When Bush said out and out about waging "Crusade" on (Mainstream Muslim/Sunni) "terrorists" in his 2001's statement, did he ever backpedal, apologize or say that this was a "slip of tongue"?

If we see the events of last 15 years this statement, every US policy is going pretty much on the lines of this statement as I already observed in Why US has a biased approach towards Shia Militants where they are one way or the other showing softness/inclination for anti-mainstream Islam Iran and other forces while have maintained a very stern attitude towards mainstream Islam

Note: George W. Bush is a Christian for whom this particular theology lives. Don't forget he identified Christ (Peace on him) as his favorite “political philosopher” when running for President in 2000 [reference: James Carroll, The Bush Crusade]


Please read the question carefully. Our fellow user has rephrased it in a way that it doesn't properly represent the question I wanted to ask. This question is not about back-pedaling (by words), its very easy for every politician on the earth to back away after making a controversial statement. This question is about the actions by US (or at-least Bush administration) after the statement. Were those actions on the grounds of this statement or not? Did he prove by actions that he is not against mainstream Islam?

  • 1
    I did not dispute that, but we still can't know if Bush was aware of that, unless he said so. Bush is known for some unfortunate word choices.
    – Philipp
    Aug 27, 2016 at 11:15
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    I do not recall him ever trying to mitigate that word choice but he came under very heavy criticism for it and I do not think he used it again.
    – rougon
    Aug 27, 2016 at 12:11
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    @Philipp I vote "leave open" to the question, because OP dont ask us to read mind of Bush. note that he says: "If we see the events of last 15 years this statement, every US policy is going pretty much on the lines of this statement..." so it is a question about US policy based on its 15-year operations.
    – user 1
    Aug 27, 2016 at 12:52
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    I found this video where W. Bush says on multiple occasions that the US is explicitly not fighting against Islam and only against terrorism. But unfortunately there is no information if these were before or after the "crusade" statement.
    – Philipp
    Aug 27, 2016 at 13:24
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    @TalhaIrfan I'm sorry, but after your edit the question is no longer appropriate for Politics Stackexchange because it can not be objectively answered.
    – Philipp
    Aug 28, 2016 at 8:58

1 Answer 1


I am unsure if Bush ever personally backpedaled, but his use of the word "Crusade" faced heavy criticism. This Wall Street Journal piece from the time shows how experts saw it as a key strategic mistake, as it was seen as immediately alienating all Muslims. This 2004 New York Times piece looks a bit more at the context and aftermath.

From the Times:

It was during a press conference on Sept. 16, in response to a question about homeland security efforts infringing on civil rights, that Bush first used the telltale word "crusade" in public. "This is a new kind of -- a new kind of evil," he said. "And we understand. And the American people are beginning to understand. This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while."

And while Bush didn't backpedal (in fact, the article has him using it two weeks later), his Press Spokesman quickly tried to soften the term (which one might call backpedaling):

Two days later, Ari Fleischer tried to perform damage control. "I think what the president was saying was -- had no intended consequences for anybody, Muslim or otherwise, other than to say that this is a broad cause that he is calling on America and the nations around the world to join." As to "any connotations that would upset any of our partners, or anybody else in the world, the president would regret if anything like that was conveyed."

I do not see Bush continuing to use the term, but his discourse was always pretty religious and starkly good vs. evil. As @Philipp notes, Bush tried to make it clear that he wasn't fighting "Islam," a rhetorical strategy that is lost on many current politicians.

  • Feel free to add the video I posted as a comment to the question as a source for Bush's new rhetorical strategy.
    – Philipp
    Aug 27, 2016 at 14:46

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