How George H.W. Bush's Foreign Policy Shaped The World | KERA News

How George H.W. Bush's Foreign Policy Shaped The World

Dec 4, 2018

President George H.W. Bush's term in office was replete with watershed moments in international affairs that would shape American foreign policy for decades to come. 

Jeffrey Engel wrote about Bush's experience in global affairs in his book "When the World Seemed New: George H. W. Bush and the End of the Cold War."

He's also the director of the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. In 2017, he spoke to KERA Think's Krys Boyd about how the Bush administration's decisions influenced the post-Cold War world. 

Interview Highlights

On the moments that defined George H.W. Bush's presidency  

"I like to say that this is the most eventful and crisis-filled four years perhaps faced by any president in U.S. history. We have the fall of the Soviet Union, the collapse of communism, the end of the Cold War, Tianenmen Square on the other side of the world, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the U.S. took over Panama and removed Manual Noriega." 

On Bush's experience with international affairs 

"He was actually perhaps the most experienced person to ever to enter the Oval Office. He began as a decorated Naval aviator, then continues on the become a very successful businessman here in Texas. 

He goes on to become a Congressperson, the United National ambassador, head of the Republican National Committee, and head of the Central Intelligence Agency. 

Then, of course, he spends eight years as Ronald Reagan's vice president." 

On the long-term impacts of the Gulf War

"There's no doubt that we look back at that war now and have a lot of 'what if' questions and a sense that it was incomplete.

... The Bush administration in 1991 fully recognized how difficult it would be to occupy and rehabilitate the state of Iraq. James Baker, who was Secretary of State, used to say that people would ask him all the time, 'Why didn't we  take over Iraq?' After 2006, people stopped asking because it was obvious that everything they had feared would happen was happening in the ensuing decade." 

This interview was lightly edited for clarity.