A Nation Goes to War
  • Chief White House Photographer Eric Draper documented the entire two-term presidency of George W. Bush. In this video, Draper recalls President Bush’s monumental decision to declare war on Iraq.

    Consult the “Questions” tab for discussion ideas about how photographers work with the White House to document difficult presidential decisions.

    1. Former President George W. Bush says his Chief White House Photographer, Eric Draper, was the "perfect person to see the world with." What qualities does President Bush say make Draper such an accomplished presidential photographer?

      President Bush says Draper is "understated—perfect for a guy whose job is to record history" as a largely unnoticed observer.

      Draper and President Bush were also very comfortable with each other, with Draper empowered to "take no chances" and record every moment, every meeting.

    2. President Bush says sending men and women to combat is the most difficult decision a president makes. How does the experience of White House Photographer Eric Draper reflect this?

      When Bush made the decision to go to war with Iraq in 2002, Draper reported the president had tears in his eyes.

      Draper kept his distance as the president immediately collected his thoughts and contemplated the gravity of the situation with a solitary walk around the South Lawn with his dog, Spot.

    3. Eric Draper says President Bush's decision to go to war was the "most intense moment" of his time at the White House. What other historic events did Draper cover as the Chief White House photographer?

      Bush led the nation through a number of tumultuous events:

      • 9/11
      • the explosion of the space shuttle Columbia
      • Hurricane Katrina

      Events that were less tumultuous but still vital to the Bush presidency included:

      • Bush's 2004 re-election campaign
      • Bush's leaving office and the transition to a presidency under Barack Obama.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    George Walker Bush Noun

    (1946-present) 43rd president of the United States.

    Iraq War Noun

    (2003-present) conflict between Coalition Forces and Iraqi insurgents.

    photography Noun

    art and science of producing still or moving images using the chemical reaction of light on a sensitive surface, such as film or an electronic sensor.