Thursday, August 19, 2004

Bush Takes Olympic Gold

As with all things concerning Bush, if you scratch the surface you find wealthy influence peddlers, political back-scratching, war, and, of course, oil. These Olympics, or at least those parts of it which relate to Bush, are no different.

The largest and most damaging hypocrisy is Bush’s refusal to recognize the Olympic Truce in Iraq. The UN passed the resolution by a historically unanimous 190-1 in favor of the Truce, yet Bush officials explain American unwillingness to observe the Truce in Iraq with non-sense. They simply deny any connection between the Truce and Iraq. No explanation of their thinking, no arguments, just a flat rejection of any connection. That’s not just hypocrisy, but a healthy dose of contempt for the world’s expressed will, and for American voters who support the Truce.

It is true that the Truce, much like the modern Olympics themselves, are a recent phenomenon. The Truce only found its feet again in 1992 during the crisis in former Yugoslavia. However, there was almost two-thousand years of tradition of observing the Games’ peace before the Christians killed off the original games almost 1700 years ago. Now there is a strong international consensus that the Olympics should once again be a time of peace in the world. And really, couldn’t the world do with an extra few weeks of peace every two years? Not according to Bush. We need to kill and kill now if we are deliver democracy on time for Bush’s re-election... er, the Iraqi elections, that is.

When he is not angering the Gods by impiously flouting their traditions, Bush is hobnobbing with the world’s power-elite. In this case, Bush has sent proxies for the purpose; his poppy, mom, and those tight little Bushes, J & B Bush. They headed to Athens as the official Presidential Delegation to the Games. They also brought along one of the wealthiest men in America, Alex Spanos, in case they need change for the parking meter. Spanos is a big Bush - GOP supporter, a big wheel in CA apartment development and the owner of the Chargers. Spanos is the fifth highest Pioneer on Bush’s dance card. Is it any surprise then that Bush would pay off his political patron, who happens to be Greek and damn proud of it, with a minor Ambassadorship to the Games? So Bush is using the Games to stroke a major campaign donor and fundraiser. I thought the Games were for amateurs only. Spanos is obviously a pro and a ringer, so Team USA has a lock on the Gold for long-distance influence peddling.

And Bush’s delegation are going to the Games in style, too. They arrived in Greece aboard the yacht Dumara, on which they will stay during the Games under heavy guard. The Dumara is owned by one of the wealthiest men in Greece - in the world, in fact - Spyros Latsis. A nice courtesy to a head of state, no? Absolutely. Oh, and who is this on Spyros’ OTHER mega-yacht, the Alexander, coming to the Games? It is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is being hosted aboard another of Spyros’ mega-yachts. Why is this odd? Perhaps because Spyros and Putin are in business together through Lukoil. Lukoil is a ‘private’ business in the new crony-capitalist style of the new Russia. The state calls the shorts, hits the company up for money like a ne’er-do-well brother-in-law, taxes the heck out of any profits, and what profits remain are allowed to flow, mainly, to private owners. Among the many other things he owns, Stavros owns refineries in Greece, Saudi Arabia, and the former Greek state oil company Hellenic, in partnership with Lukoil.

So why might Stavros and Putin and Poppy Bush want to meet in this exclusive little flotilla behind security tighter than a gnat’s ass? Anyone’s guess. Mine is they are talking about the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis (B-A) pipeline project which Hellenic is developing to provide a bypass of Turkish control of the Bosphorus tanker routes. It’s the sort of thing that can only be dealt with substantively by the two men, Stavros and Putin, who control the salient companies and properties, and Poppy Bush, powerbrokering on behalf of his best friends, the Saudis, and Junior, of course.

Why is the B-A important enough for this mini-summit? Because American oil interests do not want Turkey to have a monopoly on the movement of oil out of the strategic Ural-Black Sea region. Turkey has proven itself politically unreliable (read ‘democratic’) by refusing to allow the staging of troops for the Iraq war in accord with the wishes of 90% of its population. The most efficient land route around the Bosphorus, by both construction cost and transit fees (the tax each nation will charge for pipeline flow through their territory) would be minimized by placing it entirely on Turkey’s European peninsula. Instead, the B-A pipeline is routed through Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Albania, all of which add their own political risks and financial costs to the project. Why would canny businessmen make such a choice? To punish and threaten Turkey, of course.

So, poke through the appearance of a merry outing to the Games by Poppy and the clan and what do you find? International power politics, the corrupting influence of the wealthy, and oil. Don’t these people ever take a vacation? From plotting to rule the world, that is. We know they don’t mind blowing off the people’s business. W amply demonstrates that by taking 42% of his only term off to unwind from wrecking the country. They just never tire of working their own angles, however. So it looks like Spyros, Poppy, and Putin will be medaling Gold, Silver, Bronze in the synchronized cloak and dagger competition.

So where does that leave Bush? Is he walking away from the Games empty handed? No laurels for Bush? No way. Bush just hasn’t any competition. He is so dominant on his chosen field that no one will even play against him; Bush gets the Gold, Silver, and Bronze for Olympic Hypocrisy. (Note: all three medals to one athlete is an Olympic first, which they are redrafting the rules to deal with - I hear it has something to do with electronic voting machines for the judges... with no paper trail...)

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