Goodbye, President George HW Bush


WHEN you took over the office of President of the United States, most people outside America knew you purely as a competent Vice President. No more.

Leaders become great by the chemistry between them and the events that occur. Events try to overcome leaders. But, great leaders eventually master events.

The event that metamorphosed you was Saddam Hussein’s seizure of Kuwait.

You rose to the occasion. Not like a Rambo, who sent American troops charging into the deserts. But, as a wise statesman. You were able to network the international community of nations, to declare that the invasion of one nation by another is not acceptable in the new world order.

For the first time since World War II, you were able to network almost all the countries of the world, including erstwhile adversaries like Japan and Germany, into one single team, to compel a country to vacate the land that did not belong to it.

You ensured that every legal sanction you needed from the United Nations was with you, before the first missile was fired in the Middle East. Then you showed the world how modern technology could be deployed against an aggressor. The world watched the war on CNN. All that it consisted of, to most of us, were long beams of red and yellow, criss crossing over Baghdad. You gave us the first exposure to what modern technological warfare could mean, if all the nations of the world did not ensure peace and harmony themselves. We watched the battles in Baghdad on TV and realised that the days of the sword, shield and infantry were over.

Then you helped President Gorbachev dismantle a system that had stopped delivering. You did it with élan. For 40 years, the world had been subjected to a cold war between the USSR and the US. When the USSR started dismantling itself along with the East European Communist countries, you could have been vain and crowed about the sagacity of your political and economic systems. You did not do so.

Instead, you came forward to help President Gorbachev to dismantle a creaking system. It is always difficult to be graceful. However, it is more arduous to be gracious when you are victorious. You had the grace to keep quiet, even when you were winning.

The world owes you a lot. Many of us across the globe slept more peacefully, knowing that if our countries were attacked, or unfairly treated, there was someone across the mountains and the seas that would stand up and say, “This is not honourable.” I thought your fellow Americans owed you another term purely because you had given your country its rightful and just place in the international community of countries. You represented the steadiness of wisdom and the sagacity of a statesman.

So, thank you Mr President for all that you did to make this world safe. Thank you for letting us sleep more peacefully.

The world will always remember you as a man who had the courage to hold aloft the torch of human freedom when it needed to be held upright.

Rajendra Aneja,

Mumbai, India