Sunday, January 20, 2008

Why did Bush go to the Middle East?

If the question reads like a Zen koan,* maybe the resemblance is no accident. Maybe asking this question is sufficient to awaken people to the precarious state of the world economy.

American journalist Greg Palast thinks so. And he has come up with an interesting explanation to account for Bush's first foreign trip of 2008. Palast says it had little to do with peace in Palestine, Iraq, or the administration's obsession about Iran. Palast writes:
Since taking office, Bush has doubled the federal debt to more than $5 trillion. And, according to US Treasury figures, on net, foreign investors have purchased close to 100% of that debt. That’s $3 trillion borrowed from the Saudis, the Chinese, the Japanese and others.

Now, Bush, our Debt Junkie-in-Chief, needs another fix. The US Treasury, Citibank, Merrill-Lynch and other financial desperados need another hand-out from Abdullah’s stash. Abdullah, in turn, gets this financial juice by pumping it out of our pockets at nearly $100 a barrel for his crude.

Bush needs the Saudis to charge us big bucks for oil. The Saudis can’t lend the US Treasury and Citibank hundreds of billions of US dollars unless they first get these US dollars from the US. The high price of oil is, in effect, a tax levied by Bush but collected by the oil industry and the Gulf kingdoms to fund our multi-trillion dollar governmental and private debt-load. . .

Bush is there to assure Abdullah that, unlike Dubai’s ports purchase debacle, there will be no political impediment to the Saudi’s buying up Citibank nor the isle of Manhattan. . .

It’s the price paid to buy back our money from abroad that’s killing us. . . . That hefty interest bill then pushes adjustable rate mortgages into the stratosphere and pushes manufacturing into China by making borrowing and energy costs impossible to overcome. . . .
It turns out our question is nowhere near as perplexing as a Zen riddle. But then I suppose the US president is no Zen master either.
*The question, "Why did Bodhidharma go to the East?"is a Zen Koan traditionally asked of meditating monks in the Zen tradition.
Picture: Zen patriarch Bodhidharma, depicted in a woodblock print by Yoshitoshi, 1887.

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