•What his demise means
BY Charles Kumolu,
Deputy Features Editor
Grandson of a wealthy oil merchant, son of a senator, father of an ex-President, father of a former governor and the 41st President of United States of America, George Walker Hubert Bush, wasn’t just an ex-American leader but one of the defining figures of the 20th century.
His demise, yesterday, at 94 symbolises not only the exit of a global statesman but the death of the patriarch of world’s most powerful political dynasty.
Literally, it may not upend political configurations neither will it affect the balance of power on the global stage, but Sunday Vanguard believes its symbolism is reverberating across the world.
From Baghdad to Beijing, Abuja to Havana, Rome to Ramallah, that is the mood and pulse.
With an enormous financial power and political exposure, Bush dominated world politics for more than half a century.
This, he was able to achieve as the youngest pilot in US Navy, major player in Texas oil business, congressman, Chairman of Republican National Committee, Head of US Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, Ambassador to United Nations, US Ambassador to China, Vice President and President.
Some, especially in this part of the globe, may wonder why his demise matters.
The reasons lie in the fact that since participating in the second World War, WW2, Bush remained a regular player in international politics through the various positions he occupied.
Being in key positions of power in the Cold War and early post-Cold War era when democracy was emerging from communist strongholds, made his roles eminent.
Specifically, the fall of the Berlin Wall, Tiananmen Square killing of thousands of pro-democracy activists by China, collapse of Soviet Union, toppling of Panamanian drug-dealing President, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, and Gulf War, among others, happened under his watch.
They were historic and had the imprints of Bush in diverse ways.
Naturally, historians differ on his scorecard as President, but there is a consensus that Bush was the most qualified person ever for the US presidency.
A similar unanimity exists regarding his score sheet on the international scene.
Stephen Knooth captured it clearly in his George H.W Bush: Impact and Legacy.
He observed thus:”Generally the Bush presidency is viewed as successful in foreign affairs but a disappointment in domestic affairs.
“Presidents generally have more control over foreign policy than domestic policy, and this was markedly the case during the Bush presidency.
“Bush put together a strong team of advisers, including James Baker, Dick Cheney, Brent Scowcroft, and Colin Powell, and together they oversaw significant accomplishments. Bush had a conservative nature and was uncomfortable with bold, dramatic change, preferring stability and calm.
“These characteristics helped him lead the United States through a period of geopolitical transition. Although the Bush administration often had little control over the unfolding of world events, its responses helped avoid chaos. His refusal to gloat or declare victory during the collapse of the Soviet empire helped Mikhail Gorbachev and diffused a possible backlash from the hardliners in the Soviet government. President Bush showed that he could act unilaterally (such as in Panama) but he was also able to form a large, diverse coalition such as in the Persian Gulf War.”
For a man, reputated to have been committed to global stability, the outpouring of reactions to his demise shouldn’t be surprisng.
They are rather very illustrative for the global political order at a time the world is witnessing a rise in nationalism spearheaded by the 45th President of the US, Donald Trump.
Sunday Vangaurd asserts that the US President is indeed, reversing decades of global trend created by leaders like Bush. Remarkably, the worldwide tributes pouring in for the late Bush could be deflating for Trumpism, since globalisation which it threatens, rank among the ideals President Bush lived for.
Surprisingly, Bush didnt write his autobiography but spent 57 years, writing a compendium of his letters and diary entries about his sojourn around the world.
He believed the book entitled: My Life in Letters and Other Writings, would help “the reader look at what is on the mind of an 18-year-old kid, who goes into the Navy and at 19 is flying a torpedo bomber off an aircraft carrier in WW2, what runs through the mind of a person living in China, and what a President is thinking when he has to send someone else’s son or daughter into combat.”