Bush made the comments in a talk in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, put on by the Milken Institute, an economic think tank based in California.
Bush also said that Russian President Vladimir Putin "is zero-sum. He can't think, 'How can we both win?' He only thinks, 'How do I win, you lose?'"
Bush also said that the United States needs to reform its immigration law.
While not directly naming President Donald Trump, it appeared Bush was targeting him in his comments.
Bush in 2008 became the first sitting US president to visit the UAE.