George Herbert Walker Bush
Bush, George H. W.
Bush, George H. W.
Excerpt from his announcement of war against Iraq
Nationally televised on January 16, 1991
At 9:00 PM on January 16, 1991, President George H. W. Bush appeared on national television to inform the American people that the United States and its allies were engaged in a war against Iraq. Most Americans had been expecting this announcement for some time. On August 2, 1990, Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had ordered his military forces to invade the neighboring country of Kuwait. Hussein argued that Iraq had a historical claim to Kuwait's territory. He also wanted to control Kuwait's oil reserves and to gain access to Kuwait's port on the Persian Gulf. But the invasion outraged members of the international community and started a chain of events that seemed to lead inevitably toward war.
Many countries around the world criticized Husseins's actions. The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution condemning the invasion and demanding that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait. It also imposed strict restrictions on trade with Iraq in order to punish Hussein for breaking international law. Many people hoped that the sanctions would hurt the Iraqi economy and make it impossible for Hussein to continue his occupation of Kuwait.
In the meantime, the United States and its allies began sending military forces to the Persian Gulf region. On November 29, the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 678, which established a deadline of midnight on January 15, 1991, for Hussein to withdraw his army from Kuwait. If Iraq continued to occupy Kuwait after the deadline, the Security Council authorized the allied coalition, made up of more than thirty-five countries, to use "all necessary means to ... restore international peace and security in the area."
During the next six weeks, a number of world leaders made frantic efforts to negotiate a peaceful solution to the crisis. But Hussein refused to withdraw his forces from Kuwait and instead moved even more troops across the border. He also began threatening to attack other nearby countries, including Israel and Saudi Arabia. As the UN deadline drew closer, the U.S. Congress held a series of debates and formally approved the use of force against Iraq. The January 15 deadline came and went without any indication that Hussein would withdraw. The following day the U.S.-led coalition launched an air war against Iraq.
The first official U.S. government announcement of the start of the war came at 7:00 PM on January 16. White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater gave a press briefing in which he stated that "the liberation of Kuwait has begun." Two hours later President Bush made a prepared speech on national television. In this speech, which is excerpted here, Bush tells the American people that negotiations and sanctions failed to convince the Iraqi forces to leave Kuwait. He claims that the six-month Iraqi occupation took a terrible toll on the Kuwaiti people and also had negative effects on other countries around the world. He outlines the U.S. strategy, which involves using massive air strikes to destroy Iraq's offensive military capability so that it can no longer threaten its neighbors. Bush stresses that his goal is to free Kuwait rather than conquer Iraq. He places the blame for the war squarely on Saddam Hussein and says that he has no argument with the Iraqi people.
Things to remember while reading the excerpt from President Bush's announcement of war against Iraq:
- In his speech President Bush says that the Iraqi army "subjected the people of Kuwait to unspeakable atrocities [extremely cruel or brutal acts]." He is referring to the fact that thousands of people in Kuwait were arrested, tortured, or killed in the weeks following the Iraqi invasion. Iraqi soldiers randomly pulled people off the streets of Kuwait City and held them for questioning. Anyone who was suspected of resisting Iraqi rule was executed. Many witnesses reported that the Iraqi forces set up "torture centers" to intimidate and extract information from the Kuwaiti people. Iraqi soldiers also broke into thousands of private homes and businesses and stole or destroyed everything of value.
- Among the reasons President Bush provides for going to war is that Iraq's occupation of Kuwait was causing serious damage to economies around the world. The price of oil doubled to reach $40 per barrel in the months following the Iraqi invasion. This rapid price increase hit hardest in the poor countries of the developing world (also known as the Third World). As these countries struggled to industrialize, they became more dependent on oil imports than ever before. One economist estimated that every dollar increase in the price of a barrel of oil added $2 billion to a developing country's annual cost of imports. The crisis in the Persian Gulf also affected some Third World countries by cutting off the flow of income from their citizens who worked in the region. Hundreds of thousands of people from poor nations of Asia and North Africa lived in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other wealthy Middle Eastern nations. They held jobs as "guest workers" and sent most of their earnings home to support their families. The revenue generated by these citizens played an important role in some developing countries. Guest workers sent $400 million per year back to India, for example, and $100 million per year back to the Philippines. Finally, many guest workers fled the Persian Gulf region following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, which left many developing nations struggling to deal with refugees.
Excerpt from President Bush's 1991 announcement of war against Iraq
Just two hours ago, allied air forces began an attack on military targets in Iraq and Kuwait. These attacks continue as I speak. Ground forces are notengaged.
This conflict started August 2nd when the dictator of Iraq invaded a small and helpless neighbor. Kuwait—a member of theArab League and a member of theUnited Nations —was crushed, its peoplebrutalized. Five months ago, Saddam Hussein started this cruel war against Kuwait. Tonight, the battle has been joined.
This military action, taken in accord with United Nationsresolutions —and with theconsent of the United States Congress—follows months of constant and virtually endlessdiplomatic activity on the part of the United Nations, the United States, and many, many other countries. Arab leaders sought what became known as an Arab solution—only to conclude that Saddam Hussein was unwilling to leave Kuwait. Others traveled toBaghdad in a variety of efforts to restore peace and justice. Our Secretary of State, James Baker, held an historic meeting inGeneva —only to be totallyrebuffed. This past weekend, in a last ditch effort, theSecretary General of the United Nations went to the Middle East with peace in his heart—his second such mission. And he came back from Baghdad with no progress at all in getting Saddam Hussein to withdraw from Kuwait.
Now the 28 countries with forces in the Gulf area have exhausted all reasonable efforts to reach a peaceful resolution, have no choice but to drive Saddam from Kuwait by force. We will not fail.
Arab League: A political, economic, and military alliance of twenty Arab nations and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
United Nations: An international organization founded in 1945 to promote peace, security, and economic development; membership now includes most countries of the world.
Brutalized: Treated in a cruel and ruthless manner.
Resolutions: Formal expressions of will or intent.
Consent: Formal agreement.
Diplomatic activity: Attempts to negotiate a peaceful solution.
Baghdad: Capital city of Iraq.
Geneva: Capital city of Switzerland, where U.S. Secretary of State James Baker met with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz on January 9, 1991.
Rebuffed: Rejected or turned away.
Secretary General of the United Nations
Secretary General of the United Nations: Head of the administrative branch of the United Nations; during the Persian Gulf War this position was held by Peruvian diplomat Javier Perez de Cuellar (1920– ).
As I report to you, air attacks are underway against military targets in Iraq. We are determined to knock out Saddam Hussein's nuclearbomb potential. We will also destroy his chemical weapons facilities. Much of Saddam'sartillery and tanks will be destroyed. Our operations are designed to best protect the lives of all the coalition forces by targeting Saddam's vast militaryarsenal.
Initial reports fromGeneral Schwarzkopf are that our operations are proceeding according to plan.
Our objectives are clear. Saddam Hussein's forces will leave Kuwait. The legitimate government of Kuwait will be restored to its rightful place and Kuwait will once again be free. Iraq will eventually comply with allrelevant United Nations resolutions. And then, when peace is restored, it is our hope that Iraq will live as a peaceful and cooperative member of the family of nations, thus enhancing the security and stability of the Gulf.
Some may ask, why act now? Why not wait? The answer is clear: The world could wait no longer.Sanctions, though having some effect, showed no signs of accomplishing theirobjective. Sanctions were tried for well over five months, and we and our allies concluded that sanctions alone would not force Saddam from Kuwait.
While the world waited, Saddam Husseinsystematically raped,pillaged, andplundered a tiny nation, no threat to his own. He subjected the people of Kuwait to unspeakableatrocities —and among thosemaimed and murdered [were] innocent children.
While the world waited, Saddam sought to add to the chemical weapons arsenal he now possesses aninfinitely more dangerous weapon of mass destruction—a nuclear weapon. And while the world waited, while the world talked peace and withdrawal, Saddam Hussein dug in and moved massive forces into Kuwait.
While the world waited, while Saddam stalled, more damage was being done to the fragile economies of the Third World, the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe, to the entire world, including our own economy.
The United States, together with the United Nations,exhausted every means at our disposal to bring this crisis to a peaceful end. However, Saddam clearly felt that by stalling and threatening and defying the United Nations he could weaken the forcesarrayed against him.
Artillery: Large guns used to launch explosive shells and missiles.
Arsenal: Collection of weapons.
General Schwarzkopf: H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander of U.S. military forces during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Relevant: Important to the matter at hand.
Sanctions: Trade restrictions designed to punish a country for breaking international law by harming its economy.
Systematically: Thoroughly and methodically.
Pillaged: Looted or stole goods during a war.
Plundered: Robbed or took by force during a war.
Atrocities: Extremely cruel or brutal acts.
Maimed: Seriously wounded; crippled, or disfigured.
Exhausted: Used up.
Arrayed: Lined up.
While the world waited, Saddam Hussein met everyoverture of peace with open contempt. While the world prayed for peace, Saddam prepared for war.
I had hoped that when the United States Congress, in historic debate, took itsresolute action, Saddam would realize he could notprevail and would move out of Kuwait in accord with the United Nations resolutions. He did not do that. Instead, he remainedintransigent, certain that time was on his side....
We have no argument with the people of Iraq. Indeed, for the innocents caught in this conflict, I pray for their safety. Our goal is not theconquest of Iraq—it is theliberation of Kuwait. It is my hope that somehow the Iraqi people can, even now, convince their dictator that he must lay down his arms, leave Kuwait, and let Iraq itself rejoin the family of peace-loving nations.
Thomas Paine wrote many years ago: "These are the times that try men's souls." Those well-known words are so very true today. But even as planes of the multinational forces attack Iraq, I prefer to think of peace, not war. I am convinced not only that we will prevail, but that out of the horror of combat will come the recognition that no nation can stand against a world united. No nation will be permitted to brutally assault its neighbor.
Resolute: Firm or determined.
Intransigent: Stubborn; unwilling to compromise.
Conquest: Military defeat and capture.
Liberation: Free from the control of another country.
Thomas Paine: British-born American writer (1737–1809) who argued in support of American independence from Great Britain during the Revolutionary War (1775–83); the phrase Bush quotes is from a pamphlet called "The Crisis," published in 1776.
What happened next...
The U.S.-led attack on Iraq received the code name Operation Desert Storm. Allied warplanes flew more than one thousand sorties (one plane flying one mission) in the first fourteen hours of the war. These planes used high-tech weapons to destroy hundreds of military and industrial targets in Iraq. Although the laser-guided "smart bombs" and missiles usually hit their targets successfully, they did occasionally miss and cause casualties (people wounded or killed) among Iraqi civilians (people not involved in the war, including women and children).
Iraq offered little resistance to the allied air strikes. Most Iraqi fighter pilots chose not to fight and instead flew their warplanes to neutral (a country not favoring either side in a war) Iran. The few Iraqi air force planes that did challenge coalition forces were shot down. Hussein did strike back, however, by firing Scud missiles (Soviet-made missiles with limited range and accuracy) into Saudi Arabia and Israel beginning on January 17. He also ordered his troops to destroy Kuwaiti oil wells and to release millions of gallons of crude oil into the Persian Gulf.
On January 23 U.S. military commanders announced that the coalition forces had achieved air superiority. This meant that the allied air strikes had destroyed all of Iraq's warplanes and anti-aircraft guns, so that future air strikes could proceed at will and expect to meet with no resistance. By mid-February U.S. military leaders felt confident that the air strikes had destroyed enough of Iraq's military capability to reduce the risk to coalition ground forces (tanks and combat troops) if an allied ground attack became necessary.
On February 22 President Bush issued a deadline of noon the following day for Iraq to withdraw its troops from Kuwait. He warned that allied forces would launch a ground war if Hussein failed to meet the deadline. By this time, two thousand planes from the United States, Great Britain, France, Italy, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait had flown more than ninety-four thousand sorties during the five-week air war.
On February 24 Bush appeared on national television once again to announce that "the liberation of Kuwait has now entered a final phase." An estimated seven hundred thousand allied troops moved into Kuwait and Iraq. They met with little resistance from the retreating Iraqi army. Three days later Bush informed the American people that "Kuwait is liberated. Iraq's army is defeated."
Did you know...
- The Bush administration's official announcements were not the first news many Americans heard about the start of the Persian Gulf War. A number of reporters for Western television stations were staying at the Al Rasheed Hotel in downtown Baghdad on January 16, 1991. They broadcast reports regarding the start of the air war against Iraq about thirty minutes before White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater made his press briefing, and more than two hours before President Bush made his televised speech. The reporters appeared live on television to tell viewers about hearing air-raid sirens and explosions in Baghdad, and about seeing bright flashes in the sky and fires on the horizon. One British reporter stood on his balcony as a U.S. cruise missile sailed past and smashed into the Iraqi Defense Ministry building nearby. This marked the first time that the start of a war was broadcast live on television.
- On March 19, 2003, twelve years after the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, President George W. Bush (son of the former president) made a similar speech announcing the start of another war against Iraq. According to the younger Bush, Iraq ignored United Nations demands to disarm following the 1991 war. He believed that Saddam Hussein still possessed weapons of mass destruction and could provide such weapons to terrorists, making Iraq a significant threat to world security. "My fellow citizens, at this hour American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, free its people, and to defend the world from grave danger," President George W. Bush said in his announcement of war against Iraq. He continued by saying:
Our nation enters this conflict reluctantly, yet our purpose is sure. The people of the United States and our friends and allies will not live at the mercy of an outlaw regime [government] that threatens the peace with weapons of mass murder. We will meet that threat now with our Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and Marines, so that we do not have to meet it later with armies of firefighters and police and doctors on the streets of our cities [following a terrorist attack].
For More Information
Cipkowski, Peter. Understanding the Crisis in the Persian Gulf. New York: John Wiley, 1992.
Ridgeway, James, ed. The March to War. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1991.
Bush, George H. W.
Bush, George H. W. 1924-
When George Herbert Walker Bush became the forty-first president of the United States on January 20, 1989, he entered the Oval Office as one of the most experienced political figures to become president in modern times. He had just completed eight years as Ronald Reagan’s vice president, and before that had served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and to China, had headed both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Republican National Committee, and had been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Texas. When he left the White House four years later, Bush’s presidency seemed far more successful in terms of foreign policy than in economic policy.
Bush, born into one of the United States’ most influential families, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University after flying fifty-eight missions as a naval aviator during World War II (1939–1945). After graduation Bush moved to Texas to enter the oil business and, eventually, Republican politics. He first ran for president as a Republican moderate in 1980 and became Ronald Reagan’s running mate despite criticizing Reagan’s fiscal policies as “voodoo economics.” Despite Reagan’s reliance on Bush throughout the 1980s, the vice president became the 1988 G.O.P. nominee only after defeating several more conservative rivals. Bush then defeated Democrat Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts in a tough campaign waged over prison furloughs and flag burning and marked by Bush’s vow: “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
As president, Bush pursued a centrist course legislatively, winning support from Democratic majorities in Congress for social programs such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 1990 Clean Air Act. As the federal budget deficit expanded, Bush agreed in 1990 to tax increases that he previously had vowed to oppose.
Bush’s four years as president were marked by many foreign policy challenges, most notably the collapse of communist governments across Eastern Europe and the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself. Bush’s diplomatic negotiating secured reductions in superpower nuclear arsenals, a peaceful end to the cold war, the reunification of Germany, and the development of democratic nation-states in areas that had been under Soviet control for decades. Bush had less success in handling China, which brutally crushed prodemocracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989, killing or injuring thousands. When Iraqi president Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990, the diplomatically oriented president built an international coalition that dislodged the dictator from Kuwait.
Bush’s 89 percent approval rating after the first Gulf War in early 1991 deterred many prominent Democrats from running for president in 1992. The eventual Democratic nominee, Arkansas governor Bill Clinton, focused on public anxieties over the state of jobs under Bush. Ross Perot, an independent presidential candidate, also attacked Bush’s economic policies, saying the president’s policies would trigger “a giant sucking sound” as U.S. jobs moved to Mexico. Voters did focus on the economy, not on Bush’s foreign policy performance. In addition, some Republicans were angered by what they viewed as Bush’s broken promise on taxes. In the end, Clinton received 43 percent of the vote, Bush received 38 percent, and Perot received 19 percent.
SEE ALSO Bush, George W.; Gorbachev, Mikhail; Gulf War of 1991; Hussein, Saddam
Bush, George H. W. 1999. All The Best: My Life in Letters and Other Writings. New York: Scribner.
Bush, George H. W., and Brent Scowcroft. 1998. A World Transformed. New York: Vintage.
Campbell, Colin, and Bert A. Rockman, eds. 1991. The George W. Bush Presidency: First Appraisals. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House.
Farnsworth, Stephen J., and S. Robert Lichter. 2006. The Mediated Presidency: Television News and Presidential Governance. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield.
Fitzwater, Marlin. 1995. Call The Briefing! New York: Times Books.
Greene, John Robert. 2000. The Presidency of George Bush. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.
Pomper, Gerald M., ed. 1989. The Election of 1988: Reports and Interpretations. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House.
Pomper, Gerald M., ed. 1993. The Election of 1992: Reports and Interpretations. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House.
Woodward, Bob. 1999. Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Stephen J. Farnsworth
A successful businessman, George Bush (born 1924) emerged as a national political leader during the 1970s. After holding several important foreign policy and administrative assignments in Republican politics, he served two terms as vice president (1980, 1984) under Ronald Reagan. In 1988, he was elected the 41st president of the United States.
George Herbert Walker Bush was born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts. His father, Prescott Bush, was a managing partner in the Wall Street investment firm of Brown Brothers, Harriman and also served as U.S. senator from Connecticut from 1952 to 1962. His mother, Dorothy Walker Bush, was the daughter of another prominent Wall Street investment banker, George Herbert Walker (George Bush's namesake), and the founder of the Walker Cup for international golfing competition. George Bush grew up in the affluent New York City suburb of Greenwich, Connecticut, vacationing in the summers in Kennebunkport, Maine, where he later maintained a home.
Bush attended the Greenwich Country Day School and Phillips Academy, exclusive private schools, where he excelled both in the classroom and on the athletic field. After graduating from Phillips in 1942, he enrolled in the U.S. Navy Reserve and was commissioned a navy flight pilot in 1943, serving in the Pacific for the duration of World War II. Secretly engaged to Barbara Pierce, Bush married this daughter of the publisher of Redbook and McCall's in Rye, New York, on January 6, 1945. The Bushes became the parents of six children (one of whom died of leukemia when three years old).
Following severance from the navy, Bush enrolled at Yale University in September 1945. An ambitious, highly competitive student, he earned a B.A. in economics within three years. Although a married military veteran, Bush was nonetheless active in campus social and athletic activities (playing three years of varsity baseball and captaining the team). Following graduation in 1948, Bush became an oilfield supply salesman for Dresser Industries in Odessa, Texas. Rising quickly in an industry then in the midst of a postwar boom, in 1953 Bush started his own oil and gas drilling firm. After merging with another firm in 1955, Bush eventually (in September 1958) moved the corporate headquarters to Houston, Texas.
In addition to having become a millionaire in his own right, Bush was also active in local Republican politics and served as Houston County party chairman. In 1964 he took a leave of absence from his firm, Zapata Petroleum, to challenge incumbent Democratic Senator Ralph Yarborough. Bush campaigned as a Goldwater Republican, opposing civil rights legislation, calling for U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations should the Peoples Republic of China be admitted, and demanding a cutback in foreign aid spending. The strategy of Goldwater Republicans had been to promote a conservative realignment, specifically leading to Republican congressional victories in the South and Southwest. This strategy failed, and Bush also lost decisively in what was a nationwide Democratic landslide.
Bush did not withdraw from politics, however, and in 1966 he won election to the House of Representatives from a Houston suburban district. A two-term congressman, serving from 1966 through 1970, Bush compiled a conservative voting record (earning a 77 percent approval rating from the conservative Americans for Constitutional Action), specifically championing "right to work" anti-labor union legislation and a "freedom of choice" alternative to school desegregation. In an exception to an otherwise conservative record, in 1968, despite opposition from his constituents, Bush voted for the open housing bill recommended by President Lyndon Johnson.
A loyal adherent of the Nixon administration during 1969 and 1970, Bush supported the president's major legislative initiatives, including the family assistance plan. In 1970 he again sought election to the Senate, campaigning as an outspoken Nixon supporter on a "law and order" theme. His election chances, however, were submarined when the more moderate Lloyd Bentsen defeated Yarborough in the Democratic primary. Although Bush's electoral support had increased since 1966 (from 43 to 47 percent), he was once again defeated.
As a reward for his loyalty, in February 1971 President Nixon appointed Bush U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Given the nominee's lack of foreign policy experience, this appointment was initially viewed as a political favor. Bush, however, proved to be an able and popular diplomat, particularly in his handling of the difficult, if ultimately unsuccessful, task of ensuring the continued seating of the Taiwan delegation when the United Nations in a dramatic reversal voted to seat the Peoples Republic of China.
In December 1972 Bush resigned his United Nations appointment to accept, again at Nixon's request, the post of chairman of the Republican National Committee. This largely administrative appointment proved to be a demanding assignment when the Senate, in the spring of 1973, initiated a highly publicized investigation into the so-called Watergate Affair and then, in the winter/spring of 1973, when the House debated whether to impeach President Nixon. Throughout this period Bush publicly championed the president, affirming Nixon's innocence and questioning the motives of the president's detractors. As the scandal unfolded, Bush sought to minimize its adverse consequences for the political fortunes of the Republican party. Following Nixon's forced resignation in August 1974 his successor, Gerald Ford, appointed Bush in September 1974 to head the U.S. liaison office in Peking, China.
Serving until December 1975, Bush proved again to be a popular and accessible "ambassador" (formal diplomatic relations with the People's Republic had not at this time been established). He left this post to accept appointment in January 1976 as director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Bush served as a caretaker director, acting to restore morale within the agency and to deflect public and congressional criticisms of the agency's past role and authority. Resigning as CIA director in January 1977 following the election of Democratic presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, Bush returned to Houston to accept the chairmanship of the First National Bank of Houston.
Bush was an unannounced candidate for the Republican presidential nomination of 1980 starting in 1977. He sought to exploit the contacts he had made as Republican National Committee chairman and as a businessman in Texas with family and corporate interests in the East as well as his record of public service. Travelling to all 50 states and establishing his own fund-raising organization, the Fund for Limited Government, Bush formally announced his candidacy in May 1979. Modeling his campaign after Jimmy Carter's successful strategy of 1975-1976 of building a well-organized grass roots organization in the early primary/caucus states of lowa and New Hampshire, Bush quickly emerged as the principal opponent of former governor of California Ronald Reagan, the Republican frontrunner.
While as conservative as Reagan in his economic and foreign policy views, Bush nonetheless successfully projected the image of a moderate candidate. He lacked substantive programmatic differences from Reagan except for his support for the Equal Rights Amendment, his qualified stand on abortion, and his questioning of Reagan's proposed intention to increase defense spending sharply while reducing taxes and balancing the budget. His failure to find a major issue and his lackluster campaign style eventually forestalled his candidacy. Although recognizing that he did not have the needed delegate votes, Bush did not drop out of the race before the Republican National Convention. In a surprise decision, made on the eve of the balloting, Reagan announced his selection of Bush as his vice presidential running mate.
Becoming vice president with Reagan's decisive victory over incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter in 1980, Bush proved to be a loyal, hard working supporter of the president. Careful to demonstrate his loyalty and to accept the largely ceremonial public responsibilities of the vice presidency, Bush provided quiet counsel to the president and thereby gained his respect. Renominated in 1984, Bush retained the vice presidency with the resultant Reagan landslide. Bush's record of demonstrated loyalty and competence, and the series of important administrative offices he had held since 1971, nonetheless had not created for him a broad-based nationwide constituency. As such, he was not assured the Republican presidential nomination in 1988. Despite his nationwide campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 1980, Bush remained an untested vote getter, his only electoral victory coming as a candidate from a safe Republican congressional district. Bush's other governmental positions were all attained through appointment. His career was thus marked by the ability to handle difficult administrative assignments, and yet a seeming failure to demonstrate the promise of leadership with the voters.
In 1988, Bush defeated Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis to become the 41st president of the United States. With this victory, many felt he had overcome his weak image and allegations that he had known more than he admitted about the Iran-Contra (arms-for-hostages trade with Iran) scandal. As chief executive he was widely viewed as a foreign policy president. He was in office when the Communist governments of the Soviet Union and eastern Europe fell. The Persian Gulf War of 1990 also boosted Bush's popularity to a point where many thought he would be unbeatable in the next election.
However, Bush also had his share of problems. Many historians believe that Bush ran a negative campaign in 1988 which affected his ability to govern the country. Congress refused to confirm his nomination of former Texas senator John Tower for secretary of defense. He inherited problems with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Other critics said he lacked vision and leadership. He also had a relatively inexperienced vice president in former Indiana Senator Dan Quayle. In 1992, in the midst of a recession, he lost his re-election bid in a three-way race to Democrat Bill Clinton.
In retirement, Bush kept a relatively low profile, preferring to travel and spend time with his grandchildren. He did make the news when, in March 1997, at the age of 72, he became (many believe) the first American President to jump out of an airplane. He also received a honorary doctorate from Hofstra University in April 1997.
Bush the politician will always be remembered. On November 30, 1994, the ground breaking ceremony for the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum was held. This facility was constructed on the campus of Texas A & M University, in College Station, Texas, and opened in November 1997. It is the tenth presidential library administered by National Archives and documents Bush's long public career, from ambassador to world leader. Located within the complex will be The Bush School of Government & Public Service, which will provide graduate education to those who wish to lead and manage organizations serving the public interest.
Having been married for over 50 years, Barbara Bush's Barbara Bush: A Memoir (1994) will provide insight to the "real" George Bush. Michael Duffy's Marching in Place: The Status Quo Presidency of George Bush (1992) will also offer an interesting perspective. George Bush has also been profiled on the television show A&E Biography. Information on The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum can be accessed through the World Wide Web at <http://www.csdl.tamu.edu/bushlib/> (July 29, 1997). Readers also might profitably consult Eleanora Schoenebaum (editor), Political Profiles: The Nixon/Ford Years, Vol. 5 (1979); Roy Reed, "George Bush on the Move," New York Times Magazine (February 10, 1980); and Elizabeth Drew, "A Reporter at Large: Bush 1980," The New Yorker (March 3, 1980); New York Times (March 26, 1997 and April 20, 1997). □
Born: June 12, 1924
American president, vice president, and politician
A successful businessman, George Bush emerged as a national political leader during the 1970s. He served two terms as vice president (1981–89) under Republican President Ronald Reagan (1911–), and in 1988, he was elected the forty-first president of the United States.
Life as a boy
George Herbert Walker Bush was born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts. His parents, both from prominent Wall Street families, were Prescott and Dorothy Walker Bush. Prescott Bush served as a U.S. senator from Connecticut from 1952 to 1962. George Bush grew up in the wealthy New York City suburb of Greenwich, Connecticut, vacationing in the summers in Kennebunkport, Maine.
From student to soldier
As a boy Bush attended exclusive private schools where he excelled both in the classroom and on the athletic field. After graduating from Phillips Academy in 1942, he enrolled in the U.S. Navy Reserve. Bush was assigned as a navy flight pilot in 1943, serving until the end of World War II (1939–45). Meanwhile, he had become secretly engaged to Barbara Pierce, and the couple married on January 6, 1945, in Rye, New York. The Bushes became the parents of six children, one of whom died of leukemia (a blood disease) when she was three years old.
From baseball to businessman
After the war, Bush enrolled at Yale University in September 1945. An ambitious and highly competitive student, he earned a degree in economics within three years. Although a married military veteran, Bush was active in campus social and athletic activities. He played three years of baseball and eventually captained the team.
Following graduation in 1948, Bush became an oilfield supply salesman in Odessa, Texas. Rising quickly in an industry that was experiencing a postwar boom, Bush started his own oil and gas drilling firm in 1953. After merging with another firm in 1955, Bush moved the corporate headquarters to Houston, Texas, in September 1958.
A taste of politics
After becoming a millionaire businessman, Bush became active in local Republican politics and served as Houston County party chairman. In 1964 he challenged the popular Democratic senator Ralph Yarborough (1904–1996) for a seat in the Senate. In the campaign, Bush took a stand against civil rights laws, supported U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations if the organization admitted the People's Republic of China, and backed cuts in foreign spending. Bush lost the election.
Despite the loss, Bush did not withdraw from politics. In 1966 he won election to the House of Representatives from a Houston suburban district, and became a two-term congressman, serving from 1966 to 1970. While in Congress, Bush supported a "freedom of choice" alternative to school desegregation. (Desegregation was the process of putting people of different races together to end policies of segregation, which had kept races separate.) Bush also supported the major issues of President Richard Nixon (1913–1994), including the Family Assistance Plan (a program to help needy people by giving them a minimum amount of money while requiring them to look for or keep jobs), during 1969 and 1970. In 1970 Bush again ran for senator and was again defeated.
Washington and Watergate
As a reward for his loyalty, President Nixon appointed Bush U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in February 1971. Given Bush's lack of foreign-policy experience, some viewed this appointment as a political favor. Bush, however, proved to be able and popular in the position, particularly in his handling of difficult situations involving countries in the Far East.
In December 1972, at Nixon's request, Bush gave up his position as ambassador of the United Nations to accept the post of chairman of the Republican National Committee. This appointment turned out to be a demanding assignment when the Senate, in the spring of 1973, began a highly publicized investigation into the so-called "Watergate Affair." Named for the Washington, D.C., complex in which it took place, the Watergate scandal involved burglary and illegal recordings of Nixon's opponents during the 1972 presidential election. Nixon's personal involvement was eventually exposed.
In early 1973, Bush was involved in the House debates about whether or not to impeach (to try a U.S. public official in the U.S. Congress for misconduct in office) President Nixon. Bush publicly supported the president and questioned the motives of the president's political enemies. Following Nixon's decision to leave office in August 1974, Bush was assigned to head a U.S. relations office in Peking, China.
Rebuilding the CIA
Bush remained as the head of the U.S. relations office in Peking until December 1975. The following month he accepted appointment as director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). At the time, the CIA was viewed unfavorably by the American public. Bush actively tried to restore morale within the agency and to deflect criticisms of the agency's past role and authority. In 1977, Bush resigned as director of the CIA and returned to Houston to become chairman of the First National Bank of Houston.
Looking toward the White House
Soon after his return to Texas, Bush began campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination of 1980. Using the contacts he made while in Washington, Bush traveled the country with his family, establishing his own fund-raising organization. After formally announcing his candidacy in May 1979, he quickly emerged as the principal opponent of Ronald Reagan (1911–), the Republican frontrunner and former governor of California. However, Bush's failure to find a major issue that would set him apart from his opponent ended his presidential hopes. In a surprise decision, Reagan chose Bush as his vice presidential running mate.
With Reagan's decisive victory over Democratic president Jimmy Carter (1924–) in 1980, Vice President Bush proved to be a loyal, hardworking supporter of the president. Renominated in 1984, Bush retained the vice presidency with yet another Reagan landslide victory.
President in a changing world
In 1988, Bush defeated Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis (1933–) to become the forty-first president of the United States. With this victory, many felt he had overcome his weak image as a leader. The world began changing rapidly during Bush's presidency. The Cold War, which had raised tensions between Eastern and Western nations since the 1950s, came to a halt when the Communist governments of the Soviet Union and eastern Europe fell. America's crushing defeat of Iraq in the Persian Gulf War (1990–91), which resulted in the removal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait, also boosted Bush's popularity.
As president, Bush also had his share of problems. Many historians believe that Bush ran a negative campaign in 1988 that affected his ability to govern the country and gain the trust of the American people. Other critics said he lacked vision and leadership. He also had a relatively inexperienced vice president in former Indiana senator Dan Quayle (1947–). In 1992, with the country in the midst of a recession (a slowdown in economic activity), he lost his reelection to Democrat Bill Clinton (1946–).
Life after politics
In retirement, has Bush kept a relatively low profile, preferring to travel and spend time with his grandchildren. In March 1997, at the age of seventy-two, he became (many believe) the first American president to jump out of an airplane. He also cowrote A World Transformed, a personal account of his dealings with foreign policy during his time as president.
In November 1997 the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum opened on the campus of Texas A&M University, in Col lege Station, Texas. It is the tenth presidential library overseen by the National Archives and includes information covering Bush's long public career—from ambassador to world leader. Located within the complex is the George Bush School of Government & Public Service, which will provide graduate educa tion to those who wish to lead and manage organizations serving the public interest.
Electing to stay mainly in the back ground, Bush watched as his son, George W. Bush, became president in the 2000 election, one of the closest presidential races in history.
For More Information
Greene, John Robert. The Presidency of George Bush. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000.
Hill, Dilys M., and Phil Williams, eds. The Bush Presidency: Triumphs and Adversities. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.
Parmet, Herbert S. George Bush: The Life of a Lone Star Yankee. New York: Scribner, 1997.
Bush, George Herbert Walker
BUSH, GEORGE HERBERT WALKER
George Herbert Walker Bush capped a full and distinguished political career with his election in 1988 as President of the United States. Bush became the forty-first chief executive after serving for eight years as the nation's vice president under ronald reagan. The most memorable events of his one-term presidency were the Desert Shield and Desert Storm Operations in the Persian Gulf in 1991.
Although Bush was enormously popular in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, his standing with the U.S. public plummeted as domestic problems and a sour economy took their toll. In 1992, Bush lost the presidential election to Democratic challenger bill clinton, the governor of Arkansas. Clinton's campaign offered a promise of change and a "new covenant" between citizens and government.
Born June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, Bush was the son of Prescott Sheldon Bush, an international banker and U.S. senator from Connecticut, and Dorothy Walker Bush, the daughter of a wealthy St. Louis businessman. Both parents had a tremendous influence on Bush, who was unpretentious and hardworking despite his privileged background.
As a young boy, Bush attended Greenwich Country Day School, in Greenwich, Connecticut, and Phillips Academy, an elite prep school in Andover, Massachusetts. At Andover, Bush excelled academically and athletically. Nicknamed Poppy after his grandfather Walker, Bush was a popular student, serving as class president and captain of the basketball and soccer teams.
"A free economy demands engagement in the economic mainstream. Isolation and protectionism doom [their] practitioners to degradation and want."
—George H.W. Bush
When world war ii broke out, Bush was determined to see military action. On June 12, 1942, shortly after graduation from Andover, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. At the age of 20, he became the youngest commissioned pilot in Navy history. Bush was stationed in the Pacific theater and flew dozens of dangerous missions. On September 2, 1944, while Bush was assigned to the USS Jacinto, his plane was shot down near a Japanese island. Bush bailed out of the aircraft
and was rescued at sea; his crewmen did not survive.
Bush returned to the United States after his tour of duty and entered Yale University, in New Haven, Connecticut. Not surprisingly, Bush had an outstanding college career. He played varsity baseball, was inducted into the Skull and Crossbones secret society, and in 1948 graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in economics.
Before entering Yale in 1945, Bush married Barbara Pierce, the daughter of the publisher of McCall's and Redbook. Their first child, future President george walker bush, was born during Bush's senior year of college. The couple eventually had six children, including John (Jeb), Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. Their second child, Robin, died of leukemia in 1953.
After graduating from Yale, Bush and his young family headed for Texas, determined to make their fortune in the oil business. In 1951, Bush started Bush-Overby Oil Development Company, and in 1954, he created Zapata Offshore Company, which designed and built offshore drilling platforms.
Bush's success in the oil business kindled his political ambitions. In 1964, Bush entered the race for U.S. senator from Texas but lost to Democrat Ralph Yarborough. Two years later, Bush made it to Washington, D.C., as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from the Seventh District of Texas. Reelected to the House in 1968, Bush was a member of the influential House Ways and Means Committee. In 1970, he again ran for the Texas Senate seat, this time losing to Democrat Lloyd Bentsen.
Despite his defeat Bush's career in public service was far from over. During the 1970s he held a wide range of appointive posts and built up an impressive résumé. From 1971 to 1973 Bush served as the U.S. ambassador to the united nations. In 1974 he was the chair of the Republican National Committee. In 1974 and 1975 Bush traveled to the People's Republic of China as the U.S. liaison officer. And from 1976 to 1977 he was the head of the central intelligence agency.
Confident in his experience and abilities, Bush announced his intention to run for president. From 1977 to 1980 he actively campaigned for the Republican nomination. Although he lost the 1980 GOP nod to Reagan, the conservative governor of California, Bush was chosen by Reagan as his vice presidential candidate. The Reagan-Bush ticket reached the White House easily in 1980, defeating incumbent president jimmy carter and vice president Walter F. Mondale.
Bush was a late convert to Reagan's conservatism. As a U.S. representative in the 1960s Bush had been a political moderate, voting in favor of open housing, the abolishment of the military draft, and the vote for 18-year-olds. As vice president under Reagan, Bush became more conservative.
Bush was a loyal vice president and basked in the reflected glory of Reagan, a popular president. When Reagan and Bush ran again in 1984, they won in a landslide victory against Democratic candidate Mondale and his running mate, geraldine ferraro.
In 1988 the republican party rewarded Bush for his loyal service as vice president. Despite an early defeat in the Iowa caucuses, Bush won the GOP nomination for president. To the surprise of many, Bush chose Dan Quayle, a relatively unknown and inexperienced senator from Indiana, as his running mate. The choice puzzled many political experts who felt that Quayle's credentials were meager.
Bush and Quayle ran against Governor Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts and Bush's old nemesis from Texas, Senator Bentsen. During the campaign Bush resorted to some tactics that seemed out of keeping with his congenial personality. One Bush TV commercial focused on Willie Horton, an African American felon who committed additional crimes upon his release from prison in Massachusetts. Suggesting that Dukakis was soft on crime, the ad capitalized on racial fears and prejudice. Also, despite the soaring deficit, Bush promised to give U.S. citizens a financial break, in the campaign pledge, "Read My Lips: No New Taxes." After the election Bush's pledge came back to haunt him: once in office, he agreed to tax increases to combat a $140 billion budget deficit.
Bush and Quayle captured the vote in 40 states to win the 1988 election. At his inauguration Bush made an appeal for a "kinder, gentler nation" and shared his vision of volunteers, like "a thousand points of light," helping to solve problems.
The height of Bush's popularity came during Operation Desert Storm, a six-week display of technological warfare against Sadam Hussein in Kuwait and Iraq.
In 1992 Bush and Quayle squared off against Democratic challengers Clinton and al gore, a senator from Tennessee. The GOP incumbents won their party's endorsement after a bruising primary fight with conservative columnist patrick buchanan. Independent candidate H. Ross Perot, a Texas multimillionaire businessman, also threw his hat into the ring, to further muddle the election scene. Despite Clinton's liabilities—rumors of infidelity, avoidance of the draft, and a "slick" image—Clinton was able to defeat Bush.
Commentators often argue over the reasons one politician wins or loses, but many agree that a sluggish economy and Bush's broken promise of no new taxes hurt his chances for reelection. Clinton and Gore, a generation younger than Bush, won the election with a promise of change and new beginnings.
Bush reentered the public consciousness as two of his sons pursued their own political careers. George W. Bush was elected governor of the state of Texas in 1995, a position he held until 2000. Younger son Jeb Bush served as governor of the state of Florida in 1998. George W. Bush ran for president in 2000 against then-Vice-President Al Gore in one of the most hotly contested races in U.S. history. The younger Bush's running mate was Richard B. (Dick) Cheney, who had served as secretary of defense under the elder Bush.
Although George H.W. Bush remained in the background of the 2000 presidential election, several of George W. Bush's advisors had ties to his father. For several weeks following the election, the country focused much of its attention on the election returns in the state of Florida. James A. Baker III, the former secretary of state under the elder Bush, served as an advisor and spokesperson for the younger Bush during the controversy. When George W. Bush assembled his cabinet after the election results had been resolved, several names tied to the elder Bush were nominated for positions. The most notable of these officials, Colin L. Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was eventually nominated and sworn in as the secretary of state.
George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush are the first father and son to serve as presidents of the United States since john adams (1797–1801) and john quincy adams (1825–29). The elder Bush has largely remained in the background of his son's presidency. Naturally, the American press focused considerable attention on him during his son's candidacy and eventual
election. Bush's policies while he was in office also came into question once again because many viewed the election in 2000 as a repeat of the election between George H.W. Bush and Clinton in 1992. Several commentators agree that a sluggish economy and Bush's broken promise of no new taxes hurt his chances for reelection, and many have compared the policies of father and son as the economy slowed under the younger Bush.
The George Bush Presidential Library and Museum is located in College Station, Texas, on the campus of Texas A&M University. In addition to several speaking engagements, Bush and his wife divide their time between Texas and Kennebunkport, Maine, spending time with their children and 14 grandchildren.
Campbell, Colin, and Bert A. Rockman. 1991. The Bush Presidency: First Appraisals. Chatham, N.J.: Chatham House.
Levy, Peter B. 1996. Encyclopedia of the Reagan-Bush Years. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood.
Thompson, Kenneth W. 1997. The Bush Presidency: Ten Intimate Perspectives of George Bush. Lanham, Md.: Univ. Press of America.
Bush, George H. W.
George H. W. Bush
A successful businessman, George Herbert Walker Bush emerged as a national political leader during the 1970s. After holding several important foreign policy and administrative assignments in Republican Party politics, he served two terms as vice president under Ronald Reagan (1911–2004; served 1981–89), and he went on to serve one term as president beginning in 1988.
George H. W. Bush was born on June 12, 1924, and led a privileged childhood as the son of a wealthy Connecticut senator. He graduated from a prestigious private school and was accepted at Yale University, but he changed his plans when the United States entered World War II (1939–45). Bush enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve, and by the end of 1943 he was the youngest fighter pilot in the navy. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions on a September 2, 1944, mission in the South Pacific, during which his plane was shot down and he parachuted to safety. When he returned home, Bush married Barbara Pierce (1925–) and entered Yale. After graduating, he moved to Texas . By 1954, he was president of the Zapata Offshore Company. Drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico had already made him wealthy.
Enters the world of politics
Bush was active in the Republican Party in Texas, and in 1966 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In December 1970, he was appointed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (UN). In 1973, Bush became the chairman of the Republican National Committee. The next year, he was appointed head of the U.S. Liaison Office in the People's Republic of China, and in 1975, President Gerald R. Ford (1913–2006; served 1974–77) called him home to head the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA; the government agency responsible for obtaining and analyzing information about foreign governments, corporations, and individuals). Bush served until 1976 and won high marks for improving agency morale.
Begins service under President Reagan
Bush sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1980. He was viewed as an attractive moderate alternative to the conservative Ronald Reagan, but he did not get the nomination. He accepted Reagan's offer of the vice presidential slot despite their differences of opinion on several key issues. During his two terms as Reagan's vice president, Bush loyally supported the Reagan agenda.
In 1988, Bush was elected president. Immediately after taking office, he improved relations with Congress and the press. He preferred to negotiate differences between economic and political interests rather than take strong positions of his own. This was true in his foreign policy as well. During his first year in office, the Communist governments of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe self-destructed, creating an entirely new balance of world powers. Bush supported the Russian reformist president Mikhail Gorbachev (1931–) and maintained a remote and formal relationship with all the countries of the former Soviet Union.
In the spring of 1989, Chinese students began massive demonstrations in support of democracy in Tiananmen Square, located in the heart of China's capital, Beijing. When the government crushed the demonstrations with military force, Bush at first spoke out against the actions of the Chinese leadership and imposed limited sanctions (punishments, such as stopping trade, to express disapproval), but he soon sent representatives to Beijing to ease the tension between the United States and China. Later he opposed congressional attempts to toughen the sanctions and restored China's most-favored-nations trade status.
Bush was initially halfhearted about U.S. initiatives to stop the drug-smuggling Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega (c. 1935–). After an American soldier was killed by one of Noriega's soldiers in 1989, however, Bush authorized a full-scale military invasion of Panama. The majority of Noriega's forces surrendered after a few hours. Noriega was captured a few weeks later. In 1992, he was convicted in Florida on drug-dealing charges.
The Gulf War
Under the leadership of military dictator Saddam Hussein (1937–2006), Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and proclaimed it a new Iraqi province. Bush launched Operation Desert Storm, mobilizing international forces that destroyed Hussein's air and land military capabilities in a six-week war that was televised virtually from start to finish. The action resulted in minimal U.S. casualties, and in the end President Bush's approval rating soared to a new high and established him as a powerful force in world affairs.
Despite the apparent total victory, the war failed to oust Hussein from power in Iraq. Bush ruled out further military action in Iraq but urged continued international economic sanctions against the Hussein regime.
Fails to win second term
After the Gulf War, many believed Bush would be unbeatable in the next presidential election. Yet by 1992, the nation's economy was in a downturn, the national deficit (the amount the federal government needs to borrow to make up the difference between what it spends and how much it collects in taxes) had soared, and crime was rising. In the general election, a popular independent candidate, Texas businessman Ross Perot (1930–), divided the Republican Party. (See also Third Parties .) The Republicans were further divided in the general election, with economic conservatives on one side and social and religious conservatives like Pat Buchanan (1938–)—who had challenged Bush in the Republican primaries—on the other. In the end, Perot took a whopping 19 percent of the popular vote, and the Democratic Party candidate, Arkansas governor Bill Clinton (1946–), won the election.
In retirement, Bush kept as low a profile as could be expected with two of his sons, President George W. Bush (1946–; served 2001–) and Florida governor Jeb Bush (1953–) prominently in the national spotlight.
Bush, George Herbert Walker
George Herbert Walker Bush, 1924–, 41st President of the United States (1989–93), b. Milton, Mass., B.A., Yale Univ., 1948.
Career in Business and Government
His father, Prescott Bush, was a successful investment banker and a Republican Senator (1953–63) from Connecticut. After graduating from Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., he served as a fighter pilot during World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He studied at Yale after the war and subsequently moved to Texas, where he cofounded the Zapata Petroleum Corp. In 1966, he was elected as a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives and sold his business interests. After losing a race for the U.S. Senate in 1970, he served in several important posts under Presidents Nixon and Ford, including ambassador to the United Nations (1971–73), chairman of the Republican national committee (1973–74), chief of the U.S. liaison office in China (1974–75), and director of the Central Intelligence Agency (1976–77).
Bush was unsuccessful in his bid for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, but served two terms (1981–89) as President Reagan's Vice President. In 1988, he won the Republican nomination for President. Bush and his running mate, Dan Quayle, easily defeated the Democratic ticket of Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen.
Bush benefited from the unraveling of Eastern European Communism, a rapid series of events that began with the collapse of East Germany late in 1989 and culminated in the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. To many in the United States these events were a confirmation and a consequence of the anti-Soviet military buildup under Reagan and Bush. In 1991, 1992, and 1993, Bush signed nuclear disarmament agreements with the Soviet Union and then Russia that called for substantial cuts in nuclear arms. In Central America the United States achieved long-standing policy objectives. In Dec., 1989, U.S. forces invaded Panama and removed Gen. Manuel Noriega to stand trial in the United States for drug trafficking and other alleged crimes. Then, in Feb., 1990, the Sandinistas were defeated in elections in Nicaragua. Canada, Mexico, and the United States created a free-trade zone when the North American Free Trade Agreement was signed in 1992.
In the Middle East, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, provided the occasion for the most striking foreign policy achievement of the Bush administration (see Persian Gulf War). Bush saw the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait by an American-led international coalition as a test of U.S. resolve to uphold and enforce what he termed the "new world order." The success of Bush's military policy led to unprecedented popularity at home, but the U.S. triumph in the Persian Gulf War was not complete; Saddam Hussein retained power in Iraq. In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, under prodding from Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker, comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace talks began in late 1991.
Bush's handling of domestic affairs was less successful. The savings and loan crisis (see savings and loan association) erupted in the early months of his administration, and the costs to the government only added to concerns about the federal budget deficit. Bush's plan to stimulate the economy by encouraging growth in the private sector included cutting expenditures and taxes, especially the tax on capital gains. After a prolonged battle with the Congress, he agreed (Oct., 1990) to a deficit-reduction bill that included new revenues, thereby breaking his 1988 campaign pledge to not raise taxes. This angered conservatives, but even more damaging to Bush was a prolonged international recession that resulted in stagnant economic growth at home, high levels of unemployment, and increased concern about the ability of the United States to compete with Japan and other nations.
Because of this economic uncertainty, Bush began his 1992 reelection campaign as a far less popular president than he had been after the Gulf War, a short time earlier. Bush and Vice President Quayle were renominated by the Republican party in Aug., 1992. The Democrats nominated Bill Clinton, governor of Arkansas. Businessman H. Ross Perot entered the race as an independent. After a bitter campaign, Clinton won, and Bush retired to Texas. In 2005 Bush joined with his successor to raise funds for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, and subsequently served as UN special envoy for the South Asian earthquake disaster.
See his All the Best (1999), selections from his letters and other writings. See also biographies by H. S. Parmet (1997), T. Naftali (2007), and his son G. W. Bush (2014); C. Campbell, ed., The Bush Presidency (1991); P. and R. Schweizer, The Bushes: Portrait of a Dynasty (2004).
Bush, George H. W.
BUSH, GEORGE H. W.
(b. June 12, 1924) Forty-first U.S. president (1989– 1993).
Born on June 12, 1924, in Milton, Massachusetts, George H. W. Bush served in the Navy during World War II and later moved to Texas, where he amassed considerable personal wealth as an oilman. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1967 to 1971, as ambassador to the United Nations, as U.S. envoy to China, and as director of the CIA. From 1981 to 1988, he served as vice president under Ronald Reagan.
The Bush presidential campaign of 1988 promised in part to carry on the legacy of Reagan's foreign policy. Furthermore, given Bush's background and experience, he felt well qualified to pursue this area of policy over which presidents have considerable control. In his first year in office, Bush pursued a short-term engagement when he sent troops into Panama to capture its dictator, Manuel Noriega, after an American soldier was killed there in 1989.
The chief task that Bush inherited from Reagan in the foreign policy arena was overseeing relations with the crumbling Soviet Union and its European satellites, as the Cold War (1946–1991) was winding down. Toward that end, Bush established friendly relations with Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. The opening of the Berlin Wall to free travel in 1989 marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War, and reunification of the two Germanys soon followed in October 1990. In Paris in November 1990, Bush, Gorbachev, and the leaders of twenty other nations that then made up the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Warsaw Pact joined in signing a mutual nonaggression pledge, thus proclaiming an end to the Cold War. The conference also produced a comprehensive arms control treaty under which the two sides agreed to sharply limit the numbers of tanks, artillery, and other non-nuclear weapons in Europe. Bush proclaimed the agreement as the beginning of a "new world order."
With the end of the Cold War, U.S. foreign policy was set adrift until the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. President Bush exercised personal diplomacy to amass and maintain a coalition of twenty-five nations to oppose Iraq. Through the United Nations Security Council, a series of resolutions were adopted to condemn Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait and to impose trade and financial embargoes on Iraq. Operation Desert Shield was designed to deter an Iraqi attack on Saudi Arabia. When Iraq refused to leave Kuwait, Bush persuaded Congress on January 12, 1991, to authorize the use of military force to end Iraq's occupation of its neighbor. On January 16, Operation Desert Storm began. For
weeks U.S.-led coalition air forces struck Iraqi military command, communications systems, and infrastructure. Coalition forces used "smart bomb" technology and defensive Patriot missiles, which went over well in the media campaign back in the United States. Despite heavy military and civilian casualties, Iraq still refused to withdraw from Kuwait by the February 23 deadline. Bush, bolstered by his high public approval ratings, began the ground war the next day.
The ground war was successful in driving Iraq from Kuwait and destroying a large portion of Iraq's Republican Guard. After only 100 hours of ground war, President Bush called a halt to the war, but left many questioning why a number of the war's political goals had not been achieved. Controversy erupted over 1) why Saddam Hussein was left in power; 2) why the Republican Guard was only partially destroyed; 3) why Saddam was allowed to persecute the Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south of his country; 4) whether Iraq's nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons capabilities as well as SCUD missile stockpiles were destroyed; 5) whether ending the war at 100 hours was merely a media ploy; 6) whether Iraq would pay for the destruction of the Kuwaiti oil wells and environmental damage; and 7) whether this war actually would lead to further instability in the region.
President Bush envisioned a new world order for foreign policy—building coalitions of nations that would protect the world from rogue states and that would pool their strengths to fight global problems like terrorism, and in doing so overcome the shortcomings of each. The success of Operation Desert Storm gave Americans the sense that the United States could lead these coalitions and, despite suffering the casualties of war, emerge stronger for having done so. By projecting strength and overcoming enemies, Presidents Bush and Reagan loosened the grip of the "Vietnam syndrome." As Bush himself said, "I think Desert Storm lifted the morale of our country and healed some of the wounds of Vietnam. I'm sure of it."
Greene, John Robert. The Presidency of George Bush. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000.
Parmet, Herbert S. George Bush: The Life of a Lone Star Yankee. New York: Scribners, 1997.
Schuman, Michael A. George H. W. Bush. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 2002.
Victoria A. Farrar-Myers
Elected as a Texas Republican congressman in 1966, he supported the Vietnam War. Thereafter, he served as ambassador to the United Nations (1971–73), director of the Central Intelligence Agency (1976–77), and vice president under Ronald Reagan (1981–89). He won the presidency in 1988. Ill at ease in the contentious environment of domestic politics, Bush relished foreign policy. In response to the harassment of American military personnel, he committed U.S. forces to the 20 December 1989 invasion of Panama. The four‐day campaign ended successfully with the capture of the Panamanian dictator Gen. Manuel Noriega. Following communism's collapse in Russia, Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev signed a historic accord in November 1990 that marked the end of the Cold War. Bush claimed that the treaty signaled “the new world order.”
That order received a profound challenge when Iraq invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990. After declaring that the invasion “shall not stand,” Bush skillfully cobbled together an international coalition to resist Iraq. He proved less interested and able to explain to the American public why war was necessary. After an economic embargo failed, Bush launched Operation Desert Storm on 17 January 1991. Ten days later, with Iraqi forces in full rout, he suspended hostilities. Pleased, he claimed the quick victory had “licked the Vietnam syndrome.” The national perception that the war had been halted too soon contributed to Bush's electoral defeat in 1992. As war leader, he developed strategy and then left its implementation in military hands. He failed clearly to articulate the objective, namely, what constituted “victory” against Iraq.
[See also Cold War: Changing Interpretations; Persian Gulf War.]
James R. Arnold
Bush, George Herbert Walker