—There have been lots of eulogies dedicated to President George Herbert Walker Bush. I also believe the United States and the world lost a very good man this week. For me there are three things that stand out, and they are probably a bit different from the typical American view:
- He was the last American President to have fought in the Second World War and, like my father-in-law, he was an Allied fighter pilot. This means he was a man who actually knew what war was and did not take it lightly. It also means he had a set of values that I could relate to. It is mentioned that president Jimmy Carter was in the military in WWII, but he was in the Naval Academy. Unlike George HW Bush, he did not serve on active duty in the war, but did so soon after.
- He headed the CIA from 30 January 1976 to the end of President Ford’s term, replacing Bill Colby in that role. This means he knew what was going on in Angola at that time, because the CIA was involved. He would have known about South Africa’s joint effort with the USA, as solicited by the United States; more particularly, by Henry Kissinger. I am sure it influenced his views regarding the third point.
- As Reagan’s Vice-President, it was he who placed the Communist-trained ANC party of Nelson Mandela on the United States List of Terrorist Organizations. Of course, he had the benefit of the intelligence assessments from the CIA, and his own history with the organization to rely on. Ironically, his own son would remove them from that list in 2008, and now the world can see the folly of that act.
I always hoped that I might get the opportunity to speak to him, but it was not meant to be. He was the last American leader to do the right thing with respect to South Africa, until the arrival of President Trump. It was also George Herbert Walker Bush who issued an executive order lifting all Federal Sanctions against South Africa in July 1991.
We have just witnessed the loss of a good leader of the West. He could innately tell right from wrong, and did what was right. What more can one really ask in the end?
— Harry Booyens