GEORGE BUSH: THE UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY
Even the escalation of the Iraqi troop
buildup had not disturbed the official US posture of blase indifference in
the face of the crisis. It was a deliberate and studied deception
operation, what the Russians call maskirovka.
Bush would have known all about the additional Iraqi troops at least 36 hours earlier, through satellite photos and embassy reports. But still Bush remained silent as a tomb. Bush had plenty of opportunity that day to say something about the Gulf; he met with the GOP Congressional leadership for more than an hour on the morning of July 31 and, according to participants, told them he was "annoyed" at the pace of the budget talks, which remained stalemated. At this time the White House was receiving intelligence reports that made an Iraqi invasion seem more likely, and some officials were quoted in the New York Times of the next day as having "expressed growing concern that hostilities could break out...." But Bush said nothing, did nothing.
Then, in the afternoon, Bush reluctantly received a Latvian delegation led by Ivars Godmanis. The Latvian request for an audience had at first been rudely rejected by the White House, but then acceded to under pressure from some influential senators. Godmanis wanted recognition and aid, but Bush made no commitments, and limited himself to asking several "very exact questions."
On Wednesday, August 1, Bush was undoubtedly not amused by a New York Times account showing that one of his former top White House aides, Robert L. Thompson, had abused his access to government information in order to help his clients to make advantageous deals for themselves in buying S&Ls. In the evening, about 9 PM, reports began to reach Washington that Iraqi forces had crossed the border into Kuwait in large numbers. From the moment the crisis had emerged on July 16-17 until the moment of the invasion, Bush had preserved a posture of nonchalant silence. But now things began to happen very rapidly. Scowcroft and Bush drafted a statement which was released by 11:20 PM. This strongly condemned the Iraqi invasion and demanded "the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all Iraqi forces." The New York Times of August 2, in reporting the Iraqi invasion, recorded the surface posture of the Bush regime:
Despite its efforts to deter an attack on Kuwait, the Bush Administration never said precisely what the United States would do if Iraq launched a small scale or large scale attack on Kuwait. The vagueness of the American pronouncements, which eschewed any explicit promise to come to Kuwait's assistance, disturbed some Kuwaiti officials, who hoped for a firmer statement of American intentions that would be backed up by a greater demonstration of military force.
On Thursday, Bush was scheduled to fly to Aspen Colorado for a meeting with Margaret Thatcher, a personage of whom Bush was in awe. Thatcher, whose rise to power had included a little help from Bush in sweeping the Labor Party out of government in accordance with the designs of Lord Victor Rothschild, had now been in power for over 11 years, and had assured her place in the pantheon of Anglo-Saxon worthies. This dessicated mummy of British imperialism had been invited to Aspen, Colorado, to hold forth on the future of the west, and Bush was scheduled to confer with her there. At 5 AM, Bush was awakened by Scowcroft, who had brought him the executive orders freezing all Iraqi and Kuwaiti assets in the US. At 8 AM the National Security Council gathered in the Cabinet Room. At the opening of this session there was a photo opportunity to let Bush put out the preliminary line on Iraq and Kuwait. Bush told the reporters:
We're not discussing intervention.
Q: You're not contemplating any intervention or sending troops?
Bush: I'm not contemplating such action, and I, again, would not discuss it if I were.
According to published accounts, during the meeting that followed the one prospect that got a rise out of Bush was the alleged Iraqi threat to Saudi Arabia. This, as we will see, was one of the main arguments used by Thatcher later in the day to goad Bush to irreversible commitment to massive troop deployment and to war. A profile of Bush's reactions on this score could easily have been communicated to Thatcher by Scowcroft or by other participants in the 8 AM meeting. Scowcroft was otherwise the leading hawk, raving that "We don't have the option to appear not be acting." [fn 34] This meeting nevertheless ended without any firm decisions for further measures beyond the freezing of assets already decided, and can thus be classified as inconclusive. During Bush's flight to Aspen, Colorado, Bush got on the telephone with several Middle East leaders, who he said had urged him to forestall US intervention and allow ample time for an "Arab solution."
Bush's meetings with Thatcher in Aspen on Thursday, August 2, and on Monday, August 6 at the White House are of the most decisive importance in understanding the way in which the Anglo-Americans connived to unleash the Gulf war. Before meeting with Thatcher, Bush was clearly in an agitated and disturbed mental state, but had no bedrock commitment to act in the Gulf crisis. After the sessions with Thatcher, Bush was rapidly transformed into a raving, monomaniacal warmonger and hawk. The transition was accompanied by a marked accentuation of Bush's overall psychological impairment, with a much increased tendency towards rage episodes.
The impact of Bush's Aspen meeting with Thatcher was thus to brainwash Bush towards a greater psychological disintegration, and towards a greater pliability and suggestibility in regard's to London's imperial plans. One can speculate that the "Iron Lady" was armed with a Tavistock Institute psychological profile of Bush, possibly centering on young George's feelings of inadequacy when he was denied the love of his cold, demanding Anglo-Saxon sportswoman mother. Perhaps Thatcher's underlying psychological gameplan in this (and previous) encounters with Bush was to place herself along the line of emotional cathexis associated in Bush's psyche with the internalized image of his mother Dorothy, especially in her demanding and domineering capacity as the grey eminence of the Ranking Committee. George had to do something to save the embattled English-speaking peoples, Thatcher might have hinted. Otherwise, he would be letting down the side in precisely the way which he had always feared would lose him his mother's love. But to do something for the Anglo-Saxons in their hour of need, George would have to be selfless and staunch and not think of himself, just as mother Dorothy had always demanded: he would have to risk his entire political career by deploying US forces in overwhelming strength to the Gulf. This might have been the underlying emotional content of Thatcher's argument.
On a more explicit level, Thatcher also possessed an array of potent arguments. Back in 1982, she might have recalled, she had fallen in the polls and was being written off for a second term as a result of her dismal economic performance. But then the Argentinians seized the Malvinas, and she, Thatcher, acting in defiance of her entire cabinet and of much of British public opinion, had sent the fleet into the desperate gamble of the Malvinas war. The British had reconquered the islands, and the resultant wave of jingoism and racist chauvinism had permitted Thatcher to consolidate her regime until the present day. Thatcher knew about the "no new taxes" controversy and the Neil Bush affair, but all of that would be quickly suppressed and forgotten once the regiments began to march off to the Saudi front. For Bush, this would have been a compelling package.
As far as Saddam Hussein was concerned, Thatcher's argument is known to have been built around the ominous warning, "He won't stop!" Her message was that MI-6 and the rest of the fabled British intelligence apparatus had concluded that Saddam Hussein's goal would be an immediate military invasion and occupation of the immense Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with its sensitive Moslem holy places, its trackless deserts and its warlike Bedouins. Since Thatcher was familiar with Bush's racist contempt for Arabs and other dark-skinned peoples, which she emphatically shared, she would also have laid great stress on the figure of Saddam Hussein and the threat he posed to Anglo-Saxon interests. The Tavistock profile would have included how threatened Bush felt in his psycho-sexual impotence by tough customers like Saddam, whom nobody had ever referred to as little Lord Fauntleroy.
At this moment in the Gulf crisis, the only competent political-military estimate of Iraqi intentions was that Saddam Hussein had no intent of going beyond Kuwait, a territory to which Baghdad had a long-standing claim, arguing that the British Empire had illegally established its secret protectorate over the southern part of the Ottoman Empire's province of Basra in 1899. This estimate that Iraq had no desire to become embroiled with Saudi Arabia was repeated during the first week of the crisis by such qualified experts as former US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Aikens, and by the prominent French military leader Gen. Lacaze. Even General Schwarzkopf though it highly unlikely that Saddam would move against Saudi Arabia.
In her public remarks in Aspen, Thatcher began the new phase in the racist demonization of Saddam Hussein by calling his actions "intolerable" in a way that Syrian and Israeli occupations of other countries' lands seemingly were not. She asserted that "a collective and effective will of the nations belonging to the UN" would be necessary to deal with the crisis. Thatcher's traveling entourage from the Foreign Office had come equipped with a strategy to press for mandatory economic sanctions and possible mandatory military action against Iraq under the provisions of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Soon Bush's entourage had also picked up this new fad.
Bush had now changed his tune markedly. He had suddenly and publicly re-acquired his military options. When asked about his response, he stated:
We're not ruling any options in but we're not ruling any options out.
Bush also revealed that he had told the Arab leaders with whom he had been in contact during the morning that the Gulf crisis "had gone beyond simply a regional dispute because of the naked aggression that violates the United Nations charter." These formulations were I.D. format Thatcher-speak. Bush condemned Saddam for "his intolerable behavior," again parroting Thatcher's line. Bush was now "very much concerned" about the safety of other small Gulf states. Bush also referred to the hostage question, saying that threats to American citizens would "affect the United States in a very dramatic way because I view a fundamental responsibility of my presidency [as being] to protect American citizens." Bush added that he had talked with Thatcher about British proposals to press for "collective efforts" by members of the United Nations against Iraq. The Iraqi invasion was a "totally unjustified act," Bush went on. It was now imperative that the "international community act together to ensure that Iraqi forces leave Kuwait immediately. Bush revealed that he and his advisors were now examining the "next steps" to end the crisis. Bush said he was "somewhat heartened" by his telephone conversations with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, King Hussein of Jordan, and Gen. Ali Abdallah Salib of Yemen.
There is every reason to believe that Bush's decision to launch US military intervention and war was taken in Aspen, under the hypnotic influence of Thatcher. Any residual hesitancy displayed in secret councils was merely dissembling to prevent his staffs from opposing that decision. Making a strategic decision of such collossal implications on the basis of a psycho-manipulative pep talk from Thatcher suggests that Bush's hyperthyroid condition was already operating; the hyperthyroid patient notoriously tends to resolve complicated and far-reaching alternatives with quick, snap decisions. Several published accounts have sought to argue that the decision for large-scale intervention did not come until Saturday at Camp David, but these accounts belong to the "red Studebaker" school of coverup. The truth is that Bush went to war as the racist tail on the British imperial kite, cheered on by the Kissinger cabal that permeated and dominated his administration. As the London Daily Telegraph gloated, Mrs. Thatcher had "stiffened [Bush's] resolve."
Bush had been scheduled to stay overnight in Aspen, but he now departed immediately for Washington. Later, the White House said that Bush had been on the phone with Saudi King Fahd, who had agreed that the Iraqi invasion was "absolutely unacceptable." [fn 35] On the return trip and through the evening, the Kissingerian operative Scowcroft continued to to press for military intervention, playing down the difficulties which other advisers had been citing. Given Kissinger's long-standing relationship with London and the Foreign Office, it was no surprise that Scowcroft was fully on the London line.
Before the day was out, "the orders started flooding out of the Oval Office. The president had all of these diplomatic pieces in his head. The UN piece. The NATO piece. The Middle east piece. He was meticulous, methodical, and personal," according to one official. [fn 36]
The next morning was Friday, August 3, and Bush called another NSC meeting at the White House. The establishment media like the New York Times were full of accounts of how Iraq was allegedly massing troops along the southern border of Kuwait, about to pounce on Saudi Arabia. Scowcroft, with Bush's approval, bludgeoned the doubters into a discussion of war options. Bush ordered the CIA to prepare a plan to overthrow or assassinate Saddam Hussein, and told Cheney, Powell, and Gen. Schwarzkopf to prepare military options for the next day. Bush was opening the door to war slowly, so as to keep all of his civilian and military advisers on board. Later on Friday, Prince Bandar, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to Washington, met with Bush. According to one version, Bush pledged his word of honor to Bandar that he would "see this through with you." Bandar was widely reputed to be working for the CIA and other western intelligence agencies. There were also reports that he had Ethiopian servants in the Saudi embassy in Washington, near the Kennedy Center, who were chattel slaves according to United Nations definitions.
When the time came in the afternoon to walk to his helicopter on the White House south lawn for the short flight to the Camp David retreat in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland, Bush stopped at the microphones that were set up there, a procedure that became a habit during the Gulf crisis. There was something about these moments of entering and leaving the White House that heightened Bush's psychological instability; the leaving and arriving rituals would often be the moments of some of his worst public tantrums. At this point Bush was psyching himself up towards the fit that he would act out on his Sunday afternoon return. But there was already no doubt that Bush's bellicosity was rising by the hour. With Kuwait under occupation, he said, "the status quo is unacceptable and further expansion" by Iraq "would be even more unacceptable." This formulation already pointed to an advance into Kuwait. He also stressed Saud Arabia: "If they ask for specific help-- it depends obviously on what it is-- I would be inclined to help in any way we possibly can." [fn 37]
On Saturday morning, August 4, Bush met with his entourage in Camp David, present Quayle, Cheney, Sununu, William Webster, Wolfowitz, Baker, Scowcroft, Powell, Schwarzkopf, Fitzwater, and Richard Haas of the NSC staff. Military advisers, especially Colin Powell, appear to have directed Bush's attention to the many problems associated with military intervention. According to one version, Gen. Schwarzkopf estimated that it would take 17 weeks to move a defensive, deterrent force of 250,000 troops into the region, and between 8 and 12 months to assemble a ground force capable of driving the Iraqi army out of Kuwait. For the duration of the crisis, the Army would remain the most reluctant, while the Air Force, including Scowcroft, would be the most eager to open hostilities. Bush sensed that he had to stress the defense of Saudi Arabia to keep all of his bureaucratic players on board, and to garner enough public support to carry out the first phase of the buildup. Then, perhaps three months down the line, preferably after the November elections, he could unveil the full offensive buildup that would carry him into war with Iraq. "That's why our defense of Saudi Arabia has to be our focus," Bush is reported to have said at this meeting. This remark was calculated to cater to the views of Gen. Powell, who was thinking primarily in these defensive terms. [fn 38] When the larger NSC meeting dispersed, Bush met with a more restricted group including Quayle, Sununu, Baker, Scowcroft, Cheney, Powell, and Webster. This session was dominated by the fear that the Saudi Arabian monarchy, which would have to be coerced into agreement with plans for a US military buildup on its territory, would prefer a compromise solution negotiated among the Arabs to the Anglo-Saxon war hysteria. The Saudis were not all as staunch as the American agent Prince Bandar; the presence of large contingents of infidel ground troops, including Jews and women, would create such friction with Saudi society as to pose an insoluble political problem. There was great racist vituperation of the Arabs in general: they could not be trusted, they were easy to blackmail. This meeting produced a decision that Bush would call Saudi King Fahd and demand that he accept a large US ground force contingent in addition to aircraft.
As Bush feared, Fahd was inclined to reject the US ground forces. There was a report that Iraq had announced that its forces would leave Kuwait on Sunday, and Fahd wanted to see if that happened. Fahd had not yet been won over to the doctrine of war at any cost. Through an intrigue of Prince Bandar, who knew that this difficulty might arise, King Fahd was prevailed upon to receive a US "briefing team" to illustrate the threat to him and demand that he approve the US buildup on his territory. Fahd thought that all he was getting were a few briefing officers. But Bush saw this as a wedge for greater things. "I want to do this. I want to do it big time," Bush told Scowcroft. [fn 39] By now Bush had launched into his "speed-dialing" mode, calling heads of state and government one after the other, organizing for an economic embargo and a military confrontation with Iraq. One important call was to Sheikh Jabir al Ahmed al Sabah, the degenerate Emir of Kuwait, representative of a family who had been British assets since 1899 and Bush's business partners since the days of Zapata Offshore in the late 1950's. Other calls went to Turgut Oezal of Turkey, whom Bush pressed to cut off Iraq's use of oil pipelines across his territory. Another call went to Canadian Prime Minister Mulroney, who was also in deep domestic political trouble, and who was inclined to join the Anglo-Saxon mobilization. During the course of Saturday, White House officials began to spread a deception story that Bush had been "surprised by the invasion this week and largely unprepared to respond quickly," as the next day's New York Times alleged.
At 8 AM on Sunday morning, there was another meeting of the NSC at Camp David with Bush, Baker, Cheney, Scowcroft, Powell and various aides. This time the talk was almost exclusively devoted to military options. Bush designated Cheney for the Saudi mission, and Cheney left Washington for Saudi Arabia in the middle of Sunday afternoon.
Bush now boarded a helicopter for the flight from Camp David back to the White House south lawn. Up to this point, Bush was firmly committed to war in his own mind, and had been acting on that decision in his secret councils of regime, but he had carefully avoided making that decision clear in public. We are now approaching the moment when he would do so. Let us contemplate George Bush's state of mind as he rode in his helicopter from Camp David towards Washington on that early August Sunday afternoon. According to one published account, Bush was "in a mood that White House officials describe variously as mad, testy, peevish, and, to use a favorite bit of Bush-speak, spleen-venting." This observer, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, compared Reagan's relaxed or somniferous crisis style with Bush's hyperkinesis: Reagan, she recalled, "slept peacefully" during clashes of US and Libyan planes over the Mediterranean, but "Mr. Bush, by contrast, becomes even more of a dervish" in such moments. According to Ms. Dowd, "by the time the president came home from Camp David on Sunday afternoon, he was feeling frustrated and testy. He was worried that the situation in Kuwait was deteriorating, and intelligence reports showed him that the Iraqis were beginning to mass at the Kuwait-Saudi border. He was also disappointed in the international response." [fn 40] As Bush was approaching Washington, Bush called his press secretary, Marlin Fitzwater, to ask him his opinion about whether to pause at the microphones on the south lawn before going into the White House. Fitzwater appears to have supported the idea.
According to Ms. Dowd, an eyewitness, Bush was "visibly furious" when he climbed out of his helicopter. As Bush walked towards the microphones, he was accosted by Richard Haas of the NSC staff who thrust a cable into Bush's hands. Bush read the cable, scowling. However ugly his mood had been before he had seen the memo, reading it sent him into an apoplectic rage. According to White House officials, this cable contained information about the dimensions of the Iraqi troop buildup and indicated that the Iraqi troops were moving south towards the Saudi border, and not leaving Kuwait. [fn 41] According to Ms. Dowd, this was the secret memo that "seemed to spark the President's irritation at his news conference. In any case, Bush now launched into a violent diatribe that left no doubt that as far as he was considered, the desired outcome was now war.
In Bush's opening statement, he summarized the result of his frenetic "speed dialing" exercise: Oezal, Kaifu, Mulroney, Mitterrand, Kohl, Thatcher, the Emir of Kuwait had all been reached. The alleged result:
What's emerging is nobody is -- seems to be showing up as willing to accept anything less than total withdrawal from Iraq, from Kuwait of the Iraqi forces, and no puppet regime. We've been down that road, and there will be no puppet regime that will be accepted by any countries that I'm familiar with. And there seems to be a united front out there that says Iraq, having committed brutal, naked aggression, ought to get out and that the-- this concept of their installing some puppet leaving behind will not be acceptable. So, we're pushing forward on diplomacy. We've gotten-- tomorrow I will meet here in Washington with the Secretary General of the United Nations-- I mean, the Secretary General of NATO-- and Margaret Thatcher will be coming in here tomorrow, and I will be continuing this diplomatic effort.
What about the situation on the ground? Had Iraq pulled out?
Iraq lied once again. They said they were going to start moving out today and we have no evidence that they're moving out.
A question about the embassies in Kuwait City launched Bush into his enraged crescendo, punctuated by menacing histrionics:
I'm not trying to characterize threats. The threat is the vicious aggression against Kuwait. And that speaks for itself. And anything collaterally is just simply more indication that these are outlaws -- international outlaws and renegades. And I want to see the United Nations move soon with Chapter 7 sanctions. And I want to see the rest of the world join us, as they are in overwhelming numbers, to isolate Saddam Hussein.
When asked how a puppet regime could be prevented, Bush snapped, "Just wait. Watch and learn." Since he had made so many calls, had he tried to get through to Saddam Hussein? "No. No, I have not." The policy of refusing to negotiate with Iraq would be maintained all the way to the end of the war. What about King Hussein of Jordan, who was known to be attempting a mediation? "I talked to him once and that's all," hissed Bush. "But he's embraced Saddam Hussein. He went to Baghdad and embraced--" said one questioner. "What's your question? I can read," raged Bush. Was Bush disappointed with King Hussein?
I want to see the Arab states join the rest of the world in condemning this outrage and doing what they can to get Saddam Hussein out. Now. He was talking-- King Hussein-- about an Arab solution, but I am disappointed to find any comment by anyone that apologizes or appears to condone what's taken place.
Bush elaborated a few seconds later that there was no possibility of an Arab solution:
Well. I was told by one leader that I respect enormously-- I believe this was back on Friday-- that they needed 48 hours to find what was called an Arab solution. That obviously has failed. And of course I'm disappointed that the matter hasn't been resolved before now. This is a very serious matter. I'll take one more and then I've got to go to work over here.
The last question was about possible steps to protect American citizens, a question that the administration wanted to play down at the beginning, and play up later on. Bush concluded:
I am not going to discuss what we're doing in terms of moving of forces, anything of that nature. But I view it very seriously, not just that, but any threat to any other countries as well, as I view very seriously our determination to reverse this aggression. And please believe me, there are an awful lot of countries that are in total accord with what I've just said. And I salute them. They are staunch friends and allies. And we will be working with them all for collective action. This will not stand. This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait. I've got to go. I have to go to work. I've got to go to work. [fn 42]
This was the beginning of the war psychosis, and there is no doubt that the leading war psychotic was Bush himself.
A number of aspects of this performance merit underlining. The confusion of Manfred Woerner with Perez de Cuellar will be the first of a number of such gaffes committed by Bush over the next few days. "Naked aggression" is once again Thatcher's term. Thatcher is mentioned twice in a way that suggests that Bush had been on the phone with her again after leaving Aspen. Indeed, the code word "staunch" towards the end, which for Bush can only be associated with the British, implies that Bush's entire episode had been coordinated with Thatcher in advance. In regard to Saddam Hussein, in addition to the direct contact that was never attempted we have here the beginning of a cascade of verbal abuse that would continue through the course of the buildup and the war. According to many observers, the purpose of these gratuitous insults was to make a compromise settlement through negotiations impossible by casting aspersions on Saddam Hussein's honor. This might have reflected advice from Arabists of the type known to inhabit the British Foreign Office. Bush's responses concerning King Hussein of Jordan were very ominous for the Hashemite monarch, and left no doubt that Bush regarded any Arab-sponsored peaceful solution as an unfriendly act. Indeed, Bush here declared the Arab solution dead. No greater sabotage of peace efforts in the region could be imagined. Bush's stress on Kuwait indicates that his subsequent presentation of his troop deployments as serving the defense of Saudi Arabia was disinformation, and that the US occupation of Kuwait was his goal all along. Finally, the combination of the manic tone, the confusion of the two Secretaries General, and the obsessive "I've got to go to work" repeated three times at the end combine to suggest a state of psychological upheaval, with the thyroid undoubtedly making its contribution to Bush's flight forward. But, for the positive side of Bush's ledger, notice that there were no questions about new taxes or Neil Bush.
"Was Bush's Sunday diatribe staged?", asked the Washington Post some days later. White House officials denied it. "He did it because he felt that way," said one. "There was no intention beforehand to assume a posture just for the impact." [fn 43] Dr. Josef Goebbels was famous for his ability to deliver a speech as if it were a spontaneous emotional outburst, and the afterward cynically review it point by point and stratagem by stratagem. There is much evidence that Bush did not possess this degree of lucidity and internal critical distance.
Bush went into the White House for yet another meeting of the NSC. At this meeting, it was already a foregone conclusion that there would be a large US military deployment, although that had never been formally deliberated by the NSC. It had been a solo decision by Bush. There was now only the formality of Saudi assent.
Monday at the White House was dominated by the presence of Margaret Thatcher at her staunchest. Thatcher's theme was now that the enforcement of the economic sanctions voted by the UN would require a naval blockade in which the Anglo-Saxon combined fleets would play the leading role. Thatcher's first priority was that the sanctions had to be made to work. But if Washington and London were to conclude that a naval blockade were necessary for that end, she went on, "you would have to consider such a move." Thatcher carted out her best Churchillian rhetoric to advertise that Britain already had one warship stationed in the Persian Gulf, and that two more frigates, one from Mombassa and one from Malaysia, were on their way. "Those sanctions must be enforceable," raved Thatcher, who had never accepted economic sanctions against South Africa. "I cannot remember a time when we had the world so strongly together against an action as now."
Bush immediately took Thatcher's cue: "We need to discuss full and total implementation of these sanctions, ruling out nothing at all. These sanctions must be enforced. I think the will of the nations around the world-- not just the NATO countries-- not just the EC, not just one area of the world-- the will of the nations around the world will be to enforce these sanctions. We'll leave the details of how we implement it to the future, but we'll begin working on that immediately. That's how we go about encouraging others to do that and what we ourselves should be doing." [fn 44] In the midst of these proceedings, NATO Secretary General Manfred Woerner showed up, and tried his hand at being staunch, but he could not come close to Thatcher. All of a sudden, the British were at the center of things again, the most important country, all on the basis of the token forces they were deploying. With Thatcher there, Bush had the fig-leaf of an instant international coalition to use as a bludgeon against domestic critics.
The breast-beating about the enforcement of the sanctions signaled that the Anglo-Americans were going on a diplomatic offensive against countries like Germany, Japan, and many in the third world who might have assumed a neutral or pacifist position in the crisis. Baker had been traveling in Siberia with Shevardnadze when Iraq had entered Kuwait, and Soviet condemnation of Iraq had been immediate. Many countries, especially in the third world, now found that with the Soviets closing ranks with the Anglo-Americans, the margin of maneuver they had enjoyed during the cold war was now totally gone. Countries like Jordan, the Sudan, Yemen, the PLO, and others who expressed understanding for Iraqi motives went to the top of the Anglo-American hit list. Bush assumed the role of top cop himself, with gusto: according to Fitzwater, the "speed dialing mode" had produced 20 calls to 12 different world leaders over slightly more than three days.
When Cheney arrived in Saudi Arabia, the essence of his mission was to convey to King Fahd and his retinue that the first elements of the 82nd Airborne Division would be landing within an hour or two, and that the Saudi monarchy would be well advised to welcome them. In effect, Cheney was there to tell the Saudis that they were an occupied country, and that the United States would assume physical possession of most of the Arabian peninsula, with all of its fabulous oil wealth. Did King Fahd think of protesting the arrogance of Cheney's ultimatum? If he did, he had only to think of the fate of his predecessor, King Feisal, who had been murdered by the CIA in 1975. By the time King Fahd acquiesced, the first US units were already on the ground. Cheney went through the charade of calling Bush to tell him that the dispatch of a US contingent for the defense of Saudi Arabia had been approved by His Majesty, and then formally to ask Bush's approval for the transfer of the troops. "You got it. Go," Bush is supposed to have replied. Bahrein, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, all the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council would soon be subject to the same process of military occupation.
The US expeditionary force in Saudi Arabia became widely known in Washington on Tuesday, August 7, as White House officials hastened to share the news with journalists. Bush personally wanted to stay out of the spotlight. At a Cabinet meeting, Bush told his advisers that his regime had warned the Saudi government that the threat posed by the Iraqi military to Saudi Arabia was also a threat to the national security of the United States. According to Fitzwater, Saddam Hussein met with the US charge d'affaires in Baghdad, Joseph Wilson, to tell him that "he had no intention of leaving Kuwait and every intention of staying and claiming it as his own."
On Wednesday morning, Bush delivered a televised address to the American people from the Oval Office. This was still a format that he disliked very much, since it made him seem maladroit. Bush grinned incongruously as he read his prepared text. He told the public that his troop deployments were "to take up defensive positions in Saudi Arabia." These US forces would "work together with those of Saudi Arabia and other nations to preserve the integrity of Saudi Arabia and to deter further Iraqi aggression." He inaugurated the Anglo-American Big Lie that the Iraqi actions had been "without provocation," which readers of daily newspapers knew not to be true. He also minted the story that Iraq possessed ":the fourth largest military in the world," a wild exaggeration that was repeated many times. The "new Hitler" theme was already prominent: "Appeasement does not work," Bush asserted. "As was the case in the 1930's, we see in Saddam Hussein an aggressive dictator threatening his neighbors....His promises mean nothing." Bush summed up the goals of his policy as follows:
First, we seek the immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of all Iraqi forces from Kuwait. Second, Kuwait's legitimate government must be restored to replace the puppet regime. And third, my administration, as has been the case with every president from President Roosevelt to President Reagan, is committed to the security and stability of the Persian Gulf. And fourth, I am determined to protect the lives of American citizens abroad. [fn 45]
None of this appeared to include offensive military action. Bush attempted to re-enforce that false impression in his news conference later the same afternoon. It was during this appearance that the extent of Bush's mental disintegration and psychic dissociation became most evident. But first, Bush wanted to stress his "defensive" cover story:
Well, as you know, from what I said, they're there in a defensive mode right now, and therefore that is not the mission, to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait. We have economic sanctions that I hope will be effective to that end.
The purpose, he stressed, was the "defense of the Saudis." "We're not in a war," Bush added. After several exchanges, he was asked what had tipped his hand in deciding to send troops and aircraft into Saudi Arabia? If this had been a polygraph test, the needles would have jumped, since this went to Bush's collusion with Thatcher long before any announcement had been made. Bush replied:
There was no one single thing that I can think of. But when King Fahd requested such support we were prompt to respond. But I can't think of an individual specific thing. If there was one it would perhaps be the Saudis moving south when they said they were withdrawing....
The press corps stirred uneasily and one or two voices could be heard prompting Bush "The Iraqis...the Iraqis" There was acute embarrassment on the faces of Sununu and Fitzwater; this was the classic gaffe of cold war presidents who confused North Korea and South Korea, or East Germany and West Germany. Bush's forte was supposedly international affairs; he had traveled to both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as a government official and before that as a businessman. So this gaffe pointed to a disorder of the synapses. Bush realized what he had done and tried to recover:
I mean the Iraqis, thank you very much. It's been a long night. The Iraqis moving down to the Kuwait-Saudi border, when indeed they have given their word that they were withdrawing. That heightened our concern.
Why had it been a long night for Bush? He had made all of his important decisions on the troop movements during the day on Tuesday. What had robbed him of his sleep between Tuesday and Wednesday? Those who have read this far will know that it was not conscience. A little later there was another sensitive question, touching on the mission of the troops and the possible future occupation of Saudi Arabia, postwar bases, and the like: "Could you share with us the precise military objective of this mission? Will the American troops remain there only until Saddam Hussein removes his troops from the Saudi border?" Bush, obviously in deep water, answered:
I can't answer that because we have to-- we have a major objective with those troops, which is the defense of the Soviet Union, so I think it beyond a defense of Saudi Arabia. So I think it's beyond the-- I think it's beyond just the question of tanks along the border...
The defense of the Soviet Union! But Bush pressed on: "I'm not preparing for a long ground war in the Persian Gulf." "My military objective is to see Saudi Arabia defended." Did he feel that he had been let down by his intelligence?
No, I don't feel let down by the intelligence at all. When you plan a blitzkrieg-like attack that's launched at two o'clock in the morning, that's pretty hard to stop, particularly when you have just been given the word of the people involved that there won't be any such attack. And I think the intelligence community deserves certain credit for picking up what was a substantial boycott-- a substantial buildup-- and then reporting it to us. So when this information was relayed, properly, to interested parties, that the move was so swift that it was pretty hard for them to stop it. I really can't blame our intelligence in any way, fault them, on this particular go-round.
Once again, the gaffe on boycott/buildup occurs at a moment of maximum prevarication. Bush's gibberish is dictated by his desire say on the one hand that he knew about the Iraqi troop buildup almost two weeks before the invasion, but on the other that the invasion came as a bolt from the blue. There was no follow-up on this theme.
The final portion of the press conference was devoted to the very important theme of the UN sanctions railroaded through the Security Council by the Anglo-Americans with the help of their willing French, Soviet and Chinese partners. The sanctions were in themselves an act of genocide against Iraq and the other populations impacted in the region. The sanctions, maintained after the war had ceased with the pretext that Saddam Hussein was still in power, have proven more lasting than the war itself, and they may yet prove more lethal. The Congressional debate in January was fought almost exclusively between the stranglers of the Democratic Party, who wanted to "give the sanctions more time to work," and the bombers of the Bush Administration and the Republican Party who wanted to initiate an air war. Both positions constituted high crimes against humanity. Bush wanted to argue for the inviolability of these sanctions, but he did so in such a way as to underline the monstrous and hypocritical double standard that was being applied to Iraq:
...And that's what has been so very important about this concerted United Nations effort, unprecedented, you might say, or certainly not enacted since-- what was it, 23 years ago? 23 years ago. So I don't think we can see clearly down that road.
What Bush has in mind here, but does not mention by name, were the United Nations sanctions against the racist Ian Smith regime in Rhodesia. Perhaps Bush was reluctant to mention the Rhodesian sanctions because the United States officially violated those sanctions by an act of Congress, and UN Ambassador George Bush as we have seen, was one of the principal international apologists for the US policy of importing strategic raw materials from Rhodesia because of an allegedly pre-eminent US national interest. Bush's final response shows that he was fully aware that the economic sanctions designed by the State Department and the Foreign Office would mean genocide against Iraqi children, since they contained an unprecedented prohibition of food imports:
Well, I don't know what they owe us for food, but I know that this embargo, to be successful, has got to encompass everything. And if there are-- you know, if there's a humanitarian concern, pockets of starving children, or something of this nature, why, I would take a look. But other than that this embargo is going to be all-encompassing, and it will include food, and I don't know what Iraq owes us now for food. Generally speaking, in normal times, we have felt that food might be separated out from-- you know, grain, wheat, might be separated out from other economic sanctions. But this one is all-encompassing and the language is pretty clear in the United Nations resolutions. [fn 46]
As a final gesture, Bush acknowledged to the journalists that he had "slipped up a couple times here," and thanked them for having corrected him, so that his slips and gaffes would not stand as a part of the permanent record. Bush had now done his work; he had set into motion the military machine that would first strangle, and then bomb Iraq. Within two days, Bush was on his way to Walker's Point in Kennebunkport, where his handlers hoped that the dervish would pull himself together.
During August, Bush pursued a hyperactive round of sports activities in Kennebunkport, while cartoonists compared the Middle East to the sandtraps that Bush so often landed in during his frenetic daily round of golf. On August 16, King Hussein of Jordan, who was fighting to save his nation from being dismembered by the Israelis under the cover of the crisis, came to visit Bush, who welcomed him with thinly veiled hatred. At this time Bush was already talking about mobilizing the reserves. Saddam Hussein's situation during these weeks can be compared with Noriega's on the eve of the US invasion of Panama. The US was as yet very weak on the ground, and a preventive offensive thrust by the Iraqis into Saudi Arabia towards Dahran would have caused an indescribable chaos in the US logistics. But Saddam, like Noriega, still believed that he would not be invaded; the Iraqi government gave more credit to its secret assurances than to the military force that was slowly being assembled on its southern border. Saddam therefore took no pre-emptive military actions to interfere with the methodical marshalling of the force that was later to devastate his country. The key to the US buildup was the logistical infrastructure of NATO in Europe; without this the buildup would have lasted until the summer of 1991 and beyond.
It was during these August days that Scowcroft coined the slogan of Bush's Gulf war. On August 23, Scowcroft told reporters, "We believe we are creating the beginning of a new world order out of the collapse of US-Soviet antagonisms." [fn 47]
Bush was now conducting a systematic "mind war" campaign to coerce the American people into accepting the war he had already chosen. On August 20, Bush introduced a new rhetorical note, now calling the American citizens detained in Iraq "hostages." Under international law, the imminent threat of acts of war against a country entitles that country to intern enemy aliens as a matter of self-defense; this had been the rule in earlier wars. Henceforth, Bush would attempt to turn the hostage issue on and off according to his propaganda needs, until Iraq freed all the Americans in early December.
On August 27, Bush opined that "Saddam Hussein has been so resistant to complying with international law that I don't yet see fruitful negotiations." [fn 48] Statements like these were made to cloak the fact that Bush was adamantly refusing to negotiate with Iraq, and preventing other nations from doing so. Bush's diplomatic posture was in effect an ultimatum to Iraq to get out of Kuwait, with the Iraqi departure to come before any discussions. Bush called this a refusal to reward aggression; it was in fact a refusal to negotiate in good faith, and made clear that Bush wanted war. His problem was that the US military buildup was taking longer than expected, with ship convoys forced to turn back in the Atlantic because freighters broke down and were left dead in the water. Bush strove to fill the time with new demagogic propaganda gambits.
Bush returned to Washington at the end of August to address members of Congress. In the public part of this meeting, Bush reiterated that his goal was to "persuade Iraq to withdraw." There followed an executive session behind closed doors. The next day Bush recorded a broadcast to the US forces in the Gulf, which was beamed to Saudi Arabia by the Armed Forces Radio. "Soldiers of peace will always be more than a match for a tyrant bent on aggression," Bush told the troops. During early September, it became evident that that the US and Soviet approaches to the Gulf crisis were beginning to show some signs of divergence. Up to this point, Foreign Minister Shevardnadze had backed every step made by Bush and Baker, but the US Gulf intervention was not popular among Red Army commanders and among Soviet Moslems who were disturbed by the infidel occupation of the holy places. On September 9, Bush met with Gorbachov in Helsinki, Finland in order to discuss this and other matters of interest to a condominium in which the Anglo-Saxons were now more than ever the senior partners. Gorbachov spoke up for "a political solution" to the conflict, but his government willingly took part in every vote of the UN Security Council which opened the way to the Gulf war. A few days later, on September 15, Bush received precious support from his masonic brother Francois Mitterrand, who exploited a trifling incident involving French diplomatic premises in Kuwait -- the sort of thing that Bush had done repeatedly in Panama -- massively to escalate the French troop presence and rhetoric in the Gulf. "C'est une aggression, et nous allons y repondre," said the master of the Grand Orient; the spirit of Suez 1956, the spirit of the Algerian war and of Dienbienphu were alive and well in France.
To while away the weeks of the buildup, Bush busied himself with extortion. This was directed especially against Germany and Japan, two countries that were targets of the Gulf war, and whom Bush now called upon to pay for it. The constitutions of these countries prevented them from sending military contingents, and intervention would have been unpopular with domestic public opinion in any case. Japan was assessed $4 billion in tribute, and Germany a similar sum. By the end of the crisis, Bush and Baker had organized a $55 billion shakedown at the expense of a series of countries. These combined to produce the first balance of payments surplus for the United States in recent memory during the first quarter of 1991, obtaining a surcease for the dollar.
But even prediscounting this extorted tribute, the fiscal crisis of the US Treasury was becoming overwhelming. On September 11, Bush was to address the Congress on the need for austerity measures to reduce the deficit for the coming fiscal year. But Bush did not wish to appear before the Congress as a simple bankrupt; he wanted to strut before them as a warrior. The resulting speech was a curious hybrid, first addressing the Gulf crisis, and only then turning to the dolorous balance sheets of the regime. It was in this speech that Bush repeated the Scowcroft slogan that will accompany his regime into the dust bin of history: The New World Order. After gloatingly quoting Gorbachov's condemnation of "Iraq's aggression," Bush came to the relevant passage:
Clearly, no longer can a dictator count on East-West confrontation to stymie concerted United Nations action against aggression. A new partnership of nations has begun, and we stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment. The crisis in the Persian Gulf, as grave as it is, also offers a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective --a new world order-- can emerge: A new era-- freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice and more secure in the quest for peace. An era in which the nations of the world, east and west, north and south, can prosper and live in harmony. [fn 49]
During August and September, Bush's Gulf offensive had allowed him to dominate the headlines and news broadcasts with bellicose posturing and saber-rattling in the crisis which he had assiduously helped to create. Now, during October, the awesome economic depression produced by the bipartisan economic policies of the Eastern Liberal Establishment over a quarter-century re-asserted its presence with all the explosive force of reality long denied.
All during August and September, the haggling had continued between Bush and the Congressional leadership about how optimally to inflict more drastic austerity on the American people. The haggling had recessed in August, but had resumed in great secrecy on September 7, with the elite group of participants sequestered from the world at a military air base near Washington. The haggling proceeded slowly, and key budget deadlines built into the Gramm-Rudman calendar began to slip by: September 10, September 15, and September 25 were missed. It was now apparent that the final deadline posed for the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1 could not be met; there was a danger of a Gramm-Rudman "train wreck" or automatic, across the board sequester of budget spending authority. On September 30, Bush and the elite Congressional summiteers appeared in a Rose Garden ceremony to announce a five-year, $500 billion deficit reduction package, allegedly featuring $40 billion in deficit reduction during the first year, to be submitted to Congress for rubber-stamping. This plan contained higher taxes on gasoline, cigarettes, liquor, luxury items, plus savage cuts on defense, Medicare for the elderly, and farm payments. It was unsweetened by Bush's favorite nostrum for fatcats, a cut in the capital gains tax. Tax deductions were limited for the most wealthy. George, squirming under warnings from all sides, but especially the GOP right wing, that this deal codified his infamous betrayal of June 26, tried to be a little contrite:
Sometimes you don't get it the way you want, and this is such a time for me. And I suspect it's such a time for everybody standing here. But it's time we put the interests of the United States of America here and get this deficit under control.
Bush called the package "balanced" and "fair." "Now comes the hard part," said Mitchell, referring to the irritating formality of Congressional passage. Believing the assurances of Mitchell and Foley, Dole and Michel that the resulting deal could be passed, Bush signed a continuing resolution to keep the government going from October 1 until October 5, while also avoiding the Gramm-Rudman guillotine.
On October 2, at the urging of the Congressional leaders, Bush made one of his rare televised addresses to the nation from the Oval Office. According to one observer, "Bush's TV address on the budget was the most listless presidential appeal since Carter's 'malaise' speech." [fn 50] Bush's tones had a pinch of the apocalypse" "If we fail to enact this agreement, our economy will falter, markets may tumble, and recession will follow. Tell your congressmen and senators you support this deficit-reduction agreement. If they are Republicans, urge them to stand with the president. If they are Democrats, urge them to stand with their Congressional leaders." Bush had now discovered that the deficit, which he had ignored in 1989, was a "cancer gnawing away at our nation's health." The plan he recommended, he pointed out with bathos, was a product of "blood, sweat, and fears-- fears of the economic chaos that would follow if we fail to reduce the deficit." [fn 51] Bush's plan was supported by Alan Greenspan of the Federal Reserve, the voice of the international central bankers.
Shepherding such a weighty affair of state through the Congress was considered a job for a team headed by none other than Dan Quayle. Quayle quipped that he was like a friendly dentist applying a lot of novocaine and hoping for a few votes. Despite such boyish good spirits, it was not to be. Republicans were incensed that Bush had given away the "crown jewels" of their party just in order to get a deal. Right-wing Republicans lamented that the package was a "road-map to recession" and a "cave-in to the liberal Democrats." "I wouldn't vote for it if it cured cancer," said Congressman Trafficant. Democrats were angered by the new excise tax, which was regressive, and by higher income tax rate increases for lower income groups. When the plan came up for a vote in the House on the fateful day of October 5, with the stopgap legislation about to run out, many Democrats deferred voting until they could see that a clear majority of the Republicans were voting against their own president's plan. Then the Democrats also cast negative votes. The deficit package was soundly defeated, 254-179. Bush was humiliated: only 71 Republican stuck with their president, joined by 108 Democrats. 105 GOPers had revolted, and joined with 149 Democrats to sink the accord Bush had pleaded for on television. Even Rep. Newt Gingrich of Georgia, who as House GOP Minority Whip should have superintended efforts to dragoon votes for Bush, had jumped ship on October 1, encouraging other GOP defections.
The Congress then quickly passed and sent to Bush a further continuing resolution to keep the government going; it was now the Friday before the Columbus Day weekend. Bush had threatened to veto any such legislation, and he now made good on his threat, intoning that "the hour of reckoning is at hand." The federal government thereupon began to shut down, except for Desert Shield and some other operations the bureaucracy considered essential. Tourists in Washington noticed that the toilets maintained by the National Park Service were shutting down. Bush, wanting to set a good example, decided that Sunday that he would drive back from Camp David by car: he got a rude taste of how the other half lives, ending up stalled in a typical traffic jam on the interstate.
The following week was a time of great political hemorraging for George Bush. His problems grew out of a clumsy series of trial balloons he floated about what kind of tax package he would accept. By one count, he changed his mind five times in three days. First came the government itself. Any president, and especially an apparatchik like Bush, has a healthy respect for what the Washington bureaucracy might do to him if it, like the mercenaries Machiavelli warned about, were not paid. Bush accordingly relented and signed a short-term continuing resolution to keep the paychecks flowing and the bureaucracy open. Now Congressmen of both parties began to offer amendments on the $22 billion tax bill that was at the heart of the new austerity package. First Bush indicated that he would accept an increase in income tax rates for the most wealthy in exchange for a cut in the capital gains tax. Then he indicated that he would not. In a press conference, he said such a deal would be "fine." Then a group of Republican Congressmen visited him to urge him to drop the idea of any such deal; they came out declaring that Bush was now in agreement with them. But then Bush drifted back towards the tradeoff. Richard Darman, one of Bush's budget enforcers, was asked what Bush thought about the tax rates trade off. "I have no idea what White House statement was issued," said the top number cruncher, "but I stand behind it 100%." By the weekend of October 13-14, there were at least three draft tax bills in circulation. Even hard-core Bushmen were unable to tell the legislators what the president wanted, and what he would veto. The most degraded and revealing moment came when Bush was out jogging, and reporters asked him about his position on taxes. "Read my hips!," shouted Bush, pointing towards his posterior with both hands. It was not clear who had scripted that one, but the message was clear: the American people were invited to kiss Bush's ass.
It was one of the most astounding gestures by a president in modern times, and posed the inevitable question: had Bush gone totally psychotic?
"The public is not laughing," commented a White House official. Newsday, the New York tabloid, went with the headline READ MY FLIPS. The New York Times revived the label that Bush resented most: for the newspaper of record, Bush was "a political wimp." A senior GOP political consultant noted that "the difference is that Reagan had principles and beliefs. This guy has no rudder." In the opinion of Newsweek, "Bush took no stand on principle and didn't seem to know what he wanted....He made incomprehensible jokes. He was strangely eager to please even those who were fighting him, and powerless to punish defectors. As in the bad old days, he looked goofy." [fn 52]
The haggling went on into the third week of October, and then into the fourth. Would it last to Halloween, to permit a macabre night of the living dead on the Capitol? Newt Gingrich told David Brinkley on "This Week" of October 21 that most House Republicans were prepared to vote against any plan to increase taxes, totally disregarding the wishes of Bush. Senator Danforth of Missouri complained, "I am concerned and a lot of Republicans are concerned that this is becoming a political rout." At this point the Democrats wanted to place a 1% surtax on all income over 41 million, while the GOP favored reducing the deductions for the rich. In yet another flip-flop, Bush had conceded on October 20 that he would accept an increase in the top income tax rate from 28% to 31%. By October 24, a deal was finally reached which could be passed, and the next day Bush attempted to put the best possible face on things by assembling the bruised and bleeding Republican Congressional leadership, including the renegade Gingrich, for another Rose Garden ceremony.
The final budget plan set the top income tax rate at 31%, and increased taxes on gasoline, cigarettes, airline tickets, increased Medicare payroll taxes and premiums, while cutting Medicare benefit payouts and government payments to farmers. Another part of the package replaced the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings once a year sequester threat with a "triple, rolling sequester" with rigid spending caps for each of the three categories of defense, foreign aid, and discretionary domestic spending, and no transfers permitted among these. The entire apparatus will require super-majorities of 60 votes to change in the future. Naturally, this package was of no use whatever in deficit reduction, given the existence of an accelerating economic depression. In Bush's famous New World Order speech on September 11, he had frightened the Congress with the prospect of a deficit of $232 billion. In October of 1991, it was announced that the deficit for the fiscal year ending September 31, 1991, the one that was supposed to show improvement, had come in at $268.7 billion, the worst in all history. Predictions for the deficit in the year beginning on October 1, 1991 were in excess of $350 billion, guaranteeing that the 1991 record would not stand long. Bush's travail of October, 1990 had done nothing to improve the picture.
Bush's predicament was that the Reaganomics of the 1980's (which had been in force since the period after the Kennedy assassination) had produced more than a depression: they had engendered the national bankruptcy of the United States. That bankruptcy was now lawfully dismembering the Reagan coalition, the coalition which Bush had still been able to ride to power in 1988. Since Bush refused to replace the suicidal, post-industrial economic policies of the last quarter century, he was obliged to attempt to smother irrepressible political conflicts with police state methods, and with war hysteria.
But in the interval before he could start the war, Bush would pay a heavy political price. According to the Newsweek poll, Bush's job approval rating had dropped from 67% during the Gulf scare of August to 48% at the end of the October budget battles. The 20-point free fall was a reminder that Bush possessed no solid base of support among any numerically significant group in the US electorate. Now, the Carteresque Bush found that his own party was turning against him. A split had opened up in the GOP which threatened that party with the fate of the degenerate Federalists.
In the midst of the budget upheaval Bush, ever true to his family's racist creed, had impudently vetoed the Civil Rights Act of 1990. To make the symbolism perfect, he signed the veto after an appearance at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Award ceremonies in Washington. Bush was playing the card of racism for 1990 and 1992. "I deeply regret having to take this action with a bill bearing such a title," said Bush, "especially since it contains provisions that I strongly endorse." But he was adamant that this bill "employs a maze of highly legalistic language to introduce the destructive force of quotas into our national unemployment system." Bush claimed that this was a quota bill, and since equal opportunity was thwarted by quotas, "the very commitment to justice and equality that is offered as the reason why this bill should be signed requires me to veto it." An attempted override fell short by one vote in the Senate, 66-34, even though Minnesota Republican Rudy Boschwitz, who had been against the bill, switched sides to oppose Bush's veto. Boschwitz was doomed to defeat in the November election in any case.
A most dramatic sign of the repudiation of Bush even by the Republican party apparatus was the celebrated memorandum issued on October 15 by veteran political operative Ed Rollins of the National Republican Congressional Committee. Rollins had been given a four-year, million dollar contract to help the GOP win a majority on the Hill. He was dedicated to helping his Congressional clients, incumbents and challengers alike, to get elected. Watching the polls, Rollins saw that Bush's June 26 broken promise was sure to be poison at the polls in early November. He sent out a memo that made the following points:
The mood of the country has shifted dramatically in the past ten days; voters have become as pessimistic about the direction of the country as at any time in recent history.
The President's approval/disapproval and job performance ratings have dropped precipitously. This is no doubt due to the lack of a budget resolution and the lack of a clear Republican position on taxes and spending.
Understanding that several members have never taken a no tax pledge, my best advice today is to urge you to oppose taxes, specifically gas and income taxes. Do not hesitate to oppose either the President or proposals being advanced in Congress. [fn 53]
Bush appears to have learned of the Rollins memo in an NBC news broadcast on October 24. According to one source, Bush then told a group of GOP Congressional leaders that while he could not control all Republican political consultants, he "did control Rollins," and wanted him fired immediately. Rollins's immediate boss, Rep. Guy Vander Jagt, a Republican wheelhorse from Michigan, complained that he had come out of this meeting with Bush "black and blue" from the president's punishment. [fn 54] The answer from Rollins was, "I don't plan to resign." Incredibly, Bush was unable to secure the ouster of Rollins, who, one must conclude, enjoyed more support from rank and file Republican Congressmen at this point than Bush himself. Some consultants suggested that Bush should simply back off: "If the November 6 results are as bad as they appear, the consensus will be that George Bush blew it," said one. Bush "is the George Steinbrenner of politics," said another perception-monger. "He just booted away the best franchise in the sport." Dreams of taking House seats were vanishing with each new poll; the GOP now hoped for damage control measures to keep the loss to ten seats if they could.
On the campaign trail, Bush was finally receiving treatment commensurate with his merits. October 23 was a day he will never forget. George had gotten up before dawn to make a day of it on the hustings, only to find that he was being shunned as the new Typhoid Mary of American politics.
The first stop was an early-morning fund raiser in Burlington, Vermont, designed to benefit Rep. Peter Smith, a freshman Congressman. Smith was supposed to give Bush a rousing introduction and then bask in the warmth of Bush's support. But instead, Smith astounded Bush and his handlers by launching into a tortured monologue on all the points of disagreement that divided him from Bush. Smith told of how he had been loyal to Bush on October 5, and of how his constituents had then rebelled, with the result that he caught political hell for his pro-Bush vote. Smith demanded that Bush now raise taxes on the wealthy. Smith also mentioned the civil rights bill: "My specific disagreements with this administration are a matter of record," Smith stressed. Poor Smith: his pro-Bush vote on October 5 had doomed him to defeat in his close race with Bernie Sanders, the former socialist mayor of Burlington.
Bush stewed, raged, and squirmed. He looked around to see if anyone would come to his aid. Sitting next to Bush was GOP Senator James M. Jeffords, who had voted in favor of the civil rights bill Bush had vetoed. He had made an emotional speech in the Senate lambasting Bush for trying to punch giant "loopholes" in the civil rights of citizens. Jeffords sat staring straight ahead, doing a fair imitation of Bush at the Nashua Telegraph debate. When Bush got up, he was dissociated and tongue-tied. He stumbled through his speech, improvising a few lines in which he praised the independent-mindedness of Vermonters like Smith, but whined that he wished it would not come at his expense. Bush then asserted that we have a sluggish economy out there nationally. That's one of the reasons why I favor this deficit so much. [fn 55]
The crowd was puzzled; some of them were perhaps driven to try the socialism of Bernie Sanders over this. The mental disintegration of George Bush went on apace.
Bush's second stop of the day was in Manchester, New Hampshire. Here he was greeted by his old friend, the Manchester Union Leader, with a front page cartoon of the granite-faced man in the mountain saying "Read His Lips, Mr. President. Go Home and Take Your Taxes with You." Here there was no attack on Bush's economics; the candidate he was supposed to be helping, Rep. Robert C. Smith, had obviously concluded that any film footage showing him in the same picture with Bush would pose the threat of disaster, so he had simply stayed in Washington. The congressman's wife was there to tell the audience that her husband had stayed in Washington for House votes he could not miss; an apoplectic Bush ferociously chewed on an apple before he rose for perfunctory remarks.
Bush's third stop was in Waterbury, Connecticut, where the beneficiary of his presence was Gary Franks, a black Republican whom Bush needed as a fig leaf for his veto of the civil rights bill. Franks solved the Typhoid Mary problem by barring the news media from the campaign event, so no sound bites associating him with Bush could be used against him by his opponent. Later there was a brief photo opportunity with Bush and Franks together.
Surely Bush had cut a ridiculous figure. But how many Iraqis would die in January, February and beyond to assuage Bush's humiliations of this day?
Bush's last pre-election campaign trip would eliminate stops in Oregon, Nebraska, Illinois, and North Carolina, where Republicans teetered on the edge of defeat. Bush was trying to cut his losses, and he was not alone. During the months before the election, Bush had spent hours sweating under television lights to tape endorsement commercials for over 80 GOP candidates. One Congressman, Rep. Alfred A. McCandless of California, used pieces of Bush's tape in a commercial designed to highlight his differences with Bush. Many of the other tapes were never used; many of those endorsed pleaded as an excuse that their fundraising had been ruined by Bush's tax policy, so they never had the money to put them on the air.
Bush attempted to regroup by seeking new demagogic themes. For those struggling with economic depression he offered...term limits for members of Congress, in the hands of the GOP a transparent attempt to flush out Democratic incumbents. Term limitation, said Bush, was "an idea whose time has come." "America doesn't need a liberal House of Lords," said Bush in Oklahoma City. "America needs a Republican Congress." The Democrats "truly believe they deserve to be elected from now until kingdom come," said Bush in Los Angeles. The response was less than overwhelming. Then Bush tried to blame the depression on the Democrats. The venue chosen was a $1000 a plate fundraiser for Sen. Pete Wilson, who wanted to be governor of California. The "strong medicine" of the deficit package, Bush claimed, "is required because the Democratically controlled Congress has been on an uncontrolled spending binge for years." In Oklahoma City, he averred that the Democrats had "choked the economy" and brought the country to the verge of recession. He accused Congressional liberals of spewing out the "class warfare garbage" they always resurrect at election time. But none of this had any bite. [fn 56] On November 3, Bush reached into his talk bag and pulled out Jimmy Carter, threatening voters with a return to the "malaise days." According to Newsweek, Bush had reacquired that "electrocuted" look.
Bush went back to his staple offering: hysterical, rage-driven warmongering, with an extra dividend for some audiences coming through the clear racist overtones. Once Congress had adjourned, one observer noted, "Bush was able to switch to his favorite script, 'Desperately Seeking Saddam.'" [fn 57] Bush grimaced and pouted against the "butcher of Baghdad" trying to look like a more genteel, Anglo-Saxon Mussolini. Saddam was now "Hitler revisited." Later, there were estimates that Bush's exclusive concentration on the war theme had saved one to two senate seats, and perhaps half a dozen in the House.
But Bush came dangerously close to overdoing it. In the last days of October, he had begun a demagogic effort to whip up hysteria about the US citizens interned by Iraq. "I have had it" with the Iraqi handling of the internees, was now Bush's favorite line. When Bush wrapped himself in the flag, he expected the Democrats to kow-tow, but now there was some opposition. Bush met with some 15 Congressional leaders active in foreign policy, and began raving about the "horrible, barbarous" conditions of the hostages. Sharp questions were immediately posed by Democrats, many of them facing re-election in a few days. According to one Congressman, "They were asking, in not so many words, Is this trumped up? If it isn't, how come we just have started hearing about it in the middle of this political mess the president is in? It seems to be coming out of nowhere. Dante Fascell said the Democrats had told Bush, "If there is additional provocation [by Iraq], it better be real and able to stand up to press scrutiny." Too bad the Democrats had not applied that standard to the whole trumped-up Gulf crisis. [fn 58]
The result of the November 6 election was a deep disappointment to Republicans; Bush's party lost one senate seat, 9 House seats, and one governorship. Not all of these gains went to Democrats, since disgruntled voters gave two governorships and one House seat to independents outside of the two party system. Most dramatic was the anti-incumbent mood against governors, where economic crisis and tax revolt had been on the agenda all year: the governing party, whether Republican or Democrat, was ousted in 14 of the 36 state houses that were contested. For Bush there were very special disappointments: he had campaigned very hard for Clayton Williams in Texas and for Governor Bob Martinez in Florida, but Bush's coattails proved non-existent to negative; Democrats won both governorships. The loss of Texas and Florida was a very ominous threat for Bush's 1992 re-election campaign, since these were the two indispensable keystones of the Southern Strategy. Now, that GOP lock on the Electoral College might be drawing to a close. But unfortunately, that was for the future: Bush's repudiation at the polls this time around was not enough to reduce him to an impotent lame duck with no mandate to wage war. Bush was now a wounded beast who could, and would, lash out.
Bush emerged gravely damaged: Business Week devoted a cover to a photo of Bush and the legend: "Losing Ground: GOP Losses in Congress, statehouse setbacks, and internal party strife are eroding George Bush's authority-- and his ability to lead the nation." "A few more good days like that and Republicans will go the way of Whigs," wrote the magazine. The vote was a "humbling rebuke to a barnstorming Bush."  In the words of an October 31 headline in the pro-regime Washington Times, "Bush in 92? 'Dead Meat,' say skeptics." Kevin Phillips noted that economics could prove fatal for Bush: "Since World War II the GOP's pattern has been for economic downturns during midterm election years: full-fledged recessions in 1954, 1958, 1970, 1974, and 1982, and a severe farm-belt and oil-patch slump in 1986. Today's economic thunderclouds, however, are the first in memory (at least since the post-1929 period) to portend their storms for the third year of a GOP presidency." And for Bush, the economic bad news was to be found even in the New York Times: "What Recession? It's a Depression," proclaimed one article. Leonard Silk made the optimistic case in the same paper: "Why It's Too Soon to Predict Another Great Depression," was his title. [fn 59]
But well before the dust had settled from the election debacle, Bush had resumed his march towards a holocaust in the Middle East. On the day after the election, Baker, speaking in Moscow, launched Bush's all-out press for a UN Security Council resolution legitimizing the use of armed force against Iraq over the Kuwait question. Bush had to push his war through both the US Congress and the UN permanent five; his estimate was that the world powers would be easier to dragoon, and that the assent of the Security Council could then be used to bludgeon the Congress into acquiescence. [fn 60]
It is important to note that in shifting his policy towards aggressive war, Bush was once again dancing to the tune being piped in from London. On Wednesday, November 7, the racist crone Thatcher, now on her way out as Prime Minister, issued her most warmongering statement so far on the Gulf crisis:
Either [Saddam Hussein] gets out of Kuwait soon or we and our allies will remove him by force and he will go down to defeat with all the consequences. He has been warned. [fn 61]
Yet again, the United States was to be drawn into a useless and genocidal war as the tail on the British imperial kite.
And so, flaunting his vicious contempt for the democratic process, on Thursday November 8, just two days after the election, Bush made what any serious, intelligent person must have recognized as a declaration of preemptive war in the Gulf:
After consultation with King Fahd and our other allies I have today directed the secretary of defense to increase the size of US forces committed to Desert Shield to ensure that the coalition has an adequate offensive military option should that be necessary to achieve our common goals. Towards this end we will continue to discuss the possibility of both additional allied force contributions and appropriate United Nations actions. Iraq's brutality, aggression, and violations of international law cannot be allowed to succeed. [fn 62]
For those who had ever believed Bush's verbal declarations, here was an entirely new policy, advanced without the slightest motivation. Bush argued that the current US troop strength of 230,000 was enough to defend Saudi Arabia, but that was no longer good enough. Bush's only argument was that gradual strangulation by sanctions might take too long. Reporters pointed out that Thatcher had threatened to use military force the day before. Did Bush want war? "I would love to see a peaceful resolution to this question, and that's what I want." Some of the more lucid minds had now figured out that Bush was indeed a pathological liar.
For the rest of the month of November, a modest wave of anti-war sentiment was observed in the United States, some of it coming from Democrats of the strangler faction who had never wavered in their devotion to evil. On Sunday, November 11 Sen. Sam Nunn questioned Bush's rush to war. But Nunn did not call for a denial of funds to wage war on the model of the Hatfield-McGovern amendment which had finally tied Nixon's hands in Vietnam. Nunn was a leader of the strangler group, urging reliance on the sanctions. James Reston wrote in the New York Times, that "Bush's comparison of Hussein to Hitler, a madman with superior military forces in the center of industrial Europe, is ridiculous." "Saying 'My President, right or wrong,' in such circumstances, is a little like saying, 'my driver, drunk or sober,' and not many passengers like to go that far." [fn 63] The following day, under a headline reading "Tide against war grows at home, abroad," the Washington Times carried a warning from New York Senator Moynihan: "If George Bush wants his presidency to die in the Arabian desert, he's going at it very steadily and as if it were a plan. He will wreck our military, he will wreck his administration, and he'll spoil the chance to get a collective security system working. It breaks the heart." Sen. Kerrey of Oklahoma declared himself "not convinced this administration will do everything in its power to avoid war. And if ever there was an avoidable war, it is this one."
On November 15, Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey warned Bush that "to continue to hold the support of Congress, [Bush] must suspend the newly announced buildup of offensive forces against Iraq until he justifies why he has downgraded the promising strategy of patient pressure. Without hearing a convincing explanation of that change, and with the cost of Operation Desert Shield now heading toward $30 billion, Congress should authorize no expenditures for an enlarged offensive option to invade Kuwait or Iraq." [fn 64] Bradley had to pay attention to public opinion; he had almost lost his seat earlier in the month. On the following day, Gorbachov's special envoy to the Middle East, Yevgeny Primakov, called for a delay in the resolution on the use of force against Iraq to allow Saddam Hussein a "face-saving" way out. One week later, in the context of the Paris Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Gorbachov directed his desperate appeal to the world for food shipments to the USSR. Even if the Kremlin had wished to resist Bush's war drive, their weakness was evident. The Soviet Union, like China, would soon vote for the resolution that would justify Bush's January attack.
But the hyperthyroid Bush was unwilling to brook criticism. In best bullying style, he came to a meeting with Congressional leaders on November 14 with a sheaf of articles from Iraqi newspapers reporting, among other things, Moynihan's speech of a few days before. Even Republican Richard Lugar was targeted by Bush's ire. Bush whined that such statements were giving Saddam reasons to doubt US resolve. On November 16, the National Council of Churches condemned Bush's Gulf policy, citing "reckless rhetoric," "imprudent behavior," and the precipitous military buildup.
James Baker, groping for reasons for the coming war, thought he had found one: "If you want to sum it up in one word, it's jobs. Because an economic recession, worldwide, caused by the control of one nation, one dictator, of the West's economic lifeline will result in the loss of jobs on the part of American citizens." [fn 65] Many citizens were offended by Baker's patronizing condescension, which was coordinated with Bush's remarks of the same day in which he admitted that the country was in a "downturn," and hinted that the depth of any recession would depend on whether or not the Gulf crisis turned into a prolonged standoff. If recession were to come, said Bush, "it will not be deep and we will come out of it relatively soon- six months at most." [fn 66] Commenting on what really concerned him, Bush commented, "holding public opinion forever is very difficult to do." Bush was not even succeeding in the short term: Pennsylvania Democratic Chairman Larry Yatch told reporters that support for Bush's Gulf policy was "at the teetering point-- the people are really becoming skeptical." His Louisiana counterpart, James J. Brady, noted that Bush " has not given them answers to their questions." "Jobs are not the reason we are there," he added. [fn 67]
In the House of Representatives, a group of 45 House Democrats went to federal court in a vain attempt to stop Bush from initiating hostilities, and Rep. Gonzalez of Texas, the honorable maverick, offered a bill of impeachment against Bush.
On November 16, Bush left on a multi-country blitz of Europe and the Middle East which was intended to shore up the anti-Iraq coalition until the buildup could be completed and the war unleashed. In Prague, Bush was lionized by large crowds; President Havel gave Bush a testimonial of support about the lessons of Munich 1938 and appeasement that Bush would wave around all through the war. It was unfortunate that freedom from communist tyranny for some politicians seemed to mean the freedom to lick Bush's boots. In Speyer, Germany, Bush had another apoplectic moment when Catholic Bishop Anton Schlembach wished Bush success "but without war and bloodshed." Bush sat red-faced like a roasted cherub. Germans were not happy about Bush's extortion of their country when they needed money to rebuild the newly freed federal states in the east; Germany was now reunified. Bush had a strained meeting with Kohl, and, at the CSCE finale in Paris, a cordial one with Mitterrand, with whom his rapport was excellent. Here our hero pressed Gorbachov for a Soviet imprimatur on his war resolution, but Gorbachov was still stalling.
On Thanksgiving Day, Bush and Bar were with the troops in Saudi Arabia. Many soldiers told reporters that they were not happy to be there, and were not in favor of war. One trooper asked Bush, "Why not make a deal with Saddam Hussein, Mr. President?" while Bush gagged on his chicken a la king Meal Ready to Eat (MRE). Flying westward the next day, Bush stopped in Geneva for a meeting with Hafez Assad of Syria, a true villain and butcher who had, during the month of October, taken advantage of his deal with Bush to finish off Gen. Aoun's independent Lebanese state. Bush's meeting with Assad lasted for three hours. Assad had provided 7,500 Syrian troops for the coalition attack force in Saudi Arabia, which he promised to increase to 20,000. "Mr. Assad is lined up with us with a commitment to force," said Bush. "They are on the front line, or will be, standing up to this aggression."
Manic hysteria at the top of a bureaucratic apparatus will swiftly infect the lower echelons as well, and this was illustrated by the mishaps of Bush's traveling entourage, which clashed with Swiss security officers while entering and leaving Geneva Airport. A new factor exacerbating Bush's mental instability during this trip was the imminent fall of his Anglo-Saxon Svengali, Margaret Thatcher, who was about to be dumped as prime minister, primarily because she had become persona non grata among the leaders of western Europe in an era in which Britain's future survival depended on parasitizing the wealth of the continent. The Swiss have some of the most level-headed and expert airport protocol personnel in the world, but Bush's retinue was determined to run amok. Bush and Fitzwater wanted the press corp free to run around the airport to get the most dramatic shots and sound bites of Bush's epic entry into one of the centers of world diplomacy. When Bush landed, the "photo dogs" wanted to gather under the wing of Bush's plane, but the Swiss moved them out of the area. At the departure, the press corps went bonkers, and many of them had to be physically restrained by the Swiss officers when they attempted to break through a crowd-control line. Fitzwater complained that State Department protocol chief Joseph V. Reed (the scion of the Jupiter Island magnate) had had a machine gun shoved into his stomach, and that Sununu had been "verbally abused" during the altercation. But Fitzwater was an accomplished prevaricator: "I must say I have never seen that kind of brutal and vicious treatment by a security force in the last 10 years. It's strange. It's supposedly a peace-loving nation but they gave us the most vicious treatment I've ever seen." Thierry Magnin described the actions of some US reporters as "deplorable" and "inadmissible." Magnin said there had been "a row and heated words, but this was to enforce security measures...taken in accord with the American security services." He denied that any submachine gun was ever pointed at Reed. [fn 68] Magnin said the Geneva police would not apologize, and later it was indeed the US which backed down.
It was during this period that Lyndon LaRouche, from his jail cell in Minnesota, called attention to Bush's increasingly psychotic behavior. On November 24, LaRouche commented:
I have been obliged today to use nothing other than the term "psycho-sexual impotence" to describe the characteristic features exhibited by a visibly paranoid President George Herbert "Hoover" Walker Bush in the context of his reactions simultaneously to knowledge of the certainty of the ongoing economic depression, and the mess in the Persian Gulf, in which he, guided largely by certain Israeli influences and Margaret Thatcher, has enmired himself, the nation, and a good deal of the world.
There is no question that President George Bush is suffering a more acute form of implicitly schizophrenic paranoia than he showed during the height of the moments of uncertainty during the Panama atrocity by forces under his direction.
The President, in short, is CRACKING: HE IS GOING NUTS.