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. Ryan

    As the years go by I hope the hatred for George Bush goes away. This is a man that we voted into office and did everything in his power to keep us safe. Those of you that scream he should be tried as a war criminal are so blind it's sick. The United Nations wouldn't stand up to Saddam and we did. God Bless all of our soldiers who are fighting and who have died protecting us at home.

    December 16, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  2. yasmine

    of course he doesn't regret all the $$ millions he and Cheney made off the backs of the Iraqis...

    December 16, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |

    It's stupidity at it's finest. What else can he say? Certainly not, "I was wrong to do it!!!"

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

    It time to bring our guys home and end this war. Bush should also request the release of the guy who threw the shoes at him...
    There was no way War was going to be avoided with Iraq and as a result thousands of innocent people were killed. Forgiveness is what is needed at this time. It is not that mans fault that his dispair and grief has lead him into not careing what happens to hisself. enough to show his anger and emotions that raged inside of him.
    It would be nice if America (Barack Obama) steped in to try to right this sistuation at the bequest of President Bush...We need to repair our relationship with our Iraqis Brethern, while it can be repaired.

    December 16, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. canadian pov

    Really!!! He could have listened to the people in his own circle that told him the intelligence was faulty and there was no proof of WMDs. He could have let the UN inspectors complete their work. He and his hawks were gunning for a war before he ever had a reason to make one up. So, Mr. President, can you look the loved ones in the eye now? Not just of the US soldiers that needlessly died but the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi families?

    My favorite photograph is the one with Rumsfeld embracing Sadam after selling him American arms years before he became their enemy!

    Hypocrites! So what?

    December 16, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  6. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Apparently, Bush still doesn't understand that there were no WMD and no connection to 9/11. If there was a reason to remove Saddam, it would have been for his father George H.W. Bush to do. That would have been the best time. Saddam contained Iran and the crazies there. I think this did some of the worst damage to the middle east that could have been done.

    December 16, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. SteveCO

    What stupid lying waste of human life Bush is.

    You're fooling nobody, Puppet Boy. Your V.P. browbeat the CIA until that agency started, unwillingly, to support Cheney's lies about nukes and WMD in general. You lied about where the WMD supposedly were near Baghdad. You preemptively attacked a nation that posed zero physical danger to the U.S. You didn't listen to a single piece of advice unless it came from a dumbed-down, redneck, war hawk spittle-spraying flag worshipper. You set the rest of the nation against you, accusing anyone who didn't believe your lies of "helping the terrorists". No one in the world except you thinks the war was a good idea. No one except you hasn't noticed that terrorists, and al Quada in particular, have grown far stronger then they were before your war crimes began. Good job, weenie.

    Take a vacation until January 20th, you incompetent traitor.

    December 16, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  8. Mary

    Well my husband who is deployed now for the 3rd time dosesn't agree ...I mean he joined the army to defend his country...but in a war that should not have been!!! ...Our children want to know when is "Daddy" coming home to stay....

    December 16, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. Donna from Colorado Springs

    Bush is the most stubborn man on the planet! He absolutely will not admit that invading Iraq was a mistake. Of course, being a republican prohibits him from admitting to ANY MISTAKE! Case in point.......McCain and his refusal to admit his careless choosing of Palin!

    December 16, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  10. IndiePA

    He would. What did you expect? He's still an arrogant moron who is oblivious to the FACT that it was the wrong thing to do. 35 more days. Neither he nor his puppeteer, Cheney, would ever be capable of admitting to wrong-doing. His whole administration for 8 years is an example of this. Too bad the shoes missed!

    December 16, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  11. Daniel

    Just when you thought he was starting to make sense...BAM!

    December 16, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  12. J. Dean


    December 16, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  13. Minnesotan

    The headline should read, "Bush stands by decision to Destroy America." This guy needs to be prosecuted once he's out of the White House. WORST PRESIDENT EVER! Bring on the lawsuits!

    December 16, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. Bridgette-PA

    CNN, just exactly what did you expect the President to say?? "I made a bad decision to invade Iraq, it was a ploy because I only care about the oil and my thinking was blurred with greed and I tricked the American people into believing that they attacked us on 9/11"? Give me a break. Are you having a slow news day or something.

    December 16, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  15. Eli

    Bush defends the indefensible? Imagine our surprise.

    December 16, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  16. Mark

    so w earlier said his biggest regret was the faulty intelligence (or lack thereof) on Iraq.

    but on the other hand, bush says it was the right decision. I guess in his book, two wrongs do make a right.

    35 days and counting.

    December 16, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  17. G.R.I.T.S. - Girl Raised in the South

    Of course he's going to stand by his decision. No one ever wants to admit when they are wrong, nevermind being wrong on such a large scale. Besides, G.W. is too self-involved to really care about public image, regular non-donating citizens, dead soldiers, and the like.

    The thing that gets me is that his buddies (and his father's buddies) including Cheney formed the PNAC (Project for the New American Century) back in 1997, pushing for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Clinton didn't go for it, so they finally got their boy to do it.

    In order to satisfy the whims of a group of neo-con, greedy, war profiteers (Cheney, Wolfowitz, Kristol, Kagan, Bennett, Forbes, Rumsfeld, Scooter Libby, Khalilzad, Quayle, McCain, Woolsey, Armitage and more), G.W. went ahead and lied to the American people and invaded a sovreign nation that did not attack us.

    By the way, another member of the PNAC is Jeb Bush, so don't think that apples fall too far from their trees.

    I just wish for once he would tell the truth so that people can see the sick influence of the PNAC.

    December 16, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  18. Nelson Colorado Springs Co

    If President Bush change his mine about it wouldn't bring back DEAD over 4300 have lost their lives. Bush said 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.

    December 16, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  19. Baccountable

    The shoe-throwing incident in Iraq is an unfortunate, but fitting, capstone to the Bush administration's actions, policies and priorities. Mr. Bush deserves credit for the way he handled the momentary situation. However, the frustration expressed by the disgruntled Iraqi merely gives physical form to the frustrations building for the past eight years right here in America and around the world. Only a few weeks ago Senator McCain and Governor Palin, members of his own party, filled the airwaves with their own "verbal shoes". Mr. Bush may believe his actions were correct, but that does not make him right. What else can he say at this time? The damage is done.

    December 16, 2008 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  20. Texas Teacher

    Of course, he does! Did anyone seriously consider otherwise for one moment? Not I!

    Dick Cheney on questioning of their policies.... "so." They simply DO NOT care one whit what anyone including the public think of what they have done. Their machinations have absolutely nothing to do with the will or needs of the People. They did what they did in the name of the almight dollar! No regrets... pure and simple. And they will continue to do so, if they can get Jeb Bush in there next! Come on.... seriously!

    December 16, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  21. JJ

    Just as Hitler stood by his decision to invade Poland.

    December 16, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. Steph

    Of course he stands by his decision! The man hasn't admitted to a single mistake so far.

    December 16, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  23. Mecrob

    I'm suprised that the decision to invade iraq was the most important decision he made...I thought it would have been whether or not to eat fruit loops or apple jacks for breakfast.

    December 16, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  24. Red, Red WHINE!!

    Thanks for letting us get attacked on 9/11 (couldn't even keep us safe from FOUR much of an idiot do you have to be?) and ruining our economy (you had a surplus when you took office you retard) and killing our women and children in your illegal wars! Thanks for instituting torture (I guess nazi Germany showed us how to do it right eh?). And thanks for the extremely positive image of America you have left us with (we're hated because you were such a meniacal dictator on the world stage!)

    Good Riddance you piece of crap....please go to another country you trader!

    December 16, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  25. Ron

    Good. I stand by my decision that he should be impeached and prosecuted for war crimes and the illegal invasion of a sovereign nation based on baseless facts and innuendos.

    December 16, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
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