“I, George Walker Bush, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States.”
Terrorism, war, natural disasters and economic collapse — George W Bush has a lot to reflect on as he steps in history. His two terms in office have been among the most eventful of modern-day presidencies. His preference for a cautious foreign policy was turned on its head by the September 11th attacks. It was a day that changed America and the rest of the world, and shaped the rest of his presidency. War against the suspected perpetrators was first waged in Afghanistan. Bush then tackled another perceived threat in Iraq, dragging the United States into its bloodiest battles since Vietnam. Bush had declared “War on Terror” to protect America from future attacks.
But there were far reaching consequences.
“The Bush administration’s legacy problem around the world is largely related to Iraq and I think Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib were symptoms of the failure of Iraq. “
The US may have instigated regime change in Iraq — change that was welcomed by many in the region — but Bush himself became a hate-figure for many others across the Middle-East.
“Things did not go according to plan,” admitted Bush. “Let us put it that way. Anyway I think historians will look back and I think they will be able to have a better look at mistakes, after some time has passed. i do not think you can get the full breath of an administration until some time has passed.”
Domestic opposition to the war in Iraq undermined Bush’s popularity at home. It was one of several factors, including a perceived slow response by the federal government to the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Rightly or wrongly, many African Americans believed the White House reaction would have been different if New Orleans had been a predominantly white city.
His administration’s responsiveness was again called into question as a housing market crisis developed into a full blown recession. It was to dominate the latter stages the Bush presidency.
With some much to contend with during his term in office it is unsurprising he appears to have given little thought to what happens next.
“You know, I just cannot envision myself, you know, the big straw hat and Hawaiian shirt sitting on some beach – particularly since I quit drinking,” said Bush.
This genial, straight-talking manner was what attracted many in the first place. His supporters will say his actions made the US a safer place and that the challenges he faced were not of his own making.