SOURCE: book cover
Although presidential legacies often become clear only in the long term, the historical analysis of George W. Bush’s two terms in office will focus intently on the conduct and outcome of his foreign policy. The man who came to the Oval Office with a domestic policy agenda and no international experience will be remembered less for his attention to such initiatives as raising test scores or expanding trade liberalization than for taking the United States into wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, particularly the latter.
Bush’s intense involvement in international politics was unexpected but necessary after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Less than ten months after coming into office, he ordered U.S. troops into Afghanistan; in early 2003 he sent them to Iraq. He argued that it was necessary to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein in order to prevent the dictator from using weapons of mass destruction against the United States or giving them to terrorist groups like al-Qauda. The invasion and occupation provoked intense backlash and became Bush’s most contentious policy.
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This chapter is part of Judging Bush, edited by Robert Maranto, Tom Lansford, and Jeremy Johnson, and published by Stanford University Press.