Vision of the world limited to the “Texan and Mexican horizons”
Former US President George W Bush knew little about world affairs when he first met Britain’s Ambassador to the United States, according to recently released official documents.
Mr. Bush’s presidency was dominated by US military action in Iraq and Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City in 2001.
But when Sir Christopher Meyer spoke to Mr Bush in February 1998 when he was considering running for the White House, he found a politician whose worldview was largely limited to the “Texan and Mexican horizons” .
According to documents released to the National Archives, Bush – then governor of Texas – was outspoken about his lack of international experience, despite the fact that his father, George Bush Sr., was President of the United States between 1989 and 1993.
“Bush admitted that apart from Mexico he didn’t know much about international affairs and that he would do well to broaden his experience,” Sir Christopher wrote in his report on the meeting.
The ambassador urged him to visit the UK, but Mr Bush said he could not afford to be seen undertaking high-profile overseas trips ahead of the gubernatorial elections this fall.
“The Texan electorate wouldn’t forgive him if he seemed to no longer care about ruling Texas.”
During what has been described as “a friendly 40-minute conversation” in the governor’s office in Austin, Mr. Bush insisted he had not decided whether he would run for president in Austin. 2000.
“He was worried about his family. Washington was a zoo, a lousy place. Of course, he couldn’t deny that he had a real interest in racing, ”noted Sir Christopher.
He said Mr. Bush’s concerns for his family, while genuine, served a “useful political purpose” by allowing him not to get involved “too far too soon”.
“To me, George W looked like a man who really wants to run. Of course, at this point, he has no interest in a foreign ambassador going back to Washington and telling everyone that he has decided to run for President, ”Sir Christopher added.
Mr Bush asked about the new Labor government or Tony Blair, who he said seemed “a good guy”.
“I said he would like to meet Mr. Blair. As the only other Labor politician he seemed to have heard of was Michael Foot, I offered a quick history of how Labor had evolved since then, “wrote Sir Christopher.
He concluded that if Mr. Bush decided to seek the nomination of the Republican Party, he was regarded in political rooms in Washington as “by far the favorite”.
“This meeting confirmed my first instantaneous opinion of George W: very personable and with a good sense of self-deprecating humor,” he noted.
“His vision of the world – he knows it well – is largely limited to the Texan and Mexican horizons. There isn’t much he can do about it until 1999.
Bush served two terms as president between 2001 and 2009.