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ROBERT BRYCE , THE BUSHES, AND THE RISE OF TE AMERICA’S SUPERSTATE FEATURE All the Shah’s Texans Bill Clements and the Iran/Texas axis: It’s always about money, isn’t it? BY ROBERT BRYCE The following article is excerpted from the book, Cronies: Oil, the Bushes, and the Rise of Texas, America’s Superstate by Robert Bryce. Copyright 2004. Reprinted by arrangement with PublicAffairs, New York. All rights reserved. ril he Shah of Iran had a long to-do list. Upon arriving in Washington in July of 1973, he was to meet privately with President Richard Nixon in the Oval Office to talk about several issues, including the recent oil production cuts by OPEC. There was going to be a state dinner at the White House. The next night the Shah and Empress Farah were going to host a swank party at the Iranian embassy for a few hundred of their closest friends. They were to attend a performance at the Kennedy Center and host a champagne his spare time, the Shah also planned to shop for a few billion dollars’ worth of weaponry. That wasn’t new. In the previous eight years, the Shah had become America’s favorite military hardware junkie. Over that time, American arms makers had sold the Shah nearly $4 billion worth of airplanes, guns, electronics, and other gear and they were eager to continue feeding his habit. To make sure the Shah got first-class treatment during his shopping spree, the Nixon administration assigned him a high-profile chaperone, a Texan who’d given lots of money to Nixon’s political campaigns and was a former business partner with George H.W. Bush. Of course he was an energy man. His name was Bill Clements. And his 1973-77 stint as deputy defense secretary under Nixon would help propel him into the top ranks of the Texas Republican Party, a move that would make him one of the most important politicians in the state’s history and help elevate the Texas crony network to national prominence. Clements deserves notice for his accomplishments as a politician, but it’s his business dealings with Iranparticularly those done during his tenure at the Pentagonthat deserve special attention. Those dealings, along with those of other Texas companies, show that the oilfields of Iran were just another stop on Texas’ long drive to colonize the countries of the Persian Gulf. By law, the job of deputy secretary of defense gave Clements power within the Pentagon equal to that of the secretary of defense himself And Clements was involved in everything. The Dallas-born energy magnate-turned-Washington-insider oversaw the deployment of American troops overseas and participated in the development of billions of dollars worth of weapons systems. He played a key role in the conceptualization of the Tomahawk cruise missile. When OPEC began hiking oil prices in the early 1970s, Clements also became one of the Nixon administration’s foremost advisers about defense policy as it pertained to energy. Overseeing military contracts was another one of Clements’s main jobs. When in the course of his Washington visit the Shah was ready to see America’s latest aircraft, Clements squired the man he considered his “longtime personal friend” to Andrews Air Force Base outside the capital. There, the Shah inspected two of America’s latest, most advanced fighter jets, the F-14 8 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7/2 /04