(Rome, the chief of the world, hold the reins of this round orb.)
Inscription on the imperial crown of Diocletian.
During late 1989 and 1990, George Bush traversed a decisive watershed in his political career and in his own personal mental life. Up until this transition, Bush had attempted to secure advancement through an attitude of deference and propitiation, currying favor with a series of politicians and power brokers whom he despised as his social inferiors, and whom he never hesitated to stab in the back once he got the chance to do so. This was the old duplicitious “have half” persona of his early childhood. During the long years of Bush’s quest for the vice presidency, and during the eight long years of his tenure in that office, the public face of Bush was that of dog-like fidelity and Reaganite orthodoxy. During these years Bush exhibited the same relative cognitive impairment which he had exhibited since his Andover days. On the surface, he was a top-level bureuacratic functionary of the US police state, sharing the moral insanity of the policy committments of the government apparatus which he represented.
Severe and debilitating mental strains had been evident in Bush’s personality from his earliest years. Such tensions were an inevitable result of the inhuman self-discipline demanded by his mother, Dorothy Walker Bush, whose regimen combined the most ruthless pursuit of personal affirmation for its own sake, with the imperative that all this single-minded striving be dissembled behind the elaborate pose of fairness and concern for the rights of others. During 1989 and 1990, the tensions converging on Bush’s personal psychological structures were greatly magnified not just by the Panama adventure and the Gulf war, but also by the crisis of the Anglo-American financial interests, by the threat posed to Anglo-American plans by German reunification, by the thorny problems of preparing his own re-election, and by the foundering of his condominium partners in the Kremlin. As a result of this surfeit of tensions, Bush’s personality entered into a process of disintegration. The whining accents of the wimp, so familiar to Bush-watchers of years past, were now increasingly supplanted by the hiss of frenetic spleen.
The successor personality which emerged from this upheaval differed in several important respects from the George Bush who had sought and occupied the vice-presidency. The George Bush who emerged in late 1990 after the dust had settled was far less restrained than the man who had languished in Reagan’s shadow. The hyperthyroid “presidential” persona of Bush was equipped with little self-control, and rather featured a series of compulsive, quasi-psychotic episodes exhibited in the public glare of the television lights. These were typically rage-induced outbursts of verbal abuse and threats made in the context of international crises, first against Noriega and later against Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.
Some might argue that the public rage fits that became increasingly frequent during 1989-90 were calculated and scripted performances, calibrated and staged according to the methods of mind war for the express purpose of intimidating foreign adversaries and, not least of all, the American population itself. Bush’s apprenticeship with Kissinger would have taught him the techniques we have seen Kissinger employ in his secret communications with Moscow during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1970: Kissinger makes clear that an integral part of his crisis management style is the studied attempt to convince his adversary that the latter is dealing with a madman who will not shun any expedient, no matter how irrational, in order to prevail. But with the Bush of 1990 we are far beyond such calculating histrionics. There were still traces of method in George Bush’s madness, but the central factor was now the madness itself.
The thesis of this chapter is that while it is clear that the Gulf war was a deliberate and calculated provocation by the Anglo-American oligarchical and financier elite, the mental instability and psychological disintegration of George Bush was an indispensable ingredient in implementing the actions which the oligarchs and bankers desired. Without a George Bush who was increasingly non compos mentis, the imperialist grand design for the destruction of the leading Arab state and the intimidation of the third world might have remained on the shelf. Especially since the Bay of Pigs and the Vietnam debacle, American presidents have seen excellent reasons to mistrust their advisers when the latter came bearing plans for military adventures overseas. The destruction of the once powerful Lyndon B. Johnson, in particular, has stood as an eloquent warning to his successors that a president who wants to have a political future must be very reticent before he attempts to write a new page in the martial exploits of imperialism. Eisenhower’s repudiation of the Anglo-French Suez invasion of 1956 can serve to remind us that even a relatively weak US president may find reasons not to leap into the vanguard of the latest hare-brained scheme to come out of the London clubs. The difficulty of orchestrating a “splendid little war” is all the more evident when the various bureaucratic, military, and financier factions of the US establishment are not at all convinced that the project is a winner or even worthwhile, as the pro-sanctions, wait and see stance of many Democratic members of the House and Senate indicates. The subjectivity of George Bush is therefore a vital link in the chain of any explanation of why the war happened, and that subjectivity centers an increasingly desperate, aggravated, infantile id, tormented by the fires of a raging thyroid storm.
Bush’s new desire to strut and posture as a madman on the world stage, as contrasted with his earlier devotion to secret, behind-the-scenes iniquity has certain parallels in Suetonius’s portrait of the Emperor Nero. Before Nero had fully consolidated his hold on power, he cultivated outward and public displays of filial piety, and strove to manifest “good intentions.” These were the veneer for monstrous crimes that were at first carried out covertly: “…at first his acts of wantonness, lust, extravagance, avarice, and cruelty were gradual and secret….” But once Nero had firmly established his own regime, the monster became more and more overt: “little by little, however, as his vices grew stronger, he dropped jesting and secrecy and with no attempt at disguise openly broke out into worse crime.” [fn 1] Something similar can be observed in the case of Caligula, who had a wimp problem of sorts during the time that he lived on the island of Capri in the shadow of the aging emperor Tiberius, in somewhat the same way that Bush had lived in the shadpw of Reagan, as least as far as the public was concerned. In the case of Caligula, “although at Capri every kind of wile was resorted to by those who tried to lure him or force him to utter complaints, he never gave them any satisfaction….” Caligula was “…so obsequious towards his grandfather [Tiberius] and his household, that it was well said of him that no one had ever been a better slave or a worse master.” [fn 2] Later, when Caligula came into his own, he exacted a terrible price from the world for his earlier humiliations.
The process of mental and moral degeneration, the loss of previous self-control observable in Bush during this period is not merely an individual matter. The geek act in the White House was typical of the collective mental and political behavior of the faction to which Bush belongs by birth and pedigree, the Anglo-American financiers. During 1989 and 1990, outbursts of megalomania, racism, and manic flight forward were common enough, not just in Washington, but in Wall Street, Whitehall, and the City of London as well. These moods provided the psychic raw material for the strategic construct which Bush would proclaim during the late summer of 1990 as “The New World Order.”
By the autumn of 1989, it was evident that the Soviet Empire, the cold-war antagonist and then the uneasy partner of the Anglo-Americans over more than four decades, was falling apart. During the middle 1980’s, the Anglo-Americans and their counterparts in the Kremlin had arrived at the conclusion that, since they could no longer dominate the planet through their rivarly (the cold war), they must now attempt to dominate it through their collusion. The new detente of Reagan’s second term, in which Bush had played a decisive role, was a worldwide condominium of the Soviets and Anglo-Saxons, the two increasingly feeble and gutted empires who now leaned on each other like two drunks, each one propping the other up. That had been the condominium, incarnated in the figure of Gorbachov.
Both empires were collapsing at an exceedingly rapid pace, but during the second half of the 1980’s the rate of Soviet decay outstripped that of the Anglo-Americans. That took some doing, since between 1985 and 1990, the global edifice of Anglo-American speculation and usury had been shaken by the panic of 1987, and by the deflationary contraction of 1989, both symptoms of a lethal disorder. But the Anglo-Americans, unlike the Soviets, were insulated within their North Atlantic metropolis by the possession of a global, as distinct from a merely continental, base of economic rapine, so the economic and political manifestations of the Soviet collapse were more spectacular.
The day of reckoning for the Anglo-Americans was not far off, but in the meantime the breathtaking collapse of the Soviets opened up megalomaniac vistas to the custodians of the Imperial idea in London drawing rooms and English country houses. The practitioners of the Great Game of geopolitics were now enticed by the perspective of the Single Empire, a worldwide Imperium that would be a purely Anglo-Saxon show, with the Russians and Chinese forced to knuckle under. Like the contemporaries of the Duke of Wellington in 1815, the imbecilic Anglo-American think-tankers and financiers contemplated the chimera of a new century of world domination, not unlike the British world supremacy that had extended from the Congress of Vienna until the First World War. The old Skull and Bones slogan of Henry Luce’s “American Century” of 1945, which had been robbed of its splendid lustre by the Russians and the Cold War, could now ride again.
True, there were still some obstacles. The Great Russian rout meant that German reunification could not be avoided, which brought with it the danger of a Wirtschaftswunder reaching from the Atlantic to the Urals. That, and the continued economic dynamism of the Japanese-oriented sphere in the Far East, would be combatted, by economic conflicts and trade wars that would take advantage of the Anglo-American control of raw materials and above all oil, with the Anglo-American lease on the Persian Gulf to be vigorously reaffirmed. Even so, the end of the partition of Germany was a real trauma for the Anglo-Saxons, and would elicit a wave of true hysteria on the part of Mrs. Thatcher, Nicholas Ridley, and the rest of their circle, and a parallel public episode of consternation and chagrin on the part of Bush. The Anglo-Americans were moved to sweeping countermeasures. A little further down the line, a war in the Balkans could bring chaos to the German economic Hinterland. From the standpoint of British and Kissingerian geopolitics, the countermeasures were necessary to restore the balance of power, which now risked shifting in favor of the new Germany. German ascendancy would mean that London would occupy the place to which Thatcher’s economics had entitled that wretched nation- a niche of impotence, impoverishment, isolation, and irrelevance. But the British were determined to be important, and war was a way to attain that goal.
There were also governments in the developing sector whose obedience to the Anglo-Saxon supermen was in doubt. The 250,000,000 Arabs, who were in turn the vanguard of a billion Moslems, would always be intractable. The out-of-area deployments doctrine of the Atlantic Alliance would now be the framework for the ritual immolation of the leading Arab state, which happened to be Iraq. Later, there would be time to crush and dismember India, Malaysia, Brazil, Indonesia and some others.
Then there was the inherent demographic weakness of the Anglo-Saxons, especially the falling birth rate, now exacerbated by Hollywood, television, and heavy metal. How could such a small master race prevail against the black, brown, yellow, Mediterranean and Slavic masses? The answer to that could only be genocide on a collossal scale, with economic breakdown, famine, epidemics and pestilence completing the job that war had begun. If the birth rate of Nigeria seemed destined to catapult that country into second place among the world demographic powers, the AIDS epidemic in central Africa was the remedy. General Death was the main ally of the Anglo-Saxons.
Despite these problems, Bush and his co-thinkers were confident that they could subjugate the planet for a full century. But they had to hurry. Unless the Soviets, Chinese, Germans, Japanese, and third world powers could be rapidly dealt with, the Anglo-Americans might be overtaken by their own accelerating economic collapse, and they might soon find themselves too weak to extend their yoke over the world. The military machine that attacked Iraq was in the process of shrinking by more than 25% because of growing American economic weakness, so it was important to act fast.
The Anglo-American system depended on squeezing enough wealth out of the world economy to feed the insatiable demands of the debt and capital structures in London and New York. During the 1980’s, those capital structures had swelled like malignant tumors, while the depleted world economy was bled white. Now, crazed after their October 1987 and October 1989 brushes with bottomless financial and currency panic, the masters of usury in London and New York demanded that the rate of primitive accumulation be stepped up all over the world. The old Soviet sphere would pass from the frying pan of the Comecon to the fires of the IMF. By the spring of 1991 Bush would issue his calls for a free trade zone from the north pole to Tierra del Fuego, and then for world wide free trade. Bush’s handling of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the North American Free Trade Zone soon convinced the Europe ’92 crowd in Brussels that the Anglo-Americans were hell-bent on global trade war.
These were the impusles and perspectives which impinged on Bush from what he later called “the Mother Country,” and which were vigorously imparted to him in his frequent consultations with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who now loomed very large in the configuration of Bush’s personal network.
Bush had met Gorbachov in March, 1985, when his “you die, we fly” services were required for the funeral of old Konstantin Chernenko, the octogenarian symbol of the impasse of the post-Andropov Kremlin who had ruled the USSR for just 390 days. Gorbachov had come highly recommended by Margaret Thatcher, with whom he had become acquainted the previous year. Thatcher had judged the new-look Gorbachov a man with whom she could do business. Bush came to Moscow bearing an invitation from Reagan for a parley at the summit; this would later become the choreographed pirouette of Geneva that November. Bush gave Gorbachov a garbled and oblique endorsement: “If ever there was a time that we can move forward with progress in the last few years, then I would say this is a good time for that,” stammered Bush. [fn 3] After Geneva there would follow summits in Iceland in 1986, Washington in 1987 to sign the INF treaty, and then Reagan’s swan song in Moscow in the summer of 1988, a valuable auxiliary to George’s own electioneering. But, as we have seen, the Bush team was contemptuous of slobbering sentimental old Reagan, a soft touch who let the Russians take him to the cleaners, especially in arms control negotiations. Bush wanted to drive a hard bargain, and that meant stalling until the Soviets became truly desperate for any deal. In addition, when Reagan and Bush had met Gorbachov on Governor’s Island in New York harbor in the midst of the transition, Gorbachov had been guilty of lese majeste towards the heir apparent and had piqued Bush’s ire.
According to one account of the Governor’s Island meeting of December 7, 1988, after some small talk by Uncle Ron, Bush wanted to know from Gorbachov, “What assurance can you give me that I can pass to American businessmen who want to invest in the Soviet Union that perestroika and glasnost will succeed?” Was this the official business of the United States, or investment counselling for Kravis, Liedkte, Mossbacher, and Pickens? Gorbachov’s reply is recalled by participants as brusque to the point of rudeness: “Not even Jesus Christ knows the answer to that question,” said he, amidst the gasps of Bush’s staff. A minute later, Gorbachov turned to Bush with a lecture: “Let me take this opportunity to tell you something. Your staff may have told you that what I’m doing is all a trick. It’s not. I’m playing real politics. I have a revolution going that I announced in 1986. Now, in 1988, the Soviet people don’t like it. Don’t misread me, Mr. Vice President, I have to play real politics.” [fn 4] After that, the telegenic Gorbachov could look for his photo opportunities somewhere else during most of 1989. There would ne no early Most Favored Nation trade status for Moscow. In addition, the signals from London were to go slow. The result was Bush’s “prudent review” of US-Soviet relations.
Gorbachov was always hungry for summitry, and during an April visit to Thatcher, the Soviet leader chided Bush for the US “hesitation” on new arms control deals. Bush dismissed this remark with a huff: “We’re making a prudent review, and I will be ready to discuss that with the Soviets when we are ready. We’ll be ready to react when we feel like reacting.” [fn 5] Ministerial meeting between Baker and Shevardnadze were proceeding. In May, the voice of Reagan was heard from his California retirement, telling his friends that he was “increasingly concerned at what he considers an excessively cautious approach to nuclear arms reductions with the Soviets.” Reagan thought that Bush was indeed too hesitant, and that Gorbachov was seizing the initiative with western Europe as a result. In the view attributed to Reagan by these unnamed friends, “Bush opted for the delaying tactic of a policy review, behaving the way new presidents do when replacing someone from the opposing party with different views.” According to journalist Lou Cannon, “both in Bonn and in Beverly Hills they are wondering if Bush’s only strategy is to react to events as they unfold.” [fn 6] There was the wimp again.
In September, Bush was in Helena, Montana, sounding the same prudent note while defending himself from Senate Majority Leader Mitchell, who had been making some debater’s points about Bush’s “timidity” and “status-quo” thinking. Bush repeated that he was in “no rush” for a summit with Gorbachov. “I don’t think there’s any chance of a disconnect” in Moscow’s comprehension that “we want to see their perestroika succeed,” said Bush. [fn 7]
What changed Bush’s mind was the collapse of the East German communist regime, which had been gathering speed during the summer of 1989 with the thousands of East Germans demanding admittance to West German embassies, first in Hungary, and then in Czechoslovakia. Then, in one of the most dramatic developments in recent decades of European history, the Berlin Wall and the East German “shoot to kill” order along the line of demarcation in the middle of Germany were tossed into the dustbin of history. This was one of the most positive events that the generations born after 1945 had ever witnessed. But for Bush and the Anglo-Americans, it was the occasion for public tantrums.
For Bush individually, the breaching of the Berlin Wall of 1961 was the detonator of one of his most severe episodes thus far of public emotional disturbance. Bush had repeated Reagan’s sure-fire formula of “Mr. Gorbachov, tear this wall down,” during a visit to Helmut Kohl in Mainz in late May. “Let Berlin be next,” Bush had said then. The wall “must come down.” But in the midst of Bush’s throw away lines like “Let Europe be whole and free,” there was no mention whatsoever of German reunification, which was nevertheless in the air.
Thus, when the wall came down, Bush could not avoid a group of reporters in the Oval Office, where he sat in a swivel chair in the company of James Baker. Bush told the reporters that he was “elated” by the news, but his mood was at once funereal and testy. If he was so elated, why was he so unhappy? Why the long face? “I’m just not an emotional kind of guy.” The main chord was one of caution. “It’s way too early” to speculate about German reunification, although Bush was forced to concede, throuigh clenched teeth, that the Berlin Wall “will have very little relevance” from now on. Everything Bush said tended to mute the drama of what had happened: “I don’t think any single event is the end of what you might call the Iron Curtain. But clearly, this is a long way from the harsh days of the –the harshest Iron Curtain days– a long way from that.” “We are not trying to give anybody a hard time,” Bush went on. “We’re saluting those who can move forward to democracy. We are encouraging the concept of a Europe whole and free. And so we just welcome it.” The East German “aspirations for freedom seem to be a little further down the road now.” But Bush was not going to “dance on the wall,” that much was clear. [fn 8]
After this enraged and tongue-tied monologue with the reporters, Bush privately asked his staff: “How about if I give them one of these?” Then he jumped in the air, waved his hands, and yelled “Whoooopppeee!” at the top of his lungs. [fn 9] Bush’s spin doctors went into action, explaining that the president had been “restrained” because of his desire to avoid gloating or otherwise offending Gorbachov and the Kremlin.
Bush’s gagged emotional clutch attracted a great deal of attention in the press and media. “Why did the leader of the western world look as though he had lost his last friend the day they brought him the news of the fall of the Berlin Wall?”, asked Mary McGrory. “George Bush’s stricken expression and lame words about an event that had the rest of mankind quickly singing hosannas were an awful letdown at a high moment in history.” [fn 10]
In reality, Bush’s suppressed rage was another real epiphany of his character, the sort of footage which a serious rival presidential campaign would put on television over and over to show voters that George has no use for human freedom. Bush’s family tradition was to support totalitarian rule in Germany, starting with daddy Prescott’s role in the Hitler project, and continuing with Averell Harriman’s machinations of 1945, which helped to solidify a communist dictatorship for forty years in the eastern zone after the Nazis had fallen. But Bush’s reaction was also illustrative of the Anglo-American perception that the resurgence of German industrialism in central Europe was a deadly threat.
Over in London, Thatcher’s brain truster Nicholas Ridley was forced to quit the cabinet after he foamed at the mouth in observations about German unity, which he equated with a Nazi resurgence seeking to enslave Britain within the coils of the EEC. Conor Cruise O’Brien, Peregrine Worthshorne and various Tory propagandists coined the phrase of an emergent “Fourth Reich” which would now threaten Europe and the world. The Anglo-Saxon oligarchs were truly dismayed, and it is in this hysteria that we must seek the roots of the Gulf crisis and the war against Iraq.
But in the meantime, the collapse of the old Pankow regime in East Berlin meant that Bush had urgent issues to discuss with Gorbachov. The two agreed to meet on ships in Malta during the first week of December.
Bush talked about his summit plans in a special televised address before Thanksgiving, 1989. He tried to claim credit for the terminal crisis of communism, citing his own inaugural address: “The day of the dictator is over.” But mainly he sought to reassure Gorbachov: “…we will give him our assurance that America welcomes this reform not as an adversary seeking advantage but as a people offering support.” “…I will assure him that there is no greater advocate of perestroika than the president of the United States.” Bush also had to protect his flank from criticism from Europeans and domestic critics who had warned that the Malta meeting contained the threat of an attempted new Yalta of the superpowers at the expense of Europe. “We are not meeting to determine the future of Europe,” Bush promised. [fn 11]
It is reported that, here again, Bush was so secretive about this summit until it was announced that he did not consult with his staffs. If he had, the nature of Mediterranean winter storms might have influenced a decision to meet elsewhere. The result was the famous sea-sick summit, during which Bush, whose self-image as a bold sea dog in the tradition of Sir Francis Drake required that he spend the night on a heaving US warship, required treatment for acute mal de mer. Bush’s vomiting syndrome, which was to become so dramatic in Japan, was beginning. He had perhaps not been so tempest-tossed since his nautical outing with Don Aronow back in 1983.
At the Malta-Yalta table, Bush and Gorbachov haggled over the “architecture” of the new Europe. Gorbachov wanted NATO to be dissolved as the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist, but this was something Bush and the British refused to grant. Bush explained that Germany was best bound within NATO in order to avoid the potential for independent initiatives that neither Moscow nor Washington wanted. A free hand for each empire within its respective sphere was reaffirmed, as suggested by the symmetry of Bush’s assault on Panama during the Romanian crisis that liquidated Ceausescu, but left a neo-communist government of old Comintern types like Iliescu and Roman in power. Bush would also support the Kremlin against both Armenia and Azerbaijan when hostilities and massacres broke out between these regions during the following month. Bush’s reciprocal services to Gorbachov included a monstrous diplomatic first: just as the communist regime in East Germany was in its death agony, Bush despatched James Baker to Potsdam to meet with the East German “reform communist” leader, Modrow. No US Secretary of State had ever set foot in the DDR during its entire history after 1949, but now, in the last days of the Pankow communist regime, Baker would go there. His visit was an insult to those East Germans who had marched for freedom, always having to reckon with the danger that Honecker’s tanks would open fire. Baker’s visit was designed to delay, sabotage and stall German reunification in whatever ways were still possible, while shoring up the communist regime. Baker gave it his best shot, but his sleazy dealmaking skills were of no use in the face of an aroused populace. Nevertheless, after Tien An Men and Potsdam, Bush was rapidly emerging as one of the few world leaders who could be counted on to support world communism.
During the early months of 1990, certain forces in Moscow, Bonn, and other capitals gravitated towards a new Rapallo arrangement in a positive key: there was the potential that the inmates of the prison-house of nations might attain freedom and self-determination, while German capital investments in infrastructure and economic modernization could guarantee that the emerging states would be economically viable, a process from which the entire world could benefit.
A rational policy for the United States under these circumstances would have entailed a large-scale committment to taking part in rebuilding the infrastructure of the former Soviet sphere in transportation, communications, energy, education, and health services, combined with capital investments in industrial modernization. Such investment might also have served as a means to re-start the depressed US economy. The pre-condition for economic cooperation would have been a recognition by the Soviet authorities that the aspirations of their subject nationalities for self-determination had to be honored, including through the independence of the former Soviet republics in the Baltic, the Trans-caucasus, central Asia, the Ukraine, and elsewhere. As long as long as the Soviet military potential remained formidable, adequate military preparedness in the west was indispensable, and should have featured a significant committment to the “new physical principles” anti-missle defenses that had inspired the original Strategic Defense Initiative of the 1983. Obviously, none of these measures would have been possible without a decisive break with the economic policy of the Reagan-Bush years, in favor of an economic recovery program focussed on fostering high-technology growth in capital-intensive industrial employment producing tangible, physical commodities.
Bush never made a serious proposal for the economic reconstruction of the areas included within the old USSR, and was niggardly even in loans to let the Russians buy agricultural commodities. In November, 1990, Gorbachov addressed a desperate plea to world governments to alleviate the USSR food shortage, and sent Foreign Minister Shevardnadze to Washington in the following month in hopes of obtaining a significant infusion of outright cash grants for food purchases from US stocks. After photo opportunities with Baker in Texas and with Bush at the White House, all Shevardnadze had to take back to Moscow was a paltry $1 billion and change. Within a week of Shevardnadze’s return, he resigned his post under fire from critics, referring to sinister plans for a coup against Gorabchov. The coup, of course, came the following August. It should have been obvious that Bush’s policy was maximizing the probability of ugly surprises further down the road.
Bush did not demand self-determination for the subject nationalities, but sided with the Kremlin against the republics again and again, ignoring the January, 1991 bloodbath in Lithuania, or winning himself the title of “chicken Kiev” during a July, 1991 trip to the Ukraine in which he told that republic’s Supreme Soviet to avoid the pitfalls of “suicidal” nationalism. Even though the Soviet missle park was largely intact, Bush was compelled by his budget penury to take down significant areas of US military capacities. And finally, his stubborn refusal to throw the bankrupt policies of the Reagan-Bush years overboard guaranteed further US economic collapse.
But Bush was mindful neither of war avoidance nor economic recovery. In the months after Panama, he basked in the afterglow of a dramatic increase in his poularity, as reflected by the public opinion polls. A full-scale state visit by Gorbachov was scheduled for late May. Rumblings were being heard in the Middle East. But, in early April, Bush’s mind was focussed on other matters. It was now that he made his famous remarks on the subject of broccoli. The issue surfaced when the White House decreed that henceforth, by order of the president himself, broccoli would no longer be served to Bush. Reporters determined to use the next available photo opportunity to ask what this was all about.
Bush’s infantile anti-broccoli outburst came in the context of a White House State Dinner held in honor of the visiting Polish Prime Minister, Tadeusz Mazowiecki. Although Bush was obsessed with broccoli, he did make some attempt to relate his new obsession to the social context in which he found himself:
Just as Poland had a rebellion against totalitarianism, I am rebelling against broccoli, and I refuse to give ground. I do not like broccoli, and I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States, and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.
Out in California, where broccoli is big business as a cash crop, producers were aroused sufficiently to despatch 10 tons of broccoli, equivalent to about 80,000 servings, to the White House. Bush was still adamant:
Barbara loves broccoli. She’s tried to make me eat it. She eats it all the time herself. So she can go out and meet the caravan. [fn 12]
These statements were an illumination in themselves, since the internal evidence pointed conclusively to a choleric infantile tantrum being experienced by the president. But what could have occasioned an outburst on broccoli, of all things? Slightly more than a year later, when it became known that Bush was suffering from Basedow’s disease, some observers recalled the broccoli outburst. For it turns out that broccoli, along with cabbage and some other vegetables, belongs to a category of foods called goitrogens. Some schools of medicine recommend frequent servings of broccoli in order to help cool off an overactive thyroid. [fn 13] There was much speculation that Bush’s hyperthyroid syndrome had been diagnosed by March-April, or perhaps earlier, and that broccoli had been appearing more often on the White House menu as part of a therapy to return Bush’s thyroid and metabolism to more normal functioning. Was the celebrated thyroid outburst a case of an irascible president, in the grip of psychopathological symptoms his physicians were attempting to treat, rebelling against his doctors’ orders?
At their spring summit, Bush and Gorbachov continued to disagree about whether united Germany would be a member of NATO. Much time was spent on strategic arms, the Vienna conventional arms reduction talks, and the other aspects of the emerging European architecture, where their mutual counter-revolutionary committments went very deep. Both stressed that they had taken their Malta consultations as their point of departure. Bush’s hostility to the cause of Lithuania and the other Baltic republics, now subject to crippling economic blockade by Moscow, was writ large. The central exchanges of this summit were doubtless those which occurred in the bucolic isolation of Camp David among a small shirtsleeve group that comprehended Bush, Gorbachov, Shevardnadze, Baker, and Scowcroft. Bush was unusually closed-mouthed, but the very loquacious Gorbachov volunteered that they had come to talk about the “planet and its flash-points” and the “regional issues.” There was the distinct impression that these talks were sweeping and futurological in their scope. In his press conference the next day, Gorbachov had glowing praise for these restricted secret talks: “I would like, in particular, to emphasize the importance of our dialogue at Camp David, where we talked during the day yesterday. And this is a new phase in strengthening mutual understanding and trust between us. We really discussed all world problems. We compared our political perspectives, and we did that in an atmosphere of frankness, constructive atmosphere, an atmosphere of growing trust. We discussed specifically such urgent international issues as the situation in the Middle East, Afghanistan, southern Africa, Cambodia, central America. That is just some of what we discussed. I would not want to go into detail right now. I think you will probably seek to get clarification on this, but anyway I think the Camp David dialogue was very important.” [fn 14]
Gorbachov also had lengthy answers about the discontent in the Arab world over the Soviet policy of mass emigrations of Russian Jews who were obliged to settle in Israel. For the Middle East was indeed approaching crisis. In the words of one observer, “Bush and Gorbachov stirred the boiling pot of Middle East tensions with their press conference remarks, forgetting the damage that seemingly remote forces can do to the grandest of East-West designs.” [fn 15] Did Bush and Gorbachov use their Camp David afternoon to coordinate their respective roles in the Gulf crisis, which the Anglo-Americans were now about to provoke? It is very likely that they did.
Bush’s political stock was declining during the summer of 1990. One indication was provided by the astoundingly frank remarks of Justice Thurgood Marshall of the US Supreme Court in an interview with Sam Donaldson on the ABC News television program “Prime Time Live.” Justice Marshall, the sole black justice on the Supreme Court, was asked for his reaction to Bush’s nomination of the “stealth candidate” David Souter to fill the place of the retiring Justice William Brennan, a friend of Marshall’s. Souter was a man without qualities who appeared to have no documentable opinions on any subject, although he had a sinister look. “I just don’t understand what he’s doing. I just don’t understand it. I mean this last appointment is… the epitome of what he’s been doing.” said Marshall of Bush. Marshall didn’t have “the slightest idea” of Bush’s motives in the Souter nomination. Would Marshall comment on Bush’s civil rights record, asked correspondent Sam Donaldson. “Let me put it this way. It’s said that if you can’t say something good about a dead person, don’t say it. Well, I consider him dead.” Who was dead, asked Donaldson. “Bush!” was Marshall’s reply. “He’s dead from the neck up.”
Marshall added that he regarded Bush’s chief of staff, John Sununu of New Hampshire, the state Souter was from, as the one “calling the shots.” “If he came up for election,” said Marshall of Bush, “I’d vote against him. No question about it. I don’t think he’s ever stopped” running for re-election since he took office. Marshall and Donaldson had the following exchange about Souter:
Donaldson: Do you know Judge David Souter?
Marshall: No, never heard of him.
Donaldson: He may be the man to replace Brennan.
Marshall: I still never heard of him. When his name came down I listened to television. And the first thing, I called my wife. Have I ever heard of this man? She said, “No, I haven’t either. So I promptly called Brennan, because it’s his circuit [the First Circuit in Boston]. And his wife answered the phone, and I told her. She said: “He’s never heard of him either.”
Marshall and Brennan had often been at odds with the Bush’s administration’s promotion of the death penalty. In this connection, Marshall commented: “My argument is that if you make a mistake in a trial and it’s corrected later on –you find out it was an error– you correct it. But if you kill a man, what do you say? “Oops?” “I’m sorry?” “Wait a minute?” That’s the trouble with death. Death is so lasting.”
On this occasion, Marshall renewed his pledge that he would never resign, but would die in office: “I said before, and I repeat that, I’m serving out my life term. I have a deal with my wife that when I begin to show signs of senility, she’ll tell me. And she will.” [fn 16] Yet, less than one year later, Marshall announced his retirement from the bench, giving Bush the chance to split the organizations of black America with the Clarence Thomas appointment. Those who saw Marshall’s farewell press conference would have to agree that he still possessed one of the most lucid and trenchant minds anywhere in the government. Had Bush’s vindictiveness expressed itself once again through its inevitable instruments of secret blackmail and threats?
During June and July, domestic economic issues edged their way back to center stage of US politics. As always, that was bad news for Bush.
Bush’s biggest problem during 1990 was the collision between his favorite bit of campaign demagogy, his “read my lips, no new taxes” mantra of 1990, and the looming national bankruptcy of the United States. Bush had sent his budget to the Hill on January 29 where the Democrats, despite the afterglow of Panama, had promptly pronounced it Dead on Arrival. During March and April, there were rounds of haggling between the Congress and Bush’s budget pointman, Richard Darman of OMB. Then, on the sunny spring Sunday afternoon of May 6, Bush used the occasion of a White House lecture on his ego ideal, Theodore Roosevelt, to hold a discreet meeting with Democratric Congressional leaders for the purpose of quietly deep-sixing the no new taxes litany. Bush was extremely surreptitious in the jettisoning of his favorite throw-away line, but the word leaked out in Monday’s newspapers that the White House, in the person of hatchet-man Sununu, was willing to go to a budget summit with “no preconditions.” Responding to questions on Monday, Bush’s publicity man Fitzwater explained that Bush wanted budget negotiations “unfettered with conclusions about positions taken in the past.” That sounded like new taxes.
Bush had been compelled to act by a rising chorus of panicked screaming from the City of London and Wall Street, who had been demanding a serious austerity campaign ever since Bush had arrived at the White House. After the failure of the $13 billion Bank of New England in January, Wall Street corporatist financier Felix Rohaytn had commented: “I have never been so uneasy about the outlook in 40 years. Everywhere you look, you see red lights blinking. I see something beyond recession, but short of depression.” [fn 17] At the point that Bush became a tax apostate, estimates were that the budget defecit for fiscal 1990 would top $200 billion and after that disappear into the wild blue yonder. The IMF-BIS bankers wanted Bush to extract more of that wealth from the blood and bones of the American people, and George would now go through the motions of compliance.
The political blowback was severe. Ed Rollins, the co-chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, was a Reagan Democrat who had decided to stick with the GOP, and he had developed a plan, which turned out to be a chimera, about how the Republicans could gain some ground in the Congress. As a professional political operative, Rollins was acutely sensitive to the fact that Bush’s betrayal of his “no new taxes pledge” would remove the one thing that George and his party supposedly stood for. “The biggest difference between Republicans and Democrats in the public perception is that Republicans don’t want to raise taxes,” complained Rollins. “Obviously, this makes that go right out the door. Politically, I think it’s a disaster.” [fn 18] With that, Rollins was locked in a feud with Bush that would play out all the way to the end of the year.
But Democrats were also unhappy, since “no preconditions” was an evasive euphemism, and they wanted Bush to take the full opprobrium of calling for “new taxes.” The White House remained duplicitious and evasive. In mid-May, pourparlers were held in the White House on a comprehensive defecit-reduction agreement. The Democrats demanded that Bush go on national television to motivate drastic, merciless austerity all along the line, with tax increases to be combined with the gouging of domestic and social programs. Bush demurred. All during June, the haggling about who would take the public rap went forward. On June 26, during a White House breakfast meeting with Bush, Sununu, Darman, and Congressional leaders, Congressman Foley threatened to walk out of the talks unless Bush went public with a call for tax hikes. For a moment, the dollar, the Treasury bill market, and the entire insane house of cards of Anglo-American finance hung suspended by a thread. If the talks blew up, a worldwide financial panic might ensue, and the voters would hold George responsible for the consequences. Bush’s Byzantine response was to issue a low-profile White House press statement.
It is clear to me that both the size of the defecit problem and the need for a package that can be enacted require all of the following: entitlement and mandatory program reform; tax revenue increases; growth incentives; discretionary spending reductions; orderly reductions in defense expenditures; and budget process reform.
“Tax revenue increases” was the big one. June 26 is remembered by the GOP right wing as a Day of Infamy; Bush cannot forget it either, since it was on that day that his poll ratings began to fall, and kept falling until late November, when war hysteria bailed him out. Many Congressional Republicans who for years had had no other talking point than taxes were on a collision course with the nominal head of their party; a back-benchers’ revolt was in full swing. Fitzwater and a few others still argued that “tax revenue increases” did not mean “new taxes”, but this sophistry was received with scorn. Fitzwater argued in doublethink:
We feel [Bush] said the right thing then and he’s saying the right thing now…..Everything we said was true then and it’s true now. No regrets, no backing off.
Nixon’s spokesman Ron Nessen had been more candid when he once announced, “All previous statements are inoperative.” When Fitzwater was asked if he would agree that Bush had now formally broken his no tax pledge, Fitzwater replied: “No. Are you crazy?” On July 11, Congressional Democrats blocked Bush’s favorite economic panacea, the reduction of the capital gains tax rate, by demanding that any such cut be combined with an overall increase of income tax rates on the wealthy. This yielded a deadlock which lasted until the last days of September.
Bush hid out in the White House for a few days, but then he had to face the press. There would be only one topic: his tax pledge. Bush affected a breezy and cavalier manner that could not disguise his seething internal rage at the thought of being nailed as a liar. The internal turmoil was expressed in the frequent incoherence of verbal expression. Bush started off with an evasive and rambling introduction in which he portrayed himself as fighting to prevent the suffering that an automatic sequester under the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law would entail. The first question: “I’d like to ask you about your reversal on ‘no new taxes.'” occasioned more evasive verbiage. Other questions were all on the same point. Bush attempted to pull himself together:
I’ll say I take a look at a new situation. I see an enormous defecit. I see a savings and loan problem out there that has to be resolved. And like Abraham Lincoln said, “I’ll think anew.” I’m not — but I’m not violating or getting away from my fundamental conviction on taxes or anything of that nature. Not in the least. But what I have said is on the table, and let’s see where we go. But we’ve got a different– we’ve got a very important national problem, and I think the president owes the people his –his judgment at the moment he has to address the problem. And that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.
And look, I knew I’d catch some flak on this decision….But I’ve got to do what I think is right, and then I’ll ask the people for support. But more important than posturing now, or even negotiating, is the result….
It was a landmark of impudence and dissembling. One of Bush’s main objectives as he zig-zagged through the press conference was to avoid any television sound bites that would show him endorsing new taxes. So all his formulations were as diffuse as possible. Were tax revenue increases the same as taxes?
Bush: And I say budget reforms are required, and I say spending cuts are required, and so let’s see where we come out on that.
Q: But is it taxes?
Bush: Is what taxes?
Q:What you’re saying. Are you saying taxes are –higher taxes are–
Bush: I’ve told you what I’ve said, and I can’t help you any more. Nice try.
Q:You said we needed–
Bush:You got it. You got it, and you’ve got a–you’ve seen the arrows coming my way. And that’s fine, but– let people interpret it any way–
Q: Well, I have–
Bush: Well, I want to leave it the way I said I would, so the negotiators are free to discuss a wide array of options, including tax increases. Does that help?
A questioner cited a tabloid headline: “Read My Lips: I Lied.” Bush had been prepped by an historical review of how other presidents had allegedly changed their minds or lied, which had convinced Bush that he, although a liar, was actually in the same class with Lincoln. “I’ve been more relaxed about it than I thought I’d be,” quipped Bush. “I feel comfortable about that because I’ve gone back and done a little research and seen these firestorms come and go, people who feel just as strongly on one side or another of an issue as I do and haven’t gotten their way exactly.” Why had he said no new taxes during the campaign? “Well, I don’t think anybody did such a penetrating job of questioning….” Bush’s basic idea was that he could get away with it, in the way that Reagan had gotten away with the 1982 recession. But for many voters, and even for many Republican loyalists, this had been yet another epiphany of a scoundrel. Many were convinced that Bush believed in absolutely nothing except hanging on to power.
It was also in the early summer of 1990 that it gradually dawned on many taxpayers that, according to the terms of the Savings & Loan bailout championed by Bush during the first weeks of his regime, they would be left holding the bag to the tune of at least $500 billion. Their future was now weighted with the crushing burden of a defacto second mortgage, in addition to the astronomical national debt that Reagan and Bush had rolled up. This unhappy consciousness was compounded by the personal carnage of the continuing economic contraction, which had been accelerated by the shocks of September-October, 1989. An ugly mood was abroad, with angry people seeking a point of cathexis.
They found it in Neil Bush, the president’s marplot cadet son, the one we saw explaining his March 31, 1981 dinner engagement with Scott Hinckley. As even little children now know, Neil Bush was a member of the board of directors of Silverado Savings and Loan of Denver, Colorado, which went bankrupt and had to be seized by federal regulators during 1988. Preliminary estimates of the costs to the taxpayers were on the order of $1.6 billion, but this was sure to go higher. The picture was complicated by the fact that Neil Bush had received a $100,000 personal loan (never repayed, and formally forgiven) and a $1.25 million line of credit from two local land speculators, Kenneth Good and William Walters, both also prominent money-bags for the Republican Party. In return for the favors he had received, Neil Bush certainly did nothing to prevent Silverado from lending $35 million to Good for a real estate speculation that soon went into default. Walters received $200 million in loans from Silverado, which were never called in. This was a prima facie case of violation of the conflict of interest regulations. But instead of keeping quiet, Neil Bush showed that the family tradition of self-righteous posturing even when caught with both hands in the cookie jar was well represented by him: he launched an aggressive campaign of proclaiming his own innoncence; it was all political, thought Neil, and all because people wanted to get at his august father through him.
Sleazy Neil Bush’s pontificating did not play well; Neil sounded “arrogant and flip” and the result, as People magazine commented at the end of the year, was “a public relations fiasco.” Posters went up in Washington emblazoned with the call to “Jail Neil Bush,” while out in Denver, the Colorado Taxpayers for Justice marched outside Neil’s downtown office (where Neil had answered questions about his ties to the Hinckley family in on March 31, 1981) carrying placards and chanting “Yes, Neil, it’s wrong to steal!” and “Give it back, Neil!” [fn 19] Neil was looking forward to public hearings organized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to probe his malfeasance; there was talk of a criminal indictment, but this eventually dwindled into a $200 million civil suit brought against Neil and 10 other former Silverado officials for “gross negligence” in their running of the affairs of the bank.
Bush’s immediate reaction to the dense clouds gathering over Neil’s head was to step up a scandal he saw as a counterweight: this was the “Keating Five” or “Lincoln Brigade” affair, which hit Senate Democrats Cranston, Riegle, Glenn, and DeConcini, plus Republican McCain. Some S&L loans showed “excesses,” Bush was now ready to concede, and some were “foolish and ill-advised.” But, he quickly stipulated: “I don’t want to argue in favor of re-regulating the industry.” And Bush was also on the defensive because, while he mandated $500 billion for the S&Ls, he wanted to veto a measure providing for unpaid parental leave for working mothers, despite a campaign promise that “we need to assure that women don’t have to worry about getting their jobs back after having a child or caring for a child during serious illness.” Bush now specified that he was not endorsing “mandated benefits” from government, but was just supporting collective bargaining to allow such leave. What to do if employers refused to grant leave? “You’ve got to keep working for them until they do,” answered Bush with the ancien regime “let ’em eat cake” logic of a Marie Antoinette. [fn 20]
At a press conference in mid-July, Bush was asked if he agreed with son Neil’s self-defense campaign, which was premissed on the idea that the attack was a purely political smear, all because the poor boy’s name happened to be Bush. The issue was focussing public attention on all the inherent rapacity of the predatory Bush family. George launched into an enraged, self-righteous monologue:
I agree that the president ought to stay out of it, and that the system ought to work. And I have great confidence in the integrity and honor of my son. And beyond that, I’m — say no more. And if he’s done something wrong, the system will –will– will digest that. I have — this is not easy for me, as a father; it’s easy for me as the president because the system is going to work, and I will not intervene. I’ve not discussed this with any officials and suggested any outcome.
Note that once again the word “integrity” comes to the fore as soon as a probe seems to be turning up a felony. As for “system,” this refers in the parlance of the Kissinger faction to the rule of the interlocking power cartels of the Eastern Anglophile liberal establishment. What Bush is really saying is that the matter will be hushed up by the damage control of the “system.” Bush went on:
But what father wouldn’t express a certain confidence in the honor of his son? And that’s exactly the way I feel about it, and I feel very strongly about it. And for those who want to challenge it, whether they’re in Congress or elsewhere, let the system work and then we can all make a conclusion as to his honor and integrity.
And it’s tough on people in public life to some degree. And I’ve got three other sons and they all want to go to the barricades, every one of them, when they see some cartoon they don’t like, particularly those that are factually incorrect in total — total demeaning of the honor of their brother. They want to — they want to do what any other– any other kids would do. And I say: you calm down now, we’re in a different role now; you can’t react like you would if your brother was picked on in a street fight– that’s not the way the system works. But we have great emotions that I share with Barbara, I share with my sons and daughter that I won’t share with you, except to say: One, as a president I am determined to stay out of this and let it work and let it work fairly. And secondly, I have confidence in the honor and integrity of my son, and if the system finds he’s done something wrong he will be the first to step up and do what’s right. [fn 21]
Bush’s parting shot seemed to contain the optimistic premiss that any sanctions against young Neil would be civil, and not criminal, and that is very likely the signal that George was sending out with these remarks. But the avoidance of criminal charges was not a foregone conclusion. A group of House Democrats had written to Attorney General Thornburgh to demand a special prosecutor for the hapless Neil. The signers included Pat Schroeder, Kastenmeier of Wisconsin, Don Edwards of California, Conyers of Michigan, Morrison of Connecticut, Larry Smith of Florida, Boucher of Virginia, Staggers of West Virginia, and Bryant of Texas. The measure was fully justified, but it soon turned out that the Foley leadership in the House, more of a marshmallow-stamp than a rubber stamp, had been leaning on Democratic members to shun this initiative. This became public when Congressman Feighan of Ohio, who had signed the letter, retracted his signature under the pressure of Foley’s Democratic leadership.
But there was no doubt that Neil Bush had been acting as an influence peddler. Documents released by the Office of Thrift Supervision which detailed the conflict of interest charges against Neil conveyed a very low view of the dyslexic young man’s business acumen: the regulators described him as “unqualified and untrained” to be a director of a financial institution. An untutored squirt, his father might have said. In the words of the OTS, “certainly he had no experience in managing a large corporation, especially a financial institution with almost $2 billion in assets.”
The swirling controversy also engulfed Bush’s consort. When questioned by a journalist several days before the Kuwait crisis erupted, Bar “flushes indignantly over the allegations against son Neil….” “I’m not going to talk about it,” snapped Mrs. Bush, but she then did remark that it was “outrageous” that such a “wonderful, decent, honest man” was being denigrated just because his parents “chose to get into political life.” As the interviewer noted, Mrs. Bush “smiles with maternal pride, though, when she acknowledges a rumor that son Marvin, 33, nearly resorted to fisticuffs defending Neil’s honor and that brother Jeb, 37, was so ready to join the fray that ‘we had to hold him back.'” “We just love our children, and they know it,” gushed Mrs. Bush. “Someone once said to me that they didn’t know another family where all five siblings love each other so much. And that’s true. If push comes to shove, they’re all there for each other.” [fn 22]
As the end of July approached, Neil Bush was becoming a severe public relations problem for his father George. To make matters worse, economist Dan Brumbaugh, who enjoyed a certain notoriety as the Cassandra of the S&L debacle, appeared on television to confirm what the insiders aleady knew, that not just the S&Ls, but the entire commercial banking system of the United States, from the Wall Street giants down through the other money center banks, was all bankrupt. Economic reality, Bush’s old nemesis, was once against threatening his ambition to rule. Then, in the last days of July, the White House received information that a national newsmagazine, probably Newsweek, was planning a cover story on Neil Bush. [fn 23]
Such were the events in the political and personal life of George Bush that provided the backdrop for Bush’s precipitous and choleric decision to go to war with Iraq. This is not to say that the decision to go to war was caused by these unpleasant developments; the causes of the Gulf war are much more complicated than that. But it is equally clear that Bush’s bellicose enthusiasm for the first war that came along was notably facilitated by the complex of problems which he would thus sweep off the front page.
There is much evidence that the Bush regime was committed to a new, large-scale war in the Middle East from the very day of its inauguration. The following analysis was filed on Palm Sunday, March 19, 1989 by one of the authors of the present study, and was published in Executive Intelligence Review under the title “Is Bush courting a Middle East war and a new oil crisis?”:
Is the Bush administration preparing a military attack on Iran, Libya, Syria, or other Middle East nations in a flight forward intended to cut off or destroy a significant part of the world’s oil supply and drastically raise the dollar price of crude on the world markets? A worldwide pattern of events monitored on Palm Sunday by Executive Intelligence Review suggests that such a move may be in the works. If the script does indeed call for a Middle East conflict and a new oil shock, it can be safely assumed that Henry Kissinger, the schemer behind the 1973 Yom Kippur war, is in the thick of things, through National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft and the State Department’s number-two man Lawrence Eagleburger. […]
Why should the Bush administration now be a candidate to launch an attack on Libya and Iran, with large-scale hostilities likely in the Gulf? The basic answer is, as part of a manic flight-forward fit of “American Century” megalomania designed to distract attention from the fiasco of the new President’s first 60 days in office. [fn 24]
Despite the numerous shortcomings in this account, including the failure to identify Iraq as the target, it did capture the essential truth that Bush was planning a Gulf war. By August, 1988 at the latest, when Iraq had emerged as the decisive victor in the 8-year long Iran-Iraq war, British geopolitical thinkers had identified Iraq as the leading Arab state, and the leading threat to the Israeli-dominated balance of power in the Middle East. This estimate was seconded by those Zionist observers for whom the definition of minimal security is the capability of Israel to defeat the combined coalition of all Arab states. By August of 1988, leading circles in both Britain and Israel were contemplating ways of preventing Iraq from rebuilding its postwar economy, and were exploring options for a new war to liquidate the undeniable economic achievements of the Baath Party. Bush would have been a part of these deliberations starting at a very early phase.
During June and July, this warning was seconded by King Hussein of Jordan, Yassir Arafat of the PLO, Prince Hassan of Jordan, and Saddam Hussein himself.
The Bush regime’s contributions to the orchestration of the Gulf crisis of 1990-91 were many and indispensable. First there was a campaign of tough talking by Bush and Baker, designed to goad the new Likud-centered coalition of Shamir (in many respects the most belligerent and confrontational regime Israel had ever known) into postures of increased bellicosity. Bush personally referred to Israel as one of the countries in the Middle East that held hostages. In early March, 1990, Bush said that the US government position was to oppose Israeli settlements not only on the West Bank of the Jordan and the Gaza Strip, but also in East Jerusalem. A few days before that, Baker had suggested that US support for a $400 million loan guarantee program for settling Soviet Jews in Israel would be forthcoming only if Israel stopped setting up new settlements in the occupied territories. Bush’s mention of East Jerusalem had toughened that line. [fn 26] Baker had added some tough talk of his own when he had told a Congressional committee that if and when the Israeli government wanted peace, they had only to call the White House switchboard, whose number he proceeded to give. But on June 20, Bush suspended the US dialogue with the PLO which he had caused to be started during December, 1988. The pretext was a staged terror incident at an Israeli beach.
July, 1990 was full of the hyperkinetic travel and diplomacy which has become George’s trademark. Over the July Fourth weekend, Bush went to Kennebunkport to prepare for the London NATO summit and the successive Houston summit of the seven leading industrial nations. There is evidence that he was already in the full flush of the manic phase, and that the “read my lips” press conference and the Neil Bush affair had produced massive psychic carnage. According to a press account, Bush passed the time in Kennebunkport
with his usual breakneck round of throwing horseshoes, casting fishing lures, bashing golf balls, and careening across the waves in his speedboat. Instead of arriving in London a day before the meeting began, Mr. Bush squeezed in one more golf game on Wednesday morning, and left that night. But here, it seemed that the bottomless well of energy had a bottom after all. Mr. Bush got off Air Force One looking tired, eyes puffy and his stride less spry than the “spring colt” to which he always compares himself.
During the London summit, Bush appears to have been unusually irritable. One small crisis came when he found himself waiting for his limousine in front of Lancaster House while his aides scrambled to bring his car around. Bush “craned his neck around, pursed his lips, stuck his hands in his pockets, and glared at the nearest aide until his car finally appeared.” [fn 27]
The secret agenda at this summit was dominated by the NATO out of area deployments, transforming the alliance into the white man’s vengeful knout against the third world. According to a senior NATO consultant, the Lancaster House summit focussed on “increasing tension and re-armament in a number of countries, in North Africa, the Middle East including Palestine, and Asia through, increasingly, to Southeast Asia. There are new dangers from new directions. We are shifting from an exclusive focus on the east-west conflict, to a situation of risk coming eventually or potentially from all directions.” The talk in London in that July was about a possible new Middle East war, which “would tend to escalate horizontally and vertically. A real conflict in the Levant would extend from the Turkish border to the Suez canal. It would involve the neighbors of the main combatants. The whole thing would be in a state of flux, because the great powers couldn’t afford just to sit there.” In order to avoid public relations problems for the continental European governments, who still had qualms about their domestic public opinion, these debates were not featured in the final communique, which complacently proclaimed the end of the Cold War and invited Gorbachov to come and visit NATO headquarters to make a speech. [fn 28]
After hob-nobbing with Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth II, and other members of the royal family, Bush flew to Houston to assume the role of host of the Group of 7 yearly economic summit. At this summit, the Anglo-Saxon master race as represented by Bush and Thatcher found itself in a highly embarrassing position. Everyone knew that the worst economic plague outside of the communist bloc was the English-speaking economic depression, which held not just the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada but also Australia, New Zealand, and other former imperial outposts in its grip. The continental Europeans were interested in organizing emergency aid and investment packages for the emerging countries of eastern Europe, and the Soviet republics, but this the Anglo-Saxons adamantly opposed. Rather, Bush and Thatcher were on a full trade-war line against the European Community and Japan when it came to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and other matters of international economics. Bush’s Tex-Mex menus and country and western entertainment programs were unable to hide an atmosphere of growing animosity.
In the following week, the Anglo-Saxon supermen were once again plunged into gloom when Gorbachov and Kohl, meeting on July 16 in the south Russian town of Mineralny Vody near Stavropol, announced the Soviet acquiescence to the membership of united Germany in NATO. This was an issue that Bush and Thatcher had hoped would cause a much longer delay and much greater acrimony, but now there were no more barriers to the successful completion of the “two plus four” talks on the future of Germany, which meant that German reunification before the end of the year was unavoidable.
On the same day that Kohl and Gorbachov were meeting, satellite photographs monitored in the Pentagon showed that Iraq’s crack Hammurabi division, the corps d’elite of the Republican Guard, was moving south towards the border of Kuwait. By July 17, Pentagon analysts would be contemplating new satellite photos showing the entire division, with 300 tanks and over 10,000 men, in place along the Iraq-Kuwait border. A second division, the Medina Luminous, was beginning to arrive along the border, and a third division was marching south. [fn 29]
The disputes between Iraq and Kuwait were well-known, and the Anglo-Americans had done everything possible to exacerbate them. Iraq had defended Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf Cooperation Council countries against the fanatic legions of Khomeini during the Iran-Iraq war. Iraq had emerged from the conflict victorious, but burdened by $65 billion in foreign debt. Iraq demanded debt relief from the rich Gulf Arabs, who had not lifted a finger for their own defense. As for Kuwait, it had been a British puppet state since 1899. Both Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates were each acknowledged to be exceeding their OPEC production quotas by some 500,000 barrels per day. This was part of a strategy to keep the price of oil artificially low; the low price was a boon to the dollar and the US banking system, and it also prevented Iraq from acquiring the necessary funds for its postwar demobilization and reconstruction. Kuwait was also known to be stealing oil by overpumping the Rumailia oil field, which lay along the Iraq-Kuwait border. The border through the Rumaila oil field was thus a bone of contention between Iraq and Kuwait, as was the ownership of Bubiyan and Warba islands, which controlled the access to Umm Qasr, Iraq’s chief port and naval base as long as the Shatt-el-Arab was disputed with Iran. It later became known that the Emir of Kuwait was preparing further measures of economic warfare against Iraq, including the printing of masses of counterfeit Iraqi currency notes which he was preparing to dump on the market in order to produce a crisis of hyperinflation in Iraq. Many of these themes were developed by Saddam Hussein in a July 17 address in which he accused the Emir of Kuwait of participation in a US-Zionist conspiracy to keep the price of oil depressed.
The Emir of Kuwait, Jaber el Saba, was a widely hated figure among Arabs and Moslems. He was sybaritic degenerate, fabulously wealthy, a complete parasite and nepotist, the keeper of a harem, and the owner of slaves, especially black slaves, for domestic use in his palace. The Saba family ran Kuwait as the private plantation of their clan, and Saba officials were notoriously cruel and stupid. Iraq, by contrast, was a modern secular state with high rates of economic growth, and possessed one of the highest standards of living and literacy rates in the Arab world. The status of women was one of the most advanced in the region, and religious freedom was extended to all churches.
Anglo-American strategy was thus to use economic warfare measures, including embargos on key technologies, to back Saddam Hussein into a corner. When the position of Iraq was judged sufficiently desperate, secret feelers from the Anglo-Americans offered Saddam Hussein encouragement to attack Kuwait, with secret guarantees that there would be no Anglo-American reaction. Reliable reports from the Middle East indicate that Saddam Hussein was told before he took Kuwait that London and Washington would not go to war against him. Saddam Hussein was given further assurances through December and January, 1991 that the military potential being assembled in his front would not be used against him, but would only permanently occupy Saudi Arabia. It is obvious that, in order to be believable on the part of the Iraqi leadership, these assurances had to come from persons known to exercise great power and influence in London and Washington– persons, let us say, in the same league with Henry Kissinger. One prime suspect who would fill the bill is Tiny Rowland, a property custodian of the British royal family and administrator of British post-colonial and neo-colonial interests in Africa and elsewhere. Tiny Rowland had been in Iraq in July, shortly before the Iraqi military made their move.
It is important to note that every aspect of the public conduct of the Bush regime until after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait had become a fait accompli was perfectly coherent with the assurances Saddam Hussein was receiving, namely that there would be no US military retaliation against Iraq for taking Kuwait.
The British geopoliticians so much admired by Bush are past masters of the intrigue of the invitatio ad offerendum, the suckering of another power into war. Invitatio ad offerendum means in effect “let’s you and him fight.” It is well known that US Secretary of State Dean Acheson, a close associate of Averell Harriman, had in January, 1950 officially and formally cast South Korea outside the pale of American protection, providing encouragement to Kim Il Sung to start the Korean war. There is every indication that the North Korean attack on South Korea in 1950 was also secretly encouraged by the British. Later, the British secretly encouraged Chinese intervention into that same war. The Argentinian seizure of the Malvinas Islands during 1982 was evidently preceeded by demonstrations of lethargic disinterest in the fate of these islands by the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington. Saddam Hussein’s attack on Iran in 1980 had been encouraged by US and British assurances that the Teheran government was collapsing and incapable of resistance.
As we have seen, the Pentagon knew of Iraqi troops massing on the border with Kuwait as for July 16-17. These troop concentrations were announced in the US press only on July 24, when the Washington Post reported that “Iraq has moved nearly 30,000 elite army troops to its border with Kuwait and the Bush administration put US warships in the Persian Gulf on alert as a dispute between the two gulf nations over oil production quotas intensified, US officials and Arab diplomats said yesterday.” The Iraqis had invited a group of western military attaches to travel by road from Kuwait City to Baghdad, during which time the western officers counted some 2,000 to 3,000 vehicles moving south with a further reinforcement of two divisions of the Republican Guards. [fn 30]
If Kuwait had been so vital to the security of the United States and the west, then it is clear that at any time between July 17 and August 1 –and that is to say during a period of almost two weeks– Bush could have issued a warning to Iraq to stay out of Kuwait, backing it up with some blood-curdling threats and serious, high-profile military demonstrations. Instead, Bush maintained a studied public silence on the situation and allowed his ambassador to convey a message to Saddam Hussein that was wholly misleading, but wholly coherent with the hypothesis of a British plan to sucker Saddam into war.
On July 24, press releases from the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon were balanced between support for the “moderate” Kuwaitis and Saudis on the one hand, and encouragement for an Arab-mediated peaceful settlement. Margaret Tutwiler at the State Department stressed that the United States had no committment to defend Kuwait:
We do not have any defense treaties with Kuwait and there are no special defense or security committments to Kuwait. We also remain strongly committed to supporting the individual and collective self-defense of our friends in the gulf, with whom we have deep and long-standing ties.
An anonymous US military official quoted by the Washington Post added that if Iraq seized a small amount of Kuwaiti territory as a means of gaining negotiating leverage in OPEC, “the United States probably would not directly challenge the move, but would join with all Arab governments in denouncing it and putting pressure on Iraq to back down.” Two US KC-135 air tankers were about to carry out refueling exercises with the United Arab Emirates Air Force, it was announced, and the six ships of the US Joint Task Force Middle East based in the Persian Gulf were deployed Monday July 23 for “communications support” for this air exercise, according to the Pentagon. Two of these US ships were in the northern Gulf, near the coasts of Iraq and Kuwait. [fn 31] But there was nothing blood-curdling about any of this, and Bush’s personal silence was the most eloquent of all. In addition, the Bush administration was lobbying in Congress during this week in opposition to a new round of Congressional trade sanctions against Iraq. Iraqi capabilities to take Kuwait were now in place, and the Bush regime had not reacted.
On July 25, US Ambassador April Glaspie met with Saddam Hussein, and conveyed a highly misleading message about the US view of the crisis. Glaspie assured Saddam Hussein that she was acting on direct instructions from Bush, and then delivered her celebrated line: “We have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflict, like your border disagreement with Kuwait.” There is every indication that these were indeed the instructions that had been given directly by the chief agent provocateur in the White House, Bush. “I have direct instructions from the president to seek better relations with Iraq,” Glaspie told Saddam. According to the Iraqi transcript of this meeting, Glaspie stressed that this had always been the US position: “I was in the American embassy in Kuwait during the late 1960’s. The instruction we had during this period was that we should express no opinion on this issue and the issue is not associated with America.” [fn 32] Saddam Hussein illustrated Iraq’s economic grievances and need of economic assistance for postwar reconstruction, points for which Ms. Glaspie expressed full US official comprehension. Shortly after this, April Glaspie left Kuwait to take her summer vacation, another signal of elaborate US government disinterest in the Kuwait-Iraq crisis.
According to the Washington Post of July 26, Saddam Hussein used the meeting with Glaspie to send Bush a message that “‘nothing will happen’ on the military front while this weekend’s mediation efforts are taking place.” The mediation referred to an effort by Egyptian President Mubarak and the Saudi government to organize direct talks between Iraq and Kuwait, which were tentatively set for the weekend of July 28-29 in Jeddah. Over that weekend, Bush still had absolutely nothing to say about the Gulf crisis. He refused to comment on what Thurgood Marshall had said about him and his man Souter: “I have a high regard for the separation of powers and for the Supreme Court,” was Bush’s reply to reporters. (Attorney General Thornburgh said he was “saddened” by Marshall’s comment.)
According to the Washington Post of July 30, the Saudi government announced on July 29 that the Iraqi-Kuwaiti talks, which had been postponed, would take place in Jeddah starting Tuesday, July 31. The Kuwaiti delegation abruptly walked out of these talks, a grandstanding gesture obviously calculated to incense the Iraqi leadership. On the morning of July 31, the Washington Post reported that the Iraqi troop buildup had now reached 100,000 men between Basra and the Kuwaiti border. At the Penatagon, when spokesman Pete Williams was pressed to comment on this story, he replied:
I’ve seen reports about the troops there, but we’ve never discussed here numbers or made any further comments on that. I think the State Department has some language they’ve been using about obviously being concerned about any buildup of forces in the area, and can go through, as we’ve gone through here, what our interests in the Gulf are, but we’ve never really gotten into numbers like that or given that kind of information out. [fn 33]
Even the escalation of the Iraqi troop buildup had not disturbed the official US posture of blase’ indifference in the face of the crisis. It was a deliberate and studied deception operation, what the Russians call maskirovka.
Bush would have known all about the additional Iraqi troops at least 36 hours earlier, through satellite photos and embassy reports. But still Bush remained silent as a tomb. Bush had plenty of opportunity that day to say something about the Gulf; he met with the GOP Congressional leadership for more than an hour on the morning of July 31 and, according to participants, told them he was “annoyed” at the pace of the budget talks, which remained stalemated. At this time the White House was receiving intelligence reports that made an Iraqi invasion seem more likely, and some officials were quoted in the New York Times of the next day as having “expressed growing concern that hostilities could break out….” But Bush said nothing, did nothing.
Then, in the afternoon, Bush reluctantly received a Latvian delegation led by Ivars Godmanis. The Latvian request for an audience had at first been rudely rejected by the White House, but then acceded to under pressure from some influential senators. Godmanis wanted recognition and aid, but Bush made no committments, and limited himself to asking several “very exact questions.”
On Wednesday, August 1, Bush was undoubtedly not amused by a New York Times account showing that one of his former top White House aides, Robert L. Thompson, had abused his access to government information in order to help his clients to make advantageous deals for themselves in buying S&Ls. In the evening, about 9 PM, reports began to reach Washington that Iraqi forces had crossed the border into Kuwait in large numbers. From the moment the crisis had emerged on July 16-17 until the moment of the invasion, Bush had preserved a posture of nonchalant silence. But now things began to happen very rapidly. Scowcroft and Bush drafted a statement which was released by 11:20 PM. This strongly condemned the Iraqi invasion and demanded “the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces.” The New York Times of August 2, in reporting the Iraqi invasion, recorded the surface posture of the Bush regime:
Despite its efforts to deter an attack on Kuwait, the Bush Administration never said precisely what the United States would do if Iraq launched a small scale or large scale attack on Kuwait. The vagueness of the American pronouncements, which eschewed any explicit promise to come to Kuwait’s assistance, disturbed some Kuwaiti officials, who hoped for a firmer statement of American intentions that would be backed up by a greater demonstration of military force.
On Thursday, Bush was scheduled to fly to Aspen Colorado for a meeting with Margaret Thatcher, a personage of whom Bush was in awe. Thatcher, whose rise to power had included a little help from Bush in sweeping the Labour Party out of government in accordance with the designs of Lord Victor Rothschild, had now been in power for over 11 years, and had assured her place in the pantheon of Anglo-Saxon worthies. This dessicated mummy of British imperialism had been invited to Aspen, Colorado, to hold forth on the future of the west, and Bush was scheduled to confer with her there. At 5 AM, Bush was awakened by Scowcroft, who had brought him the executive orders freezing all Iraqi and Kuwaiti assets in the US. At 8 AM the National Security Council gathered in the Cabinet Room. At the opening of this session there was a photo opportunity to let Bush put out the preliminary line on Iraq and Kuwait. Bush told the reporters:
We’re not discussing intervention.
Q: You’re not contemplating any intervention or sending troops?
Bush: I’m not contemplating such action, and I, again, would not discuss it if I were.
According to published accounts, during the meeting that followed the one prospect that got a rise out of Bush was the alleged Iraqi threat to Saudi Arabia. This, as we will see, was one of the main arguments used by Thatcher later in the day to goad Bush to irreversible committment to massive troop deployment and to war. A profile of Bush’s reactions on this score could easily have been communicated to Thatcher by Scowcroft or by other participants in the 8 AM meeting. Scowcroft was otherwise the leading hawk, raving that “We don’t have the option to appear not be acting.” [fn 34] This meeting nevertheless ended without any firm decisions for further measures beyond the freezing of assets already decided, and can thus be classified as inconclusive. During Bush’s flight to Aspen, Colorado, Bush got on the telephone with several Middle East leaders, who he said had urged him to forestall US intervention and allow ample time for an “Arab solution.”
Bush’s meetings with Thatcher in Aspen on Thursday, August 2, and on Monday, August 6 at the White House are of the most decisive importance in understanding the way in which the Anglo-Americans connived to unleash the Gulf war. Before meeting with Thatcher, Bush was clearly in an agitated and disturbed mental state, but had no bedrock committment to act in the Gulf crisis. After the sessions with Thatcher, Bush was rapidly transformed into a raving, monomaniacal warmonger and hawk. The transition was accompanied by a marked accentuation of Bush’s overall psychological impairment, with a much increased tendency towards rage episodes.
The impact of Bush’s Aspen meeting with Thatcher was thus to brainwash Bush towards a greater psychological disintegration, and towards a greater pliability and suggestibility in regard’s to London’s imperial plans. One can speculate that the “Iron Lady” was armed with a Tavistock Institute psychological profile of Bush, possibly centering on young George’s feelings of inadequacy when he was denied the love of his cold, demanding Anglo-Saxon sportswoman mother. Perhaps Thatcher’s underlying psychological gameplan in this (and previous) encounters with Bush was to place herself along the line of emotional cathexis associated in Bush’s psyche with the internalized image of his mother Dorothy, especially in her demanding and domineering capacity as the grey eminence of the Ranking Committee. George had to do something to save the embattled English-speaking peoples, Thatcher might have hinted. Otherwise, he would be letting down the side in precisely the way which he had always feared would lose him his mother’s love. But to do something for the Anglo-Saxons in their hour of need, George would have to be selfless and staunch and not think of himself, just as mother Dorothy had always demanded: he would have to risk his entire political career by deploying US forces in overwhelming strength to the Gulf. This might have been the underlying emotional content of Thatcher’s argument.
On a more explicit level, Thatcher also possessed an array of potent arguments. Back in 1982, she might have recalled, she had fallen in the polls and was being written off for a second term as a result of her dismal economic performance. But then the Argentinians seized the Malvinas, and she, Thatcher, acting in defiance of her entire cabinet and of much of British public opinion, had sent the fleet into the desperate gamble of the Malvinas war. The British had reconquered the islands, and the resultant wave of jingoism and racist chauvinism had permitted Thatcher to consolidate her regime until the present day. Thatcher knew about the “no new taxes” controversy and the Neil Bush affair, but all of that would be quickly suppressed and forgotten once the regiments began to march off to the Saudi front. For Bush, this would have been a compelling package.
As far as Saddam Hussein was concerned, Thatcher’s argument is known to have been built around the ominous warning, “He won’t stop!” Her message was that MI-6 and the rest of the fabled British intelligence apparatus had concluded that Saddam Hussein’s goal would be an immediate military invasion and occupation of the immense Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with its sensitive Moslem holy places, its trackless deserts and its warlike Bedouins. Since Thatcher was familar with Bush’s racist contempt for Arabs and other dark-skinned peoples, which she emphatically shared, she would also have laid great stress on the figure of Saddam Hussein and the threat he posed to Anglo-Saxon interests. The Tavistock profile would have included how threatened Bush felt in his psycho-sexual impotence by tough customers like Saddam, whom nobody had ever referred to as little Lord Fauntleroy.
At this moment in the Gulf crisis, the only competent political-military estimate of Iraqi intentions was that Saddam Hussein had no intent of going beyond Kuwait, a territory to which Baghdad had a long-standing claim, arguing that the British Empire had illegally established its secret protectorate over the southern part of the Ottoman Empire’s province of Basra in 1899. This estimate that Iraq had no desire to become embroiled with Saudi Arabia was repeated during the first week of the crisis by such qualified experts as former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Aikens, and by the prominent French military leader Gen. Lacaze. Even General Schwarzkopf though it highly unlikely that Saddam would move against Saudi Arabia.
In her public remarks in Aspen, Thatcher began the new phase in the racist demonization of Saddam Hussein by calling his actions “intolerable” in a way that Syrian and Israeli occupations of other countries’ lands seemingly were not. She asserted that “a collective and effective will of the nations belonging to the UN” would be necessary to deal with the crisis. Thatcher’s travelling entourage from the Foreign Office had come equipped with a strategy to press for mandatory economic sanctions and possible mandatory military action against Iraq under the provisions of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Soon Bush’s entourage had also picked up this new fad.
Bush had now changed his tune markedly. He had suddenly and publicly re-acquired his military options. When asked about his response, he stated:
We’re not ruling any options in but we’re not ruling any options out.
Bush also revealed that he had told the Arab leaders with whom he had been in contact during the morning that the Gulf crisis “had gone beyond simply a regional dispute because of the naked aggression that violates the United Nations charter.” These formulations were I.D. format Thatcher-speak. Bush condemned Saddam for “his intolerable behavior,” again parrotting Thatcher’s line. Bush was now “very much concerned” about the safety of other small Gulf states. Bush also referred to the hostage question, saying that threats to American citizens would “affect the United States in a very dramatic way because I view a fundamental responsibility of my presidency [as being] to protect American citzens.” Bush added that he had talked with Thatcher about British proposals to press for “collective efforts” by members of the United Nations against Iraq. The Iraqi invasion was a “totally unjustified act,” Bush went on. It was now imperative that the “international community act together to ensure that Iraqi forces leave Kuwait immediately. Bush revealed that he and his advisors were now examing the “next steps” to end the crisis. Bush said he was “somewhat heartened” by his telephone conversations with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, King Hussein of Jordan, and Gen. Ali Abdallah Salib of Yemen.
There is every reason to believe that Bush’s decision to launch US military intervention and war was taken in Aspen, under the hypnotic influence of Thatcher. Any residual hesitancy displayed in secret councils was merely dissembling to prevent his staffs from opposing that decision. Making a strategic decision of such collossal implications on the basis of a psycho-manipulative pep talk from Thatcher suggests that Bush’s hyperthyroid condition was already operating; the hyperthyroid patient notoriously tends to resolve complicated and far-reaching alternatives with quick, snap decisions. Several published accounts have sought to argue that the decision for large-scale intervention did not come until Saturday at Camp David, but these accounts belong to the “red Studebaker” school of coverup. The truth is that Bush went to war as the racist tail on the British imperial kite, cheered on by the Kissinger cabal that permeated and dominated his administration. As the London Daily Telegraph gloated, Mrs. Thatcher had “stiffened [Bush’s] resolve.”
Bush had been scheduled to stay overnight in Aspen, but he now departed immediately for Washington. Later, the White House said that Bush had been on the phone with Saudi King Fahd, who had agreed that the Iraqi invasion was “absolutely unacceptable.” [fn 35] On the return trip and through the evening, the Kissingerian operative Scowcroft continued to to press for military intervention, playing down the difficulties which other avdisers had been citing. Given Kissinger’s long-standing relationship with London and the Foreign Office, it was no surprise that Scowcroft was fully on the London line.
Before the day was out, “the orders started flooding out of the Oval Office. The president had all of these diplomatic pieces in his head. The UN piece. The NATO piece. The Middle east piece. He was meticulous, methodical, and personal,” according to one official. [fn 36]
The next morning was Friday, August 3, and Bush called another NSC meeting at the White House. The establishment media like the New York Times were full of accounts of how Iraq was allegedly massing troops along the southern border of Kuwait, about to pounce on Saudi Arabia. Scowcroft, with Bush’s approval, bludgeoned the doubters into a discussion of war options. Bush ordered the CIA to prepare a plan to overthrow or assassinate Saddam Hussein, and told Cheney, Powell, and Gen. Schwarzkopf to prepare military options for the next day. Bush was opening the door to war slowly, so as to keep all of his civilian and military advisers on board. Later on Friday, Prince Bandar, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington, met with Bush. According to one version, Bush pledged his word of honor to Bandar that he would “see this through with you.” Bandar was widely reputed to be working for the CIA and other western intelligence agencies. There were also reports that he had Ethiopian servants in the Saudi embassy in Washington, near the Kennedy Center, who were chattel slaves according to United Nations definitions.
When the time came in the afternoon to walk to his helicopter on the White House south lawn for the short flight to the Camp David retreat in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland, Bush stopped at the microphones that were set up there, a procedure that became a habit during the Gulf crisis. There was something about these moments of entering and leaving the White House that heightened Bush’s psychological instability; the leaving and arriving rituals would often be the moments of some of his worst public tantrums. At this point Bush was psyching himself up towards the fit that he would act out on his Sunday afternoon return. But there was already no doubt that Bush’s bellicosity was rising by the hour. With Kuwait under occupation, he said, “the status quo is unacceptable and further expansion” by Iraq “would be even more unacceptable.” This formulation already pointed to an advance into Kuwait. He also stressed Saud Arabia: “If they ask for specific help– it depends obviously on what it is– I would be inclined to help in any way we possibly can.” [fn 37]
On Saturday morning, August 4, Bush met with his entourage in Camp David, present Quayle, Cheney, Sununu, William Webster, Wolfowitz, Baker, Scowcroft, Powell, Schwarzkopf, Fitzwater, and Richard Haas of the NSC staff. Military advisers, especially Colin Powell, appear to have directed Bush’s attention to the many problems associated with military intervention. According to one version, Gen. Schwarzkopf estimated that it would take 17 weeks to move a defensive, deterrent force of 250,000 troops into the region, and between 8 and 12 months to assemble a ground force capable of driving the Iraqi army out of Kuwait. For the duration of the crisis, the Army would remain the most reluctant, while the Air Force, including Scowcroft, would be the most eager to open hostilities. Bush sensed that he had to stress the defense of Saudi Arabia to keep all of his bureaucratic players on board, and to garner enough public support to carry out the first phase of the buildup. Then, perhaps three months down the line, preferably after the November elections, he could unveil the full offensive buildup that would carry him into war with Iraq. “That’s why our defense of Saudi Arabia has to be our focus,” Bush is reported to have said at this meeting. This remark was calculated to cater to the views of Gen. Powell, who was thinking primarily in these defensive terms. [fn 38] When the larger NSC meeting dispersed, Bush met with a more restricted group including Quayle, Sununu, Baker, Scowcroft, Cheney, Powell, and Webster. This session was dominated by the fear that the Saudi Arabian monarchy, which would have to be coerced into agreeement with plans for a US military buildup on its territory, would prefer a compromise solution negotiated among the Arabs to the Anglo-Saxon war hysteria. The Saudis were not all as staunch as the American agent Prince Bandar; the presence of large contingents of infidel ground troops, including Jews and women, would create such friction with Saudi society as to pose an insoluble political problem. There was great racist vituperation of the Arabs in general: they could not be trusted, they were easy to blackmail. This meeting produced a decision that Bush would call Saudi King Fahd and demand that he accept a large US ground force contingent in addition to aircraft.
As Bush feared, Fahd was inclined to reject the US ground forces. There was a report that Iraq had announced that its forces would leave Kuwait on Sunday, and Fahd wanted to see if that happened. Fahd had not yet been won over to the doctrine of war at any cost. Through an intrigue of Prince Bandar, who knew that this difficulty might arise, King Fahd was prevailed upon to receive a US “briefing team” to illustrate the threat to him and demand that he approve the US buildup on his territory. Fahd thought that all he was getting were a few briefing officers. But Bush saw this as a wedge for greater things. “I want to do this. I want to do it big time,” Bush told Scowcroft. [fn 39] By now Bush had launched into his “speed-dialing” mode, calling heads of state and government one after the other, organizing for an economic embargo and a military confrontation with Iraq. One important call was to Sheikh Jabir al Ahmed al Sabah, the degenerate Emir of Kuwait, representative of a family who had been British assets since 1899 and Bush’s business partners since the days of Zapata Offshore in the late 1950’s. Other calls went to Turgut Oezal of Turkey, whom Bush pressed to cut off Iraq’s use of oil pipelines across his territory. Another call went to Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney, who was also in deep domestic political trouble, and who was inclined to join the Anglo-Saxon mobilization. During the course of Saturday, White House officials began to spread a deception story that Bush had been “surprised by the invasion this week and largely unprepared to respond quickly,” as the next day’s New York Times alleged.
At 8 AM on Sunday morning, there was another meeting of the NSC at Camp David with Bush, Baker, Cheney, Scowcroft, Powell and various aides. This time the talk was almost exclusively devoted to military options. Bush designated Cheney for the Saudi mission, and Cheney left Washington for Saudi Arabia in the middle of Sunday afternoon.
Bush now boarded a helicopter for the flight from Camp David back to the White House south lawn. Up to this point, Bush was firmly committed to war in his own mind, and had been acting on that decision in his secret councils of regime, but he had carefully avoided making that decision clear in public. We are now approaching the moment when he would do so. Let us contemplate George Bush’s state of mind as he rode in his helicopter from Camp David towards Washington on that early August Sunday afternoon. According to one published account, Bush was “in a mood that White House officials describe variously as mad, testy, peevish, and, to use a favorite bit of Bush-speak, spleen-venting.” This observer, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, compared Reagan’s relaxed or somniferous crisis style with Bush’s hyperkinesis: Reagan, she recalled, “slept peacefully” during clashes of US and Libyan planes over the Mediterranean, but “Mr. Bush, by contrast, becomes even more of a dervish” in such moments. According to Ms. Dowd, “by the time the president came home from Camp David on Sunday afternoon, he was feeling frustrated and testy. He was worried that the situation in Kuwait was deteriorating, and intelligence reports showed him that the Iraqis were beginning to mass at the Kuwait-Saudi border. He was also disappointed in the international response.” [fn 40] As Bush was approaching Washington, Bush called his press secretary, Marlin Fitzwater, to ask him his opinion about whether to pause at the microphones on the south lawn before going into the White House. Fitzwater appears to have supported the idea.
According to Ms. Dowd, an eyewitness, Bush was “visibly furious” when he climbed out of his helicopter. As Bush walked towards the microphones, he was accosted by Richard Haas of the NSC staff who thrust a cable into Bush’s hands. Bush read the cable, scowling. However ugly his mood had been before he had seen the memo, reading it sent him into an apoplectic rage. According to White House officials, this cable contained information about the dimensions of the Iraqi troop buildup and indicated that the Iraqi troops were moving south towards the Saudi border, and not leaving Kuwait. [fn 41] According to Ms. Dowd, this was the secret memo that “seemed to spark the President’s irritation at his news conference. In any case, Bush now launched into a violent diatribe that left no doubt that as far as he was considered, the desired outcome was now war.
In Bush’s opening statement, he summarized the result of his frenetic “speed dialing” exercise: Oezal, Kaifu, Mulroney, Mitterrand, Kohl, Thatcher, the Emir of Kuwait had all been reached. The alleged result:
What’s emerging is nobody is — seems to be showing up as willing to accept anything less than total withdrawal from Iraq, from Kuwait of the Iraqi forces, and no puppet regime. We’ve been down that road, and there will be no puppet regime that will be accepted by any countries that I’m familiar with. And there seems to be a united front out there that says Iraq, having committed brutal, naked aggression, ought to get out and that the– this concept of their installing some puppet leaving behind will not be acceptable. So, we’re pushing forward on diplomacy. We’ve gotten– tomorrow I will meet here in Washington with the Secretary General of the United Nations– I mean, the Secretary General of NATO– and Margaret Thatcher will be coming in here tomorrow, and I will be continuing this diplomatic effort.
What about the situation on the ground? Had Iraq pulled out?
Iraq lied once again. They said they were going to start moving out today and we have no evidence that they’re moving out.
A question about the embassies in Kuwait City launched Bush into his enraged crescendo, punctuated by menacing histrionics:
I’m not trying to characterize threats. The threat is the vicious aggression against Kuwait. And that speaks for itself. And anything collaterally is just simply more indication that these are outlaws — international outlaws and renegades. And I want to see the United Nations move soon with Chapter 7 sanctions. And I want to see the rest of the world join us, as they are in overwhelming numbers, to isoltate Saddam Hussein.
When asked how a puppet regime could be prevented, Bush snapped, “Just wait. Watch and learn.” Since he had made so many calls, had he tried to get through to Saddam Hussein? “No. No, I have not.” The policy of refusing to negotiate with Iraq would be maintained all the way to the end of the war. What about King Hussein of Jordan, who was known to be attempting a mediation? “I talked to him once and that’s all,” hissed Bush. “But he’s embraced Saddam Hussein. He went to Baghdad and embraced–” said one questioner. “What’s your question? I can read,” raged Bush. Was Bush disappointed with King Hussein?
I want to see the Arab states join the rest of the world in condemning this outrage and doing what they can to get Saddam Hussein out. Now. He was talking– King Hussein– about an Arab solution, but I am disappointed to find any comment by anyone that apologizes or appears to condone what’s taken place.
Bush elaborated a few seconds later that there was no possibility of an Arab solution:
Well. I was told by one leader that I respect enormously– I believe this was back on Friday– that they needed 48 hours to find what was called an Arab solution. That obviously has failed. And of course I’m disappointed that the matter hasn’t been resolved before now. This is a very serious matter. I’ll take one more and then I’ve got to go to work over here.
The last question was about possible steps to protect American citizens, a question that the administration wanted to play down at the beginning, and play up later on. Bush concluded:
I am not going to discuss what we’re doing in terms of moving of forces, anything of that nature. But I view it very seriously, not just that, but any threat to any other countries as well, as I view very seriously our determination to reverse this aggression. And please believe me, there are an awful lot of countries that are in total accord with what I’ve just said. And I salute them. They are staunch friends and allies. And we will be working with them all for collective action. This will not stand. This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait. I’ve got to go. I have to go to work. I’ve got to go to work. [fn 42]
This was the beginning of the war psychosis, and there is no doubt that the leading war psychotic was Bush himself.
A number of aspects of this performance merit underlining. The confusion of Manfred Woerner with Perez de Cuellar will be the first of a number of such gaffes committed by Bush over the next few days. “Naked aggression” is once again Thatcher’s term. Thatcher is mentioned twice in a way that suggests that Bush had been on the phone with her again after leaving Aspen. Indeed, the code word “staunch” towards the end, which for Bush can only be associated with the British, implies that Bush’s entire episode had been coordinated with Thatcher in advance. In regard to Saddam Hussein, in addition to the direct contact that was never attempted we have here the beginning of a cascade of verbal abuse that would continue through the course of the buildup and the war. According to many observers, the purpose of these gratuitous insults was to make a compromise settlement through negotiations impossible by casting aspersions on Saddam Hussein’s honor. This might have reflected advice from Arabists of the type known to inhabit the British Foreign Office. Bush’s responses concerning King Hussein of Jordan were very ominous for the Hashemite monarch, and left no doubt that Bush regarded any Arab-sponsored peaceful solution as an unfriendly act. Indeed, Bush here declared the Arab solution dead. No greater sabotage of peace efforts in the region could be imagined. Bush’s stress on Kuwait indicates that his subsequent presentation of his troop deployments as serving the defense of Saudi Arabia was disinformation, and that the US occupation of Kuwait was his goal all along. Finally, the combination of the manic tone, the confusion of the two Secretaries General, and the obsessive “I’ve got to go to work” repeated three times at the end combine to suggest a state of psychological upheaval, with the thyroid undoubtedly making its contribution to Bush’s flight forward. But, for the positive side of Bush’s ledger, notice that there were no questions about new taxes or Neil Bush.
“Was Bush’s Sunday diatribe staged?”, asked the Washington Post some days later. White House officials denied it. “He did it because he felt that way,” said one. “There was no intention beforehand to assume a posture just for the impact.” [fn 43] Dr. Josef Goebbels was famous for his ability to deliver a speech as if it were a spontaneous emotional outburst, and the afterward cynically review it point by point and stratagem by stratagem. There is much evidence that Bush did not possess this degree of lucidity and internal critical distance.
Bush went into the White House for yet another meeting of the NSC. At this meeting, it was already a foregone conclusion that there would be a large US military deployment, although that had never been formally deliberated by the NSC. It had been a solo decision by Bush. There was now only the formality of Saudi assent.
Monday at the White House was dominated by the presence of Margaret Thatcher at her staunchest. Thatcher’s theme was now that the enforcement of the economic sanctions voted by the UN would require a naval blockade in which the Anglo-Saxon combined fleets would play the leading role. Thatcher’s first priority was that the sanctions had to be made to work. But if Washington and London were to conclude that a naval blockade were necessary for that end, she went on, “you would have to consider such a move.” Thatcher carted out her best Churchillian rhetoric to advertize that Britain already had one warship stationed in the Persian Gulf, and that two more frigates, one from Mombassa and one from Malaysia, were on their way. “Those sanctions must be enforceable,” raved Thatcher, who had never accepted economic sanctions against South Africa. “I cannot remember a time when we had the world so strongly together against an action as now.”
Bush immediately took Thatcher’s cue: “We need to discuss full and total implementation of these sanctions, ruling out nothing at all. These sanctions must be enforced. I think the will of the nations around the world– not just the NATO countries– not just the EC, not just one area of the world– the will of the nations around the world will be to enforce these sanctions. We’ll leave the details of how we implement it to the future, but we’ll begin working on that immediately. That’s how we go about encouraging others to do that and what we ourselves should be doing.” [fn 44] In the midst of these proceedings, NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner showed up, and tried his hand at being staunch, but he could not come close to Thatcher. All of a sudden, the British were at the center of things again, the most important country, all on the basis of the token forces they were deploying. With Thatcher there, Bush had the fig-leaf of an instant international coalition to use as a bludgeon against domestic critics.
The breast-beating about the enforcement of the sanctions signalled that the Anglo-Americans were going on a diplomatic offensive against countries like Germany, Japan, and many in the third world who might have assumed a neutral or pacifist position in the crisis. Baker had been travelling in Siberia with Shevardnadze when Iraq had entered Kuwait, and Soviet condemnation of Iraq had been immediate. Many countries, especially in the third world, now found that with the Soviets closing ranks with the Anglo-Americans, the margin of maneuver they had enjoyed during the cold war was now totally gone. Countries like Jordan, the Sudan, Yemen, the PLO, and others who expressed understanding for Iraqi motives went to the top of the Anglo-American hit list. Bush assumed the role of top cop himself, with gusto: according to Fitzwater, the “speed dialing mode” had produced 20 calls to 12 different world leaders over slightly more than three days.
When Cheney arrived in Saudi Arabia, the essence of his mission was to convey to King Fahd and his retinue that the first elements of the 82nd Airborne Division would be landing within an hour or two, and that the Saudi monarchy would be well advised to welcome them. In effect, Cheney was there to tell the Saudis that they were an occupied country, and that the United States would assume physical possession of most of the Arabian peninsula, with all of its fabulous oil wealth. Did King Fahd think of protesting the arrogance of Cheney’s ultimatum? If he did, he had only to think of the fate of his predecessor, King Feisal, who had been murdered by the CIA in 1975. By the time King Fahd acquiesced, the first US units were already on the ground. Cheney went through the charade of calling Bush to tell him that the dispatch of a US contingent for the defense of Saudi Arabia had been approved by His Majesty, and then formally to ask Bush’s approval for the transfer of the troops. “You got it. Go,” Bush is supposed to have replied. Bahrein, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, all the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council would soon be subject to the same process of military occupation.
The US expeditionary force in Saudi Arabia became widely known in Washington on Tuesday, August 7, as White House officials hastened to share the news with journalists. Bush personally wanted to stay out of the spotlight. At a Cabinet meeting, Bush told his advisers that his regime had warned the Saudi government that the threat posed by the Iraqi military to Saudi Arabia was also a threat to the national security of the United States. According to Fitzwater, Saddam Hussein met with the US charge d’affaires in Baghdad, Joseph Wilson, to tell him that “he had no intention of leaving Kuwait and every intention of staying and claiming it as his own.”
On Wednesday morning, Bush delivered a televised address to the American people from the Oval Office. This was still a format that he disliked very much, since it made him seem maladroit. Bush grinned incongruously as he read his prepared text. He told the public that his troop deployments were “to take up defensive positions in Saudi Arabia.” These US forces would “work together with those of Saudi Arabia and other nations to preserve the integrity of Saudi Arabia and to deter further Iraqi aggression.” He inaugurated the Anglo-American Big Lie that the Iraqi actions had been “without provocation,” which readers of daily newspapers knew not to be true. He also minted the story that Iraq possessed “:the fourth largest military in the world,” a wild exaggeration that was repeated many times. The “new Hitler” theme was already prominent: “Appeasement does not work,” Bush asserted. “As was the case in the 1930’s, we see in Saddam Hussein an aggressive dictator threatening his neighbors….His promises mean nothing.” Bush summed up the goals of his policy as follows:
First, we seek the immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Second, Kuwait’s legitimate government must be restored to replace the puppet regime. And third, my administration, as has been the case with every president from President Roosevelt to President Reagan, is committed to the security and stability of the Persian Gulf. And fourth, I am determined to protect the lives of American citizens abroad. [fn 45]
None of this appeared to include offensive military action. Bush attempted to re-enforce that false impression in his news conference later the same afternoon. It was during this appearance that the extent of Bush’s mental disintegration and psychic dissociation became most evident. But first, Bush wanted to stress his “defensive” cover story:
Well, as you know, from what I said, they’re there in a defensive mode right now, and therefore that is not the mission, to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait. We have economic sanctions that I hope will be effective to that end.
The purpose, he stressed, was the “defense of the Saudis.” “We’re not in a war,” Bush added. After several exchanges, he was asked what had tipped his hand in deciding to send troops and aircraft into Saudi Arabia? If this had been a polygraph test, the needles would have jumped, since this went to Bush’s collusion with Thatcher long before any annoucement had been made. Bush replied:
There was no one single thing that I can think of. But when King Fahd requested such support we were prompt to respond. But I can’t think of an individual specific thing. If there was one it would perhaps be the Saudis moving south when they said they were withdrawing….
The press corps stirred uneasily and one or two voices could be heard prompting Bush “The Iraqis…the Iraqis” There was acute embarrassment on the faces of Sununu and Fitzwater; this was the classic gaffe of cold war presidents who confused North Korea and South Korea, or East Germany and West Germany. Bush’s forte was supposedly international affairs; he had travelled to both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as a government official and before that as a businessman. So this gaffe pointed to a disorder of the synapses. Bush realized what he had done and tried to recover:
I mean the Iraqis, thank you very much. It’s been a long night. The Iraqis moving down to the Kuwait-Saudi border, when indeed they have given their word that they were withdrawing. That heightened our concern.
Why had it been a long night for Bush? He had made all of his important decisions on the troop movements during the day on Tuesday. What had robbed him of his sleep between Tuesday and Wednesday? Those who have read this far will know that it was not conscience. A little later there was another sensitive question, touching on the mission of the troops and the possible future occupation of Saudi Arabia, postwar bases, and the like: “Could you share with us the precise military objective of this mission? Will the American troops remain there only until Saddam Hussein removes his troops from the Saudi border?” Bush, obviously in deep water, answered:
I can’t answer that because we have to– we have a major objective with those troops, which is the defense of the Soviet Union, so I think it beyond a defense of Saudi Arabia. So I think it’s beyond the– I think it’s beyond just the question of tanks along the border…
The defense of the Soviet Union! But Bush pressed on: “I’m not preparing for a long ground war in the Persian Gulf.” “My military objective is to see Saudi Arabia defended.” Did he feel that he had been let down by his intelligence?
No, I don’t feel let down by the intelligence at all. When you plan a blitzkrieg-like attack that’s launched at two o’clock in the morning, that’s pretty hard to stop, particularly when you have just been given the word of the people involved that there won’t be any such attack. And I think the intelligence community deserves certain credit for picking up what was a substantial boycott– a substantial buildup– and then reporting it to us. So when this information was relayed, properly, to interested parties, that the move was so swift that it was pretty hard for them to stop it. I really can’t blame our intelligence in any way, fault them, on this particular go-round.
Once again, the gaffe on boycott/buildup occurs at a moment of maximum prevarication. Bush’s gibberish is dictated by his desire say on the one hand that he knew about the Iraqi troop buildup almost two weeks before the invasion, but on the other that the invasion came as a bolt from the blue. There was no follow-up on this theme.
The final portion of the press conference was devoted to the very important theme of the UN sanctions railroaded through the Security Council by the Anglo-Americans with the help of their willing French, Soviet and Chinese partners. The sanctions were in themselves an act of genocide against Iraq and the other populations impacted in the region. The sanctions, maintained after the war had ceased with the pretext that Saddam Hussein was still in power, have proven more lasting than the war itself, and they may yet prove more lethal. The Congressional debate in January was fought almost exclusively between the stranglers of the Democratic Party, who wanted to “give the sanctions more time to work,” and the bombers of the Bush Administration and the Republican Party who wanted to initiate an air war. Both positions constituted high crimes against humanity. Bush wanted to argue for the inviolability of these sanctions, but he did so in such a way as to underline the monstrous and hypocritical double standard that was being applied to Iraq:
…And that’s what has been so very important about this concerted United Nations effort, unprecedented, you might say, or certainly not enacted since– what was it, 23 years ago? 23 years ago. So I don’t think we can see clearly down that road.
What Bush has in mind here, but does not mention by name, were the United Nations sanctions against the racist Ian Smith regime in Rhodesia. Perhaps Bush was reluctant to mention the Rhodesian sanctions because the United States officially violated those sanctions by an act of Congress, and UN Ambassador George Bush as we have seen, was one of the principal international apologists for the US policy of importing strategic raw materials from Rhodesia because of an allegedly pre-eminent US national interest. Bush’s final response shows that he was fully aware that the economic sanctions designed by the State Department and the Foreign Office would mean genocide against Iraqi children, since they contained an unprecedented prohibition of food imports:
Well, I don’t know what they owe us for food, but I know that this embargo, to be successful, has got to encompass everything. And if there are– you know, if there’s a humanitarian concern, pockets of starving children, or something of this nature, why, I would take a look. But other than that this embargo is going to be all-encompassing, and it will include food, and I don’t know what Iraq owes us now for food. Generally speaking, in normal times, we have felt that food might be separated out from– you know, grain, wheat, might be separated out from other economic sanctions. But this one is all-encompassing and the language is pretty clear in the United Nations resolutions. [fn 46]
As a final gesture, Bush acknowledged to the journalists that he had “slipped up a couple times here,” and thanked them for having corrected him, so that his slips and gaffes would not stand as a part of the permanent record. Bush had now done his work; he had set into motion the military machine that would first strangle, and then bomb Iraq. Within two days, Bush was on his way to Walker’s Point in Kennebunkport, where his handlers hoped that the dervish would pull himself together.
During August, Bush pursued a hyperactive round of sports activities in Kennebunkport, while cartoonists compared the Middle East to the sandtraps that Bush so often landed in during his frenetic daily round of golf. On August 16, King Hussein of Jordan, who was fighting to save his nation from being dismembered by the Israelis under the cover of the crisis, came to visit Bush, who welcomed him with thinly veiled hatred. At this time Bush was already talking about mobilizing the reserves. Saddam Hussein’s situation during these weeks can be compared with Noriega’s on the eve of the US invasion of Panama. The US was as yet very weak on the ground, and a preventive offensive thrust by the Iraqis into Saudi Arabia towards Dahran would have caused an indescribable chaos in the US logistics. But Saddam, like Noriega, still believed that he would not be invaded; the Iraqi government gave more credit to its secret assurances than to the military force that was slowly being assembled on its southern border. Saddam therefore took no pre-emptive military actions to interfere with the methodical marshalling of the force that was later to devastate his country. The key to the US buildup was the logistical infrastructure of NATO in Europe; without this the buildup would have lasted until the summer of 1991 and beyond.
It was during these August days that Scowcroft coined the slogan of Bush’s Gulf war. On August 23, Scowcroft told reporters, “We believe we are creating the beginning of a new world order out of the collapse of US-Soviet antagonisms.” [fn 47]
Bush was now conducting a systematic “mind war” campaign to coerce the American people into accepting the war he had already chosen. On August 20, Bush introduced a new rhetorical note, now calling the American citizens detained in Iraq “hostages.” Under international law, the imminent threat of acts of war against a country entitles that country to intern enemy aliens as a matter of self-defense; this had been the rule in earlier wars. Henceforth, Bush would attempt to turn the hostage issue on and off according to his propaganda needs, until Iraq freed all the Americans in early December.
On August 27, Bush opined that “Saddam Hussein has been so resistant to complying with international law that I don’t yet see fruitful negotiations.” [fn 48] Statements like these were made to cloak the fact that Bush was adamantly refusing to negotiate with Iraq, and preventing other nations from doing so. Bush’s diplomatic posture was in effect an ultimatum to Iraq to get out of Kuwait, with the Iraqi departure to come before any discussions. Bush called this a refusal to reward aggression; it was in fact a refusal to negotiate in good faith, and made clear that Bush wanted war. His problem was that the US military buildup was taking longer than expected, with ship convoys forced to turn back in the Atlantic because freighters broke down and were left dead in the water. Bush strove to fill the time with new demagogic propaganda gambits.
Bush returned to Washington at the end of August to address members of Congress. In the public part of this meeting, Bush reiterated that his goal was to “persuade Iraq to withdraw.” There followed an executive session behind closed doors. The next day Bush recorded a broadcast to the US forces in the Gulf, which was beamed to Saudi Arabia by the Armed Forces Radio. “Soldiers of peace will always be more than a match for a tyrant bent on aggression,” Bush told the troops. During early September, it became evident that that the US and Soviet approaches to the Gulf crisis were beginning to show some signs of divergence. Up to this point, Foreign Minister Shevardnadze had backed every step made by Bush and Baker, but the US Gulf intervention was not popular among Red Army commanders and among Soviet Moslems who were disturbed by the infidel occupation of the holy places. On September 9, Bush met with Gorbachov in Helsinki, Finnland in order to discuss this and other matters of interest to a condominium in which the Anglo-Saxons were now more than ever the senior partners. Gorbachov spoke up for “a political solution” to the conflict, but his government willingly took part in every vote of the UN Security Council which opened the way to the Gulf war. A few days later, on September 15, Bush received precious support from his masonic brother Francois Mitterrand, who exploited a trifling incident involving French diplomatic premises in Kuwait — the sort of thing that Bush had done repeatedly in Panama — massively to escalate the French troop presence and rhetoric in the Gulf. “C’est une aggression, et nous allons y repondre,” said the master of the Grand Orient; the spirit of Suez 1956, the spirit of the Algerian war and of Dienbienphu were alive and well in France.
To while away the weeks of the buildup, Bush busied himself with extortion. This was directed especially against Germany and Japan, two countries that were targets of the Gulf war, and whom Bush now called upon to pay for it. The constitutions of these countries prevented them from sending military contingents, and intervention would have been unpopular with domestic public opinion in any case. Japan was assessed $4 billion in tribute, and Germany a similar sum. By the end of the crisis, Bush and Baker had organized a $55 billion shakedown at the expense of a series of countries. These combined to produce the first balance of payments surplus for the United States in recent memory during the first quarter of 1991, obtaining a surcease for the dollar.
But even prediscounting this extorted tribute, the fiscal crisis of the US Treasury was becoming overwhelming. On September 11, Bush was to address the Congress on the need for austerity measures to reduce the deficit for the coming fiscal year. But Bush did not wish to appear before the Congress as a simple bankrupt; he wanted to strut before them as a warrior. The resulting speech was a curious hybrid, first addressing the Gulf crisis, and only then turning to the dolorous balance sheets of the regime. It was in this speech that Bush repeated the Scowcroft slogan that will accompany his regime into the dust bin of history: The New World Order. After gloatingly quoting Gorbachov’s condemnation of “Iraq’s aggression,” Bush came to the relevant passage:
Clearly, no longer can a dictator count on East-West confrontation to stymie concerted United Nations action against aggression. A new partnership of nations has begun, and we stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment. The crisis in the Persian Gulf, as grave as it is, also offers a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective –a new world order– can emerge: A new era– freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice and more secure in the quest for peace. An era in which the nations of the world, east and west, north and south, can propser and live in harmony. [fn 49]
During August and September, Bush’s Gulf offensive had allowed him to dominate the headlines and news broadcasts with bellicose posturing and saber-rattling in the crisis which he had assiduously helped to create. Now, during October, the awesome economic depression produced by the bipartisan economic policies of the Eastern Liberal Establishment over a quarter-century re-asserted its presence with all the explosive force of reality long denied.
All during August and September, the haggling had continued between Bush and the Congressional leadership about how optimally to inflict more drastic austerity on the American people. The haggling had recessed in August, but had resumed in great secrecy on September 7, with the elite group of participants sequestered from the world at a military air base near Washington. The haggling proceeded slowly, and key budget deadlines built into the Gramm-Rudman calendar began to slip by: September 10, September 15, and September 25 were missed. It was now apparent that the final deadline posed for the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1 could not be met; there was a danger of a Gramm-Rudman “train wreck” or automatic, across the board sequester of budget spending authority. On September 30, Bush and the elite Congressional summiteers appeared in a Rose Garden ceremony to announce a five-year, $500 billion deficit reduction package, allegedly featuring $40 billion in deficit reduction during the first year, to be submitted to Congress for rubber-stamping. This plan contained higher taxes on gasoline, cigarettes, liquor, luxury items, plus savage cuts on defense, Medicare for the elderly, and farm payments. It was unsweetened by Bush’s favorite nostrum for fatcats, a cut in the capital gains tax. Tax deductions were limited for the most wealthy. George, squirming under warnings from all sides, but especially the GOP right wing, that this deal codified his infamous betrayal of June 26, tried to be a little contrite:
Sometimes you don’t get it the way you want, and this is such a time for me. And I suspect it’s such a time for everybody standing here. But it’s time we put the interests of the United States of America here and get this deficit under control.
Bush called the package “balanced” and “fair.” “Now comes the hard part,” said Mitchell, referring to the irritating formality of Congressional passage. Believing the assurances of Mitchell and Foley, Dole and Michel that the resulting deal could be passed, Bush signed a continuing resolution to keep the government going from October 1 until October 5, while also avoiding the Gramm-Rudman guillotine.
On October 2, at the urging of the Congressional leaders, Bush made one of his rare televised addresses to the nation from the Oval Office. According to one observer, “Bush’s TV address on the budget was the most listless presidential appeal since Carter’s ‘malaise’ speech.” [fn 50] Bush’s tones had a pinch of the apocalypse” “If we fail to enact this agreement, our economy will falter, markets may tumble, and recession will follow. Tell your congressmen and senators you support this deficit-reduction agreement. If they are Republicans, urge them to stand with the president. If they are Democrats, urge them to stand with their Congressional leaders.” Bush had now discovered that the deficit, which he had ignored in 1989, was a “cancer gnawing away at our nation’s health.” The plan he recommended, he pointed out with bathos, was a product of “blood, sweat, and fears– fears of the economic chaos that would follow if we fail to reduce the deficit.” [fn 51] Bush’s plan was supported by Alan Greenspan of the Federal Reserve, the voice of the international central bankers.
Shepherding such a weighty affair of state through the Congress was considered a job for a team headed by none other than Dan Quayle. Quayle quipped that he was like a friendly dentist applying a lot of novocain and hoping for a few votes. Despite such boyish good spirits, it was not to be. Republicans were incensed that Bush had given away the “crown jewels” of their party just in order to get a deal. Right-wing Republicans lamented that the package was a “road-map to recession” and a “cave-in to the liberal Democrats.” “I wouldn’t vote for it if it cured cancer,” said Congressman Trafficant. Democrats were angered by the new excise tax, which was regressive, and by higher income tax rate increases for lower income groups. When the plan came up for a vote in the House on the fateful day of October 5, with the stopgap legislation about to run out, many Democrats deferred voting until they could see that a clear majority of the Republicans were voting against their own president’s plan. Then the Democrats also cast negative votes. The deficit package was soundly defeated, 254-179. Bush was humiliated: only 71 Republican stuck with their president, joined by 108 Democrats. 105 GOPers had revolted, and joined with 149 Democrats to sink the accord Bush had pleaded for on television. Even Rep. Newt Gingirch of Georgia, who as House GOP Minority Whip should have superintended efforts to dragoon votes for Bush, had jumped ship on October 1, encouraging other GOP defections.
The Congress then quickly passed and sent to Bush a further continuing resolution to keep the government going; it was now the Friday before the Columbus Day weekend. Bush had threatened to veto any such legislation, and he now made good on his threat, intoning that “the hour of reckoning is at hand.” The federal government thereupon began to shut down, except for Desert Shield and some other operations the bureaucracy considered essential. Tourists in Washington noticed that the toilets maintained by the National Park Service were shutting down. Bush, wanting to set a good example, decided that Sunday that he would drive back from Camp David by car: he got a rude taste of how the other half lives, ending up stalled in a typical traffic jam on the interstate.
The following week was a time of great political hemorraging for George Bush. His problems grew out of a clumsy series of trial baloons he floated about what kind of tax package he would accept. By one count, he changed his mind five times in three days. First came the government itself. Any president, and especially an apparatchik like Bush, has a healthy respect for what the Washington bureaucracy might do to him if it, like the mercenaries Machiavelli warned about, were not paid. Bush accordingly relented and signed a short-term continuing resolution to keep the paychecks flowing and the bureaucracy open. Now Congressmen of both parties began to offer amendments on the $22 billion tax bill that was at the heart of the new austerity package. First Bush indicated that he would accept an increase in income tax rates for the most wealthy in exchange for a cut in the capital gains tax. Then he indicated that he would not. In a press conference, he said such a deal would be “fine.” Then a group of Republican Congressmen visited him to urge him to drop the idea of any such deal; they came out declaring that Bush was now in agreement with them. But then Bush drifted back towards the tradeoff. Richard Darman, one of Bush’s budget enforcers, was asked what Bush thought about the tax rates trade off. “I have no idea what White House statement was issued,” said the top number cruncher, “but I stand behind it 100%.” By the weekend of October 13-14, there were at least three draft tax bills in circulation. Even hard-core Bushmen were unable to tell the legislators what the president wanted, and what he would veto. The most degraded and revealing moment came when Bush was out jogging, and reporters asked him about his position on taxes. “Read my hips!,” shouted Bush, pointing towards his posterior with both hands. It was not clear who had scripted that one, but the message was clear: the American people were invited to kiss Bush’s ass.
It was one of the most astounding gestures by a president in modern times, and posed the inevitable question: had Bush gone totally psychotic?
“The public is not laughing,” commented a White House official. Newsday, the New York tabloid, went with the headline READ MY FLIPS. The New York Times revived the label that Bush resented most: for the newspaper of record, Bush was “a political wimp.” A senior GOP political consultant noted that “the difference is that Reagan had principles and beliefs. This guy has no rudder.” In the opinion of Newsweek, “Bush took no stand on principle and didn’t seem to know what he wanted….He made incomprehensible jokes. He was strangely eager to please even those who were fighting him, and powerless to punish defectors. As in the bad old days, he looked goofy.” [fn 52]
The haggling went on into the third week of October, and then into the fourth. Would it last to Halloween, to permit a macabre night of the living dead on the Capitol? Newt Gingrich told David Brinkley on “This Week” of October 21 that most House Republicans were prepared to vote against any plan to increase taxes, totally disregarding the wishes of Bush. Senator Danforth of Missouri complained, “I am concerned and a lot of Republicans are concerned that this is becoming a political rout.” At this point the Democrats wanted to place a 1% surtax on all income over 41 million, while the GOP favored reducing the deductions for the rich. In yet another flip-flop, Bush had conceded on October 20 that he would accept an increase in the top income tax rate from 28% to 31%. By October 24, a deal was finally reached which could be passed, and the next day Bush attempted to put the best possible face on things by assembling the bruised and bleeding Republican Congressional leadership, including the renegade Gingrich, for another Rose Garden ceremony.
The final budget plan set the top income tax rate at 31%, and increased taxes on gasoline, cigarettes, airline tickets, increased Medicare payroll taxes and premiums, while cutting Medicare benefit payouts and government payments to farmers. Another part of the package replaced the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings once a year sequester threat with a “triple, rolling sequester” with rigid spending caps for each of the three categories of defense, foreign aid, and discretionary domestic spending, and no transfers permitted among these. The entire apparatus will require super-majorities of 60 votes to change in the future. Naturally, this package was of no use whatever in deficit reduction, given the existence of an accelerating economic depression. In Bush’s famous New World Order speech on September 11, he had frightened the Congress with the prospect of a deficit of $232 billion. In October of 1991, it was announced that the deficit for the fiscal year ending September 31, 1991, the one that was supposed to show improvement, had come in at $268.7 billion, the worst in all history. Predictions for the deficit in the year beginning on October 1, 1991 were in excess of $350 billion, guaranteeing that the 1991 record would not stand long. Bush’s travail of October, 1990 had done nothing to improve the picture.
Bush’s predicament was that the Reaganomics of the 1980’s (which had been in force since the period after the Kennedy assassination) had produced more than a depression: they had engendered the national bankruptcy of the United States. That bankruptcy was now lawfully dismembering the Reagan coalition, the coalition which Bush had still been able to ride to power in 1988. Since Bush refused to replace the suicidal, post-industrial economic policies of the last quarter century, he was obliged to attempt to smother irrepressible political conflicts with police state methods, and with war hysteria.
But in the interval before he could start the war, Bush would pay a heavy political price. According to the Newseek poll, Bush’s job approval rating had dropped from 67% during the Gulf scare of August to 48% at the end of the October budget battles. The 20-point free fall was a reminder that Bush possessed no solid base of support among any numerically significant group in the US electorate. Now, the Carteresque Bush found that his own party was turning against him. A split had opened up in the GOP which threatened that party with the fate of the degenerate Federalists.
In the midst of the budget upheaval Bush, ever true to his family’s racist creed, had impudently vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1990. To make the symbolism perfect, he signed the veto after an appearance at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Award ceremonies in Washington. Bush was playing the card of racism for 1990 and 1992. “I deeply regret having to take this action with a bill bearing such a title,” said Bush, “especially since it contains provisions that I strongly endorse.” But he was adamant that this bill “employs a maze of highly legalistic language to introduce the destructive force of quotas into our national unemployment system.” Bush claimed that this was a quota bill, and since equal opportunity was thwarted by quotas, “the very committment to justice and equality that is offered as the reason why this bill should be signed requires me to veto it.” An attempted override fell short by one vote in the Senate, 66-34, even though Minnesota Republican Rudy Boschwitz, who had been against the bill, switched sides to oppose Bush’s veto. Boschwitz was doomed to defeat in the November election in any case.
A most dramatic sign of the repudiation of Bush even by the Republican party apparatus was the celebrated memorandum issued on October 15 by veteran political operative Ed Rollins of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Rollins had been given a four-year, million dollar contract to help the GOP win a majority on the Hill. He was dedicated to helping his Congressional clients, incumbents and challengers alike, to get elected. Watching the polls, Rollins saw that Bush’s June 26 broken promise was sure to be poison at the polls in early November. He sent out a memo that made the following points:
The mood of the country has shifted dramatically in the past ten days; voters have become as pessimistic about the direction of the country as at any time in recent history.
The President’s approval/disapproval and job performance ratings have dropped precipitously. This is no doubt due to the lack of a budget resolution and the lack of a clear Republican position on taxes and spending.
Understanding that several members have never taken a no tax pledge, my best advice today is to urge you to oppose taxes, specifically gas and income taxes. Do not hesitate to oppose either the President or proposals being advanced in Congress. [fn 53]
Bush appears to have learned of the Rollins memo in an NBC news broadcast on October 24. According to one source, Bush then told a group of GOP Congressional leaders that while he could not control all Republican political consultants, he “did control Rollins,” and wanted him fired immediately. Rollins’s immediate boss, Rep. Guy Vander Jagt, a Republican wheelhorse from Michigan, complained that he had come out of this meeting with Bush “black and blue” from the president’s punishment. [fn 54] The answer from Rollins was, “I don’t plan to resign.” Incredibly, Bush was unable to secure the ouster of Rollins, who, one must conclude, enjoyed more support from rank and file Republican Congressmen at this point than Bush himself. Some consultants suggested that Bush should simply back off: “If the November 6 results are as bad as they appear, the consensus will be that George Bush blew it,” said one. Bush “is the George Steinbrenner of politics,” said another perception-monger. “He just booted away the best franchise in the sport.” Dreams of taking House seats were vanishing with each new poll; the GOP now hoped for damage control measures to keep the loss to ten seats if they could.
On the campaign trail, Bush was finally receiving treatment commensurate with his merits. October 23 was a day he will never forget. George had gotten up before dawn to make a day of it on the hustings, only to find that he was being shunned as the new Typhoid Mary of American politics.
The first stop was an early-morning fund raiser in Burlington, Vermont, designed to benefit Rep. Peter Smith, a freshman Congressman. Smith was supposed to give Bush a rousing introduction and then bask in the warmth of Bush’s support. But instead, Smith astounded Bush and his handlers by launching into a tortured monologue on all the points of disagreement that divided him from Bush. Smith told of how he had been loyal to Bush on October 5, and of how his constituents had then rebelled, with the result that he caught political hell for his pro-Bush vote. Smith demanded that Bush now raise taxes on the wealthy. Smith also menmtioned the civil rights bill: “My specific disagreements with this administration are a matter of record,” Smith stressed. Poor Smith: his pro-Bush vote on October 5 had doomed him to defeat in his close race with Bernie Sanders, the former socialist mayor of Burlington.
Bush stewed, raged, and squirmed. He looked around to see if anyone would come to his aid. Sitting next to Bush was GOP Senator James M. Jeffords, who had voted in favor of the civil rights bill Bush had vetoed. He had made an emotional speech in the Senate lambasting Bush for trying to punch giant “loopholes” in the civil rights of citizens. Jeffords sat staring straight ahead, doing a fair imitation of Bush at the Nashua Telegraph debate. When Bush got up, he was dissociated and tongue-tied. He stumbled through his speech, improvising a few lines in which he praised the independent-mindedness of Vermonters like Smith, but whined that he wished it would not come at his expense. Bush then asserted that
we have a sluggish economy out there nationally. That’s one of the reasons why I favor this deficit so much. [fn 55]
The crowd was puzzled; some of them were perhaps driven to try the socialism of Bernie Sanders over this. The mental disintegration of George Bush went on apace.
Bush’s second stop of the day was in Manchester, New Hampshire. Here he was greeted by his old friend, the Manchester Union Leader, with a front page cartoon of the granite-faced man in the mountain saying “Read His Lips, Mr. President. Go Home and Take Your Taxes with You.” Here there was no attack on Bush’s economics; the candidate he was supposed to be helping, Rep. Robert C. Smith, had obviously concluded that any film footage showing him in the same picture with Bush would pose the threat of disaster, so he had simply stayed in Washington. The congressman’s wife was there to tell the audience that her husband had stayed in Washington for House votes he could not miss; an apoplectic Bush ferociously chewed on an apple before he rose for perfunctory remarks.
Bush’s third stop was in Waterbury, Connecticut, where the beneficiary of his presence was Gary Franks, a black Republican whom Bush needed as a fig leaf for his veto of the civil rights bill. Franks solved the Typhoid Mary problem by barring the news media from the campaign event, so no sound bites associating him with Bush could be used against him by his opponent. Later there was a brief photo opportunity with Bush and Franks together.
Surely Bush had cut a ridiculous figure. But how many Iraqis would die in January, February and beyond to assuage Bush’s humiliations of this day?
Bush’s last pre-election campaign trip would eliminate stops in Oregon, Nebraska, Illinois, and North Carolina, where Republicans teetered on the edge of defeat. Bush was trying to cut his losses, and he was not alone. During the months before the election, Bush had spent hours sweating under television lights to tape endorsement commercials for over 80 GOP candidates. One Congressman, Rep. Alfred A. McCandless of California, used pieces of Bush’s tape in a commercial designed to highlight his differences with Bush. Many of the other tapes were never used; many of those endorsed pleaded as an excuse that their fundraising had been ruined by Bush’s tax policy, so they never had the money to put them on the air.
Bush attempted to regroup by seeking new demagogic themes. For those struggling with economic depression he offered…term limits for members of Congress, in the hands of the GOP a transparent attempt to flush out Democratic incumbents. Term limitation, said Bush, was “an idea whose time has come.” “America doesn’t need a liberal House of Lords,” said Bush in Oklahoma City. “America needs a Republican Congress.” The Democrats “truly believe they deserve to be elected from now until kingdom come,” said Bush in Los Angeles. The response was less than overwhelming. Then Bush tried to blame the depression on the Democrats. The venue chosen was a $1000 a plate fundraiser for Sen. Pete Wilson, who wanted to be governor of California. The “strong medicine” of the defecit package, Bush claimed, “is required because the Democratically controlled Congress has been on an uncontrolled spending binge for years.” In Oklahoma City, he averred that the Democrats had “choked the economy” and brought the country to the verge of recession. He accused Congressional liberals of spewing out the “class warfare garbage” they always resurrect at election time. But none of this had any bite. [fn 56] On November 3, Bush reached into his talk bag and pulled out Jimmy Carter, threatening voters with a return to the “malaise days.” According to Newseek, Bush had reacquired that “electrocuted” look.
Bush went back to his staple offering: hysterical, rage-driven warmongering, with an extra dividend for some audiences coming through the clear racist overtones. Once Congress had adjourned, one observer noted, “Bush was able to switch to his favorite script, ‘Desperately Seeking Saddam.'” [fn 57] Bush grimaced and pouted against the “butcher of Baghdad” trying to look like a more genteel, Anglo-Saxon Mussolini. Saddam was now “Hitler revisited.” Later, there were estimates that Bush’s exclusive concentration on the war theme had saved one to two senate seats, and perhaps half a dozen in the House.
But Bush came dangerously close to overdoing it. In the last days of October, he had begun a demagogic effort to whip up hysteria about the US citzens interned by Iraq. “I have had it” with the Iraqi handling of the internees, was now Bush’s favorite line. When Bush wrapped himself in the flag, he expected the Democrats to kow-tow, but now there was some opposition. Bush met with some 15 Congressional leaders active in foreign policy, and began raving about the “horrible, barbarous” conditions of the hostages. Sharp questions were immediately posed by Democrats, many of them facing re-election in a few days. According to one Congressman, “They were asking, in not so many words, Is this trumped up? If it isn’t, how come we just have started hearing about it in the middle of this political mess the president is in? It seems to be coming out of nowhere. Dante Fascell said the Democrats had told Bush, “If there is additional provocation [by Iraq], it better be real and able to stand up to press scrutiny.” Too bad the Democrats had not applied that standard to the whole trumped-up Gulf crisis. [fn 58]
The result of the November 6 election was a deep disappointment to Republicans; Bush’s party lost one senate seat, 9 House seats, and one governorship. Not all of these gains went to Democrats, since disgruntled voters gave two governorships and one House seat to independents outside of the two party system. Most dramatic was the anti-incumbent mood against governors, where economic crisis and tax revolt had been on the agenda all year: the governing party, whether Republican or Democrat, was ousted in 14 of the 36 state houses that were contested. For Bush there were very special disappointments: he had campaigned very hard for Clayton Williams in Texas and for Governor Bob Martinez in Florida, but Bush’s coattails proved non-existent to negative; Democrats won both governorships. The loss of Texas and Florida was a very ominous threat for Bush’s 1992 re-election campaign, since these were the two indispensable keystones of the Southern Strategy. Now, that GOP lock on the Electoral College might be drawing to a close. But unforunately, that was for the future: Bush’s repudiation at the polls this time around was not enough to reduce him to an impotent lame duck with no mandate to wage war. Bush was now a wounded beast who could, and would, lash out.
Bush emerged gravely damaged: Business Week devoted a cover to a photo of Bush and the legend: “Losing Ground: GOP Losses in Congress, statehouse setbacks, and internal party strife are eroding George Bush’s authority– and his ability to lead the nation.” “A few more good days like that and Republicans will go the way of Whigs,” wrote the magazine. The vote was a “humbling rebuke to a barnstorming Bush.”  In the words of an October 31 headline in the pro-regime Washington Times, “Bush in 92? ‘Dead Meat,’ say skeptics.” Kevin Phillips noted that economics could prove fatal for Bush: “Since World War II the GOP’s pattern has been for economic downturns during midterm election years: full-fledged recessions in 1954, 1958, 1970, 1974, and 1982, and a severe farm-belt and oil-patch slump in 1986. Today’s economic thunderclouds, however, are the first in memory (at least since the post-1929 period) to portend their storms for the third year of a GOP presidency.” And for Bush, the economic bad news was to be found even in the New York Times: “What Recession? It’s a Depression,” proclaimed one article. Leonard Silk made the optimistic case in the same paper: “Why It’s Too Soon to Predict Another Great Depression,” was his title. [fn 59]
But well before the dust had settled from the election debacle, Bush had resumed his march towards a holocaust in the Middle East. On the day after the election, Baker, speaking in Moscow, launched Bush’s all-out press for a UN Security Council resolution legitimizing the use of armed force against Iraq over the Kuwait question. Bush had to push his war through both the US Congress and the UN permanent five; his estimate was that the world powers would be easier to dragoon, and that the assent of the Security Council could then be used to bludgeon the Congress into acquiescence. [fn 60]
It is important to note that in shifting his policy towards aggressive war, Bush was once again dancing to the tune being piped in from London. On Wednesday, November 7, the racist crone Thatcher, now on her way out as Prime Minister, issued her most warmongering statement so far on the Gulf crisis:
Either [Saddam Hussein] gets out of Kuwait soon or we and our allies will remove him by force and he will go down to defeat with all the consequences. He has been warned. [fn 61]
Yet again, the United States was to be drawn into a useless and genocidal war as the tail on the British imperial kite.
And so, flaunting his vicious contempt for the democratic process, on Thursday November 8, just two days after the election, Bush made what any serious, intelligent person must have recognized as a declaration of preemptive war in the Gulf:
After consultation with King Fahd and our other allies I have today directed the secretary of defense to increase the size of US forces committed to Desert Shield to ensure that the coalition has an adequate offensive military option should that be necessary to achieve our common goals. Towards this end we will continue to dicuss the possibility of both additional allied force contributions and appropriate United Nations actions. Iraq’s brutality, aggression, and violations of international law cannot be allowed to succeed. [fn 62]
For those who had ever believed Bush’s verbal declarations, here was an entirely new policy, advanced without the slightest motivation. Bush argued that the current US troop stregnth of 230,000 was enough to defend Saudi Arabia, but that was no longer good enough. Bush’s only argument was that gradual strangulation by sanctions might take too long. Reporters pointed out that Thatcher had threatened to use military force the day before. Did Bush want war? “I would love to see a peaceful resolution to this question, and that’s what I want.” Some of the more lucid minds had now figured out that Bush was indeed a pathological liar.
For the rest of the month of November, a modest wave of anti-war sentiment was observed in the United States, some of it coming from Democrats of the strangler faction who had never wavered in their devotion to evil. On Sunday, November 11 Sen. Sam Nunn questioned Bush’s rush to war. But Nunn did not call for a denial of funds to wage war on the model of the Hatfield-McGovern amendment which had finally tied Nixon’s hands in Vietnam. Nunn was a leader of the strangler group, urging reliance on the sanctions. James Reston wrote in the New York Times, that “Bush’s comparison of Hussein to Hitler, a madman with superior military forces in the center of industrial Europe, is ridiculous.” “Saying ‘My President, right or wrong,’ in such circumstances, is a little like saying, ‘my driver, drunk or sober,’ and not many passengers like to go that far.” [fn 63] The following day, under a headline reading “Tide against war grows at home, abroad,” the Washington Times carried a warning from New York Senator Moynihan: “If George Bush wants his presidency to die in the Arabian desert, he’s going at it very steadily and as if it were a plan. He will wreck our military, he will wreck his administration, and he’ll spoil the chance to get a collective security system working. It breaks the heart.” Sen. Kerrey of Oklahoma declared himself “not convinced this administration will do everything in its power to avoid war. And if ever there was an avoidable war, it is this one.”
On November 15, Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey warned Bush that “to continue to hold the support of Congress, [Bush] must suspend the newly announced buildup of offensive forces against Iraq until he justifies why he has downgraded the promising strategy of patient pressure. Without hearing a convincing explanation of that change, and with the cost of Operation Desert Shield now heading toward $30 billion, Congress should authorize no expenditures for an enlarged offensive option to invade Kuwait or Iraq.” [fn 64] Bradley had to pay attention to public opinion; he had almost lost his seat earlier in the month. On the following day, Gorbachov’s special envoy to the Middle East, Yevgeny Primakov, called for a delay in the resolution on the use of force against Iraq to allow Saddam Hussein a “face-saving” way out. One week later, in the context of the Paris Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Gorbachov directed his desperate appeal to the world for food shipments to the USSR. Even if the Kremlin had wished to resist Bush’s war drive, their weakness was evident. The Soviet Union, like China, would soon vote for the resolution that would justify Bush’s January attack.
But the hyperthyroid Bush was unwilling to brook criticism. In best bullying style, he came to a meeting with Congressional leaders on November 14 with a sheaf of articles from Iraqi newspapers reporting, among other things, Moynihan’s speech of a few days before. Even Republican Richard Lugar was targetted by Bush’s ire. Bush whined that such statements were giving Saddam reasons to doubt US resolve. On November 16, the National Council of Churches condemned Bush’s Gulf policy, citing “reckless rhetoric,” “imprudent behavior,” and the precipitous military buildup.
James Baker, groping for reasons for the coming war, thought he had found one: “If you want to sum it up in one word, it’s jobs. Because an economic recession, worldwide, caused by the control of one nation, one dictator, of the West’s economic lifeline will result in the loss of jobs on the part of American citizens.” [fn 65] Many citizens were offended by Baker’s patronizing condescension, which was coordinated with Bush’s remarks of the same day in which he admitted that the country was in a “downturn,” and hinted that the depth of any recession would depend on whether or not the Gulf crisis turned into a prolonged standoff. If recession were to come, said Bush, “it will not be deep and we will come out of it relatively soon- six months at most.” [fn 66] Commenting on what really concerned him, Bush commented, “holding public opinion forever is very difficult to do.” Bush was not even succeeding in the short term: Pennsylvania Democratic Chairman Larry Yatch told reporters that support for Bush’s Gulf policy was “at the teetering point– the people are really becoming skeptical.” His Louisiana counterpart, James J. Brady, noted that Bush ” has not given them answers to their questions.” “Jobs are not the reason we are there,” he added. [fn 67]
In the House of Representatives, a group of 45 House Democrats went to federal court in a vain attempt to stop Bush from initating hostilities, and Rep. Gonzalez of Texas, the honorable maverick, offered a bill of impeachment against Bush.
On November 16, Bush left on a multi-country blitz of Europe and the Middle East which was intended to shore up the anti-Iraq coalition until the buildup could be completed and the war unleashed. In Prague, Bush was lionized by large crowds; President Havel gave Bush a testimonial of support about the lessons of Munich 1938 and appeasement that Bush would wave around all through the war. It was unfortunate that freedom from communist tyranny for some politicians seemed to mean the freedom to lick Bush’s boots. In Speyer, Germany, Bush had another apoplectic moment when Catholic Bishop Anton Schlembach wished Bush success “but without war and bloodshed.” Bush sat red-faced like a roasted cherub. Germans were not happy about Bush’s extortion of their country when they needed money to rebuild the newly freed federal states in the east; Germany was now reunified. Bush had a strained meeting with Kohl, and, at the CSCE finale in Paris, a cordial one with Mitterrand, with whom his rapport was excellent. Here our hero pressed Gorbachov for a Soviet imprimatur on his war resolution, but Gorbachov was still stalling.
On Thanksgiving Day, Bush and Bar were with the troops in Saudi Arabia. Many soldiers told reporters that they were not happy to be there, and were not in favor of war. One trooper asked Bush, “Why not make a deal with Saddam Hussein, Mr. President?” while Bush gagged on his chicken a la king Meal Ready to Eat (MRE). Flying westward the next day, Bush stopped in Geneva for a meeting with Hafez Assad of Syria, a true villain and butcher who had, during the month of October, taken advantage of his deal with Bush to finish off Gen. Aoun’s independent Lebanese state. Bush’s meeting with Assad lasted for three hours. Assad had provided 7,500 Syrian troops for the coalition attack force in Saudi Arabia, which he promised to increase to 20,000. “Mr. Assad is lined up with us with a committment to force,” said Bush. “They are on the front line, or will be, standing up to this aggression.”
Manic hysteria at the top of a bureaucratic apparatus will swiftly infect the lower echelons as well, and this was illustrated by the mishaps of Bush’s travelling entourage, which clashed with Swiss security officers while entering and leaving Geneva Airport. A new factor exacerbating Bush’s mental instability during this trip was the imminent fall of his Anglo-Saxon Svengali, Margaret Thatcher, who was about to be dumped as prime minister, primarily because she had become persona non grata among the leaders of western Europe in an era in which Britain’s future survival depended on parasitizing the wealth of the continent. The Swiss have some of the most level-headed and expert airport protocol personnel in the world, but Bush’s retinue was determined to run amok. Bush and Fitzwater wanted the press corp free to run around the airport to get the most dramatic shots and sound bites of Bush’s epic entry into one of the centers of world diplomacy. When Bush landed, the “photo dogs” wanted to gather under the wing of Bush’s plane, but the Swiss moved them out of the area. At the departure, the press corps went bonkers, and many of them had to be physically restrained by the Swiss officers when they attempted to break through a crowd-control line. Fitzwater complained that State Department protocol chief Joseph V. Reed (the scion of the Jupiter Island magnate) had had a machine gun shoved into his stomach, and that Sununu had been “verbally abused” during the altercation. But Fitzwater was an accomplished prevaricator: “I must say I have never seen that kind of brutal and vicious treatment by a security force in the last 10 years. It’s strange. It’s supposedly a peace-loving nation but they gave us the most vicious treatment I’ve ever seen.” Thierry Magnin described the actions of some US reporters as “deplorable” and “inadmissable.” Magnin said there had been “a row and heated words, but this was to enforce security measures…taken in accord with the American security services.” He denied that any submachine gun was ever pointed at Reed. [fn 68] Magnin said the Geneva police would not apologize, and later it was indeed the US which backed down.
On November 30, UN Security Council, now reduced to a discredited tool of the Anglo-Americans, voted for a resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. This piece of infamy was labelled resolution 648 and passed with twelve assenting votes against the no votes of Cuba and Yemen, with the People’s Republic of China abstaining. (International jurists later pointed out that according to the text of the UN Charter, which requires the positive votes of all five permanent members to approve substantive resolutions, the resolution had not passed, and that in acting on it the UN had entered a phase of anarchy and lawlessness.) Iraq was given 47 days to leave Kuwait, and this ultimatum was to expire on January 15. Bush clearly hoped that this resolution could be used to silence his Congressional critics.
But in the meantime, Bush’s path to war was beset with troubles on the domestic front. The ghoulish Scowcroft and other Bush spokesmen had been attempting to whip up war sentiment with wildly exaggerated reports about Iraq’s nuclear preparations; these accounts, like the later alleged findings of “UN inspector” David Kay, failed to distinguish between peaceful and military uses of nuclear energy; the name of this game was technological apartheid. This campaign had evoked much skepticism: “Bush’s Atomic Red Herring” was the title of one op-ed in the New York Times.
Anti-war sentiment now crystallized around the hearings being held by Sam Nunn’s Senate Armed Services Committee. Two former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral William J. Crowe and General David C. Jones, urged a policy of continued reliance on the sanctions. They were soon joined by former Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger, Gen. William Odom, and other figures of past regimes. Bush’s principal support came from the croaking voice of Henry Kissinger, who was for war as soon as practicable. These were the days when King Fahd flirted briefly with the idea of a negotiated settlement, before he was reminded by the State Department that he ruled an occupied country. “Once Again: What’s the Rush?” asked the New York Times of November 29. Bush wanted the Congress to pass a resolution giving him a blank check to wage war, but he hesitated to set off a debate that might go on all the way to January 15 and beyond, and in which he risked being beaten. After all, Bush was still refusing to negotiate.
Now, on Friday, November 30, Bush executed the cynical tactic that would ultimately paralyze his craven domestic opposition and clear the way to war: he made a fake offer of negotiations with Iraq:
However, to go the extra mile for peace, I will issue an invitation to Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz to come to Washington at a mutually convenient time during the latter part of the week of December 10th to meet with me. And I’ll invite ambassadors of several of our coalition partners in the gulf to join me in that meeting.
In addition, I am asking Secretary Jim Baker to go to Baghdad to see Saddam Hussein, and I will suggest to Iraq’s president that he receive the secretary of state at a mutually convenient time between December 15 and January 15 of next year. [fn 70]
It was all a fiendish lie, even down to the offer of times and venues for the talks. When Iraq responded with proposals for the schedule of meetings, Bush welched and reneged. Iraq released the US internees, but Bush still wanted war. “We’ve got to continue to keep the pressure on,” was his reaction. Then came a full month of useless haggling, which was exactly what Bush wanted. As his text had pointed out, he was not interested in real negotiation anyway; the UN resolutions had already resolved everything. The real purpose of this gambit was to suppress the domestic opposition, since negotiations were allegedly now ongoing.
The most important opposition to a January 15 war according to the deadline railroaded through the UN by Bush came from the US Army, the service least enthralled by the idea of a needless war. During a visit by Powell and Cheney to Saudi Arabia, Lieut. Gen. Calvin A. H. Waller, the second in command of US forces in the Gulf, remarked that there was a “distinct possibility that every unit will not be fully combat-ready until some time after February 1,” or perhaps as late as mid-February.” “If the owner asks me if I’m ready to go, I’d tell him “No, I’m not ready to do the job,'” Waller told the press. It was understood that Waller was acting as spokesman for a broad stratum of senior officers. The Bush White House was once again infuriated. “This is not the message we were trying to send now,” said one top Bushman. [fn 71] Waller and the other active duty officers would henceforth remain silent.
Bush’s buildup went on inexorably through the Christmas holidays. In the first week of the New Year, Bush offered a meeting of Baker and Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi foreign minister, in Geneva. His ground rules made the meeting pointless even before it happened: “No negotiations, no compromises, no attempts at face-saving and no rewards for aggression.” [fn 72] Bush was showing more of his hand now; the buildup was approaching what he, if not the generals, thought enough to start bombing Iraq.
The Tariq Aziz-Baker talks in Geneva went on for six hours on January 10, with no result. Baker was an Al Capone in striped pants; Tariq Aziz expressed himself with great dignity. Tariq Aziz had made clear that since Israel was in reality an integral part of Bush’s Gulf coalition, it could not be exempt from retaliation if Iraq were to come under attack. For Bush, when millions of lives were at stake, the issue of greatest moment was a letter full of threats which Tariq Aziz had read, but refused to accept, and had left lying on the table in Geneva. (In this letter, which was later released, Bush was revealed as a megalomaniac who warned Saddam “we stand today at the brink of war between Iraq and the world,” as if Bush were the chief executive of the entire planet.) Here was a new focus for Bush’s apoplectic rage: he had been insulted by this Arab! What about that letter, the reporters asked. A surfeit of thyroxin coursed through Bush’s veins:
Secretary Baker also reported to me that the Iraqi foreign minister rejected my letter to Saddam Hussein, refused to carry this letter and give it to the president of Iraq. The Iraqi Ambassador here in Washington did the same thing. This is but one more example that the Iraqi government is not interested in direct communications designed to settle the Persian Gulf situation.
But this was a -this was a – a total stiff-arm. This is a total rebuff.
The letter was not rude; the letter was direct. And the letter did exactly what I think is necessary at this stage. But to refuse to even pass a letter along seems to me to be just one more manifestation of the stonewalling that has taken place. [fn 73]
The gods were laughing.
The United Nations Security Council resolution, with its approaching artificial deadline which Bush had demanded, plus the failure of the Baker-Tariq Aziz meeting, on January 9 became the tools of the White House in obtaining a Congressional resolution for war. Bush was careful to stress his view that he could wage war without the Congress, but that he was magnanimously letting them express their support for him by approving such a motion. On this same day, the Kremlin despatched troop contingents to seven Soviet republics where nationalist movements were gaining ground.
The Congressional debate provided many eloquent pleas, generally from Democrats, for delaying military action in order to save Americans from useless slaughter. But these pleas were almost always vitiated by a failure to recognize the equal claim to humanity of the Iraqi population; the Democrats who urged continued reliance on sanctions were in effect calling for an equal or greater genocide prolonged over time. One exception was Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon, who voted against the Bush war resolution and the Democrats’ sanctions resolution on the grounds that he opposed the entire military deployment in the Middle East; Hatfield argued for a peaceful settlement using diplomacy alone. This Republican defection in the name of high principle may have attracted the darts of Bush’s vindictiveness; in May a report on Hatfield’s personal finances appearing in the Capitol Hill weekly Roll Call alleged that a former Congressman and a California businessman had forgiven $133,000 in loans to Hatfield over an 8-year period. This information was somehow leaked from Senate records. [fn 74] The obvious intent of this story was to make it look as if the loan forgiveness had been used to buy influence. Hatfield’s actions were not in violation of senate rules at the time these loans were forgiven.
Bush’s war resolution passed the Senate by the narrow margin of 52-47; Sen. Cranston, who was absent because of illness, would have come to the senate and voted against the war if this would have changed the outcome. This vote reflects a deep ambivalence in the ruling elite about Bush’s bellicose line, which was not as popular in US ruling circles as it was in London. Bush’s margin of victory was provided by a group of southern Bush Democrats (Gore, Graham, Breaux, Robb, Shelby). In the House, a similar Bush war resolution passed by 250 to 183. Many Congressmen from blue-collar districts being pounded by the economic depression reflected the disillusionment of their constituents by voting against Bush and the war. But the resistance was not enough.
Despite the extremely narrow mandate he had extorted from the Congress, Bush now appeared in a gloating press conference: he had his blank check for war and genocide. Now Bush was careful to create pretexts for attacking Iraq, even if Saddam were to order his forces out of Kuwait. Bush noted that “it would be, at this date, I would say impossible to comply fully with the United Nations resolutions,” and he “would still worry about it, because it might not be in full compliance.” [fn 75] UN resolution 242, calling for Israel to withdraw from the territories occupied in the 1967 war, had been flouted for almost a quarter century, and the nation of Lebanon had just been snuffed out by Bush’s friend Assad, but all of this paled into total irrelevance in comparison to the need to destroy Iraq.
The mad dog of war was now unleashed on the world. Later, in early June, Bush would edify the Southern Baptist Convention with a tearful and convulsive account of his long night in Camp David as he prepared to give the order to attack. Bush’s story, quite fantastic for a chief executive who had pursued his “splendid little war” with monomaniac fury since August 3, is a reflection of the Goebbels-like cynicism of the White House wordsmiths and propaganda technicians to whom it may be safely attributed. “For me, prayer has always been important but quite personal,” Bush told the Baptists. “You know us Episcopalians.”
And, like a lot of people, I have worried a little but about shedding tears in public, or the mention of it. But as Barbara and I prayed at Camp David before the air war began, we were thinking about those young men and women overseas. And the tears started down the cheeks, and our minister smiled back, and I no longer worried how it looked to others. [fn 76]
In delivering this fanciful account, Bush broke into tears once again, a behavior which showed more about his unresolved, and by that time public, thryoid difficulties, than it did about his qualms in waging war. An interesting question involves the identity of the minister mentioned by Bush. In order to drape his genocidal war policy with the mantle of Christian morality, Bush was at pains to keep pastors and clerics at his side during the development of the Gulf crisis. But a serious problem emerged in this regard when, in late October, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Reverend Edmond L. Browning, raised public questions about the morality of going to war with Iraq. Since Bush regarded the Protestant fundamentalists of the Bible Belt as the indispensable constituency for his vindictive line, he and his handlers were convinced that it would be folly to go on the warpath without religious cover. This was provided by calling in Billy Graham, the Methodist evangelist based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
During the Nixon Administration, Billy Graham had become the virtual chaplain of the regime. Nixon liked to organize prayer services inside the White House, and Billy Graham was often called in to officiate at these. Graham was also an old friend of the Bush family; just after Bush had received the GOP vice presidential nomination in 1980, Graham had visited with George and Barbara at Kennebunkport for a campaign photo opportunity. [fn 77]
During the 1980’s, Graham had run crusades in the Soviet bloc, something that is hard to do without intelligence connections. In May, 1982, he had created a furore with remarks that he had seen no evidence of religious repression in the USSR. “I am not a communist and have not joined the Communist party and was never asked to join the Communist Party,” Graham had told reporters upon his arrival in New York. [fn 78]
Now, during the week that Bush unleashed war and genocide, Graham became a fixture in the White House, where he was Bush’s overnight houseguest. “George Bush has the highest moral standards of almost anyone I know,” Graham told reporters. “Bush is the best friend I have in the world outside my immediate staff.” Some noted that Graham had often abounded with fulsome praise for presidents, including Carter; power and godliness, for Graham, went together. The line he recited several days later at the National Prayer Breakfast was standard Bush boiler plate: “There come times in history when nations have to stand against some monstrous evil, like Nazism.” On January 28, Bush would proclaim a virtual crusade against Arab Iraq: according to Bush, his war had “everything to do with what religion embodies, good versus evil, right versus wrong, human dignity and freedom versus tyranny and oppression. We will prevail because of the support of the American people, armed with a trust in God.” [fn 79]
But surely all was not spiritual that weekend in Camp David. One sign is that First Lady Barbara Bush came back with a broken leg. What had happened? A few weeks earlier, George and Bar had granted a joint interview to two fawning and sycophantic reporters from People weekly. During this interview, Bush was asked, “Mr. President, this is an understandably tough period. How do you deal with the stress?” Bush answered: “Well, I have this dog named Ranger and this wife named Barbara and a couple of grandchildren.” At this point, Barbara Bush broke in to say “Thought you were gonna say, ‘I kick the dog, kick the wife.'” [fn 80] Had Barbara Bush suffered the fate of a battered woman during that pre-war weekend in Camp David? The official story was that she had slid down an icy slope on a saucer sled and hit a tree, producing a “non-displaced fracture of the fibula bone in the left leg.” According to Mrs. Bush’s press secretary, Anna Perez, George had yelled “Bail out! Bail out!” as Mrs. Bush accelerated toward the tree, but she had not heeded his advice. The incident had allegedly occurred during a sledding party after church on Sunday, January 13, in the presence four of the Bush’s grandchildren (ages 6,4,4, and 1), and Bush loyalist Arnold Schwarzenegger, the chairman of the President’s Council on Physcial Fitness. Bush’s daughter Dorothy LeBlond and his daughter in law Margaret, may have been present or nearby, as may Schwarzenegger’s wife Maria Shriver of NBC, and her infant daughter. But only the First Lady’s press secretary spoke in public of the incident, which has therefore remained somewhat obscure. When the presidential party returned by helicopter to the White House that evening, Mrs. Bush was carried indoors in a wheelchair. [fn 81]
On that same day, Soviet troops acting in the name of a self-styled “National Salvation Committee” massacred more than a dozen Lithuanian patriots. Bush’s response was in the mildest and most craven of terms, saying that there was “no justification for the use of force,” but taking absolutely no steps to bring that message home to Moscow; the New World Order was exposed once again as the law of the strong over the weak.
According to the official account, Bush signed the National Security Directive ordering the attack against Iraq at in the White House Oval Office at 10:30 AM on Tuesday morning, January 15, 1991. On Wednesday morning in Washington, when it was early evening in Baghdad, Bush ordered Scowcroft to call Cheney with a further instruction to implement the attack plan. The US air attack on Iraq accordingly took place between 6 and 7 PM on Wednesday, January 16. The bombs began to fall during the first night in Baghdad after the expiration of Bush’s deadline. [fn 82] Within 24 hours, Iraq retaliated with Scud missles against Israel and against US bases in Saudi Arabia. One day after that, Bush described the Scud attacks as “purely an act of terror.” Bush’s mental health had not gotten any better during the first days of the war; he showed signs of clinical hysteria, the refusal to recognize obvious facts. During this press conference, he was asked:
Q: Why is it that any move, or…move for peace is considered an end run at the White House these days?
Bush: Well, you obviously…what was the question? End run?
Q: Yes. That is considered an end run, that people that still want to find a peaceful solution seem to be running into a brick wall.
Bush: Oh, excuse me. The world is united, I think, in seeing that these United Nations resolutions are fulfilled […]
Bush was sensitive, as he always was, to any hint that the conflict was what it seemed to be, a war of the west against the Arabs. In a long monologue, he claimed that “we want to be the healers, we want to do what we can to facilitate what I might optimistically call a new world order. But the new world order should, should have a conciliatory component to it.” Even Jordan, which was threatened with dismemberment over the short run might “continue to be a tremendously important country in this new world order,” Bush claimed. [fn 83] Bush was buoyed by the poll reports alleging that his war was now supported by 76% of the US population.
Day after day, Iraq military and above all civilian targets were subjected to a hail of bombs. The centerpiece of Bush’s personal self-jusitification remained the equation Saddam=Hitler. “was it moral for us in 1939 to not stop Hitler from going into Poland?” Bush asked a group of Republican officials. One party worker described Bush as “a man obsessed and possessed by his mission” in the Gulf war. During those days, Bush was preparing his State of the Union address. At a press conference to introduce his new secretary of agriculture, GOP Illinois Congressman Edward Madigan, Bush made pugnacious statements that he was proceeding with business as usual despite the war. “We are not going to screech everything to a halt in terms of our domestic agenda. We’re not going to screech everything to a halt in terms of the recreational activities…and I am not going to screech my life to a halt out of some fear about Saddam Hussein,” said Bush. After making these remarks, he introduced Madigan as his new secretary of education. The reporters looked so perplexed that Bush realized his gaffe and corrected himself; Madigan would be his new “secretary of agriculture,” he said. [fn 84] In White House briefing sessions to prepare the domestic policy sections of the State of the Union address, Bush was described as “frankly, bored;” “you could almost see his mind wandering to the Gulf.”
There are indications that after a week to ten days of bombing, Bush was surprised and disappointed that all Iraqi resistance had not already collapsed. This is what some of his advisors were rumored in Washington to have promised him.
The 1991 State of the Union was supposed to be the apotheosis of Bush as a warrior emperor. One of his themes was the “next American century,” borrowed from Stimson and Luce. The apotheosis was somewhat dimmed by the economic difficulties the Gulf was had done nothing to assuage. Bush portrayed these problems as a mere ripple in “the largest peacetime economic expansion in history.” “We will soon get this recession behind us,” Bush promised. He conjured up “the long-held promise of a new world order– where brutality will go unrewarded, and aggression will meet collective resistance.” He urged this country to take up “the burden of leadership.” For many, the reference was clear:
Take up the White Man’s burden– Ye dare not stoop to less Nor call too loud on Freedom To cloke your weariness,
had written Rudyard Kipling in 1899 as part of a British campaign to convince the United States to set up a colonial administration in the Phillipines. (As the Omaha World Herald had noted in that far-off time, “In other words, Mr. Kipling would have Uncle Sam take up John Bull’s business.” The racist jingo doggerel of imperialism caught Bush’s mood precisely.
After the war, it would be shown that the US bombers had concentrated their fire on the civilian infrastructure of Iraq, choosing targets of no immediate military relevance. The bombing was concentrated on systems providing potable water to cities, electrical generating facilities, bridges, highways, and other transportation infrastructure. This was cynically called the “bomb now, die later” strategy, since the goal of the bombing was to destroy civilian infrastructure in order to lower the relative potential population density of the country below the level of the Iraqi population, thus producing an astronomical rise in infant mortality, plagues, and pestilence. It was, in short, a population war. It was a cowardly, despicable way to fight.
Bush had ordered all this, but he lied compulsively about it. After 3 weeks of bombing, he told a press conference that his bombers were going to “unprecedented lengths to avoid damage to civlians and holy places. We do not seek Iraq’s destruction, nor do we seek to punish the Iraqi people for the decisions and policies of their leaders. In addition, we are doing everything possible and with great success to minimize collateral damage….” [fn 85] The air war was designed to gut the economic infrastructure of Iraq; an additional objective was to kill at least 100,000 members of the Iraqi armed forces. This could only be accomplished by storming the Iraqi positions of the ground, and this is what Bush was determined to do. Published accounts suggested that the original executive order that started the war also contained instructions for a land battle to follow extensive bombing. This meant that all peace feelers must be vigorously rebuffed, on the model of what Acheson and Stimson had done to Japan during July of 1945.
In those days, anti-war protesters had camped out in Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House. They had been there since December 13. Bush had referred once to “those damned drums” and how they were keeping him awake at night. At his press conference of February 6, Bush told reporters that the drummers had been removed, not because he had ordered it, but because they were disturbing the guests at the posh Hay-Adams Hotel on the other side of the park. There was a law on decibels, he explained:
And lo, people went forth with decibel count auditors. And they found the man got up to – this drummer, incessant drummers, got over 60, and they were moved out of there, and I hope they stay out of there because I don’t want the people in the hotel to not have a good night’s sleep. The drums have ceased, oddly enough.
But just as Bush was speaking, reporters could hear the thumping resume in the park outside. The drummers, much to Bush’s chagrin, were at it again. Soon Lafayette Park was fenced in by the Bushmen.
On February 15, Radio Baghdad offered negotiations leading to the withdrawl of Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Bush, in tandem with the new British prime Minister, John Major, rejected this overture with parellel rhetoric. For Bush, Saddam’s peace bid was “a cruel hoax;” for Major, it was “a bogus sham.” The Kremlin, seeking to save face, found the proposal “encouraging.” Iraq was now pulling key military units out of Kuwait, and Bush judged that the moment was ripe to call for an insurrection and military coup against Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party government. “There’s another way for the bloodshed to stop, and that is for the Iraqi military and the Iraqi people to take matters into their own hands, to force Saddam Hussein, the dictator, to step aside.” [fn 86] With this call, Bush triggered the simultaneous uprisings of the pro-Iranian Shiites in Iraq’s southern provinces, and of the Kurds in the north, many of whom now foolishly concluded that US military assistance would be forthcoming. It was a cynical ploy, since Bush can be seen in retrospect to have had no intention whatever of backing up these rebellions. During the month of March, tens of thousand of additional casualties and untold human misery would be the sole results of these insurrections, which led to the mass exodus of the hapless and wretched Kurds into Iran and Turkey.
The Soviets were still seeking to save half a face from a massacre which they had aided and abetted; diplomacy would also help take the mind of the world off the Baltic bloodshed of the Soviet special forces. During the week after Saddam Hussein’s trial balloon for a pullout from Kuwait, Yevgeny Primakov attempted to assemble a cease-fire. Primakov’s efforts were brushed aside with single-empire arrogance by Bush, who spoke off the cuff at a photo opportunity: “Very candidly…while expressing appreciation for his sending it to us, it falls well short of what would be required. As far as I am concerned, there are no negotiations. The goals have been set out. There will be no concessions.” Primakov had issued a call that “the slaughter must be stopped. I am not saying that the war was justified before, but its continuation cannot now be justified from any point of view. A people is perishing.” Foreign Minister Bessmertnykh complained that “the plan was addressed to the Iraqi leadership, so [Bush] rejected the plan which did not belong to him.” [fn 87] Diplomatically, the once mighty Soviet Union had ceased to exist; the collapse of the Soviet state had been accelerated by its seconding of the Anglo-American designs in the Gulf, and the opinions of the Kremlin now counted for nothing.
Primakov and Tariq Aziz then proceeded to transform the original Soviet 8-point plan into a more demanding 6-point plan, including some of the demands of the Anglo-Americans on the timetable of withdrawal and other issues. Bush’s answer to that, on the morning of Friday, February 22, was a 24-hour ultimatum to Iraq to begin an “immediate and unconditional withdrawal from Kuwait” or face an immediate attack by coalition land forces. Many Iraqi units were now already in retreat; the essence of the US demands was to make Iraq accept a pullout so rapid that all equipment and supplies must be left behind. It is clear that, even if Iraq had accepted Bush’s terms, he would have found reasons to continue the air bombardment. During the following days, the principal activity of US planes was to bomb columns of Iraqi forces leaving Kuwait and retreating towards the north, towards Iraq, in exact compliance with the UN resolutions. But Bush now wanted to fulfill his quota of 100,000 dead Iraqi soldiers. During the evening of Saturday, February 23, Bush spoke from the White House announcing an order to Gen. Schwarzkopf to “use all forces, including ground forces, to eject the Iraqi army from Kuwait.” [fn 88] It emerged in retrospect that many Iraqi military units had left Kuwait weeks before the final land battle. Well-informed observers thought that the Iraqi Republican Guard had been reduced to less than three functioning combat divisions by Bush’s air and ground assaults, but it shortly became clear that there were at least five Republican Guard divisions in the field at something approaching full strength. Finally, on February 27, after 41 days of war, Bush ordered a cease-fire. “Our military objectives are met,” proclaimed Bush. [fn 89]
Because all reports on Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm were covered by the strictest military censorship, and because most news organizations of the US and the other coalition states were more than willing to operate under these conditions, most of the details of these operations are still in the realm of Anglo-American mind war.
The coalition air fleets had carried out some 120,000 sorties against Iraq. If each sortie had claimed but a single Iraqi life, then 120,000 Iraqis had perished. In reality, total Iraqi casualties of killed, wounded, and missing, plus the civilian losses from famine, disease, and pestilence must have been in the neighborhood of 500,000 by the end of 1991.
In early March, Bush addressed a special session of the Congress on what he chose to call the end of the war. This time it was Bush’s personal apotheosis; he was frequently interrupted by manic applause. Bush’s mind war had succeeded. Resistance to the war had been driven virtually underground; bloodthirsty racism ruled most public discourse for a time. It was one of the most wretched moments of the American spirit. Bush, who was consciously preparing new wars, was careful not to promise peace: “Even the new world order cannot guarantee an era of perpetual peace.” Bush now turned his attention to “the domestic front,” where he was quick to make clear that the new world order begins at home: his main proposal was the administration’s omnibus crime bill. One of the main features of this monstrous legislation was an unprecedented expansion in the use of the death penalty for a long list of federal crimes. Bush had enjoyed giving international ultimata so much that he decided to try one on the Congress: “If our forces could win the ground war in 100 hours, then surely the Congress can pass this legislation in 100 days. Let that be a promise we make tonight to the American people.” [fn 90] Bring the killing back home, said Bush in effect.
Many commentators, especially Bush’s own allies in the neoconservative pro-Zionist camp, were greatly disappointed that Bush was terminating the hostilities without liquidating Saddam Hussein, and without guaranteeing the partition of Iraq. Bush was restrained by a series of considerations. Further penetration into Iraq would have necessitated the long-term occupation of large cities, exposing the occupiers to the dangers that the US Marines had faced in Beirut in 1982. If Bush were determined to wipe out the government of Iraq, then he would have to provide an occupation government, or else let the country collapse into civil war and partition. One of the big winners in any partition would surely be Iran; the mullah regime would use its Shiite organizations in southern Iraq to carve off a large piece of Iraqi territory, placing Iran in an excellent position to threaten both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait early in the postwar period. This would have caused much dismay in the Saudi royal family. Arab public opinion was inflamed to such a degree that most Arab governments would not have been able to participate in the destruction of the Iraqi Baath Party, since this was an objective that was clearly not covered by the UN resolutions. Based on these and other considerations, Bush appears to have made a characteristic snap decision to end the war. Bush ended the war with a claim that the US casualty list for the entire operation stood at 223 killed; but, in keeping with the mind war censorship that had cloaked all the proceedings, no casualty list was ever published. The true number of those killed is therefore not known, and is likely to be much higher than that claimed by Bush.
A part of southern Iraq was occupied by the US and other coalition forces. On March 14, Bush met with Mitterrand on the French island of Martinique and there was some falling out on questions of the future new world order “architecture” in the Middle East. On March 16, Bush met with British Prime Minister Major on Bermuda. Bush’s public line was that there could be no normalization of relations with Iraq as long as Saddam Hussein remained in power. Since the days of the Treaty of Sevres at the end of World War I, London had been toying with the idea of an independent Kurdish state in eastern Anatolia. The British were also anxious to use the aftermath of the war in order to establish precedents in international law to undermine the sovereignty of independent nations, and to create ethnic enclaves short of a complete partition of Iraq. British, Israeli, and US assets had combined to provoke a large-scale Kurdish uprising in northern Iraq, and this produced a civil war in the country. But the Republican Guard, which had allegedly been destroyed by the coalition, and the Iraqi army, were still capable of defending the Baath Party government against these challenges, a factor which doubtless also cooled Bush’s enthusiasm for further intervention.
During the latter half of March, calls were made for the creation of a Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq under the protection of the coalition. On April 2, the State Department restated the Bush administration line of non-intervention and “hands off” Iraqi internal affairs, and Bush himself repeated this line on April 3. But British pressure was about to create an extraordinary reversal, which showed the world that even after the departure of Thatcher, and while he was allegedly at the height of his glory, Bush was still taking orders from London. On April 5, Bush yielded partially to the clamor to intervene in favor of the Kurds, who had now been militarily defeated by the Iraqi army and were seeking refuge in Iran and in the Turkish mountains of southeast Anatolia. On April 7, US planes began air drops of supplies into these Turkish and Iraqi areas. Then, on April 8, Major repeated his demand for “safe zone” enclaves for the Kurds to be created and guaranteed by the coalition in territory carved out of northern Iraq. It was a clear interference in Iraqi internal affairs, and a clear violation of international law, but the British were backed up by the choplogic theorizing of French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas, who advanced the theory of the “humanitarian intervention” as a fig-leaf for the sweeping power of wealthy imperialists to trample on the weak and the starving in the future.
Bush was haunted by the spectre of getting bogged down in endless guerilla warfare in the mountains of northern Iraq, just as the Soviets had in Afghanistan. On April 13, Bush told an audience of 2,500 at Maxwell Air Force Base War College in Montgomery, Alabama:
Internal conflicts have been raging in Iraq for many years, and we’re helping out, and we’re going to continue to help these refugees. But I do not want one single soldier or airman shoved into a civil war in Iraq that’s been going on for ages. And I’m not going to have that.
“Saddam’s continued savagery has placed his regime outside the international order,” said Bush. But “we will not interfere in Iraq’s civil war. The Iraqi people must decide their own political future.” [fn 91]
But the British pressure was unrelenting; this was a chance to rewrite international law and to deal a crushing blow to previous concepts of sovereignty. Bush finally harkened to his master’s voice. On April 16, he announced the total reversal of his own policy:
…I have directed the US military to begin immediately to establish several encampments in northern Iraq where relief supplies for these refugees will be made available in large quantities and distributed in an orderly way.
Among those he said he had consulted, Bush mentioned Major. But what about Bush’s previous vehement pledges never to take such a step? One timid voice in the press conference ventured to ask:
Q: Do you feel certain enough of their safety that you feel this is not inconsistent with your earlier statements about not putting one US soldier’s life on the line?
Bush: Yes, I do. I think this is entirely different, and I think it’s a– I just feel it’s what’s needed in terms of helping these people. And so some may interpret it that way; I don’t. I think it’s purely humanitarian, and I think representations have been made as recently as today that they’d be– you know, that these people would be safe. So I hope it proves that way. [fn 92]
This decision created an Anglo-American enclave in northern Iraq that expanded during a period of several weeks before stabilizing. US forces left Iraqi territory by July 15, but some of them stayed behind as part of a very ominous rapid deployment force jointly created by the US, the UK, France, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands and based in southeast Turkey. This was called Operation Poised Hammer (in British parlance, Sword of Damocles), and was allegedly stationed to protect the Kurds from future attacks by Saddam. Many observers noted that this force was optimally positioned to go north and east as well as south and west, meaning that the Poised Hammer force had to be regarded as pre-positioned for a possible move into the southern, Islamic belt of the crumbling Soviet empire.
On April 16 and April 29, Iraq, having complied with most of the cease-fire conditions imposed by Bush through the UN Security Council, requested that the economic embargo imposed in early August, 1990 be finally lifted so as to permit the country to buy food, medicine, and other basic goods on the world market, and to sell oil in order to pay for them. But Bush’s committment to genocide was truly implacable. Bush first obstructed the Iraqi requests with a debate on the conditions for the payment of Iraqi reparations and the country’s international financial debt, and then stated on May 20: “At this juncture, my view is we don’t want to lift the sanctions as long as [Saddam Hussein] is in power.” In the Congress, Rep. Tim Penny of Minneosta and Rep. Henry Gonzalez of Texas offered resolutions to relax the sanctions or to end them entirely, but the Bush machine blocked every move in that direction. Here Bush risked isolation in the court of world public opinion. On July 12, the Aga Khan returned from a visit to Iraq to propose that the sanctions be lifted. The lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children were in danger because of the lack of clean water, food, medicine, and basic health services; during the summer of 1991, infant mortality in Iraq rose almost 400% over the pre-war period.
The spring of 1991 brought a political signal that was very ominous for Bush’s future. This bad omen for George came in the form of a New York Times op-ed written by William G. Hyland, the well-known Kissinger clone serving as editor for the magazine Foreign Affairs, the quarterly organ of the New York Council on Foreign Relations, and one of the flagship publications of the Eastern Anglophile Liberal Establishment. The article was entitled “Downgrade Foreign Policy,” and appeared on May 20, 1991. Hyland’s thesis was that “The United States has never been less threatened by foreign forces than it is today. But the unfortunate corollary is that never since the Great Depression has the threat to domestic well-being been greater.” Hyland demanded that Bush pay more attention to domestic policy, and his proposals for US military disengagement abroad were radical enough to raise the eyebrows of the London Financial Times,; which called attention to Hyland’s catalogue of Bush’s “disastrous domestic agenda: crime, drugs, education, urban crisis, federal budget deficits and a constant squeeze on the middle class, the backbone of our democracy.”
What Hyland’s backers had in mind as remedies for these problems boiled down to modern versions of the Mussolini fascist corporate state. Hyland’s litany that Bush had to pay more attention to domestic crises and especially the battered US economy soon became the stock rhetoric of Democratic presidential candidates demanding a transition from Bush’s voluntary corporatism (the “thousand points of light”) to the compulsory corporatism of Gen. Hugh Johnson’s National Recovery Administration, with an economy organized into obligatory, state-controlled cartels to reduce wages and cut production. This was the reality that lurked behind the edifying rhetoric about poverty, joblessness, and the decline of the middle class purveyed by the official Democratic presidential contenders who finally emerged by the end of 1991. But for Bush, the Hyland article was a clear indication that Wall Street was becoming disenchanted with his policies.
On a number of occasions, Bush threatened to renew the air war against Iraq. One threat of air strikes came between July 25 and July 28, using the issue of alleged Iraqi concealment of nuclear programs. Then, in what amounted to an early campaign foray into a number of western states, Bush made new threats between September 18 and September 20, including an enraged monologue at the Grand Canyon in the company of the ghoulish Scowcroft.
Bush was determined to exploit the momentum gained during the violence and extortion of the Gulf crisis to further the cause of Anglo-American economic war and trade war against Germany, Japan, the developing countries, and the Soviet bloc. In mid-February, in the midst of the Gulf war, Bush’s resident harpie at the Trade Representative’s Office, Carla Hills, had virtually declared war against the western European Airbus consortium, accusing this group of firms of protectionism, subsidies, and violations of exisiting GATT regulations. On June 27, 1990, Bush had announced his “Enterprise for the Americas” in effect a plan for a free trade zone stretching from the North Pole to Tierra del Fuego, all to be subjected to unbridled looting by the US dollar. At that time Bush had stated that “the US stands ready to enter into free trade agreements with other markets in Latin America and the Caribbean… and the first step in this process is a trade agreement with Mexico.” During the Gulf buildup, Bush had met with Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari in Salinas’s home town of Agualeguas in northern Mexico. The leading item on the agenda was the Wall Street demand for a US-Mexico free trade agreement which, together with the exisiting US-Canada free trade arrangement, would amount to a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The negotiation of this deal would begin during 1991. The essence of NAFTA was a wholly deregulated free trade zone in which remaining factories and other businesses in the United States would move their operations to Mexico in order to take advantage of an average hourly wage of 98 cents an hour as against $11 an hour in US manufacturing. The legal minimum wage in Mexico was the equivalent of 59 cents an hour. It was a plan for runaway shops on an unprecedented scale; the Mexican sweat shops or “maquiladoras” were so brutal in their exploitative practices as to constitute an “Auschwitz below the border.” Salinas visited Washington on April 7, 1991, and Bush once again called for free trade with Mexico: “My administration is committed totally to the free trade agreement with Mexico and Canada,” said Bush. “It is priority for the United States, the US government.”
Then there was the Uruguay round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The goal of the Bushmen in in the GATT talks was to press forward towards what Bush called “global free trade;” all nations were to be coerced into giving up their inherent sovereign rights to intervene in favor of their own farmers, industrialists, and other producers. An important aspect of this thrust was the Anglo-American demand that the European Community dismantle its system of payments to farmers. In October, at the UN, Bush would press for the completion of GATT: “The Uruguay Round offers hope to developing nations. I cannot stress enough…History shows that protectionism can destroy wealth within countries and poison relations between them.
Bush demanded from the US Congress the ability to negotiate both GATT and NAFTA on a “fast track” basis. This meant that Bush wanted to be able to negotiate vital international trade agreements, and then submit them to Congress on an all-or-nothing, take-it-or-leave-it basis. The Congress could make no amendments nor add statements of clarification; such rubber-stamping would undermine the right of the senate to provide advice and consent in treaties. There was considerable resistance in Congress to the fast track for NAFTA and GATT, and this was backed up by the rank and file of the AFL-CIO trade unions, who did not wish to see their jobs exported. But the chances for stopping the fast track in the summer of 1991 were ruined by the defection of Missouri Congressman Richard Gephardt, whose ties to organized labor were strong, but who neverthless came out in favor of the fast track on May 9. Gephardt had clashed with Bush during 1989, when Bush was recorded in the congressional press gallery as complaining “I tell you, I’m displeased with Gephardt, the way he made it so really kind of personal.” But during 1990, Gephardt had settled into the Bush Democrat mould, except for some opposition to Bush’s war policy in the Gulf. By 1991, Gephardt was in Bush’s pocket. The fast track cleared Congress on May 23.
Bush sought to extend the zone of “free trade” looting ever southward. In mid-June, the Brazilian President Collor de Mello came to the White House, where Bush greeted him as “my kind of guy.” Collor, like Salinas, was anxious to dissolve national sovereignty into a “free market.” The discussion revolved around reducing trade barriers between the future NAFTA and the Southern Common Market of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay. Collor also pledged to preserve the Amazon rain forest, a demand that was becoming the focus of the UN’s “Eco ’92” conference set to take place in Brazil. Shortly after this, Bush would hold a Rose Garden ceremony to celebrate the triumphant progress of his Enterprise for the Americas free trade steamroller since its inception one year before.
Continuing violence was the staple of the New World Order. Elections in India were scheduled for late May, and the likely victor was Rajiv Gandhi, whose mother had been assassinated by Anglo-American intelligence in 1984. Rajiv Gandhi, during his time in the opposition, had experienced a remarkable process of personal maturation. During the Gulf crisis and the war against Iraq, he had used his position as chief of the opposition to force the weak Chandra Shakar government to reject a US demand for landing rights for US military aircraft transferring war material from the Philippines toward Saudi Arabia. If re-elected prime minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi would very likely have assumed a position of leadership among world forces determined to resist the Anglo-American New World Order; he also would have offered the best hope of frustrating London’s gambit of a new Indo-Pakistani war according to the game plan in which Bush had participated back in 1970. The Anglo-American media did not conceal their venomous hatred of Rajiv. He was assassinated while campaigning on May 21, and his death was widely attributed in India to the CIA.
Bush’s approach to sabotaging and containing continental Europe including doing everything possible to create a new war on the Balkan flank of that continent. This was done as openly as possible, through a visit to Belgrade by James Baker. Baker met with the presidents of the two Yugoslav federal republics which had been seeking either a loose confederation or else their own outright independence, Milan Kucan of Slovenia and Franjo Tudjman of Croatia. Baker warned both that they would get no US recognition and no US economic aid if they seceded from the Yugoslav federation. “We came to Yugoslavia because of our concern about the crisis and about the dangers of a disintegration of this country. The concerns that we came to Yugoslavia with have not been allayed by the meetings we had today. We think that the situation is very serious,” said Baker. The breakup of Yugoslavia would have “very tragic consequences.” Baker added a very ominously: “We worry, frankly, about history repeating itself.” Baker was talking about Sarajevo and how the conflict of Serbia with Austria-Hungary had detonated a general war and devastated Europe. Baker had a special meeting with the Serbian fascist strongman, Slobodan Milosevic, in which Baker encouraged the Serbian military to suppress any rebellion with military means. The federal army assaults on Slovenia, and then on Croatia, can be dated from these exchanges, which succeeded in creating the first war and the first bombing of civilians in central Europe since 1945. Interviews during this same time frame by Undersecretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, the Kissinger Associates veteran who had been on the board of the US importer of Yugo automobiles, and on the board of a Yugoslav bank involved in drug money laundering, left no doubt of US intent: in Eagleburger’s babbling, every other word was “civil war.”
US brokerage houses waxed eloquent over how the incipient Yugoslav civil war would prevent investment in most countries of central Europe, and would ruin the economic hinterland of united Germany. Yugoslavia had been ravaged by the conditionalities of the IMF during the 1980’s, and it was this regime that Bush was imposing in Poland, and which he wanted to extend to the rest of eastern Europe and the republics emerging from the USSR.
Gorbachov had been invited to the Group of Seven summit in London as a result of pressure from the continental Europeans which Bush and Major had been unable to withstand. But all that Gorbachov could bring home from this meeting was the promise of “technical assistance” from the IMF, meaning the advice of Jeffrey Sachs of Harvard, an incompetent charlatan who had presided over the ruin of Poland. On the last two days of July, Bush went to Moscow for a summit with Gorbachov that centered on the signing of a treaty on reducing strategic armaments. Erstwhile condominium partners Gorbachov and Primakov pressed for economic assistance and investments, but all that Bush was willing to offer was a vague committment to forward to Congress the trade treaty of 1990, which would provide, if approved, for the extension of the Most Favored Nation treatment to Moscow. Soviet black beret special forces units deliberately massacred six Lithuanian border guards as Bush was arriving, but Bush maintained a pose of studied disinterest in the freedom of the Baltics. And not only of the Baltics: after the sessions with Gorbachov were over, Bush went to Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine, where he rejected a private meeting with Ivan Drach, the leader of the Rukh, the main opposition movement. In the Ukrainian capital on August 1, “Chicken Kiev” Bush made his infamous speech in which he warned about the dangers inherent in nationalism.
Bush’s Kiev speech stands out in retrospect as compelling evidence of his relentless opposition to anticommunist and antisoviet movements in the moribund Soviet empire, and of his relentless desire to do evil. Typically, Bush quoted his idol, Theodore Roosevelt: “To be patronized is as offensive as to be insulted. No one of us cares permanently to have someone else conscientiously striving to do him good. What- we want to work with that someone else for the good of both of us.” Then Bush got to the heart of the matter, his diehard support for Gorbachov and the imperial edifice erected by Lenin and Stalin: ” Some people have urged the United States to choose between supporting President Gorbachov and supporting independence-minded leaders throughout the USSR. I consider this a false choice.” And then, the crowning insult to the Ukrainians, who had been denied their nationhood for centuries: “…freedom is not the same as independence. Americans will not support those who seek in order to replace a far-off tyranny with a local despotism. They will not aid those who promote a suicidal nationalism based upon ethnic hatred.” [fn 93] It was an insult the Ukrainians and other freedom fighters will not soon forget, and it had the benefit of opening the eyes of more than a few as to what kind of bird this Bush really was.
Again Bush’s policy was a recipe for destabilization, starvation, and war: he encouraged the Kremlin to crack down, but offered no economic cooperation, insisting instead on IMF super-austerity. During the third week after Bush had left Moscow, the abortive putsch of the Group of 8 took place. In the wake of the failed putsch, Bush was one of the last world leaders to announce the restoration of diplomatic relations with the Baltic states through the sending of an ambassador; Bush had delayed for three additional days in response to an explicit request from Gorbachov. By the time Bush had accepted Baltic freedom, it was September 2. Bush clung to Gorbachov long after the latter had in fact ceased to exist. Gorbachov was gone by the end of 1991, and the alternative rejected by Bush in Kiev turned out to have been the real one.
Soviet policy led the agenda when Major visited Bush at Kennebunkport at the end of August. The two Anglo-Saxon champions proposed to offer the former USSR republics “practical help in converting their economy into one that works,” as Major put it. This translated into accelerating the “special association” of the Soviet Union (and/or its successor states) with the IMF, “with a view to full membership in due course for those who qualify” by virtue of their adoption of the disastrous Polish model. Bush urged Americans to wait “until the dust settles” and until “there are more cards on the table.” “I got incidentally turned in for being testy,” complained Bush about comment on his previous remarks stressing indifference to personnel changes in Moscow. “And I’m wondering what we’re going to do for an encore next August, John,” added Bush, “because last year, as you know, it was the Gulf.” [fn 94]
But for George Bush, the essence of the postwar months of 1991 was a succession of personal triumphs, a succession which he hoped to extend all the way to the 1992 election. In mid-May, Queen Elizabeth II visited Washington in the context of a tour of several American cities. In an event which marked a new step in the moral degeneracy of the United States, Elizabeth Mountbatten-Windsor, lineal descendant of the hated George III of Hannover, became the first monarch of the United Kingdom ever to address a joint session of the Congress. Elizabeth spoke with the cynical hypocrisy which is the hallmark of Anglo-American propaganda. She portrayed Britain and the United States as united by the rejection of Mao’s old dictum that political power “grows out of the barrel of a gun.” She alleged that the spontaneous reaction of both Britain and the United States to the Kuwait crisis was the same, that it represented “an outrage to be reversed, both for the people of Kuwait and for the sake of the principle that naked aggression should not prevail.” “Our views were identical and so were our responses,” said Elizabeth, paying tribute to Bush. She also seemed to hint at open-ended committments in the Gulf with her line that “unfortunately, experience shows that great enterprises seldom end with a tidy and satisfactory flourish.” One who preserved his honor by boycotting this session was Congressman Gus Savage, who called Elizabeth “the Queen of colonialism,” presiding over an exploited empire in the third world. Bush basked in the praise directed to the leader of the free world, and for his part raised a few eyebrows by calling Britain “the mother country.” Bush’s enjoyment was marred by the exhaustion brought on by his thyroid problems. And not everyone appreciated Elizabeth: one Washington Post writer stirred up the Anglophiles by describing her as “this fusty cartoon, this upholstered relic in white gloves, this corgi-button defender of an ill-kept faith.” [fn 95]
In early June, there was the triumph accorded to General Schwarzkopf for the Gulf war. Bush viewed the parade and aircraft flyover from a reviewing stand set up in front of the White House, and met Schwarzkopf personally when he arrived. In the wake of the war, said Bush, “there is a new and wonderful feeling in America.” In the Roman triumphs, the victorious general was crowned with bay leaves, and dressed in a purple toga embossed with golden stars. He also received the services of a slave who persistently reminded him that he was mortal, and that all glory was fleeting. Bush would have benefitted from the services of such a slave on that June 8. [fn 96]
The high tide of Bush’s megalomania as the emperor of the new world order was perhaps reached at the United Nations in September. It was an elaboration of the previous year’s oration on the New World Order. First, Bush made clear what the developing sector could expect in the postwar world: “The world has learned that free markets provide levels of prosperity, growth, and happiness that centrally planned economies can never offer…Here in the chamber we hear about North-South problems. But free and open trade, including unfettered access to markets and credit, offer developing countries the means of self-sufficiency and economic dignity. If the Uruguay round should fail, a new wave of protectionism could destroy our hopes for a better future.”
Bush then claimed credit, if not for the end of history, then for a revival of history in the areas which had been dominated by communism. “Communism held history captive for years….This revival of history ushers in a new era teeming with opportunities and perils….History’s revival enables people to pursue their natural instincts for enterprise. Communism froze that progress until its failures became too much for even its defenders to bear.”
Bush then turned to the war of the coalition against Iraq which he celebrated as a “third historical breakthrough: international cooperation,” a “measured, principled, deliberate and courageous response to Saddam Hussein,” and, most ominously, “a model for the collective settlement of disputes.” “And it is the United States view that we must keep the United Nations sanctions in place as long as [Saddam Hussein] remains in power.” “This is not to say– and let me be clear on this one– that we should punish the Iraqi people.”
Bush demanded that the General Assembly take back its resolution equating Zionism with racism. Bush’s approach to Israel was always balanced, always within the bounds of the Knesset; this concession balanced his prodding of Shamir to come to a peace conference which Bush wanted to hold in late October.
Bush’s peroration reverted to the theme of the Single Empire, the Anglo-Saxon New World Order:
Finally, you may wonder about America’s role in the new world that I have described. Let me assure you, the United States has no intention of striving for a Pax Americana. However, we will remain engaged. We will not retreat and pull back into isolationism. We will offer friendship and leadership. And in short, we seek a Pax Universalis built upon shared responsibilities and aspirations.” [fn 97]
The emperor of the new world order had spoken; now, woe to the vanquished!
Return to the Table of Contents
1. Suetonius, The Lives of the Twelve Casears (New York: Modern Library, 1931), p. 258.
2. Suetonius, p. 172.
3. “Bush is Optimistic After Talks with Gorbachov,” Washington Post,> March 14, 1985.
4. Bob Woodward, The Commanders, p. 54-55.
5. “Bush Dismisses Gorbachov Complaint,” Washington Post, April 8, 1989.
6. “Reagan Is Concerned About Bush’s Indecision,” Washington Post, May 6, 1989.
7. “Bush Rebukes Critics of Arms Policy,” Washington Post, September 19, 1989.
8. “Bush Hails ‘Dramatic’ Decision,” Washington Post, November 10, 1989.
9. “Bush: The Secret Presidency,” Newsweek, January 1, 1990.
10. “Berlin and Bush’s Emotional Wall,” Washington Post, November 14, 1989.
11. “Text of President Bush’s Address,” Washington Post, November 23, 1989.
12. People, April 9, 1990.
13. See “Tracking Thyroid Problems,” Washington Times, May 29, 1991. This article, anxious to prevent the reader from associating the broccoli outburst with the mental and thryoid problems of the spring of 1990, hastens to add: “There is no evidence that lack of broccoli causes Graves disease.” Graves disease was the official White House lable for Bush’s thyroid malady, which medical professionals without political axes to grind have tended to classify as Basedow’s disease.
14. “Transcript of Bush-Gorbachov News Conference,” Washington Post,> June 4, 1990.
15. Jim Hoagland, “The Deal Behind the Summit,” Washington Post, June 5, 1990.
16. See “Marshall Says He Never Heard of Bush’s Nominee,” New York Times, July 27, 1990; “Marshall Slams Gavel on Souter,” Washington Times, July 27, 1990. At about the same time that Marshall quit, Rep. William Gray of Philadelphia, the Democratic Majority Whip, announced his resignation from the House to become the president of the United Negro College Fund. Gray had been under heavy police state attack from the FBI, and was hounded from office. Within a few weeks, Bush had disposed of the top-ranking black officials of both the legislative and judicial branches of government.
17. Hobart Rowen, “A Near-Depression,” Washington Post, January 10, 1991.
18. “Bush Opens Door to Tax-Hike Talks,” Washington Post, May 8, 1990.
19. Alan Friedman, “The Neil Bush Bailout,” Vanity Fair, October, 1990.
20. “Bush Defends Fitzwater in S&L Finger-Pointing,” Washington Post, June 21, 1990. Bush vetoed H.R. 770, the Family and Medical Leave Bill, which would have required employers with 50 or more employees to provide their workers with up to 12 weeks of unpaid>, job-protected leave each year to care for a new child or a seriously ill child, parent, or spouse, or to use as “medical leave” if an eployee is seriously ill. The measure only required the employer to continue health benefits while the employee was on leave. The House failed to override the veto by a 232 to 195 vote on July 23, 1990.
21. “President Talks About a Family Matter,” New York Times, July 12, 1990.
22. “The Silver Fox Speaks Her Mind,” People Weekly, August, 1990.
23. At last report, Neil Bush was at large in Houston, Texas, where he had taken a job as a “new business director” with TransMedia Communications. This company is a subsidiary of Prime Network, a Denver-based firm which is owned by Bill Daniels, a friend of the Bush family. According to informed sources, Neil Bush’s new job was secured with the help of John McMullen, a minority shareholder in Prime Network and owner of the Houston Astros baseball team. Neil was lodging at the Houstonian Hotel, which is also father George’s voting address. According to press accounts, Neil Bush was still hoping to sell his home in Denver for about $500,000. See the Houston Chronicle, July 17, 1991. To help defray Neil’s legal expenses, a fund has been established with the help of former Ohio Democratic Congressman and Skull and Bones member Thomas L. “Lud” Ashley, president of the Association of Bank Holding Companies. a lobbying group. In April, 1991 federal regulators ended their 14-month inquiry into Neil Bush by directing him to refrain from future conflicts of interest in his involvement with federally insured financial institutions. This was the mildest sanction in the official arsenal. In May, 1991, the FDIC agreed to settle their negligence suit with Neil Bush and the other Silverado figures for $49.5 million. See the New York Times, June 9, 1991.
24. Webster G. Tarpley, “Is Bush Courting a Middle East war and new oil crisis?”, Executive Intelligence Review, March 31, 1989. In early August, 1989, after the pro-Iranian Organization of the Oppressed of the Earth had announced the its execution of US Marine Lt. Col. William R. Higgins, Bush did post a battleship and a carrier to the eastern Mediterranean, and a carrier in the northern Arabian Sea, thus threatening both Iran and Syria, whose forces went on alert in the Bekaa Valley and elswehere.
25. “Stop Bush’s Rush to World War III,” New Federalist, February 11, 1991.
26. “Administration Attempts to Blunt Israeli Criticism,” Washington Post, March 6, 1990.
27. “For Bush, Life on the Run Catches Up,” New York Times, July 6, 1990.
28. Bush’s Gulf Crisis: The Beginning of World War III?, EIR Special Report (Washington, September 1990), pp. 27-28.
29. Bon Woodward, The Commanders (New York, 1991), p. p. 205-206.
30. Nora Boustany and Patrick E. Tyler, “Iraq Masses Troops at Kuwait Border,” Washington Post, July 24, 1990. See also New York Times, July 24, 1990.
31. “US Pursues Diplomatic Solution in Persian Gulf Crisis, Warns Iraq,’ July 25, 1990.
32. Bush’s Gulf Crisis: The Beginning of World War III ? (Washington: Executive Intelligence Review, 1990), pp. 28-29.
33. Woodward, Commanders, p. 218.
34. Woodward, Commanders, p. 224-229.
35. Washington Post, August 3, 1990.
36. Washington Post, August 9, 1990.
37. New York Times, August 4, 1990.
38. Woodward, Commanders, p. 253.
39. Woodward, Commanders, p. 254.
40. See Maureen Dowd, “The Guns of August Make a Dervish Bush Whirl Even Faster,” New York Times, August 7, 1990, and “The Longest Week: How President Decided to Draw the Line,” New York Times, August 9, 1990.
41. “Decision Came Saturday at Camp David,” Washington Post, August 9, 1990.
42. “Transcript of News Conference Reamarks by Bush on Iraq Crisis,” New York Times, August 6, 1990.
43. Washington Post, August 9, 1990.
44. New York Times, August 7, 1990.
45. New York Times, August 9, 1990.
46. Washington Post, August 9, 1990.
47. “Bush’s Talk of a ‘New World Order:’ Foreign Policy Tool or Mere Slogan?”, Washington Post, May 26, 1991.
48. Washington Post, August 28, 1990.
49. “Bush: Out of These Troubled Times… a New World Order,” Washington Post, September 12, 1990/
50. Eleanor Clift, “The ‘Carterization’ of Bush, Newsweek, October 22, 1990.
51. Facts on File, 1990, pp. 740-741.
52. See Newsweek, October 22, 1990, p. 20 ff.
53. Washington Post, October 25, 1990.
54. “Bush Seeks Firing of Party Official,” Washington Post, October 26, 1990.
55. “Candidates Spurn Bush’s Embrace,” Washington Post, October 24, 1990.
56. “On West Coast, President Rails Against Democrats,” and “Bush Says Democrats ‘Choked the Economy,'” Washington Post, October 27 and October 30, 1990.
57. Kevin Phillips, “The Bush Blueprint Bombs,” Newsweek, November 19, 1990.
58. “Bush is Sharply Questioned By Lawmakers on Gulf Policy,” Washington Post, October 31, 1990.
59. Business week, November 19, 1990,
60. New York Times, November 29 and November 11, 1990.
61. Washington Times, November 8, 1990.
62. Washington Post, November 9, 1990.
63. James Reston, “Too Early for Bush to Dial 911,” New York Times,> November 12, 1990.
64. New York Times, November 15, 1990.
65. New York Times, November 16, 1990.>
66. Washington Post, November 16, 1990.
67. “Support for Gulf Policy Seen ‘At Teetering Point,'” Washington Post, November 19, 1990.
68. “Citing Geneva Incidents, US Will Protest to Swiss,” Washington Post, November 25, 1990.
70. Washington Post, December 1, 1990.
71. New York Times, December 20, 1990.
72. Washington Post, January 4, 1991.
73. Washington Post, January 10, 1991.
74. “Loans to Sen. Hatfield Forgiven, Records Show,” Washington Post, May 10, 1991.
75. Washington Post, January 13, 1991.
76. “Sheddings Tears, Bush Tells Baptists of Praying as Gulf War Neared,” New York Times June 6, 1991.
77. See photo, Washington Post, August 4, 1980.
78. “Billy Graham: ‘I Am Not a Communist,'” Washington Post, May 20, 1982.
79. “Bush and Saddam’s Holy War of Words,” Washington Post, February 3, 1991.
80. People, December, 1990, p. 53.
81. “First Lady Breaks Her Leg While Sledding,” Washington Post, January 14, 1991.
82. New York Times, January 18, 1991.
83. Washington Post, January 19, 1991.
84. “Describing Moral Debate, Bush Spellbinds Audience,” Washington Post, January 26, 1991.
85. Washington Post, February 6, 1991.
86. Washington Post, February 16, 1991.
87. Washington Post, February 20, 1991.
88. Washington Post, February 24, 1991.
89. Washington Post, February 28, 1991.
90. New York Times, March 7, 1991.
91. New York Times, April 14, 1991.
92. New York Times, April 17, 1991.
93. New York Times, August 2, 1991.
94. Washington Post, August 30, 1991.
95. Washington Post, May 17 and May 25, 1991.
96. Washington Post, June 9, 1991.
97. Facts on File, September 1991.