Bush was the 43rd president of the United States, serving from 2001 to 2009. His time in office was dominated by the controversial 'war on terror' that began with the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.
Bush was born on 6 July 1946 in New Haven, Connecticut but was brought up in Texas when his father, the future President George HW Bush (in office 1989 - 1993), moved the family to try and make his fortune in the oil business. Bush was educated at Yale University. In 1968 he enrolled in the Texas Air National Guard as a pilot and, thus, was not eligible for the Vietnam War draft. He served two years in the Combat Crew Training School. After gaining his MBA in 1975, he returned to Texas to work in the oil industry. In 1978, he ran unsuccessfully for the House of Representatives. In 1988, Bush worked as a paid campaign advisor on his father's successful presidential bid. Around this time he reached an important turning point in his life, pledging to quit his heavy drinking and becoming a born-again Christian.
By the late 1980s, Bush was independently wealthy as a result of selling his stake in the Texas Rangers baseball club. In 1994, he ran for the governorship of Texas and won. He was re-elected four years later. By 2000, he was the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, announcing social policies of 'compassionate conservatism', which included using churches and charities to use federal funds to deliver social services to the needy. After winning the nomination, Bush ran against the Democrat Al Gore. It was one of the closest races in presidential history, but after numerous court challenges and recounts Bush was declared the winner. He became only the second son to follow his father into the Oval Office.
For many Americans, doubts about Bush's legitimacy as president were swept away on 11 September 2001, when Islamic fundamentalists carried out terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC, causing the deaths of almost 3,000 people. Bush proclaimed that the US was at war with terrorism and this became the defining policy of his administration. As part of his 'war on terror', Bush ordered the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.
Bush was re-elected to the White House in 2004, but criticism of his government's response to the Hurricane Katrina natural disaster that devastated New Orleans in August 2005 marked the start of a terminal decline in Bush's popularity.
By 2008, disapproval of the Bush administration had increased sharply both at home and abroad, largely due to the ongoing war in Iraq. Scandals involving abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad and the treatment of terrorist suspects at facilities such as Camp X-Ray at Guantanamo, Cuba had also done much to undermine the United States' international standing.
The final months of the Bush presidency were further marred by the US economy entering recession, the 'sub-prime' mortage crisis and subsequent banking crisis. Bush's departure from office was seen by many critics as an opportunity to restore the United States' image around the world.
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