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George H.W. Bush: America’s last foreign policy president

December 1, 2018 in Blogs

By The Conversation

George H.W. Bush was the last person elected president of the United States with any prior foreign policy experience.


Bush, who has died at age 94, entered office with one of the most impressive resumes of any president, having served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, ambassador to the United Nations and Ronald Reagan’s vice president.

He left office with an impressive list of achievements, including managing the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union and the unification of Germany. But a major high point of his presidency was also the harbinger of disappointments to come: the swift military victory that reversed Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and seemed to herald a new era in world affairs – but left Saddam Hussein in power.

In 1991, it seemed America could do anything it wanted to in the world. Twenty-seven years after Bush left Saddam Hussein in power, United States forces are still engaged in Iraq, and the US is far less confident of its global role.

A New World Order? Bush with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at Camp David on June 2, 1990. AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander

A month after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, in September 1990, Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev issued a joint statement noting that “no peaceful international order is possible if larger states can devour their smaller neighbors.” That same month, Bush declared, “We’re now in sight of a United Nations that performs as envisioned by its founders.”

The problem was that while the United Nations was set up to prevent powerful states from invading weaker neighbors, as Germany and Japan had done in the 1930s and 1940s, the main challenges of the post-Cold War world – prior to Russia invading Ukraine in 2014 – were different. They were mainly internal challenges: failed states and civil wars in places like Somalia, Rwanda, Balkans, Afghanistan and eventually Iraq after the disastrous U.S. occupation following the 2003 war.

The U.S. effort to put together an international coalition against Iraq in 1990 was stunning. Secretary of State James Baker met with every head of state …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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