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Prog Di,versitd Fork Cultyra Diverse P.O. Box 2116 Austin, TX 78768-2116 Visit us on the [email protected] Community Radio Radio De La Comunidad Milagros, Retablos and Arte Popular FOLK ART & OTHER TREASURES FROM AROUND THE WORLD 209 CONGRESS AVEAUSTIN 512/479-8377 OPEN DAILY 10-6, FREE PARKING BEHIND THE STORE Cronies, continued from page 11 were small potatoes compared to what George Brown’s company was doing. By 1975, Brown & Root and other divisions of Halliburton were working on projects in Iran worth $9.2 billion \($30.8 included a $1.2 billion highway that extended hundreds of miles across the Great Salt Desert from Tehran to Chah Bahar, on the Gulf of Oman. The highway was the first stage of an even bigger project: a giant naval port on the Gulf of Oman. The Shah planned to transform Chah Bahar, a small fishing village, into a major deepwater port that would allow the Iranian military to project military power deep into the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf. The port was going to cost $8 billion and Brown & Root was the lead contractor. Better still, Brown & Root never had to worry about competitive bidding. The company’s work during the Vietnam War convinced the Shah that Brown & Root was the company for him, and he gave the company the contract to build Chah Bahar without seeking bids from any other construction companies. In trumpeting the deal, a Brown & Root publication said the port at Chah Bahar “encompassed the widest range of shipyard facilities ever assembled in a single project:’ Brown & Root was to handle the design, engineering, and construction of the facilities at Chah Bahar and at another site called Bandar Abbas. Brown & Root’s paychecks on the Chah Bahar deal were directly tied to Iran’s oil exports. When the company needed more funds, it drew money from accounts in banks in both Tehran and Houston. When those accounts were depleted, they were replenished by proceeds from the sale of 100,000 barrels of Iranian oil, which was shipped to a refinery in the Bahamas. The rewards of the Chah Bahar project for Brown & Root were not only monetary. By building Chah Bahar for the Shah, the company was helping the U.S. Navy achieve its goal of having a significant presence in or near the Persian Gulf. Just as in Vietnam, Brown & Root’s work in Iran was done in very close partnership with the military. Throughout the life of the Chah Bahar project, the U.S. Navy had officers working on the project even though the contract was between the Iranians and Brown & Root. Brown & Root was no longer just a contractor, it was in integral part of America’s ability to wage war and project power. And it was doing it in one of the most oil-rich areas of the world. The U.S. Navy badly wanted Chah Bahar to be built and it was working closely with the Shah to get it done. The Shah’s new port at Chah Bahar was designed to give the Navy a harbor and drydock facilities big enough to handle an American aircraft carrier and accompanying ships. The push for the drydock and other facilities came from Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, who was the Navy’s chief of naval operations from 1970 to 1974. Zumwalt told the Washington Post that the Shah of Iran was “quite clear” that when it was finished the new port could be used by U.S. Navy ships. He added that the details of the port construction were part of “unique, personalized arrangements” between the Shah and the Nixon administration. Today, there is no port facility for U.S. Navy vessels at Chah Bahar. Events in Iran overtook the plan, and by the time the Shah was removed from the throne, he’d spent just $350 million of the billions that had been planned for the port at Chah Bahar. The Shah’s successors, led by the Ayatollah Khomeini, quickly canceled the project, leaving Halliburton in the drydock. But the company was barely fazed, for during the 1970s it had doubled again in size, becoming one of the world’s biggest construction firms. When the Shah fell from power, Halliburton and Bell Helicopter left Iran and waltzed straight into the waiting arms of the dictator next door, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. Contributing writer Robert Bryce lives in Austin. 7/2/04 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19