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Why You Should Watch Statecraft: The Bush 41 Team

Bush Takes the Oath 1989
Chief Justice William Rehnquist administers the Presidential Oath of Office to George H. W. Bush.

Ok, I will admit it, for the longest time, I was no fan of the Bush 41 foreign policy team nor their policies. History, I always believed, would look down on their supposed achievements as mostly lost opportunities. My main critique was that enough was not done to try and bring Russia into the West. In hindsight, that might have been a pipedream, considering how fast Russian oligarchs swooped in to take control of the economy and critical industries.

However, I have to be honest, the older I get, the more I appreciate the scope of the challenges they were presented with–a collapsing eastern bloc, a collapsing USSR, a German reunification challenge, the first Gulf War–and what they were able to achieve.

In partnership with the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, PBS has released a fascinating new documentary, Statecraft: The Bush 41 Team, that is well worth your time. As described by the producers:

Statecraft examines the Cold War struggle between the Soviet Union and the United States and how the foreign policy team of President George H. W. Bush guided the country. The film explores the challenges of a series of major upheavals through the recollections of the individuals who faced them. Finally, it considers the legacy—both positive and negative—of this consequential American presidency.

Highly recommended. More from the producers of the film:

George H.W. Bush’s presidency occurred at a crucial turning point in modern history — the transition from the Cold War to the post-Cold War world, when heightened US-Soviet tensions gave way to delicate negotiations between the former adversaries. While the Cold War ended without a shot being fired, this peaceful outcome was far from certain at the time.

President Bush’s personal relationships with foreign leaders, his diplomatic skills, and his years of experience in national security affairs made him well suited to lead the nation through those uneasy and challenging times. He also assembled a team of experienced colleagues who had worked together in prior administrations. Together, they constituted a national security dream team, or — as General Colin Powell (USA, Ret.) called it — “a gang of professional killer angels.” His foreign policy team is known as the “gold standard” of national security apparatus.

Well worth your time. Watch it above.
Update: You can see the video a little better here, as for some reason a coding issue won’t allow it to show in the best manner possible. 
Written By

Harry J. Kazianis (@Grecianformula) is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive and serves as President and CEO of Rogue States Project, a bipartisan national security think tank. He has held senior positions at the Center for the National Interest, the Heritage Foundation, the Potomac Foundation, and many other think tanks and academic institutions focused on defense issues. He served on the Russia task force for U.S. Presidential Candidate Senator Ted Cruz, and in a similar task force in the John Hay Initiative. His ideas have been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, CNN, CNBC, and many other outlets across the political spectrum. He holds a graduate degree in International Relations from Harvard University and is the author of The Tao of A2/AD, a study of Chinese military modernization. Kazianis also has a background in defense journalism, having served as Editor-In-Chief at The Diplomat and Executive Editor for the National Interest.