ajkwa's waters was no big deal said Jim-Bob: "It's the equivalent
of me pissing in the Arafua Sea." But Jim Bob's pampered, self-aggrandizing
view of reality, spouted fromthe comfort of his stateside mansion, isn't
worth the breath it's printed on.
- The evidence of Freeport-McMoran's gross environmental
negligence and human rights abuses had grown so overwhelming by the mid-1990s,
that the Overseas Private Investment Corps. (OPIC) canceled the company's
$100 million insurance policy in 1995, citing severe environmental problems.
According to the OPIC report, FCX had "created and continues to pose
unreasonable or major environmental, health, or safety hazards to the rivers
that are being impacted by the tailings, the surrounding terrestrial ecosystem,
and the local inhabitants." But like all classic robber barons, Kissinger
and Jim-Bob went on a vicious offensive to protect their ill-gotten gains.
Immediately following the cancellation announcement, FCX brought out its
big guns: money. Millions and millions of dollars were spent buying up
magazine ads, TV time, and on strategic charitable donations. In short,
they poured money into everything EXCEPT righting their wrongs. The company
bought an entire half hour infomercial, which aired in Austin and New Orleans.
In an incredible slap in the public's face, the Public Broadcasting System
station WLAE-TV in Texas aired the slot as an "educational special"
at NO CHARGE! Warm-fuzzy full-page ads ran in Newsweek and US News &
- When journalists started writing articles or airing stories
critical of Freeport-McMoran, it simply bought most of them off (a black
eye to the field of honest environmental journalism). Among the sellouts:
Bill Collier, formerly of the "Austin American-Statesman," who
became FCX's Austin spokesman, and WWL's Garland Robinette, who took a
cushy job in FCX's PR department. It must be noted that one journalist
who wrote for the "Austin Chronicle," Robert Bryce, not only
turned down a lucrative bribe job from FCX, he went onto to write more
hard-hitting FCX exposes, including an extremely thorough investigative
report in "Mother Jones" magazine.
- Kissinger & Co. also scrambled to call in every favor
and twist every arm they had access to. When Suharto tried to pressure
Bill Clinton into intervening on FCX's behalf against OPIC, Clinton, to
his great credit, refused. A former CIA chief, with access to all sorts
of ammunition it should have been unthinkable to use, was called into help
fight OPIC. Swiss bankers, international insurers, and environmental regulators
were flown into Irian Jaya all-expenses paid and given free luxury vacation-like
visits and carefully choreographed tours of selected areas of the mine
complex. In the end, it is not too surprising (though incredibly disappointing
to those who believe in justice) that Kissinger's clout once more prevailed
and the mine's insurance reinstated.
- So, in the wake of such a close call and a growing public
spotlight on FCX, did the company make sweeping remedial changes in the
way it handled environmental and human rights issues? Hardly. Instead,
in 1997, the company asked permission to expand the operation to TWICE
the size it was at the time. One of the last things done by Suharto (who
owned a substantial share in the mine) before he was forced to resign by
a nation burned out by his corruption, was to approve the expansion. This
approval was granted following a cozy little private conference between
him and Jim-Bob Moffett. Once Suharto was gone, the company had a harder
time completing their outrageous request due to the resistance of the minister
in charge of mining, Kuntoro, and the Indonesian intelligentsia, who were
outraged by the flagrant concessions and benefits already showered on FCX
- However, good ole Jim-Bob just waited until the hopelessly
weak new leader Habibie was installed in office, then started wheeling
and dealing full force. Habibie, a pushover from day one, caved in readily.
By now, Kuntoro was being pressured relentlessly by western corporations
used to being given special above-the-law treatment by their "buddy"
Suharto. Kuntoro was finally forced to agree to the expansion, but demanded
that the mine clean up its environmental act and pay a higher royalty rate
to the government. Unfortunately, most environmentalists say any environmental
standards imposed on FCX remained on paper only.
- The next "crisis" for FCX came when Habibie
was ousted and replaced by Wahid, whom many Indonesians hoped would nationalize
operations such as FCX, demoting such western gold and oil barons to the
"paying guest" status which should have been theirs from the
start. But Wahid, just like Habibie, proved to have feet of clay when pressured
by Jim-Bob and Kissinger. In early 2000, shortly after Wahid took over,
Kissinger went to Indonesia and began a process of combined intimidation
and corporate bribery aimed at extracting a promise from Wahid that he
would not nationalize FCX.
- Rather than act in Indonesia's best interests and demand
that Kissinger completely overhaul FCX's environmental and labor practices,
in February, 2000, the corrupt Wahid made Kissinger an advisor on foreign
affairs! Not only that, but he apparently gave FCX more concessions than
ever. In its blurb on the NY Stock Exchange site, FCX boasts that the cost
of producing gold and copper at FCX is just about the cheapest in the world
(of course it is! They have no overhead, no fines, minimal taxes, pay less
than $1.00 per hour for laboring jobs and never really paid for their land).
It also boasts that production is at an all time high (we can just picture
the devastation this is translating into!), while the costs of production
and delivery are "lower than ever" (this hardly sounds promising
for the local economy and workers!). It is also noted in the blurb that
the company was "relieved of" its $6 million per year commitment
to West Papua. This sounds suspiciously as if Wahid absolved the corporation
of fulfilling their obligation to return some of its profits to the people
of West Papua. In any case, the company's revenues between January and
July of this year were an astounding $985 million -almost one billion dollars.
- The graph for FCX stock closely mirrors the course of
US and Indonesian political events -proving that the company's wealth is
based heavily on political favor. Last summer, with the unsympathetic Clinton
still in office and Wahid's reign weakening, the stock was hovering at
a lowish point. Then, toward December 1, when it became apparent Bush would
succeed in stealing the White House, the stock steadily climbs again, only
to fall again in late May and June when Wahid toppled from power. By the
way, in 1999-2000, FCX made election donations in the US amounting to over
$262,000, an estimated 2/3 of which went to the GOP. (Much of the money
spent on the Democratic Party over the years has been done with an eye
to insuring that FCX's close ally (and bad apple Democrat) John Breaux
of Louisiana would keep winning his senate seat, which, of course, he has.)
It should also be pointed out that within days of Bush's inauguration,
Kissinger was dining with the new White House resident and Cheney at the
home of former CIA "mockingbird" Katharine Graham. It should
also be noted that well-grounded rumors allege that one of the names topping
Cheney's secret energy task force list is Henry Kissinger. No wonder the
White House wants to keep it secret!
- Now that Wahid is gone and Sukarno's daughter, Megawati,
has been made president of Indonesia, it will be very interesting to see
what sort of intimidation, calling in of favors, bribes and pressures Kissinger
and good ole Jim-Bob try to unleash and how dedicated to the welfare of
her people and her father's memory Megawatti will prove to be.
- SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
- "The Mining Menace of Freeport-McMoRan" by
Pratap Chatterje, "The Multinational Monitor," April 1996
- "Freeport Obtains Indonesian Approval to Expand
World's Largest Gold Mine," Mike Head, World Socialist Website, February
- "Former Secretary of State Kissinger Remembers,"
East Timor Action Network (Etan); Site provides large excerpt from "The
Case Against Henry Kissinger" by investigative reporter Christopher
- "Realpolitik, " Robert Bryce, "Austin
Chronicle," May 19, 2000
- Statement by John Rumbiak, the West Papua Institute for
Human Rights Study and Advocacy (submitted at the annual general meeting
of Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Cold, Inc.) May 3, 2001
- Drillbits and Tailings, March 17, 2000 News update
- "Spinning Gold," by Robert Bryce, "Mother
Jones Magazine", Sept/Oct 1996
- "Gus Dur: Don't Sell Papua's Future to Henry Kissinger,"
Statement by Emmy Hafild, Exec. Director of WALHI-Indonesia Forum for Environment,
Friends of the Earth Indonesia
- "Old State, New Society: Indonesia's New Order in
Comparative Historical Perspective," Benedict R. O'G. Anderson, "Journal
of Asian Studies," May, 1983
- "Generals and Business in Indonesia," Harold
Crouch, "Pacific Affairs", Winter 1975/76
- "People Were Shot, Bleeding, and Lying on the Ground,"
Mike Head, World Socialist Web Site," Nov. 28, 1998
- "We Saw Terrible Slum-Like Conditions and a Very
Strong Army Presence," Mike Head, World Socialist Website, Dec. 1
- "US Mine Gouges For Gold," Danny Kennedy, "Earth
Island Institute Journal," Spring 1997
- "Lawsuit in New Orleans," Statement of Lawsuit
of Irian Jaya natives versus FCX
- "Election Donations of Freeport, 1999-2000"
- "Statement of John Rumbiak" http://www.moles.org/ProjectUnderground/mining/freeport/statement010503.html
- CorporateWatch: Statements by Jim-Bob Moffett
- Photo of Gouged Out Mountain at FCX Mine in Irian Jaya
- Copyright © 2002 by the News Insider and Cheryl
- Copyright notice
- The use of the editorials published on this site is free,
as long as News Insider is notified and referred to as the source of the
information cited. We believe in the free sharing of information, but we
do not encourage plagiarism. If our editorials are of use to you, please
contact us to let us know. Thank you for your cooperation.