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tv   The Presidency Andrew Natsios Andrew Card Transforming Our World -...  CSPAN  May 31, 2022 11:45am-12:49pm EDT

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talked about their book transforming our world, president george h. w. bush and american foreign policy. they've collected insider accounts from bush administration veterans who helped shape world events from the fall of the soviet union to the gulf war. the wilson center in washington d.c. is the host of this virtual event. i am mark green, president and ceo the wilson center with charter by congress more than 50 years ago to, in their words
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strength in the few full relation between the world of learning and the world of public affairs. one of the principal ways to fulfill that mission is through the history and public policy program. which drives to reach public resource record of 20th and 21st century international history from repositories around the world. based upon those records, to facilitate scholarship, education, and debate. we also mobilize scholarship and research to inform public policy in other ways. from podcasts like international history declassified, to blogs like my own, stubborn things. today's program is very much in line with that purpose. our guest today, andy card she has served as the national chant for democracy interim chief of the george barbara bush foundation president of franklin pierce university acting dean of the bush school of government of
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public service at texas a&m university and senior roles under three u.s. president under george w. bush, secretary of transportation under george h. w. bush. and we have andrew s. natsios, a executive professor at the bush school at texas a&m university and director of the institute of national affairs. he has been a distinguished professor at the university of george brown. a veteran who served in the gulf war, u.s. special envoy to sudan during the darfur crisis and now, go today they have edited and produced transforming our world. president h. w. bush and foreign policy. a collection of foreign policy essays from well-known practitioners who participated in the unfolding of international events as part of that bush administration. as
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we get going i want to make sure everyone knows we will have your audience questions right at the end of our program. if you have questions please submit them to event at wilson center dot org. please include your name and affiliation. let me get things going. for me a recurring theme in this book, even though it was written by 20 authors in terms of the essays is good footed. the notion that george h. w. bush was uniquely qualified to lead the free world when he did. as you guys pointed out, the first president in 120 years with prior diplomatic experience. the only president with leadership experience in u.s. intelligence agencies. the last world war ii veteran to serve, and the last injured in combat. and yet the book describes his
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election as an aberration. could we have a george h. w. bush elected today. could we see someone with those unique qualifications rise to take the reins at these important times in our history? andrew carr, why don't i start with you? >> thank you for having me on with my great friend, andrew natsios. think you for your service to our country in both congress and the usf a. d., and now with the wilson center. i am excited to be here with you. andrew natsios, deserves 99. 9% of the credit in making sure this remarkable collection of essays and reflections comes out. i am credited with having helped him but really, he helped me help him. he motivated me, the most
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remarkable thing is read the introduction that andrew natsios wrote in this book, he summarizes all of the rest of the chapters. but he does it in a way that is, i'm going to say both optimistic and pessimistic. it is optimistic that we know now what we should be looking for in a president. pessimistic in saying it is going to be hard to get there. to answer your question directly, i think it will be very hard to have another person like george h. w. bush, in the field of candidates who could successfully compete to become president of the united states. i say that because his track record of responding to the call of global public service is almost unique. none of his predecessors had it. i don't think any of the successors to him have that wealth of knowledge. it is best summarized as what andrew
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natsios wrote in the introduction, where we know about how he came to respect the noble calling a public service. from a family who was engaged in public service. how he grew up in new england, with new england values, even though he became a texan. he had the gravitas of being at yale but the boots on the ground ability to communicate well, from being an oil worker in midland texas. he was fortunate to have a secretary of state who he was mine melded to. they were the best of friends, colleagues, soulmates. that made a big difference. he also had survivors remorse as someone who was shot down in world war ii and watched his buddy get killed. so, yes that had an impact on him! he also was
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experienced in so many different aspects as outlined in a chapter, but also, i am reflecting on jeff engles commentary, he practiced hippocratic oath implement see do no harm i think he was a real gentlemen as plato and burke told us he also had prudence and the ability to be prudent, in fact that was a word that he used often. prudent. he did have prudence, he was very well engaged in a respectful way with everybody, his friends and his adversaries. he was respectful. most of all this collection of essays outlines his respect for the institutions of democracy. he was an institution builder
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and polisher. and andrew natsios captures that in his introduction. all of the authors, they all made significant contribution themselves. there could be books written about each of them. there have been books written about each of them. they are beyond expertise in terms of what they have done. they have been serving as patriots. jean baker has the first essay, but he knows but george h. w. bush almost as well as george h. w. bush. he sets the stage for what we have throughout the rest of the chapters. >> andrew? >> a couple of stories that tell you a lot about bush himself. bush was taught by his mother and his father not to use the word i if he could possibly avoid it. it's hard to do that if you are a politician. if you watch,
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you listen, look at the stuff that he has written. memos as president and speeches, he doesn't use the word. because he said it is too egotistical and egocentric. he came back from a baseball game when he was in high school. he hit a home run and they won the game as a result of it. he ran in and told his mother, his mother said, that's very nice george. she said, that's very nice, george. how did the team do? he asked, don't you care about the home run? and she said, i care about how the team did. not how you did. he repeated that story many times. there was an auditorium in -- near three buildings of the bush school, library, and the conference center. you came and spoke
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there at the democratic conference. by the way we had five pandemic conferences before covid-19! that was one of the focuses of the skill center. anyway, he used to come all the time. just one story of how he is revered in texas. he almost died, i think it was pneumonia he had, three years earlier. in fact there was a german news magazine actually said he had died. it was very embarrassing, they had to do a retraction and all that. anyway he survived, he came back and there is a special booth for him at the football game. there's 100,000 people at these football games. he got a 15 minute standing ovation. they had to postpone the game. the audience would not sit down after he appeared after his near death experience. if people want to know how popular he is in texas, all you have to do is go to the college. he didn't even go to school at texas a&m. his friends in houston criticized him for.
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texas a&m is in a rural area, why are you putting elaborate there? i think i know why, it's the values of texas a&m. there was a french scholar we had a conference on the reunification of germany about seven or eight years ago, he sort of said that george bush had nothing to do with german reunification. i knew if i invited him he would've said it. everyone else said that he did have a major role. george bush was a security adviser helmut kohl, to the german chancellor during the reunification. he was there, he spoke, and he said something that i won't forget. he said i was on the phone almost every single day for two years orchestrating with brent skill croft, and of course how much coal was on the phone constantly with bush. making sure every single detail was
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attended to. during the implementation process nothing got screwed up so the laugh that when -- he said that that was just complete nonsense. there was a concert of the great german orchestra in houston during the anniversary celebration of the reunification of germany. the german consul general stood up during into -- bush had invited us to go, we were both there. she said mister president i just want to thank you because we would not be one country now if it not for you. and then of course there was another standing ovation. this is the german counsel general who made it point of saying this. i think that george bush was a modest person but he didn't have much to be modest about. he was a historic figure! he was a very humble guy. i think those characteristics mean, he didn't promote himself at all.
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as a result of that i don't think a lot of the things that he did ever made many waves. which is why we did this book. >> it's interesting. it reminds me a few years ago when brent scowcroft was still with us. i had the opportunity to meet with him. i was an international institute--at the time. i asked him, what would be the lesson that he would offer for young people today? and brent said, i it wasn't easy. the history that today's young people look back on. the reunification, the fall of the wall, as though it was just logical and inevitable and it wasn't easy! each step, each move, each discipline move matt not moving at times which is
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what you are pointing to. these things are extraordinary and in some cases not in the skill sets of politicians these days. who are looking for instant, reading the polls would happen today with social media. yet he had the foresight, he and the team baker, scowcroft, so many. understood the calibrations and the difficulties in what it would take to get it done. that maybe is the greatest sign of how unusual that time one and how unique his contributions were. >> there is one unique thing that i say to people about george bush, or any president for that matter. the most important thing the president does is to appoint other people to run the federal government. one person, no matter how brilliant, how experienced, how -- could possibly run a government as big as we have. it is enormous, it is enormously complex. george bush cultivated a large group of people across the country in his first campaign
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for president in his 1980, and then in 1988 in his eight years of vice president he built up a huge network. it wasn't just people that could run a campaign. but also to run the federal government! putting people who were loyal to him, who shared his worldview, his morals in office he was in fact seizing control and a very gentle way of the reigns of power. he didn't have to yell a people, fire people in fact almost no one was fired at the nsc the entire time he was in office. there was a chapter by jane paul loot, she worked with brent snow craft. she had a distinguished career. her and i served together in the gulf war. in her chapter she said you know, there are only 50 people on the staff of the nsc.
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under president obama there were 400, that is how much it has increased. she said the quality of the people's to -- all of them became cabinet members, four star generals. presidents of universities. condoleezza rice was on the nsc, she became secretary of state. i think a lot of what george bush is so good at is this huge network that he built, very deliberately. this comes out in the book i think. >> something i want to get to. another personal angle, a few years ago when bush 41 was still with us, i had the honor of visiting him up at kennebunkport. i remember, when i walked into that first front room and i paused for a moment and i looked around at the array of photos, capturing moments from his presidency. i
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found myself over and over again saying, oh yeah, that's right, oh yeah, i had forgotten. in some, ways that's what came back to me when i read this book. because each chapter, each essay touches on a moment in our presidency, many of which have been forgotten or perhaps not fully appreciated. all these things that occurred during the bush 41 presidency that are lost to the midst of time. or again, as brett spoke or off suggested, maybe everyone looks and thinks that somehow inevitable. what do you think, this is to both of, you each of you. what do you think, in terms of accomplishments or events, is perhaps least appreciated these days? that bush 41 pulled together or pulled off? >> well, first of all, he did help transform the world. we ended
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the cold war without going to a hot war. that was pretty dramatic. he was humble in the process, he didn't dance on the wall when it came down. even though some people that he should go dance on the wall when the berlin wall came down. no, he was very humble. he also was very disciplined about respecting institutions in washington, d. c. that were not his institutions. for example, he worked well with congress even though congress was controlled by the democrats. yes, he served in the house and respected the house and had friends on both sides of the aisle, but he did not blind aside congress with the challenges he had. he actually invited them to be a part of
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the solution. it didn't always, work didn't mean everything was easy. it wasn't, it was very hard. but i think that the institutions that he knew was critical to part of the institution, he groom to step up to meet their responsibilities. on the domestic side, probably the american disability act. which was so dramatic and really did change america, and it motivated the world to have a greater conscious about those people who are challenged and need a little bit of a leg up, no pun intended. they need some help. so, the american disability act. but there were so many, i encourage people to read john--'s book about his time as chief of staff, to get a look at what happened on the domestic side. this is focused on what happened on the international side, and efforts of the u.s. i-80. where he was very dramatic in spreading the passion of america around the world, that's what comes out in these various chapters. but
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chase on tour myers chapter really discusses how hit he staff his government. how did he bring people in, and what was he looking for. he was not looking for people who would just echo his views, he looked for people who are challenges views constructively and make a difference. i have to tell you, we all know the name bush now because he was president and he was vice president before that. but a lot of people to know better track record in service, they know now about a son who was president. which is pretty darn unique. but i would point out, the first time i was campaigning with, him i had just come on as the voluntary chairman of the campaign in 1970, eight 79. he was running in the 1980 process. there was an event, he was speaking at an event in springfield, connecticut -- i'm sorry, hartford, connecticut. i got a
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call from james a baker the third, who was part of the campaign, and he said ambassador bush was going to be speaking at an event in hartford, connecticut. it's only about 45 minutes away from springfield, massachusetts. could you put together a tea or some thing for ambassador bush, to get to meet some people? i don't know a lot of people in springfield, massachusetts, but i call the friend who did know people there. they gave me someone, as a potential host for a tee, at 3:00 in the afternoon, i drove out to see where this house was and meet the people and all that kind of stuff. the next day was the event, drove down to hartford, picked up ambassador bush, drove him down to springfield and came to this home in springfield. walked in and there is about 25 people ready to have tea with candidate, ambassador bush. his side on
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the mantle over the fireplace, it said welcome george bush and was spelled be you s c h, like anheuser bush. he came a long way. he was an asterisk in the polls, but that asterisk made a huge difference for america. and it made an even greater difference for the rest of the world. because he actually did more to introduce transformation than any other president in our history when it came to inviting people to the responsibilities of governing. yes, with the opportunities that come through democracy. but he actively made many bad leaders better leaders, because of how he led. around the world. and so, that's what transformed the world. and we're very grateful of his service. jane flutes chapel chapter about brent school cough organizing the security council is a must read. it talks about the partnership
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that existed, even inside the white house. normally, there is tension between different bureaucracies inside the white house. i know, that being the chief of staff. i would carry that around all the time to put it in the gears. president bush and brandon scowcroft and jim baker were a remarkable team, and they also had the benefit of working with dick cheney and colin powell. it was a spectacular team that made a difference. it came because of president i division, but he did not allow himself to be stuck on stupid. he was always looking to learn, always looking for solutions are a better way of debating it. but he didn't practice braggadocious, didn't pound his chest and said i did it. but in fact, he went overboard and said you did, it when it could've been a we did it. >> i'm going to jump in and narrow
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the question to you. because andy really opened the door. what struck me in the book, obviously you and i having served of a administrator of usaid, it's a lack of appreciation for what happened in that bush presidency for humanitarian assistance, humanitarian leadership and crisis response. obviously, you are there at the time and then eventually extended and mobilize these tools when you became administrator. andrew, if you would, talk a little about the innovations that we saw from the bush 41 team with respect to usaid and humanitarian leadership? >> let me tell you an interesting story. ryan crocker was dean of the bush school and a good friend of mine, in fact a friend of all of ours. ryan said george bush was a great president, but he also said we need to make some mistakes. one mistake if he didn't do
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anything about the reconstruction of afghanistan after the russians left. i was going to write that in the introduction, i said, you know i should check this out to make sure that ryan was correct. and ryan was wrong, he didn't know, this i don't know. it's so obscure! the first executive order that george h. w. bush signed was to organize the reconstruction of afghanistan after the russian troops left. now, a i. d. was put in clear charge. they said a ideas and charge, everyone else works through a idea with a i. d. but they are in charge of the reconstruction. the equivalent, i think those $225 million on today's dollars. you could say that's not a lot of money. in those, days you could do a lot with $225 million, and we started to do. it i don't have anything. it was a separate office. and then the civil war started between the taliban and the northern alliance. now, you
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can say that we didn't fix the diplomacy of that. but don't say we didn't do anything on the reconstruction. most of what we did do was destroyed in the civil war, is not that he didn't focus on that. he is the first thing he focused on. now, alex the wall, one of the great scholars. not a particular fan, he's a british scholar at tufts. but he's written a lot of books about famines, about africa and all that. he wrote a book called mass starvation two years ago, which i use in my course on great famines and war. and he said in there that there has been a dramatic drop in the number of famine deaths since the mid to late 19 80s, compared to the previous hundred and 50 years. he actually tracked the number of deaths each year, each famine in the world, for 150 years. he said you can see a big decline. he said there are three reasons
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for. one of the reasons was a new international humanitarian response system, which was organized under the bush presidency. and it's almost not -- i didn't even realize. i put all these pieces together, i said all this happened with bush was president. it's not that it just happened, he helped orchestrate. one of them was the creation of the un office of coordinator assistance, osha it's called. it have been because the un did not do a good job with the kurds in northern rack at the end of the gulf war, and he wanted it fixed. he didn't just bashed the un, he criticize them but he said we're going to fix this. and he did! there is a big fight in the administration, because there were certain people that did not support creating a new office like this. it has been a success story. and a i. d. and the office of disaster assistance, which i was director of in my first job. it
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is an amazing story. i didn't want the job, finally andy started telling me administrator alan woods, who is sadly dying of cancer, we want him to be the head of the latin america bureau. i said, well, you know, i really want to do. this job. we kept fighting with him and it didn't work. andy said we'll move you later, take the job as the head. i don't even know anything about this, why are you putting me in this job? after two weeks on the job, i said, i don't want to move. this is the best job i've ever had in the most interesting, i want to stay here. it actually change my career tract. we now know disaster assistance response team, those were created in 89 during the bush presidency. we don't have an operation center before, we do now. >> talk now for a moment about darts. but they do and why they're so important, why there is so innovative. >> before, we might send one or
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two people out but there was no job descriptions. there is no operations planning. there is no assessments that were done in an organized, systematic way. we did a field manual called the fog, field operations guide. i wouldn't have called it fog, but the kurd people did that and i said i'm not going to argue with you. that was the manual for the d. a. r. t. teams. the d. a. r. t. teams where people disciplined in shelter, in water and sanitation and in food security and nutrition. emergency medical care and reconstruction. people had a specific duties, and then they would issue twice a day these information reports that would go out to thousands of people all over the world who are interested in responding to whatever the disaster was. it was mostly civil wars and famines, but there are also natural disasters that happened. these teams would go
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out and we would give them broad discretion. they could make decisions in the field without going back to washington, to a longer bureaucratic process. it's now a big thing in the united states. when the haitian earthquake took place, there are 125 people from nato on that d. a. r. t. team. the biggest art team we've ever had. i want, point we had five d. a. r. t. teams, i'll never forget, this in 1992. when lorraine johnson was my secretary and i said, lorraine, there is another disaster. because countries were collapsing around the world. there were civil wars, famines. i said, we need to send another d. a. r. t. team out. she said, andrew, there is no one left in the office. you sent everyone out already. there is me and you and the operations guy who does logistics and the contract officer. and that's, it everybody else from the field. you can't send another team out. i realize i had gone too far, but the point was, there was a massive increase in what
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we call complex emergencies. alex dewall, says the architecture of the international humanitarian response system is what's drove the death rates down. it wasn't just what happened in eight, it wasn't just oh--, he had sent catherine burtiny to wfp, to make wfp to make the premier un agency dealing with not just food, but the logistics system with airports. running convoys and all that, catherine created that. she was there for ten years. it wasn't an accident that she was sent, it was deliberate! they orchestrated the votes of the white house to get her elected as the wfp executive director. >> you may not remember this but when i was named administrator you gave me a phone call and you said, look, you're about to see this huge agency. boots on the ground all around the world. you said the one thing that you
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do not appreciate yet is the value of often and dart. i just promise you, we will have the conversation again later. the tool of the dart, the ability to coordinate and focus humanitarian assistance, it is the best in the world. it will be terribly valuable. given what we saw with the venezuelan migration. we had cyclones off of mozambique. we have the mexico city earthquake. that was something that was underappreciated. let me switch gears. there is another aspect of the bush 41 era that isn't really thought about. ronald reagan is credited with muscular foreign policy, for good reason. yet this books reminds us that panama, northern iraq, kuwait, somalia, bush 41 was not afraid to use
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military force when he believes the cost was just and in line with the international framework that he believed would given the credibility and authority. yes the humanitarian leadership, but he was no shrinking violet when it came to muscular diplomacy and foreign policy when necessary. >> he activated the military more than any other president, particularly in a four-year period. i'm sorry. >> he came at those challenges with empathy. he had been in war. the last president to be in world war ii. a hero, all that kind of stuff. he also practiced remarkable restraint. when we helped to liberate kuwait he did not fall to the seduction of going all the way
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to baghdad. he bill a coalition, he worked with the rest of the world to kind of keep saddam hussein under wraps. i think that was tremendous restraint. what he did in panama was really quite restrained. he went after one person instead of the people of panama or their military. it made a big difference. there is not much written in the book here about what happened in panama, obviously we had challenges in yugoslavia that were emerging at the same time. it is not that he solved every problem that america face during his tenure but he set the stage for
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us to better understand what it takes to solve the problems facing america across the world. this book is a wonderful, it actually should be read by anyone who wants to be president or who wants to serve on the state department, and defense department. i think it is a great collection of real life challenges that were well addressed. you had leadership that showed compassion, leadership. it did not just deal with their own emotions. they actually tried to keep their emotions under check as they met the emotions of the world. things did not get escalated beyond that point of no return. which frequently does happen. i was impressed with jim baker's sort of ten suggestions of what it takes to be a great leader. they really are just the story of george h. w. bush. i encourage people to read andrew down through his introduction. yield be unable to put the rest of it down.. >> andrew, you can comment as an
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aide administrator, but also asked someone who put the uniform back on during that era. again, it is a fallacy that bush 41 was some how afraid to use military force. >> it is, it was a falicy. it is a sad indication of the corruption of our culture, being a gentlemen which george bush clearly was, was acquainted with being weak. it is the exact opposite, actually. he was able to control himself when he would like to punch them out or yell at them, enough so he could get it done without brow beating people by making friends with them. he, cole said it, the only non america and the only non participant in the push administration itself who wrote
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a chapter, up tolman coal he wrote a chapter on the german unification. he said, gorbachev said to him, if i did not trust helmut kohl in george bush, this would not have happened. the peaceful and of the soviet off location of eastern europe their appreciation of germany, the transformation of europe it would not have happened. it could have resulted in a war. gorbachev himself said it is because he trusted bush. that makes a big difference. it is not widely understood. i wanted to tell you a story, you mentioned the humanitarian. it is my favorite story. we need another book for what he did in africa and latin america. -- we the guy withdrew it at the last-minute, on latin america.
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we never got it done. which i regret. there was a famine developing in 1990 because of a drought and civil war in ethiopia. hank cohen, assistant secretary of state for africa he and i worked very closely together on the civil wars we couldn't get food into ethiopia because the marxist dictator said if you land any food on portman silent i will blow up all the barges with food on them. the president of eritrea, the rebel leader there he said if you move any forward here i will blow it up. i don't want any food delivered to my people because women just will get credit for it. hank cohen sent a note to the white house saying they've been trying to get both sides to agree to this and i haven't done it. this is a true story now. hank called me up and he said i have a hilarious story. i said you know men to just announce for humanitarian reasons he was
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opening the port up i said, i can't imagine anything we said convinced him to do that. it didn't have anything to do with him gorbachev called him up and threatened him. he said either you open the port up and i will shut down all military assistance to you within two weeks. the reason gorbachev did that is because bush called him on his own without anyone asking him. he said collier marks his friend up here and tell him to get off the stick and open that port up or else. gorbachev did it there was no famine! it's not even recorded anywhere. bush did not go through the ministry or the state department he called gorbachev directly to do it. and gorbachev called directly. and then we have isaiah sapper walking off the stick and he capitulated the point is there's a lot of stuff to happen that isn't even in the book yet. this comes from tom and
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washington university tomas a good question, did president bush have any regrets about any of his major foreign policy decisions after he left the presidency? so both of you not only served him, but continue to be friends of >> let me shift gears on both of you we will have to take some questions who have been submitted to us this one comes from tom parker from george washington university. tom asked a good question, to president bush have any regrets on any of his major foreign policy decisions after he left the presidency? both of you not only served him but continue to be friends of his. anything, any regrets, any second thoughts on his decisions? >> how about andy, and he was there in the white house i was not in the white house very much. [laughs] >> well first of all he was upset with what was happening in afghanistan. we weren't really able to create a climate where they could have institutions of government that would not be subjected to the taliban's influence, if you will. the world was second guessing his decision not to go
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to baghdad after we liberated kuwait. he was very comfortable with that decision but i will admit that there were others who kept trying to challenge him on that. i think that he did the right thing and history records that he did the right thing even though we still have problems in that part of the world. in south america, latin america, i think he worked very hard, very quietly. in el salvador in particular we felt as if we were making significant progress, and we were, but it collapsed soon after he left office, and that was frustrating to him. but i don't think he agonized over what he did as president. i think he did agonize over the effect of the campaign and his ability to get reelected, which he didn't do. i'll never forget,
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there was a remarkable celebration when the first gulf war ended and there was a military parade down pennsylvania avenue on washington d. c.. and it was as if we had put the vietnam era behind us. people were standing proud in a uniform, being praised by the public. that was a great experience. but the campaign itself then struggled. and he didn't win reelection. that was a bruising he did not get over losing that election until his son ran for president, and won. but it was really when his son won a second term he felt, thank you. i think he also knew deep down inside if he had had a second term his son probably never would have been president. >> very interesting. andrew, any thoughts? >> clearly one of the things that he was been
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criticized for was bosnia. jim baker and george bush let decided to make the decision to leave bosnia. i mean, bosnia was in europe. yugoslavia was in europe bosnian civil war started from that. i'm a supporter of the european union. personally i am a very strong supporter of nato. it would seem to me that europeans should have been able to do this but it seemed that the governance system really does not encourage decisive leadership because you have to get consensus among all those states and people have veto power, countries have veto power to stop unified decision making. ad europeans have not done a good job. i had one european say to me, i won't say who was, a former prime minister of the country, he said, you americans, you keep telling us what to do all the time, i'm fed up with it! why didn't you fix bosnia? >> you
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just told us we shouldn't have intervened! now you are telling me, you know, we should have fixed bosnia. why don't you fix bosnia? anyway, or at least stop the civil war! it went on a long time after that. the da.r.t. team is the longest running d. a. r. t. team, sent into bosnia to provide aid in bosnia. you may know this but it was there like seven or eight years. a long, long time for a d. a. r. t. team. >> i have another question that came in, that really isn't about politics but it is more about students of foreign policy trying to think through these possibilities. ao andy, i will begin this with you. a question
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from charles duelfer is, if ross perot had not run for president, how different would the world be today? impossible to answer but what are some thoughts? >> ross perot, the seeds of ross perot came from newt gingrich, if you will. the opportunities there. it was frustrating. remember the challenges in new hampshire where the president was challenged within his own party which gave oxygen to ross perot. that was a frustrating thing. i think if ross perot had not run, i do think that george h. w. bush would have won reelection. i'm not sure if the united states would be as unified as we think it would be. i think it would not be what it is today would not have been divisive as it is today today would be a lot less trouble i think the challenge of the seeds of our democracy were actually sown when ross perot ran from the right and
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ran as a populist and kd of upset the apple car. i don't think -- they were very few people that george h. w. bush didn't really call friends. and ross perot would be one. he was remarkable, he didn't remember most people that were his enemies were his enemies. he was always, oh no, no, no, he was pretty good. one story, i remember after a tough vote, we had just barely won in the senate the president invited the senators to come down and watch a movie in the white house. and people were in line coming in, president is greeting everyone to see the movie. and he greets the senator, gives him a hug. so good to see you and i said to him, you know, he just really reamed you out and voted against you and the vote we had before the senate. and he looks at me and says, really? think of the people that voted for
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the bill because he was against it. so, there are these people. if george h. w. bush had served another term, i think that he would have further strengthened our institutions of democracy, which i really think we desperately need to this day. and he did shire up a number of institutions. i mean, we forget he was chairman of the republican party when the republican party was splintered because of the iran contra. the first time i heard him speak he praised the institutions of democracy, including the institution of a two party system. so, he fought for people to be a part of this democracy and he was a big believer in the first word in the constitution, we, it's our
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government. the second thing he did, he cleaned up the cia and restored to the cia to what it should be and is today, in terms of a very revered and respected institution. it was not that way when he became the director of the cia. he changed it, and that's why the cia complex is named for him, to this day. i think that he was the greatest cia director that we had, at a crucial time in the context of the institutions of responsibility that help our government do the job. and you can go down the whole list. probably, if he had been elected to a second term, nafta would've been signed even before it was under bill clinton. and that's why the chapter about nafta here is so important. he didn't just focus on foreign policy as a foreign policy expert, he also focused on foreign policy that can be enhanced with free trade. he was well grounded in republican principles of inclusion, not exclusion. that's the way he built our democracy. so, i
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truly believe he was the greatest one term president in the history of our country. >> andy, i'm going to jump in here. because something that you pointed to. i started off by pointing to the sense of good fortune that is there throughout the book. in fact, one of the chapters on u.s. german relations actually has good fortune right in its title. but what goes along with that, the number of times that bush 41 actually pointed in a different direction he goes to congress, not for foreign policy but for ways and means. he loses his race for the senate, wants to go to treasury. he gets a consolation prize, going to the un. he goes to the rnc, he goes to the cia. all of those would be, for someone aiming to lead the free world, perhaps a distraction. and yet, inevitably, seems
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almost inevitably, faith that all of this in some way or another prepares him to go to the world stage and focus on foreign policy. but at any point along the way, you might have said well, he's done. that's the end of george bush. >> well, it's because he's a gentleman first. those distractions, those that would be distractions to someone else. not to george bush. he was well rounded and focused and he believed in our system. andrew s. natsios and i happen to be at the republican national convention in detroit when he was tapping -- to be his running, made as vice president. that came to a shock to the political establishment. even the people who are in detroit at the convention,
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because we it was gerald ford vice president, co-presidency, all this kind of stuff. i think it was fate that gave him the breadth of experiences that he had, and they came together at exactly the right time. think how dangerous the world was when russia was looking to reemerge, not as the soviet union, but something else. and the berlin wall comes down. even the british weren't in favor of german reunification at that time, they were skeptical of it. george h. w. bush was the kind of visionary transformational leader that was patient and kind and inclusive and didn't command, he invited. and the way that he worked, especially during the time of the reunification of germany, really meant that there would be no hot war. we ended the ideology of the
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contrast between the soviet union in the united states, and we did it peacefully. because president bush earned and gave respect. he gave respect to people that were willing to be a part of a solution, and he earned respect because he did that. his relationship with gorbachev was something that no one could've predicted four years before the berlin wall came down. when gorbachev was in power for four years, i believe, before george h. w. bush became president of the united states and he swas -- yes, perestroika may have been a glimmer of hope or expectation, but it wasn't a reality. i think that george h. w. bush allowed gorbachev to deal with the reality that the berlin wall came down and that germany should be reunified, without being part of the soviet umbrella. and that made
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a huge difference for everything else that has taken place since then. >> you asked a question, mark. or the questioner asked how things would have been different if ross perot hadn't run and george bush had a second -- i agree with andy, i think he would've had a second term. one of the things that people don't realize is that all parties are coalitions. and part of the republican party has been, for 100 years, been a sort of an isolationist wing of the party in rural areas of the south and the midwest, particularly. they're not interested in or supportive of world war ii. patrick buchanan, who ran against george bush in the prime area 1988, wrote a book and said we should not have entered world war ii. if you can imagine. i can't imagine anyone saying that. but there is an element of that in the united states. by the, way some of those people were democrats to. there is an isolationist wing of the democratic where
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the two. that is commit more recently, i think because of the crises that we faced and even made worse by the pandemic. there was one thing, though, that we haven't discussed about the middle east, other than kuwait. jim baker and george bush and -- were on the cusp of a peace deal that would have ended the conflict between israel and the palestinians and settled peace between syria and israel. there was going to be, at the end of the -- conference. there is a chapter by dennis ross, who has been an adviser to five or six u.s. presidents, on george bush and the middle east. and one of the things that i think he most regrets, and jim baker has had it before, that if we had had a second term we were on the edge of orchestrating that deal. and i think that the middle east would be very different right now if he had had a second term,
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because the things that have still not been resolved now i think would've been resolved. but, who knows, we can't tell. >> -- brought that up. >> interesting. i have another question here from zach troyankovsky, who is a recent grad from skidmore college. he says, in the last few years of the soviet union, the power struggle between yeltsin and
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gorbachev seem to define much of the soviet union's politics. bush often took steps to remain actively neutral in the struggle, and only when yeltsin called him directly after the signing of the belovezh accords did bush take a position, a stance. why do you think bush remain neutral for so long? does that get back to this notion of trying not to interfere too much or impose his will? but to respect institutions? >> i think one of the reasons is that bush realized the tendency of american leaders to think that they can save the world nd orchestrate events in other countries, which has led us to a lot of problems. this is both parties that do this. because he had experience, he said there can be limits to american power. america can be very powerful in certain circumstances, in a hot war that's conventional we can destroy our adversaries. we can intervene. but to get into russian politics and sort of try to orchestrate who is going to succeed yeltsin or gorbachev, is delusional in my view. i think he did the right thing by being neutral, and it is because of his own sense of proportionality and of balance and of prudence, of prudence.
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that's interesting, that there are populist conservatives, which in my view are not really conservatives in the historic sense of that world. they don't like george bush. but i have argued in the introduction that the founder of the modern conservative movement is a guy named edmund burke, a british politician, a member of parliament who supported the colonies and urged to the king not to pursue the revolutionary war, you now, that we won. edmund burke wrote a famous book called the reflections on the revolution in france, which trashed the french revolution as a bloodbath that destroyed institutions. the person in the united states, the american president, since world war ii who has most epitomized edmund berke's view of the world's george bush. if you read a lot of the stuff -- i don't know if george bush, i always wanted to ask him if you read burke. because you are quintessentially edmund burke in the way you approach things. no, he really did not like civil wars. he did not like
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revolutions, because revolutions almost always, with a couple of exceptions, end bloodbath. and he knew that. a lot of american presidents don't get that. >> we are running very short on time. i have one more question, and unfortunately will have to make it a quick answer even though it's a complicated question. it seems, to me, that one aspect of bushes leadership that is universally acclaimed was his ability to assemble the coalition that led the first gulf war. how hard was that, and could it be done today? could you piece together a coalition like that? again, you've made reference before to james baker's role. but could that be done today? andy card, let me start with you. >> i think it can be done, but it takes a lot of work. number one, george h. w. bush was the definition of personal relationships with people that would help to invite solutions
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become a reality. so, he would call world leaders, even when he didn't have to. he was actually saying, i'm calling you to see if you have any problems that i should know about. so he was inviting them to say what they needed, and he would try to help them with their needs. that facilitated his ability to call on that when he had some needs for our country. so, he built a remarkable coalition and jim baker, kimmitt, that team, dennis ross, they did a fabulous job. but it started with the president, it was the personal relationship that he had with so many world leaders. even ones that didn't really want to be a part of the solution felt that they owed it to him, because he was so polite and nice to them and caring. so, i think that's what
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made the difference. could it happen again? yes it could. but it takes a lot of work. my fear is that, generally, politics today and international diplomacy today is becoming more hyperbolic and not reasoned. as a result, we tend think. when that president bush to be more tribal in what we had was he would deal with the world as it was. not as he wanted it to be. now, he would try to guide it to where he wanted it to be. but he dealt with it as it was. this is the reality, i'm going to respect the reality and introduce people to doing things differently on their own. i'm not going to demand them to do something, he did not do that. he didn't play the my way or the highway game at all. >> andrew natsios, final word. >> we asked bob kimmitt to write the chapter on it because he was the operations guide for both the president and jim baker, it orchestrate the coalition. he goes through a
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detailed account, almost day-by-day. he must have kept -- i never asked him how he knew he made this phone call on this day. i think he must have kept a journal or they must have archives in the state department, because it's astonishing how many of these chapters are very detailed. about exactly what happened, from one day to the next. we have the archives of the bush presidency right next door. some of the writers actually went and got documents to confirm with day -- because i wrote, stuff and i wasn't sure if it was true. we went back to the archives and they said oh, you have the days mixed up. and we corrected things. there is a real effort to find out exactly how this was done in an operation, sense in kimmitt's chapter. gentlemen, thank you congratulations on this great book, transforming our world. it really is an excellent read. it is like walking into kennebunkport and seeing all of those photos. saying, oh yeah,
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oh yeah, i have forgotten. congratulations. this is a great contribution a real service for anyone who cares about history, and american foreign policy. congratulations, thanks again for joining us today. thanks for everyone listening in. >> thank you, thanks for doing. this and now it is my distinct
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abraham lincoln scholar's michael berlin gate, noah feldman and diana shaw talked about the 16 president speeches and what they revealed about his views on the constitution. the national constitution center in philadelphia is the host of this event. of abraham lincoln, and the two volume abraham lincoln, a life. as well as his new book which he will be discussing tonight, the black man's president
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