December 16th, 2008
03:35 PM ET
10 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. Jeez..Someone get me a shoe!!!

    of course, I jest...

    December 16, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  2. Real Change

    Well let me ask you this George; you immoral F-. Tell me how you face the families of the ones who died AFTER you made that decision. After you already knew it was a mistake, but you still continued to leave them in there to die. How do you face THOSE families?

    The truth is you would rather let them die than admit you made a mistake.

    December 16, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  3. Tom in Delaware

    Thanks for keeping the 550 Metric tonnes of Uranium Yellowcake out of the hands of Saddam and Al-Qeada.

    Thanks for enforcing the rest of the UN Security Council Resolutions to compell Saddam into compliance.

    It's tragic anytime nations must go to war but if you don't stand up for something, then you'll fall for anything.

    The fallen soldiers of the US and our Allies can never be desparaged because ours was a just cause, despite the infamous distortions created by the Liberals and supported by the MSM.

    When all one hears night after night is an American body count and nothing else, is it any wonder that this war has become so hated.

    There were more Americans killed in single day at Gettysburg than there have been in over 5 years in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, but most people wouldn't know that because the MSM provides no context or contrast.

    Case in point...everybody knows about the the 'shoe'...but nearly no one knows that Bush was there to sign the Status of Forces was just advertised by the MSM as a 'Farewell Tour'.

    8,000+ Americans are murdered in our cities each year, but that's just 'normal'... MSM makes a 'breaking story' about every bombing in Baghdad, but leaves out the part that it was a mentally-challenged teenage girl who was remotely denoated because that might steel the resolve of the American people to act against real tyranny.

    Harry Truman got a bad rap too, but boy do we love'm today.

    December 16, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  4. Bob from Pittsburgh

    Mr. Bush I am just beside myself..

    What could I posible say to you sir?

    I am speachless at your demented comments.


    December 16, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  5. GA Independent

    Still has his head in the Iraq sand. It was all about besting "Daddy" and he made even worse of a mess. After 8 years you would think he would have learned something...

    December 16, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  6. Bill

    If he had jumped off a cliff and survived, he would still defend his decision to jump. Thats how smart he is.

    December 16, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  7. matt, coppell, tx

    go back to your hole and await your trial at the Hague you clown!!!!

    December 16, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  8. sunshine

    so your answer is to just keep on sacrificing more and more of our young men in women in a senseless war, shame on you mr. president and shame on the republican party.

    December 16, 2008 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  9. Powell

    Only Powell is enjoying the fruits of his loyalty to both Clinton and Bush, as Bush's secretary of state. We only the see the snapshots, but God sees the whole picture, in hundreds or thousands of years. History will approval President Bush, after all. He, and not Obama, is still in control, and still on His throne.

    December 16, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  10. dotmafia

    Of course he stands by it. He can't very well say now that it was a mistake, now can he? That would be too honest for someone like him. On a side note, I believe people should throw their shoes in front of him for the rest of his life as a sign of protest for all of the misery, death and destruction he's brought to this world. Humiliation is the very least punishment Bush should suffer.

    December 16, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  11. David

    What else is Bush going to say. He's lied to the American people for eight years, and now he simply lies to himself.

    Worst. President. Ever.

    December 16, 2008 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  12. Carlo, Raleigh NC

    So let me get this straight.... Basically we invaided Iraq because we could, do I have that right?

    December 16, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  13. j

    When Iran comes knocking on our door and throwing nukes at us, he might realize his mistake, but then again, he'll probably find someone else to blame.

    December 16, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  14. Fenarkleman

    In a fight between the goatee of NBC News Political Chief Chuck Todd and Wolf Blitzer's beard, who wins?

    December 16, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  15. Matt

    I guess McCain wasn't Bush after all. Here we have Bush continuing to support his own bad decisions and fail to recognize the damage and pain he has caused...and yet, McCain recently pretty much admitted that Palin is a broderline troglodyte. It's never too late to grow I suppose.

    December 16, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  16. TyWebb

    Of course he stands by it.

    December 16, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  17. pam Eugene OR

    December 2008 as Bush continues to attempt to rewrite his history. Has anyone been watching the carefully organized campaign Bush has begun to erase his deplorable legacy? Mission Accomplished? Success in Iraq? Bush thinks he can change history so he won't be known as the worst President in history. He is wrong.
    Bush is without a doubt the most horrific President this country has ever suffered. Even Barney, his dog, is making nice for the cameras. There is no defense for the lies, the half truths and the manipulation this horrible man has put this country through.
    He is stubborn and arrogant to the end standing by the decision to take this country to an illegal war. Over 4000 Americans dead, billions in debt, out honor shamed and Bush stand by his decision.
    I throw my shoe at this village idiot.
    SHAME SHAME SHAME Bush. You can't be gone soon enough!

    December 16, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  18. Viet Vet

    That's cuz you're the decider and the commander guy, YES SIR!!
    I don't think you faced Cindy Sheehan- -you coward!

    YOU are truly a MORON. May you rot in hell for your deeds.

    December 16, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  19. No incumbents 2010

    j: Yes because Iran would never have done anything like that prior to our invading Iraq. By the way, who said Iran has nukes? That is strictly for electricity and power. That's like saying Sadaam had WMDs or that he thumbed his nose at the UN. I don't think we have to worry about Iran anymore today than we did in 1979.

    December 16, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  20. 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 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Thanks, please leave now...

    December 16, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  22. Kim

    Talk about delusional. He considered NO options other than trying to be Daddy's macho cowboy, Of course he can't look the families of thousands of dead soldiers in the face. And he can't look the tens of thousands of wounded, unemployed, veterans with no medical care in the face. He has no clue what it's like to have a loved one deployed and in danger every second. I do; my son is in Iraq right now with a Purple Heart pinned to his chest. But, thanks to Bush we're providing free medical care, schools, infrastructure to an historically unstable country when we can't even feed and shelter our own. And don't even get me started on the war profiteering from all the Halliburton contracts.

    December 16, 2008 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  23. Jon

    Of course. One of the most frustrating parts of this administration has been their inability to admit mistakes. Maybe they're afraid it'll show weakness, but to me denial is weakness. If Obama does nothing else positive in office, I hope he at least offers a little more introspection and personal responsibility.

    December 16, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  24. lovable liberal

    Bush never saw a mistake of his that he didn't think was totally one hunnerd [sic] percent righteous. Where did he get all the hot air to puff up his ego with?

    December 16, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  25. Accountability

    Liar to the end

    December 16, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
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