“Kuwait is liberated. Iraq’s army is defeated.”
– President George H.W. Bush
On March 2, 2021, the George & Barbara Bush Foundation, together with the Bush School of Government & Public Service at Texas A&M University, and the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum hosted “30 Years Later: Reflections On the Gulf War & The Coalition Victory.” This event, which featured James A. Baker, III, 61st U.S. Secretary of State, and Bret Baier, Fox News Chief Political Anchor, commemorated the end of the Gulf War 30 years ago by discussing Secretary Baker’s first-hand account of this pivotal period in history.
The virtual event began with opening remarks from Max Angerholzer, CEO of the George & Barbara Bush Foundation, who recognized the significance of hosting this event on Texas Independence Day – two historical references that exemplify the importance of freedom and service to others. Following was a short video, narrated by Foundation Board member Fred McClure, that exhibited the series of actions and decisions made that led to the end of the Gulf War and the liberation of Kuwait in February of 1991.
To open the program, Bret Baier cited President Bush’s famous reaction to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 by declaring “this aggression will not stand.” As Baier recalled, from that moment forward, Secretary Baker played a key role in formulating the policies that ultimately led to victory. When asked about his thinking and strategy regarding the coalition building, Secretary Baker said “We always operated on the premise that it’s better to go with friends than it is to try and go alone – that was certainly President Bush’s mantra.” It was important to President Bush’s national security team that they have the support of those around them in order to fight for what is right and end the injustice that was happening in Kuwait.
Because Baker was not only Secretary of State but also a close friend, he saw President Bush’s apprehension and the weight of his decision to go to war. As Secretary Baker recalled, “There was a lot of opposition to the idea that we would send American men and women to fight in the Persian Gulf for a country that nobody had ever heard of.” Despite the pushback from some, they felt it was necessary to move forward, especially with the backing and support of the coalition.
In retrospect, Secretary Baker detailed how President Bush provided a textbook example of the way to fight a war. “He told the world what he was going to do, he brought the rest of the world behind him to support it… Then he got the U.S. Congress to support it, then he did it, he brought the troops home, and guess what: he got other people to pay for 90% of the war. Now that’s never been done before or since, that I’m aware of.”
The 45-minute program covered other topics connected to Secretary Baker and the Gulf War, including the Soviet Union’s role during this time, the cohesion of President Bush’s national security team, and the recent passing of Civil Rights Activist, Vernon Jordan. The program concluded with many thanks for both speakers and the promise of future events from the Foundation that continue to amplify the legacies of President and Mrs. Bush.
About the Speakers
James A. Baker, III has served in senior government positions under three United States Presidents. He served as the nation’s 61st Secretary of State from January 1989 through August 1992 under President George H.W. Bush. During his tenure at the State Department, Mr. Baker traveled to 90 foreign countries as the United States confronted the unprecedented challenges and opportunities of the post-Cold War era.
Mr. Baker served as the 67th Secretary of the Treasury from 1985-1988 under President Ronald Reagan. As Treasury Secretary, he was also Chairman of the President’s Economic Policy Council. From 1981-1985, he served as White House Chief of Staff to President Reagan. Mr. Baker’s record of public service began in 1975 as Under Secretary of Commerce to President Gerald Ford. It concluded with his service as White House Chief of Staff and Senior Counselor to President Bush from August 1992 to January 1993.
Read more about Secretary Baker here.
Bret Baier currently serves as FOX News Channel’s Chief Political Anchor and anchor of “Special Report with Bret Baier” (weeknights 6-7 PM/ET), the top-rated cable news program in its timeslot and consistently one of the top five shows in cable news.
Prior to his anchor role, Baier was named chief White House correspondent in 2006 and covered the second term of the Bush Administration. Before that, he served as national security correspondent covering military and national security affairs, as well as defense, military policy, and the intelligence community from the Pentagon.
Prior to joining FNC, Baier worked for WRAL-TV (CBS 5) in Raleigh, NC, WREX-TV (NBC 13) in Rockford, IL and WJWJ-TV (PBS 2) in Beaufort, SC. A graduate of DePauw University, he has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English. He is also the author of The New York Times bestseller, “Special Heart: A Journey of Faith, Hope, Courage and Love” and “Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission.” Bret’s latest book, “Three Days in Moscow: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of the Soviet Empire,” is available now.
To learn more about Bret Baier and his impressive career, please visit bretbaier.com.