[Marxism] The Bush dynasty

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Feb 9 07:47:49 MST 2004


NY Review of Books, Volume 51, Number 3 · February 26, 2004

The Wars of the Texas Succession
By Paul Krugman

American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in 
the House of Bush
by Kevin Phillips
Viking, 397 pp., $25.95

The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education 
of Paul O'Neill
by Ron Suskind
Simon and Schuster, 348 pp., $26.00

1.
Here's a true story that came too late to make it into Kevin Phillips's 
American Dynasty: Aristocracy, Fortune, and the Politics of Deceit in 
the House of Bush, but it fits perfectly with its thesis. As all the 
world knows, Halliburton, the company that made Dick Cheney rich, has 
been given multibillion-dollar contracts, without competitive bidding, 
in occupied Iraq. Suspicions of profiteering are widespread; critics 
think they have found a smoking gun in the case of gasoline imports. For 
Halliburton has been charging the US authorities in Iraq remarkably high 
prices for fuel—far above local spot prices.

The company denies wrongdoing, saying that its prices in Baghdad reflect 
the prices it has to pay its Kuwaiti supplier. That's not quite true; 
Halliburton's reported expenses for transporting gasoline are, for some 
reason, much higher than anyone else's. But the real question is why 
Halliburton chose that particular supplier—a company with little 
experience in the oil business, mysteriously selected as the sole source 
of gasoline after what appears to have been a highly improper bidding 
procedure. Why did it get the job? We don't know. But it's interesting 
to note that the company appears to be closely connected with the 
al-Sabahs, Kuwait's royal family. And the al-Sabahs, in turn, have in 
the past had close business ties with the Bush family, in particular the 
President's brother Marvin.

In any previous administration—at least any administration of the past 
seventy years—this sort of incestuous relationship among foreign 
governments, private businesses, and the personal fortunes of people in 
or close to the US government would have been considered unusual and 
prima facie scandalous. What we learn from Kevin Phillips's new book, 
however, is that this kind of intertwining of public policy and personal 
self-interest has been standard operating procedure not just for George 
W. Bush, but for his entire family.

American Dynasty and Ron Suskind's new book, The Price of Loyalty, can 
be seen as a second wave of Bush critiques. The first wave, exemplified 
by Molly Ivins's Bushwhacked, Joe Conason's Big Lies, and David Corn's 
The Lies of George W. Bush, described what Bush has been doing these 
past three years. But they offered only scant explanations of how and 
why the Bush administration does what it does. (I made a brief stab at 
an explanation in the introduction to my own The Great Unraveling, but 
it was no more than a sketch.)

The new books go deeper into the agonizing question of what is happening 
to our country. Ron Suskind—an investigative reporter with a knack for 
getting insiders to tell what they know—offers a detailed, deeply 
disturbing look at how the Bush administration makes policy. Kevin 
Phillips—a former Republican strategist who feels that his party has 
betrayed the principles he supported—investigates the history of the 
Bush clan, and argues that this family history provides the key to 
understanding George W.'s motives and even his technique of governing.

Phillips is well aware that some will dismiss his work as "conspiracy 
theory." But as he says, such taunts shouldn't prevent us from looking 
at the family history of the people who now rule us:

"Worries about conspiracy thinking should not inhibit inquiries in a way 
that blocks sober examination, which often more properly identifies some 
kind of elite behavior familiar to sociologists and political scientists 
alike."

To that end, Phillips offers

"an unusual and unflattering portrait of a great family (great in power, 
not morality) that has built a base over the course of the twentieth 
century in the back corridors of the new military-industrial complex and 
in close association with the growing intelligence and national security 
establishments."

And George W. Bush, as the scion of this dynasty, is the first president 
to, in effect, inherit the office. For four generations the Bush family 
has thrived by exploiting its political connections, especially in the 
secret world of intelligence, to get ahead in business, as well as 
exploiting its business connections, especially in finance and oil, to 
get ahead in politics. And whatever the public and the pundits may have 
thought about the 2000 election, for the Bushes it was a royal restoration.

full: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/16911

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