December 16th, 2008
03:35 PM ET
9 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. Karen - Missouri

    I will never agree that we should have invaded Iraq. Never

    December 16, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  2. (Former) Lifelong Republican for Obama, Columbia, TN

    Why is the news?!

    Of course, Bush is going stand by his decision to invade Iraq. This man has demonstrated absolutely no ability to show remorse or admit that he was wrong. He is completely dirth of any ability to change and to evolve! This is why he is one of the worse presidents this nation has ever had to suffer with.

    December 16, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  3. Joe

    I stand by my believe that we MUST impeach him for it

    December 16, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. obama-mama

    Boy that's rich.

    "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."

    He's wiser? What a bunch of bull. Another important job this joker took on was to be there for the American people and not give our money to Iraq. I do not hate George Bush but feel that he and Dick really ran this country into the ground.

    I'll be back. Looking for shoes.

    December 16, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  5. Joyce

    What I find apalling was Bush's reaction to the man who threw his shoes at him. He made a joke out of it. Not even thinking or considering what this man was protesting about. Why was the shoe thrown at him? Certainly, it wasn't a mere publicity stunt of someone who wants some air time – as he puts it.

    That man knew he probably will go to jail as a result for how long no one knows. He risked it all simply because of the atrocities the Bush administration had done to his people. Just imagine the death toll daily that the Iraqis faced.

    They might not have much during the Sadam years but they certainly had more then than now. And what about terrorism? There were no terrorist then because Sadam kept them as bay. Look where they are now – a haven for terrorism.

    No matter how Mr. Bush sells this war, it was and will always be based on a lie. A deception. There were no WMD, there were no terrorist in Iraq. They had a dictator sure – someone who could have easily been dealt with without the necessity of a costly war.

    I say free that man who threw his shoes. Many wanted to do the same. He deserves it. Instead of working hard in his last days to help the economy, he is busy trying to fool the world into believing he was a good president. That everything he did was justified.

    Sorry, we don't have amnesia.

    December 16, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  6. Jack

    Would anyone expect the "decider" to admit a mistake? Bush is sticking by his decision because it was one of his main objectives when he first got elected. Number one priority was getting a tax break for the rich, number two was to grab Iraq's oil.

    December 16, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. Sherrol in Canada

    Go away already!!

    December 16, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. Polar Bears Against Palen

    George W. Bush is a piece of garbage.

    December 16, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. History

    Only history can judge if he is right, or may turn out the best world leader that human beings have ever seen.

    December 16, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  10. Steven

    Uh, Sir, you were my commander-in-chief when I was over there. Young men and women are still dying. Staying the course just because if you "had chosen to just leave and leave behind the valor and the sacrifice of a lot of our young men and women." is not honorable. There's no justification for those who are still dying. One death is one too many.

    December 16, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  11. BB


    December 16, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  12. John Des Plaines IL

    How can he do anything but stand behind the illegal invasion and occupation he initiated over his hand-picked, practically dictated by him, "intelligence"? He has to say it was the right thing to do since he started this whole agenda and manipulated this into existence. He and his friends have made a tidy sum off of the death and misery they instigated. He should be and hopefully will be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. We're counting down the seconds until he leaves office. They just can't tick away fast enough.

    December 16, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  13. Ron West Coast

    Bush and Dick Cheney are both crooks. Bush went to Iraq over the weekend supposedly to say " farewell ", but it was more likely to pick up two pallets of those many pallets of 100 dollar bills shipped to Iraq in 2003......
    How fitting is was for him to pick up something else, in the form of " two shoes ", thrown at his wooden head .......
    Yeah, I`m not suprised by him sticking by his decision to " Invade " Iraq.......

    December 16, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  14. j williamson


    December 16, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. Laverne

    The sad part about Bush is that he does not understand what he has done to this country and without understanding, he will never be able to admit his failures. Maybe, just maybe before he leave this world he will repent for what he has done!

    December 16, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. PTL in Texas

    Well, I am not expecting that he would show any regrets, even after leaving Office. If he did, there would lawsuits galore (both in civil and ciminal courts).

    December 16, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. Hussein family

    We wish he hadn't.

    December 16, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |

    Sure he does, he does not want to think that he sent over 4,000 people to their deaths.

    Glad I will not be in his shoes come Judgment Day!

    December 16, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  19. joey from sd

    someone get this man a shoe!

    December 16, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  20. Phil, Ashburn, VA

    And u will go down as the worst president of the US.

    December 16, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. LF Oneto - VA

    To recognize one´s mistake is a sign of integrity and courage -both of which you lack. You had your chance to prove your "patriotism" in Viet Nam but choose to stay home. You have no credibility. You will go down in history as a moron who has caused immense suffering to the people in Iraq. But since you don´t read -not even newspapers, you will live a happy life oblivious to the damage you have cause to this country.
    Most people in the US and overseas just want you to leave office and never see you or hear from you again in our lives. You are just an idiot who has nothing to say that people might be interested in listening.

    December 16, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  22. From Indiana

    God bless George Bush and his courage. Many mistakes were made but this is a man of conviction and honor. Iraqis should succeed from where they are at now. We should pray for Obama, he will have a full plate when he starts. Iraq is the least of his and our problems. There is much hope for Obama's fresh approach.

    December 16, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  23. Garfield

    The irony of this whole incident is that Bush can't figure out why the guy did what he did other than to gain some notoriety.

    Bush said…. The journalist was "looking for notoriety," Bush said, adding that authorities shouldn't "overact" in their treatment of him.

    "First of all, it's got to be one of the most weird moments of my presidency," he said. "Here I am, getting ready to answer questions from a free press in a democratic Iraq, and a guy stands up and throws his shoe. And it was bizarre, and it was an interesting way for a person to express himself."

    This pretty much shows just how insensitive and ignorant Bush is. Thousands of innocent Iraqi's have been killed because of his decision to invade Iraq, probably members of his own family. Yet Bush fails to see that the whole world is disgusted with him reflected by his approval ratings in the USA and the world. Thousands of Iraq's demonstrate in support of this man and Bush can't see it.


    December 16, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  24. Gerry in Va. for Obama.

    As for listening to "many" people, that number was probably 2, maybe three. Rumsfeld, Wolfawitz and Cheney and of course his own self. W wanted that war. It was suppose to turn out differently though. He always invisioned himself as the big tough Texas hero in all this "Bring um on" stuff and simply will not see him self as anything else no matter what has/is/will, be shown to him by anyone about anything. He simply doesn't have it in his mind to (or the mind to) accept anything else. I hope the citizens of the U.S. remember the singlemindedness that the whole Bush clan family, from daddy Bush down to Jeb Bush, when it comes time for the next Bush to run for an office. They are all alike. Actually it did seem to get worse under W then it was with his daddy so that would go to reason that JEB would be much worse then W..... OMG.... What a revolting thought.... Another Bush in a political office....NNNNNNNOOOOOOOOO !!!!!!

    December 16, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  25. Chuck

    No your kidding me. If he didn't, then he would be admitting to war crimes. DUH!!!

    December 16, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
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