In an interview last night on PBS, President Bush complained that people who measure progress in Iraq by how many car bombs and suicide attacks occur are giving a “huge victory” to the enemy by making it more difficult for him to promote the war to the American public.
“If the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings,” Bush said, “we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory.” He repeated later that people who “judge the administration’s [escalation] plan” based on such acts of violence “have just given Al Qaida or any other extremist a significant victories [sic].”
Bush said that these images of brutal violence on television are “one of the problems I face in trying to convince the American people” that the war is worthwhile. Watch it:
Another reason President Bush doesn’t want to talk about suicide bombings: they’ve increased 30 percent over the past six weeks despite the escalation, according to U.S. military data.
ROSE: There is no question on their part and on your part that catastrophe worse than it is today is inevitable if there’s not a political solution and if the United States pulls out in the near term.
BUSH: Well, first of all, you said this is a catastrophe worse today. You know, it is….
ROSE: Well, there’s sectarian violence that is of a certain level.
BUSH: It is, but it’s significantly lower than it was a couple of months ago.
ROSE: And is there an acceptable level of violence?
BUSH: Well, that’s the question to the Iraqi people. That’s a fascinating question. I mean, there is an acceptable level of violence in certain societies around the world. And the question is, you know, what is that level? That’s where the experts come in. You know, you and I can’t determine that sitting here in New York, but we can ask people’s advice upon it. David Petraeus is — would have an opinion on that. Ryan Crocker, our ambassador in Iraq. That’s a very interesting way of putting the question. Because all — there is an acceptable level of violence in all societies. Even our own.
ROSE: And where do you…
BUSH: Even though all violence needs to be abhorred — nevertheless, there is, you know, there’s certain violence, levels of violence that people say, well, gosh, I can go about my life, I’ve got…
ROSE: We can’t create zero violence is what you’re saying.
BUSH: Well — and by the way, if the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings, we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory. In other words, if you say, you know, I’m going to judge the administration’s plan based upon whether they’re able to have no car bombings in Baghdad. We will have just given — because car bombings are hard to stop, or suicide bombings, very hard to stop.
We have just given Al Qaida or any other extremist a significant victories. And that’s one of the problems I face in trying to convince the American people, one, this is doable. In other words, I wouldn’t have our troops there if I didn’t think this is, one, important; and secondly, achievable.
But I also understand on their TV screens, people are saying horrific bombings, and they’re saying to themselves, is this possible? Can we possibly succeed in the face of this kind of violence? And that’s where this enemy, the enemy of moderation, has got a, you know, they’ve got a powerful tool (inaudible).