Trump boasts he can make Amer­ica safer. Bush just did it

Western Daily Press - - Stateside -

SOME­TIMES in life, we don’t re­alise what we had un­til it’s gone. And with the pass­ing of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush, Amer­ica is now be­gin­ning to see that de­spite re­ject­ing him for a sec­ond term in of­fice, few lead­ers achieved so much in so lit­tle time.

When he was kicked out of the White House a quar­ter of a cen­tury ago, the 41st US leader had a ter­ri­ble ap­proval rat­ing and was scorned by op­po­si­tion Democrats and many Repub­li­cans alike.

It’s true Bush lacked the po­lit­i­cal ge­nius of ei­ther his li­onised pre­de­ces­sor, Ron­ald Rea­gan, or his sil­ver-tongued suc­ces­sor, Bill Clin­ton.

His record as pres­i­dent was un­ques­tion­ably mixed, and his cam­paign for re-elec­tion to the Oval Of­fice in 1992 was de­stroyed by his fail­ure to con­vince vot­ers he un­der­stood the eco­nomic and so­cial prob­lems they suf­fered.

But where Bush did suc­ceed, he did so on a huge, and of­ten global scale. He made his­tory, and much of that his­tory made the world a bet­ter place.

Al­though at the time not given credit, he han­dled a se­ries of his­toric crises with com­pe­tence and re­straint, while deal­ing with the ev­ery­day con­flicts and com­pro­mises of gov­ern­ing re­spon­si­bly and rea­son­ably. But for­eign pol­icy was Bush’s great strength, and of his worldly con­tri­bu­tions, two stand out.

Firstly, the end of the Cold War and of the Soviet Union oc­curred on Bush’s watch. His han­dling of both was skil­ful and adept. Bush saw the im­por­tance of giv­ing Soviet re­form­ers tacit sup­port while not pro­vok­ing their ad­ver­saries to act against them.

He al­most sin­gle-hand­edly stage­m­an­aged the cre­ation of a new world or­der amid the col­lapse of com­mu­nism, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the re­uni­fi­ca­tion of Ger­many.

Se­condly, his de­ci­sions in 1990-1991 to pro­tect Arab al­lies and drive Iraqi forces from Kuwait were brave and well-jus­ti­fied.

Both events shocked the world, and Bush steered their out­come with a calm that char­ac­terised most of his pub­lic life.

Some­times peo­ple think pol­i­tics is tawdry, to­day never more so. But ask any world leader, who met with Bush, what he was like and they will say he be­haved im­pec­ca­bly at all times, with truth and hon­esty at the fore­front of his lead­er­ship.

Nat­u­rally, he had op­po­nents but never, they say, en­e­mies. He made friends and never lost them.

By all ac­counts, Bush en­sured pol­i­tics was a re­spectable pro­fes­sion, and he un­der­stood its obli­ga­tions to every­one, not just the pow­er­ful, not only the rich but those far less for­tu­nate, from ev­ery walk of life.

It is dif­fi­cult at the mo­ment of his pass­ing not to take note of the pro­found dif­fer­ences be­tween his time in the White House and that of its cur­rent oc­cu­pant, Don­ald Trump.

Beyond a de­sire to be pres­i­dent – Bush was more driven and am­bi­tious than his mod­est per­son­al­ity of­ten sug­gested – the two men had al­most noth­ing in com­mon.

Whereas one was gra­cious and mod­est, the other is ar­ro­gant and vain. One was pru­dent, the other brash. One depend­able, the other un­hinged.

Bush’s death should be a mo­ment to re­mem­ber a re­spect­ful po­lit­i­cal or­der when gov­ern­ment at­tracted peo­ple of ta­lent and in­tegrity, for whom pub­lic ser­vice of­fered a pur­pose higher than self-en­rich­ment.

Bush is now rightly seen as one of the most un­der­rated pres­i­dents in re­cent his­tory.

The end of the Cold War and of the Soviet Union oc­curred on Bush’s watch. His han­dling of both was skil­ful

Pres­i­dent Trump and wife Me­la­nia pay their re­spects to the late Ge­orge H.W Bush, left

The Berlin Wall falls, 1989

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.