George Bush

george bushGeorge Bush (1924- ) is an American diplomat, intelligence director and politician. He is best remembered as vice president to Ronald Reagan and, later, the 41st president of the United States. George Herbert Walker Bush was born in an affluent suburb of Boston. His father Prescott Bush was a millionaire banker who later served in the US Senate. Bush was educated at prestigious private schools, where he excelled in his studies and co-curricular activities. In 1942 he joined the US Navy and at age 18 became its youngest pilot. Bush served with distinction in the Pacific theatre during World War II, flying dozens of combat missions against the Japanese. After the war he enrolled at Yale, graduating with a degree in economics in 1948. Bush spent the next 15 years working in the oil industry, founding an oil company and becoming independently wealthy.

Bush entered politics in 1964, standing as a Republican candidate and winning a seat in the House of Representatives. In 1970 he gave up his seat in the House to run for the Senate, though this was unsuccessful. Bush had been a supporter of Richard Nixon, who appointed him US ambassador to the United Nations in 1971. Bush later served as a diplomatic envoy to China and director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In 1980 Bush made a run for the presidency. He was defeated in the Republican primaries by Ronald Reagan, however, Reagan later chose Bush as his running mate. As vice-president, Bush kept a low profile at first. He later became a spokesman for Reagan’s Cold War policies, particularly in Latin America, negotiating American aid to leaders in El Salvador and Nicaragua. Though never as popular with the American public as Reagan, Bush earned enough respect to win the presidency in November 1988.

george bush
George Bush and Boris Yeltsin during an arms summit in 1993

The Cold War was beginning to wind down when Bush entered the White House in January 1989. Bush continued Reagan’s good relationship and regular summits with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, while maintaining support for anti-communist movements abroad. He avoided intervention or significant comment on the collapse of socialist governments in Europe, preferring not to aggravate Moscow. In July 1991 Bush and Gorbachev signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START I, one of the most significant arms treaties of the Cold War. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union Bush developed a working relationship with Russian president Boris Yeltsin. The two men met in February 1992 and later declared that the Cold War was over. During his presidency Bush also deployed US forces in Kuwait, to drive back an Iraqi invasion ordered by Saddam Hussein. Despite his successes in foreign policy, Bush’s administration was unable to address economic problems at home. As a consequence, he lost the 1992 presidential election to Democratic candidate Bill Clinton. His eldest son, George W. Bush, later served as governor of Texas (1995-2000) and two terms as US president (2001-2009). Now in his 90s, Bush is the oldest surviving US president.

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