TODAY -

George HW Bush, 41st President of the United States of America

Oinam Nabakishore Singh *



American Navy aviator of World War II, businessman, diplomat, public servant, politician, statesman and 41st President of the United States of America passed away on November 30,2018 at the age of 94 years. Tributes and eulogies poured in from all quarters including his political rivals. George H.W. Bush wore many hats during his life. After Imperial Navy of Japan attacked Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941 in Hawaii, the United States joined the 2ndWorld War.

Just after completion of High School, the call of nationalism and patriotism made Bush to enlist in Navy at the young age of 18 and he was trained to become an aviator. He was assigned to aircraft carriers of USA to participate in the World War II against the Japanese forces. During the war, Bush showed extreme heroism in attacking Japanese installations. He piloted one of the four Grumman TBM Avengers of VT-51 that attacked the Japanese installations on Chichijimaon September 2, 1944.

His aircraft was hit by flak during the attack, but Bush successfully released bombs and scored several hits.With his engine ablaze, he flew several miles from the island, where he and one other crew member bailed out;the other man’s parachute did not open. Bush waited for four hours in an inflated raft while several fighters circled protectively overhead, until he was rescued by the submarine USS Finback.

He remained in Finback for the next month and participated in the rescue of other aviators. By 1944, he had flown 58 combat missions for which he received several medals for distinguished services. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in September 1945, one month after the surrender of Japan.

George H. W. Bush joined Yale University for undergraduate course in Economics after discharge from Navy and completed it in two and a half years against usual four years. In the college, he played baseball and he was the captain of the team. He also took leadership roles in the college. After graduating from Yale, Bush moved his young family to West Texas.

His father’s business connections proved useful as he ventured into the oil business, starting as an oil field equipment salesmanfor Dresser Industries, a subsidiary of Brown Brothers Harriman & Co., where his father Prescott Bush had served on the board of directors for 22 years. Bush started the Bush-Overbey Oil Development company in 1951 and in 1953 co-founded the Zapata Petroleum Corporation, an oil company that drilled in the Permian Basin in Texas.In 1954, he was named president of the Zapata Offshore Company, a subsidiary which specialized in offshore drilling. Through oil business, he became a millionaire.

George H W Bush decided to enter public service. Bush’s career in politics began when he was elected on February 20, 1963 as chairman of the Harris County, Texasas candidate of Republican Party. The following year, he ran against incumbent Democrat Ralph W. Yarborough in the U.S. Senate race and lost. Bush and the Harris County Republicans played a role in the development of the new Republican Party of the late 20th century.

In 1966, Bush was elected to a seat in the United States House of Representatives from the 7th District of Texas. He voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1968, although it was generally unpopular in his district. He supported the Nixon administration’s Vietnam policies, but broke with Republicans on the issue of birth control, which he supported. He was elected to a second term in the House of Representative in 1968. On the advice of Richard Nixon, Bush again contested for Senate in 1970 and lost to Democrat, Lloyd Bentsen.

Nixon nominated Bush as US Ambassador to the United Nation. His nomination was confirmed by the Senate in 1971. He served in that position from 1971 to 1973 and represented the interest of USA successfully. After Bob Dole resigned as chairman of the Republican National Committee in 1972, Nixon named Bush to the position. During the Watergate scandal, where the Nixon administration was accused of misuse of power, Bush tried to defend Nixon initially.

Later on, to protect the interest of Republican Party, Bush advised Nixon to resign from Presidentship. Gerald Ford appointed Bush asHead of U.S. Liaison Office in China(Peoples Republic of China). Since US did not have any diplomatic relation with the Peoples Republic of China, Bush did not have any diplomatic status. However, the 14 months that he spent in China were seen as beneficial for China–United States relations. In 1976 Ford brought Bush back to Washington to become Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), replacing William Colby. In that position, he improved the working of CIA.

In 1979, Bush worked hard by attending a large number of political events and travelling more than 400,000 km to get nomination of the Republican Party for Presidential election in 1980. After he lost at the primaries, Ronal Reagan chose him as Vice President nominee in the election. Bush served two terms as Vice President of US from 1981-1985 and 1985-1989.

At the end of January 1983, Bush began a seven-day tour of Western Europe intended to promote the arms reduction commitment being advocated for by the Reagan administration.During a February 8 news conference in Paris, Bush said the United States’ invitations for the Soviet Union to consent to a reduction in medium-range missiles were supported by Western Europe, which he stated had also consented to the deployment of new American missiles starting in the later part of the year.Shortly thereafter, Bush said the United States wanted better relations with all countries within the Eastern Bloc though he stressed that NATO would retaliate in the event of any threatening of European military stability by the Soviets.

In the 1988 Presidential campaign George H W bush ultimately got nomination of the Republican Party and won theelection to be sworn in as the 41st President of USA. Major events during his reign as President of USA included the fall of Berlin Wall and unification of East and West Germanys, disintegration of Soviet Union, military operation in Panama and Persian Gulf, end of Cold War.

In 1989, just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Bush met with Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in a conference on the Mediterranean island of Malta. Although no agreements were signed, the meeting was viewed largely as being an important one. The meeting was received as a very important step to the end of the Cold War.Another summit was held in July 1991, where the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) was signed by Bush and Gorbachev in Moscow.

The treaty took nine years in the making and was the first major arms agreement since the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987. The contentions in START would reduce the strategic nuclear weapons of the United States and the USSR by about 35% over seven years, and the Soviet Union’s land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles would be cut by 50%. Bush described START as “a significant step forward in dispelling half a century of mistrust”.

After the dissolution of the USSR, President Bush and Russian president Boris Yeltsin declared a U.S.–Russian strategic partnership, marking the end of the Cold War. On August 2, 1990, Iraq, led by Saddam Hussein, invaded its oil-rich neighbor to the south, Kuwait. Bush condemned the invasion and began rallying opposition to Iraq in the United States and among European, Asian, and Middle Eastern allies.

With the United Nations Security Council opposed to Iraq’s violence, Congress authorized the use of military force with a set goal of returning control of Kuwait to the Kuwaiti government, and protecting America’s interests abroad. Early on the morning of January 17, 1991, allied forces launched the first attack, which included more than 4,000 bombing runs by coalition aircraft.

This pace would continue for the next four weeks, until a ground invasion was launched on February 24, 1991. Allied forces penetrated Iraqi lines and pushed toward Kuwait City while on the west side of the country, forces were intercepting the retreating Iraqi army. Bush made the decision to stop the offensive after a mere 100 hours.

Bush did not have any intention of overthrowing Saddam Hussein and rule Iraq, which would cost USA heavily. His main interest was to check the expansionist activities of Iraq and restore the status quo ante. On the other hand, his son, George Bush, when he was the President of USA had an entirely different approach of overthrowing Saddam Hussein and installing a new government friendly to USA. Since the rebels are still fighting against the US forces and security personnel of Iraq government, it is not yet possible to withdraw the US forces from Iraq.

During the 1992 Presidential election, George H W Bush sought second term. Because of economic recession in the country, his Democrat rival, Bill Clinton won the election. However, Bush and Clinton later became good friends and worked together to raise funds for charity. For George H W Bush, service to the nation comes first. In spite of knowing the risks of flying bomber aircrafts from carriers in the Pacific Ocean, he undertook several sorties and dropped bombs at enemy targets.

After earning good amount of money as oilman in Texas, he entered public life with the confidence that he could do better than others for the country. Till the end, Bush remained a true courageous hero in every meaning of the term. It is worthwhile to be guided by the values which personified Bush.


*Oinam Nabakishore Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on December 22, 2018.



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