"President Bush On Iraq War: ‘I Was A Dissenting Voice. I Didn’t Want To Use Force’"
Former President George W. Bush will unveil his memoir “Decision Points” this Sunday to offer “an account of a key decisions in his life.” According to his publisher, the book will offer “gripping, never-before-heard detail.” One of those unheard-of details? Bush didn’t want the Iraq War.
Conducting Bush’s first interview of his publicity tour (which will air Monday), NBC News’ Matt Lauer pressed Bush on his decision to go to war despite “questions” from a number of “dissenters” like Gen. Colin Powell and his father’s former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. Bush responded that “of course there were” dissenters, like himself:
LAUER: Not everybody thought you should go to war, though. There were dissenters.
BUSH: Of course there were.
LAUER: You know, there were questions at the Pentagon. Colin Powell had questions. Brent Scowcroft, your father’s former National Security Advisor, and dear friend, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, I’m paraphrasing here, saying, “It’s not a good idea to go to war in Iraq.” So there were dissenting voices.
BUSH: I was a dissenting voice. I didn’t want to use force. I mean force is the last option for a President. And I think it’s clear in the book that I gave diplomacy every chance to work. And I will also tell you the world’s better off without somehow in power. And so are 25 million Iraqis.[…]
LAUER: You would still go to war in Iraq?
BUSH: I– first of all, didn’t have that luxury. You just don’t have the luxury when you’re President. That’s a very hypothetical question. I will say definitely the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power, as are 25 million people who now have a chance to live in freedom.
Perhaps Bush doesn’t seem to remember his avaricious thirst for the Iraq war. So let’s remind him.
Recall, in 2002, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was meeting with three U.S. Senators on how to approach Iraq diplomatically, Bush “poked his head into the office” and “neatly summed up” his take: “F___ Saddam. We’re taking him out.” In “talking about why we needed this war,” Bush later referenced an alleged Iraqi assassination plot against Bush’s father: “We need to get Saddam Hussein…that Mother ______ tried to take out my Dad.”
This “get Saddam” mentality was hardly a momentary craze. Recently declassified documents reveal that his administration were looking for a way to “decapitate” the Iraqi government since 2001. As Bush’s Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill — who Bush fired for “disagreeing too many times” with him — puts it, Bush was “all about finding a way to [go to war]. That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this.'”
In the interview, Bush added that he still feels “sickened and angry” over the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Maybe he should watch his old comedy routine about those non-existent weapons of mass destruction. But, the 5,000 troop casualties and nearly 100,000 Iraqi civilian casualties resulting from his decision is no laughing matter. (HT: TPM)
LAUER: You say you told Laura at the time it was the worst moment of your Presidency?
BUSH: Yes. My record was strong I felt when it came to race relations and giving people a chance. And– it was a disgusting moment.
LAUER: I wonder if some people are going to read that, now that you’ve written it, and they might give you some heat for that. And the reason is this–
BUSH: Don’t care.
LAUER: Well, here’s the reason. You’re not saying that the worst moment in you’re Presidency was watching the misery in Louisiana. You’re saying it was when someone insulted you because of that.
BUSH: No — that– and I also make it clear that the misery in Louisiana affected me deeply as well. There’s a lot of tough moments in the book. And it was a disgusting moment, pure and simple.