“From my personal experience as a host for international visitors, I am aware of the importance of Meridian’s efforts. Indeed, by promoting greater understanding among individuals, you have helped to foster greater cooperation among nations.”
President George H.W. Bush – March 29, 1991 on Meridian’s 30th anniversary
I had the honor of working for President George H.W. Bush and witnessed his deep commitment to building international alliances and promoting cooperation between nations. As a former United Nations Ambassador and US envoy to China, President Bush brought to the Oval Office a keen understanding of the importance of U.S. leadership and global engagement. Both through his personal relationships with world leaders and his use of deft diplomacy with his good friend James A. Baker III at the State Department, President Bush helped navigate the end of the Cold War, stood against tyranny and enhanced the reputation of the United States around the world.
President Bush was also a strong proponent of U.S. public diplomacy efforts and the United States Information Agency. These programs under his watch were strong and well supported. When he would travel abroad, President Bush would invariably meet with U.S. Embassy staff and was interested in the efforts of our diplomats to engage foreign audiences. He understood the power of the International Visitor Leadership Program and developed friendships with many foreign leaders who were alumni of the IVLP.
In many respects, President George H. W. Bush was our best prepared President to lead our country’s foreign policy establishment. He did not view it with suspicion but rather embraced it and placed strong leaders at its helm.
I remember his humility, kindness and dignity, which enhanced our stature as a nation based on values and building shared interests. I hope that future generations will study his life, and while he would be the first to admit he was not perfect, he was a shining example of a leader devoted to serving his country. For him, the country was more important than party or ideology.
We at Meridian will miss him.
This post was contributed by Ambassador Stuart Holliday, President and CEO of Meridian International Center, who worked for President George H.W. Bush in 1992 during his presidential re-election campaign.