I attended the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Library in Dallas last Thursday (“Emotional Bush at presidential library dedication: ‘Our nation’s best days lie ahead,’” Web, April 25). It was a profoundly moving event. The day was gloriously beautiful, the crowd of 10,000-plus was in a joyous mood, and the event itself was well-organized and went off without a hitch. I was happy to run into more than a few old friends and colleagues, including some I had not seen since Iraq in 2003 or 2004. Of course, the event was a “who’s who” of former world leaders, state and local officials and mobs of former Bush administration officials, of which I proudly was one.
There can be no doubt as to which party affiliation I personally prefer, but two former Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, spoke eloquently about one of the many good achievements of former President George W. Bush, something for which he is never praised by the mainstream media or recognized by most Americans: He was a hero for Africa.
Here are just a few reasons how that is so: the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the African Growth and Opportunity Act, anti-malaria and education programs and, as Mr. Carter rightly pointed out, the peace treaty between southern and northern Sudan and the subsequent founding of the new nation of South Sudan in 2011. I was in South Sudan in January, and I can tell you that the citizens of that new nation know exactly who is mostly responsible for their new country, freedom and safety from conflict: George W. Bush. I had a meeting with the vice president of the country while there and asked him why President Salva Kiir is always photographed wearing a black cowboy hat. His answer? The hat was a gift from President Bush and means everything to him.
If Americans don’t recognize the contribution of Mr. Bush to that continent, I can tell you for sure that many Africans — starting with South Sudan — surely do. There are literally thousands of people in Africa alive today because of President Bush’s efforts to get PEPFAR passed and implemented. Mr. Clinton spoke the truth when he said that no president from his party would have ever been able to pull off this legislative achievement the way Mr. Bush did. I suspect that history will judge him favorably.
Let it be known, those of us who had the honor of working for him know him for what he also is, and that is a profoundly good man.
AMBASSADOR LEWIS W. LUCKE (RETIRED)
President, Lewis Lucke LLC