Thứ Hai, 12 tháng 11, 2012

TỔNG THỐNG THỨ 43: GEORGE WALKER BUSH

Tổng thống thứ 43 của Hoa Kỳ
Nhiệm kỳ 20 tháng 1 năm 2001 – 
Tiền nhiệm Bill Clinton
Kế nhiệm Barack Obama
Đảng Cộng hòa
Sinh 6 tháng 7, 1946 (66 tuổi)
Chữ ký
Phu nhân Laura Welch Bush


George Walker Bush (sinh 6 tháng 7 năm 1946) là chính khách và tổng thống thứ 43 của Hoa Kỳ. Ông thuộc Đảng Cộng hoà và là thành viên của một gia đình danh giá và quyền thế nhất nước Mỹ, Gia tộc Bush. Những chính khách của gia đình này gồm có: ông nội của ông (cố Thượng nghị sĩ Prescott Bush), cha của ông (cựu tổng thống George H. W. Bush), và em của ông (Jeb Bush, cựu thống đốc tiểu bang Florida).


Trước khi bước vào chính trường rồi đắc cử tổng thống, Bush là một doanh nhân, hoạt động trong lãnh vực dầu mỏ và bóng chày chuyên nghiệp.

Sau đó, George W. Bush đắc cử thống đốc thứ 46 của tiểu bang Texas vào năm 1994. Vào năm 2000 Bush được đảng Cộng hoà chọn làm ứng cử viên tổng thống và đã trở thành ông chủ Nhà Trắng sau khi đánh bại ứng cử viên Al Gore của đảng Dân chủ trong một cuộc bầu phiếu sít sao và đầy tranh cãi. Năm 2004, Bush tái đắc cử nhiệm kỳ thứ hai sau khi thắng Thượng nghị sĩ John Kerry của tiểu bang Massachusetts.

Xuất thân
George W. Bush và bố mẹ, năm 1947.


George W. Bush là con trai của tổng thống Hoa Kỳ thứ 41 George H. W. BushBarbara Bush, sinh tại New Haven, Connecticut, nhưng lớn lên ở miền Nam tạiMidlandHouston, Texas với các em là Jeb, Neil, Marvin và Dorothy. (Một người em gái, Robin, chết vì bệnh ung thư máu vào năm 1953, lúc ba tuổi.) Cả gia đình thường đến nghỉ hè và nghỉ lễ tại gia trang Bush ở Maine.

Tiếp bước cha, Bush theo học tại trường đại học Phillips (19611964), rồi đến Đại học Yale (19641968). Ông không phải là một sinh viên chăm chỉ và thành tích học tập của ông không được xem là xuất sắc. Bush thường nói đùa rằng người ta biết đến ông không phải do điểm số ở trường nhưng do cuộc đời hoạt động của ông. Ông nhận bằng Cử nhân Lịch Sử năm 1968.

Sau khi tốt nghiệp đại học, Bush gia nhập một đơn vị không quân thuộc Lực lượng Vệ binh Quốc gia tại Texas vào ngày 27 tháng 5 năm 1968 và tình nguyện phục vụ cho đến ngày 26 tháng 5 năm 1974, tức là trong suốt thời gian Hoa Kỳ tham chiến tại Việt Nam. Bush là phi công máy bay F-102 cho đến năm 1972.

Năm 1973, ông được phép rời quân ngũ (6 tháng trước hạn) và theo học tại Trường đại học Kinh doanh thuộc Đại học Harvard. Ông chính thức được giải ngũ ngày1 tháng 10 năm 1973 và nhận bằng MBA (MASTER of Business and Administration: Cao học quản trị và kinh doanh) năm 1975.
Trung úy Bush trong Lực lượng Vệ binh Quốc gia

Bush miêu tả cuộc sống của ông trước tuổi 40 là thời kỳ "tuổi thanh niên thiếu chính chắn trong vấn đề trách nhiệm", đồng thời thú nhận rằng ông dùng rượu khá thường xuyên. Ông thuật lại việc ông quyết định bỏ rượu là khi vừa thức giấc, đang váng vất với dư âm của tiệc mừng sinh nhật 40 tuổi, "tôi bỏ rượu năm 1986, từ đó tôi không uống một giọt nào". Bush cho rằng một trong những yếu tố giúp ông thay đổi cuộc đời là lần gặp gỡ với Mục sư Billy Graham vào năm 1985.

Năm 1977, George Bush kết hôn với Laura Welch. Họ có hai con gái sinh đôi, Barbara và Jenna Bush, sinh năm 1981. Năm 1986, ở tuổi 40, ông rời bỏ giáo hội Episcopal để gia nhập Giáo hội Giám lý Hiệp nhất mà vợ ông là một thành viên.

George Bush cao 5 feet, 10 1/2 inch (180 cm).

Sau thất bại khi ra tranh cử, tại Texas, chức vụ Dân biểu Liên bang trong Quốc hội năm 1978, Bush kinh doanh dầu mỏ và thành lập công ty Arbusto Energy năm1979. Năm 1984, ông bán Arbusto cho Spectrum 7 và được mời làm CEO cho Spectrum 7. Khi Spectrum 7 sáp nhập với Harken Energy năm 1986, Bush trở thành một trong những giám đốc của tập đoàn này.

George Bush nhận nhiệm vụ "Ông Bầu" cho đội bóng chày Texas Rangers trong 5 năm, thời gian mà tên tuổi ông được biết đến với nhiều thiện cảm khắp tiểu bang Texas.

Năm 1994, vào dịp nghỉ phép, Bush ra tranh cử thống đốc tiểu bang Texas và đánh bại thống đốc đương nhiệm Ann Richards, thuộc đảng Dân chủ. Ông tái đắc cử vào năm 1998.
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George W. Bush.[1]

Lần hội kiến với Mục sư Billy Graham năm 1985 dẫn Bush đến trải nghiệm mới trong đức tin Cơ Đốc; ông quyết tâm bỏ rượu, và bước vào ngả rẽ quyết định cho cuộc đời và sự nghiệp của mình. Từ đó, Bush tách khỏi Anh giáo (Episcopalian) để gia nhập Giáo hội Giám Lý Hiệp Nhất mà vợ ông là một thành viên.

Thỉnh thoảng Bush dự lễ tại Nhà thờ St. John thuộc Giáo hội Episcopal chỉ vì lý do thuận tiện: Giáo đường này tọa lạc đối diện Tòa Bạch Ốc, cạnh Công trường Lafayette. Kể từ thời James Madison, tất cả Tổng thống đều dự thánh lễ ở đây.

Ngày 13 tháng 12 năm 1999, trong một buổi tranh luận trên truyền hình dành cho các ứng cử viên Đảng Cộng hoà trong cuộc chạy đua vào Toà Bạch Ốc, khi được hỏi: “Chính trị gia nào hoặc nhà tư tưởng nào ông cảm thấy đồng cảm nhất, tại sao ?” Không giống những ứng cử viên khác, nêu tên các vị tổng thống và các nhân vật trong chính giới, Bush trả lời “Chúa Cơ Đốc, bởi vì Ngài đã thay đổi con người tôi.” Câu trả lời của ông đã khiến những người tân bảo thủ như Alan Keyes và Bill Kristoll chỉ trích.

Trong cả hai nhiệm kỳ tổng thống, Bush đã tổ chức những buổi lễ tôn giáo không theo truyền thống Cơ Đốc như Lễ Ramadan của Hồi giáo.

Sự quan tâm của Bush đối với các giá trị tôn giáo được cho là hữu ích cho ông trong các cuộc bầu cử. Có đến 56% những người “dự thánh lễ nhà thờ mỗi tuần” bầu phiếu cho Bush trong cuộc tuyển cử năm 2000, đến năm 2004 tỷ lệ này lên đến 63%.
Tranh cử Tổng thống
George và Laura Bush cùng hai cô con gái Jenna và Barbara, năm 1990.

[2]George W. Bush miêu tả mình là một người "bảo thủ nhân ái" khi tiến hành chiến dịch vận động tranh cử tổng thống năm 2000. Sau khi giành được sự đề cử của đảng Cộng hoà, Bush phải đối đầu với Phó tổng thống Al Gore, người được đảng Dân chủ chọn làm ứng cử viên cho cuộc chạy đua vào Toà Bạch Ốc. Bush giành được 271 phiếu của cử tri đoàn, trong khi Gore có 266 phiếu. Bush được chọn bởi 47,9% của tổng số cử tri, còn số người bầu cho Gore cao hơn chút ít (48,4%), nhưng không ai giành được đa số của 105 triệu phíếu bầu.

Đó là lần đầu tiên, kể từ sau năm 1888, một người thắng cử khi nhận được ít phiếu phổ thông hơn người thất cử. Đó cũng là lần đầu tiên, kể từ sau năm 1876, người thắng cuộc bởi phiếu bầu của cử tri đoàn phải trải qua một cuộc tranh tụng gay gắt trước khi được công nhận thắng cử bởi phán quyết của Tối cao Pháp viện.

Tuy nhiên, bốn năm sau, George W. Bush đắc cử nhiệm kỳ thứ hai với 286 số phiếu cử tri đoàn và ông cũng nhận được 3,5 triệu phiếu phổ thông nhiều hơn đối thủ, thượng nghị sĩ John Kerry của đảng Dân chủ.

[3]Trong lễ Nhậm Chức vào ngày 20 tháng 1 năm 2005, George W. Bush được hướng dẫn đọc lời thề bởi vị Chánh án Tối Cao Pháp Viện Hoa KỳWilliam Rehnquist. Bài diễn văn nhậm chức của ông tập trung vào chủ đề phát triển tự do và dân chủ trên khắp thế giới.
“ Quyền lợi sống còn của nước Mỹ và những xác tín sâu sắc nhất của người dân Mỹ là một. Từ những ngày lập quốc, chúng ta đã công bố rằng mọi người sống trên đất đều có quyền, nhân cách và phẩm giá không gì so sánh được, bởi vì họ mang hình ảnh của Đấng tạo dựng nên trời và đất. Trải qua nhiều thế hệ, chúng ta công bố "mệnh lệnh của quyền tự chủ", bởi vì, không ai là chủ nô, cũng không ai là kẻ tôi đòi. Phát huy những lý tưởng này là sứ mệnh của tất cả chúng ta. Chính vì sứ mệnh này mà quốc gia chúng ta đã được sản sinh. Đó là công lao vinh hiển của tiền nhân. Ngày nay, nó là một đòi hỏi thúc bách cho nền an ninh của đất nước, và cũng là lời kêu gọi dành cho thời đại chúng ta. ”
Đối ngoại và An ninh
Bush phát biểu tại Đại Hội đồng Liên Hiệp Quốc, năm 2004.

Tháng 6 năm 2001, trong chuyến viếng thăm Âu châu lần đầu tiên với tư cách Tổng thống, Bush gặp phải sự chỉ trích mạnh mẽ từ các nhà lãnh đạo Âu châu vì ông bác bỏ Nghị định thư Kyoto. Năm 1997, trong khi đại diện của Hoa kỳ và các nước khác đang đàm phán hiệp ước này, Quốc hội Hoa Kỳđã biểu quyết với số phiếu 95-0, chống lại bất kỳ hiệp ước nào chống sự hâm nóng toàn cầu mà không có điều khoản đòi hỏi những cam kết từ các nước đang phát triển. Tuy nghị định thư Kyoto đã được ký tượng trưng bởi Peter Burleigh, quyền đại sứ Hoa Kỳ tại Liên Hiệp Quốc, năm 1988, chính phủ Clinton đã không trình quốc hội phê chuẩn.

Năm 2002, Bush chống đối hiệp ước vì cho rằng nó làm hại sự tăng trưởng kinh tế tại Hoa Kỳ, ông nói: ”Theo cách nhìn của tôi, sự tăng trưởng kinh tế là giải pháp, không phải là vấn nạn (cho môi trường)”. Chính phủ cũng tranh luận về nền tảng khoa học của hiệp ước. Tháng 11 năm 2004, Nga phê chuẩn hiệp ước, đáp ứng đòi hỏi về con số tối thiểu các quốc gia phê chuẩn hiệp ước mà không cần đến sự phê chuẩn từ Hoa Kỳ.

Chính sách đối ngoại của Bush được công bố trong chiến dịch tranh cử bao gồm mối quan hệ chặt chẽ hơn với Mỹ La tinh, nhất là Mexico, giảm thiểu sự can thiệp chính trị và quân sự vào nội bộ các nước trong vùng. Sau vụ tấn công khủng bố ngày 11 tháng 9 năm 2001, chính phủ chú tâm nhiều hơn vào Trung Đông. Ngày 7 tháng 10 năm 2001, gần một tháng sau cuộc tấn công, Hoa Kỳ và các nước đồng minh bắt đầu dội bom và tấn công trên bộ vào Afghanistan nhằm lật đổ chế độ Taliban, theo cáo buộc của chính phủ Bush, là đã che chở cho Osama bin Laden. Cuộc chiến này nhận được sự ủng hộ mạnh mẽ của quốc tế, và Taliban mau chóng sụp đổ.

Dưới sự lãnh đạo của tổng thống Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, nỗ lực tái thiết đất nước với sự phối hợp của Liên hiệp quốc, có kết quả lẫn lộn. Dù Bin Laden, đến năm 2005, vẫn chưa bị bắt hoặc bị hạ sát, một cuộc bầu cử dân chủ đã được tổ chức vào ngày 9 tháng 10 năm 2004. Có một số vấn đề về ghi danh cử tri khiến 15 trong số 18 ứng cử viên tổng thống đe doạ rút lui, nhưng theo nhận xét của các quan sát viên quốc tế, cuộc bầu cử xảy ra một cách dân chủ và công bằng tại “đại đa số các phòng bầu phiếu”.
George W., Laura Bush, Condi Rice, và Tổng thống Hamid Karzai trong chuyến thămAfghanistan, 1 tháng 3, 2006.

Ngày 14 tháng 12 năm 2001, với lý do không còn thích hợp, Bush rút khỏi Hiệp ước chống hoả tiễn đạn đạo năm 1972, hiệp ước này là nền tảng duy trì tình trạng ổn định về vũ khí nguyên tử giữa Hoa Kỳ và Liên xô trong thời kỳ chiến tranh lạnh.

Từ đó, Bush tập trung xây dựng hệ thống phòng thủ hoả tiễn đạn đạo. Hệ thống này là mục tiêu của nhiều chỉ trích, chú trọng vào tính khả thi về mặt khoa học. Những cuộc thử nghiệm đưa ra một kết quả lẫn lộn, một số thành công, một số thất bại. Đề án này dự định được bắt đầu khai triển vào năm2005.

Hệ thống phòng thủ hoả tiễn đạn đạo chưa thành công hoàn toàn trong việc ngăn chặn các loại tên lửa được phóng từ tàu thuyền hoặc từ các phương tiện trên bộ và vẫn được tiếp tục thử nghiệm. Những người chỉ trích cho rằng đây là một sai lầm đắt giá, một hệ thống được xây dựng để đối đầu với một cuộc tấn công ít có khả năng xảy ra nhất với hoả tiễn đạn đạo mang đầu đạn nguyên tử.

Tổng thống Bush cũng gia tăng chi phí nghiên cứu và phát triển quân sự và hiện đại hóa hệ thống vũ khí, nhưng huỷ bỏ các chương trình như hệ thống đạn đạo tự hành Crusader. Chính phủ cũng bắt đầu chương trình nghiên cứu hoả tiễn nguyên tử xuyên (qua) công sự phòng thủ.
[sửa]Iraq

Từ năm 1998, Đạo luật giải phóng Iraq xác định chính sách của Hoa Kỳ là lật đổ Saddam Hussein. Sau cuộc tấn công 9/11, chính phủ Bush cho rằng tình thế tại Iraq đã trở nên khẩn cấp. Họ tin rằng chế độ Saddam Hussein cố tìm cách sở hữu nguyên liệu cho vũ khí nguyên tử và vi phạm lệnh cấm vận của Liên hiệp quốc vì không chịu tường trình đầy đủ về các loại nguyên liệu vũ khí hoá học và sinh học mà họ đang sở hữu, cũng như vũ khí huỷ diệt hàng loạt (WMD). Có nhiều tranh cãi giữa phe chống đối và phe ủng hộ tiến hành chiến tranh, liệu Hoa kỳ đã có chứng cớ Iraq sở hữu WMD, và chứng cớ về các mối quan hệ giữa Iraq và Al-Qaeda.

Trong chính phủ Bush, chỉ có (một mình) Ngoại trưởng Colin Powell là cho rằng "Hoa Kỳ không nên tiến hành chiến tranh mà không có sự ủng hộ của LHQ". Do đó, Hoa Kỳ đã cứu xét và thảo luận đến việc liệu có đạt được một Quyết nghị của Hội đồng Bảo an Liên Hiệp Quốc để được quyền sử dụng quân lực, nhưng cuối cùng phải từ bỏ ý định này khi gặp phải sự chống đối từ một số thành viên của Hội đồng Bảo an LHQ, cùng với lời đe doạ của Pháp sẽ dùng quyền phủ quyết. Thay vào đó, Hoa Kỳ tập hợp được một nhóm khoảng 40 quốc gia mà Bush gọi là “liên minh tình nguyện” trong đó có Anh, Tây Ban Nha, ÝBa Lan.
Tổng thống Bush trong bộ đồ bay khi đến thăm Hàng không Mẫu hạm USS Abraham Lincoln, năm 2003.

Ngày 20 tháng 3 năm 2003, Liên minh Tấn công Iraq, trưng dẫn các Quyết nghị (1441, 1205, 1137, 1134, 1115,1060, 949, 778, 715) của Hội đồng Bảo an LHQ liên quan đến Iraq, đến thái độ thiếu hợp tác của Iraq trong quá khứ và trong hiện tại để thực thi các quyết nghị này, sự từ chối hợp tác với các thanh tra LHQ của Saddam, âm mưu ám sát cựu tổng thống George Bush tại Kuwait và việc Saddam vi phạm hiệp ước ngưng bắn năm 1991. Liên minh lập luận rằng các Quyết nghị này cho họ quyền sử dụng vũ lực. Một số nhà lãnh đạo thế giới như Tổng Thư ký Liên Hiệp Quốc Kofi Annan, không đồng ý và gọi cuộc chiến này là bất hợp pháp. Mục tiêu chính lật đổ Saddam Hussein mà Hoa Kỳ đưa ra là nhằm ngăn chặn Iraq khai triển vũ khí huỷ diệt hoàng loạt.

Liên minh mau chóng đánh bại quân đội Iraq. Tuy nhiên, sau khi Tổng thống Bush tuyên bố chấm dứt các chiến dịch quân sự vào ngày 1 tháng 5 năm 2003, những cuộc nổi loạn gây ra nhiều khó khăn hơn dự tưởng vì sự sai lầm trong việc giải tán "NGAY LẬP TỨC" quân đội Iraq sau chiến thắng quân sự của Hoa Kỳ và Liên Minh, toàn thể quân nhân Iraq bỗng nhiên thất nghiệp, không có tiền nuôi gia đình, sẵn vũ khí và dễ nghe lời các giáo sĩ Hồi giáo cực đoan. Từ sự sai lầm chiến thuật đó, sự ủng hộ của công chúng Mỹ bắt đầu sút giảm trong khi các tổ chức nổi loạn vũ trang ngày càng được tổ chức nhiều hơn. Mặt khác, một cuộc điều tra tình báo tiến hành bởi một Ủy ban lưỡng đảng không tìm thấy chứng cứ Saddam Hussein tàng trữ WMD, dù bản tường trình xác định rằng chính quyền Hussein cố gắng sở hữu kỹ thuật hầu cho Iraq có thể chế tạo WMD ngay sau khi LHQ bãi bỏ lệnh cấm vận. Bản tường trình cũng không tìm thấy mối quan hệ hợp tác nào giữa Hussein và Al-Qaeda. Bush vẫn cương quyết bảo vệ quyết định của mình, cho rằng “Thế giới ngày nay trở nên an toàn hơn” (khi không còn Saddam Hussein).
[sửa]Chi tiêu Quân sự

Trong số hai ngàn bốn trăm tỷ đô la dành cho ngân sách Liên bang (Hoa Kỳ) năm 2005, khoảng 401 tỷ được chi tiêu cho quốc phòng. Đây là chi tiêu quân sự cao nhất kể từ cuối thập niên 1990, nhưng chỉ là ở mức trung bình nếu so sánh với chi tiêu quốc phòng trong thời kỳ chiến tranh lạnh.
[sửa]Đối nội
[sửa]Đề án Tổ chức Từ thiện Tôn giáo

Đầu năm 2001, Bush hợp tác với các nghị sĩ thuộc Đảng Cộng hòa tại Quốc hội thông qua các đạo luật nhằm thay đổi cách chính quyền liên bang đánh thuế, gây quỹ và điều hoà các tổ chức từ thiện và các đề án phi lợi nhuận được điều hành bởi các tổ chức tôn giáo (Faith-based Initiatives). Trước đó, các tổ chức này được phép nhận tài trợ từ liên bang, nhưng luật mới loại bỏ những điều khoản đòi hỏi họ không được nối kết hoạt động xã hội với truyền bá niềm tin tôn giáo. Một vài tổ chức như Liên hiệp Tự do Dân sự chỉ trích chương trình này, cho là chính quyền liên kết và dành đặc quyền cho tôn giáo.
Đa nguyên và Dân quyền
Tổng thống Bush đọc Thông điệp Liên bang tại Điện Capitol, năm 2005.

Bush chống lại việc thừa nhận pháp lý dành cho hôn nhân đồng tính, nhưng ủng hộ việc xác lập qui chế cho tình trạng kết hợp dân sự ("Tôi không nghĩ là chúng ta nên từ chối người dân một dự thảo pháp luật về quyền kết hợp dân sự"), ông ủng hộ Tu hính án liên bang về hôn phối, tu chính Hiến pháp Hoa Kỳ nhằm định nghĩa hôn nhân là sự kết hợp giữa một người nam và một người nữ. Bush tái khẳng định sự bất đồng của ông với quan điểm chống lại quyền kết hợp dân sự của diễn đàn đảng Cộng hoà, ông nói rằng vấn đề kết hợp dân sự (tình trạng sống chung, không phải là hôn nhân theo luật pháp, của những cặp đồng giới hay khác giới) nên thuộc vào thẩm quyền của các tiểu bang. Bush cũng lặp lại sự ủng hộ của mình cho việc tu chính hiến pháp trong bài diễn văn liên bang vào ngày 2 tháng 2 năm 2005. Tuy Bush chống đối hôn nhân đồng tính, ông là tổng thống đầu tiên thuộc đảng Cộng hoà bổ nhiệm các viên chức chính phủ là những người đồng tính công khai, trong đó có Michael Guest, đại sứ Hoa Kỳ tại Romania, và năm người khác.

Dù nhiều người cho là Bush chống đối luật affirmative action (dành những ưu đãi trong giáo dục và việc làm cho người thuộc các chủng tộc thiểu số), Bush tỏ ra trân trọng phán quyết của Tối cao Pháp viện nhằm bảo vệ tình trạng đa chủng tộc trong qui chế tuyển sinh vào các trường đại học. Colin Powell là người Mỹ gốc Phi đầu tiên được bổ nhiệm vào chức vụ Ngoại trưởng trong nhiệm kỳ đầu của Bush, người kế nhiệm Powell vào năm 2005 làCondoleezza Rice, phụ nữ Mỹ gốc Phi đầu tiên đảm nhận nhiệm vụ này.
[sửa]Kinh tế

Trong nhiệm kỳ đầu, Bush tìm kiếm sự phê chuẩn của quốc hội cho ba lần cắt giảm thuế của ông, gồm thuế lợi tức cho các cặp đã kết hôn, thuế thổ cư và mức thuế biên tế, dẫn đến sự giảm sút đáng kể trong số thu ngân sách, tính theo tỷ lệ với GDP, đến mức thấp nhất kể từ năm 1959.

Với chính sách giảm thuế cùng lúc với gia tăng chi tiêu, chỉ trong một nhiệm kỳ chính phủ Bush biến ngân sách từ tình trạng thặng dư thành thâm thủng. Ngân sách với mức thặng dư 230 tỷ đô la khi Clinton rời Toà Bạch Ốc đã trở thành thâm thủng 374 tỷ năm 2003 và 413 tỷ vào năm 2004, dù vẫn thấp hơn mức thâm thủng trong thập niên 1980 của chính phủ Ronald Reagan.

Tuy nhiên, theo ước tính của Baseline Budget Projections, tháng 1 năm 2005, mức thâm thủng trong nhiệm kỳ đầu của Bush sẽ giảm dần trong nhiệm kỳ thứ hai, còn 368 tỷ vào năm 2005, 261 tỷ năm 2007, 207 tỷ năm 2009 và sẽ thặng dư đôi chút vào năm 2012.

Tuyển dụng lao động trong khu vực tư, theo Văn phòng Thống kê Lao động, giảm sút đáng kể trong thời kỳ này. Dù vậy, chỉ số thất nghiệp bắt đầu hạ giảm từ năm 2003, đến năm 2005 chỉ còn dưới 5%. Trong năm 2005 có thêm hơn 1 triệu việc làm và tình trạng này còn kéo dài trong 25 tháng liên tiếp.
[sửa]Môi trường

Bush thường bị chỉ trích bởi những người chủ trương bảo vệ môi trường. Họ cáo buộc chính sách của ông phục vụ các nhu cầu kỹ nghệ và làm suy yếu các biện pháp bảo vệ môi trường. Ông đã ký ban hành đạo luật di sản Ngũ Đại Hồ năm 2002, cho phép chính phủ liên bang thu dọn chất ô nhiễm và lắng cặn trong ngũ đại hồ. Bush vận động cho việc khai thác trữ lượng dầu mỏ tại Khu bảo tồn Đời sống Hoang dã quốc gia Bắc cực mà theo nhiều người là khu hoang dã còn sót lại tại Hoa Kỳ. Bush chống đối Nghị định thư Kyoto vì cho rằng hiệp ước này làm hại nền kinh tế Hoa Kỳ, nhưng theo nhận xét của các nhóm môi trường, các viên chức chính phủ, cùng với Bush và Cheney, có quan hệ với ngành kỹ nghệ năng lượng, xe hơi và những nhóm chống việc bảo vệ môi trường khác. Dù vậy, Bush tuyên bố rằng lý do khiến ông từ chối ủng hộ Nghị định thư Kyoto là vì những qui định nghiêm nhặt của nó áp đặt lên Hoa Kỳ trong khi tỏ ra dễ dãi với các quốc gia đang phát triển, đặc biệt là Trung QuốcẤn Độ. “Quốc gia có nhiều khí thải tạo hiệu ứng nhà kính thứ nhì thế giới là Trung hoa. Thế nhưng, Trung hoa hoàn toàn được miễn trừ khỏi những yêu cầu của nghị định thư Kyoto”. Ông cũng tỏ ra nghi ngờ về những luận cứ khoa học về hiện tượng ấm nóng toàn cầu, nhấn mạnh rằng cần có thêm nghiên cứu để xác định tính chính xác của các luận cứ này.
Di trú

Bush đề xuất dự luật di trú, cho phép kéo dài visa cho người đến Hoa Kỳ làm việc, đến sáu năm, nhưng không được quyền cư trú hay quyền công dân.
Bổ nhiệm
Nội các

Bush bổ nhiệm vào nội các số người thuộc các chủng tộc thiểu số lớn nhất từ trước đến nay, lần đầu tiên có một bộ trưởng là một phụ nữ gốc Á (Chao). Đây là một nội các nổi bật với hai đặc điểm: nhiều chủng tộc nhất và, theo sách kỷ lục Guiness, giàu có nhất.

Trong nội các này, có mặt một viên chức không thuộc Đảng Cộng hoà, Norman Mineta, bộ trưởng Giao thông, là bộ trưởng gốc Á đầu tiên và là đảng viên Dân chủ, đã phục vụ trong nội các Clinton với chức danh bộ trưởng thương mại.

Nội các này cũng có những nhân vật tiếng tăm, từng phục vụ trong các chính phủ trước như Colin Powell, Cố vấn An ninh Quốc gia cho Ronald Reagan và là Chủ tịch Liên quân dưới thời George H. W. Bush và Clinton, Bộ trưởng Quốc phòng Donald Rumsfeld, phục vụ trong chính phủ Gerald Ford cũng với chức vụ bộ trưởng quốc phòng. Cũng vậy, Phó Tổng thống Richard Cheney từng là bộ trưởng quốc phòng dưới thời George H. W. Bush.
[sửa]Các Cố vấn và các Chức vụ khác

Giám đốc Tình báo Quốc gia – John Negroponte (2005).

Giám đốc CIAGeorge Tenet (2001-2004), John E. McLaughlin (Quyền Giám đốc, 2004), Porter J. Goss (2004 - ).

Giám đốc FBI – Robert Mueller.


Đại sứ Hoa Kỳ tại Liên Hiệp Quốc – John Negroponte (2001 – 2004), John Danforth (2004), John R. Bolton (2005 - ).

Chánh Văn phòng Toà Bạch Ốc – Andrew Card (tương đương Bộ Trưởng Tổng thống Phủ.)

Phó Văn phòng Toà Bạch Ốc và Cố vấn trưởng – Kark Rove(tương đương Thứ trưởng Tổng thống phủ).

Cố vấn – Karen Hughes (2001 –2002), (tương đương chức vụ đại sứ năm 2005.)

Phát ngôn viên Báo chí Toà Bạch Ốc – Ari Fleischer (2001 – 2003), Scott McClellan (2003 - ).
[sửa]Tối cao Pháp viện

Cho đến tháng 1 năm 2006, Tổng thống Bush đã bổ nhiệm hai vị thẩm phán cho Tối cao Pháp viện
John Roberts (Chánh Án) - tháng 9 năm 2005.
Samuel Alito - tháng 1 năm 2006.
Nhiệm kỳ thứ hai
Bush vận động tranh cử tại St. Petersburg, Florida, năm 2004.

[4]Nhiệm kỳ thứ hai của Bush được ghi dấu với nhiều rủi ro. - Sau Bài diễn văn Liên bang lần thứ năm, tổng thống đẩy mạnh những cải cách An sinh Xã hội, lúc đầu được ủng hộ bởi đảng của ông nhưng lại không thuyết phục được các nghị sĩ thuộc cả hai đảng để có thể được thông qua tại Quốc hội. - Trong chuyến viếng thăm của Bush, đến Cộng hoà Gruzia, ngày 10 tháng 5 năm 2005, đã xảy ra một âm mưu ám sát ông do Vladimir Arutinian, nhưng quả lựu đạn không nổ sau khi va vào một cô gái và lăn vào đám đông cách lễ đài 19 m, nơi Bush đang đứng đọc diễn văn. - Cung cách đối phó với Bão Katrina của chính phủ liên bang và những nghi vấn về bè phái trong tháng 8 năm 2005 gây không ít khó khăn cho tổng thống. - Gần đây là những tranh luận về tính hợp pháp của chương trình dọ thám người dân trong nước dẫn đến những đề xuất nhằm hạn chế các đặc quyền hành pháp.

Ngày 17 tháng 11 năm 2006, Tổng thống George W. Bush và Đệ nhất Phu nhân Laura Bush đến Hà Nội để tham dự Hội nghị APEC lần thứ 14, và hội kiến với những nhà lãnh đạo Việt Nam, sau đó thăm chính thức Việt Nam[2]. Ngày 19 tháng 11, sau khi đáp máy bay vào Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh, cùng với Thủ tướng Úc John Howard, Bush và Laura đến dùng bữa tại một nhà hàng trên đường Hai Bà Trưng. Hôm sau, ông đến thăm Trung tâm Chứng khoán, Viện Pasteur và Viện Bảo tàng Lịch sử [3]. Ông là tổng thống thứ hai của Hoa Kỳ đến thăm Việt Nam kể từ lúc chiến tranh Việt Nam kết thúc năm 1975.
[sửa]Uy tín

Bush là mục tiêu của nhiều lời ca tụng và không ít sự chỉ trích gay gắt. Những người ủng hộ ông chú trọng vào các lãnh vực như kinh tế, an ninh trong nước và khả năng lãnh đạo của ông sau cuộc tấn công khủng bố ngày 11 tháng 9. Những người chống đối bất đồng về các vấn đề như đạo luật USA PATRIOT, cuộc tuyển cử nhiều tranh cãi năm 2000, và cuộc chiến tại Iraq. Tạp chí TIME chọn Bush là Nhân vật của Năm 2000 và 2004. Vinh dự này được dành cho những nhân vật, theo nhận xét của các chủ biên, là những người được công luận quan tâm nhất (newsmaker) trong năm.
[sửa]Trong nước

Thời gian đầu sau khi nhậm chức (2001), nhiều người xem Bush là một Tổng thống không có sự ủy nhiệm đầy đủ, vì ông vào Toà Bạch ốc nhờ một phán quyết của Tối cao Pháp viện. Sau ngày 11 tháng 9 năm 2001, thái độ của người dân Mỹ đã thay đổi, khi họ chứng kiến ông đứng trên đống đổ nát của toà nhà WTC với loa phóng thanh trên tay, thể hiện khả năng và ý chí kiên cường của một nhà lãnh đạo. Từ đó, hình ảnh của Bush được cải thiện đáng kể trong lòng người dân Mỹ, và tác động không ít đến kết quả bầu cử năm 2004.

Suốt thời kỳ khủng hoảng quốc gia sau cuộc tấn công 11/9, Bush nhận được sự ủng hộ của 85% dân chúng Mỹ, nhưng suy giảm dần và dừng lại ở mức 50 % trong hai năm rưỡi. Phần lớn dân chúng Hoa Kỳ gần đây đã không còn tin tưởng vào chính sách của ông đối với vấn đề Iraq (hiện chỉ còn dưới 40% người Mỹ ủng hộ chính sách này - thời điểm tháng 7-8 năm 2005). Tuy nhiên, cũng qua các cuộc thăm dò, đa số dân Mỹ vẫn tin rằng cá nhân ông Bush là người thẳng thắn và trung thực.

Vào lúc bầu cử quốc hội giữa nhiệm kỳ năm 2002, Bush nhận được sự ủng hộ cao nhất so với bất kỳ tổng thổng nào vào cùng thời điểm ấy kể từ Dwight Eisenhower, đảng Cộng hoà tiếp tục kiểm soát thượng viện và giành thêm ghế tại hạ viện; trước đó, thường thì đảng của tổng thống đương nhiệm sẽ mất ghế trong cuộc tuyển cử giữa nhiệm kỳ, nhưng năm 2002 đánh dấu cuộc bầu cử giữa nhiệm kỳ lần thứ ba kể từ cuộc Nội chiến, một đảng cầm quyền giành thêm ghế tại cả hai viện (hai lần kia xảy ra vào năm 1902 và 1934).
Bush và Blair tại hội nghị NATO, Istanbul,Thổ Nhĩ Kỳ, 28 tháng 6, 2004.

Trong năm 2003, mức ủng hộ dành cho Bush xuống thấp dần, ngoại trừ một lần bứt lên cao sau khi quân đội liên minh lật đổ chế độ Saddam Husein tại Iraq.
Ngoài nước

Vì chính sách đơn phương (unilateralism) áp dụng khi cần thiết cộng với thái độ kiên quyết và quả cảm của mình đối với mọi vấn đề trên thế giới, Bush không được nhiều yêu thích bên ngoài Hoa Kỳ. Một cuộc thăm dò năm 2004 cho thấy một cái nhìn không mấy tích cực về Bush đang phổ biến tại Anh,Pháp, Ý, Đức, Mexico, Tây Ban NhaCanada. Dĩ nhiên, mức độ chống đối Bush cao đặc biệt tại các nước Hồi giáo mà đa số giáo sĩ rất bảo thủ và cực đoan, thường vượt quá 90%. Nhưng Bush được ưa chuộng tại Israel, với 62% dân chúng ở đây ủng hộ ông. Trước cuộc bầu cử năm 2004, Kerry nhận được sự ủng hộ cao hơn Bush với khoảng cách lớn tại 30 trong số 35 quốc gia, rất có thể điều nầy đã giúp Bush thắng cử chức vụ Tổng thống Hoa kỳ nhiệm kỳ 2. Sau cuộc tuyển cử, đa số người được hỏi tại hầu hết các quốc gia nói rằng họ chờ đợi những ảnh hưởng từ nhiệm kỳ thứ hai của Bush.

George W. Bush

43rd President of the United States
In office
January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009
Vice President Dick Cheney
Preceded by Bill Clinton
Succeeded by Barack Obama
In office
January 17, 1995 – December 21, 2000
Lieutenant Bob Bullock
Preceded by Ann Richards
Succeeded by Rick Perry
Personal details
Born George Walker Bush
July 6, 1946 (age 66)
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Laura Welch (1977–present)
Children Barbara
Profession Businessman (Oil, baseball)
Religion Episcopal (Before 1977)[1]
United Methodism (1977–present)[2][3]
Signature
The White House Archived
Military service
Service/branch Texas Air National Guard
Years of service 1968–1974


George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is an American politician and businessman who was the 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009[4] and the 46th Governor of Texas from 1995 to 2000. The eldest son of Barbara and George H. W. Bush, he was born in New Haven, Connecticut. After graduating from Yale University in 1968 and Harvard Business School in 1975, Bush worked in oil businesses. He married Laura Welch in 1977 and ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives shortly thereafter. He later co-owned the Texas Rangers baseball team before defeating Ann Richards in the 1994 Texas gubernatorial election. Bush was elected president in 2000 after a close and controversial election, becoming the fourth president to be elected while receiving fewer popular votes nationwide than his opponent.[5] Bush is the second president to have been the son of a former president, the first being John Quincy Adams.[6] He is also the brother of Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida.

Eight months into Bush's first term as president, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks occurred. In response, Bush announced the War on Terror, an international military campaign which included the war in Afghanistan launched in 2001 and the war in Iraq launched in 2003. In addition to national security issues, Bush also promoted policies on the economy, health care, education, and social security reform. He signed into law broad tax cuts, the PATRIOT Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, and Medicare prescription drug benefits for seniors. His tenure saw national debates on immigration, Social Security, electronic surveillance, and enhanced interrogation techniques. He announced the U.S. would not implement the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, which had been signed by the previous administration but never ratified by the Senate.[7]

Bush successfully ran for re-election against Democratic Senator John Kerry in 2004, in another relatively close election. After his re-election, Bush received increasingly heated criticism from across the political spectrum[8][9][10] for his handling of the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina,[11][12][13] and numerous other controversies. As a result, the Democratic Party won control of Congress in the 2006 elections. In December 2007, the United States entered its longest post–World War II recession, prompting the Bush Administration to enact multiple economic programs intended to preserve the country's financial system. Nationally, Bush was both one of the most popular and unpopular presidents in history, having received the highest recorded presidential approval ratings in the wake of 9/11, as well as one of the lowest approval ratings during the 2008 financial crisis.[14]Internationally, he was a highly controversial figure, with public protests occurring even during visits to close allies, such as the United Kingdom.[15]

Bush left office in 2009, and was succeeded as president by Barack Obama, who ran on a platform of change from Bush's policies. Since leaving office, Bush has returned to Texas and purchased a home in a suburban area of Dallas. He is currently a public speaker and has written a book about his life entitled Decision Points.

Childhood to mid-life

George Walker Bush was born in New Haven, Connecticut at Grace-New Haven Hospital (now Yale – New Haven Hospital), on July 6, 1946,[17] the first child of George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush (née Pierce). He was raised in Midland and Houston, Texas, with four siblings, Jeb, Neil, Marvinand Dorothy. Another younger sister, Robin, died from leukemia at the age of three in 1953.[18] Bush's grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a U.S. Senator from Connecticut.[19] Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, was Vice President from 1981 to 1989 and President from 1989 to 1993. Bush is of primarily English descent and also more distant German, Dutch, Welsh, Irish, French, and Scottish ancestry.[20]
Education

Bush attended public schools in Midland, Texas until the family moved to Houston after he completed seventh grade. He then went to The Kinkaid School, a prep school in Houston, for two years.[21]

Bush finished high school at Phillips Academy, a boarding school (then all-male) in Andover, Massachusetts, where he played baseball and during his senior year was the head cheerleader.[22][23]Bush attended Yale University from 1964 to 1968, graduating with an B.A. in history.[24] During this time, he was a cheerleader and a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon, being elected the fraternity's president during his senior year.[25][26][27] Bush also became a member of the Skull and Bones society as a senior.[28] Bush was a rugby union player and was on Yale's 1st XV.[29] He characterized himself as an average student.[30] His average during his first three years at Yale was 77 and he had a similar average under a nonnumeric rating system in his final year.[31]

Beginning in the fall of 1973, Bush attended the Harvard Business School, where he earned a Master of Business Administration. He is the only U.S. President to have earned an M.B.A.[32]
Texas Air National Guard
Lt. George W. Bush while in the Texas Air National Guard

In May 1968, Bush was commissioned into the Texas Air National Guard.[33] After two years of active-duty service while training,[34] he was assigned to Houston, flying Convair F-102s with the 147th Reconnaissance Wing out of Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base.[33][35] Critics, including former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, have alleged that Bush was favorably treated due to his father's political standing, citing his selection as a pilot despite his low pilot aptitude test scores and his irregular attendance.[36] In June 2005, the United States Department of Defense released all the records of Bush's Texas Air National Guard service, which remain in its official archives.[37]

In late 1972 and early 1973, he drilled with the 187th Fighter Wing of the Alabama Air National Guard, having moved to Montgomery, Alabama to work on the unsuccessful U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Winton M. Blount.[38][39] In 1972, Bush was suspended from flying for failure to take a scheduled physical exam.[40] He was honorably discharged from the Air Force Reserve on November 21, 1974.[41]
Marriage, family, and personal life
See also: Bush family
George and Laura Bush with their daughters Jenna and Barbara, 1990

At a backyard barbecue in 1977, friends introduced him to Laura Welch, a school teacher and librarian. Bush proposed to her after a three-month courtship, and they married on November 5 of that year.[42] The couple settled in Midland, Texas. Bush left his family's Episcopal Church to join his wife's United Methodist Church.[2] In 1981, Laura Bush gave birth to fraternal twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara;[42] they graduated from high school in 2000 and from the University of Texas at Austin and Yale University, respectively, in 2004.

Prior to his marriage, Bush had multiple episodes of alcohol abuse.[43] In one instance, on September 4, 1976, he was arrested near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, for driving under the influence of alcohol. He pleaded guilty, was fined $150 and had his Maine driver's license suspended until 1978.[44] Bush's alleged drug usage is less clear; when asked about alleged past illicit drug use, Bush has consistently refused to answer. He defended his refusal to answer in a publicized casual conversation with a friend, saying that he feared setting a bad example for the younger generation.[45][46][47]

Bush says his wife has had a stabilizing effect on his life,[42] and attributes to her influence his 1986 decision to give up alcohol.[48] While Governor of Texas, Bush said of his wife, "I saw an elegant, beautiful woman who turned out not only to be elegant and beautiful, but very smart and willing to put up with my rough edges, and I must confess has smoothed them off over time."[42]

Bush mostly reads "serious historical nonfiction" for pleasure. During his time as president, Bush read 14 Lincoln biographies and, during the last three years of his presidency, he reportedly read 186 books. A reporter recalls seeing "books by John Fowles, F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, and Gore Vidal lying about, as well as biographies of Willa Cather and Queen Victoria" in his home when Bush was a Texas oilman. Other hobbies include cigar smoking and golf.[49]
Early career
George W. Bush with his father outside the White House on April 29, 1992

In 1978, Bush ran for the House of Representatives from Texas's 19th congressional district. His opponent, Kent Hance, portrayed him as out of touch with rural Texans. Bush lost the election by 6,000 votes (6%) of the 103,000 votes cast.[50] He returned to the oil industry and began a series of small, independent oil exploration companies.[51] He created Arbusto Energy,[52] and later changed the name to Bush Exploration. In 1984, his company merged with the largerSpectrum 7, and Bush became chairman.[51] The company was hurt by decreased oil prices, and it folded into HKN, Inc.[51][53] Bush served on the board of directors for HKN.[51] Questions of possible insider trading involving HKN arose, but the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) investigation concluded that the information Bush had at the time of his stock sale was not sufficient to constitute insider trading.[51][54]

Bush moved his family to Washington, D.C. in 1988 to work on his father's campaign for the U.S. presidency.[55][56] He served as a campaign adviser and liaison to the media;[51] he assisted his father by campaigning across the country.[51] Returning to Texas after the successful campaign, he purchased a share in theTexas Rangers baseball franchise in April 1989, where he served as managing general partner for five years.[57] He actively led the team's projects and regularly attended its games, often choosing to sit in the open stands with fans.[58] Bush's sale of his shares in the Rangers in 1998 brought him over $15 million from his initial $800,000 investment.[59]

In December 1991, Bush was one of seven people named by his father to run his father's 1992 Presidential re-election campaign as "campaign advisor".[60] The prior month, his father asked him to tell White House chief of staff John H. Sununu that he should resign.[61]
Governor of Texas
Governor Bush with wife, Laura, and father, George H. W. Bush

As Bush's brother, Jeb, sought the governorship of Florida, Bush declared his candidacy for the 1994 Texas gubernatorial election. His campaign focused on four themes: welfare reform, tort reform, crime reduction, and education improvement.[51] Bush's campaign advisers were Karen Hughes, Joe Allbaugh, and Karl Rove.[62]

After easily winning the Republican primary, Bush faced popular Democratic incumbent Governor Ann Richards.[51][63] In the course of the campaign, Bush pledged to sign a bill allowing Texans to obtain permits to carry concealed weapons. Richards had vetoed the bill, but Bush signed it after he became governor.[64] According to The Atlantic Monthly, the race "featured a rumor that she was a lesbian, along with a rare instance of such a tactic's making it into the public record – when a regional chairman of the Bush campaign allowed himself, perhaps inadvertently, to be quoted criticizing Richards for 'appointing avowed homosexual activists' to state jobs".[65] The Atlantic, and others, connected the lesbian rumor to Karl Rove,[66] but Rove denied being involved.[67] Bush won the general election with 53.5% against Richards' 45.9%.[68]

Bush used a budget surplus to push through Texas's largest tax-cut, $2 billion.[62] He extended government funding for organizations providing education of the dangers of alcohol and drug use and abuse, and helping to reduce domestic violence.[69] Critics contended that during his tenure, Texas ranked near the bottom in environmental evaluations, but supporters pointed to his efforts to raise the salaries of teachers and improved educational test scores.[51]

In 1999, Bush also helped make Texas eventually the leading producer of wind powered electricity in the U.S.[70][71][72] by signing a state law obliging electric retailers to buy a certain amount of energy from renewable sources (RPS).[73][74][75]

In 1998, Bush won re-election with a record[51] 69% of the vote.[76] He became the first governor in Texas history to be elected to two consecutive four-year terms.[51] For most of Texas history, governors served two-year terms; a constitutional amendment extended those terms to four years starting in 1975.[77] In his second term, Bush promoted faith-based organizations and enjoyed high approval ratings.[51] He proclaimed June 10, 2000 to be Jesus Day in Texas, a day on which he "urge[d] all Texans to answer the call to serve those in need".[78]

Throughout Bush's first term, national attention focused on him as a potential future presidential candidate. Following his re-election, speculation soared.[51] Within a year, he decided to seek the 2000 Republican presidential nomination.
Presidential campaigns
2000 Presidential candidacy
Bush in Concord, New Hampshire signing to be a candidate for president
Primary

In June 1999, while Governor of Texas, Bush announced his candidacy for President of the United States. With no incumbent running, Bush entered a large field of candidates for the Republican Party presidential nomination consisting of John McCain, Alan Keyes, Steve Forbes, Gary Bauer, Orrin Hatch, Elizabeth Dole, Dan Quayle, Pat Buchanan, Lamar Alexander, John Kasich, and Robert C. Smith.

Bush portrayed himself as a compassionate conservative, implying he was more centrist than other Republicans. He campaigned on a platform that included increasing the size of the United States Armed Forces, cutting taxes, improving education, and aiding minorities.[51] By early 2000, the race had centered on Bush and McCain.[51]

Bush won the Iowa caucuses, but, although he was heavily favored to win the New Hampshire primary, he trailed McCain by 19% and lost that primary. Despite this, Bush regained momentum and, according to political observers, effectively became the front runner after the South Carolina primary, which according to The Boston Globe made history for his campaign's negativity; The New York Times described it as a smear campaign.[79][80][81]
General election

On July 25, 2000, Bush surprised some observers by asking Dick Cheney, a former White House Chief of Staff, U.S. Representative, and Secretary of Defense, to be his running mate. Cheney was then serving as head of Bush's Vice-Presidential search committee. Soon after, Cheney was officially nominated by the Republican Party at the 2000 Republican National Convention.

Bush continued to campaign across the country and touted his record as Governor of Texas.[51] Bush's campaign criticized his Democratic opponent, incumbent Vice President Al Gore, over gun control and taxation.[82]

When the election returns came in on November 7, Bush won 29 states, including Florida. The closeness of the Florida outcome led to a recount.[51] The initial recount also went to Bush, but the outcome was tied up in courts for a month until reaching the U.S. Supreme Court.[83] On December 9, in a controversial ruling[84] the Bush v. Gore case the Court reversed a Florida Supreme Court decision ordering a third count, and stopped an ordered statewide hand recount based on the argument that the use of different standards among Florida's counties violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.[51] The machine recount showed that Bush had won the Florida vote by a margin of 537 votes out of six million cast.[85] Although he received 543,895 fewer individual votes than Gore nationwide, Bush won the election, receiving 271 electoral votes to Gore's 266.[85]
2004 Presidential candidacy
George W. Bush speaks at a campaign rally in 2004.

In 2004, Bush commanded broad support in the Republican Party and did not encounter a primary challenge. He appointed Ken Mehlman as campaign manager, with a political strategy devised by Karl Rove.[86] Bush and the Republican platform included a strong commitment to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,[87]support for the USA PATRIOT Act,[88] a renewed shift in policy for constitutional amendments banning abortion and same-sex marriage,[87][89] reforming Social Security to create private investment accounts,[87] creation of an ownership society,[87] and opposing mandatory carbon emissions controls.[90] Bush also called for the implementation of a guest worker program for immigrants,[87] which was criticized by conservatives.[91]

The Bush campaign advertised across the U.S. against Democratic candidates, including Bush's emerging opponent, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. Kerry and other Democrats attacked Bush on the Iraq War, and accused him of failing to stimulate the economy and job growth. The Bush campaign portrayed Kerry as a staunch liberal who would raise taxes and increase the size of government. The Bush campaign continuously criticized Kerry's seemingly contradictory statements on the war in Iraq,[51] and argued that Kerry lacked the decisiveness and vision necessary for success in the War on Terror.

In the election, Bush carried 31 of 50 states, receiving a total of 286 electoral votes. He won an outright majority of the popular vote (50.7% to his opponent's 48.3%).[92] The previous President to win an outright majority of the popular vote was Bush's father in the 1988 election. Additionally, it was the first time sinceHerbert Hoover's election in 1928 that a Republican president was elected alongside re-elected Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress. Bush's 2.5% margin of victory was the narrowest ever for a victorious incumbent President, breaking Woodrow Wilson's 3.1% margin of victory against Charles Evans Hughesin the election of 1916.[93][94]
Presidency

Though Bush originally outlined an ambitious domestic agenda, his priorities were significantly altered following the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.[95] Wars were waged in Afghanistan and Iraq with significant domestic debates regarding immigration, healthcare, Social Security, economic policy, and treatment of terrorist detainees. Over an eight year period, Bush's once-high approval ratings[96] steadily declined, while his disapproval numbers increased significantly.[97] In 2007, the United States entered the longest post-World War II recession.[98]
Domestic policy
Economic policy

Bush took office during a period of economic recession in the wake of the bursting of the Dot-com bubble.[99] The terrorist attacks also impacted the economy. The Bush administration increased federal government spending from $1.789 trillion to $2.983 trillion (60%) while revenues increased from $2.025 trillion to $2.524 trillion (from 2000 to 2008). Individual income tax revenues increased by 14%, corporate tax revenues by 50%, customs and duties by 40%. Discretionary defense spending was increased by 107%, discretionary domestic spending by 62%, Medicare spending by 131%, social security by 51%, and income security spending by 130%. Cyclically adjusted, revenues rose by 35% and spending by 65%.[100]
President Bush signing a $1.35 trillion tax cut into law. June 7, 2001

The increase in spending was more than under any predecessor since Lyndon B. Johnson.[101] The number of economic regulation governmental workers increased by 91,196.[102]

The surplus in fiscal year 2000 was $237 billion—the third consecutive surplus and the largest surplus ever.[103] In 2001, Bush's budget estimated that there would be a $5.6 trillion surplus over the next ten years.[104] Facing congressional opposition, Bush held townhall style meetings across the U.S. in order to increase public support for his plan for a $1.35 trillion tax cut program—one of the largest tax cuts in U.S. history.[51] Bush argued that unspent government funds should be returned to taxpayers, saying "the surplus is not the government’s money. The surplus is the people’s money."[51] Federal Reserve ChairmanAlan Greenspan warned of a recession and Bush stated that a tax cut would stimulate the economy and create jobs.[105] Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, opposed some of the tax cuts on the basis that they would contribute to budget deficits and undermine Social Security.[106] O'Neill disputes the claim, made in Bush's book "Decision Points", that he never openly disagreed with him on planned tax cuts.[107] By 2003, the economy showed signs of improvement, though job growth remained stagnant.[51] Another tax cut program was passed that year.

Under the Bush Administration, real GDP grew at an average annual rate of 2.5%,[108] considerably below the average for business cycles since 1949.[109][110]

Bush entered office with the Dow Jones Industrial Average at 10,587, and the average peaked in October 2007 at over 14,000. When Bush left office, the average was at 7,949, one of the lowest levels of his presidency.[111]
Deficit and debt increases 2001–2009. Gross debt has increased over $500 billion each year since FY2003.

Unemployment originally rose from 4.2% in January 2001 to 6.3% in June 2003, but subsequently dropped to 4.5% as of July 2007.[112] Adjusted for inflation, median household income dropped by $1,175 between 2000 and 2007,[113] while Professor Ken Homa of Georgetown University has noted that "after-tax median household income increased by 2%"[114] The poverty rate increased from 11.3% in 2000 to 12.3% in 2006 after peaking at 12.7% in 2004.[115] By October 2008, due to increases in spending,[116] the national debt had risen to $11.3 trillion,[117] an increase of over 100% from 2000 when the debt was only $5.6 trillion.[118][119] Most debt was accumulated as a result of what became known as the "Bush tax cuts" and increased national security spending.[120] By the end of Bush's presidency, unemployment climbed to 7.2%.[121]

In December 2007, the United States entered the longest post–World War II recession,[122] which included a housing market correction, asubprime mortgage crisis, soaring oil prices, and a declining dollar value.[123] In February, 63,000 jobs were lost, a five-year record.[124][125] To aid with the situation, Bush signed a $170 billion economic stimulus package which was intended to improve the economic situation by sending tax rebate checks to many Americans and providing tax breaks for struggling businesses. The Bush administration pushed for significantly increased regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2003,[126] and after two years, the regulations passed the House but died in the Senate. Many Republican senators, as well as influential members of the Bush Administration, feared that the agency created by these regulations would merely be mimicking the private sector’s risky practices.[127][128] In September 2008, the crisis became much more serious beginning with the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac followed by the collapse of Lehman Brothers and a federal bailout of American International Group for $85 billion.[129]

Many economists and world governments determined that the situation became the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.[130][131] Additional regulation over the housing market would have been beneficial, according to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.[132] Bush, meanwhile, proposed a financial rescue plan to buy back a large portion of the U.S. mortgage market.[133] Vince Reinhardt, a former Federal Reserve economist now at the American Enterprise Institute, said "it would have helped for the Bush administration to empower the folks at Treasury and the Federal Reserve and the comptroller of the currency and the FDIC to look at these issues more closely", and additionally, that it would have helped "for Congress to have held hearings".[128]

In November 2008, over 500,000 jobs were lost, which marked the largest loss of jobs in the United States in 34 years.[134] The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in the last four months of 2008, 1.9 million jobs were lost.[135] By the end of 2008, the U.S. had lost a total of 2.6 million jobs.[136]
Education and health

Bush undertook a number of educational priorities, such as increasing the funding for the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health in his first years of office, and creating education programs to strengthen the grounding in science and mathematics for American high school students. Funding for the NIH was cut in 2006, the first such cut in 36 years, due to rising inflation.[137]
Bush signs the No Child Left Behind Actinto law, January 2002.

One of the administration's early major initiatives was the No Child Left Behind Act, which aimed to measure and close the gap between rich and poor student performance, provide options to parents with students in low-performing schools, and target more federal funding to low-income schools. This landmark education initiative passed with broad bipartisan support, including that of Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.[138] It was signed into law by Bush in early 2002.[139] Many contend that the initiative has been successful, as cited by the fact that students in the U.S. have performed significantly better on state reading and math tests since Bush signed "No Child Left Behind" into law.[140] Critics argue that it is underfunded[141] and that NCLBA's focus on "high stakes testing" and quantitative outcomes is counterproductive.[142]

After being re-elected, Bush signed into law a Medicare drug benefit program that, according to Jan Crawford Greenburg, resulted in "the greatest expansion in America's welfare state in forty years;" the bill's costs approached $7 trillion.[143] In 2007, Bush opposed and vetoed State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) legislation, which was added by the Democrats onto a war funding bill and passed by Congress. The SCHIP legislation would have significantly expanded federally funded health care benefits and plans to children of some low-income families from about six million to ten million children. It was to be funded by an increase in the cigarette tax.[144] Bush viewed the legislation as a move toward socialized health care, and asserted that the program could benefit families making as much as $83,000 per year who did not need the help.[145]
Social services and Social Security

Following Republican efforts to pass the Medicare Act of 2003, Bush signed the bill, which included major changes to the Medicare program by providing beneficiaries with some assistance in paying for prescription drugs, while relying on private insurance for the delivery of benefits.[146] The retired persons lobby group AARP worked with the Bush Administration on the program and gave their endorsement. Bush said the law, estimated to cost $400 billion over the first ten years, would give the elderly "better choices and more control over their health care".[147]
Bush speaks at the United States Coast Guard Academy commencement, May 2007.

Bush began his second term by outlining a major initiative to reform Social Security,[148] which was facing record deficit projections beginning in 2005. Bush made it the centerpiece of his domestic agenda despite opposition from some in the U.S. Congress.[148] In his 2005 State of the Union Address, Bush discussed the potential impending bankruptcy of the program and outlined his new program, which included partial privatization of the system, personal Social Security accounts, and options to permit Americans to divert a portion of their Social Security tax (FICA) into secured investments.[148]Democrats opposed the proposal to partially privatize the system.[148]

Bush embarked on a 60-day national tour, campaigning vigorously for his initiative in media events, known as the "Conversations on Social Security", in an attempt to gain support from the general public.[149] Despite the energetic campaign, public support for the proposal declined[150] and the House Republican leadership decided not to put Social Security reform on the priority list for the remainder of their 2005 legislative agenda.[151] The proposal's legislative prospects were further diminished by the political fallout from the Hurricane Katrina in the fall of 2005.[152] After the Democrats gained control of both houses of the Congress as a result of the 2006 midterm elections, the prospects of any further congressional action on the Bush proposal were dead for the remainder of his term in office.
Environmental policies

Upon taking office in 2001, Bush stated his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, an amendment to the UN Convention on Climate Change which seeks to impose mandatory targets for reducinggreenhouse gas emissions, citing that the treaty exempted 80% of the world's population[153] and would have cost tens of billions of dollars per year.[154] He also cited that the Senate had voted 95–0 in 1997 on a resolution expressing its disapproval of the protocol.
Bush delivers a statement on energy, urging Congress to end offshore oil drill ban, June 18, 2008.

In May 2001, Bush signed an executive order to create an inter-agency task force to streamline energy projects,[155] and later signed two other executive orders to tackle environmental issues.[156]

In 2002, Bush announced the Clear Skies Act of 2003,[157] aimed at amending the Clean Air Act to reduce air pollution through the use of emissions trading programs. Many experts argued that this legislation would have weakened the original legislation by allowing higher emission rates of pollutants than were previously legal.[158] The initiative was introduced to Congress, but failed to make it out of committee.

Bush has said that he believes that global warming is real[159] and has noted that it is a serious problem, but he asserted there is a "debate over whether it's man-made or naturally caused".[160] The Bush Administration's stance on global warming remained controversial in the scientific and environmental communities. Critics have alleged that the administration[161] misinformed the public and did not do enough to reduce carbon emissionsand deter global warming.[162]
Energy policies

In his 2006 State of the Union Address, Bush declared, "America is addicted to oil" and announced his Advanced Energy Initiative to increase energy development research.[163]

That same year, Bush declared the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands a national monument, creating the largest marine reserve to date. The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monumentcomprises 84 million acres (340,000 km2) and is home to 7,000 species of fish, birds, and other marine animals, many of which are specific to only those islands.[164] The move was hailed by conservationists for "its foresight and leadership in protecting this incredible area".[165]

In his 2007 State of the Union Address, Bush renewed his pledge to work toward diminished reliance on foreign oil by reducing fossil fuel consumption and increasing alternative fuelproduction.[166] Amid high gasoline prices in 2008, Bush lifted a ban on offshore drilling.[167] However, the move was largely symbolic as there is still a federal law banning offshore drilling. Bush said, "This means that the only thing standing between the American people and these vast oil reserves is action from the U.S. Congress."[167] Bush had said in June 2008, "In the long run, the solution is to reduce demand for oil by promoting alternative energy technologies. My administration has worked with Congress to invest in gas-saving technologies like advanced batteries and hydrogen fuel cells.... In the short run, the American economy will continue to rely largely on oil. And that means we need to increase supply, especially here at home. So my administration has repeatedly called on Congress to expand domestic oil production."[168]
President Bush signing the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act, September 26, 2006

In his 2008 State of the Union Address, Bush announced that the U.S. would commit $2 billion over the next three years to a new international fund to promote clean energy technologies and fight climate change, saying, "Along with contributions from other countries, this fund will increase and accelerate the deployment of all forms of cleaner, more efficient technologies in developing nations like India and China, and help leverage substantial private-sector capital by making clean energy projects more financially attractive." He also announced plans to reaffirm the United States' commitment to work with major economies, and, through the UN, to complete an international agreement that will slow, stop, and eventually reverse the growth of greenhouse gases; he stated, "This agreement will be effective only if it includes commitments by every major economy and gives none a free ride."[169]
Stem cell research and first use of veto power

Federal funding for medical research involving the creation or destruction of human embryos through the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institutes of Health has been forbidden by law since the passage in 1995 of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment by Congress and the signature of President Bill Clinton.[170] Bush has said that he supports adult stem cell research and has supported federal legislation that finances adult stem cell research. However, Bush did not support embryonic stem cell research.[171] On August 9, 2001, Bush signed an executive order lifting the ban on federal funding for the 71 existing "lines" of stem cells,[172] but the ability of these existing lines to provide an adequate medium for testing has been questioned. Testing can only be done on 12 of the original lines, and all of the approved lines have been cultured in contact with mouse cells, which creates safety issues that complicate development and approval of therapies from these lines.[173] On July 19, 2006, Bush used his veto power for the first time in his presidency to veto the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. The bill would have repealed the Dickey-Wicker Amendment, thereby permitting federal money to be used for research where stem cells are derived from the destruction of an embryo.[174]
Immigration
Bush discusses border security with Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoffnear El Paso, November 2005.

In 2006, Bush urged Congress to allow more than 12 million illegal immigrants to work in the United States with the creation of a "temporary guest-worker program". Bush did not support amnesty for illegal immigrants,[175] but argued that the lack of legal status denies the protections of U.S. laws to millions of people who face dangers of poverty and exploitation, and penalizes employers despite a demand for immigrant labor.[176] Nearly 8 million immigrants came to the United States from 2000 to 2005, more than in any other five-year period in the nation's history.[177] Almost half entered illegally.[178]

Bush also urged Congress to provide additional funds for border security and committed to deploying 6,000 National Guard troops to the Mexico–United States border.[179] In May–June 2007, Bush strongly supported the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which was written by a bipartisan group of Senators with the active participation of the Bush administration.[180] The bill envisioned a legalization program for illegal immigrants, with an eventual path to citizenship; establishing a guest worker program; a series of border and work site enforcement measures; a reform of the green cardapplication process and the introduction of a point-based "merit" system for green cards; elimination of "chain migration" and of the Diversity Immigrant Visa; and other measures. Bush contended that the proposed bill did not amount to amnesty.[181]

A heated public debate followed, which resulted in a substantial rift within the Republican Party, most conservatives opposed it because of its legalization or amnesty provisions.[182] The bill was eventually defeated in the Senate on June 28, 2007, when a cloture motion failed on a 46–53 vote.[183] Bush expressed disappointment upon the defeat of one of his signature domestic initiatives.[184] The Bush administration later proposed a series of immigration enforcement measures that do not require a change in law.[185]

On September 19, 2010, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Bush offered to accept 100,000 Palestinian refugees as American citizens if a permanent settlement had been reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.[186]
Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina, which was one of the worst disasters in U.S. history, struck early in Bush’s second term. Katrina formed in late August during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season and devastated much of the north-central Gulf Coast of the United States, particularly New Orleans.[187]
Bush shakes hands with New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on September 2, 2005, after viewing the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Bush declared a state of emergency in Louisiana on August 27,[188] and in Mississippi and Alabama the following day;[189] he authorized theDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to manage the disaster, but his announcement failed to spur these agencies to action.[190] The eye of the hurricane made landfall on August 29, and New Orleans began to flood due to levee breaches; later that day, Bush declared that a major disaster existed in Louisiana,[191] officially authorizing FEMA to start using federal funds to assist in the recovery effort. On August 30, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff declared it "an incident of national significance",[192] triggering the first use of the newly createdNational Response Plan. Three days later, on September 2, National Guard troops first entered the city of New Orleans.[193] The same day, Bush toured parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and declared that the success of the recovery effort up to that point was "not enough".[194]

As the disaster in New Orleans intensified, critics charged that Bush was misrepresenting his administration's role in what they saw as a flawed response. Leaders attacked Bush for having appointed apparently incompetent leaders to positions of power at FEMA, notably Michael D. Brown;[195] it was also argued that the federal response was limited as a result of the Iraq War[196] and Bush himself did not act upon warnings of floods.[197][198][199]Bush responded to mounting criticism by accepting full responsibility for the federal government's failures in its handling of the emergency.[193] It has been argued that with Katrina, Bush passed a political tipping point from which he would not recover.[200]
Midterm dismissal of U.S. attorneys
Bush with Alberto Gonzales

During Bush's second term, a controversy arose over the Justice Department's midterm dismissal of seven United States Attorneys.[201] The White House maintained that the U.S. attorneys were fired for poor performance.[202] Attorney General Alberto Gonzales later resigned over the issue, along with other senior members of the Justice Department.[203][204] The House Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas for advisers Harriet Miers and Josh Bolten to testify regarding this matter, but Bush directed Miers and Bolten to not comply with those subpoenas, invoking his right of executive privilege. Bush maintained that all of his advisers were protected under a broad executive privilege protection to receive candid advice. The Justice Department determined that the President's order was legal.[205]

Although Congressional investigations focused on whether the Justice Department and the White House were using the U.S. Attorney positions for political advantage, no official findings have been released. On March 10, 2008, the Congress filed a federal lawsuit to enforce their issued subpoenas.[206] On July 31, 2008, a United States district court judge ruled that Bush's top advisers were not immune from Congressional subpoenas.[207]

In all, twelve Justice Department officials resigned rather than testify under oath before Congress. They included Attorney General Alberto Gonzales[208] and his chief of staff Kyle Sampson,[209]Gonzales’ liaison to the White House Monica Goodling,[210] aide to the president Karl Rove[211] and his senior aide Sara M. Taylor.[212] In addition, legal counsel to the president Harriet Miers[213]and deputy chief of staff to the president Joshua Bolten[214] were both found in contempt of Congress.[212]

In 2010, the Justice Department investigator concluded that though political considerations did play a part in as many as four of the attorney firings,[215] the firings were "inappropriately political", but not criminal. According to the prosecutors, "Evidence did not demonstrate that any prosecutable criminal offense was committed by the administration..."[216]
Foreign policy
Bush presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Pope John Paul II during a visit to the Vatican, June 2004.
Foreign Minister of India Pranab Mukherjee with US President George W. Bush in 2008.

In July 2001 Bush visited the pope at Castel Gandolfo.[217]

During his Presidential campaign, Bush's foreign policy platform included support for stronger economic and political relationship with Latin Americas, especially Mexico, and a reduction of involvement in "nation-building" and other small-scale military engagements. The administration pursued a national missile defense.[218] Bush was an advocate of China's entry into the World Trade Organization.[219] He said free trade was a force for democratization in China.[220]

In his 2002 State of the Union Address, Bush referred to an axis of evil including Iraq, Iran and North Korea.[221] After the September 11 attacks on New York, Bush launched the War on Terror, in which the United States military and a small international coalition invaded Afghanistan, the location ofOsama Bin Laden, who planned the New York attacks. In 2003, Bush then launched the invasion of Iraq, searching for Weapons of Mass Destruction, which he described as being part of the War on Terrorism.[222]

Those invasions led to the toppling of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Since the 2003 invasion more than one hundred thousand have died in Iraq.
Countries visited by President George W. Bush during his terms in office

Bush began his second term with an emphasis on improving strained relations with European nations. He appointed long-time adviser Karen Hughes to oversee a global public relations campaign. Bush lauded the pro-democracy struggles in Georgia and Ukraine.

In March 2006, a visit to India led to renewed ties between the two countries, reversing decades of U.S. policy.[223] The visit focused particularly on areas of nuclear energy and counter-terrorism cooperation, discussions that would lead eventually to the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement.[224][225]This is in stark contrast to the stance taken by his predecessor, Clinton, whose approach and response to India after the 1998 nuclear tests was that of sanctions and hectoring. The relationship between India and the United States was one that dramatically improved during Bush's tenure.[226]

Midway through Bush's second term, it was questioned whether Bush was retreating from his freedom and democracy agenda, highlighted in policy changes toward some oil-rich former Soviet republics in central Asia.[227]

In an address before both Houses of Congress on September 20, 2001, Bush thanked the nations of the world for their support following the September 11 attacks. He specifically thanked British Prime Minister Tony Blair for traveling to the Washington to show "unity of purpose with America", and said "America has no truer friend than Great Britain."[228]
September 11, 2001
Main article: September 11 attacks
Bush, standing with firefighter Bob Beckwith, addresses rescue workers atGround Zero in New York, September 14, 2001.

The September 11 terrorist attacks were a major turning point in Bush's presidency. That evening, he addressed the nation from the Oval Office, promising a strong response to the attacks. He also emphasized the need for the nation to come together and comfort the families of the victims. On September 14, he visitedGround Zero, meeting with Mayor Rudy Giuliani, firefighters, police officers, and volunteers. Bush addressed the gathering via a megaphone while standing on a heap of rubble, to much applause: "I can hear you. The rest of the world hears you. And the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon."[
In a September 20 speech, Bush condemned Osama bin Laden and his organization Al-Qaeda, and issued an ultimatum to the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, where bin Laden was operating, to "hand over the terrorists, or ... share in their fate".[230]
War on Terrorism
Main article: War on Terror
Bush presents then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

After September 11, Bush announced a global War on Terror. The Afghan Taliban regime was not forthcoming with Osama bin Laden, so Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime.[231] In his January 29, 2002 State of the Union Address, he asserted that an "axis of evil" consisting of North Korea, Iran, and Iraq was "arming to threaten the peace of the world" and "pose[d] a grave and growing danger".[232] The Bush Administration asserted both a right and the intention to wage preemptive war, or preventive war.[233] This became the basis for the Bush Doctrine which weakened the unprecedented levels of international and domestic support for the United States which had followed the September 11 attacks.[234]

Dissent and criticism of Bush's leadership in the War on Terror increased as the war in Iraq continued.[235][236][237] In 2006, a National Intelligence Estimate concluded that the Iraq War had become the "cause célèbre for jihadists" which were growing.[238][239]
Afghanistan
Bush and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan appear together in 2006 at a joint news conference in Kabul.

On October 7, 2001, U.S. and British forces initiated bombing campaigns that led to the arrival of Northern Alliance troops in Kabul on November 13. The main goals of the war were to defeat the Taliban, drive al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan, and capture key al-Qaeda leaders. In December 2001, the Pentagon reported that the Taliban had been defeated,[240] but cautioned that the war would go on to continue weakening Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders.[240] Later that month the UN had installed the Afghan Transitional Administration chaired by Hamid Karzai.[241][242]

Efforts to kill or capture al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden failed as he escaped a battle in December 2001 in the mountainous region of Tora Bora, which the Bush Administration later acknowledged to have resulted from a failure to commit enough U.S. ground troops.[243] On March 13, 2002, Bush stated that "I truly am not that concerned about him" when asked about bin Laden, brushing him off as "a person who has now been marginalized", despite declaring that he was wanted "Dead or Alive" shortly after 9/11, and statements from U.S. commanders that bin Laden was "still a threat in the new Afghanistan".[244] It was not until May 2011, two years after Bush left office, that bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces. Bin Laden's successor,Ayman al-Zawahiri, as well as the leader of the Taliban, Mohammed Omar, remain at large.

Despite the initial success in driving the Taliban from power in Kabul, by early 2003 the Taliban was regrouping, amassing new funds and recruits.[245] In 2006, the Taliban insurgency appeared larger, fiercer and better organized than expected, with large-scale allied offensives such as Operation Mountain Thrust attaining limited success.[246][247][248] As a result, Bush commissioned 3,500 additional troops to the country in March 2007.[249]
Iraq
Main article: Iraq War
Bush, with Naval Flight OfficerLieutenant Ryan Philips, in the flight suit he wore for histelevised arrival and speech in 2003

Beginning with his January 29, 2002 State of the Union address, Bush began publicly focusing attention on Iraq, which he labeled as part of an "axis of evil" allied with terrorists and posing "a grave and growing danger" to U.S. interests through possession of weapons of mass destruction.[232][250]

In the latter half of 2002, CIA reports contained assertions of Saddam Hussein's intent of reconstituting nuclear weapons programs, not properly accounting for Iraqi biological and chemical weapons, and that some Iraqi missiles had a range greater than allowed by the UN sanctions.[251][252] Contentions that the Bush Administration manipulated or exaggerated the threat and evidence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities would eventually become a major point of criticism for the president.[253][254]

In late 2002 and early 2003, Bush urged the United Nations to enforce Iraqi disarmament mandates, precipitating a diplomatic crisis. In November 2002, Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei led UN weapons inspectors in Iraq, but were advised by the U.S. to depart the country four days prior to the U.S. invasion, despite their requests for more time to complete their tasks.[255] The U.S. initially sought a UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of military force but dropped the bid for UN approval due to vigorous opposition from several countries.[256]

More than 20 nations (most notably the United Kingdom), designated the "coalition of the willing" joined the United States[257] in invading Iraq. They launched the invasion on March 20, 2003. The Iraqi military was quickly defeated. The capital, Baghdad, fell on April 9, 2003. On May 1, Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq. The initial success of U.S. operations increased his popularity, but the U.S. and allied forces faced a growing insurgency led by sectarian groups; Bush's "Mission Accomplished" speech was later criticized as premature.[258] From 2004 until 2007, the situation in Iraq deteriorated further, with some observers arguing that there was a full scale civil war in Iraq.[259] Bush's policies met with criticism, including demands domestically to set a timetable to withdraw troops from Iraq. The 2006 report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, led by James Baker, concluded that the situation in Iraq was "grave and deteriorating". While Bush admitted that there were strategic mistakes made in regards to the stability of Iraq,[260] he maintained he would not change the overall Iraq strategy.[261][262]
Bush shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

In January 2005, free, democratic elections were held in Iraq for the first time in 50 years.[263] According to Iraqi National Security Advisor Mowaffak al-Rubaie, "This is the greatest day in the history of this country."[263] Bush praised the event as well, saying that the Iraqis "have taken rightful control of their country's destiny".[263] This led to the election of Jalal Talabani as President and Nouri al-Maliki as Prime Minister of Iraq. A referendum to approve a constitution in Iraq was held in October 2005, supported by most Shiites and many Kurds.[264]

On January 10, 2007, Bush addressed the nation regarding the situation in Iraq. In this speech, he announced a surge of 21,500 more troops for Iraq, as well as a job program for Iraqis, more reconstruction proposals, and $1.2 billion for these programs.[265] On May 1, 2007, Bush used his veto for only the second time in his presidency, rejecting a congressional bill setting a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.[266] Five years after the invasion, Bush called the debate over the conflict "understandable" but insisted that a continued U.S. presence there was crucial.[267]

In March 2008, Bush praised the Iraqi government's "bold decision" to launch the Battle of Basra against the Mahdi Army, calling it "a defining moment in the history of a free Iraq".[268] He said he would carefully weigh recommendations from his commanding General David Petraeus and AmbassadorRyan Crocker about how to proceed after the end of the military buildup in the summer of 2008. He also praised the Iraqis' legislative achievements, including a pension law, a revised de-Baathification law, a new budget, an amnesty law, and a provincial powers measure that, he said, set the stage for the Iraqi elections.[269] A March 13, 2008, poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported that 53% of Americans believe that "the U.S. will ultimately succeed in achieving its goals" in Iraq.[270] That figure was up from 42% in September 2007 and the highest since 2006.[270]

On July 31, 2008, Bush announced that with the end of July, American troop deaths had reached their lowest number—thirteen—since the war began in 2003.[271] Due to increased stability in Iraq, Bush announced the withdrawal of additional American forces.[271] This reflected an emerging consensus between the White House and the Pentagon that the war has "turned a corner".[271]He also described what he saw as the success of the 2007 troop surge.[271]
Surveillance

Following the events of September 11, Bush issued an executive order authorizing the President's Surveillance Program which included allowing the NSA to monitor communications between suspected terrorists outside the U.S and parties within the U.S. without obtaining a warrant as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.[272] As of 2009, the other provisions of the program remained highly classified.[273]) Once the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel questioned its original legal opinion that FISA did not apply in a time of war, the program was subsequently re-authorized by the President on the basis that the warrant requirements of FISA were implicitly superseded by the subsequent passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists.[274] The program proved to be controversial, as critics of the administration, as well as organizations such as the American Bar Association, argued that it was illegal.[275]In August 2006, a U.S. district court judge ruled that the NSA electronic surveillance program was unconstitutional,[276] but on July 6, 2007, that ruling was vacated by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked standing.[277] On January 17, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales informed U.S. Senate leaders that the program would not be reauthorized by the President, but would be subjected to judicial oversight.[278]
At the military parade celebrating the sixtieth anniversary of victory in World War II, Red Square, Moscow
Interrogation policies

Bush authorized the CIA to use waterboarding as one of several enhanced interrogation techniques.[279][280][281] Between 2002 and 2003 the CIA considered certain enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, to be legal based on a secret Justice Department legal opinion arguing that terror detainees were not protected by the Geneva Conventions' ban on torture.[282] The CIA had exercised the technique on certain key terrorist suspects under authority given to it in the Bybee Memo from the Attorney General, though that memo was later withdrawn.[283] While not permitted by the U.S. Army Field Manuals which assert "that harsh interrogation tactics elicit unreliable information",[282] the Bush administration believed these enhanced interrogations "provided critical information" to preserve American lives.[284] Critics, such as former CIA officer Bob Baer, have stated that information was suspect, "you can get anyone to confess to anything if the torture's bad enough."[285]

On October 17, 2006, Bush signed into law the Military Commissions Act of 2006,[286] a law enacted in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision inHamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006),[287] which allows the U.S. government to prosecute unlawful enemy combatants by military commission rather than a standard trial. The law also denies them access to habeas corpus and bars the torture of detainees, but allows the president to determine what constitutes torture.[286]

On March 8, 2008, Bush vetoed H.R. 2082,[288] a bill that would have expanded congressional oversight over the intelligence community and banned the use of waterboarding as well as other forms of interrogation not permitted under the United States Army Field Manual on Human Intelligence Collector Operations, saying that "the bill Congress sent me would take away one of the most valuable tools in the War on Terror".[289] In April 2009, the ACLU sued and won release of the secret memos that had authorized the Bush administration's interrogation tactics.[290] One memo detailed specific interrogation tactics including a footnote that described waterboarding as torture as well as that the form of waterboarding used by the CIA was far more intense than authorized by the Justice Department.[291]
Bush with China's President andCommunist party leader Hu Jintao in 2006
North Korea

Bush publicly condemned Kim Jong-il of North Korea, naming North Korea one of three states in an "axis of evil", and saying that "the United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."[232] Within months, "both countries had walked away from their respective commitments under the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework of October 1994."[292] North Korea's October 9, 2006, detonation of a nuclear device further complicated Bush's foreign policy, which centered for both terms of his presidency on "[preventing] the terrorists and regimes who seek chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons from threatening the United States and the world".[232] Bush condemned North Korea's position, reaffirmed his commitment to "a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula", and stated that "transfer of nuclear weapons or material by North Korea to states or non-state entities would be considered a grave threat to the United States", for which North Korea would be held accountable.[293] On May 7, 2007, North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear reactors immediately pending the release of frozen funds held in a foreign bank account. This was a result of a series of three-way talks initiated by the United States and including China.[294] On September 2, 2007, North Korea agreed to disclose and dismantle all of its nuclear programs by the end of 2007.[295] By May 2009, North Korea had restarted its nuclear program and threatened to attack South Korea.[296]
Syria
Bush with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Shanghai, October 21, 2001

Bush expanded economic sanctions on Syria.[297] In early 2007, the Treasury Department, acting on a June 2005 executive order, froze American bank accounts of Syria's Higher Institute of Applied Science and Technology, Electronics Institute, and National Standards and Calibration Laboratory. Bush's order prohibits Americans from doing business with these institutions suspected of helping spread weapons of mass destruction[298] and being supportive of terrorism.[299] Under separate executive orders signed by Bush in 2004 and later 2007, the Treasury Department froze the assets of two Lebanese and two Syrians, accusing them of activities to "undermine the legitimate political process in Lebanon" in November 2007. Those designated included: Assaad Halim Hardan, a member of Lebanon's parliament and current leader of the Syrian Socialist National Party; Wi'am Wahhab, a former member of Lebanon's government (Minister of the Environment) under Prime Minister Omar Karami (2004–2005); Hafiz Makhluf, a colonel and senior official in the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate and a cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; and Muhammad Nasif Khayrbik, identified as a close adviser to Assad.[300]
Africa

Bush has worked to reduce the HIV/AIDS epidemics in Africa, stop the spread of malaria, and rebuild broken nations from their genocidal pasts. One of the most notable programs initiated by Bush is the PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) Program, which was a commitment of $15 billion over five years (2003–2008) from the United States to fight the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.[301]
Assassination attempt

On May 10, 2005, Vladimir Arutyunian, a native Georgian who was born to a family of ethnic Armenians, threw a live hand grenade toward a podium where Bush was speaking at Freedom Squarein Tbilisi, Georgia. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was seated nearby. It landed in the crowd about 65 feet (20 m) from the podium after hitting a girl, but it did not detonate. Arutyunian was arrested in July 2005, confessed, was convicted and was given a life sentence in January 2006.[302]
Other issues
Bush, Mahmoud Abbas, and Ariel Sharonmeet at the Red Sea Summit in Aqaba, Jordan, June 4, 2003.

Bush withdrew U.S. support for several international agreements, including the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) with Russia.

Bush emphasized a careful approach to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians; he denounced Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat for his support of violence, but sponsored dialogues between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Bush supported Sharon's unilateral disengagement plan, and lauded the democratic elections held in Palestine after Arafat's death.

Bush also expressed U.S. support for the defense of Taiwan following the stand-off in April 2001 with the People's Republic of China over the Hainan Island incident, when an EP-3E Aries II surveillance aircraft collided with a People's Liberation Army Air Force jet, leading to the detention of U.S. personnel. In 2003–2004, Bush authorized U.S. military intervention in Haiti and Liberia to protect U.S. interests. Bush condemned the militia attacks Darfur and denounced the killings in Sudan as genocide.[303] Bush said that an international peacekeeping presence was critical in Darfur, but opposed referring the situation to the International Criminal Court.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko meeting with Bush on April 1, 2008

In his State of the Union address in January 2003, Bush outlined a five-year strategy for global emergency AIDS relief, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. Bush announced $15 billion for this effort[304] which directly supported life-saving antiretroviral treatment for more than 3.2 million men, women and children worldwide.[305]

On June 10, 2007, he met with Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha and became the first president to visit Albania.[306] Bush has voiced his support for theindependence of Kosovo.[307] Bush opposed South Ossetia's independence.[308] On August 15, 2008, Bush said of Russia's invasion of the country of Georgia: "Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century."[309]

Bush opened the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Departing from previous practice, he stood among a group of U.S. athletes rather than from a ceremonial stand or box, saying: "On behalf of a proud, determined, and grateful nation, I declare open the Games of Salt Lake City, celebrating the Olympic Winter Games."[310] In 2008, in the course of a good-will trip to Asia, he attended the Summer Olympics in Beijing.[311]
Judicial appointments
Supreme Court

Following the announcement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement on July 1, 2005, Bush nominated John Roberts to succeed her. On September 5, following the death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, this nomination was withdrawn and Bush instead nominated Roberts for Chief Justice to succeed Rehnquist. Roberts was confirmed by the Senate as the 17th Chief Justice on September 29, 2005.

On October 3, 2005, Bush nominated long time White House Counsel Harriet Miers for O'Connor's position. After facing significant opposition from both parties, who found her to be ill-prepared and uninformed on the law,[312] Miers asked that her name be withdrawn on October 27. Four days later, on October 31, Bush nominated federal appellate judge Samuel Alito. Alito was confirmed as the 110th Supreme Court Justice on January 31, 2006.[313]
Other courts

In addition to his two Supreme Court appointments, Bush appointed 61 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals and 261 judges to the United States district courts. Each of these numbers, along with his total of 324 judicial appointments, is third in American history, behind both Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. Bush experienced a number of judicial appointment controversies. Debate during one confirmation session lasted "39 stupefying hours" according to The New York Times. On August 3, 2001, the Senate did not consent to keep existing nominations in status quo, returning 40 judicial nominations, and 164 total nominations.[314][315][316]

At the outset, Judicature magazine noted that the "Senate Democrats were gearing up for the approaching confirmation hearings" before the first set of nominees were sent to the Senate. It then cites the New York Times as saying "Senate Democrats have pledged they will not automatically vote to confirm Mr. Bush's judicial nominees and will subject them to intense scrutiny."[317]

The Senate only confirmed 8 out of 60 judicial nominations by October 2001. In February 2003, the Democrats successfully filibustered the nomination of Miguel Estrada.[318]
Public image and perception
Domestic
approve
disapprove
unsureGallup/USA Today Bush public opinion polling from February 2001 to January 2009. Blue denotes approve, red disapprove and green unsure.
Image

Bush's upbringing in West Texas, his accent, his vacations on his Texas ranch, and his penchant for country metaphors contribute to his folksy, American cowboy image.[319][320] "I think people look at him and think John Wayne," said Piers Morgan, editor of the British Daily Mirror.[321] It has been suggested[by whom?] that Bush's accent was an active choice, as a way of distinguishing himself from Northeastern intellectuals and anchoring himself to his Texas roots.[322] Both supporters and detractors have pointed to his country persona as reasons for their support or criticism.[320]

Bush's intelligence has been satirized by the media,[323] comedians, and other politicians.[324][325] Detractors tended to cite linguistic errors made by Bush during his public speeches, which are colloquially termed as Bushisms.[326] Editorials in Harper's Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post,Common Dreams NewsCenter, and The Nation have referred to Bush as "the worst president ever".[327][328][329][330][331] In contrast to his father, who was perceived as having troubles with an overarching unifying theme, Bush embraced larger visions and was seen as a man of larger ideas and associated huge risks.[332] Tony Blair wrote in 2010 that the caricature of Bush as being dumb is "ludicrous" and that Bush is "very smart".[333]
Job approval

Bush began his presidency with approval ratings near 50%.[334] After the September 11 attacks, Bush gained an approval rating of 90%,[335] maintaining 80–90% approval for four months after the attacks. It remained over 50% during most of his first term[14] and then fell to as low as 19% in his second term.[336]

In 2000 and again in 2004, Time magazine named George W. Bush as its Person of the Year, a title awarded to someone who the editors believe "has done the most to influence the events of the year".[337] In May 2004, Gallup reported that 89% of the Republican electorate approved of Bush.[338] However, the support waned due mostly to a minority of Republicans' frustration with him on issues of spending, illegal immigration, and Middle Eastern affairs.[339]
Bush pays a surprise visit to Baghdad International Airport, November 27, 2003. Bush's popularity was still relatively high at that time.

Within the United States armed forces, according to an unscientific survey, the president was strongly supported in the 2004 presidential elections.[340]While 73% of military personnel said that they would vote for Bush, 18% preferred his Democratic rival, John Kerry.[340] According to Peter Feaver, aDuke University political scientist who has studied the political leanings of the U.S. military, members of the armed services supported Bush because they found him more likely than Kerry to complete the War in Iraq.[340]

Bush's approval rating went below the 50% mark in AP-Ipsos polling in December 2004.[341] Thereafter, his approval ratings and approval of his handling of domestic and foreign policy issues steadily dropped. Bush received heavy criticism for his handling of the Iraq War, his response to Hurricane Katrinaand to the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse, NSA warrantless surveillance, the Plame affair, and Guantanamo Bay detention camp controversies.[342] There were calls for Bush's impeachment, though most polls showed a plurality of Americans would not support such an action.[343] The arguments offered for impeachment usually centered on the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy,[344] the Bush administration's justification for the war in Iraq,[345] and alleged violations of the Geneva Conventions.[346] Representative Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio who had run against Bush during the 2004 presidential campaign, introduced 35 articles of impeachment on the floor of the House of Representatives against Bush on June 9, 2008, but SpeakerNancy Pelosi declared that impeachment was "off the table".[347]

Polls conducted in 2006 showed an average of 37% approval ratings for Bush,[348] the lowest for any second-term president at that point of his term since Harry S. Truman in March 1951 (when Truman's approval rating was 28%),[341][349] which contributed to what Bush called the "thumping" of the Republican Party in the 2006 mid-term elections.[350] Throughout most of 2007, Bush's approval rating hovered in the mid-thirties;[351] the average for his entire second term was 37%, according to Gallup.[352]
Bush approval rating with key events marked 2001–2006

By the beginning of 2008, his final year in office, Bush’s approval rating had dropped to a low of just 19%, largely from the loss of support among Republicans.[336] Commenting on his low poll numbers and accusations of being "the worst president,"[353][354] Bush would say, "I make decisions on what I think is right for the United States based upon principles. I frankly don't give a damn about the polls."[355]

In the spring of that year, Bush's disapproval ratings reached the highest ever recorded for any president in the 70-year history of the Gallup poll, with 69% of those polled in April 2008 disapproving of the job Bush was doing as president and 28% approving — although the majority (66%) of Republicans still approved of his job performance.[356] In polls conducted in the fall, just before the 2008 election, his approval ratings remained at record lows of 19–20%,[357][358] while his disapproval ratings ranged from 67% to as high as 75%.[358][359] In polling conducted January 9—11, 2009, his final job approval rating by Gallup was 34%, which placed him on par with Jimmy Carter and Harry Truman, the other presidents whose final Gallup ratings measured in the low 30's (Nixon's final Gallup approval rating was even lower, at 24%).[360] According to a CBS News/New York Times poll conducted January 11—15, 2009, Bush's final approval rating in office was 22%.[357]

Early in his presidency, following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, he had achieved the highest job approval rating of any American president since World War II, at 90%;[356][357] but Bush left the White House as one of the most unpopular presidents, second in overall unpopularity only to Richard Nixon.[360][361]
Assessment by historians

In 2006, 744 professional historians surveyed by Siena College regarded Bush's presidency as follows: Great: 2%; Near Great: 5%; Average: 11%; Below Average: 24%; Failure: 58%.[362] Thomas Kelly, professor emeritus of American studies at Siena College, said that "In this case, current public opinion polls actually seem to cut the President more slack than the experts do."[362] Similar outcomes were retrieved by two informal surveys done by the History News Network in 2004[363] and 2008.[364]

Bush was dismissive of the negative evaluations by historians, saying, "to assume that historians can figure out the effect of the Bush administration before the Bush administration has ended is just ... in my mind ... not an accurate reflection upon how history works,"[355] and "I read three histories of George Washington last year. The first President of the United States is still being analyzed by historians, which oughtta (sic) say to this president and future president: 'Do what you think is right and eventually historians will figure out whether it made sense or not.'"[365]

A 2010 Siena College poll of 238 Presidential scholars found that Bush was ranked 39th out of 43, with poor ratings in handling of the economy, communication, ability to compromise, foreign policy accomplishments and intelligence.[366]
Foreign perceptions
Bush with President Pervez Musharraf of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in late 2006

Bush has been criticized internationally and targeted by the global anti-war and anti-globalization campaigns, particularly for his administration's foreign policy.[367][368] Views of him within the international community are more negative than previous American Presidents, with France largely opposed to what he advocated.[369]

Bush was described as having especially close personal relationships with Tony Blair and Vicente Fox, although formal relations were sometimes strained.[370][371][372] Other leaders, such as Afghan president Hamid Karzai,[373] Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni,[374] Spanish prime ministerJosé Luis Rodríguez Zapatero,[375] and Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez,[376] have openly criticized the president. Later in Bush's presidency, tensions arose between himself and Vladimir Putin, which has led to a cooling of their relationship.[377]
Anti-war demonstration against a visit by George W. Bush to London in 2008

In 2006, most respondents in 18 of 21 countries surveyed around the world were found to hold an unfavorable opinion of Bush. Respondents indicated that they judged his administration as negative for world security.[378][379] In 2007, the Pew Global Attitudes Project reported that during the Bush presidency, attitudes towards the United States and the American people became less favorable around the world.[380]

A March 2007 survey of Arab opinion conducted by Zogby International and the University of Maryland found that Bush was the most disliked leader in the Arab world.[381]

The Pew Research Center's 2007 Global Attitudes poll found that out of 47 countries, in only nine countries did most respondents express "a lot of confidence" or "some confidence" in Bush: Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Israel, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, and Uganda.[382]

During a June 2007 visit to the predominantly Muslim[383] Eastern European nation of Albania, Bush was greeted enthusiastically. Albania has a population of 2.8 million,[384] has troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and the country's government is highly supportive of American foreign policy.[385] A huge image of the President was hung in the middle of the capital city of Tirana flanked by Albanian and American flags while a local street was named after him.[386][387] A shirt-sleeved statue of Bush was unveiled in Fushe-Kruje, a few kilometers northwest of Tirana.[388] The Bush administration's support for the independence of Albanian-majority Kosovo, while endearing him to the Albanians, has troubled U.S. relations with Serbia, leading to the February 2008 torching of the U.S. embassy in Belgrade.[389]
Acknowledgements and Dedications

On May 7, 2005 at an official state visit in Latvia, George W. Bush was awarded the Order of the Three Stars presented to him by president Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga.[390] A few places outside the United States bear George W. Bush's name. In 2005, the Tbilisi City Council voted 29–12 in favor to rename a street in honor of the U.S. president.[391]Previously known as Melaani Drive, the street links the Georgian capital's airport with the city center and was used by Bush's motorcade during his visit four months earlier.[392] Similarly, a street in Tirana, formerly known as Rruga Puntorët e Rilendjes, situated directly outside the Albanian Parliament, was renamed after Bush a few days before he made the first-ever visit by an American president to Albania in June 2007.[393] In Jerusalem, a small plaza with a monument bearing his name is also dedicated to President Bush.[citation needed]
Post-presidency
Official White House portrait of George W. Bush.
George and Laura Bush wave to a crowd of 1000 at Andrews Air Force Basebefore their final departure to Texas, January 20, 2009.

Following the inauguration of Barack Obama, Bush and his family flew from Andrews Air Force Base to a homecoming celebration in Midland, Texas, following which they returned to their ranch in Crawford, Texas.[394] They bought a home in the Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas, Texas, where they settled down.[395]

Since leaving office, Bush has kept a relatively low profile[396] though he has made public appearances, most notably after the release of his memoirs in 2010 and for the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in 2011. He makes regular appearances at various events throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area, most notably when he conducted the opening coin toss at the Dallas Cowboys first game in the team's new stadium in Arlington[397] and an April 2009 visit to a Texas Rangers game, where he thanked the people of Dallas for helping him settle in and was met with a standing ovation.[398]

In 2009, he delivered a speech in Calgary, Alberta,[399][400] appeared via video on The Colbert Report during which he praised U.S. troops for earning a "special place in American history,"[401] and attended the funeral of Senator Ted Kennedy.[402] Bush made his debut as a motivational speaker on October 26 at the "Get Motivated" seminar in Dallas.[403] In the aftermath of the Fort Hood shooting that took place on November 5, 2009 in Texas, the Bushes paid an undisclosed visit to the survivors and victims' families the day following the shooting, having contacted the base commander requesting that the visit be private and not involve press coverage.[404] They spent one to two hours at the base.
Bush, Obama, and Clinton, January 2010

Bush released his memoirs, Decision Points, on November 9, 2010. During a pre-release appearance promoting the book, Bush said he considered his biggest accomplishment to be keeping "the country safe amid a real danger," and his greatest failure to be his inability to secure the passage of Social Security reform.[405] At President Obama's request, Bush and Bill Clinton established the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund to raise contributions for relief and recovery efforts following the 2010 Haiti earthquake earlier in January.[406] He also made news defending his administration's enhanced interrogation techniques, specifically the waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, saying, "I'd do it again to save lives."[407] He also attended every home playoff game for the Texas Rangers 2010 season and, accompanied by his father, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington for Game 4 of the 2010 World Series on October 31, 2010.[408]

In February 2011, Bush scrapped a planned visit to Switzerland amid threats of protest at a speech he intended to give at a dinner in Geneva; human rights groups have claimed the cancellation was due to fears of arrest by Swiss authorities based on his acknowledgement that he ordered thewaterboarding of detainees.[409][410] Human rights groups, including the Center for Constitutional Rights, filed papers with Swiss authorities demanding his criminal prosecution pursuant to the Convention on Torture, an international treaty that requires authorities of all countries that have ratified the treaty to open an investigation of people suspected to torturing.[410][411] On May 2, 2011, President Obama called Bush, who was at a restaurant with his wife, to inform him that Osama bin Laden had been killed.[412] The Bushs' joined the Obamas in New York City to mark the tenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At the Ground Zero memorial, Bush read a letter that President Abraham Lincoln wrote to a widow who lost five sons during the Civil War.[413]

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