December 16th, 2008
03:35 PM ET
6 years ago

Bush stands by decision to invade Iraq

Pres. Bush signed an agreement with the Iraqi government in Baghdad Sunday.
Pres. Bush signed an agreement with the Iraqi government in Baghdad Sunday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - As President Bush prepares to leave office and looks back over his tenure, he Tuesday continued to stand firmly by his decision to go to war in Iraq, calling the decision to send troops into harm's way the most important one he made he has made in the Oval Office.

"I listened to a lot of people before we went into Iraq. And I listened to a lot of people, including in my own administration, who said, 'it's just not working. Let's get out.' And I listened very carefully to them. And obviously, came to a different conclusion," President Bush told CNN's Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley during a tour of the Oval Office.

While he did not want to revisit his decision to go to war, Bush he was ultimately concerned about "whether or not we would succeed."

"I have worried about it in the past, in 2006 in particular. In Iraq, I was deeply concerned about whether or not we would succeed," he said. "A lot of people in Washington, were saying, let's get out now. And I obviously chose not to do that. But, that was a very difficult period," he said.

The president said he "considered all options" when it came to Iraq and contemplated leaving but said, "I could not live with myself, if I had chosen to just leave and leave behind the valor and the sacrifice of a lot of our young men and women. I would have never been able to face their loved ones."


Returning to Texas

Bush and first lady Laura Bush will head to Dallas after they leave Washington to live in home the president has yet to see firsthand. He plans to open up an institute at Southern Methodist University and will write a book he hopes will present a fuller picture of his presidency than perhaps some of his critics have portrayed.

"I would like to share my experiences, and I think it's going to be important for people to remember what the actual history of my presidency was all about. History tends to shift very rapidly people forget what the environment in which the decisions were made," he said.

Crowley, who started covering the president when he was Texas governor in 1998, asked whether he was still the same person he was back then.

"I didn't change my basic values," Bush said. "I loved my wife then. I love her now. I realize my most important job was to be a loving father, and it is still my most important job. I believed in an almighty then my belief has been strengthened. You've got to say I'm a little wiser. My knowledge of the world is more profound."

Looking forward to a historic moment

Even though his days in office are winding down, the president said he is "not sitting around doing nothing," especially with the transition to President-elect Barack Obama's administration underway.

Bush said he hopes Obama, who will become the nation's first African-American president, is pleased with his administration's efforts.

"We care about him. We want him to be successful, and we want the transition to work," Bush said.

Looking ahead to inauguration, Bush said he is thrilled to "have a front row seat in an unbelievable moment in American history. And I was deeply touched by a lot of people I saw on election night with tears streaming down their face and saying, 'I never, ever thought I would see this day coming.'"

Bush said his "faith in Democracy" made him sure that someday an African American would hold the office he has occupied for eight years, and he is certain more changes will come.

"I believe there will be a woman president," he said. "I am amazed to have watched, you know, Barack Obama come from basic, relative obscurity to now be the - soon to be the president of the United States. And he gives a lot of people hope. And that's good for the country."


Filed under: Iraq • President Bush
soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. Wayne House

    Bush is a blatant dolt.

    December 16, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  2. Proud American from New England

    CRIMINAL.

    TREASONOUS.

    DISGUSTING.

    December 16, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  3. DOC

    Of course he stands by his decision. He made himself and the Carlysle Group lots of money with their war profiteering.

    No justice..

    December 16, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  4. DOC

    Of course he stands by his decision. He made himself and the Carlysle Group lots of money with their war profiteering.

    No justice...

    December 16, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  5. Justice doesnt divide, it unify's

    Admirable

    Do You also have the courage to face the consequences of your lies to the American People, Your Vigillanti-ism youve dubbed "pre-emptive strikes, your mis-crriages of due process, your outing of government agents?

    Or s it time to quietly retire in comfort and riches back at the ranch?

    The truth shall set you free.....it shall also set us free.

    Obama shall be "O-bum-a" and should never call himself a "Constitutional Lawyer" or "A man of the people" if He an his adin ont encourge a REAL investigation.......with penalties if people dyed for n reason

    December 16, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  6. Remy

    Bush is defending his co-conspirators behind the Iraq invasion. Bush leaves White House with many secrets.

    December 16, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  7. Jeff in SF

    Bush never has second thoughts because he didn't have the first thoughts in the first place. He might well have worried about "whether or not we would succeed" in Iraq since no one has ever defined what "success" there might look like. But don't lose any sleep over it, W -

    December 16, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  8. Justice doesnt divide, it unifies

    Admirable

    Do You also have the courage to face the consequences of your lies to the American People, Your Vigillanti-ism that youve dubbed "pre-emptive strikes, an illegal war, your mis-carriages of due process, torture, your outing of government agents?

    Or s it time to quietly retire in comfort and riches back at the ranch?

    The truth shall set you free.....it shall also set us free.

    Obama shall be "O-bum-a" and should never call himself a "Constitutional Lawyer" or "A man of the people" if He and his admin dont encourge a REAL investigation of the Bush/Cheney regime.......with penalties if people dyed for no reason.

    This IS the cost of DUTY......This is the cost of Justice....This is the cost of Honor.....This IS the cost of any type of positive future for our children....Believe it or not We the People CAN handle the truth

    December 16, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  9. MK

    He will lie until he is blue in the face. He wanted to go to war with Iraq because he wanted to avenge the death threat made against his father. He was all to happy to let the american people wrongly believe the connection between Iraq and 9/11. I agrued this point with a simple minded individual from the south who thought I was dumb to not "know" the connection between the two events. I am still angry there are people who bought that line of crap. Talk about sheep led to slaughter, Bush took the whole country.

    December 16, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  10. Bill Charlotte,NC

    He is a nut!

    December 16, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  11. Ohio

    It's not too late: Impeach, impeach, impeach.

    Let him do hard time. At the very least, revoke his pension.

    December 16, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  12. linda from South Dakota

    bush tries to condon his decision, but he was dead wrong in thisinvasion,, its cost many lives for which bush is responsiable and has to live with this his whole life,,, he was told NO but he did nt listen like many times before ,, ill be so glad to see him out of office,,,, he has done no good,, economy has gone wild and does he care? NO,,, he never has and never will,, he should have been impeached for his actions long ago,,,(along with his attitude)

    December 16, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  13. chuck

    THIS MAN IS A PATHOLOGICAL LIAR. BUSH,CHENEY AND RUMSFELD MUST FACE WAR CRIMES IN THE HAGUE. JUSTICE MUST BE SERVED SO THAT OTHER NUT-HEADS DO NOT INVADE COUNTRIES WHEN THEY GET A DREAM OR BRAIN DISORDER.

    December 16, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  14. Justice doesnt divide, it unifies

    In the end we realized its much bigger than the war could ever be the US.

    The question that is in front of us for the past 8 years, maybe even longer whn you look at Nixon and Reagan

    "Does accountability exist in the United States any more",

    This is the real terror.

    December 16, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  15. Pam

    He listened to a lot of people and came to a different conclusion. That sums up the entire 8 years of the Bush disaster.

    December 16, 2008 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  16. S

    So sad. I was there for a year, there's nothing worth 4000+ American lives over there. Nothing.

    December 16, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  17. The Truth

    I was there also...Absolute pointless effort!

    December 17, 2008 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  18. Alexander Hamilton

    8 years gone, and what do we have show for ?
    he should join Madoff for bankrupting the country and all of hie ponzi schemes.

    December 17, 2008 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  19. Alexander Hamilton

    He is like a cum on a Kleenex floating a an ocean of raw sewer

    December 17, 2008 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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