Question: Thank you. Mr. President, my mother and sister traveled abroad
this summer, and when they got back they talked to us about how shocked
they were at the intensity of aggravation that other countries had with
how we handled the Iraq situation. Diplomacy is obviously something
that we have to really work on. What is your plan to repair relations
with other countries, given the current situation?
PRESIDENT BUSH: No, I appreciate that. I -- listen, I -- we've got a
great country. I love our values. And I recognize I made some decisions
that have caused people to not understand the great values of our country.
I remember when Ronald Reagan was the president. He stood on principle.
Some might have called that stubborn. He stood on principle, standing
up to the Soviet Union, and we won that conflict. Yet at the same time,
he was very -- we were very unpopular in Europe because of the decisions
I recognize that taking Saddam Hussein out was unpopular. But I made
the decision because I thought it was in the right interests of our
know, I made some decisions on Israel that's unpopular. I wouldn't deal
with Arafat because I felt like he had let the former president down
and I don't think he's the kind of person that can lead toward a Palestinian
state. And people in Europe didn't like that decision, and that was
unpopular, but it was the right thing to do. I believe the Palestinians
ought to have a state.
But I know they need leadership that's committed to a democracy and
freedom, leadership that'd be willing to reject terrorism.
I made a decision not to join the International Criminal Court in The
Hague, which is where our troops can be brought to -- brought in front
of a judge, an unaccounted judge. I don't think we ought to join that.
That was unpopular.
And so what I'm telling you is is that sometimes in this world you make
unpopular decision because you think they're right.
We'll continue to reach out. Listen, there's 30 nations involved in
Iraq; some 40 nations involved in Afghanistan. People love America.
Sometimes they don't like the decisions made by America, but I don't
think you want a president who tries to become popular and does the
wrong thing. You don't want to join the International Criminal Court
just because it's popular in certain capitals in Europe.
MR. GIBSON: Senator Kerry, a minute and a half.
SEN. KERRY: Nicky (sp), that's a question that's been raised by a lot
of people around the country. Let me address it, but also talk about
the weapons the president just talked about, because every part of the
president's answer just now promises you more of the same over the next
The president stood right here in this hall four years ago, and he was
asked a question by somebody just like you, under what circumstances
would you send people to war? And his answer was, with a viable exit
strategy and only with enough forces to get the job done. He didn't
do that. He broke that promise. We didn't have enough forces. General
Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, told him he was going to need several
hundred thousand, and guess what -- the retired General Shinseki for
telling him that.
This president hasn't listened. I went to meet with the members of the
Security Council in the week before we voted. I went to New York. I
talked to all of them to find out how serious they were about really
holding Saddam Hussein accountable. I came away convinced that if we
worked at it, if we were ready to work at letting Hans Blix do his job
and thoroughly go through the inspections, that if push came to shove,
they'd be there with us.
But the president just arbitrarily brought the hammer down and said
nope, sorry, time for diplomacy is over, we're going. He rushed to war
without a plan to win the peace.
Ladies and gentlemen, he gave you a speech and told you he'd plan carefully,
take every precaution, take our allies with us. He didn't. He broke
PRESIDENT BUSH: I remember sitting in the White House looking at those
generals, saying: "Do you have what you need in this war? Do you
have what it takes?" I remember going down to the basement of the
White House the day we committed our troops, as last resort, looking
at Tommy Franks and the generals on the ground, asking them do we have
the right plan with the right troop level? And they looked me in the
eye and said, yes, sir, Mr. President.
Of course I listened to our generals. That's what a president does.
A president sets the strategy and relies upon good military people to
execute that strategy.
MR. GIBSON: Senator.
KERRY: You rely on good military people to execute the military component
of the strategy, but winning the peace is larger than just the military
component. General Shinseki had the wisdom to say you're going to need
several hundred thousand troops to win the peace. Military's job is
to win the war. President's job is to win the peace.
The president did not do what was necessary. Didn't bring in enough
nations, didn't deliver the help, didn't close off the borders, didn't
even guard the ammo dumps. And now our kids are being killed with ammos
(sic) right out of that dump.
MR. GIBSON: The next question is for Senator Kerry. And it comes from
over here, from Randy Jacobs (sp).
SEN. KERRY: Is it Randy?
MR. GIBSON: You'll need a microphone.
SEN. KERRY: Is it Randy? I'm sorry.
Question: Yes, Randy. Iran sponsors terrorism and has missiles capable
of hitting Israel and southern Europe. Iran will have nuclear weapons
in two to three years time. In the event that U.N. sanctions don't stop
this threat, what will you do as president?
SEN. KERRY: I don't think you can just rely on U.N. sanctions, Randy
(sp), but you're absolutely correct. It is a threat. It's a huge threat.
And what's interesting is, it's a threat that has grown while the president
has been preoccupied with Iraq, where there wasn't a threat. If he'd
let the inspectors do their job and go on, we wouldn't have 10 times
the numbers of forces in Iraq that we have in Afghanistan chasing Osama
Meanwhile, while Iran is moving towards nuclear weapons, some 37 tons
of what they call yellowcake, the stuff they use to make enriched uranium,
while they're doing that, North Korea has moved from one bomb maybe
-- maybe -- to four to seven bombs. For two years, the president didn't
even engage with North Korea, did nothing at all, while it was growing
more dangerous, despite the warnings of people like former secretary
of Defense William Perry, who negotiated getting television cameras
and inspectors into that reactor. We were safe before President Bush
came to office. Now, they have the bombs and we're less safe.
So what do we do. We've got to join with the British and the French,
with the Germans, who have been involved in their initiative.
We've got to lead the world now to crack down on proliferation as a
whole. But the president's been slow to do that even in Russia. At his
pace, it's going to take 13 years to reduce and get ahold of all the
loose nuclear material in the former Soviet Union. I've proposed a plan
that can capture it and contain it and clean it within four years.
And the president is moving to the creation of our own bunker- busting
nuclear weapon. It's very hard to get other countries to give up their
weapons when you're busy developing a new one. I'm going to lead the
world in the greatest counterproliferation effort. And if we have to
get tough with Iran, believe me, we will get tough.
MR. GIBSON: Mr. President, a minute and a half.
PRESIDENT BUSH: That answer almost made me want to scowl.
He keeps talking about let the inspectors do their job. It's naive and
dangerous to say that. That's what the Duelfer report showed. He was
deceiving the inspectors.
of course we've been involved with Iran. I fully understand the threat.
And that's why we're doing what he suggested we do, get the Brits, the
Germans and the French to go make it very clear to the Iranians that
if they expect to be a party to the world, to give up their nuclear
ambitions. We've been doing that.
Let me talk about North Korea. It is naive and dangerous to take a policy
that he suggested the other day, which is to have bilateral relations
with North Korea. Remember he's the person who's accusing me of not
acting multilaterally? He now wants to take the six-party talks we have,
China, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, Japan and the United States,
and undermine them by having bilateral talks.
That's what President Clinton did. He had bilateral talks with the
North Korean, and guess what happened? He didn't -- he didn't honor
the agreement. He was enriching uranium. That is a bad policy.
Of course we're paying attention to these. It's a great question about Iran. That's why in my speech to the Congress I said there's an axis of evil -- Iraq, Iran and North Korea -- and we're paying attention to it, and we're making progress.