George Herbert Walker Bush was born in 1924, the son of Prescott Sheldon Bush, a banker and politician, senator from Connecticut from 1952 to 1963. Prescott Bush had been a World War 1 army officer, a Yale grad and a Skull and Bonesman. His father in law George Herbert Walker hooked him up with Brown Brothers Harriman, the Goldman Sachs of that day which still manages trillions of dollars worth of investor assets, where Prescott Bush became a partner in 1931. Soon after he was a founding and managing director at UBC, the Union Banking Corporation, an entity that managed the global assets of Fritz Thyssen a German Nazi multi-millionaire who helped finance the Nazi Party, purchasing its national its national headquarters in Munich among much else.
Thyssen profited handsomely from German rearmament leading up to World War II. In keeping with common practice in Nazi Germany Thyssen's factories, mines and other assets utilized Jews, Communists, Gypsies, socialists, Germans dissidents and later on Poles and Russians as slave labor. So just as John McCain's great and great great grandaddies were 19th century slaveholders, Prescott Sheldon Bush was a 20th century slave master.
The US government eventually seized UBC’s assets in 1942 under the Trading With The Enemy Act, a federal law which provided for the imprisonment of company executives as well. But Prescott Bush and his colleagues were not prosecuted. Decades later survivors of the European holocaust named the Bush family among defendants in reparations lawsuits but these never went anywhere. Prescott Bush and UBC continued to work for Thyssen after the war.
Prescott Sheldon Bush and the gang at Brown Brothers Harriman were part of the elite circle of advisors vacationing, golfing, dining, socializing and offering learned counsel to every US president from Franklin Roosevelt to Barack Obama.
Among much else, investigative reporter Russ Baker, in his 2009 book Family of Secrets: the Bush Dynasty, the Invisible Government and the Hidden History of the Last 50 Years theorizes that Prescott Bush’s son George Herbert Walker Bush was some kind of unacknowledged CIA official for almost 20 years before he was appointed CIA director by President Gerald Ford. Baker’s book, only a part of which touches on the career of George HW Bush, cites a declassified FBI memo referring to an interagency briefing at which the Defense Intelligence Agency and FBI were represented, and the CIA was represented by a guy named George Bush, dealing with matters touching on the assassination of John Kennedy. Another document Baker cites has George Bush calling the FBI, identifying himself as an oilman and private citizen, not a candidate for US Senate even though he was in the middle of a campaign, and offering a misleading tip about an alleged person of interest in the killing. Just a coincidence, Russ Baker says.
It’s probably a coincidence too that oilman and later politician George Bush spent a lot of time in places where his companies were not drilling or prospecting for oil, but the US was installing bloody rightist regimes, murdering civilians in the Phoenix program by the tens of thousands, undoubtedly another series of coincidences.
The arc of George HW Bush’s career, Baker points out, is also rather atypical. He launched a political career with an unsuccessful 1964 run for US Senate from Texas. He settled for two terms in Congress before losing a second bid for US Senate in 1970. But instead of going wherever political losers go the illustrious blue blooded son of Prescott Bush always fell upward.
The blue booded Bush was never the best spokesperson for anything, nor the hardest worker, nor the guy with the best new ideas. He was available and well connected. The year after his senate loss George HW Bush was appointed UN Ambassador by Richard Nixon in 1971, and moved over to chair the Republican National Committee in 1973. Gerald Ford considered appointing him vice president, but instead made him defacto ambassador to China in 1974, when there were still no formal diplomatic relations between the two nations. In 1976 Gerald Ford appointed him CIA director, and by 1978 George HW Bush was a presidential candidate for the 1980 election. He beat Reagan in the Iowa caucuses, but Reagan ran far to his right, kicking off his own campaign in Philadelphia Mississippi, the national hedaquarters of a KKK group where three civil rights workers were murdered. Reagan trounced Bush in the New Hampshire primary and went on to win the nomination.
Alabama's George Wallace had a similar experience in an early campaign for public office, and swore afterward that no opponent would ever out-nigger him. George HW Bush seems to have drawn a similar conclusion. In his 1988 election campaign, the only one he ever won, he deployed infamous commercials tying his opponent Michael Dukakis to Willie Horton, a black felon convicted of murder who killed again while on a weekend pass from prison.
At the 1988 Republican convention Reagan decided on Bush as his vice presidential nominee. It was a kind of concession to the so-called liberal Eastern wing of the Republican party, of which Bush was seen as a representative.
One of the projects of the Reagan administration was to keep the Iran-Iraq war going, and the US made it a point to provide assistance to both sides, resulting in millions of dead and enormous destruction in both countries. Bush had a hand, both hands and feet, really in that. The Reagan administration provided financial, diplomatic and military support to right wing contras in Angola and Mozambique, and the same to the apartheid regime in South Africa, where Cuban armed forces were fighting alongside Namibians, Angolans and South African liberation forces. Bush was in that up to his eyeballs too. Although Congress had expressly forbidden the executive branch to wage war without its consent why they should need to do such a thing when the Constitution grants the Congress the sole power to wage war is another matter entirely – but they repeatedly banned the use of any US funds for proxy wars in Central America. The Reagan administration responded by financing an off the books war with drug money it earned by transporting Colombian cocaine through Central America into the United States, a key factor in the crack epidemic of the 1980s. Gary Webb, the journalist who helped expose this ultimately paid with his career and his life.
Bush’s role in these affairs is not well documented, but it seems pretty much impossible that he was a mere bystander. Without an investigation however, we’ll never know.
By the end of the Reagan era, the president’s minions were scurrying for cover, being questioned and indicted. Reagan himself was holed up in the White House whining that to the best of his knowledge he didn’t know what was true, what he’d told his underlings to do and what he hadn’t. Bush’s ascension to the White House enabled him, with the usual compliance of Democrats, to pardon almost everybody, though some of them were so radioactive he had to wait until the final weeks of his term to do it..
George HW Bush was a one term president who committed committed the usual quota of domestic and foreign atrocities. He put the bloodthirsty Dick Cheney, who’d been Gerald Ford’s chief of staff in charge at the Pentagon, and named Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. He invaded Panama, where US forces commanded by Colin Powell obliterated an entire black neighborhood killing tens of thousands of civilians to prevent inconvenient protests against the occupation. Jimmy Carter had negotiated US bases in Saudi Arabia, and Bush filled them with hundreds of thousands of troops, artillery, armor and aircraft for a planned invasion of Iraq.
Millions of Iraqis have died since the Bush invasion, millions more have become refugees. Hardly a week has passed from then till now the the US hasn’t bombed some place in that unhappy country. One of Bush’s last acts as a lame duck president in December 1992 was to land a contingent of US Marines in Somalia to keep that country from forming a unified government that might not be to Uncle Sam’s liking. A quarter century later US forces are still in Somalia, backing this or that warlord faction, or the Somali central government whose reach most days doesn’t extend past the capital’s suburbs, sometimes with Rwandan or Ugandan proxies, sometimes with US paid mercenaries, complimented with US special ops forces and drones.
Domestically, George HW Bush brought NAFTA to Congress two or three times but could not get the Congress to pass it. That would fall to his Democrat successor Bill Clinton, who whipped enough Democratic votes to make the bipartisan guys at Brown Brothers Harriman happy.
We’ll probably never know whether Bush was some kind of actual CIA officer. In Russia at least, Vladimir Putin’s career as an intelligence officer is common knowledge. They do things differently over there, not necessarily better or worse, just different.
You can find a one hour 2010 interview with Russ Baker talking about his book online, with part one here and part two here. His book is well worth reading, and like ours, his web site at http://whowhatwhy.org is sometimes blocked by warnings that it contains spam or malicious software, though it doesn’t. The first several times I tried to access it I was redirected to a site about bicycling in Tuscon. I had to find a reference to it in another article and click that for the internet to allow its delivery. So I would advise, like Black Agenda Report, that you visit http://whowhatwhy.org and subscribe to its free email alerts to ensure that you’re getting what they publish.
As Barack Obama would later say when he greeted Trump at the White House, it’s each president’s job to take the baton as far as he can before handing it to his successor who is obligated to do the same. Presidents of both capitalist parties are on a sort of wrestling tag team, and we are their opponent. The Republican or the Democrat, whichever, puts us in a choke hold, stomps our liver and extends his arm to tag in the successor, who comes flying in to land squarely on our chest.
That’s the bipartisan service for which George HW Bush is being profusely and endlessly thanked all week. Somebody created a Twitter account with the name @GeorgeIsInHell, attached his picture to a simple graphic with the words next to it, “Damn, it’s hot down here.” That’s accurately describes the thanks we at Black Agenda Report believe George Herbert Walker Bush is owed for his service to this country, to humanity and to the planet.
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I’m Bruce Dixon from Black Agenda Report.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the GA Green Party. He can be contacted via email at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.