By Javier De Diego and Alessia Grunberger, CNN
Former President George W. Bush returned to Washington on Thursday night and touted a foreign policy view that directly contradicts President Donald Trump’s “America First” rhetoric.
Bush’s comments came after Trump’s decision this week to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, as well as his recent comment that US troops would be leaving Syria “relatively soon” and his continued efforts to build a wall on the southern border to keep immigrants from crossing illegally.
Bush spoke at an awards ceremony hosted by the Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan foreign policy think tank, which was honoring him with a Distinguished International Leadership Award for his work to eradicate HIV/AIDS in Africa. The Presidential Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, which he started while in office and has continued to lead since leaving the White House, is credited with saving millions of lives across the African continent and helping to change the trajectory of the HIV/AIDS crisis around the world.
In explaining the importance of PEPFAR, Bush spoke about what he called “the dangers of isolation.”
“America is indispensable for the world. The price of greatness is responsibility. One cannot rise to be in many ways the leading community in the civilized world without being involved in its problems, without being convulsed by its agonies and inspired by its causes,” Bush said, invoking a speech by the legendary British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
“If we are together, nothing is impossible. If we are divided, all will fail,” he added, again quoting Churchill.
The former President, who recently lost his mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, thanked the public for its support and prayers. He said, “All is well with her soul. And all is well with ours.”
Bush added that his father, former President George H.W. Bush, “misses mom” but his health is good. The 41st president had spent more than a week in the hospital with a blood-related infection after his wife’s death.