George W Bush

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George W Bush (2003)
George W. Bush's signature

George Walker Bush ( born  July 6 , 1946 in  New Haven , Connecticut ) is an American politician of the Republican Party and .President of the United States . Play audio file

The son of the 41st US President George HW Bush , he was born into an influential family . He served as Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000 after an entrepreneurial career in the oil industry . In the 2000 United States presidential election , he was declared the winner over Democrat and then-incumbent Vice President Al Gore after a controversial count and court decision , and was re-elected in 2004 .

As a reaction to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 , Bush started the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and the Iraq war , which is controversial under international law , in 2003 . As part of a comprehensively conceived “ war on terror ”, he also had – under worldwide criticism – civil rights restricted in the USA PATRIOT Act and constitutional principles in investigative proceedings, such as the ban on torture, suspended (see Guantanamo Bay ). In terms of a neo -conservative foreign policy, Bush identified an “ axis of evil ” of “ rogue states ” against which the United States, as a hegemonic world power, should extend the Western, economically and politically liberal model, right up to a right of military intervention ( Bush Doctrine ). Bush significantly increased military spending and the government deficit; his initial domestic political idea of ​​“compassionate conservatism ” ensured initiatives such as the no-child-left-behind policy, while he pursued a supply-side economic policy with tax cuts and deregulation measures . Bush's standing plummeted after heavy wartime losses, Hurricane Katrina , and the 2007 financial crisis , but began to recover after his tenure ended.

Family, Education and Personal

Bush is a member of a wealthy and influential family . According to genealogist Gary Boyd Roberts, a line of descent leads from George W. Bush to the Mayflower Pilgrim Fathers . One of his ancestors married a great-granddaughter of Pocahontas . In addition, there are family ties to 16 former US Presidents. His grandfather was entrepreneur and Senator Prescott Bush . Born to Barbara Bush (1925–2018) and George HW Bush (1924–2018), George W. grew up in Midland and Houston along with his four younger siblings Jeb , Neil , Marvin and Dorothy . Another younger sister, Robin, died of leukemia in 1953 at the age of three . His brother Jeb served as governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007 and was one of the losers in the 2016 Republican presidential primary . George W. Bush's nickname, Dubya , sometimes used by friends and opponents alike , is derived from the abbreviated pronunciation of the letter W (actually double U ) customary in the southern states. Bush's first and middle names were derived from the corresponding names of his father (George Herbert Walker Bush) and great-grandfather ( George Herbert Walker ).

Jenna , George W, Laura and Barbara Bush, 1990

Bush attended Phillips Academy from 1961 to 1964 , which his father had also attended. He then studied history at Yale University from September 1964 to May 1968 , where he, like his father, was a member of the Society Skull & Bones and the student union Delta Kappa Epsilon . In October 1965 he became its president, like his father before him. In 1968 he graduated from Yale University with a bachelor's degree in history. From 1972 to 1975, George W. Bush attended Harvard University 's Harvard Business School , where he earned a Masters of Business Administration degree. In 1977 he married Laura Welch . Their twin daughters Jenna and Barbara were born on November 25, 1981.

In 1976, Bush had his driver's license suspended in Maine for drunk driving; because of an alcohol addiction he had to undergo a strict rehab. Ten years later, he converted from Anglican to Methodist , becoming a born-again Christian without alcohol.

Bush has owned Prairie Chapel Ranch near Crawford in McLennan County , Texas since 1999, where he vacationed and received state guests. He is also a frequent visitor to his father's summer home, Walker's Point , near Kennebunkport , Maine , where guests of state have also been received.

National Guard service and entrepreneurship

Bush enlisted in the National Guard for six years in 1968 . In the Texas Air National Guard , he became a lieutenant, pilot and commander of a squadron of F-102 Delta Daggers . Since the National Guard was primarily deployed domestically at the time, Bush later faced charges of evading deployment in the Vietnam War and was therefore chided draft dodger ("a evader for enlistment"), anything to patriotic Americans other than an honorary title. At the time, however, this was not just a common practice among the sons of politicians (his father was a congressman in the House of Representatives at the time ). The suspicion that Bush was also not diligent in fulfilling his duties arising from service in the National Guard therefore appealed to strong political sensitivities. In February 2004, under pressure from the public, he had the files on this period released for investigation.

Bush began his entrepreneurial activity in 1978 in the oil production industry with the founding of Arbusto Energy (Spanish for bush ), later renamed Bush Exploration . When oil prices plummeted in the early 1980s , the company ran into trouble and had to sell oil company Spectrum 7 Energy Corp. in 1984. merge. Bush became head of the company. When oil prices plummeted again in 1986, it became insolvent and was bought by Harken Energy Corp. bought up. Bush became one of the directors at Harken. In 1988 he acquired 5% of the Texas Rangers baseball team . He was the team's managing partner until his election to Texas governor in 1994 , and sold his stake in 1998 for $15 million .

Political career


In 1978, at the age of 31, Bush ran for the United States House of Representatives in Texas' 19th congressional district , which stretched west of the state between Lubbock and his hometown of Midland . He lost the election by 46.8% to Democrat Kent Hance . Two years later his father became vice president; George W. Bush decided not to run for political office as long as his father would hold public office. In 1988, Bush was a member of his father's campaign team for the latter's presidential election , where he served as liaison with the Christian Conservatives .

Governor of Texas

In the Texas gubernatorial election on November 8, 1994, Bush won 53.5% against Democratic incumbent Ann Richards , who received 45.9%. His campaign, like all that followed, was planned by Karl Rove , who rose to become Deputy White House Chief of Staff during Bush's presidency . In order to consolidate his position among the democratic voters, Bush relied on extensive cooperation with his political opponents during his first term in office; So he appointed a Democrat as his deputy and strengthened his back, for example by campaigning for legislative projects of the opposing faction in the Texas parliament.

In 1998 he was re-elected as Texas governor with 68.2%, his opponent Garry Mauro came to 31.2%.

As governor, Bush took a staunchly conservative line on the death penalty , executing 152 people on death row during his six-year tenure and granting only one pardon. In the case of a Canadian citizen and a death row inmate who converted to Christianity in prison, there were major protests, but he persisted in carrying out the execution. The execution of Gary Lee Graham in June 2000 also sparked international opposition.

year 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
executions 19 3 37 20 35 40

US presidential election campaign 2000

In 2000, Bush was nominated for the Republican nomination for president and under the motto of "compassionate conservatism" ( compassionate conservatism ) he ran with Dick Cheney against the Democratic nominee and then Vice President Al Gore and the Green nominee (known internationally as a consumer advocate) Ralph Nader on. During the election campaign, he identified with the values ​​of the conservative turnaround in America known as the Reagan Revolution , which is primarily associated with the outcome of the 1980 presidential election in the United States . In terms of foreign policy, he criticized Clinton and Gore, among other things, for the interventions in the Balkans, which were not in the national interest. On the other hand, he advocated tougher positions on Iraq and North Korea and an increase in the Pentagon's budget. The election became a neck-and-neck race between Bush and Gore, with the outcome ultimately depending only on the Florida state outcome . However, the count there, a margin of 537 votes, was highly controversial. The recount requested by Al Gore and initiated by Florida's state court was declared unconstitutional by a ruling by the then predominantly Republican Supreme Court by a majority of five to four judges' votes because the counting was messy and inconsistently organized in the various districts of the state. A constitutional recount can no longer be guaranteed within the specified period, so every recount must be stopped.

This automatically confirmed the first vote count, in which Bush had just led. Bush received about 500,000 fewer votes than Gore in the US, but with the decision of the Supreme Court and the addition of Florida electors, he was able to win more electoral votes overall .

First term as US President

Gerhard Schröder with Bush in the White House (2001)


After the transition of the presidency , on January 20, 2001, Bush was inaugurated. He was the second US president, after John Quincy Adams , whose father had also been a US president, and the first president with an MBA degree. With Bush, many Republicans who had held important offices under his father returned to the White House, including Dick Cheney (then secretary of defense) as vice president. Former Gulf War General Colin Powell became Secretary of State , Donald Rumsfeld - who had served as such from 1975 to 1977 - became Secretary of Defense. The key advisors were Karl Rove and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice . Many of the newcomers to the George W. Bush administration had previously belonged to the neoconservative think tank Project for the New American Century , including Richard Perle , Richard Armitage , Paul Wolfowitz , and Lewis Libby .

Politics until September 11, 2001

As he did when he was governor, Bush initially announced that he would at least act in concert with his political opponents. Among other things, he named the accountability of political actors to the people, strengthening the military and creating opportunities for workers to invest part of the social security contributions privately as priorities. An important partner in Bush's work with the Senate was the Democrat Edward Kennedy .

In the summer of 2001, the Republicans lost their previous majority in the Senate when a Republican senator moved to the Democrats. Many Republicans saw this as a breach of trust, which made cross-party cooperation difficult.

The most important legislative projects before September 11, 2001 were a program for massive tax cuts and the reform of the education system. Both passed the US Congress. In March 2001, the United States finally withdrew from the Kyoto agreement to reduce greenhouse gases . This step met with sharp criticism at home and abroad. In the controversy over oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge , the Bush administration pushed for the lifting of the existing ban on oil production there. Bush took restrictive positions on stem cell research in August 2001, in part to placate the party's right wing, while centering with Democratic senators on the No Child Left Behind Act . In terms of foreign policy, after the crash of a US spy plane and its pilots in the Hainan incident on April 1, 2001, he created a threatening backdrop towards China, but did not pursue a military confrontation any further.

Foreign policy after September 11, 2001

Bush at Ground Zero on September 14, 2001

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 profoundly changed Bush's policy. In the run-up to this, US intelligence services had repeatedly warned him of attacks by the terrorist organization al-Qaeda in the USA, most recently in a memorandum by Richard Clarke dated August 6, 2001.

On September 20, 2001, Bush blamed the founder and leader of al-Qaeda , Osama bin Laden, for the attacks and demanded that the Taliban regime return him from Afghanistan within 14 days. Then he declared a war on terrorism . With broad international support, including the German federal government and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation , the United States and Great Britain initially waged war in Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda was based, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom from October 7. Resolution 1368 of the UN Security Council , which was passed on September 12, served as legitimation . Another goal, in addition to fighting terrorism, was to overthrow the Islamist Taliban regime. In December 2001, the Frankfurt Conference of Afghans in Exile in Europe estimated the number of civilians killed in this war at around 18,000.

President Bush speaks on security policy at Mount Rushmore National Memorial (2002)

On June 15, 2002, Bush delivered a speech on the Middle East conflict which, in addition to calling for a new Palestinian leadership, also laid the foundation for what would later become a joint peace plan by the United States, Russia , the European Union and the United Nations , the so-called Roadmap . This was his first noticeable involvement in the conflict.

In July 2002, Bush decided to withhold a $34 million grant approved by the US Congress to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) because he believed it was funding forced abortions and sterilizations in the People's Republic of China .

In August 2002, Bush attempted to weaken the newly established International Criminal Court . Bilateral agreements with other states should prevent extraditions of US citizens to The Hague , the seat of the court. Instead, the American Service-Members' Protection Act allowed the US President to order their forcible liberation.

A month later, the new National Security Strategy, also known as the Bush Doctrine , was released. It explicitly allowed pre - emptive strikes if the United States were threatened by weapons of mass destruction.

On Bush's initiative, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) was launched in 2003 with initial funding of $15 billion. Since then, Congress has renewed the program every five years. A total of $95 billion has flowed into PEPFAR through 2020, making it the United States' largest foreign investment since the Marshall Plan . Estimates speak of 18 million people whose lives have been saved by PEPFAR. Part of the money flowed into the Global Fund , which, in addition to AIDS, also aims to combat malaria and tuberculosis . According to the New York Times , the Bush malaria program saved the lives of 1.7 million babies and young children by 2017.

Iraq war

Bush with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (centre) and his deputy Paul Wolfowitz in 2003, at the beginning of the Iraq war

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz , in particular, urged the President to eliminate Saddam Hussein once and for all, using secret service reports on biological and chemical weapons in Iraq that were later recognized as erroneous. Beginning with his State of the Union Address on January 29, 2002, by March of the following year, Bush spoke publicly 164 times on Iraq, placing it on an axis of evil with Iran and North Korea. In these speeches he always accused Saddam Hussein of trying to obtain weapons of mass destruction, of actively supporting terrorism, of oppressing his own population, including with poison gas attacks , and of destabilizing the region as a whole. In addition to these reasons for invading Iraq, he argued that democratization of Iraq would have a positive impact on the entire Middle East, including Israel and Palestine. On October 11, 2002, he achieved broad approval in Congress for an invasion of Iraq, with a majority of Democrats also voting in favour. On November 8, 2002, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1441 at the American initiative , which presented Iraq with a final ultimatum to give weapons inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency unrestricted access to all facilities. The allegation was received with skepticism even then and could not be proven later. His steadily increasing pressure on Iraq finally culminated in the Iraq War in March 2003 with the invasion of Iraq by British and American troops. Iraq's troops were defeated within weeks and the country occupied with the declared aim of creating the conditions for democratic government there.

Since the explicit UN mandate actually desired could not be obtained due to the strong opposition in the UN Security Council, in the end he only relied on a so-called coalition of the willing from Great Britain, Spain , Italy , Poland , Australia and around 30 other countries. The opponents of the Iraq war, including the governments of France , Russia , Germany and Austria , saw the continuation of the weapons inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as a more appropriate, temporarily sufficient means of disarming Iraq.

In February and March 2003, millions of people around the world took part in anti-war demonstrations by the peace movement , including in countries whose governments had backed Bush. Among other things, he was accused of the actual reason for the war being the economic and political access to Iraqi oil wells and geostrategic interests of the USA.

Navy One : Bush's arrival in a Lockheed S-3 Viking on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) , where he delivered his Mission Accomplished speech, announcing the end of the Iraq war .

While the war in Afghanistan is generally considered to be covered by the right to self-defense, the legitimacy of the Iraq war under international law was highly disputed from the start. No weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. The number of terrorist attacks with an Islamist background and the number of victims did not decrease either. On May 1, 2003, Bush announced the end of the war ( mission accomplished! ). But Iraq remained a trouble spot, where attacks against the occupying forces , against other foreigners and against Iraqi and Arab civilians who worked with them, but also completely uninvolved, accumulated.

In May 2004, increasing information about the practices of torture and ill-treatment of Iraqi prisoners, some of which were systematic, by members of the American military in Baghdad 's Abu Ghraib prison leaked to the public. The torture was evidenced by photos and videos. There had already been several fatalities as a result of the abuse . Similar incidents soon became known in other American-run military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush administration had previously been criticized for the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo prison camp in Cuba . According to Dick Cheney , Bush knew about the torture program and sanctioned it. With the news of the Abu Ghraib incident, the matter escalated into a scandal that undermined the moral credibility of the Bush administration.

In December 2008, Bush visited Iraq and was pelted with two shoes and verbally abused by journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi .

Domestic policy since September 11, 2001

The No Child Left Behind Act , which was designed to improve the quality of public schooling but also improve military access to student ID for recruitment purposes, went into effect in January 2002.

Domestically, as a result of the general shock caused by the attacks, Bush was initially able to rely on broad support in the fight against terrorism: Measures such as stricter security controls and entry requirements and restrictions on civil rights through the Patriot Act I were passed quickly and with practically no public debate. In polls, George W. Bush had the highest approval ratings ever measured in the United States. Only later was criticism mainly of the plans for a Patriot Act II . The Freedom of Information Act has been severely curtailed; More and more government files are marked "Secret" or "For official use only" and are thus deprived of transparency. With reference to the fight against terrorism, various institutions such as customs ( CBP and ICE ), the coast guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disaster control were combined in a new Ministry for Internal Security with a total of 180,000 employees.

A US federal court in Detroit on August 17, 2006 declared the government's controversial wiretapping program unconstitutional. Bush had approved the closed-door wiretapping program after the attacks of September 11, 2001 to combat terrorism. It allows authorities to eavesdrop on international phone calls made by American citizens and also to intercept e-mails without having to seek court approval. The secret program was uncovered in 2005 and was then heavily criticized.

Bush during the 2004 election campaign

In March 2002, on Bush's initiative, import tariffs were imposed on steel products from countries in the European Union in order to protect US companies from foreign competition. These tariffs have been condemned as illegal by the WTO . In return, the EU planned tariffs on products from the United States, which were not imported after Bush announced on December 4 that import tariffs would be abolished again.

In November 2002, the Republican Party won the Senate election and bucked the normal trend of the ruling party losing votes in the midterm elections, increasing their majority in Congress . A legislative initiative by the president intended to stimulate the economy through tax breaks came into force in May 2003. In November 2003, a majority in the Congressional Conference Committee voted in favor of the Medicare Modernization Act , which would introduce major health care reform and introduce federal drug subsidies under Medicare coverage.

In January 2004, President Bush announced that NASA would provide funding for a manned station on the moon to serve as a railroad station and test laboratory for future flights to Mars .

Second term as President

Bush with Angela Merkel during her inaugural visit
Left to right: Sarah Brown, George W Bush, Gordon Brown and Laura Bush (2008)
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (left), Russian Presidents Medvedev and US Presidents Bush (centre) and German Chancellor Merkel (right) at the G8 summit in Tōyako , Japan (2008)

Bush narrowly won the November 2004 presidential election against his Democratic challenger, John Kerry ; the state of Ohio proved crucial. Because of the high turnout by American standards, Bush received more votes in absolute terms than any other president before him. For the first time since 1988, the victor not only received an absolute majority of the electoral college votes, but also that of the voters cast. About half of the ministers in the cabinet were replaced. Secretary of State Colin Powell , who announced his resignation in November 2004, was replaced by Condoleezza Rice . In his second inauguration address in January 2005, Bush declared that it was now US policy to end world tyrannies; the survival of American liberty depended on the liberty of every other country.

In early 2005, Bush installed Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz as President of the World Bank . On August 1, 2005, he appointed UN critic John R. Bolton the new United States ambassador to the UN. (The occupation of this post is actually subject to approval by the Senate , during the summer break the President can bypass this.) Bolton was rejected by the Democratic opposition and parts of the Republicans.

On August 8, 2005, Bush signed the Energy Policy Act into law, which provides tax incentives for fossil fuels to encourage production. Furthermore, in order to also get the approval of the Democrats from the Midwest in the Senate and House of Representatives, the production of biofuel with renewable raw materials such as corn was promoted by law. Overall, despite moderate environmental protection measures , the Energy Policy Act was primarily seen as a gesture of favor to the energy industry.

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the American South Coast and triggered one of the deadliest natural disasters in United States history. The city of New Orleans , poorly prepared for the hurricane, was flooded. About 1,800 people died and the storm caused $81 billion in property damage. Bush's actions before and after the catastrophe were severely criticized by the American media and many of those affected. In particular, contingency planning has been criticized because there were no national evacuation plans and Bush had shelved a congressional study on protecting cities from Category 5 hurricanes. Instead, part of the budget for civil protection and internal security was used for the Iraq war. He has also been accused of disregarding timely warnings to strengthen the levees: Bush fired the head of the levee agency in 2002 after he submitted plans to Congress for a $188 million flooding project on the lower Mississippi. In interviews in early September, however, Bush claimed that "no one could have foreseen the collapse of the levees."

In 2006, Bush declared a group of ten islands and eight atolls in northwest Hawaii the largest marine reserve in the world. The archipelago is home to a very rare and fascinating marine life. The uninhabited islands stretch over a length of 2250 kilometers. The area roughly corresponds to that of Germany. The marine reserve also includes the largest isolated coral reef system in the world at around 11,700 square kilometers. In addition, 90 percent of Hawaii's endangered green sea turtles lay eggs in the area. The reserve replaces Australia 's Great Barrier Reef as the largest marine protected area in the world.

The Bush administration pushed ahead with the suppression of environmental reports. Critical reports on climate change were influenced, for example by asking scientists to avoid the critical passages. Contacts with the media were also regulated. Half of the 300 scientists surveyed on the subject complained about this. However, in June 2006, Bush called climate change a "serious problem."

Bush's domestic political achievements during his second term include the replacement of two seats on the Supreme Court . On September 5, 2005, he nominated John G. Roberts junior to succeed the late William H. Rehnquist as Chief Justice . After his confirmation by the Senate, on October 3, 2005, Bush nominated his legal adviser Harriet Miers to succeed the resigning judge Sandra Day O'Connor , but withdrew this on October 27, 2005 at Miers' request and after strong criticism from all political camps instead nominated Samuel Alito , who was narrowly confirmed by the Senate on January 31, 2006.

Bush with Vice President Dick Cheney (2006)

Also in October, the so-called Plame affair came to a head, accusing senior members of the Bush administration of leaking the identity of CIA agent Valery Plame, wife of anti-Bush diplomat Joseph Wilson, to the press. Lewis Libby , Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, was arrested on charges including perjury and obstruction of justice. Other suspects included Dick Cheney and Karl Rove , one of Bush's most important advisers. In April 2006, his responsibilities as an adviser were changed and he was given the task of planning the campaign for the November congressional elections.

In the debate that began in 2006 about the right of residence for illegally immigrated Hispanics , Bush took a rather liberal stance and advocated easier residence conditions for those already in the country, since the United States is a traditional immigration country. The media often associated his liberal attitude with his origins in Texas, the state with the most Mexican influence. This attitude has sometimes met with harsh criticism from neoconservatives. Nevertheless, at the end of October 2006, Bush signed a law to expand the border with Mexico , which the Mexican government massively criticized. In the 2006 midterm election, Republicans lost majorities in both chambers of Congress ( House of Representatives and Senate ). The dominant theme of the elections was the Iraq war. After the election, Bush announced Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's long-planned resignation and named Robert Gates as his successor.

In the summer of 2007, several senior Bush administration officials resigned, Press Secretary Tony Snow for personal reasons, Karl Rove and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales after an affair over the firing of numerous federal prosecutors, possibly for political reasons. In March 2008, Bush vetoed a law designed, among other things , to prevent the CIA from using the torture method known as waterboarding . Bush explained that the successes achieved in this way justified this type of torture. High-ranking military officials in the United States had previously opposed the use of the method. On April 16, 2008, the President celebrated together with Pope Benedict XVI. , who visited the United States as part of an apostolic journey, celebrated his 81st birthday with 9,000 guests in the White House.

On behalf of the Department of Homeland Security, George W. Bush signed National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD 51), also known as Homeland Security Presidential Directive 20 (HSPD 20), in May 2007, which, in the event of a national disaster or emergency, requires the continuation of the constitutional government work ("Enduring Constitutional Government") is to ensure that the President coordinates the cooperation between the executive , the legislature , and the judiciary .

On July 28, 2008, Bush became the first President in 51 years to approve the death penalty for a convicted American serviceman .

The final months of Bush's tenure were marked by the international financial crisis, when many of the country's banks ran into difficulties and some had to file for bankruptcy. Bush's weakened position in Congress meant he had to solicit approval for the first bailout not only from the Democrats but also from his own party buddies, who increasingly distanced themselves from him because of his unpopularity. On September 29, 2008, a package introduced by Bush failed in Congress, not least because some party friends also refused to support him.


Iraq, where 130,000 American and 20,000 British soldiers were stationed, remained a defining theme of Bush's second term. With Resolution 1483 passed unanimously by the UN Security Council on May 22, 2003, the USA and Great Britain were declared occupying powers. This resolution welcomed efforts to pass an interim Iraqi constitution, the aim of which was to create a democratic federal state in which Kurds, Sunnis and Shias could live together. At the same time, it called for the former Iraqi regime to be held accountable for the crimes and atrocities it had committed. At the beginning of January 2005, the Iraqis elected an interim government, and in October they voted on a new constitution.

Since the end of hostilities was declared, there have been constant terrorist attacks in Iraq and, since 2006, there have been civil war-like conditions with fighting between Shiites and Sunnis. Since the end of the war, tens of thousands of Iraqis and over 1,000 American soldiers have died violently. However, this did not change Bush's policy. The opposition of the Democrats could not agree on a joint alternative proposal, but in view of the growing expenditure for the war, the Americans killed and the military inability to act in other conflicts such as with Iran or North Korea that was forced as a result, criticism grew.

In March 2006, Congress installed the Baker Commission , a ten-member group led by former Secretary of State James Baker , to devise a new strategy for Iraq. This presented its proposals in December, e.g. a withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq by 2008. The Democrats, after winning the midterm elections, demanded a change of strategy with the withdrawal of American troops. On January 11, 2007, Bush presented his new Iraq strategy, the so-called "surge". He ignored the commission's proposals and the opposition's demands and sent 21,000 more soldiers to pacify the situation. A withdrawal should follow as soon as the Iraqi government alone is able to ensure stability.

relationship to Europe

George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin in Kennebunkport , Maine in July 2007

Most European governments' relationship with the Bush administration has been strained, in part as a result of the neoconservative paradigm of his policies and history. In addition to the Spanish government under Zapatero and the Italian government under Romano Prodi , this also applied to the French government under Chirac . The election winners, Zapatero and Prodi, withdrew their countries' Iraq contingents in rejection of the Iraq war immediately after their change of government. Bush's relationship with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was also affected because of Schröder's disapproval of engagement in Iraq. Schröder's successor , Angela Merkel , has tried to improve relations; nevertheless, in mid-2006, the majority of the German population continued to have a negative attitude towards Bush and his government. Compared to Bush, the previous President Clinton still enjoys much higher sympathy ratings in Europe.

North Korea

In October 2002, the Bush administration announced that North Korea, contrary to the framework agreement, had resumed its uranium enrichment program. In November, in KEDO (Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization), it decided to suspend heavy oil supplies to the DPRK. This action was an official suspension of the Framework Agreement by the US side. In North Korea's reaction, the research reactor in Yongbjon was reloaded with fuel rods, the video cameras installed by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) were removed and the two IAEA inspectors were expelled from the country in December. North Korea then withdrew from the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty). In April 2008, the USA and North Korea agreed on a concrete agreement at a bilateral meeting in Singapore. Pyongyang should submit a listing of its nuclear program and shut down its nuclear facilities. In exchange, Washington should remove the DPRK from the Enemy States Trade Act and from the list of terrorism-promoting states. In late June, North Korea blew up a cooling tower in Yongbjon and handed over the agreed listing to China and the US. US President Bush then announced that trade sanctions would be lifted and that the DPRK would be removed from the terrorist list. The removal of North Korea from the terror list was delayed because the Bush administration made it conditional on a verifiable dismantling of the nuclear program. At the end of August, North Korea then announced that it would temporarily stop the demolition work on the nuclear reactor and put the nuclear facility, which had already been shut down, back into operation. In October, US chief negotiator Christopher Hill visited North Korea to persuade Pyongyang to continue the dismantling process. However, the North Korean regime would only accept announced inspections of its nuclear facilities, while Washington required an unannounced inspection of all facilities. Shortly thereafter, North Korea was removed from the terror list, which had existed for 20 years.

Criticism and polarizing effect

Bush-critical house roofing on the Wienzeile

The policies of the American government under George W. Bush's presidency led to a strong polarization between supporters and critics. Bush's personality and qualities were generally judged very differently by supporters and opponents. While some valued his belief in God and the leadership of the United States as strengths, others pointed to his memorable biography, including reference to his past alcohol problems, his self-declared "rebirth" as a Christian and anti-alcoholic, and certain linguistic insecurities (see the Bushisms ).

While much of the mainstream media supported government policies in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks , the disputed 2000 election and the intensification of unilateralist policies in the United States following these terrorist attacks drew many critics. Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore became known as a Bush critic with his books Stupid White Men and Volle covered, Mr. Bush and his film Fahrenheit 9/11 . Argentina 's then President Néstor Kirchner said that in a discussion with him about world economic problems, Bush reacted angrily to his proposal to launch a new Marshall Plan and replied that the best way to revitalize the economy was war, and that the United States could do so through war had become stronger. Former German government spokesman Uwe-Karsten Heye considered Bush to be "intellectually extremely low-threshold," as he explained in a 2010 interview.

George W. Bush was the first American President whose actions brought about the production and release of a major motion picture ( Fahrenheit 9/11 ), the launch of an entire radio network ( Air America Radio ) and the premiere of a television series ( The Al Franken Show ) whose common goal was to prevent his re-election. For Fahrenheit 9/11 , Bush became the first president to receive the Golden Raspberry Film Award for worst leading actor; since he was only shown in archive footage and did not appear in the film, it can be assumed that the award is to be regarded as a political statement by the jury. Other awards are also to be understood as criticism; In 2005, the sponge ball beetle Agathidium bushi , which feeds on slime mold, was named after Bush.

In 2001, the United States Sports Academy awarded Daphne Bush an honorary doctorate . In December 2004, Time Magazine voted him Person of the Year 2004 "for sharpening the debate until the choices bled, for reframing reality to match his design, for gambling his fortunes - and ours - on his faith in the power of leadership" (free (translated: For intensifying the debate to the point of bleeding alternatives, for reshaping reality to conform to his vision, for gambling his – and our – talents through his belief in the power of leadership).

Ex-President George W. Bush and Laura Bush fly to
Dallas on January 20, 2009 on the VC-25 .

State visits by Bush to other countries repeatedly led to demonstrations against his foreign policy, in particular the Iraq war and the Guantánamo internment camp . At the beginning of June 2004, during a trip to Europe by Bush to mark the 60th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy , there were massive street protests in Rome against Bush during a state visit to Italy . There the President was also received for an audience by Pope John Paul II . The pope, a staunch opponent of the Iraq war, strongly criticized Bush's Iraq policy and urged him to change it.

Political scientist Michael Haas, in his 2009 work George W. Bush, War Criminal?: The Bush Administration's Liability for 269 War Crimes , concludes that there are compelling reasons for prosecuting the Bush administration for war crimes. In this context, he lists 269 specific government measures whose legality he doubts.

After the presidency

Group picture of US Presidents Jimmy Carter , Bill Clinton , Barack Obama and George W. Bush (left to right) in April 2013

After Barack Obama 's inauguration on January 20, 2009, Bush announced that he would be relocating to Preston Hollow , near Dallas , with his wife Laura . He wrote his memoir , Decision Points , which was published in English on November 9, 2010 and sold 220,000 copies that same day.

On February 4, 2011, Amnesty International filed a complaint with the Swiss federal prosecutor 's office and the Geneva public prosecutor's office for violating the anti-torture convention against Bush. In his memoirs, Bush admitted, among other things, that he personally ordered the waterboarding of suspected 9/11 mastermind Chalid Sheikh Mohammed . The trip to Geneva , which Bush wanted to take on February 12, 2011, was then canceled because of announced protests. In November 2011, the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission found Bush guilty of crimes against peace for the illegal invasion of Iraq.

When Bush was informed by his successor Obama by telephone about the success of Operation Neptune Spear , the killing of Osama bin Laden, on May 2, 2011, he described this as a "good call"; however, he was "not beside himself with joy". He praised the work of the secret services in this matter. He declined Obama's invitation to appear together at the Ground Zero ceremony held for the occasion.

Like his predecessor Bill Clinton , Bush regularly appears as a speaker. According to 2011 calculations by the Center for Public Integrity , he has earned at least $15 million since 2009. Since retiring, Bush has worked as a painter and was described by his art teacher as successful.

On April 25, 2013, like all predecessors since Herbert Hoover , George W. Bush opened a Presidential Library . The opening ceremony in Dallas was attended by Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, as well as his father. Bush explained: “Political winds blow from left to right, polls rise and fall, supporters come and go, but in the end, political leaders are distinguished by their convictions. My deepest conviction and the guiding principle of my administration has been that the United States must work to expand freedom.”

Bush underwent heart surgery in August 2013 due to a blocked artery. A stent was put in for him .

In November 2014, Bush published a biography of his father entitled 41: A Portrait of my father.

Bush in the Pentagon in front of a portrait of his Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (2019)

In the Republican primary for the 2016 presidential election , Bush supported and advised his brother Jeb , but stayed in the background for a long time. In February 2016, he participated in his brother's campaign rallies in South Carolina . He expressed his opposition to businessman Donald Trump , who was eventually nominated as party candidate, and - like his father George HW Bush and his brother - has withheld his support for the November general election.

On January 20, 2017, he attended Trump's inauguration. Five weeks later, in a television interview, Bush defended the free press against Trump's hostilities and said it was the media's job to scrutinize the political leadership. In October 2017, he gave a widely acclaimed speech critical of Trump.

In February 2017, he published oil paintings and stories of American war veterans in his book Portraits of Courage. A Commander in Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors . In March 2021 he released another book of oil paintings and stories: Out of Many, One: Portraits of America's Immigrants .

goals of his presidency

According to Julian E. Zelizer , the Bush administration consistently pursued four main goals.

First, Bush continued the policy of his predecessors over the past few decades to promote services, high technology, and oil production and processing in the Sun Belt , in order to take into account the demographic change unfavorable to the Midwest and Northeast. In addition, a significant portion of the Republican electoral base came from this region.

Second, Bush wanted to deregulate industry while cutting taxes. During the presidency, there were therefore hardly any initiatives in the area of ​​occupational safety and environmental protection. Another tool used by Richard Nixon and Reagan was the appointment of leaders who were politically opposed to their mandate. Tax cuts were pushed through primarily for the wealthy and the upper middle class.

A third presidency leitmotif, favored by conservatives since the Vietnam War , has been to aggressively strengthen executive authority over security policy, particularly after the September 11, 2001 attacks . These included a significant expansion of intelligence operations under this mandate and a tightening of interrogation methods to the point of torture. Presidential executive power through Bush was instrumental in nation building after the Iraq war . On the other hand, like Reagan and his own father, he saw far-reaching wars such as Vietnam, which resulted in losses for the USA, as a warning example of the limits of one's own commitment.

The fourth and most elusive goal was to establish executive and legislative party power, the likes of which the Democrats had last achieved after the 1932 United States presidential election . On the one hand, decidedly conservative positions were taken in order to be able to win narrow majorities with the greater mobilization of this clientele on polarizing questions, on the other hand, with the reactions to 9-11 or initiatives such as the No Child Left Behind Act , broad political majorities in the sense of compassionate conservatism could be achieved be won.


Director Oliver Stone and screenwriter Stanley Weiser are preparing a biopic of President Bush: W. - A Life Misunderstood premiered on October 17, 2008 in the United States. George W. Bush is played by Josh Brolin and Laura Bush by Elizabeth Banks .

In 2008, a satirical documentary appeared with George Walker Bush in "Being W."


audio books


web links

Commons : George W. Bush  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: George W. Bush  – sources and full texts (English)


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  25. Mexico: Calderon compares US border fence to Berlin Wall. In: Spiegel Online , October 27, 2006.
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  31. ↑ Off the terror list In: LINKSNET . Sungbok Cho in WorldTrends (06/03/2009)
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