Bush praised for his abil­i­ties, de­cency.

San Francisco Chronicle - Late Edition (Sunday) - - FRONT PAGE - By Melissa Eddy

To Ger­mans, the 41st pres­i­dent of the United States, Ge­orge Bush, was the man who helped en­sure the peace­ful re­uni­fi­ca­tion of their coun­try. To Mikhail Gor­bachev, for­mer leader of the Soviet Union, he ex­em­pli­fied great kind­ness. To many Kuwaitis, he was a hero, lauded for the 100-hour ground war that routed Iraqi forces from their coun­try.

On Satur­day, as for­mer and cur­rent lead­ers around the globe learned of Bush’s death at 94 on Fri­day night, their con­do­lences were steeped in praise for the depth of his abil­i­ties as a states­man and his re­fusal to grand­stand — a point that com­men­ta­tors noted was in sharp con­trast to the tone of the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“Ger­many owes a lot to Ge­orge H.W. Bush,” Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel wrote in a tele­gram to Pres­i­dent Trump. “It was a stroke of luck in Ger­man his­tory that he was at the head of the United States of Amer­ica when the Cold War came to an end and Ger­many’s re­uni­fi­ca­tion be­came pos­si­ble.

Bush, of­ten crit­i­cized at home for his mea­sured re­sponse to the fall of the Iron Cur­tain, was praised for that very qual­ity abroad. His calm, con­trolled re­sponse to the end of com­mu­nism in Eu­rope earned him re­spect on the Con­ti­nent as a se­nior states­man, de­spite his de­ci­sions to send U.S. troops into Panama and to launch the 1991 Per­sian Gulf War.

Gor­bachev, the for­mer pres­i­dent of the Soviet Union, un­der­scored Bush’s skill­ful ne­go­ti­a­tion among the for­mer ad­ver­saries of the Cold War. “We had a chance to work to­gether dur­ing the years of tremen­dous changes,” he told the In­ter­fax news agency. “The re­sult was an end to the Cold War and the nu­clear arms race.”

Gor­bachev said Bush “was a true part­ner” at the di­plo­matic ta­ble, but above all one who showed kind­ness to him and to his wife, Raisa.

His­to­ri­ans have noted that while Ron­ald Rea­gan gets the credit for urg­ing Gor­bachev to “tear down that wall,” it was Bush who later suc­ceeded in per­suad­ing the Rus­sian leader, as well as Pres­i­dent François Mit­ter­rand of France and deeply skep­ti­cal Prime Min­is­ter Mar­garet Thatcher of Bri­tain, to al­low the two Ger­man na­tions to reunite.

“I will never for­get the role he played in mak­ing Eu­rope a safer and more united place fol­low­ing the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Cur­tain,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, pres­i­dent of the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion.

John Ma­jor, who suc­ceeded Thatcher as prime min­is­ter of Bri­tain in 1990, summed up the core of what many ap­pre­ci­ated about Bush: He “saw Amer­ica’s obli­ga­tion to the world and hon­ored it,” Ma­jor said.

“I feel priv­i­leged to have worked with him, and even more priv­i­leged that he be­came a life­long friend,” Ma­jor told the As­so­ci­ated Press. “He was, quite sim­ply, one of the most deep-down de­cent peo­ple I have ever known.”

Melissa Eddy is a New York Times writer.

J. Scott Applewhite / As­so­ci­ated Press 2009

For­mer Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush (left) joins then Pres­i­dent-elect Barack Obama, Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton and for­mer Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter in 2009.

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