George Herbert Walker Bush

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Bush, George Herbert Walker,

1924–, 41st President of the United States (1989–93), b. Milton, Mass., B.A., Yale Univ., 1948.

Career in Business and Government

His father, Prescott Bush, was a successful investment banker and a Republican Senator (1953–63) from Connecticut. After graduating from Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., he served as a fighter pilot during World War II and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He studied at Yale after the war and subsequently moved to Texas, where he cofounded the Zapata Petroleum Corp. In 1966, he was elected as a Republican to the U.S. House of Representatives and sold his business interests. After losing a race for the U.S. Senate in 1970, he served in several important posts under Presidents Nixon and Ford, including ambassador to the United Nations (1971–73), chairman of the Republican national committee (1973–74), chief of the U.S. liaison office in China (1974–75), and director of the Central Intelligence Agency (1976–77).

Presidency

Bush was unsuccessful in his bid for the 1980 Republican presidential nomination, but served two terms (1981–89) as President Reagan's Vice President. In 1988, he won the Republican nomination for President. Bush and his running mate, Dan QuayleQuayle, Dan
(James Danforth Quayle), 1947–, Vice President of the United States (1989–93), b. Indianapolis. He graduated from DePauw Univ. (1969) and served in the Indiana National Guard (1969–75).
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, easily defeated the Democratic ticket of Michael DukakisDukakis, Michael Stanley
, 1933–, American political leader, b. Brookline, Mass. He was a Democratic member of the Massachusetts house of representatives (1963–70) and was twice elected governor of Massachusetts (1975–79; 1983–91).
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 and Lloyd BentsenBentsen, Lloyd Millard, Jr.,
1921–2006, American political leader and U.S. secretary of the treasury (1993–94), b. Mission, Tex. He received a law degree from the Univ. of Texas in 1942 and served as a B-24 squadron commander during World War II.
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.

Foreign Policy

Bush benefited from the unraveling of Eastern European Communism, a rapid series of events that began with the collapse of East Germany late in 1989 and culminated in the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. To many in the United States these events were a confirmation and a consequence of the anti-Soviet military buildup under Reagan and Bush. In 1991, 1992, and 1993, Bush signed nuclear disarmamentdisarmament, nuclear,
the reduction and limitation of the various nuclear weapons in the military forces of the world's nations. The atomic bombs dropped (1945) on Japan by the United States in World War II demonstrated the overwhelming destructive potential of nuclear weapons
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 agreements with the Soviet Union and then Russia that called for substantial cuts in nuclear arms. In Central America the United States achieved long-standing policy objectives. In Dec., 1989, U.S. forces invaded Panama and removed Gen. Manuel NoriegaNoriega, Manuel Antonio
, 1938–, Panamanian general. Commander of the Panamanian Defense Forces from 1983, Noriega consolidated the strong-armed rule inherited from Gen. Omar Torrijos Herrera, and became the de facto leader of Panama. A one-time operative for the U.S.
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 to stand trial in the United States for drug trafficking and other alleged crimes. Then, in Feb., 1990, the SandinistasSandinistas,
members of a left-wing Nicaraguan political party, the Sandinist National Liberation Front (FSLN). The group, named for Augusto Cesar Sandino, a former insurgent leader, was formed in 1962 to oppose the regime of Anastasio Somoza Debayle.
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 were defeated in elections in Nicaragua. Canada, Mexico, and the United States created a free-trade zone when the North American Free Trade AgreementNorth American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA), accord establishing a free-trade zone in North America; it was signed in 1992 by Canada, Mexico, and the United States and took effect on Jan. 1, 1994.
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 was signed in 1992.

In the Middle East, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, provided the occasion for the most striking foreign policy achievement of the Bush administration (see Persian Gulf WarPersian Gulf Wars,
two conflicts involving Iraq and U.S.-led coalitions in the late 20th and early 21st cent.

The First Persian Gulf War, also known as the Gulf War, Jan.–Feb.
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). Bush saw the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait by an American-led international coalition as a test of U.S. resolve to uphold and enforce what he termed the "new world order." The success of Bush's military policy led to unprecedented popularity at home, but the U.S. triumph in the Persian Gulf War was not complete; Saddam HusseinHussein, Saddam
, 1937–2006, Iraqi political leader. A member of the Ba'ath party, he fled Iraq after participating (1959) in an assassination attempt on the country's prime minister; in Egypt he attended law school.
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 retained power in Iraq. In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, under prodding from Bush and Secretary of State James A. BakerBaker, James Addison, 3d,
1930–, U.S. political leader, b. Houston, Tex. After graduating from Princeton, he served in the U.S. Marines and earned a law degree from the Univ. of Texas.
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, comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace talks began in late 1991.

Domestic Policy

Bush's handling of domestic affairs was less successful. The savings and loan crisis (see savings and loan associationsavings and loan association
(S&L), type of financial institution that was originally created to accept savings from private investors and to provide home mortgage services for the public.

The first U.S. S&L was founded in 1831.
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) erupted in the early months of his administration, and the costs to the government only added to concerns about the federal budget deficit. Bush's plan to stimulate the economy by encouraging growth in the private sector included cutting expenditures and taxes, especially the tax on capital gains. After a prolonged battle with the Congress, he agreed (Oct., 1990) to a deficit-reduction bill that included new revenues, thereby breaking his 1988 campaign pledge to not raise taxes. This angered conservatives, but even more damaging to Bush was a prolonged international recession that resulted in stagnant economic growth at home, high levels of unemployment, and increased concern about the ability of the United States to compete with Japan and other nations.

Because of this economic uncertainty, Bush began his 1992 reelection campaign as a far less popular president than he had been after the Gulf War, a short time earlier. Bush and Vice President Quayle were renominated by the Republican party in Aug., 1992. The Democrats nominated Bill ClintonClinton, Bill
(William Jefferson Clinton), 1946–, 42d President of the United States (1993–2001), b. Hope, Ark. His father died before he was born, and he was originally named William Jefferson Blythe 4th, but after his mother remarried, he assumed the surname of his
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, governor of Arkansas. Businessman H. Ross PerotPerot, H. Ross
(Henry Ross Perot), 1930–, American business executive and political leader, b. Texarkana, Tex., grad. Annapolis, 1953. In 1957 he resigned his commission and became a salesman for IBM.
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 entered the race as an independent. After a bitter campaign, Clinton won, and Bush retired to Texas. In 2005 Bush joined with his successor to raise funds for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, and subsequently served as UN special envoy for the South Asian earthquake disaster.

Bibliography

See his All the Best (1999), selections from his letters and other writings. See also biographies by H. S. Parmet (1997), T. Naftali (2007), and his son G. W. Bush (2014); C. Campbell, ed., The Bush Presidency (1991); P. and R. Schweizer, The Bushes: Portrait of a Dynasty (2004).