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Some U.S. leaders earn high approval marks
Mark Shields' op-ed column: Remembering ...

Date published: 12/31/2012


--As this is written--on the heels of the news that President George H.W. Bush, hospitalized in Houston since Nov. 23 for bronchitis, has been moved into ICU--comes word of the death of Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who in 1991 became the U.S.'s most popular post-World War II military leader after commanding the U.S.-led coalition forces that smashed Iraq.

How popular was "Stormin' Norman" back home? He laughed while telling the late U.S. Rep. Jack Murtha, D-Pa.--himself, like Schwarzkopf, a decorated combat veteran of Vietnam--about attending the Kentucky Derby a few months after the Iraqi victory. The huge Churchill Downs crowd gave the general a standing ovation when he took his seat. After Schwarzkopf later got up to go to the men's room, the Derby crowd gave him another ovation, and still more cheers greeted his return to his seat.

He obviously enjoyed the fame and the fortune he received. But to his credit, Schwarzkopf refused being called a hero, with a statement that I urge those in positions of power and influence in Washington--currently beating the war drums on Iran--to heed: "It doesn't take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle."

Let us remember as well President George H.W. Bush, who--along with his resourceful secretary of state, James A Baker--successfully assembled a coalition of some 32 nations, including France, Sweden, Pakistan, and Morocco, to drive out of Kuwait the occupying Iraqi forces.

Bush won support, after serious and respectful debates in the Congress, for his policy from a House and Senate then controlled by Democrats. Earlier, a resolution adopted by the U.N. Security Council had authorized member nations to use "all necessary means" against Iraqi forces if they failed to withdraw from Kuwait by Jan. 15, 1991 (three days after the Senate voted to back Bush).

With the Gulf States and Germany and Japan picking up approximately three-quarters of the cost of the war, Commander in Chief George H.W. Bush won the first clear-cut American military victory since VJ-Day, Aug. 14, 1945.

More than three decades later, President Bush 41's leadership and judgment are recognized even by those who opposed him at the time.

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