These days, while President George W. Bush is all about convincing
the U.S. public that he has a "Plan for Victory" in Iraq, his younger
brother, Neil, is all about taking advantage of the family name.
As the president was trumpeting a 35-page National Security Council
document titled "Our National Strategy for Victory in Iraq", Neil
has been touting his
company's prospectus. Over the past six months, Neil Bush has been
shepherded around several former Soviet republics by a man wanted for fraud
by Russian authorities, and has showed up in the Philippines and Taiwan at the
side of a self-styled messiah.
If people know anything at all about the star-crossed Neil Bush, it likely
relates to either his role in the failed Silverado Savings and Loan scandal
during the 1980s, which cost taxpayers more than one billion dollars, or, more
recently, the lurid details of his divorce from his wife of 23 years.
After a brief hiatus from the public spotlight, Neil Bush is back. Within a
three-month period, Bush has shown up in Latvia, Ukraine and Georgia with Russian
fugitive Boris Berezovsky, and has appeared at the side of the Unification Church's
Rev. Sun Myung Moon in Taiwan and the Philippines.
In September, Bush visited Latvia with Boris Berezovsky, described by The Washington
Post as "a fugitive Russian tycoon who made millions in the violent scramble
for control of Russian government assets after the fall of communism".
Bush and Berezovsky, who currently lives in London where he has received political
asylum, were toodling around the former Soviet republics to promote Ignite!
Learning, the Texas-based interactive education software company Bush founded
Berezovsky took Bush "on a tour of countries from the former Soviet Union
that have spun out of Moscow's sphere of influence", the St. Petersburg
Times reported. In June, it was Ukraine, then Georgia, "where Berezovsky's
longtime partner and Tbilisi power broker Badri Patarkatsishvili was on hand
to wine and dine the U.S. president's brother".
The Russian newspaper also pointed out that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow had
disavowed any knowledge of Bush's activities, while the State Department denied
any "involvement in, or any role in arranging, the activities of these
two private individuals in Riga".
More recently, Bush showed up in the Philippines and Taiwan at the side of
the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the head of the controversial Unification Church.
In the Philippines, Bush attended the inaugural convocation of the Universal
Peace Federation (UPF) in Manila, the Manila Bulletin reported.
Bush, along with other "peace leaders", joined with Moon in meeting
with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The president "praised
Moon for his global peace efforts and God-centered, family-centered economic
and social initiatives in various parts of the world, including projects in
a number of Philippine cities", the Manila paper reported.
Moon's Philippines trip, one stop on a 100-day tour that is taking him to 100
cities in 67 nations and covering nearly 100,000 miles, was aimed at building
momentum for his idea of developing a faith-based path to peace by revamping
the United Nations.
Veteran investigative reporter John Gorenfeld told IPS that, "Moon speaks
in parables from the Book of Genesis. He says the U.N. is like Cain, but he
wants to build a second entity that is like Abel. Ideally his 'Abel U.N.' --
a body fusing all religions -- would be embraced by the U.N. But if not, he
wants to set up his own alternative diplomatic machine to outshine the U.N."
During a May 2003 meeting with President Bush at the White House, Philippines
President Arroyo suggested that the United States might consider co-sponsoring
the proposal, the conservative online news magazine, NewsMax.com reported. According
to that report, the president "expressed deep interest and asked his national
security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, to study the matter".
Neil Bush is no stranger to showing up at out of the way places searching for
business: One month after the 9/11 attacks, Bush showed up at an international
technology conference in Dubai where he was hunting for investors for Ignite!.
A few months later, he was in Saudi Arabia, where he delivered the keynote
address on the concluding day of the three-day Jeddah Economic Forum. Bush told
conferees that the best way to change perceptions in the United States about
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was to expand their political lobbying.
Stained by his involvement in the savings and loan debacle, Neil Bush's reputation
was further soiled by revelations contained in a deposition that was part of
his divorce from his wife Sharon. In those documents, Bush revealed details
about rewarding business deals and a series of sexual encounters with women
Sharon Bush's lawyer, Marshall Davis Brown, questioned Bush about an August
2002 contract with Grace Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp., a firm backed by
Jiang Mianheng, the son of former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, that would
pay him two million dollars in stock over five years: "You have absolutely
no educational background in semiconductors do you?"
"That's correct," Bush responded.
"And you have absolutely over the last 10, 15, 20 years not a lot of demonstrable
business experience that would bring about a company investing two million dollars
in you?" Brown persisted.
In the deposition, Bush also admitted to having had a series of sexual encounters
with Asian woman, while on trips to Thailand and Hong Kong. According to Bush,
the women knocked on his door, entered and engaged in sex with him. According
to a CNN report, Bush "said he did not know if they were prostitutes because
they never asked for money and he did not pay them".
Last month, Bush took time away from his busy schedule to attend a White House
dinner in honour of Britain's Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla.
Rev. Moon has been a longtime friend to the Bush family. After supporting Bush's
election in 2000 through his flagship publication, The Washington Times, the
newspaper's foundation sponsored a prayer luncheon attended by some 1,700 religious,
civic, and political leaders the day before Bush's inauguration.
In 1995, former President George H. W. Bush received 10,000 dollars to speak
at a Moon-sponsored Buenos Aires banquet that launched the Reverend's Latin
American publication, "Tiempos del Mundo" (Times of the World).
"A lot of my friends in South America don't know about the Washington
Times but it is an independent voice," the former president said. "The
editors of the Washington Times tell me that never once has the man with the
vision interfered with the running of the paper, a paper that in my view brings
sanity to Washington, DC."