Q Mr. President, you started this war, a war of your choosing, and you can end it alone, today, at this point -- bring in peacekeepers, U.N. peacekeepers. Two million Iraqis have fled their country as refugees. Two million more are displaced. Thousands and thousands are dead. Don't you understand, you brought the al Qaeda into Iraq.Correct me if I'm wrong, but Saddam delivered a massive amount of documents that said they had no WMD. We didn't believe him and we were wrong. So, who really chose to ignite the Iraq conflagration?
THE PRESIDENT: Actually, I was hoping to solve the Iraqi issue diplomatically. That's why I went to the United Nations and worked with the United Nations Security Council, which unanimously passed a resolution that said disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. That was the message, the clear message to Saddam Hussein. He chose the course.
Q Didn't we go into Iraq --Okay, it was Saddam's decision or yours? Isn't the W a self identified "decider?"
THE PRESIDENT: It was his decision to make. Obviously, it was a difficult decision for me to make, to send our brave troops, along with coalition troops, into Iraq. I firmly believe the world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power.
Oh, and as to if the world is a better place without Saddam in power - nice euphemism by the way Mr. President, we had him executed - it's completely debatable.
But what else do you have for us Mr. President?
My attitude is we ought to defeat them there so we don't have to face them here, and that we ought to defeat their ideology with a more hopeful form of government.But the British are in Iraq and they just recently arrested some folks for wanting to drive car bombs into various building under their very noses.
So, fighting them there doesn't stop them from following us. As you may deduce, they are already here sleeping and awaiting the green go light. Moreover, by the President's own report, the new Iraqi government really isn't firing on many cylinders, which can't altogether be that hopeful in my view.
What else have you got Mr. President:
THE PRESIDENT: You mean in this interim period? Yes. I don't think Congress ought to be running the war. I think they ought to be funding our troops. I'm certainly interested in their opinion, but trying to run a war through resolution is a prescription for failure, as far as I'm concerned, and we can't afford to fail.Can we afford to succeed? That that is a question they didn't consider from the outset is clearly obvious now. Hindsight does us no good, but we certainly can ask the president what does that success look like?
By the way, who is really running the war?
What I tell them is this, just what I've told you, is that as the Commander-in-Chief of the greatest military ever, I have an obligation, a sincere and serious obligation, to hear out my commander on the ground. And I will take his recommendation. And as I mentioned, to talk to Bob Gates about it, as well as the Joint Chiefs about it, as well as consult with members of the Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, as I make a decision about the way forward in Iraq.Doesn't sound like Congress is in charge, not one iota, so why bring that up if but for political reasons?
Of course, if reason and facts don't work, you can always slap the Nine Eleven Monkey one more time for political effect:
The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th, and that's why what happens in Iraq matters to the security here at home.Well, that's not entirely true. The people that did the deed died in the planes they used. Such is the nature of the suicide bomber.
Here's in interesting question:
Q But, sir, on that point, what evidence can you present to the American people that the people who attacked the United States on September the 11th are, in fact, the same people who are responsible for the bombings taking place in Iraq? What evidence can you present? And also, are you saying, sir, that al Qaeda in Iraq is the same organization being run by Osama bin Laden, himself?Of course, the W takes the leadership by faith over fact modus operandi to heart one more time and asks us to believe things simply because he says it's so:
THE PRESIDENT: Al Qaeda in Iraq has sworn allegiance to Osama bin Laden. And the guys who had perpetuated the attacks on America -- obviously, the guys on the airplane are dead, and the commanders, many of those are either dead or in captivity, like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. But the people in Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq, has sworn allegiance to Osama bin Laden. And we need to take al Qaeda in Iraq seriously, just like we need to take al Qaeda anywhere in the world seriously.Any proof beyond rhetoric there? Nope, I didn't find any either. Where is OBL anyway? Dead or Alive?
As evidenced by the WMD smoking mushroom cloud rhetoric that got us into this mess, I don't think that the President's word is as good as he thinks it aught to be. And, that's a darn shame because I really do want to believe the President of the United States. Frankly, he's got a serious credibility problem.
Really, why should we buy his plan anyway?
Q Thank you, sir. You have spoken passionately about the consequences of failure in Iraq. Your critics say you failed to send enough troops there at the start, failed to keep al Qaeda from stepping into the void created by the collapse of Saddam's army, failed to put enough pressure on Iraq's government to make the political reconciliation necessary to keep the sectarian violence the country is suffering from now from occurring. So why should the American people feel you have the vision for victory in Iraq, sir?Let the scapegoating begin:
THE PRESIDENT: Those are all legitimate questions that I'm sure historians will analyze. I mean, one of the questions is, should we have sent more in the beginning? Well, I asked that question, do you need more, to General Tommy Franks. In the first phase of this operation, General Franks was obviously in charge, and during our discussions in the run up to the decision to remove Saddam Hussein after he ignored the Security Council resolutions. My primary question to General Franks was, do you have what it takes to succeed? And do you have what it takes to succeed after you succeed in removing Saddam Hussein? And his answer was, yes.But what of it? If it is working, then the threat of AQ should be down, no?
Now, history is going to look back to determine whether or not there might have been a different decision made. But at the time, the only thing I can tell you, Wendell, is that I relied upon our military commander to make the proper decision about troop strength. And I can remember a meeting with the Joint Chiefs, who said, we've reviewed the plan. I remember -- and seemed satisfied with it. I remember sitting in the PEOC, or the Situation Room, downstairs here at the White House, and I went to commander and commander that were all responsible of different aspects of the operation to remove Saddam. I said to each one of them, do you have what it takes? Are you satisfied with the strategy? And the answer was, yes.
Q The intelligence analysts are saying al Qaeda has reconstituted in areas of Pakistan, saying the threat to the West is greater than ever now, as great as 2001. What's --Looks like the President left and then came back to answer this last line of query. He continues to try and have his cake and eat it too:
THE PRESIDENT: Okay --
Q Okay, you tell us what --
THE PRESIDENT: I'm glad you asked, thank you. Thank you, I appreciate that opportunity to --
Q Thank you for coming back, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: I'm happy to do it. This is not the new me. I mean, this is just an aberration. In other words --
Q It's over next time.
THE PRESIDENT: -- I'm not going to leave and then come back because somebody yells something at me.
Q Like China.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, exactly. (Laughter.) Thank you, David. I appreciate that. Exactly.
There is a perception in the coverage that al Qaeda may be as strong today as they were prior to September the 11th. That's just simply not the case. I think the report will say, since 2001, not prior to September the 11th, 2001.But if they are weaker, then why would he suggest they are still dangerous? The logic doesn't flow well.
Secondly, that because of the actions we have taken, al Qaeda is weaker today than they would have been. They are still a threat. They are still dangerous. And that is why it is important that we succeed in Afghanistan and Iraq and anywhere else we find them. That's our strategy, is to stay on the offense against al Qaeda.
But he continues by the "justify-everything-I've-done-by-using-the-al-Qaeda-threat-and-toss -them-on-the-table-for-good-measure-and-then-leave" technique of political debate:
Elaine asked the question, is it al Qaeda in Iraq? Yes, it is al Qaeda, just like it's al Qaeda in parts of Pakistan. And I'm working with President Musharraf to be able to -- he doesn't want them in his country; he doesn't want foreign fighters in outposts of his country. And so we're working to make sure that we continue to keep the pressure on al Qaeda.But ultimately, who's to say that our way is the right way?
But no question al Qaeda is dangerous for the American people, and that's why -- as well as other people that love freedom -- and that's why we're working hard with allies and friends to enhance our intelligence. That's why we need terrorist surveillance programs. That's why it's important for us to keep -- you know, would hope Congress would modernize that bill. And that's why we're keeping on the offense.
Ultimately, the way to defeat these radicals and extremists is to offer alternative ways of life so that they're unable to recruit; that they can use -- they like to use frustration and hopelessness. The societies that don't provide hope will become the societies where al Qaeda has got the capacity to convince a youngster to go blow himself up. What we need to do is help governments provide brighter futures for their people so they won't sign up.It's hard to compete with the promise of virgins in the after world, but what is the message of hope that the Iraqis see from us (and most of them have left their country by the way, which is a indicator of what?)?
The president continues
And the fundamental question facing the world on this issue is whether or not it makes sense to try to promote an alternative ideology. I happen to think it does. They say, he's idealistic. Yes, I'm idealistic, but I'm also realistic in understanding if there is not an alternative ideology presented, these thugs will be able to continue the recruit. They'll use hopelessness to be able to recruit. And so it's -- thank you for asking that question.Oh, Mr. President, when you suggest that people say you are idealistic, I now know for certain that you only surround yourself with a certain brand of people. The folks I know would come up with a few alternative choice words to describe you...but, I'll leave that for the flogging in the comment box.
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