|Term of office||January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009|
|Preceded by||William Jefferson Clinton|
|Succeeded by||Barack Obama|
|Date of birth||July 6, 1946|
|Place of birth||New Haven, Connecticut|
|Spouse||Laura Welch Bush|
George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd President of the United States, inaugurated on January 20, 2001 and re-elected in the 2004 U.S. presidential election.
The Bush family has a significant history in United States politics, specifically in the Republican Party. Bush is the eldest son of the 41st U.S. President, George H. W. Bush, grandson to former U.S. Senator from Connecticut Prescott Bush, and older brother to Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida. He was elected the 46th Governor of Texas in 1995, and remained in that position until 2000, when he chose to run for president. Bush was narrowly elected in 2000, becoming the fourth president in U.S. history to be elected without a plurality of the popular vote and the first since the 1888 election.
After an initial period of Reagan-esque conservatism in matters of domestic policy, the course of Bush's presidency was dramatically affected by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In response to the attacks, Bush declared a global War on Terrorism. In early October 2001, with congressional approval, he ordered the invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban backed government that had provided a safe haven for Osama bin Laden, founder of al-Qaeda.
In 2003, President Bush further expanded the War on Terrorism. Again with congressional approval, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, asserting that Iraq was a direct threat to the United States and in violation of United Nations Resolution 1441 regarding weapons of mass destruction and had to be disarmed by force. Following the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime, Bush re-affirmed his commitment to establishing democratic systems in the Middle East, starting with post-Taliban Afghanistan and post-war Iraq. Running as a "war president," Bush won re-election in 2004 against Massachusetts Senator John Kerry after an intense and heated campaign in which his prosecution of the War on Terror and the War in Iraq central issues. George W. Bush was the first candidate to win a majority popular vote since his father, 16 years earlier.
After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism on various foreign policy issues, including the Iraq War, Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse scandals, as well as domestic issues such as federal funding of stem cell research, the ineffective federal response to Hurricane Katrina, and controversies such as NSA warrantless surveillance activities and the Plame affair. In approval rating polls, his popularity reached record heights after the September 11, 2001 attacks, but declined significantly since then, mostly due to his perceived poor handling of the Iraq War. As a result of those key issues and Bush's sinking approval rating, the Republican Party lost control of both the House and the Senate in the 2006 mid-term elections in what Bush himself described as "a thumping."
After leaving office, Bush returned to Texas and purchased a home in a suburban area of Dallas, Texas. He is currently a public speaker and has written a book about his presidency entitled Decision Points.
Born in New Haven, Connecticut, George W. Bush was the first child of future 41st president George H. W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush. His paternal ancestors emigrated from Somerset in the West Country of England in the seventeenth century. When Bush was two years old, his parents moved to Texas. He was raised in Midland and Houston, Texas with his four siblings, Jeb, Neil, Marvin, and Dorothy. Another younger sister, Robin, died from leukemia in 1953 at the age of three. Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a banker and U.S. Senator from Connecticut.
For his education, Bush attended the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and, following in his father's footsteps, was accepted into Yale University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1968. During that time period, he worked for various Republican campaigns, including his father's failed 1964 and 1970 Senate campaigns in Texas. As a college senior, Bush became a member of the secretive Skull and Bones society. By his own characterization, Bush was an average student.
In May 1968, at the height of the ongoing Vietnam War, Bush was accepted into the Texas Air National Guard. After training, he was assigned to duty in Houston, flying Convair F-102s out of Ellington Air Force Base. Bush has since been criticized for his induction into the Air National Guard and actual period of service. Critics allege that Bush was favorably treated due to his father's political standing, and that he was irregular in attendance. Bush took a transfer to the Alabama Air National Guard in 1972 to work on a Republican Senate campaign, and in 1974 he obtained permission to end his six-year service obligation six months early to attend Harvard Business School. He received an honorable discharge.
There are a number of accounts of substance abuse and otherwise disorderly conduct by Bush during this time. Bush has admitted to drinking "too much" in those years and described this time of his life as his "nomadic" period of "irresponsible youth". On September 4, 1976, at the age of 30, Bush was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. He pleaded guilty, was fined $150, and had his driver's license suspended until 1978 in Maine. Bush was able to keep his drunk driving arrest a secret throughout his years as governor of Texas. After obtaining an MBA from Harvard University (Bush is the only US President to serve holding a Master of Business Administration degree), Bush—like this father had before him—entered the oil industry in Texas.
In 1978, Bush ran for the U.S. House of Representatives from the 19th Congressional District of Texas. Facing Kent Hance of the Democratic Party, Bush stressed his energy credentials and conservative values in the campaign, but Hance himself was relatively conservative, opposing gun control and strict business regulation. During the campaign, Hance portrayed Bush as being "out of touch" with rural Texans. Bush lost the election by 6000 votes. Hance later became a Republican and donated money to Bush's campaign for Governor of Texas in 1993. After the electoral defeat, Bush returned to the oil industry, becoming a senior partner or chief executive officer of several ventures, such as Arbusto Energy (arbusto means bush in Spanish), Spectrum 7, and, later, Harken Energy when it acquired Spectrum 7. These ventures suffered from the general decline of oil prices in the 1980s that had affected the industry and the regional economy. Allegations of possible insider trading involving Harken have arisen, but, as president, Bush has refused to allow the SEC to release the full report.
In 1988, Bush moved his family to Washington, D.C., to work on his father's campaign for the U.S. Presidency. With colleagues Lee Atwater and Doug Wead, he helped to develop and coordinate a political strategy for courting conservative Christians and evangelical voters, who were seen as key to winning the nomination and the election. Delivering speeches at rallies and fundraisers, Bush met with representatives of conservative and religious organizations on behalf of his father, thus building connections that would help him in his own run for the presidency.
Returning to Texas after his father's victory, Bush purchased a share in the Texas Rangers baseball franchise and served as managing general partner for five years. He was active in the team's media relations and in securing the construction of a new stadium, which opened in 1994 as The Ballpark in Arlington. Bush actively led the team's projects and regularly attended its games, often choosing to sit in the open stands with fans. Bush's role with the Rangers gave him prominent media exposure and attention, as well as garnering public, business and political support. The Rangers were popular with fans while Bush was a leader of the organization. During his tenure, for example, the Rangers acquired Hall-of-Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, who was a fan-favorite during the last years of his career. The team nearly won its first division title in 1994, before a strike shortened the season. When Bush sold his share in the Texas Rangers, he netted over $15 million from his initial $800,000 investment.
With his father's election to the presidency in 1988, speculation had arisen amongst Republicans that Bush would enter the 1990 gubernatorial election, but this was offset by Bush's purchase of the Texas Rangers baseball team and personal concerns regarding his own record and profile. Following his success as owner and manager of the Rangers, Bush declared his candidacy for the 1994 election, even as his brother Jeb first sought the governorship of Florida. Winning the Republican primary easily, Bush faced incumbent Governor Ann Richards, a popular Democrat who was considered the easy favorite, given Bush's lack of political credentials.
Bush was aided in his campaign by a close coterie of political advisers that included Karen Hughes, a former journalist, as his communications adviser; John Allbaugh, as his campaign manager, and Karl Rove, as his political strategist. Bush's aides crafted a campaign strategy that attacked Governor Richards' record on law enforcement, her political appointments, and her support of liberal political causes. Bush developed a positive image and message with themes of "personal responsibility" and "moral leadership." His campaign focused on issues such as education (seeking more accountability for schools over student performance), crime, deregulation of the economy, and tort reform. The Bush campaign was criticized for allegedly using controversial methods to disparage Richards. Following an impressive performance in the debates, however, Bush's popularity grew. He won with 52 percent against Richards' 47 percent.
As governor, Bush successfully sponsored legislation for tort reform, increased education funding, set higher standards for schools, and reformed the criminal justice system. Under his leadership, Texas executed 152 prisoners, more than under any other governor in modern American history; critics such as Helen Prejean argue that he failed to give serious consideration to clemency requests. During his term, Bush used a budget surplus to push through a $2 billion tax-cut plan, which was the largest in Texas history and cemented Bush's credentials as a pro-business fiscal conservative.
Bush also bolstered faith-based welfare programs by extending government funding and support for religious organizations providing social services such as education, alcohol and drug abuse prevention, and reduction of domestic violence. Governor Bush signed a memorandum on April 17, 2000 proclaiming June 10 to be Jesus Day in Texas, a day where he "urge[d] all Texans to answer the call to serve those in need." Although Bush was criticized for violating the constitutional separation of church and state ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…"), his initiative was popular with most people across the state, especially religious and social conservatives.
In 1998, Bush won re-election in a landslide victory with nearly 69 percent of the vote, becoming the first Texas governor to be elected for two consecutive four-year terms (before 1975, the gubernatorial term of office was two years).
As one of the most popular governors in the nation and as the son of a former president, Bush was seen in the media and the Republican Party as a strong potential contender for the U.S. presidential election in 2000. Bush had personally envisioned running for the presidency since his gubernatorial re-election, and upon announcing his candidacy, he immediately became the Republican front-runner in both name and in campaign funding.
Bush applied the label "compassionate conservative" to himself, a term that had been popularized by University of Texas professor Marvin Olasky; in his campaign, he promised to "restore honor and dignity to the White House". Bush proposed to lower taxes in the wake of the projected surpluses of [[Bill Clinton|Bill Clinton's] final years in office. He supported participation of religious charities in federally funded programs and promoted education vouchers, national education reform, oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to diminish U.S. reliance on foreign oil, and structural changes to the United States armed forces. Bush's foreign policy campaign platform emphasized a stronger economic and political relationship with Latin America, especially Mexico, free trade and reduced involvement in "nation-building" and other minor military engagements indirectly related to U.S. interests. Bush also pledged to expand the National Missile Defense initiative and to reform Social Security and Medicare.
Bush's campaign was managed by Rove, Hughes and Albaugh, as well as by other political associates from Texas. He was endorsed by a majority of Republicans in 38 state legislatures. After winning the Iowa Republican Caucus, Bush was handed a surprising defeat by "maverick" U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona in the New Hampshire Republican Primary. During his campaign, Bush was criticized for visiting the controversial Bob Jones University, which bore a reputation for a bias against Catholicism and a ban on interracial dating. In a stunning shift in momentum, Bush defeated McCain in the South Carolina Republican Primary amidst charges of dirty campaign tactics against the Bush campaign. McCain rebounded by winning in Michigan, but he angered religious voters by criticizing Christian evangelical leaders Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell just before the Virginia Primary. Bush went on to win that primary and then, a week later, he captured nine of thirteen Super Tuesday state primaries, effectively clinching the Republican nomination. He chose Dick Cheney, a former U.S. Representative and Secretary of Defense, as his running mate. His campaign was endorsed by prominent Republicans such as Donald Rumsfeld and Colin Powell, who assumed roles as advisers on issues of national security and foreign relations. While stressing his successful record as governor of Texas, Bush's campaign attacked the Democratic nominee, incumbent Vice President Al Gore, over gun control and taxation. Bush criticized the Kyoto Protocol (although in 1998 the Senate vote to participate in the treaty was 0 for and 95 against), championed by Gore, citing the decline of industry in Middle America as an example of the harm and economic hardship caused by harsh regulation.
On election day, November 7, 2000, Bush won key Midwestern states such as Ohio, Missouri, and Arkansas. He also clinched Al Gore's home state of Tennessee, New Hampshire, and the traditional Democratic bastion of West Virginia. Television networks initially called the battleground state of Florida for Gore but later withdrew that projection and called that state, along with the entire election, for Bush. Finally, the media deemed the results too close to call. Sometime after the networks reported that Bush had won Florida, Gore conceded the election, and then rescinded that concession less than one hour later. The vote count, which favored Bush in preliminary tallies, was contested over allegations of irregularities in the voting and tabulation processes. Because of Florida state law, a state-wide machine recount was ordered. Although it narrowed the gap, the recount still left Bush in the lead. Eventually, four counties in Florida that had large numbers of presidential undervotes began a manual hand recount of ballots. On December 8, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that every county with a large number of undervotes would perform a hand recount. The next day, on December 9, in Bush v. Gore, the U.S. Supreme Court stopped the statewide hand recount on the basis that votes were not being counted equally. The machine recount showed that Bush had won the Florida vote - making it the 30th of the 50 states he carried. There has been much controversy over the legality of the election, in fact it is still disputed today. Despite having lost the nationwide popular contest by more than half a million votes, he won 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266. This made him the first President elected despite a popular vote loss since Benjamin Harrison in 1888.
In 2004, Bush commanded broad support in the Republican Party and did not encounter a primary challenger. He appointed Kenneth Mehlman as campaign manager, and Karl Rove again as his campaign political strategist. During the campaign, Bush outlined an agenda that included a strong commitment in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act, making the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanent, cutting the budget deficit in half, promoting education, tort reform, Social Security and national tax reform. Bush emphasized his social conservatism by arguing for the Federal Marriage Amendment (an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have defined marriage as possible only between one man and one woman). In many of his speeches, Bush also stressed a vision and commitment for spreading freedom and democracy across the world.
Having had great success at fund-raising, the campaign began running television and radio advertisement campaigns across the nation against Democratic candidates, including Bush's emerging opponent, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Kerry and other Democrats attacked Bush on the conduct of the war in Iraq, perceived excesses of the USA PATRIOT Act and for allegedly failing to stimulate the economy and job growth, as well as controversies surrounding Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard.
In response, Bush emphasized his leadership in war and national security challenges, evoking the patriotism and passion aroused by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Bush campaign portrayed Kerry as a staunch liberal who would raise taxes, increase the size of government, and fail to oppose a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The Bush campaign continuously criticized Kerry's allegedly contradictory statements on the war in Iraq, and claimed Kerry lacked the decisiveness and vision necessary for success in the War on Terrorism.
Popular politicians such as Rudy Guiliani, John McCain, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and conservative Democrat Zell Miller campaigned actively for Bush, who traveled across the country delivering speeches at three to four different locations on most days. The campaign organized a large group of volunteers and focused its efforts on swing states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. On election night, Bush carried 31 of 50 states for a total of 286 Electoral College votes.
Bush won re-election in 2004 after an intense and heated election campaign, becoming the first candidate to win a majority vote in 16 years. Bush was inaugurated for his second term on January 20, 2005. The oath of office was administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. Bush's inaugural address centered mainly on a theme of spreading freedom and democracy around the world:
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world… The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it…. From the viewpoint of centuries, the questions that come to us are narrowed and few. Did our generation advance the cause of freedom? And did our character bring credit to that cause?
In his domestic agenda, Bush's emphasized familiar themes of increased responsibility for performance from his days as Texas governor, and he lobbied hard for the adoption of the No Child Left Behind Act, with Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy as chief sponsor. The legislation had four main objectives: first, it aimed to close the achievement gap between white and minority students; second, it required measurement of student performance; third, it provided options to parents with students in low-performing schools; and, fourth, it provided more federal funding to low-income schools. NCLBA has been a source of ongoing controversy. Critics argue that Bush has underfunded his own program, and Kennedy himself has claimed: "The tragedy is that these long overdue reforms are finally in place, but the funds are not." Many educational experts are critical of the reforms in question, claiming that NCLB allows some students to flee failing public schools instead of improving those schools. Others contend that NCLBA's focus on "high stakes testing" and quantitative outcomes is counterproductive.
Bush increased funding for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health in his first years of office, and created education programs to strengthen the grounding in science and mathematics for American high school students. However, funding for NIH failed to keep up with inflation in 2004 and 2005, and was actually cut in 2006, the first such cut in 36 years. Bush appointed First Lady Laura Bush to oversee an initiative to improve opportunities and education for inner-city boys.
Social Services and Social Security Bush promoted increased de-regulation and investment options in social services and led Republican efforts to pass the Medicare Act of 2003, which added prescription drug coverage to Medicare and created Health Savings Accounts, which would permit people to set aside a portion of their Medicare tax to build a "nest egg." AARP, a lobbying group for senior citizens, worked with the Bush Administration on the program and gave its endorsement. Bush said that the law, estimated to cost US$400 billion over the first ten years, would give the elderly "better choices and more control over their health care".
President Bush began his second term by outlining a major initiative to reform Social Security, which was facing record deficit projections beginning in 2005. Bush made it the centerpiece of his agenda despite contrary beliefs in the media and in the U.S. Congress, both of whom saw the program as the "third rail of politics," due to the American public's history of being suspicious of any attempt to change it. It was also widely believed to be the province of the Democratic Party, with Republicans in the past having been accused of efforts to dismantle or privatize it. In his 2005 State of the Union Address, Bush discussed the allegedly impending bankruptcy of the program and attacked political inertia against reform. He proposed options to permit Americans to divert a portion of their Social Security tax (FICA) into secured investments, creating a "nest egg" that he claimed would enjoy steady growth. Despite emphasizing safeguards and remaining open to other plans, Bush's proposal was criticized for its high cost, and Democrats attacked it as an effort to partially privatize the system, and for leaving Americans open to the whims of the market. Bush embarked on a 60-day national tour, campaigning vigorously for his initiative in media events ("Conversations on Social Security") in a largely unsuccessful attempt to gain support from the general public. According to at least one poll, Bush failed to convince the public that the Social Security program was in crisis.
Immigration In 2006, under political pressure from members of the Republican party, Bush put his support behind immediate and comprehensive immigration reform. Going beyond calls from Republicans and conservatives to secure the border, Bush demanded that Congress create a "temporary guest-worker program" to allow more than 12 million illegal immigrants to obtain legal status. Bush continued to argue that the lack of legal status denies the protections of U.S. laws to millions of people who face dangers of poverty and exploitation, and penalizes employers despite a demand for immigrant labor. On May 15, 2006, Bush proposed expanding "Basic Pilot," an online system to allow employers to easily confirm the eligibility of new hires; creating a new identification card for all foreign workers; and increasing penalties for businesses that violate immigration laws. Bush urged Congress to provide additional funding for border security, and committed to deploying 6000 National Guard troops to the United States-Mexico border.
Hurricane Katrina One of the worst natural disasters in the nation’s history, Hurricane Katrina, struck early in Bush’s second term. Katrina was the sixth-strongest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded and the third-strongest land-falling U.S. hurricane on record. Katrina formed in late August during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and devastated much of the north-central Gulf Coast of the United States, particularly New Orleans.
President Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana on August 27, and in Mississippi and Alabama on August 28. The eye of the hurricane made landfall on August 29. After the hurricane reached ground, Bush mobilized the U.S. Coast Guard and National Guard to help rescue the approximately 60,000 people stranded in New Orleans.
Both local and federal governments were vehemently criticized for their response to Katrina, which was considered insufficient and disorganized. Criticisms of Bush focused on three main issues. First, leaders from both parties attacked the president for having appointed incompetent leaders to positions of power at FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, most notably Michael D. Brown. Second, many people argued that the inadequacy of the federal response was the result of the Iraq War and the demands it placed on the armed forces and the federal budget. Third, in the days immediately following the disaster, President Bush denied having received warnings about the possibility of floodwaters breaching the levees protecting New Orleans. However, the presidential video conference briefing of Aug. 28 shows Max Mayfield warning the President that overflowing the levees was "obviously a very, very grave concern." Critics claimed that the President was misrepresenting his administration's role in what they saw as a flawed response.
George W. Bush assumed office with fiscal policy goals that were highly reminiscent of Ronald Reagan's presidency. The last years of the Clinton administration had established large budget surpluses, and Bush wanted to use the money to pay for a large tax cut. He faced opposition in Congress, however, so he held town hall-style public meetings across the nation in 2001 to increase public support for his plan for a $1.3 trillion tax cut. Bush and his economic advisers argued that unspent government funds should be returned to taxpayers. With reports of the threat of recession from Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, Bush argued that such a tax cut would stimulate the economy and create jobs. In the end, five Senate Democrats crossed party lines to join Republicans in approving Bush's $1.35 trillion tax cut program — one of the largest in U.S. history.
During his first term, Bush sought and obtained Congressional approval for two additional tax cuts: the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002 and the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003. These acts increased the child tax credit and eliminated the so-called "marriage penalty." Arguably, cuts were distributed disproportionately to higher income taxpayers through a decrease in marginal rates, but the change in marginal rates was greater for those of lower income, resulting in an income tax structure that was more progressive overall. Complexity was increased with new categories of income taxed at different rates and new deductions and credits, however; at the same time, the number of individuals subject to the alternative minimum tax increased since it had remained unchanged.
Bush has, for the most part, continued Reagan's legacy of lax business regulation and low taxes. Under the Bush Administration, unemployment peaked at a high of 6.2 percent in June 2003, and as of 2006, was at a low of 4.4 percent. The economy has remained strong, with Wall Street setting several record highs and the GDP experiencing healthy growth. . Critics argue that the economy, however strong, is only benefiting the wealthy, and not the majority of middle and lower-class citizens. 
The September 11 terrorist attacks were a turning point in Bush's presidency. Bush was visiting an elementary school in Florida when Chief of Staff Andrew Card informed him that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. Following news of a second collision, Bush remained with the class for seven minutes while they finished reading a story. He then flew to air bases in Louisiana and Nebraska before returning to Washington, D.C. in the late afternoon. That evening, he addressed the nation from the Oval Office, promising a strong response to the attacks but emphasizing the need for the nation to come together and comfort the families of the victims. On September 14, he visited the World Trade Center site, meeting with Mayor Rudy Giuliani and firefighters, police officers and volunteers. In a moment captured by press and media, Bush addressed the gathering via megaphone from atop a heap of rubble: "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."
In a September 20, 2001 speech, President Bush condemned Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, and issued the Taliban regime in Afghanistan an ultimatum to "hand over the terrorists, or … share in their fate." Thus began his "War on Terrorism," a comprehensive, global effort to eliminate terrorists and the regimes that sponsor them. As part of the War and to prevent another attack like that of September 11, Bush tried to streamline national defense by combining various agencies under one Cabinet department called the Office of Homeland Security. The War on Terrorism, or the War on "Terror" as it is commonly referred to by the President, has also included military incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq.
Under George W. Bush, the United States has become more isolated than it had been under Clinton. The Bush administration withdrew US support for several international agreements, including the Kyoto Protocol, the International Criminal Court, and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) with Russia. It pursued a national missile defense which was previously barred by the ABM treaty (but was never ratified by Congress). In his 2002 State of the Union address, Bush publicly condemned Kim Jong-Il of North Korea, naming North Korea one of three states (in addition to Iraq and Iran) in an "axis of evil," and saying that "the United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons." Within months, "both countries had walked away from their respective commitments under the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework of October 1994." Bush also boldly expressed U.S. support for the defense of Taiwan following the stand-off in March 2001 with the People's Republic of China over the crash between an EP-3E American spyplane and a Chinese air force jet, leading to the detention of U.S. personnel. In 2003-2004, Bush authorized U.S. military intervention in Haiti and Liberia to restore order and oversee a transition to democracy.
In the Middle East, Bush emphasized a "hands-off" approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in wake of rising violence and the alleged failure of the Clinton Administration's efforts to negotiate. Bush denounced Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his support of the violence and militant groups. But prompted by European leaders, he became the first American President to embrace a two-state solution in which an independent Palestine would exist side-by-side with Israel. Bush sponsored dialogs between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas but continued his boycott of Arafat. Bush also supported Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan, and lauded the democratic elections held in Palestine following Arafat's death.
In his State of the Union Address in January 2003, Bush outlined a five-year strategy for global emergency AIDS relief, the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, supported by a $15 billion commitment—$3 billion per year for five years—but requested less in annual budgets, though some members of Congress added amendments to increase the requested amounts. The emergency relief effort is led by U.S. Ambassador Randall L. Tobias, former CEO of Eli Lilly and Global AIDS Coordinator at the State Department. At the time of the speech, $9 billion was earmarked for new programs in AIDS relief for the 15 countries most affected by HIV/AIDS, another $5 billion for continuing support of AIDS relief in 100 countries where the U.S. already had bilateral programs established, and an additional $1 billion towards the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Controversially, almost one quarter of the $15 billion went to religious groups that tend to emphasize sexual abstinence over condom use. This budget represented more money contributed to fight AIDS globally than all other donor countries combined.
Bush condemned the attacks by militia forces on the people of Darfur, and denounced the killings in Sudan as genocide. Bush said that an international peacekeeping presence was critical in Darfur, but opposed referring the situation in Darfur to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, a court that the United States does not officially recognize.
Bush began his second term with an emphasis on improving strained relations with European nations. He appointed long-time advisor and media consultant Karen Hughes to oversee a global public relations campaign to improve the image of the U.S. and significantly increased development aid to countries with a focus on encouraging democracy and human rights. Bush strongly lauded the pro-democracy struggles in Georgia and Ukraine and the election of Mahmoud Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority. He led international pressure against Syria to withdraw troops from Lebanon. In March 2006, Bush visited India, leading to renewed ties between the two countries, particularly in areas of nuclear energy and counter-terrorism cooperation. Bilateral relations between the United States and Germany and Canada improved following the election of relatively conservative governments in those countries. Midway through Bush's second term, however, many analysts observed a retreat from his freedom and democracy agenda, highlighted in policy changes toward some oil-rich former Soviet republics in central Asia. Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, both undemocratically elected and fiercely autocratic, received official state visits to the White House and accepted U.S. offers of increased economic and military assistance. The President had encouraged both leaders to hold free and fair elections early on in his second term, but in fact neither leader has since carried out significant reforms. The democratic election of the Hamas organization in the parliamentary elections of the Palestinian Territories, along with democratic gains in legislatures for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hezbollah in Lebanon, all of whom are seen as terrorist organizations by the United States, also contributed to a far less aggressive approach to democratic reform world-wide from the Bush administration. Reports in late 2006 suggested that pro-Western-style democracy groups across the Middle East had become "pessimistic about the prospects for meaningful reform."
The relationship between North Korea and the United States has worsened dramatically under the Bush Administration, both because of Bush's insistence on including North Korea as part of the "Axis of Evil" and because of North Korea's refusal to consistently negotiate in multi-state talks. North Korea's October 9, 2006 detonation of a nuclear device further complicated President Bush's foreign policy, which centered for both terms of his presidency on "[preventing] the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world." President Bush condemned North Korea's claims, reaffirmed his commitment to "a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula," and stated that "transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States," for which North Korea would be held accountable.
In response to the September 11 attacks, in October 2001, U.S. and British forces invaded Afghanistan to remove the Taliban regime. By December 2001, the UN had organized both the Bonn agreement, which instated the Afghan Interim Authority chaired by Hamid Karzai, and the International Security Assistance Force, to secure Afghanistan as a pro-Western democracy.
Since that time, however, the Taliban has regrouped and has mobilized in an Iraqi-style insurgency.
Following the overthrow of the Taliban, President Bush promoted urgent action in Iraq, stating that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and that in the post-9/11 world it was too dangerous to allow unstable regimes to possess weapons that could "potentially fall into the hands of terrorists." Bush argued that Saddam, through his continued violation of the UN Cease Fire Agreement and UN Security Council resolutions was a threat to U.S. security. In addition, his regime was destabilizing the Middle East, inflaming the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and financing various terrorist organizations. Central Intelligence Agency reports asserted that Saddam Hussein had tried to acquire nuclear material, had not properly accounted for Iraqi biological weapons and chemical weapons material in violation of UN sanctions, and that some Iraqi missiles had a range greater than allowed by the UN sanctions.
Bush urged the United Nations to enforce Iraqi disarmament mandates, precipitating a diplomatic crisis. On November 13, 2002, under UN Security Council Resolution 1441, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei led UN weapons inspectors into Iraq, finding no real evidence of any WMD. There was controversy over the efficacy of inspections and lapses in Iraqi compliance. UN inspection teams departed Iraq upon U.S. advisement given four days prior to the U.S. invasion, despite their requests for more time to complete their tasks. The U.S. initially sought a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of military force pursuant to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter. Upon facing vigorous opposition from several nations (primarily France and Germany), however, the U.S. dropped the bid for UN approval and began to prepare for war; Benjamin Ferenccz, a former chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials argued that for these actions Bush, with his Administration, could be prosecuted for war crimes. Kofi Annan, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, as well as leaders of several nations made similar statements, implying that the attack constitutes a war crime. The war effort was joined by more than 20 other nations (most notably the United Kingdom) who were designated the "Coalition of the willing]]".
The invasion of Iraq commenced on March 20, 2003, ostensibly to pre-empt Iraqi WMD deployment and remove Saddam from power, and was completed on May 1 when U.S. forces took control of Baghdad. The success of U.S. operations increased Bush's popularity for a time, but the U.S. forces would be challenged by public disorder, as well as increasing insurgency led by pro-Saddam and Islamist groups. The Bush Administration was assailed in subsequent months following the report of the Iraq Survey Group, which, apart from a few stockpiles, did not find the large quantities of weapons that the regime was believed to possess. On December 14, 2005, while discussing the WMD issue, Bush stated that "It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong." Bush nevertheless remained unwavering when asked if the war had been worth it, or whether he would have made the same decision if he had known more. U.S. efforts in Iraq became the centerpiece of Bush's expressed vision to promote democracy as a means to discourage and defeat terrorists, by removing radical regimes and fostering social and economic development. However, a 2006 National Intelligence Estimate (a consensus report of the heads of 16 U.S. intelligence agencies) asserted that the Iraq war had increased Islamic radicalism and worsened the terror threat. Bush and his top officials have continued to stress the need to "stay the course" in Iraq. They have accused critics, mainly Democrats who have called for a U.S. troop pullout or a timetable for withdrawal, of advocating a policy of "cut-and-run".
Iraqi elections and a referendum to approve a constitution were held in January and December 2005. Initial media reports of high voter turnout were overestimated, and were later estimated at less than 50 percent. Since then, the fighting in Iraq has escalated, and the country appeared to be on the brink of, if not already engaged in, civil war. Bush's leadership against global terrorism and in the war in Iraq met increasing criticism, with increasing demands within the United States to set a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq. Sectarian violence and political deadlock in Iraq, and the deaths of more than 2,900 U.S. soldiers, increased negative impressions of Bush's leadership and the situation in Iraq. Allegations of abuse by U.S. troops accompanied calls from European and Asian leaders to shut down detention centers in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.
Bush has admitted that though there were strategic mistakes made in regards to the stability of Iraq, he would not change the overall Iraq strategy.
On November 28, 2006, facing mounting criticism for his Iraq war policy, Bush told the NATO Summit 2006 in Latvia that "We'll continue to be flexible, and we'll make the changes necessary to succeed. But there's one thing I'm not going to do: I'm not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete."
George W. Bush appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:
In 2005, after Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor announced her retirement, Bush nominated friend and White House counsel Harriet Miers to replace her. Widespread criticism from both the left and the right prompted Miers to withdraw her name from consideration. Bush selected John Roberts, Jr. in her stead. When Chief Justice William Rehnquist died in September 2005, Bush shifted Roberts' nomination to replace him as Chief Justice, thus requiring Justice O'Connor to continue to serve until her replacement —eventually Samuel Alito—could be found.
The George W. Bush Presidential Library, the nation's thirteenth presidential library, is administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). It is temporarily located in Lewisville, Texas. The permanent Presidential Center will be located on the campus of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas.
In 1977, he was introduced by friends to Laura Welch, a schoolteacher and librarian. After three months of courting, they married and settled in Midland, Texas. Bush's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, were born in 1981. Bush also left his family's Episcopal Church to join his wife's Methodist Church. During their time in Dallas, Bush and his family were members of the congregation of the Highland Park United Methodist Church, within the Dallas greater metropolitan area.
Around 1986, at the age of 40, under pressure from his wife, Bush quit drinking and gave up the "frat boy" lifestyle that he had been living since college. He then began studying the Bible and Christian philosophy, and participating in church and community study groups. Following a personal meeting and exchange with Reverend Billy Graham, he became a born-again Christian. Bush has cited his faith as the main motivating force in his life, leading him to claim that God called him to the presidency.
George W. Bush is an avid jogger and the first president to have run a marathon. Before campaigning for governor of Texas, he completed the 1993 Houston Marathon in 3:44:52 for a pace of about 8:36/mile. He had been running since he was 26, and before taking office, ran 15 to 30 miles a week.
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