Former US President George HW Bush has said that his son, George W Bush - who was president from 2001 until 2009 - at times used language that was too bellicose, according to a forthcoming biography.

Reports on Wednesday said that in Destiny and Power: The American Odyssey Of George Herbert Walker Bush, author Jon Meacham quotes the elder Bush decrying the tone adopted in some of George W Bush's speeches.

"Hot rhetoric is pretty easy to get headlines, but it doesn't necessarily solve the diplomatic problem," Bush told Meacham, according to the New York Times.

Bush, who is 91 years old, specifically cited his son's 2002 "Axis of Evil" speech, linking US enemies Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.

"You go back to the 'axis of evil' and these things and I think that might be historically proved to be not benefiting anything," Bush said.

'Iron ass' Cheney

Elsewhere in the book, the elder Bush strongly criticises Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, two key figures in his son's presidency.

Former Vice President Cheney is an "iron ass" who built "his own empire" and had too much of a "hardline" over his son in convincing him to use military force around the world, Bush says.

George HW Bush knows Cheney well, as the latter was his secretary of defence during the 1991 Operation Desert Storm, the US-led military push that liberated Kuwait from Saddam Hussein's army.

The former president speculates that Cheney was influenced by his deeply conservative wife, Lynne, whom Bush described as "the eminence grise".

Meanwhile, ex-Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is described as an "arrogant fellow," blind to the opinions of others, who "served the president badly".

Until now, Bush, president from 1989-1993, has mostly been silent on issues regarding his son's presidency and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Source: Agencies