W trakcie prezydentury Busha (2001-2009), Stany Zjednoczone rozpoczęły globalną wojnę z terroryzmem i ucierpiały z powodu silnego kryzysu gospodarczego.
- Republican George W. Bush served two terms as president, from 2001-2009.
- The September 11, 2001 terrorist attack led President Bush to reframe American foreign policy as a War on Terror, and to fight two wars in the Middle East.
- A housing market crash led to a severe economic downturn in President Bush’s final years in office.
The presidential election of 2000
Republican George Walker Bush served for two terms as President of the United States from 2001-2009.
Describing himself as a “compassionate conservative,” Bush—former governor of Texas and the son of former President George H.W. Bush—became President of the United States in 2001 in one of the closest US presidential elections ever. Al Gore, Bush’s Democratic rival, won the popular vote by a narrow margin, but Bush attained a plurality of votes from the electoral college.
Ultimately, the outcome hinged on election results from the state of Florida, where voting irregularities created uncertainty about who had truly triumphed. The Florida Supreme Court authorized a vote recount, but the Bush campaign appealed the decision. The case of Bush v. Gore went to the Supreme Court, which decided to halt the recount and declare Bush the winner.
President Bush’s foreign policy
On September 11, 2001, 19 terrorists affiliated with al-Qaeda hijacked and crashed 4 airplanes into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. (the fourth plane crashed in a field in central Pennsylvania).
Shortly thereafter, the Bush administration declared a Global War on Terror. The first front in this war was Afghanistan, where the governing Taliban regime had provided safe haven to al-Qaeda.
In 2003, the United States went to war with Iraq. Though US forces quickly ousted (and eventually killed) Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, the conflict dragged on for years. Before the war began, intelligence agencies in the United States and around the world claimed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, but no such weapons were found during the war or in its aftermath.
A key component of the Global War on Terror was the USA Patriot Act (2001) which sought to protect the nation from future acts of terror by expanding domestic surveillance programs and permitting the use of enhanced interrogation techniques to extract information from detainees. Critics of the law insisted that it subverted valuable individual freedoms, and that the act violated the Geneva Convention by allowing what they considered torture. The Patriot Act prompted an ongoing public debate about the balance between security and freedom in an age of terrorism.
President Bush’s domestic policy agenda
George W. Bush came into office with an ambitious domestic policy agenda that included reforms in the areas of education, Social Security, and immigration.
Although most elements of Bush’s domestic agenda were conservative, he also supported spending on programs traditionally associated with liberal Democrats. He actively supported the No Child Left Behind Act, a bipartisan effort to raise school standards in low-income areas. His successful support for a new federal program that subsidized the cost of prescription drugs for the elderly was considered by many the sort of government program historically supported by Democrats.
The Bush administration increased funding for many federal programs and agencies, while implementing some of the largest tax cuts in history. This substantially enlarged both the federal debt and the federal budget deficit. During Bush’s presidency the national debt doubled from around $5 trillion to $10 trillion.
In 2007 and 2008 the United States tumbled into a sharp economic recession when a multi-trillion dollar housing price collapse led the Federal Reserve and US Treasury Department to intensive direct economic intervention in the private sector to bail out failing financial institutions.
A combination of tax cuts, increased federal spending, economic recession, and vast expenditures on two wars in the Middle East led to the “Great Recession,” the worst economic crisis the country had faced since the Great Depression.
How did the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon fundamentally reshape US foreign policy?
Does President Bush bear responsibility for the “Great Recession”? Why or why not?
What were the most significant events of the Bush presidency?