Miller Center

George W. Bush: Foreign Affairs

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The Bush administration’s responses to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, expanded presidential power in matters of national security. Bush transformed from being a President with questionable legitimacy, who had been selected in a controversial election, to taking on immense presidential emergency powers, defining the threat, and attacking the enemy. His administration justified its actions by citing Article II of the U.S. Constitution that outlines the powers of the President as commander in chief as well as legal authorizations passed by Congress. Following 9/11, Bush’s leadership became a rallying point for the nation. The American people were inclined to trust him because they believed in his ability to maintain their safety. In the weeks after the attack, Bush’s approval rating rose to 90 percent—the highest recorded job-approval rating in U.S. presidential history.  

September 11th Attacks

On Tuesday, September 11, 2001, George W. Bush began his day like any other, by reading his Bible, then taking an early morning run. The biggest headline in the paper that morning read that basketball star, Michael Jordan, would be leaving retirement to rejoin the National Basketball Association (NBA). President Bush was in Florida that day to visit the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota to highlight education reform. As he entered the school, he received a report that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. At that point, it was believed to be an accident. While he was taking part in a reading lesson with the children, his chief of staff informed him, “A second plane hit the second tower…America is under attack.” Bush later wrote about his response: “I made the decision not to jump up immediately and leave the classroom. I didn’t want to rattle the kids. I wanted to project a sense of calm…I had been in enough crises to know that the first thing a leader has to do is to project calm.”  

On the way to Air Force One, President Bush spoke to National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice who informed him that a third plane had crashed into the Pentagon, home to the Department of Defense, just outside Washington, D.C. Bush was evacuated to Air Force One from which he called Vice President Cheney to inform him that he would make decisions from the plane; Cheney would then implement his orders on the ground. All commercial flights were grounded shortly after the attacks. Bush’s first decision as a wartime commander in chief outlined the rules of engagement for unresponsive airliners near Washington, D.C., and New York City. He instructed Cheney to ensure any suspicious planes were first contacted and ordered to land. If this approach failed, President Bush ordered the planes to be shot down. 

Bush then faced another tough decision: where to land Air Force One. He wanted to reassure the nation by returning to Washington, but his Chief of Staff Andy Card and the Secret Service believed that the danger of being attacked was too high as they had strong evidence that more planes had been hijacked. Bush was adamantly opposed to appearing “on-the-run,” but realized that, as President, his safety was crucial. Air Force One was diverted to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana for fuel. 

Communication was difficult on Air Force One; it relied on local signals for live updates of the World Trade Center towers collapsing. Communication with Cheney and Rice over the secure line to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center in the White House was intermittent. On the plane, President Bush often received contradictory or wrong information. Bush could not even contact his wife, who was in the Capitol, where she had been scheduled to testify before a Senate Committee that day. After finding out that a fourth plane had gone down in Pennsylvania, Bush asked Cheney, “Did we shoot it down, or did it crash?” No one knew the answer. Bush wondered if he had ordered the death of innocent Americans. Later, he learned about the heroics of the passengers aboard Flight 93 who had attempted to overtake the hijackers to prevent the plane from reaching its target, which may have been the U.S. Capitol or the White House.

The September 11th attacks were carefully coordinated; each of the hijacked planes that struck New York departed within an hour and forty minutes of each other and were traveling to California from Boston, which meant they would strike in quick succession with tanks full of explosive jet fuel. Only eighteen minutes after the first collision, the second airliner struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Airport security, which primarily consisted of poorly paid and barely trained employees of private contractors, had been easily evaded. Bush signed legislation in November 2001 that created the Transportation Security Administration, which federalized all airport security screeners, a drastic departure from his laissez-faire labor policies but a necessary response to ensure national security.

Bush contacted Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and informed him that he considered the attacks an act of war and approved Rumsfeld’s decision to raise the military readiness level to DEFCON Three. He also told Rumsfeld that their first priority was to deal with the immediate crisis but then to mount a serious military response. From the Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, Bush held a national security meeting via videoconference in which he stressed that the country was at war against terror. 

Bush returned to Washington, D.C., that evening to address the nation. He made his position clear, “We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.” He closed with Psalm 23: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” Bush decided on three goals in the days that followed the attack: 1. Keep the terrorists from striking again; 2. Make it clear to the country and the world that the United States had embarked on a new kind of war; 3. Help the affected areas recover and make sure the terrorists did not succeed in shutting down the economy or dividing society.  

Nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on 9/11. Bush set Friday, September 14, 2001, as a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance. At a service held in Washington’s gothic National Cathedral, Bush eloquently comforted the crowd, “Grief and tragedy and hatred are only for a time. Goodness, remembrance, and love have no end. And the Lord of life holds all who die and all who mourn.” He then flew to New York City to visit Ground Zero, the site of the collapsed World Trade Towers, praying and weeping with the families. Bush decided to address the crowd and climbed atop a pile of collapsed metal. He was given a bullhorn, and when people yelled, “We can’t hear you,” Bush memorably shouted back, “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!”  The 9/11 attacks gave the Bush presidency a clear focus: to protect the American people at home and defeat terrorism abroad. The Bush administration’s response to the attacks combined military action overseas and strong defensive measures at home.


President Bush quickly formed a war cabinet on September 11, including Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Chief of Staff Andy Card, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Secretary of State Colin Powell. The principal target of U.S. military intelligence following 9/11 was identifying and addressing the source of the attacks. The immediate efforts of George Tenet, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), successfully identified al Qaeda, a militant Islamic terrorist organization, and its leader, Osama bin Laden. The Taliban, an extremist Islamic regime that controlled Afghanistan, offered bin Laden sanctuary, and al Qaeda trained thousands of terrorists in camps located in that country. In return for protection, bin Laden utilized his extensive personal fortune to support the Taliban. The insurgent leader had been identified as a threat before the September 11th attacks. The CIA had developed an operation to quietly neutralize bin Laden prior 9/11, but it was never implemented as bin Laden had not been considered a threat to homeland security. 

Prior to September 11, the United States had funneled CIA funds to the anti-Taliban group, the Northern Alliance, to combat the Taliban and al Qaeda forces in Afghanistan. After 9/11, the war cabinet quickly acted to target al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, but, by late September, the Bush administration had yet to determine the scope of the military response to 9/11. Some of his advisors argued for broad military action in both Afghanistan and Iraq. His cabinet was divided on the issue, even within itself: Colin Powell publicly opposed expansion to Iraq, but Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld favored ousting Saddam Hussein as part of the reaction. Bush initially ruled out expanding the war to Iraq, but he expected to revisit the question once the situation in Afghanistan was under control.  

Bush believed that the threat of U.S. power had lost credibility with terrorists due to irresolute responses to attacks during the 1990s. Seemingly, terrorists felt that they had an open invitation to attack, only expecting minimum retaliation. In the words of Osama bin Laden, the Americans were “paper tigers” who could be made to “run in less than twenty-four hours.” President Bush decided to respond decisively with American troops in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda. Congress passed a joint resolution authorizing the use of force against those responsible for the September 11 attacks, and Bush signed it on September 18, 2001. On October 7, the United States began air strikes against Taliban military installations and al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.  

General Tommy Franks’s war plan, which became known as “Operation Enduring Freedom,” consisted of four phases. The first phase connected the U.S. Special Forces with CIA teams to clear the way for conventional troops. Then the United States mounted a massive air campaign to take out al Qaeda and Taliban targets, and conducted humanitarian airdrops to deliver relief to the Afghan people. The third phase called for ground troops from both American and coalition partners to enter the country and work with Afghan forces to hunt down remaining Taliban and al Qaeda fighters. Finally, the American troops would stabilize the country and help the Afghan people build a free society. 

By early November, Special Forces and the Northern Alliance had liberated Mazar-i-Sharif, a strategic city in northern Afghanistan; most of the major northern cities fell soon after, forcing the Taliban to retreat from Kabul into the mountains of the South and East. Hamid Karzai, leader of southern oppositions forces, joined with Marines to take Kandahar on December 7, 2001, forcing the remaining Taliban and al Qaeda members to flee to the eastern border. In early 2002, “Operation Anaconda” effectively drove out the remaining Taliban and al Qaeda combatants. By spring 2003, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the al Qaeda mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was captured. Forces continued to focus on completely removing the Taliban and finding Osama bin Laden who had fled to Pakistan.

The Bush administration soon had to deal with the fact that rebuilding in Afghanistan would be a lengthy, complicated, and expensive process. By the summer of 2006, attacks throughout Afghanistan had drastically increased. The multilateral approach, dependent on international cooperation, had begun to fail. Bush decided to expand and improve U.S. involvement. He chose to take action in the fall of 2006, ordering a troop increase from about 20,000 to more than 30,000 over the next two years. The United States more than doubled funding for reconstruction, increased the size of the Afghan National Army, expanded intelligence efforts, and worked to reduce corruption in the new Afghan government.

After the majority of the insurgents had been driven from Afghanistan, the focus shifted to finishing off al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan. Negotiations with President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan were productive; he promised to hunt the terrorists within Pakistan’s borders, and the two governments agreed to exclude U.S. soldiers from operations within the country to avoid political tension. Despite Musharraf’s promises, political crisis and preparations for a potential war with India prevented a legitimate effort. Bush could not send ground troops into the nation, but the United States increased missile strikes and surveillance efforts by unmanned aerial vehicles against terrorists in the tribal regions.

The Bush Doctrine

Before a joint session of Congress on September 20, 2001, President Bush declared a new approach to foreign policy in response to 9/11: “Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated.” Bush declared that the United States considered any nation that supported terrorist groups a hostile regime. In his State of the Union speech in January 2002, President Bush called out an “Axis of Evil” consisting of North Korea, Iran, and Iraq, and he declared all a threat to American security. British and French allies did not receive Bush’s declaration enthusiastically because they believed Bush’s language to be overly aggressive.

These remarks later matured into the policies known as the Bush Doctrine, officially traceable to September 2002, when the White House released the National Security Strategy of the United States. The doctrine generally focused on three points. The first was preventive war in which the United States would strike an enemy nation or terrorist group before they had a chance to attack the United States. It focused on deterring any potential attacker. The second point was unilateral action in which the United States would act alone if necessary to defend itself either at home or abroad. The third point embraced spreading democracy and freedom around the world, focusing on concepts such as free markets, free trade, and individual liberty.

Reactions to the Bush Doctrine were mixed. Neoconservatives within and outside his administration strongly supported the idea of the United States acting on its own to ensure the country’s security and to protect the American people—preemptively, if necessary. Some opponents believed the doctrine was overly bellicose and its emphasis on preemptive war was unjust. Others believed the emphasis on spreading democracy around the world was naïve and unrealistic. As the situation in Iraq became increasingly unstable, the ideas behind the Bush Doctrine receded in prominence, even within the Bush administration.


As it turned out, Iraq was a war of choice rather than a war of necessity. The Bush administration had been considering how to address Iraq since the President’s first meeting of the National Security Council, months before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In light of intelligence reports describing an Iraqi plant that could be used to produce weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), the administration considered Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq a dangerous threat. Bush and neoconservative members of his administration wanted to develop Iraq into a democratic country friendly to U.S. interests in the heart of the Middle East, and he was clear that if Hussein was developing WMDs, the United States would not stand idly by. 

Many members of the Bush administration who had been in office during the Persian Gulf War of the early 1990s considered Iraq unfinished business. In the Gulf War, the United States had successfully driven Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, but stopped short of crossing into Iraq, leaving Saddam Hussein’s regime in power. Many senior policymakers had wanted to include Iraq in the immediate response to the attacks of 9/11 but President Bush decided to focus on Afghanistan. The administration temporarily put Iraq on the back burner while it turned its attention to al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Once the Taliban was in retreat by November 2001, Bush and his advisers returned to their concerns for Iraq. Although Bush publicly denied that a specific invasion plan for Iraq was underway, he began receiving briefings from U.S. Central Command on a war plan. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair met privately to discuss options. Blair preferred to wait for additional U.N. weapons inspections, but Bush wanted more immediate action to stymie the Iraqi dictator. President Bush had personally decided on the need to go to war, long before congressional or U.N. action. In March 2002, Bush sent Vice President Cheney to a conference of eleven countries in the Middle East to build support for a war. Blair and Secretary of State Powell wanted more international cover. They proposed the U.N. offer a disarmament proposition before military action would take place. If Iraq rejected the proposal, it would showcase its defiance of the international order, and the United States would have more political cover to respond.  

On September 7, 2002, during a war cabinet meeting held at Camp David, Bush allowed Vice President Cheney to debate Secretary of State Powell on the proper route forward. Cheney argued for a quicker move to war while Powell, the former U.S. Army General, counseled a slower approaching involving the United Nations. Professional military advisers also voiced concerns that achieving victory in Iraq would require a long, costly operation and that containment had been an effective policy so far. President Bush opted for further U.N. action with the knowledge that the United States would still likely pursue war with Iraq. Bush went on a public-opinion offensive, stressing that Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction were a threat to U.S. security. In an August 2002 speech, Vice President Cheney made the Administration’s case quite clear: “Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use them against our friends, against our allies, and against us.”

The CIA and National Security Council, however, did not necessarily concur. They believed that Iraq did, in fact, have WMDs, but that it did not necessarily have the capabilities to use them that Bush and Cheney believed. Furthermore, there was no evidence connecting Iraq with the attacks of 9/11. Bush continued to assert that the United States could not trust Saddam Hussein with WMDs and that they could easily be transferred to terrorists.

President Bush went to Congress with his case for the need to have the power to go to war if he found it necessary. A passionate debate ensued that ended with Congress passing a resolution authorizing the President to go to war with Iraq if he found it necessary. Bush spoke to the United Nations on the dangers of WMDs in the hands of a murderous dictator, making his case that it would be far riskier not to act, than to act. The United Nations approved a resolution for rigorous new arms inspections of Iraq, but without a positive response from Iraq. On March 17, 2003, Bush ordered Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq within 48 hours. In a speech to the nation, Bush noted: “Should Saddam Hussein choose confrontation, the American people can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war, and every measure will be taken to win it.” 

Characteristically, Hussein chose confrontation. On March 19, British and U.S. forces launched a bombing campaign of military and government offices in Baghdad. Ground troops invaded soon after, cleanly destroying the targets with relatively few American casualties. Iraq did not use any weapons of mass destruction against the invading force. It later was discovered that the regime had actually disposed of its WMD stockpile as requested, but had hid its actions from the world. It was a very costly bluff that would cost Saddam Hussein his country and his life, along with the lives of thousands of soldiers and civilians, too.

The Surge and Iraq Exit Plans

Although the United States and its allies quickly overthrew Saddam Hussein and defeated his forces, the situation in Iraq became increasingly unstable over time. Critics charged that the Bush administration did not have an adequate plan for Iraq after the initial war was won and Saddam Hussein was ousted from power. The Bush administration’s strategy had been to reduce the U.S. military presence as Iraq’s stability improved. Yet the goal proved unattainable, owing in part to the power vacuum left by the dismantling of the Iraqi army and the rise of sectarian violence within the two dominant strains of Islam in Iraq.

After the United States toppled the government, Iraq soon began to descend into chaos with increasing instability and violence from suicide attacks, car bombs, kidnappings, and beheadings. Sectarian violence racked the country as religious and ethnic sects battled for control. Insurgent forces targeted U.S. troops and supporters, as they sought to overthrow the new government. By the summer of 2006, an average of 120 Iraqis were dying each day from insurgent attacks. Al Qaeda saw an opportunity to exploit the instability in Iraq, and its recruits flooded into the country to train terrorists.

To counter the deteriorating situation in Iraq, the Bush administration developed a plan for a troop surge to increase the number of U.S. troops in order to stabilize Iraqi society and secure the civilian population. General David Petraeus was appointed to oversee a “surge”  of 20,000 troops in January 2007. American troops patrolled cities on foot with members of the Iraqi military to prepare them to step into a more independent role. The Democrat-controlled Congress vehemently disapproved of Bush’s actions and attempted to pass a war-funding bill mandating a troop withdrawal deadline later in 2007. Bush vetoed the bill, and, on May 25, 2007, he signed a bill fully funding the war with no set withdrawal date. American military deaths were at their highest average for the first several months of the surge, but there was a clear shift in the culture; counterinsurgency tips from Iraqi civilians doubled by May 2007 as U.S. troops created coalitions with Iraqis to increase stability. By the end of 2008, U.S. military and Iraqi civilian deaths had both declined by more than 60 percent.  

Agreements for Withdrawal and Iraqi Security

Bush emphasized a policy of “return on success”; essentially, the more successful the war effort, the more troops that could return home. The administration’s plan for withdrawal was to reduce the number of troops as the situation improved until the number deployed reached pre-surge levels; the United States would then reassess the situation. In 2008, the Bush administration entered into the Strategic Framework Agreement, which established a political, economic, and security relationship with the new government of Iraq; the agreement encouraged Iraqi sovereignty and created a normalized diplomatic relationship with it. Bush also signed the Status of Forces Agreement, defining the security relationship between the United States and Iraq as well as providing a plan for U.S. withdrawal by December 31, 2011, provided that stability continued to increase. In all, more than 4,200 U.S. soldiers died in Iraq during Bush’s presidency. 

Interrogation and Surveillance

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration felt its primary responsibility was to protect America from another attack. It justified many of its subsequent actions as being part of the commander-in-chief powers granted to the President under Article II, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution. Some of the actions that the Bush administration implemented were controversial. Two specific controversial areas were the administration’s treatment of captured prisoners and domestic surveillance. 

 A few days after the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force, which President Bush signed on September 18, 2001. It allowed the President to use force against those involved in the attacks or to prevent future attacks. Bush signed the USA Patriot Act into law in October 2001 to expand domestic security and surveillance, disrupt terrorist funding by cracking down on activities such as money laundering, and increase efficiency within the U.S. intelligence community.

On November 13, 2001, President Bush signed a military order that established military tribunals to try non-U.S. citizens fighting for al Qaeda or involved in terrorism against the United States. These tribunals functioned differently from courts within the U.S. legal system. The Bush administration decided to hold the accused terrorists at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, without a right to a writ of habeas corpus, that is, they could not challenge whether the U.S. government was holding them legally and therefore could be held indefinitely. The Bush administration also classified those accused terrorists as unlawful enemy combatants instead of prisoners of war, which placed them outside the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

Additionally the Bush administration authored legal memos justifying enhanced interrogation for those accused of fighting against the United States in the war on terror. These enhanced interrogation methods included sleep deprivation, slapping, waterboarding (simulated drowning), and subjecting prisoners to cold in order to extract information. Many critics considered these methods to be torture. The administration’s approval of enhanced interrogation methods led to much debate within and outside the government and along various points, including its legality, effectiveness, ethics, and the precedence created by the U.S. employing such tactics.

Enemy combatant cases gradually made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006), the Supreme Court ruled that President Bush had overstepped his authority by setting up military tribunals without congressional approval. In response, Bush worked with Congress to pass the Military Commissions Act of 2006, although the Supreme Court later ruled part of it unconstitutional because it suspended the writ of habeas corpus.

When photographs emerged in 2004 of prisoners being mistreated in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, it brought heightened worldwide scrutiny of the American government’s policies of treating prisoners. It also came to light that the CIA had been using rendition to move suspected terrorists from one country to another for the purposes of interrogating them. Under the policy of rendition, the CIA transferred prisoners to secret locations around the world that were outside the U.S. legal system to try to extract information about future terrorist attacks and the al Qaeda network, for example. Rendition was not new as it had been used during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, though less frequently.

Another controversial action of the Bush administration was domestic surveillance. President Bush created the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which allowed the National Security Agency (NSA) to monitor electronic communications without warrants to collect information about terrorist activities. Under the program, one of the people being monitored had to be a suspected terrorist, and one of them had to be outside the United States. When the program became public in 2005, critics were concerned that the program violated the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978, which was passed after the Watergate scandal. After President Richard Nixon ordered domestic spying on U.S. citizens, Congress passed FISA to regulate government surveillance, limiting it to foreign intelligence purposes and requiring that the government obtain warrants from a special FISA court before engaging in surveillance. Many Americans were concerned that the Terrorist Surveillance Program violated privacy rights and civil liberties for U.S. citizens. The Bush administration argued that it did not have to obtain warrants for this wiretapping because it had the authority through the commander-in-chief powers and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Act passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Issues such as enhanced interrogation, military tribunals, rendition, and warrantless wiretapping generated considerable controversy and public discussion. The Bush administration defended these measures with the argument that their priority had to be keeping the American people safe, and in an increasingly dangerous world, extraordinary measures were justified, They also pointed to other U.S. Presidents such as Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt who relied on strong executive power to conduct war and deal with times of uncertainty. Critics argued that if the United States sanctioned torture and ignored its legal safeguards, the country was turning its back on important founding principles such as the rule of law, the presumption of innocence and the protection of civil liberties. These debates were not fully resolved during the Bush administration and continued into the Obama presidency. 

Foreign Aid

In his memoir, Decision Points, President Bush wrote that he “considered America a generous nation with a moral responsibility to do our part to help relieve poverty and despair.” The most expansive and effective initiative of the Bush administration to bring relief to foreign nations was the policy to fight HIV/AIDS. When he took office in 2001, the United States was spending a little over $500 million a year to fight AIDS throughout the world, but the money was spread across six different agencies that appeared to lack a clear strategy. In Africa, HIV/AIDS had become an epidemic, with one out of every four adults carrying the disease in some countries. By 2010, the total number infected in Africa was projected to surpass 100 million people. Bush’s first step in fighting the disease was to make a commitment of $200 million to the U.N. Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS on May 11, 2001. 

In early 2002, Bush concluded that the Global Fund was not sufficiently responding to the AIDS crisis; the United States had contributed substantially to the fund by 2002, but the President believed that the program was insufficient. Bush announced the International Mother and Child HIV Prevention Initiative on June 19, 2002. The initiative focused on treating AIDS in women and stopping the spread of the disease to children by training local health care workers and purchasing medicine over the next five year. In 2003, Bush proposed a $15-billion initiative, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), which Congress passed to bring relief to Africa. By 2008, five years after the passage of PEPFAR, there was a large increase in the number of Africans who received AIDS medicine, from 50,000 to 3 million people. The plan was renewed in summer of 2008, which doubled the U.S. commitment to fight HIV/AIDS. By the time Bush left office in January 2009, PEPFAR had paid for the treatment of 2.1 million people and testing and counseling for more than 57 million. Many believe that the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa will be one of President Bush’s most important legacies.

In addition to AIDS, Africans were also suffering widely from malaria, which by 2005 accounted for 9 percent of deaths in Africa. In June 2005, Bush announced his President’s Malaria Initiative, a $1.2 billion program spanning five years that would fight the disease in fifteen African countries; it aimed to cut malaria deaths in half by the end of the plan. The initiative depended on prevention efforts such as indoor spraying of mosquitoes and insecticide-treated bed nets as well as delivering medicine to protect Africans from the ravages of malaria. The President’s Malaria Initiative continued after Bush left office, with the U.S. government’s Malaria Strategies for 2009-2014 and 2015-2020, hoping to continue to prevent or control the disease.

Bush announced the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), on March 14, 2002, as the centerpiece for his plan for foreign economic development. To be eligible for MCA funding, recipient nations were required to avoid corruption, enable market-based economic development, and encourage the health and education of their people. The Bush policy sought to treat economic aid as a long-term investment, rather than as short-term aid. The program invested $6.7 billion in 35 partner countries. Through this policy, the Bush administration expanded the number of U.S. free trade agreements from three to seventeen. Also, working with the G-8 partners, $34 billion in debt was cancelled for poor African countries, and many tariffs were eliminated on African exports. 

Citation Information

Consulting Editor

Gary L. Gregg II 

Professor Gregg is the director of the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville. He also holds the Mitch McConnell Chair in leadership. His writings include: 

Considering the Bush Presidency. (with Mark J. Rozell, Oxford University Press, 2004)

Thinking about the Presidency: Documents and Essays from the Founding to the Present. (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005)

Securing Democracy: Why We Have an Electoral College (2nd ed.). (ISI Books, 2008)

America's Forgotten Founders (2nd ed.). (with Mark D. Hall, ISI Books, 2012)

The consulting editor wishes to thank Connor Tracy and Travis Wilson for serving as research assistants on this project.