George W. Bush

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

George Walker Bush  [ d͡ʒɔɹd͡ʒ wɔːkɚ bʊʃ ] , usually abbreviated George W. Bush [ d͡ʒɔɹd͡ʒ dʌbɫ̩juː bʊʃ ] (*  6. July 1946 in New Haven , Connecticut ) is an American politician of the Republican Party and worked from 2001 to 2009 43 . President of the United States . Please click to listen!Play

The son of an influential family and the 41st US President George HW Bush held the post of governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000 after having worked in the oil industry . In the US presidential election in 2000 he was declared the winner against the Democrat and then incumbent Vice President Al Gore after a controversial count and court decision and was re-elected in 2004 .

In response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 , Bush launched the war against Afghanistan in 2001 and the Iraq war in 2003, which is controversial under international law . As part of a comprehensively conceived “ war on terror ”, he also had civil rights restricted in the USA PATRIOT Act - under worldwide criticism - and the rule of law being suspended in investigative proceedings (see Guantanamo Bay ). In the sense of a neoconservative foreign policy, Bush identified an “ axis of evil ” of “ rogue states ” against which the United States, as a hegemonic world power, should spread the western, economically and politically liberal model up to a right of military intervention ( Bush doctrine ). Bush significantly increased military spending and the national deficit; his initial domestic political idea of ​​“compassionate conservatism ” sparked 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 reputation declined after heavy war losses, Hurricane Katrina and the 2007 financial crisis , but began to recover after the end of his term in office.

Family, education and personal matters

Bush belongs to a wealthy and influential family . According to genealogist Gary Boyd Roberts, a line of descent from George W. Bush leads to the Pilgrim Fathers of the Mayflower . One of his ancestors married a great-granddaughter of Pocahontas . There are also family ties to 16 former US presidents. His grandfather was the businessman and Senator Prescott Bush . Born to Barbara Bush (1925-2018) and George HW Bush (1924-2018), George W. grew up with his four younger siblings Jeb , Neil , Marvin and Dorothy in Midland and Houston . Another younger sister, Robin, died of leukemia in 1953 at the age of three . His brother Jeb was governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007 and one of the ultimately defeated presidential candidates in the Republican primary in 2016 . George W. Bush's nickname Dubya, which is sometimes used by friends and opponents, is derived from the shortened pronunciation of the letter W (actually Double U ), which is common in the southern states . Bush's first name and middle name were based on the corresponding names of his father (George Herbert Walker Bush) and his great-grandfather ( George Herbert Walker ).

Jenna , George W., Laura and Barbara Bush, 1990

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

In 1976, Bush was suspended for a period of drunk driving in Maine ; because of an alcohol addiction , he had to undergo severe withdrawal. Ten years later he converted from the Anglicans to the Methodists in order to completely renounce alcohol as a born again Christian .

Bush has owned Prairie Chapel Ranch near Crawford in McLennan County , Texas, since 1999 , where he spent his vacations and received state guests. He also often stays at his father's Walker's Point summer residence near Kennebunkport , Maine , where state guests were also received.

Military service in the National Guard and entrepreneurship

Bush in
National Guard uniform

Bush signed up for six years in the National Guard in 1968 . With the Air National Guard in Texas he became a lieutenant, pilot and squadron leader of an F-102 Delta Daggers . Since the National Guard was mainly deployed domestically at that time, Bush was later confronted with the accusation of having evaded a deployment in the Vietnam War and was therefore scolded as a draft dodger ("an evading draft "), everything with patriotic Americans other than an honorary title. However, this was not only a widespread practice among politicians at the time (his father was then a Congressman in the House of Representatives ). The suspicion that Bush had also not conscientiously fulfilled his duties arising from his service in the National Guard therefore addressed strong political sensitivities. In response to public pressure, in February 2004 he had the files released for investigations during this period.

Bush began his entrepreneurship in the oil production industry in 1978 with the establishment of Arbusto Energy (Spanish for Bush ), later renamed Bush Exploration . When oil prices plummeted in the early 1980s , the company ran into trouble and in 1984 had to deal with the oil company Spectrum 7 Energy Corp. merge. Bush became the head of the company. When oil prices plummeted again in 1986, it went bankrupt and was sold 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 up to his election as governor of Texas in 1994 the managing partner of the team and sold its stake in 1998 for 15 million dollars .

Political career


In 1978, at the age of 31, Bush ran for the United States House of Representatives in the 19th Congressional electoral district of Texas, which stretched west of the state between Lubbock and his hometown of Midland . He lost the election with 46.8% against the 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 in his finally successful presidential election , where he served as a liaison with the Christian conservatives .

Texas Governor

Bush won the Texas gubernatorial election on November 8, 1994 with 53.5% against the Democratic incumbent Ann Richards , who received 45.9%. His election campaign, like all subsequent ones, was planned by Karl Rove . In order to consolidate his position among the democratic voters, Bush relied on extensive cooperation with his political opponents in his first term of office; so he appointed a democrat as his deputy and strengthened his back, for example, by campaigning for bills of the opposing faction in the Texan parliament.

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

As governor, Bush followed a strictly conservative line when it came to the death penalty : 152 people sentenced to death were executed during his six-year term and only one pardon was granted. There were major protests in the case of a Canadian citizen and a death row inmate who converted to Christianity in prison, but he continued to carry out the execution. The execution of Gary Graham in June 2000 also sparked international opposition.

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

US presidential campaign 2000

In 2000, Bush was nominated as presidential candidate of the Republicans and joined under the slogan of "compassionate conservatism" ( compassionate conservatism ) with Dick Cheney against the Democratic candidate and former Vice President Al Gore and against the Greens nominated (internationally as a consumer protection attorney known) Ralph Nader . During the election campaign, he identified himself with the values ​​of the conservative turnaround in America, known as the Reagan Revolution , which is primarily linked to the outcome of the 1980 presidential election in the United States . In terms of foreign policy, he criticized Clinton and Gore for interventions in the Balkans, which are not in the national interest. On the other hand, he advocated tougher positions against Iraq and North Korea and an increase in the Pentagon's budget. The election was a tough head-to-head race between Bush and Gore, so that the outcome ultimately only depended on the result in the state of Florida . However, the count there, a lead of 537 votes, was highly controversial. The recount requested by Al Gore and initiated by the Florida State Court was declared unconstitutional by a ruling by the then predominantly Republican Supreme Court with a majority of five to four judges' votes because the count was disorderly and inconsistently organized in the various districts of the state. A constitutional recount can no longer be guaranteed within the prescribed period, so every recount must be stopped.

This automatically confirmed the first vote count in which Bush had narrowly led. Bush received about 500,000 fewer votes than Gore, but with the decision of the Supreme Court or the added Florida electorate, he was able to collect more electoral votes .

First term as US President

Gerhard Schröder together with Bush in the White House (2001)


After the presidential transition , Bush was sworn in on January 20, 2001. He was the second US president, after John Quincy Adams , whose father had also been US president, and the first president with an MBA . With Bush, many Republicans moved back into the White House who had already held important offices under his father, including Dick Cheney (then Secretary of Defense) as Vice President. Former Gulf War General Colin Powell , Donald Rumsfeld - who had served as such from 1975 to 1977 - became Secretary of State . The main advisors were Karl Rove and 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 already as governor, Bush initially announced that he would act as consensual as possible, or at least coordinated, with his political opponent. Among other things, he named the accountability of political actors to the people, strengthening the military and creating opportunities for workers to privately invest parts of social security contributions as priorities. For Bush the Democrat Edward Kennedy became an important partner in his work with the Senate .

In the summer of 2001, the Republicans lost their previous majority in the Senate when a Republican senator switched 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 to massively cut taxes and reform the education system. The US Congress accepted both. In March 2001 the USA announced the final withdrawal from the Kyoto agreement to reduce greenhouse gases . This step met with sharp criticism at home and abroad. In the controversy surrounding oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge , the Bush administration pushed for the ban on oil production there to be lifted. In August 2001, Bush took restrictive positions on stem cell research, also to calm the party's right wing, while he worked towards the center with Democratic senators to draft the No Child Left Behind Act . In terms of foreign policy, after the crash of a US spy plane together with the pilots in the incident near Hainan on April 1, 2001, he created a threat against China, but did not pursue a military confrontation any further.

Foreign policy as of September 11, 2001

Bush at Ground Zero on September 14, 2001

The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 profoundly changed Bush's policy. Prior to this, US intelligence services had warned him several times about attacks by the terrorist organization al-Qaeda in the USA, most recently in a memorandum by Richard Clarke on August 6, 2001.

On September 20, 2001, Bush blamed al-Qaeda founder and leader Osama bin Laden for the attacks and demanded that the Taliban regime extradite 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 USA and Great Britain initially waged war in Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda was based, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom from October 7th. Resolution 1368 of the UN Security Council , which was passed on September 12, served as legitimation . Another goal besides the fight against terrorism was to overthrow the Islamist regime of the Taliban. The Frankfurt Conference of European Afghans in Exile in December 2001 estimated the number of civilians killed in this war at around 18,000.

President Bush Addresses Security Policy at Mount Rushmore National Memorial (2002)

On June 15, 2002, Bush gave a speech on the Middle East conflict , which, in addition to calling for a new Palestinian leadership, also laid the foundation for the future joint peace plan of 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 US Congress of US $ 34 million in grants to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) as he believed it was funding forced abortions and sterilization 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 extradition of US citizens to The Hague , the seat of the court. The American Service-Members' Protection Act instead allowed the US President to order their violent liberation.

A month later, the new National Security Strategy, also known as the Bush Doctrine , was published. It explicitly allowed preventive strikes in the event of a threat to the USA from weapons of mass destruction .

The AIDS Relief Program (PEPFAR) was started on the initiative of Bush. The US government has spent $ 44 billion fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa since 2003 with the aim of saving five million people. According to the New York Times , the malaria program launched under Bush has now saved the lives of 1.7 million babies and toddlers.

Iraq war

Bush with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (center) 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, with intelligence reports on biological and chemical weapons in Iraq that were later identified as flawed, to eliminate Saddam Hussein for good. With his State of the Union Address beginning on January 29, 2002, Bush spoke publicly 164 times on Iraq by March of the following year and put him on an axis of evil with Iran and North Korea. In these speeches, he always accused Saddam Hussein of trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction, actively supporting terrorism, suppressing his own population, including with poison gas attacks , and destabilizing the region as a whole. In addition to these reasons for invading Iraq, he cited that democratization of Iraq would have positive effects 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 the Democrats also voting in favor. The UN Security Council adopted on 8 November 2002 unanimously on American initiative, the Resolution 1441 , which put Iraq a final ultimatum, weapons inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency should grant full access to all facilities. The accusation was received with skepticism even then and could not be proven later. His steadily growing pressure on Iraq finally culminated in March 2003 in the Iraq war with the invasion of Iraq by British and American troops. The troops of Iraq were defeated within a few weeks and the country was occupied with the declared aim of creating the conditions for a 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 it only relied on a so-called coalition of the willing from Great Britain, Spain , Italy , Poland , Australia and about 30 other countries. The opponents of the Iraq war, including the governments of France , Russia , Germany and Austria , saw in a continuation of the weapons inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a more appropriate, for the time being sufficient means for disarming Iraq.

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

Navy One : Bush arrives in a Lockheed S-3 Viking on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) , where he delivered his Mission Accomplished speechon May 1, 2003, in which he announced the end of the Iraq war .

While the war in Afghanistan is generally considered to be covered by the right to self-defense, the legitimation of the Iraq war under international law was highly controversial 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 source of unrest in which attacks against the occupation forces , against other foreigners and against Iraqi and Arab civilians who worked with them, but were also completely uninvolved, were increasing.

In May 2004, information about the practices of torture and ill-treatment, some of which was systematic, of Iraqi prisoners by members of the American military in Baghdad's Abu Ghuraib prison increased to the public. The torture was documented by photos and videos. The mistreatment had also resulted in several deaths. Similar incidents soon became known in other American-run military prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bush administration had previously come under fire for the treatment of prisoners in the Guantanamo prison camp in Cuba . With the news of the Abu Ghraib incidents, the matter turned into a scandal that undermined the moral credibility of the Bush administration.

In December 2008 Bush visited Iraq and was thrown two shoes at and verbally insulted by journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi .

Domestic policy since September 11, 2001

The No Child Left Behind Act , which was supposed to improve the quality of the public school system, but also the military's access to student ID for the purpose of recruitment, came into force 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 conditions and restrictions on civil rights through the Patriot Act I could be passed quickly and with practically no public debate. George W. Bush had the highest approval ratings ever recorded in the United States. It was only later that criticism was mainly directed at the plans for a Patriot Act II . The Freedom of Information Act was severely curtailed; more and more government files are marked “secret” or “only for official use” and are thus withdrawn from 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 were combined in a new Ministry of Internal Security with a total of 180,000 employees.

On August 17, 2006, a US federal court in Detroit declared the government's controversial wiretapping program to be unconstitutional. Bush had approved the interception program after the 9/11 attacks in camera to combat terrorism. It allows the authorities to overhear international phone calls made by American citizens and also to intercept e-mails without having to apply for judicial authorization. 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 duties 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 no longer imported after Bush announced on December 4 that the import tariffs would be abolished.

In November 2002, the Republican party won the Senate election and, contrary to the normal trend of the ruling party losing votes in the mid-term elections, was able to increase its majority in Congress . A legislative initiative by the President aimed at stimulating the economy through tax breaks came into force in May 2003. In November 2003, a majority in the Conference Committee of Congress voted in favor of the Medicare Modernization Act , which provided for extensive health care reforms with the introduction of government subsidies for medicines as part of Medicare insurance.

In January 2004, President Bush announced that he would provide the space agency NASA with funds for a manned station on the moon that would serve as a train station and test laboratory for future flights to Mars .

Second term as President

Bush with Angela Merkel on her inaugural visit
Left to right: Sarah Brown, George W. Bush, Gordon Brown and Laura Bush (2008)
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown (left), Russian President Medvedev and US President Bush (center) and 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 turned out to be the decisive factor. Bush received - due to the high voter turnout by American standards - more votes in absolute terms than any other president before. For the first time since 1988, the election winner received not only an absolute majority of the electoral votes, but also that of the votes cast. Around half of the ministers in the cabinet were replaced. Secretary of State Colin Powell , who had already resigned in November 2004, was replaced by Condoleezza Rice . In his second inauguration address in January 2005, Bush declared that it was now America's policy to end tyrannies in the world; the survival of American freedom depended on the freedom of every other country.

In early 2005, Bush pushed Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz through as President of the World Bank . On August 1, 2005, he appointed the UN critic John R. Bolton by decree as the new UN ambassador to the United States. (The filling of this post actually requires the approval of the Senate ; the President can avoid this during the summer recess.) Bolton had been rejected by the Democratic opposition as well as by parts of the Republicans.

On August 8, 2005, Bush signed the Energy Policy Act into force, which provides tax incentives for fossil fuels to promote their production. Furthermore, in order to 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 subsidized by law. Overall, the Energy Policy Act was seen primarily as a sign of favor for the energy industry despite moderate environmental protection measures.

On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the American south coast, causing one of the most devastating natural disasters in United States history. The city of New Orleans , which was poorly prepared for the hurricane, was flooded. Around 1,800 people were killed and the storm caused property damage worth $ 81 billion. Bush received heavy criticism of his actions before and after the disaster from the American media and many victims. In particular, contingency planning was criticized because there were no national evacuation plans and Bush had put a Congressional study on protecting cities from magnitude 5 hurricanes on hold. Instead, part of the budget for civil protection and homeland security was used for the Iraq war. He was also accused of ignoring timely warnings to reinforce the levees: Bush dismissed the head of the levee building authority in 2002 after he submitted plans to Congress for a $ 188 million flooding project on the lower Mississippi. In interviews at the beginning of September, however, Bush claimed: "Nobody could foresee the break of the levees."

In 2006, Bush declared a group of ten islands and eight atolls in northwest Hawaii to be the largest marine reserve in the world. The archipelago is home to very rare and fascinating marine life. The uninhabited islands extend over a length of 2250 kilometers. The area corresponds roughly to that of Germany. The marine reserve also includes the world's largest, secluded coral reef system, at around 11,700 square kilometers. Additionally, 90 percent of Hawaii's endangered green sea turtles lay their eggs in the area. The reserve replaces the Australian Great Barrier Reef as the largest maritime reserve 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 critical passages. Contacts with the media were also regulated. Half of the 300 scientists questioned on this topic complained about this. In June 2006, however, Bush described climate change as a "serious problem".

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

Bush with Vice President Dick Cheney (2006)

Also in October the so-called Plame affair came to a head, in which high-ranking members of the Bush administration were accused of having leaked the identity of the CIA agent and wife of the Bush-critical diplomat Joseph Wilson, Valery Plame, to the press. Lewis Libby , Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, was arrested on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice , among other things . Other suspects included Dick Cheney and Karl Rove , one of Bush's key advisors. In April 2006 his area of ​​responsibility as a consultant was changed and he was given the task of planning the election campaign for the congressional elections in November.

In the 2006 debate on the right of residence of illegally immigrated Hispanics , Bush took a more liberal stance and advocated easier residence conditions for those already residing in the country, since the United States is a traditional country of immigration. The media often associated his liberal stance with his origins in Texas, the most Mexican state. 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 heavily criticized. In the 2006 mid-term elections, Republicans lost a majority in both chambers of Congress (the House of Representatives and the Senate ). The dominant theme of the elections was the Iraq war. After the election, Bush announced the long-planned resignation of Defense Minister Rumsfeld and appointed Robert Gates as his successor.

In the summer of 2007, several high-ranking officials in the Bush administration withdrew, press secretary Tony Snow for personal reasons, Karl Rove and Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales after an affair over the dismissal of numerous federal prosecutors, possibly for political reasons. In March 2008, Bush vetoed a law designed to prevent the CIA from using the torture method known as waterboarding . Bush stated that the successes achieved in this way justified this type of torture. Senior 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 trip, his 81st birthday with 9,000 guests in the White House.

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

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

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


Iraq, where 130,000 American and 20,000 British soldiers were stationed, remained a dominant theme in Bush's second term in office. With Resolution 1483 of May 22, 2003, unanimously passed by the UN Security Council, the USA and Great Britain were declared occupying powers. This resolution welcomed the efforts to pass an Iraqi interim constitution, the aim of which was to create a democratic federal state in which Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites 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 a transitional government, in October they voted on a new constitution.

Since the declared end of the fighting, there have been constant terrorist attacks in Iraq and, from 2006, civil war-like conditions with fighting between Shiites and Sunnis. Tens of thousands of Iraqis and over 1,000 American soldiers have been violently killed since the end of the war. However, it did not change Bush's policy. The Democratic opposition could not agree on a common alternative proposal, but in view of the growing expenses for the war, the killed Americans and the resulting military incapacity to act in other conflicts such as with Iran or North Korea, criticism grew.

In March 2006, Congress set up the Baker Commission , a group of ten around former Secretary of State James Baker , to work out a new strategy for Iraq. This submitted its proposals in December, including a. a withdrawal of all combat troops from Iraq by 2008. After winning the mid-term elections, the Democrats called for a change in strategy with the withdrawal of American troops. On January 11, 2007, Bush then presented his new Iraq strategy, the so-called "surge". He ignored the proposals of the commission and the demands of the opposition 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

The relationship of most European governments to the Bush administration has been strained, in part as a result of the neo-conservative paradigm of his politics and career. In addition to the Spanish under Zapatero and the Italian under Romano Prodi , this also applied to the French government under Chirac . The election winners Zapatero and Prodi withdrew the Iraq contingents of their countries in rejection of the Iraq war immediately after their respective change of government from the Arab country. Bush's relationship with German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder was also impaired because of his negative attitude towards involvement in Iraq. Schröder's successor, Angela Merkel , tried to improve the relationship; Nevertheless, in mid-2006 the majority of the German population was still negative about Bush and his administration. Compared to Bush, the previous President Clinton still enjoys much higher levels of sympathy in Europe.

North Korea

The Bush administration announced in October 2002 that, contrary to the framework agreement, North Korea had resumed its uranium enrichment program. In November, the KEDO (Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization) decided to suspend heavy fuel oil supplies to the DPRK. This measure was an official suspension of the framework agreement by the US side. As a reaction from North Korea, 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. Then North Korea left the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty). In April 2008, the USA and North Korea reached a specific agreement at a bilateral meeting in Singapore. Pyongyang should deliver a list of its nuclear program and shut down its nuclear facilities. In return, Washington should remove the DPRK from the Enemy State Trade Act and from the list of states promoting terrorism. At the end of June, North Korea blew up a cooling tower in Yongbjon and handed over the agreed listing to China and the USA. US President Bush then announced that the trade sanctions would be lifted and the prospect of removing the DPRK from the terrorist list. The removal of North Korea from the terrorist list was delayed because the Bush administration tied it to a verifiable dismantling of the nuclear program. At the end of August, North Korea announced that it would temporarily stop the demolition work on the nuclear reactor and put the already shutdown nuclear facility back into operation. In October, US chief negotiator Christopher Hill visited North Korea to persuade Pyongyang to continue the mining process. However, the North Korean regime only wanted to accept announced inspections of its nuclear facilities, while Washington requested an unannounced inspection of all facilities. Shortly thereafter, North Korea was removed from the terrorist list that had existed for 20 years.

Criticism and polarizing effect

Bush-critical house roofing on Wienzeile

The policies of the American administration under George W. Bush's presidency led to a strong polarization between supporters and critics. Supporters and opponents usually assessed the personality and characteristics of Bush as very differently. 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 previous 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 endorsed government policy after the September 11, 2001 attacks , the controversial election in 2000 and the tightening of unilateralist policies in the United States following these terrorist attacks attracted numerous critics. The documentary filmmaker Michael Moore became known as a Bush critic for his books Stupid White Men and Full Cover, Mr. Bush and his film Fahrenheit 9/11 . Then- Argentine President Néstor Kirchner said that while he was talking to him about global economic problems, Bush reacted angrily to his proposal to introduce a new Marshall Plan , saying that the best way to revitalize the economy was through war, and that the United States was through war got stronger. Bush was rated by the former German government spokesman Uwe-Karsten Heye as "intellectually extremely low-threshold", as he said in an interview in 2010.

George W. Bush was the first American president whose actions resulted in the production and release of a major feature film ( Fahrenheit 9/11 ), the launch of an entire radio network ( Air America Radio ) and the premiere of a television series ( The Al Franken Show ) the common goal was to prevent his re-election. For Fahrenheit 9/11 Bush was the first president to receive the Golden Raspberry Film Award for Worst Leading Actor; Since he was only shown in archive footage in the film and did not appear, it can be assumed that the award is to be viewed 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 in Daphne Bush awarded an honorary doctorate . In December 2004 Time Magazine chose him as 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” (frei Translated: For escalating the debate to the point of bleeding out alternatives, for reshaping reality to conform to one's imagination, for putting one's - and our - fate on the basis of one's belief in the power of leadership).

Ex-President George W. Bush and Laura Bush will fly to
Dallas on January 20, 2009 with 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 . In early June 2004, during a trip to Europe by Bush on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, during a state visit to Italy, massive street protests against Bush broke out in Rome . There the President was received for an audience by Pope John Paul II . The Pope, a staunch opponent of the Iraq war, clearly criticized Bush's Iraq policy and urged him to change it.

In his 2009 work George W. Bush, War Criminal ?: The Bush Administration's Liability for 269 War Crimes , the political scientist Michael Haas comes to the conclusion that there are compelling reasons for prosecuting the Bush administration for war crimes. In this context, he cites 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 move to Preston Hollow , near Dallas , with his wife Laura . He wrote his memoirs under the title Decision Points , which appeared in English on November 9, 2010 and sold 220,000 times on the 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 had admitted, among other things, that he personally ordered the alleged 9/11 mastermind, Chalid Sheikh Mohammed, to be waterboarded . The trip to Geneva , which Bush wanted to start on February 12, 2011, was then canceled due to announced protests. In November 2011, Bush was found guilty of crimes against peace by the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission for illegally invading Iraq.

When Bush was informed by telephone from his successor Obama of the success of Operation Neptune Spear , the killing of Osama bin Laden, on May 2, 2011, he described it 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 celebration held at Ground Zero for the occasion .

Bush, like his predecessor Bill Clinton , is a regular speaker. According to calculations by the Center for Public Integrity from 2011, he has made at least $ 15 million with it since 2009. Bush has been a painter since retirement and has been described as successful by his art teacher.

On April 25, 2013 George W. Bush opened a presidential library like all predecessors since Herbert Hoover . Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter and his father attended the opening ceremony in Dallas. Bush stated: “The political winds are right or left, polls go up and down, supporters come and go, but in the end, political leaders stand out for their convictions. My deepest conviction and the guideline of my administration was that the US must work for the expansion of freedom. "

Because of an arterial blockage, Bush had a heart operation in August 2013. A stent was inserted into him.

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

In the Republican primary campaign 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 took part in his brother's election campaign events in South Carolina . He was negative about the entrepreneur Donald Trump , who was finally nominated as a party candidate and, like his father George HW Bush and his brother, refused to support him in the main election in November.

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

In February 2017 he published oil paintings and stories in his book Portraits of Courage. A Commander in Chief's Tribute to America's Warriors . Another book with oil paintings and stories by him is due to appear in March 2021: Out of Many, One: Portraits of America's Immigrants .

Historical evaluation

According to Julian E. Zelizer , the Bush administration consistently had 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 account of the demographic change to the detriment of the Midwest and the Northeast. In addition, a significant portion of the Republican electorate came from this region.

Second, Bush wanted to deregulate industry and cut taxes at the same time. During the presidency, therefore, there were hardly any initiatives in the area of ​​occupational safety and environmental protection. Another means that Richard Nixon and Reagan had already used was to appoint leaders who were politically opposed to their mandate. Tax cuts were implemented primarily for the wealthy and the upper middle class.

A third leitmotif of the presidency, favored by the conservatives since the Vietnam War, was to use all violence to strengthen the executive power in security policy, especially after 9-11 . This included a considerable expansion of secret service operations under this mandate and a tightening of their methods of interrogation up to torture. Bush's executive executive power was instrumental in nation building after the Iraq war . Like Reagan and his own father, on the other hand, he saw widespread wars such as Vietnam that were costly for the USA as a warning example of the limits of one's own commitment.

The fourth and most difficult goal was to establish executive and legislative party power, as the Democrats had last done after the 1932 presidential election in the United States . For this purpose, on the one hand, decidedly conservative positions were adopted in order to be able to win narrow majorities with the greater mobilization of this clientele in 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 be won.


The director Oliver Stone and the screenwriter Stanley Weiser created a biography of President Bush: W. - A Misunderstood Life 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 was also released 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)

Individual evidence

  1. ^ David A. Graham: How Democrats Came to Feel Nostalgic for George W. Bush. April 25, 2017, Retrieved May 13, 2020 (American English).
  2. ^ Suzi Parker: We are family. In: , March 31, 2000 (English).
  3. Bush Chronology. In: , accessed December 23, 2008.
  4. Patricia Hart: Not So Great in '78. In: Texas Monthly , June 1999; Nicholas D. Kristof: Learning How to Run: A West Texas Stumble. In: The New York Times , July 27, 2000; Bush, George W. In:
  5. Lois Romano, George Lardner Jr .: Young Bush, a Political Natural, Revs Up. In: The Washington Post , July 29, 1999.
  6. James Mann: George W. Bush. 2015, p. 31.
  7. USA: Greens nominate Ralph Nader. In: Rheinische Post , June 26, 2000.
  8. ^ Julian E. Zelizer: The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment. P. 1 f.
  9. ^ Bush Calls for End to Ban on Offshore Oil Drilling. In: The New York Times , June 19, 2008.
  10. ^ Julian E. Zelizer: Establishment Conservative: The Presidency of George W. Bush. In: Julian E. Zelizer (Ed.): The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment. P. 2 f.
  11. ^ TG Fraser, CD Murray: America and the World Since 1945. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke 2002, ISBN 0-333-75432-8 , p. 268
  12. ^ Christian Caryl: What George W. Bush Did Right. In: Foreign Policy. February 14, 2013.
  13. Donald G. Mcneil Jr: US Malaria Donations Saved Almost 2 Million African Children . In: The New York Times . June 26, 2017.
  14. American President: George Walker Bush (1946–): Foreign Affairs. In: Miller Center of Public Affairs of the University of Virginia .
  15. BBC : On this day: 2003: US pulls back from steel trade war
  16. ^ Henry Aaron, Jeanne M. Lambrew: Reforming Medicare: Options, Tradeoffs, and Opportunities. Brookings Institution Press, Washington, DC 2008, ISBN 978-0-8157-0124-8 , p. 7.
  17. US politics: Bush appoints controversial diplomat Bolton as UN ambassador. In: Spiegel Online , August 1, 2005.
  18. Meg Jacobs: wreaking Havoc from Within: George W. Bush's Energy Policy in Historical Perspective. In: Julian E. Zelizer (Ed.): The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment. P. 162.
  19. Der Spiegel No. 36, September 5, 2005; New York Times September 4, 2005.
  20. The Nature Conservancy Applauds President Bush for Creating World's Largest Marine Conservation Area in Hawaii. In: The Nature Conservancy. June 16, 2006.
  21. Climate: US scientists criticize Bush. In: Focus Online , September 26, 2007.
  22. US environmental protection: Bush describes climate change as a "problem". In: Spiegel Online , June 27, 2006.
  23. Mexico: Calderon compares the US border fence with the Berlin Wall. In: Spiegel Online , October 27, 2006.
  24. Waterboarding: Bush blocks anti-torture law. In: Spiegel Online , March 8, 2008.
  25. ^ White House press release , May 9, 2007: National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive.
  26. Bush agrees to the death penalty against convicted US soldiers. In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung , July 29, 2008.
  27. Claus Tigges: "Every day it gets worse". In: , September 30, 2008.
  28. [1]
  29. Down from the terror list In: LINKSNET . Sungbok Cho in WeltTrends (03.06.2009)
  30. Zaid Jilani: Former Argentine president says Bush told him 'the best way to revitalize the economy is war.' In: Think Progress , May 28, 2010 (English).
  31. Former Chancellor: Schröder's ex-spokesman describes Bush as intellectually limited. In: Spiegel Online , November 10, 2010.
  32. Present for President. In: Image of Science . Volume 7, 2009, p. 11.
  33. ^ Honorary Doctorates. ( Memento of May 4, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) In: United States Sports Academy (English).
  34. Michael Haas: George W. Bush, War Criminal ?: The Bush Administration's Liability for 269 War Crimes. PRAEGER, Westport 2009, ISBN 978-0-313-36499-0 , pp. 13, 251.
  35. Memoirs: Bush Defends Iraq War. In: Focus Online , November 9, 2010.
  36. Bush personally ordered waterboarding. In: Spiegel Online , November 4, 2010.
  37. ^ Criminal charges filed against Georg W. Bush in Switzerland. In: Tages-Anzeiger ; We would have liked to have Bush arrested. Interview. In: 20 minutes , February 7, 2011.
  38. Bush and Blair to be tried for War Crimes. In: NSNBC , October 29, 2011 (English).
  39. Bush: I wasn't overjoyed by bin Laden's death. In: CBS News , May 14, 2011.
  40. Walter Niederberger: Bush talks everywhere for money. In: Tages-Anzeiger , May 28, 2011.
  41. Retired President: George W. Bush likes to paint dogs. In: Spiegel Online , March 9, 2013.
  42. Honor for ex-president: George W. Bush gets his own presidential library. In: Stern , April 26, 2013.
  43. Ex-President George W. Bush operated on the heart. In: Welt Online , August 7, 2013.
  44. Jordan Rudner: Bush 41 and 43 have no plans to endorse Trump. In: The Washington Post , May 4, 2016.
  45. Terence Burlij: George W. Bush talks Trump's inauguration, his poncho difficulties. In: , April 13, 2017 (English).
  46. George W. Bush protects the press from Trump. In: , February 27, 2017.
  47. ^ Washingtonpost: George W. Bush's unmistakable takedown of Trumpism - and Trump  ; George W. Bush's anti-Trump manifesto, annotated
  48. George W. Bush just laid a major smackdown on Trumpism
  49. Without Saying 'Trump,' Bush and Obama Deliver Implicit Rebukes
  50. ^ Anna Palmer, Jake Sherman: POLITICO Playbook: The politics of walking away. Retrieved August 7, 2020 .
  51. ^ Julian E. Zelizer: Establishment Conservative: The Presidency of George W. Bush. In: Julian E. Zelizer (Ed.): The Presidency of George W. Bush: A First Historical Assessment. Pp. 3-5.