What do the two former US Presidents George H. W. Bush and his son George W. Bush have in common with former Prime Minister Tony Blair of England, former Bundesbank Governor Karl Otto Pöhl, Germany, former US Finance Minister James Baker, former President Fidel Ramos of the Philippines and former Prime Minister Anand Panyarac from Thailand? The answer is: The Carlyle Group. With nearly $ 200 billion assets the Carlyle Group is the world’s probably largest “silent” investor in the political controlled sectors: aerospace, energy and war industries. The company employs more than 600,000 people worldwide. In addition, the Carlyle Group has a global network of partners and has invested heavily in port facilities, industrial complexes and oil refineries worldwide. In recent years investments expanded to other industries, for example, the Carlyle Group bought the car hiring company, Hertz, in 2005. Carlyle Group has 1,400 employees in 34 offices worldwide. Carlyle has approximately 1,500 investors from 74 countries. Among the newer investors in the Carlyle Group are the governments of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates. Very bad odds for the defense industry When the company was founded, odds on its core business – defense industry – were particularly poor. The main catalyst for the company’s growth was 11 September 2001, and the growth has been sustained by the subsequent wars ever since. As the two friends, Stephen Norris, chief financial officer at the Marriott Hotel in Washington and attorney David Rubinstein, in 1987 established their private investment company with focus on the defense industry, everyone in the industry shook their heads. It was too late, they said – the bulging American war industry had shrunk beyond recognition since the Cold War, and no one predicted the sector any future at all. But the two young businessmen had a vision, they said. Their company was founded in Washington for one particular reason: They would actively seek to involve people in and around the central power units at the White House, the Pentagon and the giant US Federal administration around Washington. Carlyle founder David Rubenstein even had the right first man in mind for the job as CEO: Frank Carlucci, longtime CIA director and defense minister under President Reagan. Rubenstein and Carlucci knew each other from their time in the Carter administration. From Defense to war Director When Carlucci left his office under Reagan in 1989, he became the first ”political” director (CEO) and later chairman of the Carlyle Group. Up to and during the first Gulf War the Carlyle Group founded a gigantic fortune with profitable and government contracted investments in American war industry. This genius system of embedding former politicians with powerful contacts and global network seems to be working well, and in 1994, former President George HW Bush (Vice President 1981-1989, President 1989-1993) assigned as a counsel. As did Britain’s Prime Minister John Major when he left his top position in politics in 1997; it was immediately replaced with the post of European vice president of the Carlyle Group. In addition, over the years a number of international top leaders have had roles as consultants, advisors or highly paid lecturers at various events around the globe. The Bush family and the Saudi Royal Family The affiliation of George HW Bush (the elder) brought new and especially Middle Eastern dimensions to Carlyle’s contacts. The Bush family had close ties to the Saudi Royal Family, in particular based on the 1973 oil-for-dollars agreement between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and the subsequent massive American presence in the country. Already in 1976, when George HW Bush was CIA director, he had a close relationship to the head of the Saudi intelligence service, Sheikh Kamal Adham – who was later convicted as one of the leaders in the international banking scandal of BCCI, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, which was convicted for fraud and money laundering on a huge scale and forced to close in 1991. Bush and Bin Laden Bush’s relations also included business with one of Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest families, the Bin Laden family, but according to Carlyle’s own information the Bin Ladens were already investing in Carlyle at this time. In the 90ies, George HW Bush brought in large amounts of cash investments from Saudi Arabia to the Carlyle Group. He went on trips to Thailand and South Korea; each and every visit was followed by massive investments from the respective countries. In return, Carlyle invested in local industries, telecommunications and finance companies, etc. in the respective countries. This was how the American military bases in most of Asia and the Middle East were built, largely by Dick Cheneys former company Halliburton and/or the Saudi Bin Laden Group. Bush junior enters the system In 1990, George HW Bush had his son George W. Bush, located on the board of the airline Caterair which Carlyle had already bought, and thus the son was introduced in the organization. Shortly afterwards, Mr Bush (junior) as a newly appointed governor of Texas, channeled 100 million public pension funds in the Carlyle Group. The Gulf wars and minor conflicts in the 1990s were not enough to keep the faith up on the American war industry’s future. This was described clearly in the report ”Rebuilding Americas Defences” of 2000, published by a think tank called Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and co-signed by, among other things Paul Wolfowitz, Gordon Libby and Donald Rumsfeld. In the section ”Creating Tomorrow’s Dominant Force” it states that only a ”catalyzing disaster like a new Pearl Harbor” can ensure the rapid transformation of the American war industry, which is desirable for both economic and political reasons. War industry lacked a disaster in 2001 When George HW Bush’s son, George W. Bush took office as president in January 2001, the war industry lacked – in his own words – a disaster similar to Pearl Harbor to get back on track, and through the Carlyle Group, there could be established an absolutely gigantic player in a market that most investors seemed to judge as dead – simply because the enemies were gone after the end of the Cold War and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union. President Bush’s administration was packed with PNAC members: Elliot Abrams, Richard Armitage, John Bolton, Elliot Cohen, Dick Cheney, Lewis Libby, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Robert Zoellick, just some of the best known names – and several of them were sooner or later to be found on the payroll of the Carlyle Group. Rumsfeld was such; Chairman of Carlyle from 1989 to 1992, likewise Carlyle made heavy investments in Halliburton between 1995 and 2000, when Dick Cheney left his CEO position in the company. He then became vice president in the Bush administration. Endless appropriations and unbridled growth The necessary catalyzing event for the arms industry came in the form of the so-called terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, which immediately began an almost unbridled growth in war industries, security industries, communications and energy, etc. The terrorist attacks also triggered unlimited funds for anything that could be associated with “the war on terror”, just as it was used for the direct impetus for the continued presence of Western troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and several other countries in the region. On 11 September 2001 at 09:00 a spectacular meeting started at the Hotel Ritz Carlton in Washington DC. The Carlyle Group held its annual four-day investor conference. In a special suite were Frank Carlucci, James Baker and David Rubenstein together with Shafig bin Laden, who represented the Bin Laden family’s investments in the United States. George HW Bush had officially left the conference the night before. The end of the annual investor conference thus took place at the exact same time as the landmark event which ensured the Carlyle Group’s growth in decades ahead. An immediate boom On 11 September 2001, the new enemy was born. The very enemy the arms industry, PNAC, Carlyle Group and not least, the Bush Administration had been wishing for. Not only did it create an immediate boom in virtually all industries, even those with only peripheral contact to the defense sector, but the prospect of very large military operations in the years that followed created renewed and well-founded optimism in the rebuilding industry and the private international banking business. Politics, arms industry and money Several independent researchers and political commentators over the years have been investigating the Carlyle Group and the apparent concentration of power in this borderland between politics, defense industry and money. Journalist Wayne Madsen says: ”Carlyle uses Bush Senior to make admission in various government offices around the world – from presidents, prime ministers, kings, sheiks, emirs and sultans. Bush Senior uses connections to get money into the Bush cooperatives whose funds again find their way into the Bush family’s campaign machines. ” The list of groups that are currently owned by Carlyle, is impressively long. They have invested in the French newspaper Le Figaro, Loews Entertainment, the Swedish broadband company ComHem, and many others. Through a wide range of companies and subsidiaries in the armaments and aerospace industry Carlyle has become the probably largest supplier of equipment, vehicles and ammunition for the Department of Defense, and thus to the American war machine and the armament of the NATO war machine.
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The Carlyle group is one of America’s ten biggest military contracting firms. This firm specializes in what they call ‘crony capitalism’. That means they make money by gaining access to the world’s leading decision-makers.