George Herbert Bush was the first president of the United States in the new post-cold war world. Economically, the United States was in a very difficult position. There was a huge deficit, and American citizens were hypersensitive to increase in taxes. Bush promised during his campaign and as president that taxes would not be raised. This was quite a predicament, because there was no way to significantly decrease the deficit without increasing taxes.
The budget was cut and trimmed where it could be, but ultimately Bush had to go back on his promise to the American people and raise taxes. On the other hand Bush had some revolutionary ideas about the global economy. He felt the domestic economy was inseparable from the foreign, hence any [CLK1]efforts to increase monetary in the US must be coupled with free trade democracies around the world. Bush sought to promote economic growth through lower domestic tax rates and encourage free trade that betters all nations.
The world was entering a new era, where there were many incentives in bridging the deep divides left by the Cold War. President Bush had the goal of uniting countries through their economies, to eventual form a ‘global village economy’ (Parmet, Herbert). Bush innovated the old imperialistic and hegemonic concepts of the beginning of the century, to form a new identity of universalism. Bush shared Woodrow Wilson’s point of view that America must sustain its role in the free trade market, and preserve its ability to monitor the operation process. Democracy was a key ingredient in Bush’s proposal; his goal was to open economic markets through common ideology. In this new era of government economic strength came from an interconnected global community that promoted free trade and democracy. He reinforced this to the global community by assuring any trading partner of the US were allies.
The end of the Cold War marked a change in the balance of power. With the collapse of the Soviet Union the stability of the bipolar world ceased to exist, and the United States took their role as the only, the unipower, of the world. Bush recognized this opportunity and dropped the containment plan, claiming it was time to “move beyond containment,” and lead the forefront in spreading democracy (Parmet, Herbert). He thought the way to sustain world power was to unite the world under the same ideology and economic system. The failure, politically and economically, of the Soviet Union gave Bush the evidence he needed to prove that Communism doesn’t work. To countries in political distress Bush advocated the desirability and opportunity of a democratic government. At the G-7 summit in Warsaw Bush put his words into action. Poland was in a political struggle. The newly nationalized democratic Solidarity Party had recently won an overwhelming majority in the parliament, causing the Poland’s leader, Jaruzelski, from Communist Council of State, to refuse candidacy in the upcoming election.
President Bush wanted to encourage and support Poland’s stride toward democracy, but in a way that didn’t offended the Soviet Union. He avoided further volatility with the Soviet Union and succeeded in promoting democracy by openly encouraging Poland to keep good relations with Moscow, and support Poland economically to improve their private sector. A six-part plan was introduced that that would ultimately give one hundred million dollars in aid. Bush was successful in making the Communist leader reevaluate the political situation. Jaruzelski decided to cooperate with the new Solidarity Party became Poland’s president on a comprised political platform (Parmet, Herbert). Bush’s dedication to spreading democracy through economic assistance was in part sincere, but by securing his ideology he was securing United States position in power politics.
President Bush was prepared to commit himself militarily to promote democracy. Throughout the Reagan years there was mounting tension in Panama. He was funding his corrupt regime through drug trafficking to the United States. Noriega, the totalitarian leader of the country was threatening the security of American citizens living in Panama, the security of any citizens who believed in democracy, and the accessibility of the canal. A democratic movement, starting with a small fizz was now erupting into a movement in which the vast majority of the country embraced. Noriega was blocking the democratic movement in Panama.
When The Panama Defense Force (PDF), which was also led by Noriega, killed three innocent Panamanians, beat and murdered a twenty-four year old US Marine, and sexually assaulted his wife, The United States decided to take action. On December 1, 1990, The United States used military force capturing PDF units. The process took a little over twenty-four hours and Noriega was brought to the United States for trial as a drug trafficker. By the first of the New Year a freely elected government was in power. The Panamanians hailed their new government and began to “dance in the streets for celebration!”(Parmet, Herbert p.419)
The military action take in Panama was fully supported by the American people, in a poll taken after the incident Bush’s support rose fifteen percent. It is naive to believe Bush main motivation for military actions was to protect democracy and save Panamanian lives. Noriega had a history with the United States. The unjust killing of American and Panamanian citizen was the excuse the administration was waiting to wage war. Bush seized this opportunity to maintain the integrity of Panama canal, which had been questioned during Noriega’s dictatorship, and to spread the US’s power through the expansion of democracy.
Bush employed force for a second time to maintain the balance of power in the Middle East. In 1991, without warning, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, with the objective of taking over their oil supply. Iraq ruthlessly destroyed Kuwait’s cities and brutally violated their human rights. Saddam was in close reach of controlling twenty percent of the world’s oil supplies. This posed a dangerous threat; Saddam is not just a power hungry leader, he is erratic and shows no limits on the lengths he will go to achieve his objectives. Although Bush claimed that force was necessary to save the people of Kuwait, the underlying cause of the fighting was power politics and oil.
Bush used force legitimately in order to protect the United States most precious energy source, and to prevent a loose cannon from rising to power. Bush depended on the strength of the American military to achieve his political goals of maintaining the balance of power. The role of military power is significant in determining international political power, and perhaps is the prime determinate when evaluating international standings. A strong military demonstrates that a country has a sound and stable economy to fund its own defense. Bush did not hold back on flexing the United State’s military muscle to maintain its role as a superpower.
President Bush would not have gone to war with Iraq without being entirely supported by the international community. If his military action didn’t align with his economic goals, mainly achieving a global community, he would lose all the respect he had gained. Bush knew that the sanctions emplaced would be ineffective, but went through the formality to gain multilateral support. Bush has great respect for the importance of international organizations. Even though he realized from the onset of the crisis that the UN would be ineffective without force he knew he would not be successful without their involvement.
Bush had worked in the UN on two separate occasions as the Permanent Representative to the United Nations and the ambassador to China. Working with the institution he realized that positive effects of multilateral action. The network he made during his work at the UN greatly helped him during his presidency. He had all ready won the respect and trust of leaders from around the world. He was able to discuss issues with them on a personal level, and this allowed for honest opinions and smooth negotiations. Before going to war with Iraq Bush personally called leaders from approximately fifty countries that could be potentially involved in the conflict and discussed their views on it (Parmet, Hebert p. 456). The countries’ link through the United Nations allowed discussion to run freely and quickly.
States national sovereignty should not be threatened by the spread of an ideology or economic changes. Bush did not impose on the free will of countries, he encouraged toward democracy, and an ideology he believed in passionately. There is no democratic or economic mold fits each and every nation; hence each country needs to develop a democratic system that works best for itself. Countries can only be successful when given the autonomy to make domestic decisions in which their best interests at hand, and foreign policies that correlate to their relationships with other countries. There is one circumstance in which Bush protest the right to national sovereignty; if the government of the country is infringing on basic human rights. Intervention in Panama can be justified because the regime in power had killed its own citizens. Bush stopped our involvement when problem, Noriega, was solved, and left the restructuring up to the Panamanian citizens.
Bush’s policies in Panama were justified through his beliefs on the role of international intervention to protect human rights. When human rights are violated it is the international communities responsibility to intervene. On the domestic front however there is much contradiction in Bush’s civil rights policies. His decision making leaves many questions in an analysts mind. He opposes the equal rights amendment, but his co-chair at the Republican National Committee (RNC), Mary Louise Smith, a woman, claimed he involved her in all decisions and “had the best understanding of anybody of full partnership of women- in business, politics and professions.” (Green, Fitzhugh p.131) Bush passed one of the most ambitious, comprehensive civil rights laws in our nations history during his presidency, the American’s with Disabilities Acts (ADA).
This law ensured that no Disabled person would be discriminated against in academia or in the work force. While months before he refused to pass an African American civil rights act under the condition that quotas are undemocratic. Bush contradicts himself further, when hiring his presidential staff he made it clear that he wanted a diverse work force including all ethnicities and women (Untermeyer, Chase). Bush’s real views on civil rights and the rights of equality are unclear. It doesn’t seem like he is inherently a racist seeing he participated in the United Negro College Fund, at Yale (Green, Fitzhughr p. 48), and he hired women and ethnicities in his personal cabinet. However, his stance on equal rights is very conservative, and from his irregular actions it is difficult to decipher his true feelings on the matter.
Section II: Psychology
George H. Bush is a quietly confident man, secure in his ability to succeed on his own accord. After high school he joined the US Navy where he became the youngest pilot to this day. He fought in the Mariana Islands, where he had a close encounter with death, lost two of his crewmen, and was saved by a chance encounter with a US submarine. Bush was put in a situation where he had to fight for his life, anyone who has faced such adversity and comes out on top, leaves with confidence. Bush knew if he could survive thirty days a drift at sea, he could most defiantly survive in the political game, and may even need a challenge (Green, Fitzhugh).
After graduating from Yale with honors Bush sought a job that would engage his energy and ambition and that would break his ties in the east. He headed down south to work in the profitable Texas oil business. During a span of thirteen years, 1947-1960, Bush moved from trainee, to small business owner, to multi-million dollar international business owner. More important than his climb up the oil corporate latter were the relationships Bush built that helped jump-start his political career. Although Bush had the credentials that suggest political strength, his entry into politics would have been much easier had he stayed in the East. Bush would have had the family name and reputation to run on, constituents would have been familiar with his type. But Bush, a confident and stubborn man, was determined to have the same success without the reputation and familiarity of the East (Fitzhugh, Green).
From his arrival in Odessa, Bush had thrown himself into becoming a full-blown Texan. Although he could never fully shed his preppy eastern upbringing, Texans grew fond of the migrating bird from the East. Bush has an aptitude to make and keep acquaintances and friends from all walks of life. He has a remarkable memory for names, and was in the habit of writing prompt affectionate notes to people he was dealing with. He won people over with his gregarious nature, his dedication to improving the community, and his strong, stable character. The Bush’s became a prominent family in Texas, well respected and well liked.
This admiration was most candidly demonstrated when Bush was asked to lead the revival of the Republican Party, which he did with much success. In the 1964 he ran a strong campaign but lost the Senate race, however the forty-three percent he earned made him the top Republican vote getter in Texas history (Green, Fitzhugh p. 87). In 1967, with campaign experience under his belt, he became one of the forty-seven freshmen Republicans sworn in. George Bush triumphed as a leader of the Republican Party, proving he could win the support and respect of the people in any geographical location.
Bush’s ability to win the respect of his peers is largely due to his confidence in his intellect. He never questions his intellectual ability, and hence never fret’s or questions his political decisions. To accompany Bush’s “smarts” is his tremendous work ethic. Learning is a life long process, which he attacks with zeal and vigor. All ambiguity is eliminated, and it is with this complete understanding of a situation does he form his opinions. This enthusiasm can be seen in each political endeavor. In 1970 President Nixon appointed Bush, under heavy criticism, to permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Bush rode out the political storm with confidence because he believed he was qualified, being a strong exponent of policy as both a political candidate and congressman. The first day on the job the Soviet ambassador purposefully put Bush to the test and called a meeting to talk about the hot issue of Israel moving away from the Gaza strip. It was apparent that Bush had done his homework; he kept calm and had a strong confident showing, proving he could think clearly and quickly under pressure. Within a short time he had won the respect and confidence of the heavy hitters, and he proved to be a “an outstandingly effective American representative.” (Green Fitzhugh p. 118)
Bush did not believe in his destiny to rule, he actually took steps uncharacteristic of a man on the verge of presidency. After losing the vice president ballot to Rockefeller, president Ford offered Bush the esteemed job as ambassador to London or Paris, his choice. These were the two most sought after diplomatic plums in Foreign Service. The situation reminded him of the choices before him upon graduation from Yale; he was offered various opportunities on Wall Street and with other Eastern elitist companies, just as he had earned the right to any Foreign Service position. He had earned the right to work for these prestigious companies. As a distinguished performer at the Cabinet level, Bush would be valued to the president wherever he went. Bush opted for untried territory, where he hoped he could learn more about the world and make headway for the United States. Bush became the ambassador to China. This decision alone demonstrates his curiosity about the world overpowered his desire to rule it. A politician only concerned with power would have taken the position in London or Paris.
When put in a powerful position, namely president of the United States, Bush did not abuse it. During Desert Storm Bush could have chosen to let the war continue until Saddam Hussein was dead and his regime obliterated. Instead, Bush pulled out after five days when the achieved the initial objective of removing all Iraqi’s from Kuwait. This self-restraint demonstrates he was not power hungry. He did the job he was multilaterally supported to do, and then left.
During Bush’s presidency the United State’s domestic and foreign policies were not run out of compassion. The incentives begin his political decisions were power politics and upholding the promises in which he was elected. There are two main examples, one domestic and one foreign, where Bush uses the facade of compassion, for justification of political action. In 1990 Bush passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a very ambitious law covering many areas of discrimination. Some would interpret this Act as showing extreme compassion for disabled citizens. This argument is completely refuted by Bush’s other stances of civil rights. His refusal to sign a civil rights bill that would help end discrimination of African American’s in the work and academic field completely discredited his claim to compassion.
Why did Bush choose to stop discrimination of disabled people and not African Americans? Because ADA would save taxpayers billions of dollars by outlawing discrimination and putting disabled people into work, thereby decreasing government disability payments (Berkowitz, Edward p.134). Purely economically motives. Bush again attempted to use compassion to justify United States actions in Desert Storm. He claimed we were going to war to help the people of Kuwait, but truly it was to prevent Saddam from monopolizing the oil business and to keep the stability of the region. The people of American and the international community knew the real motives for going to war, but it’s easier to accept a war of compassion rather than a war over oil.
In his personal life Bush is known to be very emotional showing both compassion and anger. Bush is only angered when his colleagues show lack in character, because he bases many of his decisions on integrity and respect of individuals. Bush values the characteristics loyalty, confidence, and respect. Ed Rollins the cochairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) treacherously breached all fo these. Without authorities signature he sent out a memo advising Republican congressional candidates on how to responding to the dramatically changed voter mood, he felt they should continue to oppose taxes and not hesitate to oppose either the president of proposals being advanced by the congress. This memo was leaked to the press, and sent Bush into a rage.
President Bush started screaming that he wanted Rollins gone, fired immediately, and threatened to never sign another fundraising letter for the NRCC again. This outburst was obviously over the top, but it didn’t result in irrational behavior. Rollins had been developing a reputation for indiscretion in the Republican Party, and for a president who takes utmost pride in his Party; it seems just that he would want him fired. Bush was chairman of the NRCC during Watergate, even during that horrible scandal he stood tall and commanded his fellow Republicans to stick together, and rebuild the party’s reputation. Rollins actions were deceitful, and incomprehensible to Bush.
Bush’s fits of anger are infrequent and difficulty provoked, while his sense of humor is seen in his everyday life. His sister Nancy recalls his curios talent for mimicking. After returning from travels, he would regale them with hilarious imitations of mannerisms and foreign accents of the people he meet, especially the authoritative figures (Green, Fitzhugh 80). As vice president Bush keept Regan entertained at their weekly lunch with numerous jokes, that Regan would then often have him share with the oval office. Most importantly Bush has the ability to laugh at himself. While jogging one day a reporter asked whether he was ready to “throw in the towel on capital gains.” Bush pointed to his rear end and said, “Read my hips.” (Parmet, Herbert p.469) Bush had the capability to poke fun at the desperate situation he was facing, he had promised the public to decrease the deficit without increasing taxes, and was finding that the completion of that task was near to impossible. Bush was trying to make light of difficult situation that he, and the American people were facing.
Section III: Political Style
The best way to examine a leaders political style is to analyze their actions during a time of crisis. Leadership and character are put to the test in these difficult situations, and it is a true determinant of how they run their country. Bush’s true political character can be seen during, leading up to, and after the crisis in the Middle East.
After Iraq took over Kuwait by force the United Nations, and specifically the United States knew they had to take action. Bush saw the crisis as an opportunity to bridge and energize the international community. He knew that military action would be necessary, but he could not call for military commitment for liberating Kuwait without showing that all other options had been exhausted. In the first five days Bush made a series of four-dozen phone calls; he wanted to personally address every leader that would be potentially involved in the situation. His previous relations with the leaders in the Middle East through his work at the UN, specifically the King of Jordan and the King of Saudi Arabia, made conversation much smoother, because he did not have to establish the trust. Through personal conversation Bush could hear all of their opinions, concerns, and thoughts about Iraq. He met extensively with Margaret Thatcher in Aspen Colorado. They came to an agreement that action must be taken against Iraq through the United Nations (Parmet, Herbert p.452).
The president also consulted widely within his white house staff. The president listened intently to his subordinate’s debate the possible course of action. Bush would not participate in the discussion; instead he was an active listener taking down notes and ideas in which he agreed1. Conversely, when speaking about his own ideas he would only consult with a small group of trusted friends. Bush realized that while it was wise to consult broadly, meaning hear all opinions and possible actions, when making the final decision it is best to debate with a limited number of people to minimize the possibilities of leaks. Bush was willing to leave some people, in the domestic government, out of the final decision making process (Parmet Herbet p.448).
Bush consulted very widely, in fact with every world leader, and member of his government before making a decision. He would only make a decision once he was positive he had heard every option, and had the support of the national community. This patience kept doors open for president Bush, and allowed him to decide on course of action that was multilaterally consented. Bush’s actions demonstrate respect for the democratic process on a domestic and international level. He took the time to hear every view, whether he agreed with it or not, and weighed it in to his decision. The international community supported the decision to take military action through United Nations, and US citizens showed their support by a dramatic increase in public approval of George Bush’s and his actions.
Bush is criticized for not having a vision or policy during his presidency. It was not clear to him what the American people wanted; hence he struggled with forming a new ideal. Bush represented a continuation of the philosophy of the Reagan years. Some claim that he betrayed Reagan because he raised taxes and kept regulation, but they overlook the fact that Ronald Reagan also raised taxes and allowed regulations to continue. If Bush has articulated a different vision for the previous administration, the American people would feel betrayed and disappointed. Bush was a follower so to speak, his policies attempted to stay inline with that of the Reagan administration (Untermeyer Chase).
1 When serving as Vice President under Regan, Bush would not participate in discussion, because he wanted to keep his options open for his personal discussion with the president. In this one on one discussion, Bush would present what he thought were the best ideas, adding his own thoughts and opinions. This allowed Bush not to step on any toes, and always see the big picture.