Monday, December 19, 2005

Bush & Williams & some more questions

NBC's Brian Williams has been recently Iinterviewing George W. Bush and some of the questions and comments caught my attention (Thanks to the Old Man for pointing out the interview at all). I still have a few questions.

President Bush: I think after awhile you kind of get used to it. It's part of the job. It is — you know, it's — part of living in a democracy. They're frankly smaller than they used to be, but that doesn't mean there's not intensity out there. I've made some very difficult positions. I fully understand people not liking war. I fully understand people wanting, you know, feeling that, you know, that I'm making progress. I mean, I can see that. And, on the other hand, I know we're making progress. We're winning. And it's my job to continue to try to reassure them that we are winning and the stakes are worth it. But yes, I'm fully aware of the discontent and the protests.

QUESTION #1: If you are aware of the discontent and protests, why haven't you ever addressed any of it with more than just blaming Democrats and erroneously claiming they are trying to re-write history?

Williams: We believe this is the first time in a long time we've heard you use the number of Iraqi civilian dead. It's one of the estimates out there. And Ambassador Bremer's name came up. Why was that? Any reason behind that?

President Bush: No, just — I mean, it was a factual point. What I was trying to say — or what I did say — was that there was a vacuum. We moved into it with the CPA. My point is we're constantly readjusting our strategy and the tactic — not the strategy, the strategy is clear — but the tactics to achieve a free Iraq. And that Bremer was the head of the CPA. And it was factual. So, people will remember.

Iraqis will remember. It's their neighbors, relatives, friends, and countrymen who are being murdered. (but I guess that's not technically a question)

Williams: A lot of people have seen in this series of speeches you're giving on Iraq, a movement in your position. They call it an acknowledgement that perhaps the mission has not gone as it was originally planned — three points: That the U.S. would be welcomed as liberators, that General Shinsecki, when he said this would take hundreds of thousands of troops in his farewell speech, might have been right. And third, that it wasn't a self-sustaining war in terms of the oil revenue. Do you concede those three points might not have gone as planned?

President Bush: Review them with me again.

Williams: Number one — that we'd be welcomed as liberators?

President Bush: I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome. There were some in society, rejectionists and the Saddamists and the terrorists that have moved in to stir them up that said, "We're going to prevent a democracy from emerging." But I think a lot of people are glad, I know a lot of people are glad we're there. And they're glad we're helping them train their troops so they can take the fight.

QUESTION #2: How does it qualify as "welcomed" when it's NOT PEACEFUL? And not that it was in question, but I certainly wouldn't show up if Bush ever invited me to his house now!

Williams: And how about the oil revenues?

President Bush: You mean on the Iraqi side?

Williams: Yes.

President Bush: Yes, they're not as great as we thought they'd be. Yet they're substantial. And the Iraqis are beginning to develop a budget, with the help of the IMF, that's a sustaining budget.

QUESTION #3: So what has actually gone like you said it would?

Williams: Do you believe this war was an elective on your part? Or did this have to come out of 9/11?

President Bush: Hmm, interesting question. Well, first of all, troops don't move unless I give the order. So, from that sense it was elective. I mean, I could have said, "No, we'll try to, you know, hope for the best with Saddam Hussein."

Remember at the time we didn't know the facts on the ground. We — everybody thought the guy had weapons of mass destruction. Everybody knew that he'd used weapons of mass destruction and had provided safe haven for terrorists. I mean, those were facts. Whether or not it had to happen is — it didn't have to happen since a human being made the decision. Whether or not it needed to happen, I'm still convinced it needed to happen.

QUESTION #4: What is going to take for you to admit you were totally wrong about WMD's? "Everyone" did not think he had them - there was a lot of intelligence out there from people like other countries and the U.N. inspectors saying he did NOT have them!

Williams: One of the Sunday commentators who you like to watch so much said that you and your administration were in the process of defining victory down, true or false?

President Bush: You know, I don't think so. I think that's an unfair characterization. We believe that Iraq will be a democracy and know that Iraq as a democracy will be a strong ally in the war on terror. One of the things that we will do is make sure that Iraq is not a safe haven for terrorist plotting. That's been pretty much the stated objective all along.

QUESTION #5: When was that a stated objective? All I heard before we went in was that he had WMDs and Iraq was connected with 9-11 - which were both lies.

Williams: Have you ever entertained the thought, Mr. President, that Iraq's natural state may be three separate pieces, three separate nations?

President Bush: No, I haven't. I think — I know it will be united based upon, you know, kind of universal principles, the ones I outlined in the speech, freedom to worship, rule of law, private property, marketplace, all bound by a constitution which the Iraqis approved, and which the Iraqis will improve upon. And, you know, we improved on our own Constitution. In other words, it's a living document. And no, that would be a disaster, by the way, if it were three separate nations.

QUESTION #6: You then, define "disaster" as the only possible way they might live in peace with each other?

President Bush: Well, John Murtha's a fine guy. And he's, you know, he served our nation admirably. I just think he's wrong. I think the idea of having a, you know, a timetable for withdrawal, does three things that would be bad.

One, it emboldens the enemy. That's precisely what they want. They want us to withdraw. And — and oh, by the way, here, we're telling them when and how. And they will adjust accordingly.

Secondly, it sends a bad message to the Iraqis. We've said to the Iraqis, "We'll help train you. We'll stand with you. And we'll get you on your feet so you can take the fight to the enemy." And if our commanders on the ground say we're not ready to, you know, stand down — a timetable would dispirit the Iraqis.

Finally, it'll dispirit our troops. Because our troops know the mission hasn't been completed. But strategy and my plans are these. I will listen to the commanders. I understand war is objective-based, not timetable-based. And we will complete this mission for the good of the country.

QUESTION #7: Is IRAQ the "enemy"? Every poll done there since before the war through now shows that the majority of Iraq wants the U.S. to not be there. And how dispirited does a troop really get when they find out that there is an actual plan and date in mind for when they can go home, be safe, be with their loved ones, and not have to be simply occasionally occassionally murdering people in another country?