Portal:Politics/Selected biography

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Selected biographies list

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David Cameron

David William Donald Cameron (/ˈkæmərən/; born 9 October 1966) is the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury, Minister for the Civil Service and Leader of the Conservative Party. Cameron represents Witney as its Member of Parliament (MP). Cameron studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford, gaining a first class honours degree. He then joined the Conservative Research Department and became Special Adviser to Norman Lamont, and then to Michael Howard. He was Director of Corporate Affairs at Carlton Communications for seven years. A first candidacy for Parliament at Stafford in 1997 ended in defeat, but Cameron was elected in 2001 as the Member of Parliament for the Oxfordshire constituency of Witney. He was promoted to the Opposition front bench two years later, and rose rapidly to become head of policy co-ordination during the 2005 general election campaign. With a public image of a young, moderate candidate who would appeal to young voters, he won the Conservative leadership election in 2005.

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Portrait of Samuel Adams by John Singleton Copley

Samuel Adams was an American statesman, politician, writer, and political philosopher, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Adams was instrumental in garnering the support of the colonies in rebellion against Great Britain, ultimately resulting in the American Revolution. He was also one of the key architects of the principles of American republicanism that shaped American political culture. Adams organized protests against the British, including the Boston Tea Party in 1773, and participated in the Continental Congress. He also advocated for the adoption of the Declaration of Independence at the Second Continental Congress. Following the American Revolution, Adams helped draft the Articles of Confederation. After the war ended, he ran for the House of Representatives in the 1st United States Congressional election, but was unsuccessful in his bid. He was elected Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in 1789 and after John Hancock's death in 1793, Adams served as the acting governor, until he was elected governor in January of the following year. He served in that position until June 1797 when he decided to retire from politics.

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Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) was a British politician and the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a position she held from 1979 to 1990. She was a member of the Conservative Party and the figurehead of a political ideology known as Thatcherism. Even before coming to power she was nicknamed The Iron Lady in Soviet propaganda, an appellation which stuck. The changes she set in motion between coming to power and 1985 were profound, and altered much of the economic, cultural and commercial landscape of Britain and, by example, the world as a whole. Along the way she also aimed to roll back the welfare state, or "nanny state", as she termed it. Her popularity finally declined when she replaced the unpopular local government Rates tax with the even less popular Community Charge. At the same time the Conservative Party began to split over her sceptical approach to Economic and Monetary Union of the European Union. Her leadership was challenged from within and she was forced to resign in 1990, her loss at least partly due to inadequate advice and campaigning.

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Józef Klemens Piłsudski

Józef Piłsudski (1867–1935) was Chief of State (1918–22), "First Marshal", and authoritarian leader of the Second Polish Republic. From mid-World War I he was a major influence in Poland's politics, and an important figure on the European political scene. He is considered largely responsible for Poland regaining independence in 1918, after 123 years of partitions. Early in his political career, Piłsudski became a leader of the Polish Socialist Party. Concluding, however, that Poland's independence would have to be won by force of arms, he created the Polish Legions. In 1914 he anticipated the outbreak of a European war, the Russian Empire's defeat by the Central Powers, and the Central Powers' defeat by the western powers. When World War I broke out, he and his Legions fought alongside the Austro-Hungarian and German Empires to ensure Russia's defeat. In 1917, with Russia faring badly in the war, he withdrew his support from the Central Powers. From November 1918, when Poland regained independence, until 1922, Piłsudski was Poland's Chief of State. In 1919–21 he commanded Poland's forces in the Polish-Soviet War. In 1923, with the Polish government dominated by his opponents, particularly the National Democrats, he withdrew from active politics. Three years later he returned to power with the May 1926 coup d'état, and became the de facto dictator of Poland. From then until his death in 1935, he concerned himself primarily with military and foreign affairs.

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Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan in 1981

Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) was the 40th President of the United States and the 33rd Governor of California. He was defeated in his run for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968 as well as 1976, but won both the nomination and election in 1980. As president, Reagan implemented new political initiatives as well as economic policies, advocating a laissez-faire philosophy, but the extent to which these ideas were implemented is debatable. The policies, dubbed "Reaganomics," included substantial tax cuts implemented in 1981. After surviving an assassination attempt and ordering controversial military actions in Grenada, he was re-elected in a landslide victory in 1984. Reagan's second term was marked by the ending of the Cold War, as well as a number of administration scandals, notably the Iran–Contra affair. The president ordered a massive military buildup in an arms race with the Soviet Union, foregoing the previous strategy of détente. He publicly portrayed the USSR as an "Evil Empire" and supported anti-Communist movements worldwide.

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Nikita Khrushchev in 1963

Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971) led the Soviet Union during the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964. Khrushchev was responsible for the partial de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, for backing the progress of the world's early space program, and for several relatively liberal reforms in areas of domestic policy. Khrushchev was born in the Russian village of Kalinovka in 1894. With the help of Lazar Kaganovich, he worked his way up the Soviet hierarchy. He supported Stalin's purges, and approved thousands of arrests. Stalin's political heirs fought for power after his death in 1953, a struggle in which Khrushchev, after several years, emerged triumphant. On February 25, 1956, at the Twentieth Party Congress, he delivered the "Secret Speech", vilifying Stalin and ushering in a less repressive era in the Soviet Union. Hoping eventually to rely on missiles for national defense, Khrushchev ordered major cuts in conventional forces. Despite the cuts, Khrushchev's rule saw the tensest years of the Cold War, culminating in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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John McCain in 2009

John Sidney McCain III (born 1936) is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election. During the Vietnam War, he nearly lost his life in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture, and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. His war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations. While generally adhering to conservative principles, McCain at times has had a media reputation as a "maverick" for his willingness to disagree with his party on certain issues. He secured the Republican nomination in 2008 after coming back from early reversals, but lost to Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the general election.

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Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, (1874 – 1965) was a British politician and statesman known for his leadership of the United Kingdom during the Second World War. He is widely regarded as one of the great wartime leaders. He served as Prime Minister twice (1940–45 and 195155). A noted statesman and orator, Churchill was also an officer in the British Army, a historian, a writer, and an artist. During the 1930s, Churchill took the lead in warning about the danger from Hitler and in campaigning for rearmament. On the outbreak of World War II, he was again appointed First Lord of the Admiralty. Following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain on 10 May 1940, Churchill became Prime Minister. His steadfast refusal to consider defeat, surrender or a compromise peace helped inspire British resistance, especially during the difficult early days of the War when Britain stood alone in its active opposition to Hitler. Churchill was particularly noted for his speeches and radio broadcasts, which helped inspire the British people.

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Yasser Arafat in 1999

Yasser Arafat (1929–2004) was a Palestinian militant and politician. As Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and President of the Palestinian National Authority, Arafat continuously fought against Israeli forces in the name of Palestinian self-determination. Arafat was constantly surrounded by controversy, as in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Fatah faced off with Jordan in a civil war. Forced out of Jordan and into Lebanon, Arafat and Fatah were the targets of Israel's 1978 and 1982 invasions of that country. Arafat was said to be a key planner of the Black September organization's murder of eleven Israeli athletes at the 1972 Summer Olympics. The majority of the Palestinian people – regardless of political ideology or faction – viewed him as a heroic freedom fighter and martyr who symbolized the national aspirations of his people. However, many Israelis have described him as an unrepentant terrorist. In 1994, Arafat received the Nobel Peace Prize, together with Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres, for the negotiations in the Oslo Accords. In late 2004, after effectively being confined within his Ramallah compound for over two years by the Israeli Defense Forces, Arafat became ill and fell into a coma, and later died.

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David Lewis in September 1944

David Lewis (1909–1981) was a Russian-born Canadian Rhodes Scholar, labour lawyer and social democratic politician. He was national secretary of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation from 1936 to 1950. As the United Steelworkers of America’s legal counsel in Canada, he played a central role in the creation of the Canadian Labour Congress in 1956 and in the New Democratic Party (NDP)'s formation in 1961. In 1962, he was elected as a Member of Parliament. He was the NDP's leader from 1971 to 1975. After his defeat in the 1974 Canadian election, he retired from politics. He spent his last years as a university professor and a newspaper travel correspondent. In retirement, he was named to the highest level of the Order of Canada for his political service. After a lengthy battle with cancer, he died in 1981.

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Nguyen Ngoc Tho was the first Prime Minister of South Vietnam, serving from November 1963 to late January 1964. Tho was appointed to head a civilian cabinet by General Duong Van Minh's military junta, which came to power after overthrowing and assassinating Ngo Dinh Diem, the nation's first president. Tho's rule was marked by a period of confusion and weak government, as the Military Revolutionary Council and the civilian cabinet vied for power. Tho oversaw South Vietnam's failed land reform policy, and was accused of lacking vigour in implementing the program because he was a large landowner. He was noted for his faithful support of Diem during the Buddhist crisis that ended the rule of the Ngo family. Despite being a Buddhist, Tho staunchly defended the regime's pro-Catholic policies and its violent actions against the Buddhist majority. Tho lost his job and retired from politics when Minh's junta was deposed in a January 1964 coup by General Nguyen Khanh.

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Cosmo Gordon Lang (1864–1945) was an Anglican prelate who served as Archbishop of York and Archbishop of Canterbury. As Archbishop of Canterbury during the abdication crisis of 1936 he took a strong moral stance, and comments he made in a subsequent broadcast were widely condemned as uncharitable towards the departed king. In his early ministry Lang served in slum parishes in Leeds and Portsmouth before his appointment in 1901 as suffragan Bishop of Stepney in London. In 1908 Lang was nominated Archbishop of York, despite his relatively junior status as a suffragan rather than a diocesan bishop. He entered the House of Lords as a Lord Spiritual and caused consternation in traditionalist circles by speaking and voting against the Lords' proposal to reject David Lloyd George's 1909 "People's Budget". This apparent radicalism was not, however, maintained in later years. At the start of World War I, Lang was heavily criticised for a speech in which he spoke sympathetically of the Kaiser. After the war he supported controversial proposals for the revision of the Book of Common Prayer, but after acceding to Canterbury he took no practical steps to resolve this issue. As Archbishop of Canterbury he presided over the 1930 Lambeth Conference, which gave limited church approval to the use of contraception.

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Ban Ki-moon at the  World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland in 2008

Ban Ki-moon is a South Korean diplomat and the current Secretary-General of the United Nations. Before becoming Secretary-General, Ban was a career diplomat in South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the United Nations. He entered diplomatic service the year he graduated college, accepting his first post in New Delhi. In the foreign ministry he established a reputation for modesty and competence. Ban was the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea from January 2004 to November 2006. In February 2006 he began to campaign for the office of Secretary-General. Ban was initially considered to be a long shot for the office. As foreign minister of Korea, however, he was able to travel to all of the countries that were members of the United Nations Security Council, a manoeuvre that turned him into the campaign's front runner. On October 13 2006, he was elected to be the eighth Secretary-General by the United Nations General Assembly. On January 1, 2007, he succeeded Kofi Annan, and passed several major reforms regarding peacekeeping and UN employment practices. Diplomatically, Ban has taken particularly strong views on global warming, pressing the issue repeatedly with U.S. President George W. Bush, and Darfur, where he helped persuade Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to allow peacekeeping troops to enter Sudan.

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Ed Stelmach

Ed Stelmach (born 1951) is the current Premier of Alberta, Canada, having served in this capacity since December 14, 2006. He spent his entire pre-political adult life as a farmer, except for some time spent studying at the University of Alberta. His first foray into politics was a 1986 municipal election, when he was elected to the county council of Lamont County. A year into his term, he was appointed reeve. He continued in this position until his entry into provincial politics. In the 1993 provincial election, Stelmach was elected as the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Vegreville-Viking. A Progressive Conservative, he served in the cabinets of Ralph Klein. When Klein resigned the party's leadership in 2006, Stelmach was among the first to run to replace him. After a third place finish on the first ballot of the leadership race, he won an upset second ballot victory over former provincial treasurer Jim Dinning. Stelmach's premiership has been heavily focused on management of the province's oil reserves, especially those of the Athabasca Oil Sands. Other policy initiatives have included commencing an overhaul of the province's health governance system, a re-introduction of all-party committees to the Legislature, and the conclusion of a major labour agreement with Alberta's teachers.

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Grover Cleveland

Grover Cleveland (1837–1908) was both the 22nd and 24th President of the United States. Cleveland is the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms (1885–1889 and 1893–1897) and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents. He was the winner of the popular vote for President three times—in 1884, 1888, and 1892—and was the only Democrat elected to the Presidency in the era of Republican political domination that lasted from 1860 to 1912. Cleveland's admirers praise him for his honesty, independence, integrity, and commitment to the principles of classical liberalism. As a leader of the Bourbon Democrats, he opposed imperialism, taxes, subsidies and inflationary policies, but as a reformer he also worked against corruption, patronage, and bossism. Critics complained that he had little imagination and seemed overwhelmed by the nation's economic disasters—depressions and strikes—in his second term. Even so, his reputation for honesty and good character survived the troubles of his second term.

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Phạm Ngọc Thảo (1922–1965), a major provincial leader in South Vietnam and infiltrator of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), was a communist agent of the Vietminh and later the Vietnam People's Army. As the overseer of Ngo Dinh Nhu’s Strategic Hamlet Program in the early 1960s, he deliberately forced the program forward at unsustainable speeds, constructing poorly equipped and poorly defended villages, in order to foster rural resentment against the regime of President Ngo Dinh Diem, Nhu's elder brother. Thao was posthumously promoted by the ARVN to the rank of one-star general and awarded the title of Heroic war dead (Vietnamese: Liệt sĩ). After the Fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War, the communist government awarded him the same title and paid war pensions to his family, claiming him as one of their own.

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George H. W. Bush

George Herbert Walker Bush (born 1924) is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States (1989–93). He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President (1981–89), a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence. He ran unsuccessfully for president of the United States in 1980, but was chosen by party nominee Ronald Reagan to be the vice presidential nominee, and the two were subsequently elected. In 1988, Bush launched a successful campaign to succeed Reagan as president, defeating Democratic opponent Michael Dukakis. Foreign policy drove the Bush presidency; military operations were conducted in Panama and the Persian Gulf at a time of world change; the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the Soviet Union dissolved two years later. In the wake of economic concerns, he lost the 1992 presidential election to Democrat Bill Clinton.

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George I, King of the Hellenes

George I of Greece was King of Greece from 1863 to 1913. Originally a Danish prince, when only 17 years old he was elected King by the Greek National Assembly, which had deposed the former King Otto. His nomination was suggested and supported by the three Great Powers (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Second French Empire and the Russian Empire). As the first monarch of the new Greek dynasty, his 50-year reign (the longest in modern Greek history) was characterized by territorial gains as Greece established its place in pre-World War I Europe. Two weeks short of the fiftieth anniversary of his accession, and during the First Balkan War, he was assassinated. In sharp contrast to his reign, the reigns of his successors would prove short and insecure.

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José Maria da Silva Paranhos in 1879

José Paranhos, Viscount of Rio Branco (1819–1880) was a politician, monarchist, diplomat, teacher and journalist of the Empire of Brazil. In 1871, Rio Branco became the President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) for the first time. He would become the Council's longest-serving president, and his cabinet the second longest, in Brazilian history. His government was marked by a time of economic prosperity and the enactment of several necessary reforms—though they proved to be seriously flawed. The most important of these initiatives was the Law of Free Birth, which granted freeborn status to children born to slave women. Rio Branco led the government that enacted this law, and its passage increased his popularity. However, his government was plagued by a long crisis with the Catholic Church that had resulted from the expulsion of Freemasons from its lay brotherhoods. After more than four years heading the Cabinet, Rio Branco resigned in 1875. Following a long vacation in Europe, his health swiftly declined and he was diagnosed with oral cancer. Rio Branco died in 1880 and was widely mourned throughout the country. He is regarded by most historians as one of Brazil's greatest statesmen.

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Ramón Betances

Ramón Emeterio Betances was a Puerto Rican nationalist. He was the primary instigator of the Grito de Lares revolution and, as such, is considered to be the father of the Puerto Rican independence movement. Betances was also the most renowned medical doctor and surgeon of his time in Puerto Rico, and one of its first social hygienists. He had established a successful surgery and ophthalmology practice. Betances was also a diplomat, public health administrator, poet and novelist. He served as representative and contact for Cuba and the Dominican Republic in Paris. A firm believer in Freemasonry, his political and social activism was deeply influenced by the group's philosophical beliefs. His personal and professional relationships (as well as the organizational structure behind the Grito de Lares, an event that, in theory, clashes with traditional Freemason beliefs) were based upon his relationships with Freemasons, their hierarchical structure, rites and signs.

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Rt. Hon. Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke PC (12 January [NS] 1729– 9 July 1797) was an Irish statesman, author, orator, political theorist and philosopher who, after moving to England, served for many years in the House of Commons of Great Britain as a member of the Whig party. He is mainly remembered for his support of the cause of the American Revolutionaries, and for his later opposition to the French Revolution. The latter led to his becoming the leading figure within the conservative faction of the Whig party, which he dubbed the "Old Whigs", in opposition to the pro–French Revolution "New Whigs", led by Charles James Fox. Burke was praised by both conservatives and liberals in the 19th century. Since the 20th century, he has generally been viewed as the philosophical founder of modern Conservatism, as well as a representative of classical liberalism.

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Barack Obama

Barack Obama (born August 4, 1961) is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Obama is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review. He served three terms representing the 13th District in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004, running unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in 2000. He began his presidential campaign in 2007, and in 2008, after a close primary campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton, he won sufficient delegates in the Democratic party primaries to receive the presidential nomination. He then defeated Republican nominee John McCain in the general election, and was inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009. Nine months later, Obama was named the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. In foreign policy, Obama ended U.S. military involvement in the Iraq War, increased troop levels in Afghanistan, signed the New START arms control treaty with Russia, ordered U.S. military involvement in Libya, and ordered the military operation that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

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Queen Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II (born 1926) is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms, head of the 54-member Commonwealth of Nations, and head of state of the Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories. Her father, George VI, acceded to the throne in 1936 on the abdication of his brother Edward VIII. She began public duties during the Second World War, in which she served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service. On George VI's death in 1952, she became Head of the Commonwealth and Queen of seven independent Commonwealth countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Pakistan, and Ceylon. Her coronation service in 1953 was the first to be televised. Since her accession, the number of her realms has varied as territories gained independence and some realms became republics. In 1947 she married Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, with whom she has four children: Charles, Anne, Andrew, and Edward. Her reign of 62 years is the second-longest for a British monarch; only Queen Victoria has reigned longer. Elizabeth's Silver and Golden Jubilees were celebrated in 1977 and 2002; her Diamond Jubilee is being celebrated during 2012.

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Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon (1913–94) was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. He graduated from Whittier College in 1934 and Duke University School of Law in 1937, returning to California to practice law. He served in the United States Navy during World War II. Nixon was elected to the House of Representatives in 1946 and to the Senate in 1950. He served for eight years as vice president, from 1953 to 1961, and waged an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1960, narrowly losing to John F. Kennedy. In 1968, Nixon ran again for president and was elected. He initially escalated the Vietnam War, but ended US involvement in 1973. Nixon's visit to the People's Republic of China in 1972 opened diplomatic relations between the two nations. Though he presided over Apollo 11, he scaled back manned space exploration. He was re-elected by a landslide in 1972. A series of revelations in the Watergate scandal cost Nixon much of his political support in his second term, and on August 9, 1974, he resigned as president. In retirement, Nixon's work as an elder statesman, authoring several books and undertaking many foreign trips, helped to rehabilitate his public image.

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George W. Bush

George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States from 2001 to 2009. Before that he was the 46th Governor of Texas, serving from 1995 to 2000. In a close and controversial election, Bush was elected President in 2000 as the Republican candidate, defeating Vice President Al Gore in the Electoral College. A series of terrorist attacks occurred eight months into Bush's first term as president on September 11, 2001. In response, Bush announced a global War on Terror, ordered an invasion of Afghanistan that same year and an invasion of Iraq in 2003. In addition to national security issues, Bush promoted policies on the economy, health care, education, and social security reform. Bush successfully ran for re-election against Democratic Senator John Kerry in 2004, in another relatively close election. He was a highly controversial figure internationally, with public protests occurring even during visits to close allies, such as the United Kingdom.

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Dobroslav Jevđević (1895–1962) was a Bosnian Serb politician and self-appointed Chetnik commander in the Herzegovina region of Yugoslavia during the Second World War. He was a member of the inter–war Chetnik Association and the Organisation of Yugoslav Nationalists party in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, a Yugoslav National Party member of the National Assembly, and a leader of the opposition during King Alexander's dictatorship. Following the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis in April 1941, he became a Chetnik leader in Herzegovina and joined the Chetnik movement of Draža Mihailović, although he often operated independently from Mihailović. Jevđević collaborated with the Italians and later the Germans in actions against the Yugoslav Partisans. During a joint Italian-Chetnik Operation Alfa, Jevđević's Chetniks, along with other Chetnik forces, were responsible for killing between 500 and 1,700 Bosnian Muslim and Catholic civilians in the Prozor region in October 1942. His force also participated in one of the largest Axis anti-Partisan operations of the war, Case White, in the winter of 1943. In the spring of 1945, he fled to Italy where he resided until his death.

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Nominations

Adding articles
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