George H.W. Bush’s diplomacy wins against Trump’s ignorance

Less than a year after the death of his beloved wife, Barbara Bush, former Republican President George H.W. Bush passed away at the age of 94 on Nov. 30. Although only serving one term in office, Bush’s honorable and diplomatic leadership transcended party lines, until a failing economy and broken promise of no new taxes catapulted former Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1993.

Nevertheless, the 41st president’s compassion distinguishes him from the others, namely our 45th. His accomplishments established precedents that must not be ignored.

Bush dedicated his life to serving the American people. His presidency was not rooted in Hollywood, but in actual political offices and military positions.

From postponing his studies to enlist in the Navy after Pearl Harbor to becoming CIA director under 38th President Gerald Ford, U.N. Ambassador under 37th President Richard Nixon and Vice President under 40th President Ronald Reagan, Bush’s extensive political experience established a patriotism for the U.S. that cannot be rivaled by President Donald Trump’s pseudo “American first” slogan, fostered by his nonexistent political experience and five draft avoidances.

Bush’s negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement should be considered one of the most effective agreements, establishing a trade bloc that united the United States with Canada and Mexico. Yet, Trump continuously criticizes it, calling it the “worst trade deal ever” and replacing it with USMCA, which currently awaits congressional approval.

Different leadership qualities are expected in different people. Yet, Trump’s framing of USMCA as a complete do-over of NAFTA renders Bush’s accomplishment nonexistent since Trump believes the foundation Bush put forward, an alliance between the countries under NAFTA, is unnecessary.

Bush demonstrated American prowess and guided a fragmented world back together as the Cold War ended. His diplomacy and strategic military intervention drove Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait, involved the U.S. in Iraq, ousted Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, exhibited police power in South America, issued Presidential Nuclear Initiatives, limited the number of nuclear weapons, and facilitated mostly nonviolent nation-building after the Berlin Wall collapse and USSR dissolution.

Trump’s diplomatic but mediocre “negotiations” with Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un are unproductive at most.

He never denounced Russia’s interference in American national security, nor communicated a clear denuclearization stance regarding both countries as Russia allegedly violates its nuclear treaty obligations and North Korea furtively hides 13 missile bases.

Clearly, Trump lacks Bush’s communication skills and trusting persona when negotiating with “Tough Guy” Putin and “Rocket Man.” His “Trump-centric” attitude does not help either as he irritates our real allies and disregards multilateralism. Shocking that no one has attacked the U.S. yet for Trump’s ineptitude.

Recognizing the need for hazardous air pollution control, Bush revalidated the Clean Air Act, giving the federal government more power in environmental matters. However, climate change is the pest Trump avoids.

In addition to pulling the U.S. from the Paris climate accord, Trump ignored a nonpartisan study, detailing the dire effects of climate change. Why? He simply does not believe it.

To ignore facts and base the livelihood of an entire planet on personal beliefs exhibits sheer arrogance and ignorance, a radical departure from Bush’s pragmatism.

Bush’s patriotism, character and credibility warrant sainthood when compared to Trump. Therefore, we remember Bush as a hero. The same cannot be said about Trump.

-Pabvitraa Ramcharan

Political Science ‘21