A Look Back: EastWest Institute Honors a True Statesman

Commentary | March 04, 2016

Each month the EastWest Institute takes the opportunity to reflect on the men and women who have made a lasting global impact on diplomacy and conflict resolution.

George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States, was the 1995 recipient of the EastWest Institute's Transatlantic Leadership Award, recognizing his contributions which laid the groundwork for a new and free Europe while preserving the strength and vitality of the Euro-Atlantic relationship after the collapse of communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall.

When George Bush became President of the United States in January 1989, few could envision the historical end to communist rule in Central and Eastern Europe. But by the end of his presidency, a divided Germany had been unified, many of the former communist satellites were succeeding in their economic and political transitions, and the Soviet Union had collapsed and generated newly independent countries.

President Bush played a vital role in facilitating the liberation of Central and Eastern Europe, supporting the aspirations of these nations to integrate with a Europe whole and free while simultaneously avoiding actions that could provoke Moscow. Today the people of the region are experiencing the success of policies President Bush put into action. In the face of reservations by both friends and allies in the West, President Bush emerged as the foremost supporter of German unification. Without his sage leadership, the demise of communism and fate of millions of people could have ended far differently.

A career spent in government service equipped George Bush with the capacity for bold leadership necessary during the critical post-cold war transition. His credentials include service as Ronald Reagan's vice president, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Chief of the US liaison office in the People's Republic of China, and Ambassador to the United Nations. President Bush also served with great distinction as a pilot in the US Navy, earning several medals including the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Dr. William J Parker III is the Chief Operating Officer at the EastWest Institute.