Not to be confused with .
For a chronological guide to this subject, see .
The presidency of George W. Bush began at noon on January 20, 2001, when was as the , and ended on January 20, 2009. Bush, a , took office following a very close victory over Vice President in the . Four years later, in the , he defeated Democrat to win re-election. Bush, the 43rd President, is the eldest son of the 41st President, . He was succeeded by Democrat , who won the .
Upon taking office, Bush pushed through a .3 trillion and the , a major education bill. He also pushed for efforts, such as the and . After the , Bush declared a and, in October 2001, ordered an to overthrow the , destroy the terrorist group , and capture . That same month, he signed into law the controversial in order to strengthen security and allow for greater surveillance. In 2003, Bush ordered an , asserting that Iraq possessed stockpiles of in violation of . Later that year, he signed the , which created and made other changes to .
Bush's second term was highlighted by several agreements, a strong push for and domestic drilling, and the successful nominations of Justices and . Bush also sought immigration reform and major changes to , but both efforts failed. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continued, and in 2007 he launched a . The Bush administration's response to and the earned wide coverage, and his second term saw a drop in his approval ratings. A dominated his last days in office as policymakers looked to avert a major economic disaster, and he signed into law the (TARP) through the .
Election of 2000
With the help of political adviser , Bush began preparing for a 2000 presidential campaign soon after his victory in the . Following the defeat of Republican nominee in the , Bush was widely viewed as one of the top contenders for the 2000 Republican nomination.
After a strong , Bush became the widely acknowledged front-runner in the race for the nomination. Discouraged by Bush's popularity and strong fundraising, potential Republican candidates such as and declined to enter the race. In the years preceding the 2000 election, Bush built up his stable of advisers, with his economic advisers led by advocate and his led by . Though several Republicans dropped out of the race rather than challenge Bush, Arizona Senator launched a spirited challenge that was supported by many moderates and . McCain's loss in the South Carolina primary effectively ended the , and Bush was officially nominated for president at the . Bush former Secretary of Defense as his running mate; though Cheney offered little electoral appeal and had health problems, Bush thought that Cheney's extensive experience would make him a valuable governing partner.In the 2000 election, Bush won 270 of the 538 electoral votes. States won by Bush are in red.
With President term-limited, the Democrats nominated Vice President . Bush's campaign emphasized their own candidate's character in contrast with that of Clinton, who had been embroiled in the for much of his second term. In the presidential debates, Bush exceeded the expectations of many in holding his ground against Gore, and Bush held a substantial lead in several polls taken after the final debate in October. However, the unearthing of a 1976 DUI arrest appeared to sap Bush's momentum, and as election night approached, the race was widely considered to be very close. On election night, several television networks called the race for Gore based on exit polls and early returns, but as the night continued, the networks reversed themselves and called the race for Bush. Florida emerged as the key state in the election, as whichever candidate won the state would win the presidency. Official tallies showed Bush with lead of less than two thousand votes out of a total of two million cast in Florida, and both campaigns dispatched attorneys to engage in the legal battle over the ensuing .
The ordered a manual recount of a portion of the ballots, but was overruled by the in the case of on equal protection grounds. Bush won the election with 271 electoral votes compared to Gore's 266, though Gore narrowly won a plurality of the popular vote. In the concurrent , Republicans retained a narrow majority in the House but lost five seats in the Senate to leave the partisan balance at fifty Republicans and fifty Democrats.
Rejecting the idea of a powerful , Bush had high-level officials report directly to him. Bush brought to the White House several individuals who had worked under him in Texas, including Senior Counselor , Senior Adviser Karl Rove, legal counsel , and . Other important individuals in the White House included National Security Adviser , Chief of Staff , and Vice President Cheney, who emerged as the most powerful individual in the White House aside from Bush himself., who had served as Deputy Director of the , was appointed Secretary of the Treasury, while former Missouri Senator was appointed Attorney General. O'Neill, who opposed the Iraq War and feared that the Bush tax cuts would lead to deficits, was replaced by in February 2003. In June 2006, Snow was succeeded by , the head of , after Bush agreed to let Paulson lead his administration's economic policy. Ashcroft, who differed with Bush on issues such as NSA surveillance, resigned after the 2004 election, and was replaced by Gonzales. After serving as Chief of Staff for more than five years, Card left the White House of his own accord, and was replaced by . Gonzales and Rove both left in 2007 after controversy regarding the dismissal of U.S. attorneys, and Gonzales was replaced by , a former federal judge.
As Bush had little foreign policy experience, his appointments would serve an important role in dictating the foreign policy of the United States during his tenure. Bush's initial foreign policy appointees had largely served under his father's administration. Vice President Cheney had been Secretary of Defense, National Security Adviser Rice had served on the National Security Council, and deputy secretaries and had also served in important roles. Secretary of State had served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the first President Bush.Bush had long admired Powell, and the former general was Bush's first choice for the position. Secretary of Defense , who had served in the same position during the Ford administration, rounded out the key figures in the national security team. Rumsfeld and Cheney, who had served together in the , were the leading foreign policy figures in Bush's first term. Frustrated by the decisions of the Bush administration, particularly the launching of the Iraq War, Powell resigned following the 2004 elections. He was replaced by Rice, while then-Deputy National Security Adviser took Rice's former position. After the 2006 elections, Rumsfeld was replaced by former CIA Director . The personnel shake-ups left Rice as one of the most prominent individuals in the administration, and she played a strong role in directing Bush's second term foreign policy.
Advisors and other officials
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Military nominations and appointments
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Further information: , , and
After the 2004 election, many expected that Chief Justice would be forced to step down from the . Cheney and White House Counsel were tasked with finding a suitable replacement, and they settled on and Fourth Circuit Judge , both widely respected conservatives, as the two finalists. In June 2005, Justice unexpectedly announced that she would step down from the court, and Bush for her position the following month. After Rehnquist died in September, Bush briefly considered elevating Associate Justice to the position of Chief Justice, but instead chose to nominate Roberts for the position. Roberts won confirmation from the Senate in a 78-22 vote, with all Republicans and a narrow majority of Democrats voting to confirm Roberts. To replace O'Connor, the Bush administration wanted to find a female nominee, but was unsatisfied with the conventional options available. The president settled on Miers, but immediately faced opposition from conservatives feared her unproven ideology and lack of judicial experience. After Senate Majority Leader informed Bush that Miers did not have the votes necessary to win confirmation, Miers withdrew from consideration. Bush , who received strong support from conservatives but faced opposition from Democrats. Alito won confirmation in a 58-42 vote in January 2006.
Bush also 62 judges to the , 261 judges to the , and 2 judges to the . Bush appointed to the in 2006; Gorsuch would later be by President for a seat on the Supreme Court.
Bush tax cuts
See also:Federal finances and GDP during Bush's presidency Year Income Outlays Surplus/
Deficit Debt as a %
of GDP 2001 1991.1 1862.8 128.2 10564.6 31.4 2002 1853.1 2010.9 -157.8 10876.9 32.5 2003 1782.3 2159.9 -377.6 11332.4 34.5 2004 1880.1 2292.8 -412.7 12088.6 35.5 2005 2153.6 2472.0 -318.3 12888.9 35.6 2006 2406.9 2655.1 -248.2 13684.7 35.3 2007 2568.0 2728.7 -160.7 14322.9 35.2 2008 2524.0 2982.5 -458.6 14752.4 39.3 2009 2105.0 3517.7 -1412.7 14414.6 52.3 Ref.
Bush's promise to cut taxes was the centerpiece of his 2000 presidential campaign, and upon taking office, he made tax cuts his first major legislative priority. A budget surplus developed during the , and with the Federal Reserve Chairman 's support, Bush argued that the best use of the surplus was to lower taxes. After Treasury Secretary expressed concerns over the tax cut's size and the possibility of future deficits, Vice President Cheney took charge of writing the bill, which the administration proposed to Congress in March 2001. President Bush rejected the idea of "triggers" that would phase out the tax reductions should the government again run deficits, arguing instead that the tax cuts were the best ways to stimulate the economy regardless of deficits. The won the support of congressional Republicans and a minority of congressional Democrats, and Bush signed it into law in June 2001. The act lowered the top income tax rate from 39-35%, and it also reduced the . The narrow Republican majority in the Senate necessitated the use of the , which in turn necessitated that the tax cuts would phase out in 2011 barring further legislative action.
After the tax bill was passed, Senator left the Republican Party and began caucusing with the Democrats, giving them control of the Senate. After Republicans re-took control of the Senate during the 2002 mid-term elections, Bush proposed further tax cuts. With little support among Democrats, Congress passed the , which cut taxes by another 0 billion over 10 years. That law also lowered the and . Collectively, the reduced federal individual tax rates to their lowest level since , and government revenue as a share of declined from 20.9% in 2000 to 16.3% in 2004.
Bush's other major policy initiative upon taking office was education reforms. Although some congressional Republicans had called for abolishing the Department of Education, the President's success in campaigning on education reform had convinced many Republicans, including Congressman of Ohio, that an education reform bill increasing federal funding would prove politically popular. Seeking to craft a bipartisan bill, Bush sought out Democratic Senator , a leading Senator who served as the ranking member on the . Bush proposed the , which required extensive testing to ensure that schools met uniform standards for skills such as reading and math. Bush hoped that testing would make schools more accountable for their performances and provide parents more information in choosing which schools to send their children. Kennedy shared Bush's concern for the education of impoverished children and hoped to increase federal funding for education, but he strongly opposed the president's proposed , which would have allowed parents to use federal funding to pay for private schools. Both men cooperated to pass the , which dropped the concept of school vouchers but included Bush's idea of nationwide testing. Both houses of Congress registered overwhelming approval for the bill's final version, which Bush signed into law in January 2002. However, Kennedy would later criticize the implementation of the act, arguing that Bush had promised great federal funding for education.
Marriage, abortion, and faith
On his first day in office - January 20, 2001, President Bush moved to block federal aid to foreign groups that offered counseling or any other assistance to women in obtaining abortions. Days later, he announced his commitment to channeling more federal aid to faith-based service organizations, despite the fears of critics that this would dissolve the traditional . To further this commitment, he created the to assist faith-based service organizations. In 2003, Bush signed the .
Following a national furor over recognizing in both and , Bush announced his opposition to same-sex marriages in 2004 when endorsing the to the which would have permanently defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
Bush was staunchly opposed to and supported Attorney General 's decision to file suit against the , which was ultimately decided by the favoring the Oregon law. However, while he was governor of , Bush had signed a law giving hospitals the authority to remove from terminally ill patients against the wishes of spouses or parents, if the doctors deemed it as medically appropriate. This perceived inconsistency in policy became an issue in 2005, when Bush signed controversial legislation forwarded and voted on by only three members of the to initiate federal intervention in the court battle of , a comatose woman who ultimately died.
Stem cell research
Early in his administration, President Bush became personally interested in the issue of research. The Clinton administration had issued guidelines allowing the federal funding of research utilizing stem cells, and the Bush administration studied the situation's ethics. Evangelical religious groups argued that the research was immoral as it destroyed human , while various advocacy groups touted the "miracle possibilities" of stem cell research. In August 2001, Bush announced that he opposed stem cell research, and he banned federal funding for research on new stem cell lines.
In July 2006, Bush used his first on the , which would have expanded funding of embryonic research. A similar bill was passed in both the and the early in summer 2007 as part of House Speaker 's . However, Bush vetoed the second bill as well and Congress could not override the veto.
Surveillance and homeland security
Shortly after the , Bush announced the creation of the and appointed former its director. After Congress passed a law creating the , Ridge became the first director of the newly-creatly department. The department was charged with overseeing immigration, border control, customs, and the newly-established (TSA), which focused on . On October 26, 2001, Bush signed into law the . Passed on the President's request, this act permitted increased sharing of intelligence among the and authorized the government to examine the credit card bills and library records of suspected terrorists. Bush also secretly authorized the to of communications in and out of the US.
See also:Cabinet meeting
Bush's environmental record began with promises as a presidential candidate to clean up power plants and reduce emissions. In a speech on September 29, 2000, Bush pledged to commit two billion dollars to the funding of technology research. In that same speech, he also promised to work with Congress, environmental groups, and the energy industry to reduce the emissions of , , , and into the environment within a "reasonable" period of time. He would later reverse his position on that specific campaign pledge in March 2001 in a letter to Senator , stating that carbon dioxide was not considered a pollutant under the , and that restricting carbon dioxide emissions would cause energy prices to rapidly increase.
In March 2001, the G.W. Bush administration announced that it would not implement the , an international treaty signed in 1997 in that required nations to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The administration argued that ratifying the treaty would unduly restrict U.S. growth while unsuccessfully limiting emissions from developing nations. In February 2002, President Bush announced his alternative to the Kyoto Protocol, by bringing forth a plan to reduce the intensity of greenhouse gases by 18% over 10 years. The intensity of greenhouse gases specifically is the ratio of greenhouse gas emissions and economic output (i.e., under this plan, emissions still continued to grow, but at a slower pace). Bush stated that this plan would prevent the release of 500 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, which is about the equivalent of removing 70 million cars from the road. This target would achieve this goal by providing to businesses that use renewable energy sources.
President Bush stated that he believed is real but also a serious problem, although he asserted there existed a "debate over whether it's man-made or naturally caused". The Bush Administration's stance on global warming remained controversial in the scientific and environmental communities. Critics alleged that the administration misinformed the public and did not do enough to reduce carbon emissions and deter global warming.
On January 6, 2009, President Bush designated the world's largest protected marine area. The Pacific Ocean habitat includes the and the waters and corals surrounding three uninhabited islands in the , in American Samoa, and seven islands along the equator.
Campaign finance reform
In 1995, Senators (R-AZ) and (D-WI) jointly published an op-ed calling for , and began working on a bipartisan bill. McCain's along with several scandals (including the ) brought the issue of campaign finance to the fore of public consciousness in 2001. Both McCain and Feingold pushed the bill in the Senate, while (R-CT) and (D-MA) led the effort of passing it in the House. In just the second successful use of the since the 1980s, a mixture of Democrats and Republicans defied Speaker and passed a campaign finance reform bill. The House approved the bill with a 240-189 vote, sending it to the Senate. The bill passed the Senate in a 60-40 vote, the bare minimum required to overcome the filibuster. Throughout the Congressional battle on the bill, Bush declined to take a strong position. However, he signed the bill in March 2002 after it cleared both houses of Congress. However, in March 2002, Bush signed into law the . In signing it, Bush stated that he thought the law would improve the financing system for elections but was "far from perfect." The law placed several limits on political donations and expenditures, and closed loopholes on contribution limits on donations to political candidates by banning the use of so-called "soft money." Portions of the law restricting would later be struck down the Supreme Court in the 2010 case of .
After the passage of the Bush tax cuts and the No Child Left Behind Act, Bush then turned his domestic focus to healthcare. He sought to expand so it would also cover the cost of , a program that became known as . Many congressional Democrats opposed the bill, arguing that it should have allowed Medicare to negotiate the prices of drugs, while many conservative Republicans also opposed the expansion of a government program. Along with House Speaker , he narrowly won approval of the bill in the House, while Senate Majority Leader overcame strong opposition in the Senate. In December 2003, Bush signed the , the largest expansion of Medicare since the program's creation in 1965.
Attempted Social Security reform
After winning re-election in 2004, Bush called for changes in as part of his vision of an "." He wanted to restructure the program for citizens to invest some of the money going in to the funding the program. The President argued that Social Security faced an imminent funding crisis and that reform was necessary to ensure its continuing solvency. However, Bush's plan earned unified opposition from congressional Democrats and failed to attract the necessary support from Republicans, and legislation on Social Security reform was never brought to a vote.
Response to Hurricane Katrina
, one of the largest and most powerful hurricanes ever to strike the United States, ravaged several states along the in August 2005. On a working vacation at his ranch in Texas, Bush initially allowed state and local authorities to respond to the natural disaster. The hurricane made landfall on August 29, devastating the city of after the . Over eighteen hundred people died in the hurricane, and Bush was widely criticized for his slow response to the disaster. His approval ratings fell below 40% and never recovered.
Proposed immigration reformPresident gives a television address to the American public outlining his comprehensive immigration reform in response to growing concern of massive protests demanding legal status for millions of .
Alhough he concentrated on other domestic policies during his first term, Bush supported throughout his administration. In May 2006, he proposed a five-point plan including increased , a , and a for the twelve million living in the United States. The Senate passed the , which included many of the president's proposals, but the bill did not pass the House of Representatives. After Democrats took control of Congress in the 2006 mid-term elections, Bush worked with Ted Kennedy to re-introduce the bill as the . The bill received intense criticism from many conservatives, who had become more skeptical of immigration reform, and it failed to pass the Senate.
After years of financial deregulation accelerating under the Bush administration, banks began lending to more and more home buyers, causing a . Many of these banks also invested in and that were essentially bets on the soundness of these loans. When housing prices starting declining in 2007, the Bush administration began fearing a possible short recession, thus passing the . Falling home prices started threatening the financial viability of many institutions, and , a prominent U.S.-based investment bank, was on the brink of in March 2008. Recognizing the growing threat of a financial crisis, Bush allowed Treasury Secretary Paulson to arrange for another bank, , to tank over most Bear Stearn's assets. Out of concert that Fannie Mae and might also fail, the Bush administration put both institutions into . Shortly afterwords, the administration learned that was on the verge of bankruptcy. The administration's intervention in other financial institutions (often described as "") was criticized on both the left and the right. Both Bush and Paulson were reluctant to intervene on behalf of Lehman Brothers. The firm declared bankruptcy on September 15.
Paulson hoped that the financial industry had shored itself up after the failure of Bear Stearns and that the failure of Lehman Brothers would not strongly impact the economy, but news of the failure caused stock prices to tumble and froze credit. (AIG), another major financial institution, teetered on the brink of failure. In fear a financial collapse, Paulson and the Federal Reserve took control of AIG. Hoping to shore up the other banks, Bush and Paulson proposed the , which would create the 0 billion (TARP), in which the federal government would buy . The House rejected TARP in a 228-205 vote; although support and opposition crossed party lines, only about one third of the Republican caucus supported the bill. After the dropped 778 points on the day of the House vote, the House and Senate both passed TARP. Bush later extended TARP loans to U.S. automobile companies, which faced due to the weak economy. TARP helped end the financial crisis, but it did not prevent the onset of the .
In July 2002, following several such as the scandal, Bush signed the into law. The act expanded reporting requirements for public companies Shortly after the start of his second term, Bush signed the , which had been a priority of his administration and part of his broader goal of instituting . The act was designed to remove most lawsuits from state courts to federal courts, which were regarded as less sympathetic to plaintiffs in class action suits.
Upon taking office, Bush had little experience with foreign policy, and his decisions were guided by his advisers. Bush embraced the views of Cheney and other , who advocated for the spreading of democracy, by force if necessary. They also de-emphasized the importance of , arguing that, as the world's lone , the U.S. could act unilaterally if necessary. Though the first several months of his presidency focused on domestic issues, the Bush administration pulled the U.S. out of several existing or proposed multilateral agreements, including the Kyoto Protocol, the , and the . Foreign affairs would increasingly come to the fore after the and the October 2001 invasion of .
In 2002, during his , Bush set forth what has become known as the . Although this doctrine was technically used for justifying the invasion of Afghanistan, it was not clearly stated as a matter of policy until this address. Because of the possibility of further massive terrorist attacks orchestrated by organizations that existed in multiple places all over the world, Bush stated that the United States would implement a policy of against nations known to be harboring or aiding a terrorist organization hostile to the United States. Bush outlined what he called the "," consisting of three nations that, he argued, posed the greatest threat to world peace due to their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and potential to aid terrorists. The axis consisted of , and . Iraq would increasingly become the object of the administration's attention, and the and its aftermath became the central foreign policy issue of the Bush presidency.
War in Afghanistan
September 11 attacks
See also: andBush making remarks from on September 14, 2001 The on television as President Bush enters the room in which he is briefed on the attacks
Terrorism had emerged as an important national security issue in the Clinton administration, and it became one of the dominant issues of the Bush administration In the late 1980s, had established , a militant multi-national organization. Bin Laden sought to defeat the so-called "Near Enemy," Western-backed governments in , , , and . After Saudi Arabia began hosting U.S. soldiers in 1991, al-Qaeda conducted a terrorist campaign against U.S. targets, orchestrating attacks such as the 1998 . During Bush's first months in office, U.S. intelligence organizations on the United States, but foreign policy officials were unprepared for a major attack on the United States.
On September 11, 2001, four airliners and flew two them into the twin towers of the in , destroying both 110-story skyscrapers. Another crashed into , while the was brought down in Pennsylvania following a struggle between the terrorists and the aircraft's passengers. The attacks had a profound effect on many Americans, who felt vulnerable to international attacks for the first time since the end of the . Appearing on national television on the night of the attacks, Bush promised to punish those who had aided the attacks, stating, "we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them." In the following days, Bush urged the public to renounce hate crimes and discrimination against and . He also declared a "", instituting new domestic and foreign policies in an effort to prevent future terrorist attacks.
After 9/11, the Bush administration decided upon a decisive military action to punish the government of , which harbored the leaders of al-Qaeda. Bush's top foreign policy advisers were in agreement that launching strikes against al-Qaeda bases would not stop future attacks. Bush decided to lead an invasion of Afghanistan, with the ultimate goal of overthrowing the conservative government. Powell took the lead in assembling allied nations in a coalition that would launch attacks on multiple fronts. On September 14, Congress passed a resolution called the , authorizing the president to use the military against those responsible for the attacks. On October 6, 2001 Bush authorized the .
General , the commander of the (CENTCOM), drew up a four-phase invasion plan. In the first phase, the U.S. built up forces in the surrounding area and inserted CIA and special forces operatives who linked up with the , an Afghan resistance group opposed to the Taliban. The second phase consisted of a major air campaign against Taliban and al-Qaeda targets, while the third phase involved the defeat of the remaining Taliban and al-Qaeda forces. The fourth and final phase consisted of the stabilization of Afghanistan, which Franks projected would take three to five years. The war in Afghanistan began on October 7 with several air and missile strikes. On October 19, the Northern Alliance began its offensive, and the capital of was captured on November 13. was inaugurated as the new president of Afghanistan. However, the senior leadership of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, including bin Laden, avoided capture. Karzai would remain in power for the duration of Bush's presidency, but his effective control was limited to the area around Kabul, as various warlords took control of much of the rest of the country. While the Karzai's government struggled to control the countryside, the Taliban regrouped in neighboring . As Bush left office, he considered sending additional troops to bolster Afghanistan against the Taliban, but decided to leave the issue for the next administration.
Guantanamo Bay and enemy combatants
During and after the invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. captured numerous members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Rather than bringing the prisoners before domestic or international courts, Bush decided to set up a new system of to try the prisoners. In order to avoid the restrictions of the United States Constitution, Bush held the prisoners in the ; because the camp is on territory that the U.S. technically leases from , individuals within the camp are not accorded the same constitutional protections that they would have on U.S. territory. Bush also decided that these "" were not entitled to all of the protections of the as they were not affiliated with states. While the administration established the camp at Guantanamo, it also authorized the creation of secret in various countries. In hopes of obtaining information from the prisoners, Bush allowed the use of "" such as . The , a U.S. prison in Iraq, elicited widespread outrage after photos of prisoner abuse were made public. In 2005, Congress passed the , which purported to ban , but in his Bush asserted that his executive power gave him the authority to waive the restrictions put in place by the bill.Bush's policies suffered a major rebuke from the Supreme Court in the 2006 case of , in which the court rejected Bush's use of military commissions without congressional approval and held that all detainees were protected by the Geneva Conventions. Following the ruling, Congress passed the , which effectively overturned Hamdan. The Supreme Court overturned a portion of that act in the 2008 case of , but the Guantanamo detention camp remained open at the end of Bush's presidency.
Prelude to the war
Further information: and
Excerpt from Donald Rumsfeld memo dated November 27, 2001
During the , the United States had launched the against after the latter invaded . Though the U.S. defeated Iraq and threw it out of Kuwait, it left 's administration in place, partly to serve as a counterweight to . After the war, the , consisting of many individuals such as Wolfowitz and Cheney who would serve in both Bush administrations, advocated for the overthrow of Hussein. In the days following the 9/11 attacks, hawks in the Bush administration such as Paul Wolfowitz argued for military action against , but the issue was set aside in favor of planning the invasion of Afghanistan. Under the Clinton administration, the United States had adopted a policy of regime change against 's Iraqi government, and some within the administration believed that it shared some responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. The administration also thought that Iraq possessed (WMD) that could potentially threaten the U.S. and U.S. allies, possibly by providing those weapons to terrorists. Many in the administration also hoped that the fall of Iraq would help spread democracy in the Middle East, deter the recruitment of terrorists, and increase the security of By the end of 2001, while the war in Afghanistan was ongoing, the administration began drawing up military plans for an invasion of Iraq.
In his 2002 State of the Union Address, Bush identified Iraq, , and as the "" due to their (WMD) programs and . Throughout 2002, administration officials developed the , which called for and unilateral war when justified by national security interests. Beginning in September 2002, the Bush administration mounted a campaign designed to win popular and congressional support for the war. Most congressional Republicans supported fell in line behind Bush, while leading Democrats like urged Bush to seek international support before going to war. In October 2002, Congress approved the , authorizing the use of force against Iraq. While congressional Republicans almost unanimously supported the measure, congressional Democrats were split in roughly equal numbers between support and opposition to the resolution. Bowing to domestic and foreign pressure, Bush sought to win the approval of the before launching an attack on Iraq. Led by Powell, the administration won the November 2002 passage of , which called on Iraq to dismantle its WMD program.
In December 2002, Iraq issued a report stating that it did not have a WMD program, but the U.S. rejected the report as false. After a team led by , as well as another team led by , failed to find evidence of an Iraqi WMD program, Bush's proposed regime change in Iraq faced mounting international opposition. Germany, China, France, and Russia all expressed skepticism about the need for regime change, and the latter three countries each possessed on the . At the behest of British Prime Minister , who supported Bush but hoped for more international cooperation, Bush dispatched Powell to the U.N. to make the case to the Security Council that Iraq maintained an active WMD program. Though Powell's presentation preceded a shift in U.S. public opinion towards support of the war, it failed to convince the French, Russians, or Germans. Contrary to the findings of Blix and ElBaradei, Bush asserted in a March 17 public address that there was "no doubt" that the Iraqi regime possessed weapons of mass destruction. Two days later, Bush authorized Operation , and the began on March 20, 2003.
Invasion of Iraq
Allied forces, led by General Franks, launched a on March 20, 2003, in what the American media called "." With 145,000 soldiers, the ground force quickly overcome most Iraqi resistance, and thousands of Iraqi soldiers deserted. On April 7, the U.S. the Iraqi capital of . However, Hussein escaped and went into hiding. While the U.S. and its allies had quickly achieved military success, the invasion was , and UN Secretary General argued that the invasion was a and the .
On May 1, 2003, Bush delivered the "," in which Bush declared the end of "major combat operations" in Iraq. Despite the or an , Bush declared that the toppling of Hussein "removed an ally of al-Qaeda" and ended the threat that Iraq would supply weapons of mass destruction a terrorist organization. Believing that only a minimal residual American force would be required after the success of the invasion, Bush and Franks planned for a drawdown to 30,000 U.S. troops in Iraq by August 2003. But after the fall of Baghdad, Iraqis began looting their own capital, presenting one of the first of many challenges the U.S. would face in keeping the peace in Iraq.
Bush appointed to lead the (CPA), which was charged with overseeing the transition to self-government in Iraq. In his first major order, Bremer announced a policy of , which denied government and military jobs to members of Hussein's . This policy angered many of Iraq's , many of whom had joined the Ba'ath Party merely as a career move. Bremer's disbanded the Iraqi military and police services, leaving over 600,000 Iraqi soldiers and government employees without jobs. Bremer also insisted that the CPA remain in control of Iraq until the country held elections, reversing Garner's plan to set up a transition government made up of Iraqis. These decisions contributed to the beginning of the opposed to the continuing U.S. presence. Fearing the further deterioration of Iraq's security situation, General ordered the end of the planned drawdown of soldiers, leaving over 130,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. The U.S. captured Hussein in December 2003, but the occupation force continued to suffer casualties. Between the start of the invasion and the end of 2003, 580 U.S. soldiers died, with two thirds of those casualties occurring after Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech.
Further information: and
After 2003, more and more Iraqis began to see the U.S. as an occupying force. The fierce fighting of the alienated many in Iraq, while cleric encouraged many Muslims to oppose the CPA. Sunni and Shia insurgents engaged in a campaign of against the United States, blunting the technological and organizational advantages of the U.S. military. While fighting in Iraq continued, domestic opposition to the war also strengthened, and many anti-war activists held . In increasingly greater numbers, congressional Democrats such as began attacking the war as well. Bremer left Iraq in June 2004, transferring power to the , which was led by . In January 2005, the Iraqi people representatives for the , and the Shia formed a governing coalition led by . In October 2005, the Iraqis that created a decentralized governmental structure dividing Iraq into communities of Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, and . After , Jafari was succeeded as prime minister by another Shia, . The elections failed to quell the insurgency, and hundreds of U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq died during 2005 and 2006. between Sunnis and Shias also intensified following the . In a December 2006 report, the bipartisan described the situation in Iraq as "grave and deteriorating," and the report called for the U.S. to gradually withdraw soldiers from Iraq.
As the violence mounted in 2006, Rumsfeld and military leaders such as Abizaid and , the commander of the , called for a drawdown of forces in Iraq, but many within in the administration argued that the U.S. should maintain its troop levels. Still intent on implementing a democratic Iraq, the Bush administration rejected a drawdown and began planning for a change in strategy and leadership following the 2006 elections. After the elections, Bush replaced Rumsfeld with Gates, while replaced Casey and replaced Abizaid.Bush and his National Security Council formed a plan to "double down" in Iraq, increasing the number of U.S. soldiers in hopes of establishing a stable democracy. After Maliki publicly announced his support for an increase of U.S. soldiers, Bush announced in January 2007 that the U.S. would send an additional 20,000 soldiers to Iraq as part of a "" of forces. Though McCain and a few other hawks supported Bush's new strategy, many other members of Congress from both parties expressed doubt or outright opposition to it.
In April 2007, Congress, now controlled by Democrats, passed a bill that called for a total withdrawal of all U.S. troops by April 2008, but Bush vetoed the bill. Without the votes to override the veto, Congress passed a bill that continued to fund the war but also included the , which increased the federal . U.S. and Iraqi casualties continuously declined after May 2007, and Bush declared that the surge had been a success in September 2007. He subsequently ordered a drawdown of troops, and the number of U.S. soldiers in Iraq declined from 168,000 in September 2007 to 145,000 when Bush left office. The decline in casualties following the surge coincided with several other favorable trends, including the and Muqtada al-Sadr's decision to order his followers to cooperate with the Iraqi government. In 2008, at the insistence of Maliki, Bush signed the , which promised complete withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of 2011.
See also:President and Vice President discuss the Israeli–Palestinian issue in the Oval Office with: United Nations Secretary General , Secretary of State , Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig-Moeller, Russian Foreign Minister , European Union Commissioner for External Relations and High Representative .
The , ongoing since the middle of the 20th century, continued under Bush. After President Clinton's had ended without an agreement, the had begun in September 2000. While previous administrations had tried to act as a neutral authority between the Israelis and Palestinians, the Bush administration placed the blame for the violence on the Palestinians, angering states such as . However, Bush's support for a helped smooth over a potential diplomatic split with the Saudis. In hopes of establishing peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, the Bush administration proposed the , but his plan was not implemented and tensions were heightened following the victory of in the .
Free trade agreements
Believing that protectionism hampered economic growth, Bush concluded free trade agreements with numerous countries. When Bush took office, the United States had free trade agreements with just three countries: Israel, Canada, and Mexico. In 2003, Bush signed the , the , and he concluded the and the the following year. He also concluded the , the , the , and the . Additionally, Bush reached free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, but agreements with these countries were not ratified until 2011.
Bush emphasized creating a personal relationship with President in order to ensure harmonious relations between the U.S. and Russia. After meeting with Putin in June 2001, both presidents expressed optimism regarding cooperation between the two former rivals. After the 9/11 attacks, Putin allowed the U.S. to use Russian airspace, and Putin encouraged states to grant basing rights to the U.S. In May 2002, the U.S. and Russia signed the , which sought to dramatically reduce the nuclear stockpiles of both countries.
In his 2002 State of the Union Address, Bush grouped Iran with Iraq and North Korea as a member of the "Axis of Evil", accusing Iran of aiding terrorist organizations. In 2006, Iran re-opened three of its nuclear facilities, potentially allowing it to begin the process of building a nuclear bomb. After the resumption of the Iranian nuclear program, many within the U.S. military and foreign policy community speculated that Bush might attempt to impose regime change on Iran. In December 2006, the unanimously passed , which imposed sanctions on Iran in order to curb its nuclear program.
had for several years prior to the Bush administration, and the Clinton administration had sought to trade economic assistance for an end to the North Korean WMD program. Though Secretary of State Powell urged the continuation of the rapprochement, other administration officials, including Vice President Cheney, were more skeptical of the good faith of the North Koreans. Bush instead sought to isolate North Korea in the hope that the regime would eventually collapse.
on July 5, 2006, leading to . The country said on October 3, "The U.S. extreme threat of a and and pressure compel the to conduct a ", which the Bush administration denied and denounced. Days later, North Korea followed through on its promise to . On October 14, the Security Council unanimously passed , sanctioning North Korea for the test. In the waning days of his presidency, Bush attempted to re-open negotiations with North Korea, but North Korea continued to develop its nuclear programs.
Shortly after taking office, Bush pledged 0 million to . Finding this effort insufficient, Bush assembled a team of experts to find the best way for the U.S. reduce the worldwide damage caused by the epidemic. The experts, led by , recommended that the U.S. focus on providing antiretroviral drugs to developing nations in Africa and the Caribbean. In his State of the Union message in January 2003, President Bush outlined a five-year strategy for global emergency relief, the . With the approval of Congress, Bush committed billion to this effort, which represented a huge increase compared to funding under previous administrations. Near the end of his presidency, Bush signed a re-authorization of the program that doubled its funding. By 2012, the PEPFAR program provided antiretroviral drugs for over 4.5 million people.
Main article:Countries visited by President George W. Bush, 2001-2009:
7 or more visits
Bush made 48 international trips to 72 different countries (in addition to visiting the ) during his presidency.
He visited six : , , , , , and . On one of his two trips to , he visited three of the poorest countries in the world: , , and . He was the first sitting president to visit: , , Benin, , , , , , , , , and the . Bush also made a secret trip to Iraq on 2003 to dine with the troops. His father had made a similar visit to the U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia in 1990. On November 15–20, 2006, Bush made the third round the world presidential flight (after and ).
The number of visits per country where he travelled are:
- One visit to Albania, , , Bahrain, Benin, , , , , , , Estonia, Georgia, , , , , , , Liberia, Lithuania, Mongolia, , , , , , , Qatar, Rwanda, , Slovakia, , , Sweden, , , , , United Arab Emirates, , , and the West Bank
- Two visits to , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and
- Three visits to , , and
- Four visits to , , , , and
- Five visits to , the , and
- Six visits to and
- Seven visits to
CIA leak scandal
In July 2005, Bush and Vice President 's chief political advisors, and respectively, came under fire for revealing the identity of covert (CIA) to reporters in the . Libby resigned on October 28, hours after his by a on multiple counts of , false statements, and in this case. In March 2007, Libby was convicted on four counts, and Cheney pressed Bush to pardon Libby. Rather than pardoning Libby or allowing him to go to jail, Bush commuted Libby's sentence, creating a split with Cheney, who accused Bush of leaving "a soldier on the battlefield."
Dismissal of United States attorneys
Main article:President Bush announcing his nomination of Alberto Gonzales as the next U.S. Attorney General, November 10, 2004
In December 2006, Bush dismissed eight . Though these attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president, the large-scale mid-term dismissal was without precedent, and Bush faced accusations that he had dismissed the attorneys for purely political reasons. During the 2006 elections, several Republican officials complained that the U.S. attorneys had not sufficiently investigated . With the encouragement of Harriet Miers and Karl Rove, Attorney General Gonzales dismissed eight U.S. attorneys who were considered insufficiently supportive of the administration's policies. Though Gonzales argued that the attorneys had been fired for performance reasons, publicly released documents showed that the attorneys were dismissed for political reasons. After Gonzales testified before the Senate in April 2007, several Senators from both parties asked Gonzales to resign. As a result of the dismissals and the subsequent congressional investigations, Rove and Gonzales both resigned. A 2008 report found from the Justice Department inspector general found that the dismissals had been politically motivated, but a special counsel found that no crimes had been committed and no one was ever prosecuted in connection to the dismissals.
unsure/ Bush public opinion polling from February 2001 to January 2009.
Bush's ran the gamut from high to all-time record low. Bush began his presidency with ratings near fifty percent. In the time of national crisis following the , polls showed approval ratings of greater than 85%, peaking in one October 2001 poll at 92%, and a steady 80–90% approval for about four months after the attacks. Afterward, his ratings steadily declined as the economy suffered and the initiated by his administration continued. By early 2006, his average rating was averaging below 40%, and in July 2008, a poll indicated a near all-time low of 22%. Upon leaving office the final poll recorded his approval rating as 19%, a record low for any U.S. President.
Elections during the Bush presidency
2002 mid-term elections
In the 2002 mid-term elections, Bush became the first president since the 1930s to see his own party pick up seats in both houses of Congress. Republicans picked up two seats in the , allowing them to re-take control of the chamber.Bush delivered speeches in several venues in support of his party, campaigning on his desire to remove the administration of Saddam Hussein. Bush saw the election results as a vindication of his domestic and foreign policies.
Bush and his campaign team seized on the idea of Bush as a "strong wartime leader," though this was undermined by the increasingly-unpopular Iraq War. His conservative policies on tax cuts and several other issues appealed to many on the right, but Bush could also lay claim to some centrist achievements, including No Child Left Behind, Sarbanes-Oxley, and Medicare Part D. Fearing that he might hurt Bush's re-election chances, Cheney offered to step down from the ticket, but Bush refused this offer, and the two were re-nominated without opposition at the . On the advice of pollster , who perceived a steady decline in the number of , the 2004 Bush campaign emphasized turning out conservative voters rather than the persuasion of moderates.In the 2004 election, Bush won 286 of the 538 electoral votes. States won by Bush are in red.
In the , Senator of Massachusetts defeated several other candidates, effectively clinching the nomination on March 2. A veteran, Kerry had voted to authorize the Iraq War but had come to oppose it. The Bush campaign sought to define Kerry as a "flip-flopper" due to his vote on a bill funding the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Kerry sought to convince Republican Senator John McCain to become , but chose Senator of North Carolina for the position after McCain rejected the offer. The election saw a major jump in turnout; while 105 million people had voted in 2000, 123 million people voted in 2004. Bush won 50.7% percent of the popular vote, making him the first individual to win a majority of the popular vote since , while Kerry took 48.3% of the popular vote. Bush won 286 electoral votes, winning Iowa, New Mexico, and every state he won in 2000 except for New Hampshire.
2006 mid-term elections
Damaged by the unpopularity of the Iraq War and President Bush, the Republicans lost control of both houses of Congress in the 2006 elections. Republicans were also damaged by various scandals, including the and the . The elections confirmed Bush's declining popularity, as many of the candidates he had personally campaigned for were defeated. After the elections, Bush announced the resignation of Rumsfeld, and promised to work with the new Democratic majority.
2008 election and transition
Under the terms of the , Bush was ineligible to seek a third term in 2008. Senator John McCain won the , while Democratic Senator of Illinois defeated to win the Democratic presidential nomination. McCain sought to distance himself from the unpopular policies of Bush, and Bush appeared only by satellite at the , making him the first sitting president since to not appear at his own party's convention. Though McCain briefly took the lead in polls of the race taken after the convention, Obama quickly re-took the lead, and he retained for the remainder of the campaign. Obama won 365 electoral votes and 52.9% of the popular vote. The election gave Democrats unified control of the legislative and executive branches for the first time since the . After the election, Bush congratulated Obama and invited him to the White House. With the help of the Bush administration, the was widely regarded as successful, particularly for a transition between presidents of different parties. During his on January 20, 2009, Obama thanked Bush for his service as president and his support of Obama's transition.
Evaluation and legacy
Polls of historians and political scientists taken after 2009 have generally Bush as a below-average president at best and absolutely awful at worst. Historians have also concluded that he is one of the worst presidents to serve more than one term in office. A 2009 survey of historians Bush in 36th place among the 42 former presidents. A 2017 poll of historians ranked Bush as the 33rd greatest president. A 2018 poll of the 's Presidents and Executive Politics section ranked Bush as the 30th greatest president.
In summing up evaluations of Bush's presidency, Gary L. Gregg II writes:
The Bush presidency transformed American politics, its economy, and its place in the world, but not in ways that could have been predicted when the governor of Texas declared his candidacy for America's highest office. As President, Bush became a lightning rod for controversy. His controversial election and policies, especially the war in Iraq, deeply divided the American people. Arguably his greatest moment as President was his initial, heartfelt response to the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks. Soon, however, his administration was overshadowed by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. President Bush's place in U.S. history will be debated and reconsidered for many years to come.
- Mann, pp. 31-37
- ^ Mann, pp. 35-42
- Smith, pp. 152-156
- Smith, pp. 134-135
- Smith, pp. 389-390
- Smith, pp. 610-611
- Smith, pp. 419-420
- Smith, pp. 491-492
- Smith, pp. 572-575
- Mann, pp. 53-54, 76-77
- Smith, pp. 129-134
- ^ Herring, pp. 938–939
- Smith, pp. 382-383
- Smith, pp. 417-418
- Smith, pp. 515-517
- Herring, p. 959
- Smith, pp. 427-428, 445-452
- All figures, except for debt percentage, are presented in billions of dollars. GDP is calculated for the calendar year. The income, outlay, deficit, and debt figures are calculated for the , which ends on September 30. For example, fiscal year 2017 ended on September 30, 2017.
- Represents the national debt held by the public as a percentage of GDP
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- Republican seats at the start of each session of Congress. Independents caucusing with the Democratic Party (, , and ) are counted as Democrats for the purposes of this table. Throughout Bush's presidency, there were a total of 100 Senate seats in 435 House seats, so a Republican majority in the Senate required 50 seats (since Republican Vice President could provide the ), and a Republican majority in the House required 218 seats (assuming no vacancies).
- In June 2001, left the Republican Party and began caucusing with the Democrats, giving the Democrats a majority. Democrats also briefly had the majority in January 2001, before the swearing in of Vice President Cheney.
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Reflections on the Bush presidency
- Barnes, Fred. Rebel-in-Chief: How George W. Bush Is Redefining the Conservative Movement and Transforming America (2006)
- Bartlett, Bruce. Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (2006)
- Cheney, Dick. In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir (2011)
- Draper, Robert. Inside the Bush White House: The Presidency of George W. Bush (2007)
- Ferguson, Michaele L. and Lori Jo Marso. W Stands for Women: How the George W. Bush Presidency Shaped a New Politics of Gender (2007)
- Gerson, Michael J. Heroic Conservatism: Why Republicans Need to Embrace America's Ideals (And Why They Deserve to Fail If They Don't) (2007),
- Greenspan, Alan. The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World (2007)
- Hayes, Stephen F. Cheney: The Untold Story of America's Most Powerful and Controversial Vice President (2007),
- Hughes, Karen. George W. Bush: Portrait of a Leader (2005)
- Mabry, Marcus. Twice as Good: Condoleezza Rice and Her Path to Power (2007)
- Moore, James. and Wayne Slater. Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential (2003)
- Rice, Condoleezza. No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington (2011)
- Rumsfeld, Donald. Known and Unknown: A Memoir (2011)
- Suskind, Ron. The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O'Neill (2004),
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- Bush, George W. George W. Bush on God and Country: The President Speaks Out About Faith, Principle, and Patriotism (2004)
- Bush, George W. (2010)