Let’s Talk About George H.W. Bush’s Role in the Iran-Contra Scandal
As CIA director in the mid-1970s and as Ronald Reagan’s vice president, Bush helped forge a world of strongmen, wars, cartels, and refugees that continues today. In particular, he was deeply involved in the events that became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, a series of illegal operations that began with a secret effort to arm Contra fighters in Nicaragua in the hopes of toppling the leftist Sandinista government; this effort became connected to drug trafficking, trading weapons for hostages with Iran, and banking scandals.
In 1987, Arthur Liman, chief counsel for the Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition, described it as a “secret government-within-a-government … with its own army, air force, diplomatic agents, intelligence operatives and appropriations capacity.” Independent counsel Lawrence Walsh, tasked with investigating Iran-Contra, concluded that the White House cover-up “possibly forestalled timely impeachment proceedings against President Reagan and other officials.” Bush was a central figure in this.
George Bush’s Wars Set the Stage for 25 Years of Endless War
George Bush used the newly apparent Soviet weakness as an opportunity to expand US foreign interventionism beyond the limits that had been imposed on it by a competing Soviet Union. Over the next decade, Bush and his successor Bill Clinton — who very much carried on Bush’s ideals of global interventionism — would place Iraq, Somalia, and Yugoslavia in the crosshairs.
But first on Bush’s list was Panama in December 1989. At the time, the Panamanian state was an authoritarian regime that stayed in power largely due to US support, and functioned as an American puppet state in Central America where Communists were often successful in overthrowing right-wing dictatorships. The US regime’s man in Panama was Manuel Noriega. But, after he stopped taking orders from Washington, Noriega became the first in a long line of foreign politicians who were held up as the next “Hitler” by the American propaganda machine. This was done in order to justify what would become an endless policy of invading tiny foreign countries that are no threat to the US — mostly done in the name of “humanitarian” intervention.
Writing in April 1990, Murray Rothbard summed up the situation in Panama:
The U.S. invasion of Panama was the first act of military intervention in the new post-Cold War world — the first act of war since 1945 where the United States has not used Communism or “Marxism-Leninism” as the effective all-purpose alibi. Coming so soon after the end of the Cold War, the invasion was confused and chaotic — a hallmark of Bushian policy in general. Bush’s list of alleged reasons for the invasion were a grab-bag of haphazard and inconsistent arguments — none of which made much sense.
The positive vaunting was, of course, prominent: what was called, idiotically, the “restoration of democracy” in Panama. When in blazes did Panama ever have a democracy? Certainly not under Noriega’s beloved predecessor and mentor, the U.S.’s Panama Treaty partner, General Omar Torrijos. The alleged victory of the unappetizing Guillermo Endara in the abortive Panamanian election was totally unproven. The “democracy” the U.S. imposed was peculiar, to say the least: swearing in Endara and his “cabinet” in secrecy on a US army base.
It was difficult for our rulers to lay on the Noriega “threat” very heavily: Since Noriega, whatever his other sins, is obviously no Marxist-Leninist, and since the Cold War is over anyway it would have been tricky; even embarrassing, to try to paint Noriega and his tiny country as a grave threat to big, powerful United States. And so the Bush administration laid on the “drug” menace with a trowel, braving the common knowledge that Noriega himself was a longtime CIA creature and employee whose drug trafficking was at the very least condoned by the U.S. for many years.
The administration therefore kept stressing that Noriega was simply a “common criminal” who had been indicted in the US (for actions outside the US — so why not indict every other head of state as well — all of whom have undoubtedly committed crimes galore?) so that the invasion was simply a police action to apprehend an alleged fugitive. But what real police action — that is, police action over a territory over which the government has a virtual monopoly of force —involves total destruction of an entire working-class neighborhood, the murder of hundreds of Panamanian civilians as well as American soldiers, and the destruction of a half-billion dollars of civilian property?
The invasion also contained many bizarre elements of low comedy: There was the U.S. government’s attempt to justify the invasion retroactively by displaying Noriega’s plundered effects: porno in the desk drawer (well, gee, that sure justifies mass killing and destruction of property), the obligatory picture of Hitler in the closet (Aha! the Nazi threat again!), the fact that Noriega was stocking a lot of Soviet-made arms (a Commie as well as a Nazi, and “paranoid” too — the deluded fool was actually expecting an American invasion!).
How Poppy Bush’s Brother, “Uncle Bucky,” Made a Killing Off the Iraq Wars
Seeking to distinguish himself from his more predatory relatives, William Henry Trotter Bush, the younger brother of Bush Sr. and an investment banker in St. Louis, gave an interview to disclaim any profiteering on his own part. Indeed, he sounded downright grumpy, as if his older brother hadn’t done enough to steer juicy government deals his way. “Being the brother of George Bush isn’t a financial windfall by any stretch of the imagination,” huffed William H.T. Bush.
Well, perhaps being the brother of the president didn’t generate as much business as he hoped, but having the good fortune to be the uncle of the president certainly appears to have padded the pockets of the man endearingly known to George W. Bush as “Uncle Bucky.”
A few months before his selection as president, Bush’s Uncle Bucky quietly joined the board of a small and struggling St. Louis defense company called Engineered Support Systems, Incorporated (ESSI). Since Bush joined the team, ESSI’s fortunes have taken a dramatic turn for the better. This once obscure outfit is now one of the top Pentagon contractors. Next year its revenues will top $1 billion, nearly all of it derived from defense contracts with the Pentagon or with foreign militaries financed by US aid and loan guarantees. Even sweeter, most of these contracts have been awarded in no bid, sole source deals.
True to form, Uncle Bucky claims that ESSI’s amazing transformation has nothing to do with him or his nephew, the president. “I don’t make any calls to the 202 (DC) Area Code,” Bush sneered to the Los Angeles Times.