George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography--- by Webster G. Tarpley & Anton Chaitkin
Chapter -XXIII- The End of History
G.W.F. Hegel, Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts.
George Bush's inaugural address of January 21, 1989, was on the whole an eminently colorless and forgettable oration. The speech was for the most part a rehash of the tired demagogy of Bush's election campaign, with the ritual references to "a thousand points of light" and the hollow pledge that when it came to the drug inundation which Bush had supposedly been fighting for most of the decade, "This scourge will stop." Bush talked of "stewardship" being passed on from one generation to another. There was almost nothing about the state of the US economy. Bush was preoccupied with the "divisiveness" left over from the Vietnam era, and this he pledged to end in favor of a return to bipartisan consensus between the president and the Congress, since "the statute of limitations has been reached. This is a fact: The final lesson of Vietnam is that no great nation can long afford to be sundered by a memory." There is good reason to believe that Bush was already contemplating the new round of foreign military adventures which were not long in coming.
One thing is certain: Bush's inaugural address contained no promise to keep the peace of the sort that had figured in his New Orleans acceptance speech back in August.
The characteristic note of Bush's remarks came at the outset, in the passages in which he celebrated the triumph of the American variant of the bureaucratic-authoritarian police state, based on usury, which chooses to characterize itself as "freedom:"
For the first time in this century, for the first time perhaps in all history, man does not have to invent a system by which to live. We don't have to talk late into the night about which form of government is better. We don't have to wrest justice from the kings. We only have to summon it from within ourselves. We must act on what we know. [fn 1]
After the inauguration ceremonies at the Capitol were completed, George and Barbara Bush descended Pennsylvania Avenue towards the White House in a triumphant progress, getting out of their limousine every block or two to walk among the crowds and savour the ovations. George Bush, imperial administrator and bureaucrat, had now reached the apex of his career, the last station of the cursus honorum: the chief magistracy. Bush now assumed leadership of a Washington bureaucracy that was increasingly focussed on itself and its own aspirations, convinced of its own omnipotence and infallibility, of its own manifest destiny to dominate the world. It was a heady moment, full of the stuff of megalomaniac delusion.
Imperial Washington was now aware of the increasing symtoms of collapse in the Soviet Empire. The feared adversary of four decades of the cold war was collapsing. Germany and Japan were formidable economic powers, but they were led by a generation of politicians who had been well schooled in the necessity of following Anglo-Saxon orders. France had abandoned her traditional Gaullist policy of independence and sovereignty, and had returned to the suivisme of the old Fourth Republic under Bush's freemasonic confrere Francois Mitterrand. Opposition to Washington's imperial designs might still come from leading states of the developing sector, from India, Brazil, Iraq and Malasia, but the imperial administrators, puffed up with their xenophobic contempt for the former colonials, were confident that these states could ne easily defeated, and that the third world would meekly succumb to the installation of Anglo-American puppet regimes in the way that the Philippines and so many Latin American countries had during the 1980's.
Bush could also survey the home front with self-congratulatory complacency. He had won a Congressional election in his designer district in Houston, but in 1964 and 1970 majorities at the polls had proven mockingly elusive. Now, for just the second time in his life, he had solved the problem of winning a contested election, and this time it had been the big one. Bush had at one stroke fulfilled his greatest ambition and solved his most persistent problem, that of getting himself elected to public office. He had dealt successfully with the thorny issue of governance in the domestic sphere, foiling the jinx that had dogged all sitting vice presidents seeking to move up after Martin Van Buren's success in 1836.
Bush assembled a team of his fellow Malthusian bureaucrats and administrators from among those officials who had staffed Republican administrations going back to 1969, the year that Nixon chose Kissinger for the National Security Council. Persons like Scowcroft, Baker, Carla Hills, and Bush himself had, with few exceptions, been in or around the federal government and especially the executive branch for most of two decades, with only the brief hiatus of Jimmy Carter to let them fill their pockets in private sector influence peddling. Bush's cabinet and staff was convinced it boasted the most powerful battery of resumes, the the most consummate experience, the most impeccable credentials, of any management team in the history of the world. All the great issues of policy had been solved under Nixon, Ford, and Reagan; the geopolitical situation was being brought under control; all that remained was to consolidate and perfect the total administration of the world according to the policies and procedures already established, while delivering mass consensus through the same methods that had just proven unbeatable in the presidential campaign. The Bush team was convinced of its own inherent superiority to the Mandarin Chinese, the Roman and Byzantine, the Ottoman, the Austrian, the Prussian, the Soviet, and to all other bureaucratic-authoritarian regimes that had ever existed on the planet. Only the British East India Company was even in the same league, thought the theorists of usury on the Bush team. (Pride goeth ever before a fall. By late 1991, this same team had acquired the deserved reputation of a gaggle of maladroit buffoons.)
These triumphant bureaucrats and above all George Bush himself were not kindly disposed to old Ronald Reagan, in whose shadow they had labored for so long. How many of them had been consumed with rage when plum posts had been given to Reagan's fast-buck California parvenu cronies! How they had cursed Reagan for a sentimental pushover when he made concessions to Gorbachov! The bureaucrats would not join Reagan in slobbering over Gorbachov, at least not right away; they were there to drive a hard bargain, to make sure the Soviet empire collapsed. They had accepted Reagan as a useful facade, a harmless vaudeville act to keep the great unwashed masses amused while the bureaucrats carried out their machinations. But the bureaucrats had a savage temper, and they never appreciated the bumbling antics of any favorite uncles. If scripted Reagan had seemed a necessary evil as long as he appeared indispensable to procure election victories and mass consensus, how intolerable he seemed now that he had been proven unnecessary, now that imperial functionary George Bush had won election in his own right, without Reagan's bobbing histrionics!
Reagan-bashing became one of the ruling passions of the new patrician regime. This was a matter of Realpolitik that went beyond mere words: it was the demolition of any remaining Reaganite political machinery, lest it provide a springboard for a political challenge to the plutocracy of little Lord Fauntleroy. The campaign was so intense that it elicited a letter from Richard Nixon to John Sununu complaining of a newspaper account of White House aides speaking on background to depict Reagan as a dunce, much inferior to his successor. Nixon urged that "whoever was the source of this story should be fired as an example to others who might be tempted to play the same kind of game." Nixon denounced "anonymous staffers who believe that the way to build him [Bush] up is to tear Reagan down." Sununu hurriedly telephoned Tricky Dick to reassure him that he was also found the denigration of Reagan "absolutely intolerable," but the trashing of the old Reagan machine only accelerated. One assistant to Bush boasted that the new president was "in the business of governing," while poor old Reagan had been a prop for photo opportunities. [fn 2]
Of course, the imperial functionaries of the Bush team had chosen to ignore certain gross facts, most importantly the demonstrable bankruptcy and insolvency of their own leading institutions of finance, credit, and government. Their ability to command production and otherwise to act upon the material world was in sharp decline. How long would the American population remain in its state of stupefied passivity in the face of deteriorating standards of living that were now falling more rapidly than at any time in the last twenty years? And now, the speculative orgy of the 1980's would have to be paid for. Even their advantage over the crumbling Soviet Empire was ultimately only a marginal, relative, and temporary one, due primarily to a faster rate of collapse on the Soviet side; but the day of reckoning for the Anglo-Americans was coming, too.
This was the triumphalism that pervaded the opening weeks of the Bush administration. Bush gave more press conferences during the transition period than Reagan had given during most of his second term; he revelled in the accoutrements of his new office, and gave the White House press corps all the photo opportunities and interviews they wanted to butter them up and get them in his pocket.
These fatuous delusions of grandeur were duly projected upon the plane of the philosophy of history by an official of the Bush Administration, Francis Fukuyama, the Deputy Director of the State Department Policy Planning Staff, the old haunt of Harrimanites like Paul Nitze and George Kennan. In the winter of 1989, during Bush's first hundred days in office, Fukuyama delivered a lecture to the Olin Foundation which was later published in The National Interestquarterly under the title of "The End of History?" Imperial administrator Fukuyama had studied under the reactionary elitist Allan Bloom, and was conversant with the French neo-enlightenment semiotic (or semi-idiotic) school of Derrida, Foucault, and Roland Barthes, whose zero degree of writing Fukuyama may have been striving to attain. Above all, Fukayama was a follower of Hegel in the interpetation of the French postwar neo-Hegelian Alexandre Kojeve.
Fukuyama qualifies as the official ideologue of the Bush regime. His starting point is the "unabashed victory of economic and social liberalism," meaning by that the economic and political system reaching its maturity under Bush-- what the State Department usually calls "democracy." "The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism," Fukuyama wrote. "The triumph of the Western political idea is complete. Its rivals have been routed....Political theory, at least the part concerned with defining the good polity, is finished," Fukuyama opined. "The Western idea of governance has prevailed." "What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind's ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government." According to Fukayama, communism as an alternative system had bee thoroughly discredited in the USSR, China, and the other communist countries. Since there are no other visible models contending for the right to shape the future, he concludes that the modern American state is the "final, rational form of society and state." There are of course large areas of the world where governments and forms of society prevail which diverge radically from Fukuyama's western model, but he answers this objection by explaining that backward, still historic parts of the world exist and will continue to exist for some time. It is just that they will never be able to present their forms of society as a credible model or alternative to "liberalism." Since Fukuyama presumably knew something of what was in the Bush administration pipeline, he carefully kept the door open for new wars and military conflicts, especially among historic states, or between historic and post-historic powers. Both Panama and Iraq would, according to Fukayam's typology, fall into the "historic" category.
Thus, in the view of the early Bush administration, the planet would come to be dominated more and more by the "universal homogenous state," a mixture of "liberal democracy in the political sphere combined with easy access to VCRs and stereos in the economic." The arid banality of that definition is matched by Fukuyama's dazzled tribute to "the spectacular abundance of advanced liberal economies and the infintely diverse consumer culture." Fukuyama, it turns out, is a resident of the privileged enclave for imperial functionaries that is northeast Virginia, and so has little understanding of the scope of US domestic poverty and immiseration: "This is not to say that there are not rich people and poor people in the United States, or that the gap between them has not grown in recent years. But the root causes of economic inequality have less to do with the underlying legal and social strcutures of our society, which remain fundamentally egalitarian and moderately redistributionist, as with the cultural and social characteristics of the groups that make it up, which are in turn the historical legacy of premodern conditions. Thus black poverty in the United States, for example, is not the inherent product of liberalism, but is rather the 'legacy of slavery and racism' which persisted long after the formal abolition fo slavery." For Fukuyama, writing at a moment when American class divisions were more pronounced that at any time in human memory, "the egalitarianism of modern America represents the essential achievement of the classless society envisoned by Marx." As a purveyor of official doctrine for the Bush regime, Fukuyama is bound to ignore twenty years of increasing poverty and declining standards of living for all Americans which has caused an even greater retrogression for the black population; there is no way that this can be chalked up to the heritage of slavery.
It is not far from the End of History to Bush's later slogans of the New World Order and the imperial Pax Universalis. It is ironic but lawful that Bush should have chosen a neo-Hegelian as apologist for his regime. Hegel was the arch-obscurantist, philosophical dictator, and saboteur of the natural sciences; he was the ideologue of Metternich's Holy Alliance system of police states in the post-1815 oligarchic restoration in Europe imposed by the Congress of Vienna. When we mention Metternich we have at once brought Bush's old patron Kissinger into play, since Metternich is well known as his ego ideal. Hegel deified the bureaucratic-authoritarian state machinery of which he was a part as the final embodiment of rationality in human affairs, beyond which it was impossible to go. Hegel told intellectuals to be reconciled with the world they found around them, and pronounced philosophy incapable of producing ideas for the reform of the world. As Hegel put it in the famous preface to the Philosophy of Right: "Wenn die Philosophie ihr Grau in Grau mahlt, dann ist eine Gestalt des Lebens alt geworden, und mit Grau in Grau laesst sie sich nicht verjuengen, sondern nur erkennen; die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden Daemmerung ihren Flug." References to Hegel's owl of Minerva have been a staple of Washington coktail-party chatter during the Bush years. As Fukuyama put it: "The end of history will be a very sad time....There will be neither art nor philosophy, just the perpetual caretaking of the museum of human history....Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started over again." [fn 3]
The Bush regime thus took shape as a bureaucratic-authoritarian stewardship of the financial interests of Wall Street and the City of London. Many saw in the Bush team the patrician financiers of the Rockefeller Administration that never was. The groups in society were to be served were so narrowly restricted that the Bush administration often looked like a government that had totally separated itself from the underlying society and had constituted itself to govern in the interests of the bureaucracy itself. Since Bush was irrevocably committed to carrying forward the policies that had been consolidated and institutionalized during the previous eight years, the regime became more and more rigid and inflexible. Active opposition, or even the dislocations occasioned by administration policies were therefore dealt with by the repressive means of the police state. The Bush regime could not govern, but it could indict, and the Discrediting Committee was aways ready to vilify. Some observers spoke of a new form of bonapartism sui generis, but the most accurate description for the Bush combination was the "administrative fascism" coined by political prisoner Lyndon LaRouche, who was thrown in jail just seven days after the Bush inauguration.
Bush's cabinet reflected several sets of optimizing criteria.
The best way to attain a top cabinet post was to belong to a family that had been allied with the Bush-Walker clan over a period of at least half a century, and to have served as a functionary or fund-raiser for the Bush campaign. This applied to Secretary of State James Baker III, Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady, Secretary of Commerce Robert Mosbacher, and Bush's White House counsel and top political adviser, C. Boyden Gray.
A second royal road to high office was to have been an officer of Kissinger Associates, the international consulting firm set up by Bush's lifelong patron, Henry Kissinger. In this category we find Gen. Brent Scowcroft, the former chief of the Kiss Ass Washington office, and Lawrence Eagleburger, the dissipated wreck who was named to the number two post in the State Department, Undersecretary of State. Eagleburger had been the president of Kissinger Associates. The ambassadorial (or proconsul) list was also rife with Kissingerian pedigrees: a prominent one was John Negroponte, Bush's ambassador to Mexico.
Overlapping with this last group were the veterans of the 1974-77 Ford Administration, one of the most freemasonic in recent US history. National Security Council Director Brent Scowcroft, for example, was simply returning to the job that he had held under Ford as Kissinger's alter ego inside the White House. Dick Cheney, who eventually became Secretary of Defense, had been Ford's White House chief of staff. Cheney had been Executive Assistant to the Director of Nixon's Office of Economic Opportunity way back in 1969. In 1971 he had joined Nixon's White House staff as Don Rumsfeld's deputy. From 1971 to 1973, Cheney was at the Cost of Living Council, working as an enforcer for the infamous Phase II wage freeze in Nixon's "Economic Stabilization Program." The charming Carla Hills, who became Bush's Trade Representative, had been Ford's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. William Seidman and James Baker (and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, a Reagan holdover who was the chairman of Ford's Council of Economic Advisers) had also been in the picture under Jerry Ford.
Bush also extended largesse to those who had assisted him in the election campaign just concluded. At the top of this list was Governor John Sununu of New Hampshire, who would have qualified as the modern Nostradamus for his exact prediction of Bush's 9% margin of victory over Dole in the New Hampshire primary --unless he had helped to arrange it with vote fraud.
Another way to carry off a top plum in the Bush regime was to have participated in the coverup of the Iran-contra scandal. The leading role in that coverup had been assumed by Reagan's own blue ribbon commission of notables, the Tower Board, which carried out the White House's own in-house review of what had allegedly gone wrong, and had scapegoated Don Regan for a series of misdeeds that actually belonged at the doorstep of George Bush. The members of that board were former GOP Senator John Tower of Texas, Gen. Brent Scowcroft, and former Sen. Edmund Muskie, who had been Secretary of State for Carter after the resignation of Cyrus Vance. Scowcroft, who shows up under many headings, was ensconced at the NSC. Bush's original candidate for Secretary of Defense was John Tower, who had been the point man of the 1986-87 coverup of Iran-contra during the months before the Congressional investigating committees formally got into the act. Tower's nomination was rejected by the Senate after he was accused of being drunken and promiscuous by Paul Weyrich, a Buckleyite activist, and others. Some observers thought that the Tower nomination had been deliberately torpedoed by Bush's own discrediting committee so as to avoid the presence of a top cabinet officer with the ability to blackmail Bush by threatening to bring him down at any time. Perhaps Tower had overplayed his hand. In any case, Dick Cheney, a Wyoming Congressman with strong intelligence community connections, was speedily nominated and confirmed after Tower had been shot down, prompting speculation that Cheney was the one Bush had really wanted all the time.
Another Iran-contra veteran in line to get a reward was Bush's former national security adviser, Don Gregg, who had served Bush since at least the time of the 1976 Koreagate scandal. Gregg, as we have seen, was more than willing to commit the most maladroit and blatant perjury in order to save his boss from the wolves. The pathetic drama of Gregg's senate confirmation hearings, which marked a true degradation for that body, has already been recounted. Later, when William Webster retired as Director of the CIA, there were persistent rumors that the hyperthyroid Bush had originally demanded that Don Gregg be nominated to take his place. According to these reports, it required all the energy of Bush's handlers to convince the president that Gregg was too dirty to pass confirmation; Bush relented, but then announced to his dismayed and exhausted staff that his second and non-negotiable choice for Langley was Robert Gates, the former CIA deputy director who had been working as Scowcroft's number two at the National Security Council. The problem was that Gates, who had already dropped out of an earlier confirmation battle for the CIA director's post, was about as thoroughly compromised as Don Gregg. But at that point, Bush's could not be budged a second time, so the name of Gates was sent to the senate, bringing the entire Iran-contra complex into full public view once again. As it turned out, the Bush Democrats in the Senate proved more than willing to approve Gates.
Still on the Iran-contra list was Gen. Colin Powell, whom Bush appointed as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After Vice Admiral John Poindexter and Oliver North had departed from the Old Executive Office Building in November, 1986, Reagan had appointed Frank Carlucci to lead the NSC. Carlucci had brought along Gen. Powell. With Colin Powell as his deputy, Carlucci cleaned up the stables of Augeias of the OEOB-NSC complex in such a way as to minimize damage to Bush. Powell was otherwise a protege of the very Anglophile Caspar Weinberger, and of Carlucci, a man with strong links to Operation Democracy and to the Sears, Roebuck interests.
The State Department, too, had its Iran-contra coverup brigade. First came Thomas R. Pickering, chosen by Bush to take over his old post as US Ambassador to the United Nations, a job with cabinet rank. When Pickering was US Ambassador to El Salvador during the 1984-85 period, he helped arrange shipment of more than $1 million of military equipment to the contras, all during a time when this was forbidden by US law, according to his own testimony before the Congressional Iran-contra investigating committees. Pickering did not report any of his doings to the State Department, but instead kept in close touch with Don Gregg, Felix Rodriguez, and Oliver North of Bush's retinue. Pickering, when he was ambassador to Israel in 1985-86, was also in on Israeli third-country arms shipments to Iran that were supposed to secure the release of certain hostages held in nearby Lebanon. [fn 4] This vulgar, gun-running filibusterer is now the arrogant spokesman for Bush's New World Order among the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, where he dispenses imperial threats and platitudes.
Still on the Iran-contra coverup honors list we find Reginald Bartholomew, Bush's choice as Undersecretary of State for security affairs, science, and technology. Bartholomew was US Ambassador in Beirut in September-November 1985, when an Israeli shipment of 508 US-made TOW antitank missles was followed by the release of Rev. Benjamin Weir, an American hostage held by the pro-Iranian Islamic Jihad. According to the testimony of then Secretary of State George Shultz to the Tower Board, Bartholomew was working closely with Oliver North on a scheme to use Delta Force commandoes to free any hostages not spontaneously released by Islamic Jihad. According to Shultz, Bartholomew told him on September 4, 1985 that "North was handling an operation that would lead to the release of all seven hostages." [fn 5]
Other choice appointments went to long-time members of the Bush network. These included Manuel Lujan, who was tapped for the Department of the Interior, and former Rep. Ed Derwinski, who was given the Veterans' Administration, shortly to be upgraded to a cabinet post. A prominent figure of Bush's first year in office was William Reilly, tapped to be administrator of the Environmental Portection Agency, the green police of the regime. Reilly had been closely associated with the oligarchical financier Russell Train at the US branch of Prince Phillip's World Wildlife Fund and the Conservation Foundation.
So many top cabinet posts were thus assigned on the basis of direct personal services rendered to George Bush that the collegial principle of any oligarchic system would appear to have been neglected. There were relatively few key posts left over for distribution to political-financial factions who might reasonably expect to be brought on board by being given a seat at the cabinet table. Richard Thornburgh, a creature of the Mellon interests who had been given his job under Reagan, was allowed to stay on, but this led to a constant guerilla war between Thornburgh and Baker with the obvious issue being the 1996 succession to Bush. Clayton Yeutter went to the Department of Agriculture because that was what the international grain cartel wanted. The choice of Jack Kemp, a 1988 presidential candidate with a loyal conservative-populist base, for Housing and Urban Development appeared inspired more by Bush's desire to prevent a challenge from emerging on his right in the GOP primaries of 1992 than by the need to cater to an identifiable financier faction. The tapping of Reagan's Secretary of Education, William Bennett, a leading right wing ideologue and possible presidential prospect, to be Drug Czar, is a further example of the same thinking. The selection of Elizabeth Hanford Dole to be Secretary of Labor was dictated by similar intra-GOP considerations, namely the need to placate the angry Republican Minority Leader, Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas, a darling of Dwayne Andreas of Archer-Daniels-Midland and the rest of the grain cartel.
Later reshuffling of the Bush cabinet has conformed to the needs of getting an intrinsically weak candidate re-elected, especially by accentuating the southern strategy: when Lauro Cavazo left the Department of Education, he was replaced by former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander. When Bennett had to be replaced as drug czar, the nod went to another Republican former southern governor, Bob Martinez of Florida. All of this was to build the southern base for 1992. When Thornburgh quit as Attorney General to run for the senate in Pennsylvania in the vain hope of positioning himself for 1996, Bush tapped Thornburgh's former number two at Justice, William P. Barr, who had been a CIA officer when Bush was CIA director in 1976, for this key police-state post.
But all in all, this cabinet was very much an immediate reflection of the personal network and interests of George Bush, and not representative of the principal financier factions who control the United States. We see here once more the very strong sense of national government as personal property for private exploitation which was evident in Bush's oil price ploy of 1986, and which will soon characterize his choreography of the Gulf crisis of 1990-91. This approach to cabinet appointments could give rise to a surprising weakness on the part of the Bush regime, should the principal financier factions become disaffected in the wake of the banking and currency panic towards which Bush's policies are steering the country.
Bush's shameless exploitation of political appointments and plum jobs for blatant personal advantage became a national scandal when he began to assign certain ambassadorial posts. It became clear that these jobs of representing the United States abroad had been virtually sold at auction, with the most flagrant disregard for qualifications and ability, in return for cash contributions to the Bush campaign and the coffers of the Republican Party. These appointments were carried out with Bush's approval by a transition team of GOP pollster Bob Teeter, Bush's campaign aide Craig Fuller, who had lost out on his bid to be White House chief of staff, campaign press secretary Sheila Tate, and long-time Bush staffer Chase Untermeyer. Calvin Howard Wilkins Jr., who had given over $178,000 to the GOP over a number of years, including $92,000 to the Kansas Republican National State Election Committee on September 6, 1988, became the new ambassador to the Netherlands. Penne Percy Korth was Bush's selection for ambassador to Mauritius; Ms. Korth was a crack GOP fundraiser. Della M. Newman, tapped for New Zealand, had been Bush's campaign chiarman in Washington state. Joy Silverman, Bush's choice for Barbados, had contributed $180,000. Joseph B. Gilderhorn, destined for Switzerland, had coughed up $200,000. Fred Bush, allegedly not a relative but certainly a former aide and leading fundraiser, was the new president's original pick for Luxemburg. Joseph Zappala, who gave $100,000, was put up for the Madrid embassy. Melvin Sembler, another member of Team 100, was tapped for Australia. Fred Zeder, a Bush crony who had already been the ambassador to Micronesia, was nominated for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, despite a congressional probe of alleged corruption [fn 6]
As with any group of rapacious oligarchs, the Bush cabinet was prone to outbreaks of intestine factional warfare among various contending cliques. During the first days of the new administration, Bush's White House counsel Boy Gray was hit by reports that, despite his high government positions over the recent years, he had retained a lucrative post as chairman of the board of his family's communications company, raising the clear problems of conflicts of interest. Gray thereupon quit his chairman's post and, following Bush's own example, put his stock into a blind trust. Gray then lashed out against Baker by leaking the fact that Baker, during all his years as White House chief of staff and Secretary of the Treasury, had kept extensive holdings of Chemical Banking Corp., a lending institution that had a direct interest in Baker's handling of debt negotiations with third world debtor countries within the framework of the infamous and failed "Baker Plan" for international debt-service maintenance. Boy Gray also retaliated against Baker by questioning the constitutionality of a deal negotiated by Baker with the Congress for aid to the Nicaraguan contras, a deal which Newsweek classified as "Bush's only foreign-policy success" during his first two months in office. [fn 7] Bush had attempted to burnish his image by promising that his new regime would break with the sleazy Reagan years by promoting new high standards of ethical behavior in which even the perception of corruption and conflict of interest would be avoided. These hollow pledges were promptly deflated by the reality of more graft and more hypocrisy than under Reagan.
Bush's first hundred days in office fulfilled Fukuyama's prophecy that the End of History would be "a very sad time." If '"post-history" meant that very little was accomplished, Bush filled the bill. Three weeks after his inauguration, Bush addressed a joint session of the Congress on certain changes that he had proposed in Reagan's last budget. The litany was hollow and predictable: Bush wanted to be the Education President, but was willing to spend less than a billion dollars of new money in order to do it. He froze the US military budget, and announced a review of the previous policy towards the Soviet Union. This last point meant that Bush wanted to wait to see how fast the Soviets would in fact collapse before he would even discuss trade normalization, which had been the perspective held out to Moscow by Reagan and others. Bush said he wanted to join with Drug Czar Bennett in "leading the charge" in the war on drugs.
Bush also wanted to be the Environmental President. This was a far more serious aspiration. Shortly after the election, Bush had attended the gala centennial awards dinner of the very oligarchical National Geographic Society, for many years a personal fiefdom of the feudal-minded Grosvenor family. Bush promised the audience that night that there was "one issue my administration is going to address, and I'm talking about the environment." Bush confided that he had been coordinating his plans with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, and that he had agreed with her on the necessity for "international cooperation" on green issues. "We will support you," intoned Gilbert Grosvenor, a fellow Yale alumnus "...Planet Earth is at risk." Among those present during that gala evening was Sir Edmund Hillary, who had planted the Union Jack at the summit of Mount Everest. [fn 8]
In order to be the Environmental President, Bush was willing to propose a disastrous Clean Air Act that would drain the economy of hundreds of billions of dollars over time in the name of fighting acid rain. Bush's first hundred days coincided with the notable phenomenon of the "greening" of Margaret Thatcher, who had previously denounced environmentalists as "the enemy within," and fellow travellers of the British Labour Party and the loonie left. Thatcher's resident ideologue, Nicholas Ridley, had referred to the green movement in Britian as "pseudo-Marxists." But in the early months of 1989, allegedly under the guidance of Sir Crispin Tickell, the British Ambassador to the United Nations, Thatcher embraced the orthodoxy that the erosion of the ozone layer, the greenhouse effect, and acid rain --every one of them a pseudo-scientific hoax--were indeed at the top of the list of the urgent problems of the human species. Thatcher's acceptance of the green orthodoxy permitted the swift establishment of a total environmentalist-Malthusian consensus in the European Community, the Group of 7, and other key international forums.
Characteristically, Bush followed Thatcher's lead, as he would on so many other issues. During the hundred days, Bush called for the elimination of all chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) by the end of the century, thus accepting the position assumed by the European Community as a result of Mrs. Thatcher's turning green. Bush told the National Academy of Sciences that new "scientific advancements" had permitted the identification of a serious threat to the ozone layer; Bush stressed the need to "reduce CFCs that deplete our precious upper atmospheric resources." A treaty had been signed in Montreal in 1987 that called for cutting the production of CFCs by one half within a ten-year period. "But recent studies indicate that this 50 percent reduction may not be enough," Bush now opined. Senator Al Gore of Tennessee was calling for complete elimination of CFCs within five years. Here a pattern emerged that was to be repeated frequently during the Bush years: Bush would make sweeping concessions to the environmentalist Luddites, but would then be denounced by them for measures that were insufficiently radical. This would be the case when Bush's Clean Air Bill was going through the Congress during the summer of 1990.
After Bush's appearance before the Congress with his revised budget, the new regime exploited the honeymoon to seal a sweetheart contract with the rubber-stamp Congressional Democrats, who under no circumstances could be confused with an opposition. The de facto one party state was alive and well, personified by milquetoast Senator George Mitchell of Maine, the Democrats' Majority Leader. The collusion between Bush and the Democratic leadership involved new sleight of hand in order to meet the defecit targets stipulated by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings law. This involved mobilizing more than $100 billion from surpluses in the Social Security, highway, and other special trust funds which had not previously been counted. The Democrats also went along with a $28 billion package of asset sales, financing tricks, and unspecified new revenues. They also bought Bush's rosy economic forecast of higher economic growth and lower interest rates. Senate Majority Leader Mitchell, accepting his pathetic rubber-stamp role, commented only that "much sterner measures will be required in the future." Since the Democrats were incapable of proposing an economic recovery program in order to deal with the depression, they were condemned to give Bush what he wanted. This particular swindle would come back to haunt all concerned, but not before the spectacular budget debacle of October, 1990.
In the spring of 1990, according to an estimate by Sid Taylor of the National Taxpayers' Union, the total potential liabilities of the US Federal government exceeded $14 thousand billion. At that point the national debt totalled $2.8 billion, but this estimate included the committments of the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation, and other agencies.
Bush's inability to pull his regime together for a serious round of domestic austerity was not appreciated by the crowd at the Bank for International Settlements in Geneva. Evelyn Rothschild's London Economist summed up the international banking view of George's temporizing on this score with its headline, "Bush Bumbles."
A few weeks into the new administration, it was the collapse of the FSLIC, studiously ignored by the waning Reagan Administration, that reached critical mass. On February 6, 1989, Bush announced measures that his image-mongers billed as the most sweeping and significant piece of financial legislation since the creation of the Federal Reserve Board on the eve of World War I. This was the savings and loan bailout, a new orgy in the monetization of debt and a giant step towards the consolidation of a neo-fascist corporate state.
At the heart of Bush's policy was his refusal to acknowledge the existence of an economic crisis of collossal proportions which had among its symptoms the gathering collapse of the real estate market after the stock market crash of October, 1987. The sequence of a stock market panic followed by a real estate and banking crisis closely followed the sequence of the Great Depression of the 1930's. But Bush violently rejected the existence of such a crisis, and was grimly determined to push on with more of the same. This meant that federal government would simply take control of the savings banks, the overwhelming majority of which were bankrupt or imminently bankrupt. The savings banks would then be sold off. The depositors might get their money, but the result would be the total debasement of the currency and a deepening depression all around. In the process, the US federal government would become one of the main owners of real estate, buildings, and the worthless junk bonds that had been spewed out by Bush's friend Henry Kravis and his partner Michael Millken during the heady days of the boom.
The federal government would create a new world of bonded debt to pay for the savings banks that would be seized. When Bush announced his bailout that February, he stated that $40 billion had already been poured into the S&L sinkhole, and that he proposed to issue an additional $50 billion in new bonds through a financing corporation, a subsidiary of the new Resolution Trust Corporation. By August, 1989, when Bush's legislation had been passed, the estimated cost of the S&L bailout had increased to $164 billion over a period of ten years, with $20 billion of that scheduled to be spent by the end of September, 1989.
Within a few months, Bush was forced to increase his estimates once again. "It's a whale of a mess, and we'll see where we go," Bush told a group of newspaper editorial writers at the White House in mid-December. "We've had this one refinancing. I am told that that might not be enough." By this time, academic experts were suggesting that the bailout might exceed the administration's $164 billion by as much as $100 billion more. Every new estimate was swiftly overtaken by the ghastly spectacle of a real estate market in free fall, with no bottom in sight. The growing public awareness of theis situation, compounded by the ongoing bankruptcy of the commercial banking system as well, would lead in July, 1990 to a very ugly public relations crisis for the Bush regime around the role of the president's son (and Scott Hinckley's old friend) Neil Bush in the insolvency of the Silverado Savings and Loan of Denver, Colorado. As we will see, one of the obvious reasons for Bush's enthusiastic choice of war in the Persian Gulf was the need to get Neil Bush off the front page. But even the Gulf war bought no respite in the collapse of the real estate markets and the chain-reaction bankruptcies of the savings banks: by the summer of 1991, federal regulators were seizing S&Ls at the rate of just under one every business day, and the estimates of the total price tag of the bailout had skyrocketed to over $500 billion, with every certainty that this figure would also be surpassed. [fn 9]
The carnage among the S&Ls did not prevent Bush from seeking an increase in the US contribution to the International Monetary Fund, the main agency of a world austerity that claims upwards of 50 million human lives each year as the needless victims of its Malthusian conditionalities. The members of the IMF had been debating an increase in the funds each member must pay into the IMF (which has been bankrupt for years as a matter of reality), with Managing Director Michel Camdessus proposing a 100% increase, and Britain and Saudi Arabia arguing for a much smaller 25% hike. Bush attempted to mediate and resolve the dispute with a proposal for a 35% increase, equal to an $8 billion additional payment by the US. This sum was equal to more than three times the yearly expenditure for the highly successful, but tragically underfunded Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program of the US Department of Agriculture, which attempted to provide a high-protein and balanced food supplement to mothers and their offspring. WIC underwent savage cuts during the first year of the Bush regime, causing many needy women who sought its benefits to be turned away and denied even such modest quantities of surplus cheese, powdered milk, and orange juice as the program provides. [fn 10]
As the depression deepened, Bush had only one idea: to reduce the capital gains tax rate from 28% to 15%. This was a proposal for a direct public subsidy to the vulture legions of Kravis, Liedtke, Pickens, Milken, Brady, Mosbacher, and the rest of Bush's apostles of greed. The Bushmen estimated that a capital gains tax reduction in this magnitude would cost the Treasury some $25 billion in lost receipts over 6 years, a crass underestimate. These funds, argued the Bushmen, would then be invested high-tech plant and equipment, creating new jobs and new production. In reality, the funds would have flowed into bigger and better leveraged buyouts, which were still being attempted after the crash of the junk bond market with the failure of the United Airlines buyout in October, 1989. But Bush had no serious interest in, or even awarenss of, commodity production. His policies had now brought the country to a brink of a financial panic in which 75% of the current prices of all stocks, bonds, debentures, mortgages, and other financial paper would be wiped out.
Not quite halfway through his dismal first hundred days, Bush was moved to defend himnself against charges that he was presiding over a debacle. On day 45 of the new regime, Bush told reporters that he had talked on the phone to a certain Robert W. Blake, an oilman of Lubbock, Texas, the city which Neil Bush and John Hinckley had called home for a while in the late 1970's. Blake had allegedly told Bush that "all the people in Lubbock think things are going great." Armed with this testimonial, Bush defended his handling of the presidency: "It's not adrift and there isn't malaise," he said, answering columnists who had suggested that the country had fallen through a time warp back to the days of Jimmy Carter. "So I would simply resist the clamor that nothing seems to be bubbling around, that nothing is happening. A lot is happening. Not all of it good, but a lot is happening." Bush described his oilman friend Blake as "a very objective spokesman," and stated this his personal rule was "never get all too uptight about stuff that hasn't reached Lubbock yet." [fn 11]
If there was a constant note in Bush's first year in office, it was a callously flaunted contempt for the misery of the American people. During the spring of 1989, the Congress passed a bill that would have raised the minimum wage in interstate commerce from $3.55 per hour to $4.55 per hour by a series of increments over three years. This legislation would even have permitted a subminimum wage that could be paid to certain newly hired workers over a 60-day training period. Bush vetoed this measure because the $4.55 minimum wage was 30 cents an hour higher than he wanted, and because he demanded a subminimum wage for all new employees for the first six months on the job, regardless of their previous experience or training. On June 14, 1989, the House of Representatives failed to override this veto, by a margin of 37 votes. (Later, Bush signed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $4.25 per hour over two years, with a subminimum training wage applicable only to teenagers and only during the first 90 days of the teenagers' employment, with the possibility of a second 90-day training wage stint if they moved on to a different employer.) [fn 12]
This was the same George Bush who had proposed $164 billion for bankrupt S&Ls, and $8 billion for the International Monetary Fund, all without batting an eye.
Before Christmas, 1988, and during other holiday periods, Bush customarily joined his billionaire crony William Stamps Farrish III at his Lazy F Ranch near Beeville, Texas, for the two men's traditional holiday quail hunt. This was the same William Stamps Farrish III whose grandfather, the president of Standard Oil of New Jersey, had financed Heinrich Himmler. William Stamps Farrish III's investment bank in Houston, W.S. Farrish & Co. had at one time managed the personal blind trust into which Bush had placed his personal investment portfolio. Farrish was rich enough to vaunt five addresses: Beeville, Texas; Lane's End Farm in the Versailles, Kentucky bluegrass; Florida, and two others. Farrish's hobby for the past several decades had been the creation of his own top-flight farm for the raising of thoroughbred horses. This was the 3,000 acre Lazy F Ranch, with its ten horse barns, four sumptuous residences, 100 employees, and other improvements. Over the years, Farrish has saddled winners in the 1972 Preakness and the 1987 Belmont Stakes, and bred 80 stakes winners over the past decade. Farrish, who is married to Sarah Sharp, the daughter of a Du Pont heiress, had worked with Bush as an aide during the 1964 senate campaign.
Farrish was rich enough to extend his largesse even to Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, probably the richest individual in the world. The Queen has visited Farrish's horse farm at least four times over the past few years, travelling by Royal Air Force jetliner to the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, accompanied by mares which Her Majesty wishes to breed with Farrish's million-dollar prize stallions. Farrish magnanimously waives the usual stud fees for the Queen, resulting in an estimated savings to Her Majesty of some $800,000. Farrish's social circle is rounded out by such plutocrats as Clarence Scharbauer, a fellow member of the horsey set who also happens to own the bank, the hotel, the radio station, oil wells, and an estimated one half of the city of Midland, Texas, the old Bush bastion in the Permian Basin.
Farrish has been described as the Bush regime's counterpart to Bebe Rebozo, Richard Nixon's sleazy crony. According to Bush, when he is watching movies, hunting, and playing tennis with his old friend Farrish, "we talk about issues. He's very up on things, but it's a comfortable thing, not probing beyond what I want to say." Michael York of the Washington Post wrote that "Farish says he'll always be one of Bush's biggest boosters, and he's ready at a moment's notice to make the resume argument in favor of Bush's being the best-prepared man ever to become president. It's also clear that Bush regularly asks Farish's advice on the budget, domestic policy, and politics." With a cabal of friends and advisers like William Stamps Farish III and Henry Kravis, we begin to comprehend the wellsprings of Bush's policies of parasitical looting of infrastructure and the work force. [fn 13]
For George Bush, the exercise of power has always been inseparable from the use of smear, scandal, and the final sanctions of police-state methods against political rivals and other branches of government. A classic example was the Koreagate scandal of 1976, unleashed with the help of Bush's long-time retainer, Don Gregg. It will be recalled that Koregate included the toppling of Democratic Speaker of the House Carl Albert of Oklahoma, who quietly retired from the House at the end of 1976. That was in the year when Bush had returned from Beijing to Langley. Was it merely coincidence that in the first year of Bush's tenure in the White House not just the Democratic Speaker of the House, but also the House Majority Whip, were driven from office?
The campaign against Speaker of the House Jim Wright was spearheaded by Georgia Republican Congressman Newt Gingrich, a typical "wedge issue" ideologue of the GOP's Southern Strategy. During 1987-88, Gingrich had been bad-mouthing Wright as the "Mussolini of the House." Gingrich's campaign against Wright could never have succeeded without systematic support from the news media, who regularly trumpeted his charges and lent him a wholly undeserved importance. Gingrich's pretext was a story about the financing of a small book in which Wright had collected some of his old speeches, which Gingrich claimed had been sold to lobbyists in such a way as to constitute an unreported gift in violation of the House rules. One of Gingrich's first steps when he launched the assault on Wright during 1988 was to send letters to Bush and to Assistant Attorey General William Weld, whose family investment bank, White Weld, had purchased Uncle Herbie Walker's G.H. Walker & Co. brokerage when Bush's favorite uncle was ready to retire. Gingrich wrote: "May I suggest, the next time the news media asks about corruption in the White House, you ask them about corruption in the Speaker's office." A similar letter went out from the "Conservative Campaign Fund" to all GOP House candidates with the message: "We write to encourage you to make...House Speaker Jim Wright a major issue in your campaign." Bush placed himself in the vanguard of this campaign.
When Bush, in the midst of his presidential campaign, was asked by reporters about the investigation of Reagan Attorney General Edwin Meese (no friend of Bush) concerning his dealings with the Wedtech Corporation, he replied: "You talk about Ed Meese. How about talking about what Common Cause raised against the Speaker the other day? Are they going to go for an independent counsel so the nation will have this full investigation? Why don't people call out for that? I will right now. I think they ought to." [fn 14] Reagan followed Bush's lead in calling for Wright to be investigated.
According to published accounts, Wright was deeply offended by Bush's role in the assault that was being organized against him, since the two shared the background of being Texas Congressmen and had often had dealings together. At a dinner held by Italian Ambassador Rinaldo Petrignani, Wright went out of his way to avoid meeting Bush, and had his wife feign illness as an excuse to leave very early. Bush in those days frequented the House gymnasium to play racketball with his old crony, Mississippi Democrat Sonny Montgomery. Bush attended the annual dinner of the House gymnasium and here crossed paths with Wright.
Wright told Bush: "George, I'm not feeling kindly toward you. You took a cheap shot at me. And I had just been defending you." Bush flew into a rage: "When did you defend me? You damn well didn't defend me at your convention." "Well, George, you don't have any complaint about what I said," was Wright's rejoinder. "You don't find me attacking your integrity or your honor." "You and I just see it differently," said Bush as he stalked off in a rage. [fn 15]
Later, Wright turned to Sonny Montgomery to use his good offices to resolve the dispute with Bush. Wright called Bush and offered the olive branch. "George, if you're President and I'm Speaker, we've got to work together." "Jim, I'm very glad you called. I did not mean to be personally offensive." By this point the reader knows the real Bush well enough to give that assurance its proper weight. Bush attenuated his public attacks on Wright in the campaign, but the witch-hunt against Wright went on. After Bush had won the election, Bush is reported to have promised Wright a truce. "I want you to know I respect you and the House as an institution. I won't have any part in anything at all that impinges on your honor or integrity," Bush is said to have reassured the Speaker. Before Bush took office, Wright was busy working on his favorite populist themes: the concentration of financial power, housing, education, health care, and taxes.
In January-February, 1989, the House took under consideration a pay increase for members. Both Reagan and Bush had endorsed such a pay increase, but Lee Atwater, now installed at the Republican National Committee, launched a series of mailings and public statements to make the pay increase into a new wedge issue. It was a brilliant success, with the help of a few old Prescott Bush strings pulled on key talk show hosts across the country. Bush accomplished the coup of thoroughly destabilizing the Congress at the outset of his tenure. Wright was hounded out of office and into retirement a few months later, followed by Tony Coelho, the Democratic whip. What remained was the meek Tom Foley, a pliable rubber stamp, and Richard Gebhardt, who briefly got in trouble with Bush during 1989, but who found his way to a deal with Bush that allowed him to rubber-stamp Bush's "fast track" formula for the free trade zone with Mexico, which effectively killed any hope of resistance to that measure. The fall of Wright was a decisive step in the domestication of the Congress by the Bush regime.
Bush was also able to rely on an extensive swamp of "Bush Democrats" who would support his proposals under virtually all circumstances. The basis of this phenomenon was the obvious fact that the national leadership of the Democratic Party had long been a gang of Harrimanites. The Brown, Brothers, Harriman grip on the Democratic Party had been represented by W. Averell Harriman until his death, and after that was carried on by his widow, Pamela Churchill Harriman, the former wife of Sir Winston Churchill's alcoholic son, Randolph. The very extensive Meyer Lansky/Anti-Defamation League networks among the Democrats were oriented towards cooperation with Bush, sometimes directly, and sometimes through the orchestration of gang vs. countergang charades for the manipulation of public opinion. A special source of Bush strength among southern Democrats is the cooperation between Skull and Bones and southern jurisdiction freemasons in the tradition of the infamous Albert Pike. These southern jurisdiction freemasonic networks have been most obviously decisive in the senate, where a group of southern Democratic senators have routinely joined with Bush to block overrides of Bush's many vetoes, or to provide a pro-Bush majority on key votes like the Gulf war resolution.
Bush's style in the Oval Office was described during this period as "extremely secretive." Many members of Bush's staff felt that the president had his own long-term plans, but refused to discuss them with his own top White House personnel. During Bush's first year, the White House was described as "a tomb," without the usual dense barrage of leaks, counter-leaks, trial balloons, and signals which government insiders customarily employ to influence public debate on policy matters. Bush is said to employ a "need to know" approach even with his closest White House collaborators, keeping each one of them in the dark about what the others are doing. Aides have complained of their inability to keep up with Bush's phone calls when he goes into his famous "speed-dialing mode," in which he can contact dozens of politicians, bankers or world leaders within a couple of hours. Unauthorized passages of information from one office to another inside the White House constitute leaks in Bush's opinion, and he has been at pains to suppress them. When information was given to the press about a planned meeting with Gorbachov, Bush threatened his top-level advisers: "If we cannot maintain proper secrecy with this group, we will cut the circle down."
Bush routinely humiliates and mortifies his subordinates. This recalls his style in dealing with the numerous hapless servants and domestics who populated his patrician youth; it may also have been re-enforced by the characteristic style of Henry Kissinger. If advisers or staff dare to manifest disagreement, the typical Bush retort is a whining "If you're so damned smart, why are you doing what you're doing and I'm the president of the United States?" [fn 16]
In one sense, Bush's style reflects his desire to seem "absolute and autocratic" in the tradition of the Romanov tsars and other Byzantine rulers. He refuses to be advised or dissuaded on many issues, relying on his enraged, hypethyroid intuitions. More profoundly, Bush's "absolute and autocratic" act was a cover for the fact that many of his initiatives, ideas, and policies came from outside of the United States government, since they originated in the rarified ether of those international finance circles where names like Harriman, Kravis and Gammell were the coin of the realm. Indeed, many of Bush's policies came from outside of the United States altogether, and derived from the oligarchical financial circles of the City of London. The classic case will the the Gulf crisis of 1990-91. When the documents on the Bush Administration are finally thrown open to the public, it is s safe bet that some top British financiers and Foreign Office types will be found to have combined remarkable access and power with a non-existent public profile.
One of the defining moments in the first year of the Bush's presidency was his reaction to the Tien An Men massacre of June 4, 1989. No one can forget the magnificent movement of the anti-totalitarian Chinese students who used the occasion of the funeral of Hu Yaobang in the spring of 1989 to launch a movement of protest and reform against the monstrous dictatorship of Deng Xiao-ping, Yang Shankun, and Prime Minister Li Peng. As the portrait of the old butcher Mao Tse-tung looked down from the former imperial palace, the students erected a statue of liberty and filled the square with the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. By the end of May it was clear that the Deng regime was attempting to pull itself together to attempt a convulsive massacre of its political opposition. At this point, it is likely that a pointed and unequivocal public warning from the United States government might have avoided the looming bloody crackdown against the students. Even a warning through secret diplomatic channels might have sufficed. Bush undertook neither, and he must bear responsibility for this blatant omission.
The non-violent protest of the students was then crushed by the martial law troops of the hated and discredited communist regime. Untold thousands of students were killed outright, and thousands more died in the merciless death hunt against political dissidents which followed. Mankind was horrified. For Bush, however, the main considerations were that Deng Xiao-ping was part of his own personal network, with whom Bush had maintained close contact since at least 1975. Bush's devotion to the immoral British doctrine of "geopolitics" further dictated that unless and until the USSS had totally collapsed as a military power, the US alliance with China as the second strongest land power must be maintained at all costs. Additionally, Bush was acutely sensible to the views on China policy held by his mentor, Henry Kissinger, whose paw-prints were still to be found all over US relations with Deng. In the wake of Tien An Men, Kissinger (who had lucrative consulting contracts with the Beijing regime) was exceptionally vocal in condemning any proposed US countermeasures against Deng. These were the decisive factors in Bush's reactions to Tien An Men.
In the pre-1911 imperial court of China, the etiquette of the Forbidden City required that a person approaching the throne of the son of heaven must prostrate himself before that living deity, touching both hands and the forehead to the floor three times. This is the celebrated "kow-tow." And it was "kow-tow" which sprang to the lips and pens of commentators all over the world as they observed Bush's elaborate propitiation of the Deng regime. Even cynics were astounded that Bush could be so deferential to a regime that was obviously so hated by its own population that it had to be considered as being on its last legs; the best estimate was that when octogenarian Deng finally died, the communist regime would pass from the scene with him.
In a press conference held on June 9, in the immediate wake of the massacre, Bush astounded even the meretricious White House press corps by his mild and obsequious tone towards Deng and his cohorts. Bush limited his retaliation to a momentary cutoff of some military sales. That would be all: "I'm one who lived in China; I understand the importance of the relationship with the Chinese people and with the government. It is in the interest of the United States to have good relations..." [fn 17] Would Bush consider further measures, such as the minor step of temporarily recalling the US Ambassador, Bush's CIA crony and fellow patrician James Lilly?
What I do want to do is take whatever steps are most likely to demonstrate the concern that America feels. And I think I've done that. I'll be looking for other ways to do it if we possibly can.
This was the wimp with a vengeance, grovelling and scraping like Chamberlain before the dictators, but there was more to come. As part of his meek and pathetic response, Bush had pledged to terminate all "high-level exchanges" with the Deng crowd. With this public promise, Bush had cynically lied to the American people. Shortly before Bush's invasion of Panama in December, it became known that Bush had despatched the two most prominent Kissinger clones in his retinue, NSC chairman Brent Scowcroft and Undersecretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, on a secret mission to Beijing over the July 4 weekend, less than a month after the massacre in Tien An Men. Bush regarded this mission as so sensitive that he reportedly kept it a secret even from White House chief of staff Sununu, who only learned of the trip when two of his aides stumbled across the paper trail of the planning. The story about Scowcroft and Eagleburger, both veterans of Kissinger Associates, spending the glorious Fourth toasting the butchers of Beijing was itself leaked in the wake of a high-profile public mission to China involving the same Kissingerian duo that started December 7, 1989. Bush's cover story for the second trip was that he wanted to get a briefing to Deng on the results of the Bush-Gorbachov Malta summit, which had just concluded. The second trip was supposed to lead to the quick release of Chinese physicist and dissident Fang Lizhi, who had taken refuge in the US Embassy in Beijing during the massacre; this did not occur until some time later.
During a press conference primarily devoted to the ongoing Panama invasion, Bush provided an unambiguous signal that the inspiration for his China policy, and indeed for his entire foreign policy, was Kissinger:
The news of Bush's secret diplomacy in favor of Deng caused a widespread wave of sincere and healthy public disgust with Bush, but this was shortly overwhelmed by the jingoist hysteria that accompanied Bush's invasion of Panama.
Bush's handling of the issue of the immigration status of the Chinese students who had enrolled at US universities also illuminated Bush's character in the wake of Tien An Men. In Bush's pronouncements in the immediate wake of the massacre, he absurdly asserted that there were no Chinese students who wanted political asylum here, but also promised that the visas of these students would be extended so that they would not be forced to return to political persecution and possible death in mainland China. It later turned out that Bush had neglected to promulgate the executive orders that would have been necessary. In response to Bush's prevarication with the lives and well-being of the Chinese students, the Congress subsequently passed legislation that would have waived the requirement that holders of J-visas, the type commonly obtained by Chinese students, be required to return to their home country for two years before being able to apply for permanent residence in the US. Bush, in an act of loathsome cynicism, vetoed this bill. The House voted to override by a majority of 390 to 25, but Bush Democrats in the senate allowed Bush's veto to be sustained by a vote of 62 to 37. Bush, squirming under the broad public obloquy brought on by his despicable behavior, finally issued regulations that would temporarily waive the requirement of returning home for most of the students.
Bush came back from his summer in Kennbunkport with a series of "policy intitiatives" that turned out to be no more than demagogic photo opportunities. In early September, Bush made his first scheduled evening television address to the nation on the subject of his alleged war on drugs. The highlight of this speech was the moment when Bush produced a bag of crack which had been sold in a transaction in Lafayette Park, directly across the street from the White House. The transaction had been staged with the help of the Drug Enforcement Administration. This was George Bush, the friend of Felix Rodriguez, Hafez Assad, Hashemi Rafsanjani, and Don Aronow. The funds and the targets set for Bush's program were minimal. A real war on drugs remained a vital necessity, but it was clear that there would be none under the Bush administration.
Later the same month, on September 27-28, Bush met with the governors from all 50 states in Charlottesville, Virginia for what was billed as an "education summit." This was truly a glorified photo opportunity, since all discussions were kept rigorously off the record, and everything was carefully choreographed by White House image-mongers. The conference issued a communique that called for "clear national performance goals," and the substantive direction of Bush's "education presidency" appeared to resolve itself into a nationwide testing program that could be used to justify the scaling down of college education and the exclusion from it of those whom Bush might define as "mental defectives." Would the testing program be used to finger and list the "feeble minded," perhaps over a generation or two? Was there a veiled intent of "culling" the hereditary defectives? With Bush's track record on the subject, nothing could be excluded.
One of the themes of the "education summit" was that material resources had absolutely nothing to do with the performance of an educational system. This was coming from preppie George Bush, who had enjoyed a physical plant, library, sports facilities, low average class size and other benefits at his posh Greenwich Country Day School and exclusive Phillips Academy in Andover which most schoolteachers could only dream of. When, during the summer of 1991, it was found that national average scores for the Scholastic Aptitute Test had continued to fall, Bush was still adamant that increased resources and the overall economic condition of society had nothing to do with the answer. At that time it also turned out that Bush's reshuffled Secretary of Education, former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander, was sending his children to an elite day school associated with Georgetown University, where the tuition exceeded the yearly income of many poor families.
Many governors joined James Blanchard of Michigan in complaining that under Reaganomics, the federal government had unloaded whole sectors of infrastructural expenditure, including education, on the states. "We do not come to [Charlottesville] to rattle a tin cup," said Blanchard. "But we cannot afford to have our education revenues 'bled' by the federal government. Over the past decade, the federal committment to education has declined from 2.5% of the federal budget to less than 1.8%. If education is to become a national priority, you and the Congress should reverse that decline." [fn 19]
Ironically, the best perspective on Bush's "education summit" eyewash came from within his own regime. Obviously piqued at the bad reviews his previous performance as Reagan's Secretary of Education was getting, Bush Drug Czar William Bennett told reporters that the proceedings in Charlottesville were "standard Democratic and Republican pap --and something that rhymes with pap. Much of the discussion proceeded in a total absence of knowledge about what takes place in schools."
By the autumn of 1989, Bush was facing a crisis of confidence in his regime. His domination of Congress on all substantive matters was complete; at the same time he had nothing to propose except vast public subsidies to bankrupt financial and speculative interests. Except for exertions to shovel hundreds of billion of dollars into Wall Street, the entire government appeared as aparalyzed and adrift. This was soon accentuated by colossal upheavals in China, eastern Europe, and the USSR. On Friday, October 13, timed approximately with the second anniversary of the great stock market crash of 1987, there was a fall in the Dow Jones Industrial average of 190.58 points during the last hour of trading. This was triggered by the failure of a labor-management group to procure sufficient financing to carry out the leveraged buyout of United Airlines. The stage for this failure had been set during the preceeding weeks by the crisis of the highly-leveraged Campeau retail empire, which made many junk bonds wholly illiquid for a time. The autumn was full of symptoms of a deflationary contraction of overall production and employment. For a time Bush appeared to be approaching that delicate moment in which a president is faced with the loss of his mandate to rule.
October has been one of the cruellest months for the Bush presidency: each time the leaves fall, each time the critical third-quarter economic statistics are published, a crisis in public confidence in the patrician regime has ensued. In two out of three years so far, the reaction of the Bushmen has been to lash out with international violence and mass murder.
October, 1989 was full of anxiety and apprehension about the economic future, and worry about where Bush was leading the country. Included in the many mood pieces was an evident desire of the Eastern Liberal Establishment circles to spur Bush on to more decisive and aggressive action in imposing austerity at home, and in increasing the rate of primitive accumulation in favor of the dollar abroad. A typical sample of these October elucubrations was a widely-read essay by Kevin Phillips (the traditional Republican theoretician of ethnic splitting and the Southern Strategy) entitled "George Bush and Congress--Brain-Dead Politics of '89." Phillips faulted Bush for his apparent decision "to imitate the low-key, centrist operating mode of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. But imitating Ike in the 1990s makes as little sense as trying to imitate Queen Victoria in the 1930's." [fn 20] Phillips pointed to the way in which Bush was restrained by his evident committment to continue all of the essential policies of the Reagan years, while denying the existence of any crisis: Bush did "not seek to identify national problems because in doing so, [he] would largely be identifying [his] party's own failings." "The Republicans at least know they have a problem on the 'vision thing,'" Phillips noted, while the Democratic opposition "can't even spell the word." All of this added up to the "cerebral atrophy of government." Phillips catalogued the absurd complacency of the Bushmen, with Brady saying of the US economy that "it couldn't get much better than it is" and Baker responding to Democratic criticisms of Bush foreign policy with the retort: "When the President is rocking along with a 70 per cent approval rating on his handling of foreign policy, if I were the leader of the opposition, I might have something similar to say." Phillips's basic thesis was that Bush and his ostensible opposition had joined hands simply to ignore the existence of the leading problems threatening US national life, while hiding behind an "irrelevant consensus" forged ten to twenty years in the past, and reminiscent overall of the pre-1860 tacit understanding of Democrats and Whigs to sweep sectionalism and slavery under the rug. One result of this conspiracy of the incumbents to ignore the real world was the "unhappy duality that the United States and Russia are both weakening empires in haphazard retreat from their post-1945 bipolar dominance." Phillips's conclusion was that while reality might begin to force a change in the "political agenda" by 1990, it was more likely that a shift would occur in 1992 when an aroused electorate, smarting from decades of decline in standards of living and economic aspirations, might "hand out surprising political rewards." "Honesty's day is coming," summed up Phillips, with the clear implication that George Bush would not be a beneficiary of the new day.
Similar themes were developed in the Bonesmen's own Time Magazine towards the end of the month in coverage entitled "Is Government Dead?," which featured a cover picture of George Washington shedding a big tear and a blurb warning that "Unwilling to lead, politicians are letting America slip into paralysis." [fn 21] Inside, the Washington regime was stigmatized as "the can't do government," with an analysis concluding that "abroad and at home, more and more problems and opportunities are going unmet. Under the shadow of a massive federal defecit that neither political party is willing to confront, a kind of neurosis of accepted limits has taken hold from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other." Time discovered that Bush and the Congress were "conspiring to hide" $96 billion of a $206 billion defecit through various strategems, while the bill for the S&L bailout had levitated upwards to $300 billion. Time held up to ridicule the "paltry $115 million" Bush had offered as economic aide to Poland during his visit there during the summer. Grave responsibility for the growing malaise was assigned by Time to Bush: "Leadership is generally left to the President. Yet George Bush seems to have as much trouble as ever with the 'vision thing.' Handcuffed by his simplistic 'read my lips' campaign rhetoric against a tax increase as well as by his cautious personality, Bush too often appears self-satisfied and reactive." Time went on to indict Bush for malfeasance or nonfeasance in several areas: "His long-term goals, beyond hoping for a 'kinder, gentler' nation, have been lost in a miasma of public relations stunts. The President's recent 'education summit' with the nation's Governors produced some interesting ideas about national standards but little about how to pay the costs of helping public schools meet them. His much trumpeted war on drugs was more an underfinanced skirmish. Bush told voters last year that he is an environmentalist, but the most significant clean-air proposals put forth this year--stringent new standards on automobile emissions-- were adapted from California's strict limits for the 1990's."
"Abroad, Bush tends to turn Teddy Roosevelt's famous dictum on its head by speaking loudly and carrying a small stick, " was Time's unkindest cut of all for a president who had placed the racist Rough Rider's portrait in the Oval Office, replacing the likeness of "Silent Cal" Coolidge that had adorned the premises during the Reagan years. It was a barb to make George wince when he read it.
Bush, Baker, and Brady were thus confronted with some clear signals of an ugly mood of discontent on the part of key establishment financier circles inside their own traditional base. These groups were demanding more austerity, more primitive accumulation against the US population than George had been able to deliver. A further ingredient in the dangerous dissatisfaction in Wall Street and environs was that Bush had botched and bungled a US-sponsored coup d'etat against the Panamanian government loyal to Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega. Noriega's survival and continued defiance of Washington seemed to certify, in the eyes of the ruling financiers, that Bush was indeed a wimp incapable of conducting their international or domestic business. By November, 1989, the ten-month old Bush regime was drifiting towards the Niagara of serious trouble. It was under these circumstances that the Bush networks responded with their invasion of Panama.
On October 3, 1989, several officers of the Panamanian Defense Forces under the leadership of Major Moises Giroldi attempted to oust General Noriega and seize power. The pro-golpe forces appear to have had Noriega in their physical control for a certain period of time, and they were in contact with the US Southern Command in Panama City through various channels. But they neither executed Noriega nor turned him over to the US forces, and Noriega used the delay to rally the support of loyal troops in other parts of Panama. The US forces mobilized, and blocked two roads leading towards the PDF headquarters, just as they golpe leaders had requested. But the golpistas also wanted US combat air support and would have required US ground forces to provide active assistance. Bush stalled on these requests, and the golpe collapsed before Bush could make up his mind what to do.
Bush's crisis management style was portrayed as an autocratic one-man show, with Bush refusing to convoke the usual "excomm"-style crisis committee with representatives from State, Defense, NSA, CIA, and other interested bureaucratic parties. Instead, Bush reportedly insisted on being furnished with three parallel streams of reports from State, Defense, and CIA. While he was puzzling over the conflicting evaluations, his coup team was being rounded up and liquidated. It was worse than his blundering management of the Sudan coup in 1985.
There are signs that the wide criticism of his botched handling of the coup, including from such close allies as Skull and Bones Senator David Boren of Oklahoma, was an excruciating personal humiliation for Bush. As the feared former boss of Langley, he was supposedly a past master in subversion, putsches, and the toppling of governments disobedient to Washington. His foreign policy credentials, touted as the strong suit in his resume, were now fatally tarnished. According to some alleged insider accounts, US forces had not rushed to the aid of the rebels because of reluctance and mistrust on the part of US officers, starting with Gen. Thurman, the US commander in Panama.
Congressman Dave McCurdy of Oklahoma criticized Bush: "Yesterday makes Jimmy Carter look like a man of resolve. There's a resurgence of the wimp factor." George Will wrote a column entitled "An Unserious Presidency."
Bush hid from the press for 11 days after the golpe was crushed, but then had to face a barrage of hostile questions anyway. Since he had urged the overthrow of Noriega, he was asked, was it consistent not to back the rebels with US armed forces? Bush replied:
I think this rather sophisticated argument that if you say you'd like to see Noriega out, that implies a blanket, open carte blanche on the use of American military force...to me that's a stupid argument that some very erudite people make.
Bush was very sarcastic about "instant hawks appearing from where there used to be feathers of a dove." There had been reports of severe temper tantrums by Bush as critical accounts of his crisis leadership had been leaked from inside his own administration. But Bush denied that he had been chewing the carpet: "I never felt, you know, anger or blowing up. It's absurd," Bush stated disingenuously. "I didn't get angry. I didn't get angry. What I did say is, I don't want to see any blame coming out of the Oval Office or attributed to the Oval Office in the face of criticism. I'm not in the blame business. Blame, if there's some to be assigned, it comes in there. And that's where it belongs." Bush stressed that he was ready to use force to oust Noriega: "I wouldn't mind using force now if it could be done in a prudent manner. We want to see Mr. Noriega out." The mortified former CIA director also defended the quality of his intelligence: "There has not been an intelligence gap that would make me act in a different way." "I don't see any serious disconnects at all." [fn 22] Bush's chief of staff, Sununu, had stated that one of the difficulties faced by the White House in reacting to the coup had been the difficulty of determining the identity of the coup leaders. While that was probably disinformation, Bush's disarray was most poignant. It was while squirming and whining under of the opprobrium of his first failure in Panama that Bush matured the idea of a large-scale military invasion to capture Noriega and occupy Panama around Christmas, 1989.
George Bush's involvement with Panama goes back to operations conducted in Central American and the Caribbean conducted by Senator Prescott Bush's Jupiter Island Harrimanite cabal. We recall Bush's pugnacious assertions of US sovereignty over the Panama Canal during his 1964 electoral contest with Senator Yarborough. For the Bush clan, the cathexis of Panama is very deep, since it is bound up with the exploits of Theodore Roosevelt, the founder of the twentieth-century US imperialism which the Bush family is determined to defend to the farthest corners of the planet. For it was Theodore Roosevelt who had used the USS Nashville and other US naval forces to prevent the Colombian military from repressing the US-fomented revolt of Panamanian soldiers in November, 1903, thus setting the stage for the creation of an independent Panama and for the signing of the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty which created a Panama Canal Zone under US control. Roosevelt's "cowboy diplomacy" had been excoriated in the US press of those days as "piracy;" the Springfield Republican had found the episode "the most discreditable in our history," but the Bush view was always pro-imperialist. It was the comparison with Theodore Roosevelt's bucaneering audacity that made poor George look bad.
Theodore Roosevelt had in December, 1904 expounded his so-called "Roosevelt Corrollary" to the Monroe Doctrine, in reality a complete repudiation and perversion of the anti-colonial essense of John Quincy Adams's original warning to the British and other imperialists. The self-righteous Teddy Roosevelt had stated that:
The old imperialist idea of Theodore Roosevelt was quickly revived by the Bush Administration during 1989. Through a series of actions by Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, the US Supreme Court, and CIA Director William Webster, the Bush regime arrogated to itself a sweeping carte blanche for extraterritorial interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states, all in open defiance of the norms of international law. These illegal innovations can be summarized under the heading of the "Thornburgh Doctrine." The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrogated to itself the "right" to search premises outside of US territory and to arrest and kidnap foreign citizens outside of US jurisdiction, all without the concurrence of the judicial process of the other countries whose territory was thus subject to violation. US armed forces were endowed with the "right" to take police measures against civilians. The CIA demanded that an Executive Order prohibiting the participation of US government officials and military personnel in the assassination of foreign political leaders, which had been issued by President Ford in October, 1976, be rescinded. There is every indication that this presidential ban on assassinations of foreign officials and politicians, which had been promulgated in response to the Church and Pike Committee investigations of CIA abuses, has indeed been abrogated. To round out this lawless package, an opinion of the US Supreme Court issued on February 28, 1990 permitted US officials abroad to arrest (or kidnap) and search foreign citizens without regard to the laws or policy of the foreign nation subject to this interference. Through these actions, the Bush regime effectively staked its claim to universal extraterritorial jurisdiction, the classic posture of an empire seeking to assert universal police power. The Bush regime aspired to the status of a world power legibus solutus, a superpower exempted from all legal restrictions. [fn 24]
Back in January, 1972, at the extraordinary session of the United Nations Security Council in Addis Ababa, the Panamanian delegate, Aquilino Boyd, had delivered a scathing condemnation of the American "occupation" of the Canal Zone, which most Panamanians found increasingly intolerable. At that time Ambassador Bush had wormed his way out of a tough situation by pleading that Boyd was out of order, since Panama had not been placed on the agenda for the meeting. Boyd was relentless in pressing for a special session of the Security Council in Panama City at which he could bring up the issue of sovereignty over the Canal Zone and the canal. Later, in March, 1973, Bush's successor at the UN post, John Scali, was forced to resort to a veto in order to kill a resolution calling for the "full respect for Panama's effective sovereignty over all its territory." This veto had been a big political embarrassment, since it was cast in the face of vociferous condemnation from the visitors' gallery, which was full of Panamanian patriots. To make matters worse, the US had been totally isolated, with 13 countries supporting the resolution and one abstention. [fn 25]
As we have seen, direct personal dealings between Bush and Noriega went back at least as far as Bush's 1976 CIA tenure. At that time Noriega, who had been trained by the US at Fort Gulick, Fort Bragg, and other locations, was the chief of intelligence for the Panamanian nationalist leader, Gen. Omar Torrijos, with whom Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaty, the ratification of which by the US Senate meant that the canal would revert to Panama by the year 2000. During the treaty negotiations between Torrijos and the Carter Administration, the US National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency are alleged to have conducted eletronic eavesdropping against Panamanian officials involved in the negotiations. This bugging had reportedly been discovered by Noriega, who had allegedly proceeded to bribe members of the US Army's 470th Military Intelligence Group, who furnished him with tapes of all the bugged conversations, which Noriega then submitted to Torrijos. According to published accounts, the US Army had investigated this situation under a probe code-named Operation Canton Song, and identified a group of "singing sergeants" on Noriega's payroll. Lew Allen, Jr., the head of the NSA, supposedly wanted a public indictment of the sergeants for treason and espionage, but Bush is alleged to have demurred, saying that the matter had to be left to the Army, which had decided to cover up the matter. A plausible political cover story for Bush's refusal to prosecute was his desire to avoid scandals in the intelligence community that could hurt Gerald Ford in the 1976 election. [fn 26] Whatever the truth of all these allegations, there seems to be no doubt that Bush met personally with Noriega during his 1976 CIA tenure. According to one account, that Bush-Noriega meeting was a luncheon held in December, 1976 at the residence of the Panamanian Ambassador to Washington. As Ferderick Kempe notes, "Years later in 1988, after Noriega was indicted on drug charges in Florida, Bush would at first deny having ever met Noriega. He thereafter recalled the meeting, but none of its details. His three lunch guests have better memories and one of them insisted this was the third meeting between the two men." [fn 27]
During the preparation of his 1991 trial in Miamai, Florida, Noriega's defense attorneys submitted a document to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida in which they specified matters they intended to use in Noriega's defense which might involve information considered claissified by the US government. Before being released to the public, this document was heavily censored. No part of this filing is more heavily censored, however, than the section entitled "General Noriega's Relationship with George Bush," which has been whited out on approximately 6 of 15 pages, allegedly to protect US national security, but in reality to hide material that is explosively compromising to the political reputation of Bush. Noriega's proffer confirms a Bush-Noriega meeting on December 8, 1976 at the Panamanian Embassy in Washington. "During this meeting there were discussions concerning the unrest in the canal zone. But at no time did Mr. Bush suggest that the Panamanian government was in any way responsible for the bombing" that had occured in the Canal Zone when Ford, worried about attacks from Reagan demanding that the canal remain in US hands, had cut off the talks on the future of the canal. Noriega's proffer adds that "when Bush left office he sent a letter to Noriega thanking Noriega for his assistance. Bush said that he was going to inform his successor of Noriega's cooperation." [fn 28]
During this period, the CIA was allegedly paying Noriega a retainer of $110,000 per year, supposedly in exchange for Noriega's intelligence on Cuban and other activities of interest to the US. Admiral Stansfield Turner claims that when he took over the CIA, he terminated the payments to Noriega, and refused to meet with him. Turner confirms several details of the Bush-Noriega relationship of those years: "We all know that Bush met with Noriega, even though he was there only 11 months. And I will affirm that Bush had him on the payroll," said Turner in October, 1988. "I was there four years, and I never saw fit to see him [Noriega] or have him on the payroll," said Turner. [fn 29] Turner went on to say that after the fall of Carter Bush re-enstated Noriega as a US asset, asserting that Bush "met with Noriega and put him back on the payroll" as a purveyor of intelligence. Turner would not specify his proof, but was nevertheless categorical: "I can tell you I am very confident of that."
During 1991, reports surfaced of a joint project of the CIA and the Mossad in central America which included large-scale smuggling of illegal drugs from Colombia through Panama to the United States. This was code-named "Operation Watchtower." According to an affidavit signed by the late Colonel Edward P. Cutolo, a US Army Special Forces Commander who was in charge of operations in Colombia subsumed under this project, "the purpose of Operation Watch Tower was to establish a series of three electronic beacon towers beginning outside of Bogota, Colombia and running northeast to the border of Panama. Once the Watch Tower teams were in place, the beacon was activated to emit a signal that aircraft could fix on and fly undetected from Bogota to Panama, then land at Albrook Air Station." [fn 30] According to Cutolo, the flights were often met at Albrook Air Station by Noriega, other PDF officers, CIA agents, and an Israeli national believed to be David Kimche of the Mossad. Another Israeli involved in the flights was Mossad agent Michael Harari, who maintained a close relation to Noriega until the time of the US invasion of December 20, 1989. According to Cutolo's affidavit, "I was told from Pentagon contacts, off the record, that CIA Director Stansfield Turner and former CIA Director George Bush are among the VIPs that shield Harari from public scrutiny." According to Cutolo, "the cargo flown from Colombia to Panama was cocaine," which ultimately ended up in the United States. The profits were allegedly laundered through a series of banks, including banks in Panama. According to published reports, Cutolo and a long list of other US military personnel who knew about Operation Watchtower died under suspicious circumstances during the 1980's, one of them after having vainly attempted to interest the CBS News "60 Minutes " staff in this matter. Mike Harari of the Mossad is reportedly a prime suspect in the death of one of these US officers, Army Col. James Rowe, who was killed in the Phillipines on April 21, 1989. Was Operation Watchtower on the agenda of the Bush-Noriega meeting of 1976?
According to Noriega's CIPA proffer, "another contact between Noriega and George Bush was after George Bush became Vice-President. At this time Noriega sent Bush a letter of congratulations and Bush sent back a response. In this letter, dated December 23, 1980, Bush says 'thanks for the great congratulatory message.' He also says, 'I do recall your visit in 1976 and I hope our paths will cross again.'" [fn 31]
There can be no doubt that Noriega's dealings with the Reagan-Bush administration were very intense. According to Panamanian turncoat Jose Blandon, Noriega frequently travelled to Washington for secret private meetings with CIA Director William Casey during 1982-83 and the year following. Noriega also met somewhat later with Bush's Iran-contra point man, Oliver North. [fn 32] According to Noriega's CIPA submission, Noriega was introduced to North on a cruise down the Potomac by US General Schweitzer, the director of the Inter-American joint military group. According to Noriega's CIPA submission, North had been drinking heavily and talked in an animated fashion about the problems encountered by the contras. "North was particularly concerned with allegations that had surfaced connecting the contras with narcotics trafficking." One US public figure who had called attention to the contras as drug pushers was Lyndon LaRouche. "North urged Noriega to do whatever he could for the contras. During this meeting North claimed that he was in charge of all operations in central America having to do with the contras and that he was working directly for Reagan and Bush. Although North asked for help he did not say exactly what he wanted. North did tell Noriega that if at any time he needed to talk to North that Noriega could just call him at the White House." [fn 33]
According to Noriega's CIPA proffer submitted in preparation for his trial in Miami, "from around August of 1985 through September of 86 Noriega repeatedly received emissaries from Oliver North. One was Humberto Quinones. Quinones attempted to ingratiate himself with Noriega and repeatedly used Reagan's and Bush's names. Quinones said that the contras are not fighting very well and requested that Panama come to the aid of the contras."
Later, at the end of the summer of 1985, Noriega met with North and Secord in London. North demanded that Noriega use Panamanian commandos to conduct operations against the Sandinista regime. "Noriega just listened" and did not agree to cooperate. [fn 34]
This was all denied by the Bush campaign through spokesman Steve Hart, but a photo exists of Bush meeting with Noriega in Panama City in December, 1983. Don Gregg was also on the scene. This meeting was also attended by Everett Briggs, then the US Ambassador to Panama. During the previous months, Noriega had repudiated the policy of supporting the Nicaraguan contra rebels which the Bushmen had successfully sold to Reagan as his leading obsession. Noriega had done this by declaring his support fo the Contadora group, which thus emerged as an alignment of Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and Panama, and which advocated a plan for pacification and the restoration of national sovereignty in Central America as a whole through the interdiction of gun-running, plus the removal of foreign advisers and bases. According to Briggs, Bush may have sought Noriega's diplomatic support for the US position in the region. But Briggs denies that Bush was also looking for Panamanian military support against the Sandinistas. According to the Bushmen, Bush's pourparler in Panama was devoted to a "privileged" talk with the President of Panama, Ricardo de la Espriella, who was also present at the meeting. [fn 35] But Noriega was clearly the dominant figure on the Panamanian political scene.
Later, Bush henchman Don Gregg was obliged to testify under oath about Bush's relations with Noriega in the context of the civil lawsuit brought by the Christic Institute of Washington, DC against members of the Bush-Shackley-Clines Enterprise. Gregg specified that Ambassador Briggs was himself a friend of Bush. Gregg said that at the December, 1983 meeting, Panamanian President Ricardo de la Espriella had denied US press reports alleging Panamanian government complicity in drug trafficking.
But while Noriega kept close relations with the United States, he also dealt with Cuba and other countries in the region. Noriega was increasingly motivated by Panamanian nationalism, and a desire to preserve a margin of independence for his country. The hostility of the US government against Noriega was occasioned first of all by Noriega's refusal to be subservient to the US policy of waging war against the Sandinista regime. This was explained by Noriega in an interview with CBS journalist Mike Wallace on February 4, 1988, in which Noriega described the US campaign against him as a "political conspiracy of the Department of Justice." Noriega described a visit to Panama on December 17, 1985 by Admiral John Poindexter, then the chief of the US National Security Council, who demanded that Noriega join in acts of war against Nicaragua, and then threatened Panama with economic warfare and political destabilization when Noriega refused to go along with Poindexter's plans:
Wallace: He told you that you would be economically attacked if you didn't do that?
Noriega: It was stated, Panama must expect economic consequences. Your interest was that we should aid the contras, and we said 'no' to that.
Poindexter outlined plans for a US invasion of Nicaragua that would require the fig-leaf of participation of troops from other countries in the region:
According to Noriega's advisor, Panamanian Defense Forces Captain Cortiso,
It was in this same December, 1985 period that Bush and Don Gregg met with Ambassador Briggs to discuss the Noriega's refusal to follow dictation from Washington. According to Gregg in his deposition in the Christic Institute lawsuit, "I think we [i.e., Bush and Gregg] came away from the meeting with Ambassador Brggs with the sense that Noriega was a growing problem, politically, militarily, and possibly in the drug area." When pressed to comment about Noriega's alleged relations to drug trafficking, Gregg could only add: "It would have been part of the general picture of Noriega as a political problem, corruption, and a general policy problem. Yes." [fn 37] "I don't recall any specific discussion of Noriega's involvement in drugs," Gregg testified. In this case it is quite possible that Don Gregg is for once providing accurate testimony: the US government decision to begin interference in Panama's internal affairs for the overthrow of Noriega had nothing to do with questions of drug trafficking. It was predicated on Noriega's rejection of Poindexter's ultimatum demanding support for the Nicargauan contras, themselves a notorious gang of drug pushers enjoying the full support of Bush and the US government. Colonel Samuel J. Watson III, deputy national security adviser to Bush during those years, invoked executive privilege during the course of his Christic Institute deposition on the advice of his lawyer in order to avoid answering questions about Bush's 1985 meeting with Briggs. [fn 38]
In addition to the question of contra aid, another rationale for official US rage against Noriega had emerged during 1985. President Nicky Barletta, a darling of the State Department and a former vice president of the genocidal World Bank, attempted to impose a package of conditionalities and economic adjustment measures dictated by the International Monetary Fund. This was a package of brutal austerity, and riots soon erupted in protest against Barletta. Noriega refused to comply with Barletta's request to use the Panamanian military forces to put down these anti-austerity riots, and the IMF austerity package was thus compromised. Barletta was shortly forced out as president.
During 1986-1987, Noriega cooperated with US law enforcement officials in a number of highly effective anti-drug operations. This successful joint effort was documented by letters of commendation sent to Noriega by John C. Lawn, at that time head of the US Drug Enforcement Administration. On February 13, 1987, Lawn wrote to Noriega: "Your longstanding support of the Drug Enforcement Administration is greatly appreciated. International police cooperation and vigorous pursuit of drug traffickers are our common goal." Later in the same year, Lawn wrote to Noriega to commend the latter's contributions to Operation Pisces, a joint US-Panamanian effort against drug smuggling and drug money laundering. Panamanian participation was facilitated by a tough new law, called Law 23, which contained tough new provisions against drug money laudering. Lawn 's letter to Noriega of May 27, 1987 includes the following: *As you know, the recently concluded Operation Pisces was enormously successful: many millions of dollars and many thousands of pounds of drugs have been taken from the drug traffickers and international money launderers....
By a striking coincidence, it was in June, 1987, just one month after this glowing tribute had been written, that the US government declared war against Panama, initiating a campaign to destabilize Noriega on the pretexts of lack of democracy and corruption. On June 30, 1987, the US State Department demanded the ouster of General Noriega. Elliott Abrams, the Assistant Secertary of State for Latin American Affairs, later indicted for perjury in 1991 for his role in the Iran-contra scandal and coverup, made the announcement. Abrams took note of a resolution passed on June 23 by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee demanding the creation of a "democratic government" in Panama, and officially concurred, thus making the toppling of Noriega the official US policy. Abrams also demanded that the Panamanian military be freed of "political corruption."
These were precisely the destabilization measures which Poindexter had threatened 18 months earlier. The actual timing of the US demand for the ouster of Noriega appears to have been dictated by resentment in the US financial community over Noriega's apparent violation of certain taboos in his measures against drug money laundering. As the New York Times commented in on August 10, 1987: "The political crisis follows closely what bankers here saw as a serious breach of bank secrecy regulations. Earlier this year, as part of an American campaign against the laundering of drug money, the Panamanian government froze a few suspect accounts here in a manner that bankers and lawyers regarded as arbitrary." These were precisely the actions lauded by Lawn. Had Noriega shut down operations sanctioned by the US intelligence community, or confiscated assets of the New York banks?
In November, 1987, Noriega was visited by Bush's former vice presidential chief of staff, Admiral Daniel J. Murphy. Murphy had left Bush's office in 1985 to go into the international consulting business. Murphy was accompanied on his trip by Tongsun Park, a protagonist of the 1976 Koreagate scandal which had served Bush so well. Murphy claimed that Park was part of a group of international businessmen who had sent him to Panama to determine if Murphy could help in "restoring stability in Panama" as a representative of the businessmen or of the Panamanian government, a singular cover story. "I was really there trying to find out whether there was negotiating room between him and the opposition," Murphy said in early 1988. There were reports that Murphy, who had conferred with NSC chief Colin Powell, Don Gregg and Elliott Abrams of the State Department before he went to Panama, had told Noriega that he could stay in office through early 1989 if he allowed political reforms, free elections, and a free press, but Murphy denied having done this. It is still not known with precision what mission Murphy was sent to Panama to perform for Bush. [fn 40]
On August 12, 1987, Noriega responded to the opposition campaigns fomented by the US inside Panama by declaring that the aim of Washington and its Panamanian minions was "to smash Panama as a free and independent nation. It is a repetition of what Teddy Roosevelt did when he militarily attacked following the separation of Panama from Colombia." On August 13, 1987, the Los Angeles Times reported that US Assistant Attorney General Stephen Trott, who had headed up the Department of Justice "Get Noriega" Task Force for more than a year, had sent out orders to "pull together everything that we have on him [Noriega] in order to see if he is prosecutable." This classic "enemies' list" operation was clearly aimed at fabricating drug charges against Noriega, since that was the political spin which the US regime wished to impart to its attack on Panama. In February, 1988, Noriega was indicted on US drugs charges, despite a lack of evidence and an even more compelling lack of jurisdiction. This indictment was quickly followed by economic sanctions, an embargo on trade, and other economic warfare measures that were invoked by Washington on March 2, 1988. All of these measures were timed to coincide with the "Super Tuesday" presidential preference primaries in the southern states, where Bush was able to benefit from the racist appeal of the assault on Noriega, who is of mestizo background and has a swarthy complexion.
During the spring of 1988, the Reagan Administration conducted a negotiation with Noriega with the declared aim of convincing him to relinquish power in exchange for having the drug charges against him dropped. In May, Michael G. Kozak, the deputy assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American affairs had been sent to Panama to meet with Noriega. Bush had come under attack from other presidential candidates, especially Dukakis, for being soft on Noriega and seeking a plea bargain with the Panamanian leader. Bush first took the floor during the course of an administration policymaking meeting to advocate an end of the bargaining with Noriega. According to press reports, this proposal was "hotly contested." Then, in a speech in Los Angeles, Bush made one of his exceedingly rare departures from the Reagan line by announcing with a straight face that a Bush Administration would not "bargain with drug dealers" at home or abroad. [fn 41]
Bush's interest in Noriega continued after he had assumed the presidency. On April 6, 1989, Bush formally declared that the government of Panama represented an "unusual and extraordinary threat" to US national security and foreign policy. He invoked the National Emergencies Act and the International Emergency Act to declare a state of "national emergency" in this country to meet the menace allegedly posed by the nationalists of little Panama. The May 1, 1989 issue of US News and World Report revealed that Bush had authorized the expenditure of $10 million in CIA funds for operations against the Panamanian government. These funds were obviously to be employed to influence the Panamanian elections, which were scheduled for early May. The money was delivered to Panama by CIA bagman Carlos Eleta Almaran, who had just been arrested in Georgia in April, 1989 on charges of drug trafficking. On May 2, with one eye on those elections, Bush attempted to refurbush his wimp image with a blustering tirade delivered to the Rockefeller-controlled Council of the Americas in which he stated: "Let me say one thing clearly. The USA will not accept the results of fraudulent elections that serve to keep the supreme commander of the Panamanian armed forces in power." This made clear that Bush intended to declare the elections undemocratic if the pro-Noriega candidates were not defeated.
In the elections of May 7, the CIA's $10 million and other monies were used to finance an extensive covert operation which aimed at stealing the elections. The US-supported Civic Democratic Alliance, whose candidate was Guillermo Endara, purchased votes, bribed the election officials, and finally physically absconded with the official vote tallies. Because of the massive pattern of fraud and irregularities, the Panamanian government annulled the election. Somewhere along the line the usual US-staged "people power" upsurge had failed to materialize. The inability of Bush to force through a victory by the anti-Noriega opposition was a first moment of humiliation for the would-be Rough Rider.
This was the occasion for a new outburst of hypocritical breast-beating from Bush, whose vote fraud operation had not worked so well in Panama as it had in New Hampshire. Speaking at the commencement ceremonies of Mississippi State University in Starkville, Mississippi, Bush issued a formal call to the citzens and soldiers of Panama to overthrow Noriega, asserting that "they ought to do everything they can to get Mr. Noriega out of there." Asked whether this was a call for a military coup against Noriega, Bush replied: "I would love to see them get him out of there. Not just the PDF-- the will of the people of Panama." Bush elaborated that his was a call for "a revolution--the people rose up and spoke for-- in a democratic election with a substantial - a tremendous- turnout, said what they wanted. The will of the people should not be thwarted by this man and a handful of these Doberman thugs." "I think the election made so clear that the people want democracy and made so clear that democracy is being thwarted by one man that that in itself would be the catalyst for removing Noriega," Bush added, making his characteristic equation of "democracy" with a regime subservient to US whim. Bush prevaricated on his own committment to disbanding the Panamanian Defense Forces, saying that he wanted to "make clear... that there's no vendetta against the Panamanian Defense Forces as an institution;" the US was concerned only with Noriega's "thuggery" and "pariah" status. Bush seemed also to invite the assassination of Noriega by blurting out, "No, I would add no words of caution" on how to do any of this. He slyly kept an escape hatch open in case a coup leader called on the US for support, as in fact later happened: "If the PDF asks for support to get rid of Noriega, they wouldn't need support from the United States in order to get rid of Noriega. He's one man, and they have a well-trained force." Bush also seemed to encourage Noriega to flee to a country from which he could not be extradited back to the US, which sounded like a recipe for avoiding legal proceedings that could prove highly embarrassing to Bush personally and to the whole US government.
During this period, Admiral William Crowe, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, attempted to convince the US commander in Panama, Gen. Frederick F. Woerner, to accept a brigade-sized reinforcement of 3,000 troops in addition to the 12,000 men already stationed in Panama. Woerner declined the additional men, which the Pentagon had intended to despatch with great fanfare in an attempt to intimidate Noriega and his triumphant supporters. At this point the Pentagon activated preparations for Operation Blue Spoon, which included a contigency plan to kidnap Noriega with the help of a Delta force unit. There were discussions about whether an attempt could be made to abduct Noriega with any likelihood of success; it was concluded that Noriega was very wily and exceedingly difficult to track. It was in the course of these deliberations that Defense Secretary Cheney is reported to have told Crowe, "'You know, the President has got a long history of vindictive political actions.''Cross Bush and you pay,' he said, supplying the names of a few victims and adding: Bush remembers and you have to be careful." [fn 42] Thus intimidated by Bush, the military commanders concurred in Bush's announcement of a brigade-sized reenforcement for Woerner, plus the secret despatch of Delta forces and Navy Seals. On July 17, Bush approved a plan to "assert US treaty rights" by undertaking demonstrative military provocations in violation of the treaty. Woerner was soon replaced by General Maxwell Reid "Mad Max" Thurman, who would bring no qualms to his assignment of aggression. Thurman took over at the Southern Command on September 30.
In the wake of this tirade, the US forces in Panama began a systematic campaign of military provocations which continued all the way to the December 20 invasion. In July the US forces began practicing how to seize control of important Panamanian military installations and civilian objectives, all in flagrant violation of the Panama Canal Treaty. On July 1, for example, the town of Gamboa was seized and held for 24 hours by US troops, tanks, and helicopters. The mayor of the town and 30 other persons were illegally detained during this "maneuver." In Chilibre, the US forces occupied the key water purification plant serving Panama City and Colon. On August 15, Bush escalated the rhetoric still further by proclaiming that he had the obligation "to kidnap Noriega". Then, during the first days of October, there came the abortive US-sponsored coup attempt, followed by the public humiliation of George Bush, who had failed to measure up to the standards of efficacy set by Theodore Roosevelt.
All during October and November and into December, the Bush Administration worked to prepare the plans for a large-scale invasion of Panama, Operation Blue Spoon. By mid-December, there were a total of 24,000 US troops in Panama, arrayed against the 16,000 of the PDF, of whom only about 3,500 were organized and equipped for military combat.
The US was now committed to a military attack. Beginning on January 1, 1990, according to the US-Panama treaty, the head of the canal administration would have to be a Panamanian citizen, proposed by Panama and approved by the US government. This was a transaction which Bush wished to conduct with a puppet state, and not with an independent government. In the light of transparent US preparations for a short-term invasion or other armed incursion, the National Assembly of Panama passed a resolution of December 15 to take note of the state of affairs that had now been forced upon Panama by Bush. The statement was designed to permit the assumption of emergency powers by the Panamanian government to meet the crisis, and was in no way equivalent to a declaration of war under international law, no more than Bush's April 6, 1989 declaration of a US state of emergency over the Panamanian situation had been. "The Republic of Panama," the statement read, "has for the last two years suffered a cruel and constant harrassment by the US government, whose president has made use of the powers of war...to try to subject the will of Panamanians....The Republic of Panama is living under a genuine state of war, under the permanent hounding of the US government, whose soldiers not only daily violate the integrity of the Torrijos-Carter treaties... but trample our sovereign rights in open, arrogant, and shameless violation of the pacts and norms of international law....Therefore be it resolved that the Republic of Panama be declared in a state of war, for as long as the aggression unleashed against the Panamanian people by the US government continues." [fn 43] The first comment from White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater was to minimize this declaration: "I don't think anybody here considers it important enough in terms of impact," Fitzwater told the White House press corps. It was only after Bush had given the final order to attack that it was discovered that this statement had been another casus belli.
At this point, the US provocation activity was stepped up, with special attention given to the approaches to Noriega's headquarters, the Commandancia. Here, at the Avenue A PDF checkpoint, on the evening of Saturday, December 16, Navy Lieutenant Adam J. Curtis and his wife Bonnie had been detained as they chose to take an evening stroll in this very tense and highly sensitive neighborhood. Their presence could in no way have been interpreted as purely casual. Then, while Lieutenant and Mrs. Curtis were having their identity checked by the PDF, a car occupied by four other "off-duty" American officers in civilian clothes drove up. These officers would later say that they had taken a wrong turn towards Noriega's Commandancia, where the cat and mouse game of would-be kidnappers and their prey was known to go on at all hours. These US officers alleged that the PDF guards had ordered them to get out of their car at gunpoint. But the US officers also admitted that they attempted to depart from the area of the PDF checkpoint at high speed, and it is not clear in which direction they were headed. The US officers' car did succeed in departing the scene. At this point, according to the US account, the PDF guards opened fire and wounded Marine Lieutenant Robert Paz, who is later reported to have died of his wounds at the US Gorgas Military Hospital. Another US officer in the car was reportedly slightly wounded in the leg.
When Lieutenant and Mrs. Curtis were released by the PDF some four hours later, they alleged that Lieutenant Curtis had been beaten, and Mrs. Curtis fondled and sexually threatened by the PDF. These details, which may have been purely invented, were obsessively seized upon by Bush in his public justifications of the US invasion. Published accounts indicate that the public affairs officer of the US Southern Command suggested that Lieut. Curtis be interviewed on television to recount his story, but that this idea had been quickly vetoed by Defense Secretary Cheney, suggesting that the US command authority had its doubts about Curtis's ability to tell a tale useful for the Bush regime's propaganda mill. [fn 44]
With the incidents at Avenue A, the imposing "mind war" and "mind control" apparatus of the US regime went into action. Here Bush was taking a leaf from the book of his father's protege, Adolf Hitler. When Hitler had wished to invade Poland, he first completed his military preparations and then staged the infamous provocation code-named Operation Canned Meat at the Gleiwitz radio station on the German side of the border with Poland. The Nazis took some German convicts from a jail, murdered them, and then dressed them in Polish uniforms. These bodies were then presented to the press as the result of a murderous Polish raid across the border. Within hours, Hitler had issued an early-morning declaration of war. Bush showed that his pedigree had been acquired in the same school.
Bush gave the final order for the attack on Sunday, December 17. He made a series of raving statements about the alleged sexual molestation of Mrs. Curtis, and it was evident that racist hysteria was being actively elicited. In his speech delivered at 7:20 AM on December 21, 1989 announcing the US invasion, Bush said: *
Last Friday, Noriega declared his military dictatorship to be in a state of war with the United States and publicly threatened the lives of Americans in Panama. The very next day forces under his command shot and killed an unarmed American serviceman, wounded another, arrested and brutally beat a third American serviceman and then brutally interrogated his wife, threatening her with sexual abuse. That was enough. [fn 45]
On December 22, Bush was asked what had made him decide to launch the attack now. He replied:
Later in the same press conference Bush obsessively returned to the same topic, this time answering a question about the Soviet reaction to the US move:
Blacks and mestizos make up the vast majority of the population of Panama. The principal enemy image was constructed around the figure of Noriega, who was ridiculed as "the pineapple" in the US media loyal to Bush. Noriega was not however the only target: Francisco Rodriguez, the pro-Noriega President of Panama, was, like Noriega, a mestizo, while the minister of government and justice, the minister of the treasury, and the minister of labor were all black. The foreign minister was of Chinese background, as was the head of the small air force. A number of Noriega's leading PDF colleagues were black. By contrast, Guillermo Endara, the new US puppet president who was now adminiustered his oath of office by US military officers on a US military base, was white, and lily-white was his retinue, including first vice president Ricardo Arias Calderon and second vice president Guillermo "Billy" Ford. There would be only one non-white in the new Endara cabinet, a black woman who was minister of education. The rest of the US assets belonged to the lily-white oligarchy of Panama, the rabiblancos or "cottontails," who had ruled the country with supreme incomptence and maximum corruption until the advent of the nationalist revolution of Gen. Omar Torrijos, Noriega's patron, in 1968. Endara's base was among the "BMW revolutionaries" who had attended anti-Noriega rallies only in the confort of their air-conditioned limousines. These were Bush's kind of people. One of Bush's soldatesca in Panama, General Marc Cisneros, boasted that the Panamanians "need to have a little infusion of Anglo values."
The US military operations, which got under way just after midight on Tuesday, were conducted with unusual ferocity. The officers were obsessed with avoiding a repetition of the fiasco of Desert One on 1980, or the fratricidal casualties of Grenada. Mad Max Thurman sent in the new Stealth and A-7 fighter-bombers, and AC-13 gunships. The neighborhood around Noriega's Commandancia, called El Chorillo, was bombarded with a vengeance and virtually razed, as was the working-class district of San Miguelito, and large parts of the city of Colon. US commanders had been instructed that Bush wished to avoid US casualties at all costs, and that any hostile fire was to be answered by overwhelming US firepower, without regard to the number of civilian casualties that this might produce among the Panamanians. Many of the Panamanian civilian dead were secretly buried in unmarked mass graves during the dead of night by the US forces; many other bodies were consumed in the holocaust of fires that levelled El Chorillo. The Institute of Seismology counted 417 bomb bursts in Panama City alone during the first 14 hours of the US invasion. For many days there were no US estimates of the civilian dead (or "collateral damage"), and eventually the Bush regime set the death toll for Panamanian non-combattants at slightly over 200. In reality, as Executive Intelligence Review and former US Attorney General Ramsay Clark pointed out, there had been approximately 5,000 innocent civilian victims, including large numbers of women and children.
US forces rounded up 10,000 suspected political opponents of "democracy" and incarcerated them in concentration camps, calling many of them prisoners of war. Many political prisoners were held for months after the invasion without being charged with any specific offense, a clear violation of the norms of habeas corpus. The combined economic devastation caused by 30 months of US sanctions and economic warfare, plus the results of bombardments, firefights, and torchings, had taken an estimated $7 billion out of the Panamanian economy, in which severe poverty was the lot of most of the population apart from the rabiblanco bankers that were the main support for Bush's intervention. The bombing left 15,000 homeless. The Endara government purged several thousand government officials and civil servants under the pretext that they had been tainted by their association with Noriega. Ironically, the new US puppet regime could only be described as a congeries of drug pushers and drug money launderers. The most succinct summary was provided by the International Herald Tribune on February 7, 1990, which reported: "The nation's new President Guillermo Endara has for years been a director of one of the Panamanian banks used by Colombia's drug traffickers. Guillermo Ford, the second vice president and chairman of the banking commission, is a part owner of the Dadeland Bank of Florida, which was named in a court case two years ago as a central financial institution for one of the biggest Medellin money-launderers, Gonzalo Mora. Rogelio Cruz, the new Attorney General, has been a director of the First Interamericas Bank, owned by Rodrguez Orejuela, one of the bosses of the Cali Cartel gang in Colombia." The portly Endara was also the business partner and corporate attorney of Carlos Eleta Almaran, the CIA bagman already mentioned. Eleta Almaran, the owner of the Panamanian branch of Philip Morris tobacco was arraigned in Bibb County, Georgia by DEA officials who accused him of conspiracy to import 600 kilos of cocaine per month into the US, and to set up dummy corporations to launder the estimated $300 million in profits this project was expected to produce. Eleta was first freed on $8 million bail; after the "successful" US invasion of Panama, all charges against him were ordered dropped by Bush and Thornburgh. Bush's heart had gone out in his December 21 war speech especially to drug pusher Billy Ford: "You remember those horrible pictures of newly elected Vice President Ford covered head to toe with blood, beaten mercilessly by so-called 'dignity battalions.'" Bush, it would appear, has never wanted to beat up a drug pusher.
As for Endara's first vice president, Ricardo Arias Calderon, his brother, Jaime Arias Calderon, was president of the First Interamericas bank when that bank was controlled by the Cali cartel. Jaime Arias Calderon was also the co-owner of the Banco Continental, which laundered $40 million in drug money, part of which was used to finance the activities of the anti-Noriega opposition. Thus, all of Bush's most important newly-installed puppets were implicated in drug dealing.
The invasion presented some very difficult moments for Bush. From the beginning of the operation late on December 20, until Christmas eve, the imposing US martial apparatus had proven incapable of locating and capturing Noriega. The US Southern Command was terrorized when a few Noriega loyalists launched a surprise attack on US headquarters with mortars, scattering the media personnel who had been grinding out their propaganda.
There was great fear through the US command that Noriega had successfully implemented a plan for the PDF to melt away to arms cashes and secret bases in the Panamanian jungle for a prolonged guerilla warfare effort. As it turned out, Noriega had failed to give the order to disperse. The reason for this is most instructive: Noriega had expected a US move, but refused to credit the overwhelming evidence that the US was launching a full-scale invasion for the purpose of completely dismantling the PDF and occupying the totality of Panamanian territory. Noriega remained convinced until very late in the day that US aggression would be limited to a commando raid devoted primarily to the kidnapping or assassination of Noriega and a few top lieutenants. In this, Noriega joins the company of the Shah of Iran, President Marcos of the Philippines, and Saddam Hussein of Iraq, all of whom were unable to fathom the true extent of the US committment to topple their regimes (or, in the case of Iraq, lay waste to much of the country). This is the principal reason why the PDF failed to execute its plan to disperse and regroup in the jungle.
As Christmas eve approached, and Noriega still had not been eliminated, a whining hysteria increasingly colored Bush's public pronouncements. In his press conference of December 22, Bush was tremendously agitated, and opened the proceedings by complaining: "I have a brief press statement, to be followed by a brief press conference because I have a pain in the neck. Seriously." Bush refused to discuss the details of this pain. Was it a symptom of the thryoid condition that was diagnosed in early May of 1991? That is difficult to determine, but there was no mistaking Bush's hyperthyroid mood. His response to the inevitable first question about tracking down the demonized Noriega:
Noriega was irrelevant, Bush tried to suggest, since his government and army had both ceased to exist, but Bush lacked conviction. He feared a long Christmas day spent by at home by 80 million families, with no news except the football scores and the mortified consternation of the US regime Noriega had managed to elude. Then, on the evening of December 24, it was reported that Noriega, armed with an Uzi machine gun, had made his way unchallenged and undetected to the Papal Nunciatura in Panama City where he had asked for and obtained political asylum. There are no reports of how far George Bush gnawed into the White House Bigelows upon hearing that news, but it is clear that there was important damage to the deep pile in the Oval Office.
The standoff that then developed encapsulated the hereditary war of the Bush family with the Holy See and the Roman Catholic Church. For eight days, US troops surrounded the Nunciatura, which they proceeded to bombard with deafening decibels of explicitly satanic heavy metal and other hard rock music, which according to some reports had been personally chosen by mad Max Thurman in order to "unnerve Noriega and the Nuncio," Monsignor LaBoa. Noriega was reputed to be an opera lover.
At the same time, Bush ordered the State Department to carry out real acts of thuggery in making threatening representations to the Holy See. It became clear that Roman Catholic priests, nuns, monks and prelates would soon be in danger in many countries of Ibero-America. Nevertheless, the Vatican declined to expel Noriega from the Nunciatura in accordance with US demands. Bush's forces in Panama had shown they were ready to play fast and loose with diplomatic immunity. A number of foreign embassies were broken into by US troops while they were frantically searching for Noriega, and the Cuban and Nicaraguan Embassies were ringed with tanks and troops in a ham-handed gesture of intimidation. It is clear that in this context, Bush contemplated the storming of the Nunciatura by US forces. Perhaps he was deterred by the worldwide political consequences he would have faced. When the German Wehrmacht occupied Rome during the war years of 1943-44, Hitler had never dared to order an incursion into the sovereign territory of the Vatican. Could Bush face the opprobrium of having ordered what Hitler himself had ruled out? At this point, Bush's criminal energy failed him, and he had to look for other options.
These were difficult days for Bush. On December 27, he gave another press conference during which he was asked:
Q: Nothing whatsoever?
Bush: I don't think so. I think that's history and I think that the main thing is that he should be tried and brought to justice and we are pursuing that course with no fear of that. You know, we may get into some release of certain confidential documents, that he may try to blind side the whole justice process, but the system works, so I wouldn't worry about that.
Q: Would you open up any documents that he might request so that there'd be no question as there has been in other cases?
Bush: There would be enough to see that he's given a totally fair trial.
New Year's Day was excruciating for Bush, since this was another holiday spent at home with football scores yeilding only to speculation on how long Noriega would elude Bush's legions. The manifest refusal of the Vatican to expel Noriega seemed to deprive Bush's aggression of its entire moral justification: if Noriega was what Bush claimed, why did the Pope John Paul II decline to honor the imperative US demand for custody? While Bush squirmed in agony waiting for the Rose Bowl to end, he began to think once again of People Power.
In Panama City, the Endara-Ford-Arias Calderon forces mobilized their BMW base and hired hundreds of those who had nothing to eat for militant demonstrations outside of the Nunciatura. These were liberally seeded with US special forces and other commandos in civilian clothes. As the demonstrations grew more menacing, and the US troops and tanks made no move to restrain them, it was clear that the US forces were preparing to stage a violent but "spontaneous" assault by the masses on the Nunciatura that would include the assassination of Noriega and the small group of his co-workers who had accompanied him into that building. At about this time Msgr. Laboa warned Noriega, "you could be lynched like Mussolini." Noriega appears to have concluded that remaining in the Nunciatura meant certain death for himself and his subordinates at the hands of the US commandos operating under the cover of the mob. LaBoa and the other religious on the staff of the Nunciatura would also be in grave danger. On January 3, 1990, after thanking LaBoa and giving him a letter to the Pope, Noriega, dressed in his general's uniform, left the Nunciatura and surrendered to Gen. Cisneros.
In Bush's speech of December 20 he had offered the following justification for his act of war, Operation Just Cause:
If these were the goals, then Bush's invasion of Panama must be counted not only a crime, but also a failure.
On April 5, 1991, newspapers all over Latin American carried details of a new report by the US Drug Enfocrement Administration confirming that the US-installed puppet president of Panama, Guillermo Endara, had been an officer of at least six companies which had been demonstrably implicated in laundering drug money. These were the Banco General, the Banco de Colombia, the Union Bank of Switzerland, the Banco Aleman, the Primer Banco de Ahorros, Sudameris, Banaico, and the Banco del Istmo. The money laundered came from a drug smuggling ring headed up by Augusto Falcon and Sahvador Magluta of Colombia, who are reported to have smuggled an average of one ton of cocaine per month into Florida during the decade 1977-87, including many of the years during which Bush's much-touted South Florida Task Force and related operations were in operation.
With the puppet president so heavily implicated in the activity of the international drug mafia, it can be no surprise that the plague of illegal drugs has markedly worsened in the wake of Bush's invasion. According to the London Independent of March 5, 1991, "statistics now indicate that since General Noriega's departure, cocaine trafficking has, in fact, prospered" in the country. On March 1, the State Department had conceded that the turnover of drug money laundered in Panama had at least regained the levels attained before the 1989 invasion. According to the Los Angeles Times of April 28, 1991, current levels of drug trafficking in Panama "in some cases exceed" what existed before the December 20 invasion, and US officials "say the trend is sharply upward and includes serious movements by the Colombian cartels into areas largely ignored under Noriega." This was all real drug activity, and not the cornmeal tamales wrapped in banana leaves that Bush's mind war experts found in one of Noriega's residences and labelled as "cocaine" during the invasion.
Bush's invasion of Panama has done nothing to fight the scourge of illegal narcotics. Rather, the fact that so many of Bush's hand-picked puppets can be shown to be top figures in the drug mafia suggests that drug trafficking through Panama towards the United States has increased after the ouster of Noriega. If drug shipments to the United States have increased, this exposes Bush's pledge to "protect the lives of Americans" as a lie.
As far as the promise of democracy is concerned, it must be stressed that Panama has remained under direct US military dictatorship and virtual martial law until this writing in the late autumn of 1991, two years after Bush's adventure was launched. The congressional and local elections that were conducted during early 1991 were thoroughly orchestrated by the US occupation forces. Army intelligence units interrogated potential voters, and medical battalions handed out vaccines and medicines to urban and rural populations to encourage them to vote. Every important official in the Panamanian government from Endara on down has US military "liasion officers" assigned on a permanent basis. These officers are from the Defense Department's Civic Action-Country Area Team (or CA-CAT), a counterinsurgency and "nation building" apparatus that parallels the "civic action" teams unleashed during the Vietnam war. CA-CAT officers supervise all government ministries and even supervise police precincts in Panama City. The Panamanian Defense Forces have been dissolved, and the CA-CAT officers are busily creating a new constabulary, the Fuerza Publica. During December 1990 and January 1991, as the US-led coalition was about to launch its attacks into Iraq, large-scale military demonstrations were staged by the US forces in the provinces of Chiriqui, Bocas del Toro, Panama, and Colon for the purpose of intimidating the large Arab populations of these areas, which the US suspected of sympathizing with Iraq. Radio stations and newspapers which spoke out against the US invasion or criticized the puppet regime were jailed or intimidated, as in the case of the publisher Escolastico Calvo, who was held in concentration camps and jails for some months after the invasion without an arrest warrant and without specific charges. Trade union rights are non-existent: after a demonstration by 100,000 persons in December, 1990 had protested growing unemployment and Endara's plans to "privatize" the state sector by selling it off for a song to the rabiblanco bankers, all of the labor leaders who had organized the march were fired from their jobs, and arrest warrants were issued against 100 union officials by the government. But even the pervasive military presence has not been sufficient to re-establish stability in Panama: on December 5, 1990, heavily armed US forces were sent into the streets of Panama City to deter a coup d'etat that was allegedly being prepared by Eduardo Herrera, the former chief of police. As the popularity of "Porky" Endara wanes, there are signs that the Bush State Department is grooming a possible successor in Gabriel Lewis Galindo, the owner of the Banco del Istmo, one of the banks involved in drug money laundering.
In the wake of Bush's invasion, the economy of Panama has not been rebuilt, but has rather collapsed further into immiseration. The Bush administration has set as the first imperative for the puppet regime the maintenance of debt service on Panama's $6 billion in international debt. Debt service payments take precedence over spending on public works, public health, and all other categories. Bush had promised Panama $2 billion for post-invasion reconstruction, but he later reduced this to $1 billion. What was finally forthcoming was just $460 million, most of which was simply transferred to the Wall Street banks in order to defray the debt service owed by Panama. The figure of $460 scarcely exceeds the $400 in Panamanian holdings that were supposedly frozen by the US during the period of economic warfare againmst Noriega, but which were then given to the New York banks, also for debt service payments.
As far as the integrity of the Panama Canal Treaty signed by Torrijos and Carter, and ratified by the US Senate is concerned, a resolution co-sponsored by Republican Senator Bob Dole of Kansas and GOP Congressman Phil Crane of Illinois is currently before the Congress which calls on Bush to renegotiate the treaty so as to allow US military forces to remain in Panama beyond the current deadline of December 31, 1999. Since no Panamanian government could re-open negotiations on the treaty and survive, this strategy, which appears to enjoy the support of the Bush White House, implies a US military occupation of not just the old Canal Zone, but of all of Panama, for the entire foreseeable future.
Thus, on every point enumerated by Bush as basic to his policy-- the lives of Americans, Panamanian democracy, anti-drug operations, and the integrity of the treaty-- Bush has obtained a fiasco. Bush's invasion of Panama will stand as a chapter of shame and infamy in the recent history of the United States.
As this book goes to press, the prosecution is presenting its case in the trial of Gen. Noriega in Miami, Florida. These proceedings have been a shocking demonstration of the politically-motivated, police-state frameups that are now the rule in US courts. Noriega was brought into the United States through a violent exercise in international kidnapping. In any case, Noriega's undeniable status as a prisoner of war means that under the Geneva Convention he cannot be held criminally responsible in a United States court for actions that antedate the opening of hostilities between the United States and Panama. These overarching considerations set the stage for a series of scandalous abuses within the framework of the trial itself. As a result of the Bush regime's "mind war" conducted in cooperation with the controlled news media, it is clear that Noriega cannot receive a fair trial anywhere in the United States, because of the impossibility of finding an impartial jury. During the time that Noriega was preparing his defense, the US Department of Justice and the FBI violated the rights of the defendant under the Sixth Amendment by tapping and taping his conversations with his defense lawyers. Attorney Raymond Takiff had been retained by Noriega as a lawyer at the same time that he was working for the US Department of Justice as a secret informant in undercover sting operations. In his outrageously political pre-trial opinions, US District Judge William Hoeveler barred all references to Noriega's dealings with CIA Director and Vice President George Bush, ruling that the Noriega-Bush relation was irrelevant to the US government's charge that Noriega was part of drug smuggling into the United States. Hoeveler's pre-trial ruling amounts to a ban on discussion of wrongdoing by the US government. This guts Noriega's defense, which is that US agencies, and not Noriega, were responsible for the importation of illegal narcotics into the United States as an integral part of the US government's policy of supporting the Nicaraguan contras, and that the US government fabricated the February, 1988 indictments against Noriega as part of a political strategy to overthrow him because he refused to join the US in supporting the contras.
The parade of government witnesses against Noriega includes the usual rogue's gallery of professional perjurers from the Federal Witness Protection Program. Those testifying against Noriega are, almost without exception, felons at the mercy of the US government, many of whom have concluded plea bargains with federal prosecutors in which they have been treated more leniently in exchange for their willingness to testify against Noriega. These professional witnesses constitute a phalanx of CIA stringers and other mercenaries of the perjury wars who have received total payments of US taxpayers' money estimated anywhere between $1.5 million and $6 million. The upkeep of this stable of witnesses and other exorbitant court costs are not being defrayed by the Bush presidential campaign nor by Bush personally, despite the fact that the main purpose of the proceedings is to retroactively validate Bush's atrocity of December, 1989, and to contribute to his efforts at self-glorification for re-election in 1992. Judge Hoeveler has abrogated the usual rules of evidence, admitting hearsay reports on Noriega's activities from celebrity felons like Carlos Lehder who have never met nor spoken with Noriega. Despite this unprecedented mobilization of the police state apparatus, news media like US News and World Report of September 23, 1991 have conceded that the Justice Department case against Noriega is "shockingly weak," and legal experts not friendly to Noriega have asserted that the first month of the prosecution case had utterly failed to provide convincing evidence of any violations of US law by Noriega.
Bush's performance during the Panama crisis was especially ominous because of the president's clearly emerging mental imbalance. Several outbursts during the Noriega press conferences had resembled genuine public fits. Racist and sexual obsessions were reaching critical mass in Bush's subconscious. These gross phenomena did not receive the attention they would have merited from journalists, television commentators, and pundits, who rather preferred studiously to ignore them. One public figure who called attention to Bush's psychopathology was political prisoner Lyndon LaRouche, who made the following courageous observations from a jail cell in a federal prison in Minnesota after viewing several of Bush's press briefings during the last days of December:
If you were a psychiatrist and you had such a fellow on your couch, what's your prognosis of the way he's going to react to this situation? He'll react only when he becomes sly. And he becomes sly in the face of great pressure. He'll duck, he'll be sneaky, when he faces something he knows he can't cope with. And he'll duck and hope to come back to hit another day.
But now he's in a manic fit. He's the President. He said so at his press conference. "I'm the President. I'm Queen of the May." So you've got a rage-driven man, with rage-driven obsession with impulses flowing from that, in a man who thinks he's the Queen of the May. In other words, in Aeschylean language, A LAW UNTO HIMSELF. What's your prognosis? [fn 47]
It was during these waning days of 1989 that Bush's mental disintegration became unmistakeable, foreshadowing the greater furors yet to come.
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1. Washington Post, January 21, 1991.
2. Evans and Novak, "A Note From Saddle River," Washington Post, April 10, 1989.
3. For Fukuyama's "End of History," see The National Interest, Summer, 1989, and Henry Allen, "The End. Or Is It?", Washington Post, September 27, 1989.
4. Washington Post, December 8, 1988
5. Washington Post, April 17, 1989
6. See Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta, "Another Test of Loyalty and Standards," Washington Post, April 26, 1989 and "Overseas Spoils for GOP Loyalists," Washington Post, September 22, 1989; and Ann Devroy, "Bush Ambassadorial Nomination in Limbo," Washington Post, September 12, 1989.
7. "Off on the Wrong Foot: Gray takes on Baker," Newsweek, April 10, 1989.
8. "Bush's Earthly Pursuits," Washington Post, November 18, 1988.
9. See the transcript of Bush's statement and news conference, Washington Post, February 7, 1989; "With Signs and Ceremony, S&L Bailout Begins," Washington Post, August 10, 1989; and "Bush: S&Ls May Need More Help," Washington Post, December 12, 1989.
10. "Bush Backs Increase in IMF Funds," Washington Post, November 23, 1989.
11. "President Defends Pace of Administration," Washington Post, March 8, 1989.
12. See House Democratic Study Group, Special Report No. 101-45, "Legislation Vetoed by the President," p. 83.
13. Washington Post, April 29, 1990, p. F1.
14. John M. Barry, The Ambition and the Power, (New York: Viking Press, 1989), pp. 621-622.
15. Barry, The Ambition and the Power, p. 642.
16. "Bush: The Secret Presidency," Newsweek, January 1, 1990.
17. "Transcript of President Bush's Press Conference," Washington Post, June 9, 1989.
18. Bush press conference, Washington Post, December 22, 1989.
19. "Manuevering Marks Eve of 'Education Summit'", Washington Post, September 27, 1989.
20. Kevin Phillips, "George Bush and Congress-- Brain-Dead Politics of '89," Washington Post, October 1, 1989.
21. Time, October 23, 1989.
22. "Bush Attacks Critics of Response to Coup," Washington Post, October 14, 1989.
23. Congressional Record, 58th Congress, 3d session, p. 19.
24. See "Police State and Global Gendarme: The United States under the Thornburgh Doctrine," American Leviathan, pp. 61-102.
25. Kenneth J. Jones, The Enemy Within, (Cali, Colombia: Carvajal, 1990), p. 22.
26. Frederick Kempe, "The Noriega Files," Newsweek, January 15, 1990.
27. Kempe, "The Noriega Files," p. 19.
28. Frank A. Rubino Esq. and Jon A. May, Esq., Classified Information Procedures Act Submission in United States of America vs. General manuel A. Noriega, United States District Court, Southern District of Florida, Case No. 89-79-CR-HOEVELER, March 18, 1991, hereafter cited as Noriega CIPA proffer.
29. "Bush Returned Noriega to Payroll, Turner Says," Washington Post, October 1, 1988.
30. Mike Blair, "Mossad Silent Partner," The Spotlight, May 13, 1991.
31. Noriega CIPA proffer, p. 82.
32. Kempe, "The Noriega Files," p. 23.
33. Noriega CIPA proffer, p. 52.
34. Noriega CIPA proffer, p. 54-55.
35. "The Bush-Noriega Relationship," Newsweek, January 15, 1990, pp. 16-17, including the photo of the Bush-Noriega meeting.
36. "Panama: Atrocities of the 'Big Stick,'" in American Leviathan: Administrative Fascism under the Bush Regime, (Wiesbaden: EIR News Service, 1990), pp. 39-40.
37. For Gregg's testimony on Bush-Noriega relations, see "Testimony on Bush Meeting With Panama Ambassador," New York Times, May 21, 1988.
38. ""Bush Aide Invokes Executive Privilege," Washington Post, May 20, 1988.
39. American Leviathan, pp. 41-42.
40. "Ex-Bush Aide Is Said to Have Advised Noriega," Washington Post, January 22, 1989.
41. "Bush Presses to Cut Off Talks with Noriega," Washington Post, May 20, 1988.
42. Bob Woodward, The Commanders, (New York: Simon and Shuster, 1991), p. 89.
43. See "Fact Sheet on the US Invasion of Panama," American Leviathan, p. 46.
44. The Commanders, p. 161.
45. Text of President Bush's Address, Washington Post, December 21, 1989.
46. Text of Bush press conference, Washington Post, December 22, 1989.
47. What Does Candidate LaRouche Think of Bush's Mental Health? (Washington: Democrats for Economic Recovery-LaRouche in '92), p. 7.
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