Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How Should US Handle Iraq? George Bush Wrote the Book Eight Years after Gulf War, President Who Shaped US Policy toward Saddam Responds to Critics at a Texas Book Fair

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How Should US Handle Iraq? George Bush Wrote the Book Eight Years after Gulf War, President Who Shaped US Policy toward Saddam Responds to Critics at a Texas Book Fair

Article excerpt

It's not everyday that an author's book reading erupts into a foreign-policy debate, complete with chanting protesters being led out by their collars. The author on this occasion is former President George Bush, architect of the Gulf War sanctions that continue to guide US policy toward Iraq even to this day.

Some authors would kill for the kind of book-selling publicity that came last weekend. US warplanes, ships, and troops sat in the Persian Gulf, ready to strike Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

But on a rainy morning, at the opening of the three-day Texas Book Festival, the former president seemed to have a mixture of annoyance and pride about events in the Middle East. Pride that his zero- tolerance policy toward Iraq is still in place; annoyance that Saddam Hussein is as well. "The hardest decision a president makes is when you have to send someone else's son or someone else's daughter to war," said Mr. Bush, answering one of many questions on the effect of sanctions seven years after the Gulf War. Our current president is doing the right thing." For the members in the audience - from famous novelists and adoring Republicans to angry protesters - the readings from Bush's book, "A World Transformed," co-authored with Gen. Brent Scowcroft, were a moment of classic Bush. There was that folksy cadence, the awkward hand motions, and Bush's personal remembrances of a time of extraordinary historical changes - the Tiananmen Square massacre, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Soviet coup, and the Gulf War, to name a few. In terms of sheer history, it was a heady time to be head of the free world. But in a time when the word "intern" can make a grown man blush, Bush's readings were a reminder of a kinder, gentler time indeed. Take, for instance, Bush's aside while reading a letter to Mikhail Gorbachev, assuring him that the sandy pit at Camp David where the two world leaders threw horseshoes "is still there in good order." At this point, Bush looks up at the audience and says, "I might add that Gorbachev picked up one horseshoe and hit a ringer on the first try, and never hit another one again. …

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