In an article he posted following the death of former U.S. president George H. W. Bush, Prominent Saudi journalist 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, the former editor of the London-based daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, praised Bush, calling him an important and brave leader who had a rare ability to correctly read the map of history and take fateful decisions, even at a risk to himself. He commended Bush on his decision to launch the Gulf War, which liberated Kuwait from the Iraqi occupation, despite pressures at home and abroad to refrain from doing so. This decision, said Al-Rashed, saved Kuwait and shattered Saddam's dream to turn it into part of Iraq. Stating that the U.S. is an important power that has benefited the world, Al-Rashed noted that it is important to acknowledge Bush's historical role, which had an impact on Saudi Arabia and the region.
The following are excerpts from his article, published December 4 in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat:
"History is man-made, and [former U.S. president George H. W.] Bush was one of its important movers, for his presidency – although it lasted only four years – saw [some very] important events. During his era the Soviet Union collapsed and the U.S. declared its victory in the Cold War, that had lasted half a century. This sent shockwaves throughout the world, including our region, which are still being felt today.
"Former Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein read historical developments incorrectly, whereas Bush read them aright. The Saudi-American coalition no doubt played a central role in shattering the dreams of Saddam [Hussein], who suffered from an obsessive [thirst for] power and grandeur. The [coalition's] operation ended [Saddam's] mistaken historical move [of invading Kuwait, following which] most of the Kuwaitis lived outside their country, the [Kuwaiti] government was legitimate on paper [only] and Saddam effectively ruled the country. Had the U.S. been ruled by another president, Kuwait may have remained a province of Iraq, as Saddam wanted.
"Saddam was like a sword hanging above Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states. [Then-]Saudi king [Fahd bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz] and president Bush were important historical figures who took a personal risk. Had the Americans changed their mind due to pressures at home and abroad, and had the Saudis avoided becoming involved in a war whose outcome could not be foreseen, or had the war taken a different direction – as happened with other failed wars – the Kuwaitis and the Saudis would have paid dearly...
"The late president Bush had several options for handling the [Iraqi] occupation of Kuwait, the chief of which were two: King Fahd wanted to confront Saddam and expel him, even by force, whereas Saddam's allies warned Bush that the Arab street would explode, sparking chaos that would harm American interests. At the same time, they promised him that Saddam would provide him with [everything] the Kuwaiti government had provided and with everything America believed would serve its oil, military and political interests. [But] the most vociferous warnings were voiced within the U.S. itself, which was still suffering from a phobia induced by the failed Vietnam War and the conflicts it created within American society. Despite [all] this, Bush was inclined [to accept] the Saudi position. Then-[Saudi] ambassador to the U.S. Bandar bin Sultan played an important role in persuading him to join the war to liberate [Kuwait] and not just protect Saudi Arabia from Saddam's forces.
"It is only rarely that history provides us with figures capable of taking fateful decisions, and if Bush had not taken the decision to liberate Kuwait, it is quite possible that this country would not exist today. That is the simple truth. I recall history today not in order to glorify Bush or boast about the Saudi role, and not even in order to denigrate Iraq's history in the Saddam Hussein era. Not at all. I merely seek to draw conclusions and understand the world as it is, far from romantic [illusions] and the lies of conspiracy theories. The U.S. is an important power for us in the Gulf, and Western Europe needs it as well, even more [than us]. We are not ashamed to speak of the alliances with [the U.S.] and the joint victories, because, had it not been for the U.S., France wouldn't have become a free republic again [after World War II], the Soviets would have occupied all of Germany, and North Korea would have occupied South Korea. Do not let the propaganda of the left, of the Islamists and of foolish political analysts in our region guide your understanding of politics and international relations, because there are opinions, and then there are facts.
"On the occasion of Bush's death, I note his importance and his role during the 1990s because it is also part of our own history, which we are still living today, and out of loyalty and gratitude towards him, without [either] arrogance or an inferiority complex."