When War is Swell: the Carlyle Group and the Middle East at War
The Knights of the Revolving Door
A couple of weeks ago, in a dress rehearsal for her next presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton, the doyenne of humanitarian interventionism, made a pit-stop at the Carlyle Group to brief former luminaries of the imperial war rooms about her shoot-first-don’t-ask-questions foreign policy.
For those of you who have put the playbill of the Bush administration into a time capsule and buried it beneath the compost bin, the Carlyle Group is essentially a hedge fund for war-making and high tech espionage. They are the people who brought you the Iraq war and all those intrusive niceties of Homeland Security. Call them the Knights of the Revolving Door, many of Carlyle’s executives and investors having spent decades in the Pentagon, the CIA or the State Department, before cashing in for more lucrative careers as war profiteers. They are now licking their chops at the prospect for an all-out war against Syria, no doubt hoping that the conflagration will soon spread to Lebanon, Jordan and, the big prize, Iran.
For a refresher course on the sprawling tentacles of the Carlyle Group, here’s an essay that first appeared in CounterPunch’s print edition in 2004. Sadly, not much has changed in the intervening years, except these feted souls have gotten much, much richer. – JSC
Across all fronts, Bush’s war deteriorates with stunning rapidity. The death count of American soldiers killed in Iraq will soon top 1000, with no end in sight. The members of the handpicked Iraqi Governor Council are being knocked off one after another. Once loyal Shia clerics, like Ayatollah Sistani, are now telling the administration to pull out or face a nationalist insurgency. The trail of culpability for the abuse, torture and murder of Iraqi detainees seems to lead inexorably into the office of Donald Rumsfeld. The war for Iraqi oil has ended up driving the price of crude oil through the roof. Even Kurdish leaders, brutalized by the Ba’athists for decades, are now saying Iraq was a safer place under their nemesis Saddam Hussein. Like Medea whacking her own kids, the US turned on its own creation, Ahmed Chalabi, raiding his Baghdad compound and fingering him as an agent of the ayatollahs of Iran. And on and on it goes.
Still not all of the president’s men are in a despairing mood. Amid the wreckage, there remain opportunities for profit and plunder. Halliburton and Bechtel’s triumphs in Iraq have been chewed over for months. Less well chronicled is the profiteering of the Carlyle Group, a company with ties that extend directly into the Oval Office itself.
Even Pappy Bush stands in line to profit handsomely from his son’s war making. The former president is on retainer with the Carlyle Group, the largest privately held defense contractor in the nation. Carlyle is run by Frank Carlucci, who served as the National Security advisor and Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan. Carlucci has his own embeds in the current Bush administration. At Princeton, his college roommate was Donald Rumsfeld. They’ve remained close friends and business associates ever since. When you have friends like this, you don’t need to hire lobbyists..
Bush Sr. serves as a kind of global emissary for Carlyle. The ex-president doesn’t negotiate arms deals; he simply opens the door for them, a kind of high level meet-and-greet. His special area of influence is the Middle East, primarily Saudi Arabia, where the Bush family has extensive business and political ties. According to an account in the Washington Post, Bush Sr. earns around $500,000 for each speech he makes on Carlyle’s behalf.
One of the Saudi investors lured to Carlyle by Bush was the BinLaden Group, the construction conglomerate owned by the family of Osama bin Laden. According to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, Bush convinced Shafiq Bin Laden, Osama’s half brother, to sink $2 million of BinLaden Group money into Carlyle’s accounts. In a pr move, the Carlyle group cut its ties to the BinLaden Group in October 2001.
One of Bush Sr.’s top sidekicks, James Baker, is also a key player at Carlyle. Baker joined the weapons firm in 1993, fresh from his stint as Bush’s secretary of state and chief of staff. Packing a briefcase of global contacts, Baker parlayed his connections with heads of state, generals and international tycoons into a bonanza for Carlyle. After Baker joined the company, Carlyle’s revenues more than tripled.
Read the full article at: counterpunch.org
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