How George H.W. Bush's early overseas appointments aided his presidency

BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - Between his years in Congress and his years in the White House, George H.W. Bush traveled far from our nation's capitol to gain important experience.

When Bush wanted to be the United Nations ambassador in 1971, many noted his inexperience. The newspapers wrote extensively on his lack of diplomacy or foreign policy knowledge. The Nixon Administration thought it meant he would follow orders. But Bush took the job and the challenge, quickly learning the political ropes. Really, it was his friendly nature that made him successful.

At the 1972 Munich Olympics, a Palestinian terror group captured and killed eleven Israeli athletes and a German police officer. Amidst the anti-Middle East sentiment that followed, Bush went to all the Middle East delegations at the United Nations, making sure they knew they were still safe and welcome in New York City.

After the UN, Bush had several overseas offers, but he chose to continue his foreign policy education in Beijing, where he served as envoy. Bush was warned to stay in the U.S. compound, to relax and let staffers do the work. While his diary suggests he did indeed relax, Bush did not stay inside. He and his wife Barbara spent days riding their bikes through the city, getting to know China.

That knowledge was crucial in helping a then-President George Bush during the 1989 Tienanmen Square protests.

That wouldn't be the only time Bush's foreign policy experience would guide his presidency.