Corporate Media Sanitizes Legacy of George H. W. Bush Presidency

Interview with Arun Gupta, independent investigative journalist and author, conducted by Scott Harris

When George Herbert Walker Bush died on Nov. 30, the nation’s corporate media recounted a predictably sanitized version of the 41st president’s public life. Bush, who served as a Navy pilot during World War II, a Texas congressman, U.N. ambassador, CIA director and vice president under Ronald Reagan, was largely uncritically portrayed as a patriot who dedicated his life to public service, and sacrificed his own personal and political ambition for the promotion of democracy abroad and the good of the nation.
During his time in office, Bush invaded Panama in order to overthrow its government; sent U.S. troops to drive Iraq out of Kuwait; presided over U.S. policy during the fall of the Soviet Union; allied himself with death squads and corrupt, repressive governments in Central America and pardoned Reagan administration officials convicted of crimes in the Iran-Contra affair.  After the end of the first Persian Gulf War, the elder Bush took credit for eliminating the “Vietnam Syndrome,” the American public’s aversion to launching new military adventures abroad.
Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Arun Gupta, an author and independent investigative journalist who has written for dozens of publications and was a founding editor of New York’s Indypendent newspaper and news site.  Here, Gupta examines the darker side of the late President Bush’s record in office that he maintains set the stage for some of the most controversial policies of current U.S. President Donald Trump.

ARUN GUPTA: George Bush was “Trump before Trump.” The reason he’s “Trump before Trump” is because he was an architect, or one of the architects of the world that that led to Trump. He was in the Reagan administration, where you have this systematic neoliberal assault on the working class, on the poor, on cities, on African Americans, and this is where you really start to get the runaway income inequality. I don’t remember the exact figures, but you know like in 1980, the differential between the CEO and an average worker was something like 20 to 30 to one, right – of like a Fortune 500 company. Now it’s something like 600 to 1. You know, but Bush wasn’t there primarily on the domestic end, even though he went along with everything. He was much more interested in foreign policy, international relations.

And really what he did during his time in office, and it’s this long historical arc, right? We shouldn’t understand George Herbert Walker Bush so much as a person. I think that that’s a problem that the media had – this individualism, you know, as part of neoliberalism, right? Just focusing on the person, but as someone who represents as an embedded in all these institutions, and so his historical life arch is only about one in the shadows in terms of the intelligence community, the CIA. And it really comes to fruition in the 1980s. And he creates, he helps to create it. In fact, I think he is the primary architect along with William Casey, the CIA chief, of this world of dictatorships, a death squads, torture and, and drug dealing that just ends up exploding into all these dirty wars that really metastasize after September 11, 2001, under his son. And it creates one, both the secret government that’s involved in all these machinations around the world and creates a lot of cynicism in the American public as well. And to a large degree, that’s what Donald Trump fed off of.

BETWEEN THE LINES: The Iran Contra scandal was a huge failure in terms of bringing people to justice who violated the law and all sort of morality in the dirty wars in Central America during the early and mid-1980s in places like El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Honduras. Just mention a bit about George H.W. Bush’s a role in the Iran Contra scandal.

ARUN GUPTA: A lot of these dirty wars were conducted right out of George Bush’s office in conjunction with the CIA Director Casey, and they were run by veterans of the Phoenix Program. That’s why these connections are important and they continue into the Iraq war and occupation, where you find veterans of the dirty war in Central America, specifically El Salvador.

So, there were all these investigations. There was a special counsel. There was all this evidence of cover up. All these documents were shredded before the attorney general at the time, Edwin Meese, bothered to secure Oliver North’s office. They violated all sorts of congressional laws, the Arms Export Control Act, like sending arms to Iran illegally they violated the Boland Amendment, which prohibited any direct or indirect military aid by basically any government, military or intelligence service to the Contra, so they violated all these acts.

And Walsh is closing in on Bush when in 1992, a Christmas Eve, just a few weeks before he was going to leave office, because Clinton was elected in November, Bush pardons six key figures, including the Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger more because he had been convicted because he was almost certainly going to be called as a witness during Weinberger’s trial. The trial was set to begin in 12 days and Walsh was on the verge of criminally charging George Bush senior himself. So this is what I mean. That George Bush was Trump before Trump. Everything you think Trump may have done, Bush actually did. He violated all these laws. He engaged in this massive coverup. He trashed the rule of law and the Constitution and so you know all this praise just being heaped on him – it’s just a giant attempt to bury all these skeletons.

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