|Originally Aired: June 14, 2006
President Bush Urges Americans to Have Patience in Iraq
|At a press conference Wednesday, President Bush called for "patience and sacrifice" from the American people, while the U.S. troops remain in Iraq and continue to fight the broader war on terror. |
JIM LEHRER: The day after his surprise Baghdad visit, President Bush went to the
White House Rose Garden for an hour of questions from the press. Here are
excerpts from that morning news conference.
GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United
States: It's in our interests that Iraq succeed; more importantly,
it's in the interest of the Iraqi people.
The challenges that remain are serious, and they will
require more sacrifice and patience. And our efforts are well worth it. By
helping this new government succeed, we'll be closer to completing our mission.
And the mission is to develop a country that can govern itself, sustain itself,
and defend itself, and a country that is an ally in the war on terror.
We'll seize this moment of opportunity to help the prime
minister. We'll defeat our common enemies. We'll help build a lasting democracy
in the heart of the Middle East, and that'll
make Americans and Iraqis and the world more secure. I'll now take your
JOURNALIST: You said yesterday that a standard of no
violence in Iraq
is an impossible standard to meet. But do you believe that there needs to be a
reduction in violence for U.S.
troops to begin to drawdown? And, if so, how much?
GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes, I'd say that if people say, "Well,
there's got to be no violence in order for this to be a successful
experience," then it's not going to happen. All that does is give the
power of, you know, a handful of murderers to determine success.
Obviously, we'd like violence to go down, and that's what, you
know, the operation in Baghdad is intending to do, starting in the capital, is
to reduce violence.
And the reason why it's important for violence to be
reduced, obviously, is, one, save lives; but, two, give confidence to the Iraqi
people that their government will be able to sustain itself, and govern itself,
and meet the needs of the people.
Now, this is a tough struggle, and the reason why is because
the rules of warfare, as you -- you know, as we used to know them are out the
window. I mean, there's no rules of warfare. It's just, if you can kill
innocent life in order to shake somebody's will or create consternation in
society, you just go ahead and do it.
And so it's a tough task, no question about it, but I'm
confident that this government will succeed in meeting that task.
Opinions from abroad
JOURNALIST: You expressed serious concern when you learned about
suicides, and you and your aides immediately called allies. I'm wondering, how
concerned are you about the U.S.
image abroad? And, also, why shouldn't Guantanamo
be closed now?
GEORGE W. BUSH: I'd like to close Guantanamo, but I also recognize that we're
holding some people that are darned dangerous and that we'd better have a plan
to deal with them in our courts.
And the best way to handle, in my judgment, handle these
types of people is through our military courts. And that's why we're waiting on
the Supreme Court to make a decision.
Of course, sometimes we get criticized for sending some
people out of Guantanamo
back to their home country because of the nature of the home country. It's a
little bit of a Catch-22, but we're working through this.
No question, Guantanamo sends, you know, a signal to some of
our friends -- provides an excuse, for example, to say, "The United States
is not upholding the values that they're trying encourage other countries to
JOURNALIST: Mr. President, you made a public point recently
of soliciting outside advice about the way forward in Iraq and
retooling your strategy. I wonder what idea from a critic or somebody outside
your administration that you concluded should be part of the strategy going
GEORGE W. BUSH: It's important for people to share their
advice with this administration. This is an important business, and it's not
easy. It's a complex task to help a society go from tyranny to freedom.
But the American people have got to understand, I believe
we're going to succeed. That's why we're there. And my message to the Iraqis
is: We're going to help you succeed.
My message to the enemy is: Don't count on us leaving before
My message to our troops is: We support you 100 percent. Keep
doing what you're doing.
And my message to the critics is, is that we listen very
carefully and adjust when needed to adjust.
JOURNALIST: Mr. President, when you ran for office for the
first time, you said you would hold the White House to a higher ethical
standard. Even if Karl Rove did nothing illegal, I wonder whether you can say
now whether you approve of his conduct in the CIA leak episode? And do you
believe he owes Scott McClellan or anyone else an apology for misleading them?
GEORGE W. BUSH: I appreciate the job that the prosecutor
did. I thought he conducted himself well in this investigation. He took a very
thorough, long look at allegations and rumors.
And I, obviously, along with others in the White House, took
a sigh of relief when he made the decision he made, and now we're going to move
forward. And I trust Karl Rove, and he's an integral part of my team.
There's an ongoing trial here. And I know the temptation is
-- not the temptation -- you'll keep asking questions during the course of the
trial. I'm not going to comment beyond that. Thank you.
Turning the tide
JOURNALIST: I'm wondering, though, if there are ever moments
of doubt about your decisions and strategy in Iraq? Do you ever have a moment
where you feel this just won't end well, that, no matter how many Zarqawis are
killed, the insurgents are just never going to give up?
GEORGE W. BUSH: Hmm. Well, one of the reasons I went to Iraq
was to be able to sit down with an Iraqi government to determine whether or not
they have the will to succeed.
Success in Iraq
depends upon the Iraqis. If the Iraqis don't have the will to succeed, they're
not going to succeed. We can have all the will we want. You know, I can have
all the confidence in the ability for us to, you know, bring people to justice,
but if they choose not to make the hard decisions and to implement a plan,
they're not going to make it.
And so, one of the things I went to Iraq to do was to, as
best as I possibly can, expel any doubt in my mind as to whether or not we have
a partner that is going to do the hard work.
But I also understand the stakes of this war, OK? I
understand how important it is to defeat the enemy. Now, I recognize some in
the country don't feel that same sense of urgency I do.
But al-Qaida's real; their philosophy is a real philosophy;
they have ambitions. Their stated goal is to drive us out of Iraq before a
government can defend itself, and govern itself, and sustain itself, so they
can have safe haven from which to launch further attacks.
And my most important job is to protect the American people
from harm. And I understand the stakes of this war, and I understand this
battlefront in Iraq.
JOURNALIST: Thank you, Mr. President. Could you characterize
the worry you heard from Iraqi leaders about U.S. troop levels that you first
mentioned on the flight home from Iraq?
And, here in the Rose Garden a week ago, you said Zarqawi's
death is an opportunity for Iraq's new government to turn the tide in this
struggle. After your visit, do you truly believe that the tide is turning in
GEORGE W. BUSH: No question there are concerns about whether
or not the United States will stand with this government, and I can understand
why. And so I made it very clear to the Iraqis, and I'm going to make it clear
to them again right here, that we'll stay with them and help them succeed.
And, you know, I know there's a lot of discussion about
troop levels. Those troops levels will be decided upon by General Casey. He
will make the recommendations in consultation with an Iraqi government.
But whatever decision General Casey makes, the message is
going to be: We stand with you. In other words, if you're more capable, it
requires less troops, but, nevertheless, we're still with you.
I sense something different happening in Iraq. The progress
will be steady toward a goal that has clearly been defined. And I don't -- in
other words, I hope there's not an expectation from people that all of a sudden
there's going to be zero violence. In other words, that's just not going to be
On the other hand, I do think we'll be able to measure
progress: You can measure progress in capacity of Iraqi units; you can measure
progress in megawatts of electricity delivered; you can measure progress in
terms of oil sold on the market on behalf of the Iraqi people.
There are ways to determine whether or not this government's
plans are succeeding. But I know there's a tangible difference between the
government that's now in place and previous governments, and the reason why is
because this is a government that's formed under elections and a constitution.
And it's a unity government. And so people have a sense of
-- you know, they're pulling for their government to succeed. And the reason
why is, by far, the vast majority of Iraqis want a normal life.
They want their children to be able to go out in the street
and play. They want there to be a good education system. You know, they want to
be able to have their business -- you know, storefront business flourish
without fear of bombing. That's what they want, and so they're pulling for this
government to succeed.
And it's a government that they elected. It's not a
government that we appointed; it's a government that they elected. They have a
vital stake in the future of this government, and so there is a noticeable
Sending out a message
JOURNALIST: A majority of the people still say that the war
was a mistake. Do you think that the people have turned off on Iraq,
or do you think they're still winnable back to consider that it was worth it?
GEORGE W. BUSH: The American people have got to understand
is a part of the war on terror. And I know there is an international jihadist
movement that desires to do us harm, and they have territorial ambitions. The
reason I know that is that's what they've told us.
And part of their territorial ambition is to have safe haven
that's what they've said; that's what the enemy has clearly said.
And it seems like, to me, that the commander in chief ought
to listen to what the enemy says. And they believe capitalist and democratic
societies are soft and it's a matter of time before we pull out.
And that's why one message that I will continue to send to
the enemy is: Don't count on us leaving before the mission is complete. Don't
bet on it. Don't bet on American politics forcing my hand, because it's not
going to happen.
I'm going to make decisions, not based upon politics, but
what's based upon what's best for the United States of America. I
understand, you know, leadership. Leadership requires determination. You've got
to be determined to do something in order to be able to lead, particularly in
You've got to have will. You've got to have desire to
succeed, and you've got to have a plan. And that's what I found in Iraq.
It's really important that the Iraqi people have no doubt in
their mind that we will help this government succeed; it's important for them
to understand that.
And I know there's going to be different voices, and there
should be different voice out of America. That's why we're great. That's what
makes us interesting and great. People can say whatever they want to say as
they try to attract votes.
But my voice, what you hear from me, no matter what these
polls and all the business look like, is that it's worth it, it is necessary,
and we will succeed.
Thank you all very much.
| MIDDLE EAST: IRAQ|
| WORLD VIEW|