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Former US President George H.W. Bush leaves behind lasting legacy
December 1, 2018, 6:17 pm
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Former US President George H.W. Bush who passed away on Friday at his home in Houston at the age of 94, was a stately politician who presided over the White House for only a single-term, but nevertheless marked his tenure by a unique leadership style that helped steer his nation through a tumultuous period in its history and in world affairs.

His presidential tenure capped a career of more than 40 years in public service.

A two-term congressman from Texas, ambassador to the United Nations, chairman of the Republican National Committee, United States envoy to China, director of the Central Intelligence Agency and vice president, under Ronald Reagan, the former president entered the White House in 1989 with an impeccable resume. A decorated Navy pilot who was shot down in the Pacific in 1944, he was also the last of the World War II generation to occupy the Oval Office.

When he left the White House at the end of his four-year tenure in 1993, he had helped put an end to four decades of Cold War hostilities between the US and erstwhile USSR.

His personal amity with then Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev and his collaborative approach and distinctive ability to handle global issues with flair helped the world tide over the tension-filled days leading up to, and following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the liberation of Eastern Europe and the unification of Germany. 

By any standards of presidential tenure, the years between 1989 and 1993 were chaotic for the United States, beginning with the 1989 US invasion of Panama and going on to a myriad of other issues around the world that would test the mettle of any president. In a world rendered more complicated and unpredictable without clear-cut foes and friends, the United States found itself facing the outbreak of war in the Balkans and its inability to respond to the killing of Chinese protestors in Tiananmen Square as once docile Communist China slowly transformed into formidable global player. 

While he was instrumental in drawing the curtains on the Cold War and shelving any immediate prospects of nuclear Armageddon, he also set the stage for drawing the United States into its most protracted military engagement.

In January 1991, he led the United States in a global coalition that was mandated by the United Nations to roll back the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Hundreds of thousands of troops engaged in a brief military campaign that liberated Kuwait and forced the forces of Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. But the swift victory was ephemeral, since then and to this day, the United States continues to be entangled in military campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa. 

Born in 1924 into a wealthy New England family, he had joined the Navy in 1942 at the age of 18, training as a torpedo bomber pilot. In 1944 Bush was the only survivor among his crew when their plane was shot down over the Pacific during a bombing raid. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for ‘courage and devotion to duty’ and would go on to fly 58 combat missions.

The former president was schooled in the good manners and graciousness of New England privilege and civic responsibility and liked to frame his public service as an answer to the call to duty. In accepting the Republican Party’s nomination to the presidency in 1988 he said: “I am a man who sees life in terms of missions — missions defined and missions completed.” 

After leaving office in 1993, Bush divided his time between family homes in Houston, Texas, and Kennebunkport on the coast of Maine. In 2005 he joined forces with Bill Clinton to tour and raise funds for regions devastated by the Asian tsunami and, closer to home in Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina, forming a close friendship with his former adversary. “Just because you run against someone in an election, it doesn’t mean you hate the guy,” he said about Mr. Clinton.

Genial and gentlemanly the former president will be long remembered, not just in the United States but around the world, by many who had come to appreciate the restrained and seasoned leadership the 41st president had displayed.

Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah sent a cable of condolences on Saturday to US President Donald Trump, expressing his sincere sympathy over the passing of former President George HW Bush. In his cable, His Highness the Amir said on behalf of the Kuwaiti government and people, he expressed sincere condolences on the passing of the former president.

His Highness recalled the former president’s historic stand and support to Kuwait and his rejection of the Iraqi occupation in its early hours, including the decisive decisions taken by the American administration under the leadership of Bush and his pivotal role in forming an international coalition, mandated by the UN to liberate the State of Kuwait. 

 

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