The American government and people, at a state funeral in Washington, D.C. yesterday, bade farewell to their 41st President, George H.W. Bush.
The funeral service was held at the impressive Washington National Cathedral, where the current American President, Donald Trump, and all of the four surviving former American Presidents were in attendance. They were George Walker Bush, son of the former President George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.
This is indeed the mark of a great country, the world’s leading democratic nation, which can boast of so many of their former Presidents. This has been made possible by the system which the American government and people have built—a strong democratic system, which causes the American people to call their country one “of laws, not of men.”
This simply means that the American people respect to a very high degree their laws, based on the Constitution which was adopted created in 1787 and ratified in 1788. Of course over the succeeding centuries that Constitution has been ratified many, many times. The Americans have always said over the years that they are aiming at the evolution of “a more perfect Union.” They have achieved this gradually through constitutional amendments.
The now late President George H.W. Bush, who served as American President from 1989 to 1993, has been remembered for quite a few things. The Berlin Wall fell during his presidency, paving the way for the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) that spelled the end of the Cold War (1945-1990).
He successfully organized a coalition involving Israel, all Arab states, with limited backing of the United Nations, to wage a war against Saddam Hussien’s invasion of Kuwait. The coalition succeeded in ending the Iraq invasion of Kuwait.
President Bush played a key role in organizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, Mexico and the United States, that came into effect in 1994.
On the domestic front, he was best remembered by his commitment to “no new taxes” which he was forced to rethink, causing his popularity to plummet in an election year. That, among other things, led to his defeat by Bill Clinton in the presidential race of 1992.
There is one particular thing that Liberians remember President George H.W. Bush for. When the entire Liberian nation and people were crying for an end to the very brutal civil war started by Charles Taylor on December 24, 1989, President Bush refused to intervene, saying the war was “Liberia’s business” and should be solved by Liberians.
Thousands of Liberians who sought early exile in Sierra Leone in 1990, invited the US Ambassador in that country to a meeting at one of Freetown’s beach hotels. The Liberians pleaded with the Ambassador to ask President Bush for American intervention to stop the war. But the Ambassador said what President Bush had said, namely, that this war was Liberia’s problem and it was left to Liberians to solve it. Alas, the war went on for 14 years, leaving over 250,000 dead, the country’s already fragile infrastructure devastated, with over two million Liberians driven into internal and external exile.
Yes, it would take 14 years and two U.S. Presidents later for the United States to decisively intervene. In June of 2003, then President George W. Bush, the son of former President George H. W. Bush, said: “President Taylor needs to step down… so that his country can be spared further bloodshed.” This added strength to a series of activities that resulted in the signing of the Accra Comprehensive Peace Accord, President Taylor’s departure into exile and the installment of the National Transitional Government of Liberia (NTGL), which paved the way for democratic elections in 2005.
These statistics and historical realities have sobered Liberians and forced them to rethink any inclination to war. The pains and losses of war were too much to bear and have led most Liberians to dread (fear, be terrified) with war. “We just don’t want any more war,” is the word on almost every Liberian tongue.
We pray today that our government, the government of President George Manneh Weah, will strive to become the best government Liberia has ever had. How can this government do that? By attending religiously and scrupulously to the people’s business and to do all in its power to move Liberia toward serious and good governance, development and prosperity.