Bush Snr was of course the consumate professional politician / administrator who'd done a string of top jobs before succeeding Ronald Reagan at the very top in 1989 - one helluva juncture in world history at which to take over. I doubt if anyone would make a case for his having been a top-10 president overall: appointing Dan Quayle as VP, and losing (to Clinton) after one term, don't feel like qualifications for the shortlist.
But he had a couple of vital qualifications for the job in 1990: he'd been Ambassador to the UN; Director of the CIA; and he'd been on active combat service as a naval pilot in WW2 - 58 missions, DFC. One way or the other, he'd learned some very significant lessons that were to prove extremely important for the conduct of the (First) Gulf War, both before and during the fighting.
The one that's relevant to our curent narrative on the build-up phase, 30 years ago today, is his enthusiam for building a substantial anti-Saddam coalition of nations. We could all make the case as to why that would be a clever way to go, in terms of global politics - not least because, well, Middle East. And then there was Russia, hovering to the north, with more than a passing interest in what was to transpire.
But it's not a no-brainer - particularly when his concept of the coalition extended to asking other countries to contribute troops on the ground. Getting the UK onside was one thing - trusted ally, Security Council member, useful capabilities (Cyprus was vital, as we've discussed before; and all three services had plenty to offer in those days), on the same NATO doctrinal wavelength, part of the same intelligence community, fought alongside the USA in the Pacific theatre (inter alia) where Bush himself served. But - as was later to be proved to be all too true - making use of, errr, Egyptian forces always seemed like a difficulty one could do without.
Still, Bush insisted on it, and there was a motley feel to the eventual lineup in the desert. We'll maybe get to that next year, when the 30th anniversary of the actual fighting falls. Apparently he very much whipped in this coalition himself, making many a 'phonecall to monarchs and presidents around the world, doubtless making good use of the contacts he'd made over the preceeding decades. And a strikingly large number of nations joined the party - Wiki lists 34 - with additional players like Germany and Japan contributing $$$, on top of the huge financial contribution made by Saudi Arabia for obvious reasons of self-interest.
Bush also had a fine team to execute his orders (this does not include Quayle). James Baker was a competent Secretary of State. Colin Powell, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was and is very well-regarded. And the appointment of General Norman Schwarzkopf to lead the mighty alliance on the ground was an excellent choice.
Next time: the geo-political context.