What Bush said on Iraq, U.N.

March 04, 2003

Excerpts from yesterday's White House interview with President Bush:

Eighteen months ago, right after Sept. 11, all over the world, we had people putting flowers and candles in front of U.S. embassies. And it would appear that the anti-war sentiment now is very strong worldwide and that there's a certain amount of anti-Americanism. ... What happened?

I'm sure there are people who don't like the fact that I didn't sign Kyoto [a global treaty intended to prevent global warming]. ... Or there are people who didn't like the fact that I wouldn't join the International Criminal Court because I didn't want a group of people over which we had no decision-making putting our diplomats and military people on trial. ...

I also know there's a lot of people that love America in Europe, for example - Poland and the Czech Republic and Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria. There are people in Germany and France that love America. So, yes, I see the protests, and I know they're large at times. But I'm not so sure I'd jump to the conclusion that everybody in those parts of the world are anti-American. ...

One of the things we believe in America is, we believe in freedom. And I recognize not every situation requires military action when it comes to promoting freedom. I'm not suggesting that at all. But I am suggesting that we ought to always be for freedom. And the Iraqi people suffer. But I don't expect everybody in the world to like everything we do. But, nevertheless, we must do what we must do in order to protect ourselves.

You said that if the United Nations doesn't back us, it risks irrelevance. Yet, if we go to war without its acquiescence, some have said that you are contributing to its irrelevance. What in your view is the United Nations good for in today's world?

It would be good to help us fighting the war against terror, for starters. ... I just disagree that we need to get U.N. permission to protect ourselves, if that's what some are saying. I'll work with the United Nations. We'll try to bring the United Nations along. But my job is to protect the American people. And I sincerely disagree with those who suggest that U.S. foreign policy must be confined to the United Nations.

How do you prepare mentally, spiritually, for this big decision you have to make on whether to send troops in? Are you reading the Bible more? Are you exercising more?

Oh, I'm reading the Bible every day. You know, I've thought long and hard about this issue, as you can imagine. This is a difficult decision for any president to make. I've thought about the consequences of doing nothing. I've thought about the consequences of military action. I would have hoped that the world would have come together with one voice - that would have been more easy to deal with Saddam Hussein.

But it didn't, and therefore he perhaps is getting mixed signals, of when he sees the apparent divisions that we don't actively talk about. ... Secondly, I do work out daily. And I'm sleeping well at night. I am sustained by the prayers of the people.

Are you angry that Hussein may have tried to kill your father and wife in 1993 in Kuwait?

The fact that he tried to kill my father and my wife shows the nature of the man. And he not only tried to kill my father and wife, he's killed thousands of his own citizens. And he's cold-blooded. He's a dictator, and he's a tyrant.

And the decision I'm making, and have made, to disarm Saddam Hussein is based upon the security of the American people. Saddam Hussein poses a threat to America and therefore must be disarmed. And he poses a threat to the credibility of the United Nations. ... He's a threat, and he must be dealt with. The fact that he plotted assassinations and the fact that he kills his own people just describes the nature of the man we're dealing with.

So do you hold any personal anger whatsoever?

No. No, I'm doing my job as the president based upon the threats that face this country. I wasn't even elected when he made those threats. I was just a simple citizen. But my calculation, my thinking, the risk assessment I make is based upon Saddam and America today.

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