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Obituary: George Herbert Walker Bush

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Obituary: George Herbert Walker Bush
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A man of action, George Herbert Walker Bush was the last president of the United States who served in World War Two. He was also the last president during the Cold War.

He celebrated his 75th birthday in the skies making what many thought would be his last parachute jump. At 90 he repeated the feat completing a tandem jump, despite having lost the use of his legs.

He was 64 when he became the 41st President of the United States, succeeding Ronald Reagan after a career in the private sector, the CIA and working as a diplomat. It was 1989, the year of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first step on the road to the end of the Cold War between the US and the USSR.

Bush grew up in Connecticut. Following the attack on Pearl Harbour he delayed entering college and enlisted on his 18th birthday. He graduated from Yale, married Barbara, moved to West Texas and had six children. He was a millionaire by the age of 40 having worked in the oil industry. He was elected the the Senate in 1966 and was vice president for Ronald Reagan between 1981 and 1989.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, George Bush supported the march towards German reunification and maintained dialogue with Mikhail Gorbachev. Between 1990 and 1993 he signed several arms reduction agreements with the last president of the USSR and Boris Yeltsin, the first president of Russia, notably the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty. Bush described START as "a significant step forward in dispelling half a century of mistrust."

But in 1990 another event shook the world order - the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. Again Bush used diplomacy to forge a strong international coalition of some 500,000 troops and launched an attack at the heart of Saddam Hussein's regime. He announced the action on television.

"Air attacks are underway against military targets in Iraq. We are determined to knock out Saddam Hussein's nuclear bomb potential. We will also destroy his chemical weapons facilities."

A hundred hours after Kuwait was liberated Bush was lauded in the country as a hero. His popularity had reached its peak. But the international success was not enough to quieten discontent on the domestic front and Bush lost out to Bill Clinton in 1992.

But eight years later another Republican entered the White House and not just any. George W Bush became president and took over the fight his father had led in Iraq.

The relationship between father and son was complex during this period, seen as a mixture of pride and discretion. It was an open secret he would have preferred Jeb to have succeeded to the White House, a wish that might have been realised before Donald Trump stole the 2016 presidential nomination.

At 84 years of age, visibly weakened and using a stick to walk he attended the investiture of the first African-American president , Barack Obama who succeeded his son whose popularity was at its lowest after two terms.

George Herbert Walker Bush seen as a moderate and pragmatic former Republican president of the United States of America. He refused to endorse Donald Trump along with much of the party establishment in 2016. He will be especially remembered for his role in the Gulf War, a man of action to the last.