Poppy Bush's Seed and Bitter Harvest: Half Truths / History (Part 4)


This concludes a four-part Justice Integrity Project series on life and legacy of the President George H.W. Bush, who died on Nov. 30. Bush is shown below right in an official photo from his term as president from 1989 to 1993.

The material in this Part 4 covers his presidential decision-making involving the Iraq War, his overall domestic program of deregulation and an overall historical assessment. The material is excerpted from this editor's book Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters (2015 updated edition).

george hw bush HRThe material in Part 4, highlighted below in red, is taken from the chapter  'George H.W. Bush: Poppy's Seed and Bitter Harvest' (Part 2). 'Poppy'' was the late president's nickname among his family.

  • Introduction and News Clippings (Part 1)
  • Poppy's Progress (Part 2)
  • Texas Politics, Bush-Style
  • Deep In the Heart of Washington Intrigue
  • Refueling In Houston
  • White House Years and Fears
  • Iran-Contra
  • Deregulation
  • Iraq War
  • The Rest of the Story

Presidential Puppetry charted recent presidents' secret ties to the nation's elite private sector power structure (including major media organizations), which sometimes work Presidential Puppetry by Andrew Kreigcollaboratively with the CIA and FBI operational arms.

These professional ties helped enable the chosen political aspirants to establish support for their careers in ways that most of their political competitors and the public would never know, thus undermining the voting process (and implicating the corporate-owned media in a failure to inform).

The book included three chapters about the Bush family. The one about the late president, the focus of this series, was "George H.W. Bush: Poppy's Seed and Bitter Harvest."  Preceding that chapter in Presidential Puppetry is a chapter about Poppy's father, "Prescott Bush: Roots of the Bushes."

Following that in the book is a chapter about the more recent Bush president, "George W. Bush: Shameless, Heartless and Selected — Not Elected."

From the Chapter: 'George H.W. Bush: Poppy's Seed and Bitter Harvest'


george hw bush inauguration

Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a Republican appointee, swears in President George H. W. Bush in 1989 as the incoming president's wife, Barbara, looks on.

The central domestic purpose of the Reagan-Bush administration was to implement free market, free trade, and other deregulatory theories that supposedly hobbled the U.S. economy at the time. As with Iran-Contra’s radical cuts in constitutional checks and balances, Poppy Bush was at the center of the deregulatory changes that helped reposition the nation’s economic structure to align better with the perceived golden age of fewer government restrictions, as in the Roaring Twenties.

By the end of the Roaring Eighties, the Reagan-Bush changes would transform much of the economy. This led to many new fortunes, especially among well-connected cronies, along with false hopes and complacency among many others too busy living their lives to notice long-term trends. Yet even insiders had difficulties foreseeing the financial future.

neil bush headThe president’s third-born son, Neil Bush, left, became both a villain and a victim in the $2 billion Silverado Savings and Loan scandal. That bank’s loss was a small part of the deregulatory debacle that cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars in bailout funds. Also ruined by bad investments was Democrat-turned-Republican John Connally, the former Nixon Treasury Secretary and Bush rival regarded as the most astute politician of his generation next to LBJ. When the bubble burst, a national recession and Ross Perot-led rebellion against free trade helped scuttle Poppy’s 1992 reelection bid.

The GOP victory in 1980 against Jimmy Carter (right) launched a wave of what appeared to be exciting new financial investments, including the leveraged buyout (LBO) that enabled corporate “raiders” to use a company’s own assets to acquire it and transform it, supposedly, into a more efficient model based on best practices. Three of the best-jimmy carter portraitknown LBOs had longtime links to the Bush family and Texas oil fields. The national leader in this was Henry Kravis of KKR (Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts), son of Ray Kravis, the Tulsa and Wall Street oil development genius who had offered Poppy his first job out of Yale. Another was Hugh Liedtke, a co-founder of Zapata who would go on to evolve it into Pennzoil Petroleum and win billions of dollars in remarkable litigation against Texaco, which led to the latter’s dissolution. Another was T. Boone Pickens, who built his Mesa Petroleum raiding company with Liedtke’s help.

I observed with alarm related developments in the sphere I best knew, the news business, and so published a case study in 1987 called Spiked: How Chain Management Corrupted America’s Oldest Newspaper. After the book, however, I finished my legal education at the University of Chicago and began working in the Washington office of Latham and Watkins. Its clients had included Michael Milken of Drexel Burnham Lambert, the national leader in using junk bonds for acquisitions. One of the senior partners was Mark Fowler, who radically deregulated the communications industry as Reagan’s first and only Federal Communications Commission chairman from 1981 to 1989. That fostered vast new opportunities for many in that sector, which I joined for two decades, extending to the date of this writing to some degree.

“There are a million stories in The Naked City,” an announcer used to intone on a long-ago television show by that name. So it’s pointless to provide more than a sample of them. My best effort at a conclusion is that the great financial experiments of the Reagan-Bush era helped many people in the 1980s, including me. But the policies were too extreme even then. Now they are spinning out of control as the rich get richer and others are left to fend for themselves, without adequate redress.

We have seen that devastation can come very fast. Every American needs to consider thoughtfully the thesis of Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, which argues that savvy politicians and industry leaders nefariously implement policies to profiteer from natural disasters, wars, and economic upheavals. Disturbing as her theme might be, it is congruent with examples elsewhere, including in the remainder of this book.

Iraq War

During the Persian Gulf War two decades ago, President George H. W. Bush and his team demonstrated their contempt for public disclosure or other democratic procedures that might hinder their freewheeling approach to oil-based foreign policy. That policy, a disaster for the United States overall, has been highly lucrative for the Bush family, its cronies, and its constituencies.

The war began with Iraq’s invasion of its smaller neighbor Kuwait on August 2, 1990. A U.S.-led coalition of thirty-four nations retaliated in Operation Desert Storm. Aerial bombardments of Iraqi forces began January 17, 1991. A ground assault on February 23 quickly liberated Kuwait, and pulverized Iraq into surrender three days later.

The victory temporarily sent President Bush’s popularity ratings sky high. That is like measuring victory for a baseball game by one inning’s play, however. Bush and his team used phony public relations tactics to con the American public into supporting a war against Iraq, a former ally. Overall, the Reagan-Bush years paved the way for vast death and destruction. Despite all of the lives and treasure the United States has spent in Iraq to foster pro-West support, that nation is now Iran’s most important ally.

Keys to the Iraq disaster are the long-term business ties of the Bush-led, Texas-centered oil, banking, and arms sectors with oil-rich, Persian Gulf royalty. Most important of all are the business and government ties that the Bush family has nurtured with Saudi Arabia. The United States helps protect a near-feudal monarchy through arms sales and other means in return for the profits from the arms sales, reasonable policies on oil sales, and other foreign policy partnerships. The United States-Saudi bilateral relationship is buttressed with similar understandings with other oil-rich royal rulers in the Persian Gulf states.

Several decades of private relationships exist between those royals and their United States counterpart, the Bush dynasty. In the 2004 book House of Bush, House of Saud, author Craig Unger documented $1.48 billion in payments by the Saudi royal family to four Bush officials and their affiliated entities. That is a tiny portion of the sums accruing to leaders of the military-industrial complex from Middle East wars of recent decades. The four officials were the two Bush presidents, the family’s longtime advisor Baker, and Dick Cheney. The entities included the Carlyle Group, a financier of weapons companies that boasts Bush and several of his former top aides as executives, and Halliburton, which Cheney formerly ran as CEO in the 1990s. As previously noted, Poppy Bush cultivated Saudi relationships when he became a Houston-based banker and dealmaker in the 1970s following his CIA leadership and before his presidential run. Baker has alternated between government and private-sector deal making at the highest levels for decades. For the past decade, he has demonstrated his priorities, if not loyalties, by defending Saudi officials from a trillion-dollar damage suit filed in New York’s federal court by families of 9/11 victims.

This is part of a long pattern, as we can recall from the beginning of this chapter. Harriman family brothers Averell and Bunny worked with public relations impresario Bert Walker to encourage the United States to enter World War I, with Poppy’s great-grandfather, Samuel Bush, presiding over the federal government’s purchases of arms and ammunition from, not surprisingly, well-connected companies. Then Prescott Bush and his company, Harriman Brothers, made a fortune by serving as the main United States agent for Adolf Hitler’s leading financier in the run-up to World War II. Warmongering and war profiteering have thus been the Bush family business for nearly a century.

During the 1980s, the Reagan-Bush administration generally supported Iraq’s ruler Saddam Hussein in his horrific war with Iran that killed more than a million, counting deaths on both sides. United States officials knew of his brutal methods and dangerous goals, but regarded his nonreligious regime as a useful regional counterweight to the hardline Shia Muslims running the much-larger Iran. In July 1990, Hussein informed the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, that he planned military action against neighboring Kuwait for what he claimed as debts by the small, oil-rich, Sunni Moslem emirate. Iraq invaded on August 2, 1990. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and Secretary of State James Baker helped lead a Bush administration response opposing the invasion.

dick cheney coverCheney’s memoir In My Time described the reason as protecting the balance of power in the Middle East, including potential threats to Saudi Arabia and Israel if Iraq became too powerful. But the Bush administration also wanted a big American victory to make the country feel good about the president, the country, and war in general following the “Vietnam Syndrome” of withdrawal from foreign engagements, according to Robert Parry, the intrepid former Associated Press and Newsweek reporter who had broken the Iran-Contra story.

How do we know such ambitions were pivotal? Because Iraq’s dictator extended unsuccessful offers to negotiate or withdraw from Kuwait, he wrote. The Bush administration kept the peace offers secret in the same way Washington’s “conventional wisdom” conveniently shifted to make a villain of Hussein and heroes of the oligarchical Kuwaitis.

The administration did not want to rely publicly on those points. The male-run religious Gulf States were not especially sympathetic as victims to the American public. Instead, a phony Washington public relations strategy evolved. Kuwait, acting through front groups, hired a score of U.S. public relations agencies to build grassroots support for a U.S.-led military rescue mission also sought by Bush. Kuwait spent $10 million on Hill and Knowlton, alone, to bring the U.S. into the war. One of the agency’s most effective stunts was to create dramatic testimony to Congress by an unidentified teenager describing how Iraq troops were killing babies in Kuwait by pulling them out of incubators. David Gergen, a highly influential political commentator and former White House staffer, is typical of those who spread that story widely by decrying the invader’s responsibility for twenty-two babies killed when they were pulled from hospital incubators.

Babies were not killed. It was a hoked-up story by Gergen and others who remain prominent because of their willingness to deceive, not despite that trait. Harper’s publisher John R. MacArthur, among others, documented the scam in his 1992 book, Second Front. It turned out that the heart-rending testimony before Congress had been by the daughter of Kuwait’s ambassador. Postwar research found no evidence that Iraqi troops had endangered newborn babies in incubators. These psychological operations are finely honed. Experts in perception management, propaganda, and mind control believe that horror stories about rape and baby-killing, even if fraudulent, are especially effective in generating support for war, especially among women.

The baby-killing story was only a small part of a massive propaganda campaign to stampede the American public into war. This job was outsourced to the private sector to prevent accountability to Congress and the media. It was just like many sensitive foreign policy missions since the CIA used Kermit Roosevelt to overthrow Iran’s elected prime minister in 1953. The main operatives were Washington’s booming lobbying and public relations sector hired by the government of Kuwait through various front-group names to disguise government involvement. As documented by MacArthur and Susan Trento in her 1992 book, The Power House, the main player was Hill and Knowlton, Washington’s highest-grossing lobbying and public relations firm. Its president was Craig Fuller, former chief of staff to Vice President Bush.

robert keith grayEven more important than Fuller as the hands-on Hill and Knowlton chairman was Robert Keith Gray, right, an advisor to five GOP presidents extending from Eisenhower to Bush. Prior to taking on Kuwait as a client, Gray’s extensive CIA ties helped him recruit the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) as a client. That was when the CIA-friendly bank needed serious image polishing after it was exposed as undertaking massive illegal money laundering to assist narcotics trafficking by some of the world’s most notorious dictators. Hill and Knowlton helped out, just as it would for Kuwait. I came to know Gray during the summer of 2012 by inviting him on my weekly public affairs radio show to discuss his new book, an attack on Obama. Gray seemed like a happy warrior, delighted as he approached his 90th birthday to be still in the political attack mode, even though he had much to hide in terms of professional and personal secrets.

The experience underscored several axioms of public life in Washington. First, the enormous clout of the revolving door between government and business. Second, how much ostensibly independent major media are influenced by well-funded lobbyist/government relations companies, such as Hill and Knowlton. Finally, even those who are the masters of media manipulation, like Gray, can become genuinely frustrated at other’s tactics ─ and even at “the media.”

Most importantly, the tale of sub-rosa Bush efforts to engage the United States in a Middle Eastern war brings this chapter full circle to its beginning. We saw how Harriman-Walker initiatives helped to foster United States entry into World War I. This helped set the stage for arms deals and the postwar financing of Hitler that would help keep the clan (by then including the Bushes) and their cronies in wealth during repetitions of the cycle to current times.

The Rest of the Story

Among the many strands to George H.W. Bush’s career, one of the most important is his role in expanding American war culture and arms-dealing into the Middle East. A mainstream biographer wrote of Bush:

[No] major American leader remotely matched his 1976-92 record of pouring weaponry into Afghanistan, co-opting Pakistani intelligence, liaising with the shah’s Iranian police, making secret arms deals with Shiite ayatollahs, becoming near family to Saudi princes, rescuing undemocratic Kuwait, and helping to transform Peshawar – Kipling’s mountain gateway to the Khyber Pass – into a CIA station and munitions dump.

Curiously, Bush and his allies find themselves repeatedly boasting of “A New World Order,” even though the phrase had already been associated with foreign policy disasters extending back to Woodrow Wilson and the League of Nations. Bush used it for the major foreign policy address of his administration to a joint session of Congress in late 1990 after the collapse of the Soviet Union and shortly before the invasion of Iraq. Although “New World Order” carries a certain bold resonance even to the unsophisticated, it could hardly have escaped Bush’s speech-writers that the phrase is regarded as powerful code-language in certain circles. Skull and Bones has been more commonly known for more than a century as “The Order” to its secret initiates, who include not just the Bushes but many influential public affairs pundits.

Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson published The New World Order, a best-seller in the election year of 1992. Those with only passing familiarity with the conservative televangelist might imagine he would seek to support Bush, whom Robertson identified as “a man of integrity.” Instead, Robertson — a Yale Law School graduate, son of a U.S. Senator, and the founder of Regent University — decried the danger that “one-world” secret societies run by elites posed for the United States. Robertson’s main fear was the destruction of religious faith and national sovereignty. He traced dupes and danger from the Colonial era through the Wilson presidency, the aberration of Hitler, and through the Bush era, citing presidents ostensibly as different as the Republican Nixon and Democrat Carter.

Robertson’s blunt conclusion was that each was beholden to behind-the-scenes players such as the Rockefellers, the Ford Foundation, and what he called “the mind-boggling” role of the Council on Foreign Relations. Robertson also warned against spiritual deterioration in Americans from the great Bush triumph of victory in the Gulf War, when, “for the first time since Babel all the nations of the earth acted in concert with one another.”

Those warnings were three decades ago. I’ll not seek to repeat all his fears and predictions. I merely note that even Republicans have had concerns about their party’s most successful family dynasty.

In 2004, author Craig Unger estimated that the House of Saud sent at least $1.477 billion “to the Bush family and its friends and allies over the years.”

Even the powerful cannot always control events. In 1992, Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton made George Bush a one-term president, ending a dozen Bush years in the White House. Clinton, born fatherless and poor, was groomed at elite institutions via a Rhodes scholarship, Oxford, CIA work, and Yale. His ascension was thus not so much a defeat for the old order, but a vindication of the economic elite’s wisdom in fostering alternative avenues to ensure its own success no matter who prevails in elections.

bo michelle bush family lunch 5 31 14 wh

Former presidents George H.W. Bush and his son George W. Bush returned to the White House with many in their family for a 2014 lunch hosted by President and First Lady Obama.

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Republished Here

The 5th Estate, Poppy Bush's Seed and Bitter Harvest: Half Truths / History (Part 4), Andrew Kreig, Dec. 16, 2018. The major American news organizations whitewashed the life and legacy of President George H. W. Bush. The 5th Estate, published by the courageous editor Robert Finnegan for a global readership, helps sets the record straight by here republishing in the four-part series "George H.W. Bush: Poppy's Seed and Bitter Harvest" drawn from 2015 updated edition of Presidential Puppetry by Justice Integrity Project editor Andrew Kreig.

The segment below, Part 4, covers presidential decision-making involving hoked up excuses for the first Iraq War; the Reagan-Bush domestic program of deregulation that helped enable fat cats (including one Bush son) to game the system during the Savings & Loan scandal; and an overall historical assessment. See also the three earlier segments on the 5th Estate about Bush, a former CIA director whose sinister family ties date back two generations from his own secretive and history-making roles before his presidency.

Selected Additional Reading

LewRockwell.com, Opinion: George Herbert Walker Bush, Charles Burris, Dec. 1, 2018. George H. W. Bush is dead. Regime journalists across the nation are scrambling to compose obituary prose concerning the late president. Here are hard cold facts which will not be included in such puerile accounts.

peter brewton“Former reporter for the Houston Post, Pete Brewton [right, now a professor of journalism and law at Texas Tech University], tells of one of the most momentous stories of the past 50 years and how it has been suppressed by the establishment media and the Congress. Pete’s book The Mafia, CIA and George Bush, shows the incredible complexity of the relationships in the operation of the destruction of hundreds of Savings and Loans at the hands of the CIA and the Mafia, stealing peter brewton bush mafia covermany billions of dollars in the process, and leaving the taxpayers to bailout the banks.

Big names at the state and national levels of power are involved, including Lloyd Bentsen, the Bush family, and power brokers in Houston. People such as Charles Keating and Don Dixon, who are mentioned prominently in the press in connection with the S & L debacle, were merely front men or “cutouts” for the main movers. Keating and his ilk only took millions; the CIA and the Mafia looted billions.”

In his classic book on power elite analysis, The Yankee and Cowboy War, researcher Carl Oglesby divided up the Post-WWII American ruling class into two internecine factions: the northeastern seaboard Yankees versus the Sunbelt nouveau riche Cowboys. The amazing political success of George Herbert Walker Bush was his uncanny ability to stand astride and have one foot firmly planted in each of these competing factions.

Essential to understanding the Bush legacy is the historical background of the 1980 October Surprise when key individuals of the Reagan/Bush campaign covertly met with top members of the Iranian government to prevent the release of the 55 Americans held hostage in Tehran before the November election, ensuring the defeat of Democrat incumbent Jimmy Carter. The hostages were released on the day Ronald Reagan took office. Critical arm shipments, materiel and military supplies soon began flowing to the Khomeini regime, years before the more widely known Iran-Contra Scandal, which almost brought down the Reagan administration.

Barbara Honegger worked as a researcher at the Hoover Institution before joining the Ronald Reagan administration as a researcher and policy analyst in 1980. She was the Director of the Attorney General’s Anti-Discrimination Law Review at the Department of Justice. After leaving Washington, she became the Senior Military Affairs Journalist for the barbara honeggerNaval Postgraduate School.

While working for Reagan, she discovered information that convinced her that George H. W. Bush and William Casey had conspired to make sure that Iran did not release the U.S. hostages until Jimmy Carter had been defeated in the 1980 presidential election.

In 1987, Honegger began leaking information to journalists about the Reagan administration.

However, it was not until Reagan left office that Honegger published October Surprise (1989). In her book, Honegger claimed that in 1980 William Casey and other representatives of the Reagan presidential campaign made a deal at two sets of meetings in July and August at the Ritz Hotel in Madrid with Iranians to delay the release of Americans held hostage in Iran until after the November 1980 presidential elections. Reagan’s aides promised that they would get a better deal if they waited until Carter was defeated.

russ baker cover CustomFor more on the sordid backstory of epic criminality of Bush see the following volumes:

The Mafia, CIA & George Bush, by Pete Brewton; Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, The Powerful Forces That Put It In The White House, And What Their Influence Means For America, by Russ Baker; American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in the House of Bush, by Kevin Phillips; peter dale scottSecrecy And Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, by Robert Parry; American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan, by Peter Dale Scott (shown at right); Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA, by Terry Reed and John Cummings; and The Iran Contra Connection: Secret Teams and Covert Operations in the Reagan Era, by Jonathan Marshall, Peter Dale Scott, and Jane Hunter.

[See also: George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, by Webster Griffin Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin.]



Other George H. W. Bush Series Segments In This Series

Poppy's Seed and Bitter Harvest: Half Truths and History (Part 1)

  • Introduction and Recent News Clippings On Death and Legacy of George H. W. Bush

Poppy's Seed and Bitter Harvest: Half Truths and History (Part 2)

  • Poppy's Progress (Published on Dec. 11)

george hw bush casket dec 5 2018 flickr wh photoPoppy's Seed and Bitter Harvest: Half Truths and History (Part 3) (This column, Published on Dec. 13)

  • Texas Politics, Bush-Style
  • Deep In the Heart of Washington Intrigue
  • Refueling in Houston
  • White House Years and Fears
  • Iran-Contra

Poppy's Seed and Bitter Harvest: Half Truths and History (Part 4) (Published on Dec. 14.)

  • Deregulation
  • Iraq War
  • The Rest of the Story