More headlines: George W. Bush on War & Peace

(Following are older quotations. Click here for main quotations.)

No difference between war of necessity and war of choice

In Bush's mind, how the case for war had been made scarcely mattered. What mattered was the policy & showing success. The public tends to be more forgiving when the results are promising. If the policy was right & the selling of the policy could be justified at the time, then any difference between the two mattered little. To this day, Bush seems unbothered by the disconnect between the chief rationale for war and the driving motivation behind it, and unconcerned about how the case was packaged.
Source: What Happened, by Scott McClellan, p.202 May 28, 2008

Focus on core mission by removing US troops from Balkans

Bush’s advisors confirmed that a Bush administration would work to redeploy the 11,400 ground troops - about one-fifth of the 65,000 NATO peacekeeping troops in the region - out of the Balkans. They added, however, that no such redeployment would take place without consultation with America’s NATO allies. The remarks fleshed out Bush’s repeated statements that American troops should not be used in peacekeeping missions and should instead concentrate their efforts on preparing to fight wars in places like the Persian Gulf and the Korean peninsula.

“The role of the US military is not to be all things to all people. Bush does not support an open-ended commitment to keep our troops as peacekeepers in the Balkans,” said a spokesman. An advisor added, “Gore seems to have a vision of an indefinite US military deployment in the Balkans. He proved today that if he is elected, America’s military will continue to be overdeployed, harming morale & re-enlistment rates, weakening our military’s core mission.”

Source: Steven Holmes, NY Times, on 2000 election Oct 22, 2000

Revise NATO; US out of Balkans; Europeans in

Bush plans to tell NATO that the United States should no longer participate in peacekeeping in the Balkans, signaling a major new division of labor in the Western alliance. Peacekeeping in Bosnia and Kosovo would become a European responsibility. The US would focus on deterring and fighting wars in the Persian Gulf, Asia and other distant trouble spots. Bush’s plan would represent the most important revision of NATO tasks since the cold war. Bush says he would spend $45 billion of the surplus on the military over 10 years. Bush has contended that the military has been run ragged by peacekeeping and humanitarian work, missions that are taking a toll on morale and readiness.
Source: Michael R. Gordon, NY Times on 2000 election Oct 21, 2000

NATO: Europeans provide troops; US provides support only

Bush plans to tell NATO that the US should no longer participate in peacekeeping in the Balkans, signaling a major new division of labor in NATO. Under this arrangement, peacekeeping in Bosnia and Kosovo would become a European responsibility, as could peacekeeping in other conflicts. The US would focus on deterring and fighting wars in the Persian Gulf, Asia and other distant trouble spots. Bush’s plan would represent the most important revision of NATO tasks since the cold war. His aides say the change is long overdue and would let the American military concentrate its training and financing on traditional combat missions.

The US would continue to provide intelligence, help with communications, transport and do other logistical work after withdrawing its peacekeeping troops. “We are not withdrawing from Europe,” an adviser said. “But when it comes to nation-building or civilian administration or indefinite peacekeeping, we do need for the Europeans to step up to their responsibilities.”

Source: Michael Gordon, NY Times on 2000 election Oct 21, 2000

Bush wants Europeans in Balkans; they’re already there

We don’t need to persuade Europe “to put troops on the ground” in Kosovo, as Bush suggested, because almost 85% of the soldiers there now are from Europe. When bombing broke out in Bosnia, Bush did not leap to support it, as he claimed, but said at the time he was “praying,” before eventually lending an equivocal voice.
Source: Time, p. 62, “Double Standard” at Wake Forest debate Oct 19, 2000

Harming NATO is a strategic interest & warrants intervention

GORE [to Bush]: [Regarding] when it’s appropriate for the US to use force around the world, at times the standards that you’ve laid down have given me the impression that if it’s something like a genocide or ethnic cleansing, that that alone wouldn’t be the kind of situation that would cause you to think that the US ought to get involved with troops. There have to be other factors involved for me to want to be involved. But by itself, that, to me, can bring into play a fundamental American strategic interest because I think it’s based on our values.

BUSH: If I think it’s in our nation’s strategic interests, I’ll commit troops. I thought it was in our strategic interests to keep Milosevic in check because of our relations in NATO, and that’s why I took the position I took. I think it’s important for NATO to be strong and confident. I felt like an unchecked Milosevic would harm NATO. So it depends on the situation, Mr. Vice President.

Source: (X-ref Gore) Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 2000

After U.S. victory, Europeans should keep peace in Serbia

Q: Is Milosevic’s defeat a triumph for U.S. military intervention?

BUSH: I think it’s a triumph. I thought the president made the right decision in joining NATO in bombing Serbia. I supported him when they did so. I think it worked. I’m pleased I made the decision I made, and I’m pleased the president made the decision he made, because freedom took hold in that part of the world. There’s a lot of work left to be done, however. I don’t think he would have fallen had we not used force. I know there’s some in my party that disagreed with that sentiment. The administration deserves credit for having made it work. I hope our European friends become the peacekeepers in Bosnia and in the Balkans. I hope that they put the troops on the ground so that we can withdraw our troops and focus our military on fighting and winning war.

Source: Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 2000

Replace US troops with European troops in Balkans

One of the problems we have in the military is we’re in a lot of places around the world and I mentioned one and that’s the Balkans. I’d very much like to get our troops out of there. I recognize we can’t do it now, nor do I advocate an immediate withdrawal. That would be an abrogation of our agreement with NATO. No one is suggesting that, but I think it ought to be one of our priorities to work with our European friends to convince them to put troops on the ground.
Source: Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 2000

Let Russians convince Milosevic to step down

BUSH: The Russians [should] convince Milosevic it’s in his best interest and his country’s best interest to leave office. The Russians have got a lot of sway in that part of the world, and we’d like to see them use that sway to encourage democracy to take hold.

GORE: Under some circumstances, that might be a good idea. But I’m not sure that it’s right for us to invite the president of Russia to mediate this dispute there, because we might not like the result that comes out of that. They currently favor going forward with a runoff election. I think that’s the wrong thing. I think the governor’s instinct is not necessarily bad, because we have worked with the Russians in a constructive way, in Kosovo, for example, to end the conflict there. But I think we need to be very careful in the present situation before we invite the Russians to play the lead role in mediating.

BUSH: Well, obviously we wouldn’t use the Russians if they didn’t agree with our answer.

GORE: Well, they don’t.

Source: (X-ref Gore) Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

Pull US troops out of Balkans; and pay them more

“The current administration inherited a military ready for the dangers and challenges that faced our nation. The next president will inherit a military in decline. A volunteer military has only two paths. It can lower its standards to fill its ranks, or it can inspire the best & brightest to join & stay.” Bush promised to pull US troops out of peacekeeping missions in the Balkans and offer an additional $1 billion in raises for serving personnel, plus increased re-enlistment bonuses for key personnel.
Source: Staff & Wire Reports, Aug 21, 2000

No deadline for removing troops from Kosovo

The two candidates generally share the philosophy of internationalism that was the hallmark of President Bush and that has animated Presindent Clinton’s policy. Governor Bush supported the Clinton administration’s use of force in Kosovo last year. And last week, when some congressional Republicans wanted to establish a deadline for removing US troops from Kosovo, Bush questioned the move, saying it would tie his hands if he became president.
Source: Boston Globe on 2000 race, p. A41 May 25, 2000

Supported intervention & ground troops; but without UN

Source: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000

Be suspicious of agreement until Serbs gone & Kosovars home

America should be suspicious of any agreement with an indicted war criminal who has not kept his word in the past. The first sign of whether Milosevic will live up to his agreement will come when he begins to withdraw his forces from Kosovo. The withdrawal of all Serb forces must be prompt and complete. Second, the Kosovo refugees must be able to return home safely. Returning 850,000 refugees to their homes will be a monumental task. Our hopes must be matched by tough and continued vigilance.
Source: “Kosovo Accord” Jun 4, 1999

Timetable for US peacekeepers to hand over to Europeans

Once they are returned to their homes, the Kosovars must be protected by an international peacekeeping force with NATO at its core. Any US forces involved must be under US or NATO command. The President should also lay out a timetable for how long American troops will be involved and when they will be removed. If a residual force is needed, it is important that over time US troops are withdrawn and our European allies assume most of the responsibility.
Source: “Kosovo Accord” Jun 4, 1999

2006: troop levels for victory in Iraq, not victory in polls

In Sept. 2006, with the midterm elections approaching, my friend Mitch McConnell (R-KY) came to the Oval Office. Mitch has a sharp political nose, and he smelled trouble. I asked, "What do you want me to do about it?"

He said, "bring some troops home from Iraq." He was not alone. As violence in Iraq escalated, members of both parties had called for a pullout.

I said, "I believe our presence in Iraq is necessary to protect American, and I will not withdraw troops unless military conditions warrant." I made clear I would set troop levels to achieve victory in Iraq, not victory at the polls.

What I did not tell him was that I was seriously considering the opposite of his recommendations. Rather than pull troops out, I was on the verge of making the toughest and most unpopular decision of my presidency: deploying more troops into Iraq with a new strategy, a new commander, and a mission to protect the Iraqi people and help enable the rise of a democracy in the heart of the Middle East.

Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.355 Nov 9, 2010

2006: For first time, worried we might not succeed in Iraq

The summer of 2006 was the worst period of my presidency. I thought about the war constantly. I was deeply concerned that the violence was overtaking all else. An average of 120 Iraqis a day were dying. The war had stretched to more than three years. By a margin of almost two to one, Americans said they disapproved of the way I was handling Iraq.

For the first time, I worried we might not succeed. If Iraq split along sectarian lines, our mission would be doomed. We could be looking at a repeat of Vietnam--a humiliating loss for the country, a shattering blow to the military, and a dramatic setback for our interests. If anything, the consequences of defeat in Iraq would be even worse than in Vietnam. We would leave al Qaeda with a safe haven in a country with vast oil reserves. We would embolden a hostile Iran in its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.367-371 Nov 9, 2010

May 2003: Combat operations are ended; mission accomplished

"Iraqis are freer today and we are safer. Relax and enjoy it."
--Richard Perle, May 1, 2003

"Major combat operations are ended."--George W. Bush, aboard USS Abraham Lincoln, May 1, 2003

--Banner on USS Abraham Lincoln, May 1, 2003

"You want to do Iran for the next one?"--George W. Bush, on meeting with just-fired Jay Garner, June 2, 2003

Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 51 Oct 1, 2008

Transition from leading operations to partnering with Iraqis

I ask Congress to meet its responsibilities to these brave men and women [in Iraq] by fully funding our troops. Our enemies in Iraq have been hit hard. They are not yet defeated, and we can still expect tough fighting ahead. Our objective in the coming year is to sustain and build on the gains we made in 2007, while transitioning to the next phase of our strategy. American troops are shifting from leading operations, to partnering with Iraqi forces, and, eventually, to a protective overwatch mission.

Source: 2008 State of the Union address to Congress Jan 28, 2008

FactCheck: Troop drawdown of 20,000 still above pre-surge

Bush was correct when he said that some US troops are returning from Iraq, but so far the drawdown only amounts to a few thousand. Bush said that all drawdowns “taken together [mean] more than 20,000 of our troops are coming home.

This is accurate. But to put that in context, at the peak of the surge about 162,000 US troops were in Iraq. Prior to the surge, the total was about 130,000, [so the 20,000 troop reduction now does not reduce to the pre-surge level].

And Bush left out a bit of the back story of the sheer numbers of Iraqi Security Forces. Bush said, “Today, this grassroots surge includes more than 80,000 Iraqi citizens who are fighting the terrorists.” But at least 60,000 of the Iraqi citizens to which Bush refers--they’re called “Concerned Local Citizens” by the US military--are under contract with the U.S. military and being paid about $300 a month.

Source: on 2008 State of the Union address Jan 28, 2008

20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Baghdad & Anbar

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in. It is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. So let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory.

We are carrying out a new strategy in Iraq--a plan that demands more from Iraq’s elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law and is an ally in the war on terror.

We are deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. And in Anbar province we are sending an additional 4,000 US Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out. We did not drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.

Source: 2007 State of the Union address to Congress Jan 23, 2007

Post-war planning began in Jan.'03, including governing

On 1/20/2003, Bush signed a secret directive, NSPD-24. The subject: setting up an "Iraq Postwar Planning Office" within the Defense Department: "The US will want to be in a position to help meet the humanitarian, reconstruction, and administration challenges facing the country in the immediate aftermath of the combat operations."
    The presidential directive gave responsibility for all the tasks normally run by national, state and local governments in post-Saddam Iraq. The list included:
  1. Assisting with humanitarian relief
  2. Dismantling weapons of mass destruction
  3. Defeating and exploiting terrorist networks
  4. Protecting natural resources and infrastructure
  5. Facilitating the country's reconstruction and protection of its infrastructure and economy
  6. Assisting with the reestablishment of key civilian utilities
  7. Reshaping the Iraqi military
  8. Reshaping the other internal security institutions; and
  9. Supporting the transition to Iraqi-led authority over time.
Source: State of Denial, by Bob Woodward, p.112 Oct 1, 2006

We’re on the offensive in Iraq with a clear plan for victory

We’re on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory. First, we’re helping Iraqis build an inclusive government, so that old resentments will be eased and the insurgency will be marginalized. Second, we’re continuing reconstruction efforts and helping the Iraqi government to fight corruption and build a modern economy. And third, we’re striking terrorist targets while we train Iraqi forces that are increasingly capable of defeating the enemy. We are proud to be their allies in the cause of freedom.

Our work in Iraq is difficult, because our enemy is brutal. But that brutality has not stopped the dramatic progress of a new democracy. In less than three years, the nation has gone from dictatorship to liberation to sovereignty to a constitution to national elections. At the same time, our coalition has been relentless in shutting off terrorist infiltration, clearing out insurgent strongholds and turning over territory to Iraqi security forces.

Source: 2006 State of the Union Address Jan 31, 2006

Guard eager to go to Iraq-relief will come from Iraqi troops

Q: What would you do about holding National Guard and Reservists for repeated call-ups?

KERRY: I’ve proposed adding two active-duty divisions to the armed forces -- one combat, one support. I’m going to double the number of Special Forces so that we can fight a more effective war with less pressure on the National Guard and Reserve. And what I would like to do is see the National Guard and Reserve be deployed differently. There’s much we can do with them with respect to homeland security.

BUSH: The best way to take the pressure off our troops is to train Iraqis to give them a chance to defend their country. We’ll have 125,000 troops trained by the end of this year. I remember going to say thanks to the reservists and Guard that were headed overseas. Some of them had been there before. The people I talked to their spirits were high. They didn’t view their service as a back-door draft. They viewed their service as an opportunity to serve their country.

Source: [Xref Kerry] Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ Oct 13, 2004

Saddam wanted to restart his weapons programs

BUSH: I went to the UN. But as we learned in [the Iraq Survey Group Report], Saddam was gaming the oil-for-food program to get rid of sanctions. He was trying to get rid of sanctions for a reason. He wanted to restart his weapons programs. We all thought there was weapons there. Kerry called him a grave threat. I wasn’t happy when we found out there wasn’t weapons, and we’ve got an intelligence group together to figure out why.

KERRY: I’ve never changed my mind about Iraq. I always believed Saddam was a threat. I wanted to give Clinton the power to use force if necessary. But I would’ve used that force wisely, not rush to war without a plan to win the peace. I would’ve brought our allies to our side. I would’ve fought to make certain our troops had everybody possible to help them win the mission. Bush rushed to war, pushed our allies aside, and Iran now is more dangerous, and so is North Korea, with nuclear weapons. He took his eye off the ball, off of bin Laden.

Source: Second Bush-Kerry debate, St. Louis, MO Oct 8, 2004

Sent a $87 billion bill that gives troops equipment

BUSH: Kerry complains about the fact our troops don’t have adequate equipment, yet he voted against the $87 billion supplemental I sent to the Congress, and then issued one of the most amazing quotes in political history: “I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” Saddam Hussein was a risk to our country. He was a risk that and this is where we just have a difference of opinion.

KERRY: Not necessarily be in power. But here’s what I’ll say about the $87 billion. I made a mistake in the way I talk about it; he made a mistake in invading Iraq. Which is a worse decision? Now, I voted the way I voted because I saw that he had the policy wrong and I wanted accountability. I didn’t want to give a slush fund to Halliburton. I also thought the wealthiest people in America ought to pay for it, ladies and gentlemen. He wants your kids to pay for it. I wanted us to pay for it, since we’re at war. I don’t think that’s a bad decision.

Source: Second Bush-Kerry Debate, in St. Louis MO Oct 8, 2004

FactCheck: Kerry never claimed he’d withdraw in 6 months

BUSH: I know putting artificial deadlines won’t work. My opponent at one time said, “Well, get me elected, I’ll have them out of there in six months.” You can’t do that and expect to win the war on terror.

KERRY: I want to correct the president, because he’s misled again on what I’ve said. I didn’t say I would bring troops out in six months. I said, if we do the things that I’ve set out and we are successful, we could begin to draw the troops down in six months.

FACT CHECK: The President misquoted Kerry’s position on how quickly troops might be withdrawn from Iraq. What Kerry actually said was that he believed he could “significantly reduce” US troop levels in Iraq within six months of taking office-not at all the same thing as having all troops “out of there.” Kerry’s remark was on NPR on Aug 6:

KERRY: I believe that within a year from now, we could significantly reduce American forces in Iraq, and that’s my plan. I believe we can. Absolutely we can reduce the numbers. You bet.

Source: Analysis of first Bush-Kerry debate (FactCheck 2004) Oct 1, 2004

Start bringing troops home when Iraq is stable and free

The best way for Iraq to be safe and secure is for Iraqi citizens to be trained to do the job. And that’s what we’re doing. We’ve got 100,000 trained now, 125,000 by the end of this year, 200,000 by the end of next year. That is the best way. We’ll never succeed in Iraq if the Iraqi citizens do not want to take matters into their own hands to protect themselves. The best indication about when we can bring our troops home - which I really want to do, but I don’t want to do so for the sake of bringing them home; I want to do so because we’ve achieved an objective - is to see the Iraqis perform and to see the Iraqis step up and take responsibility. When our general is on the ground and Ambassador Negroponte tells me that Iraq is ready to defend herself from these terrorists, that elections will have been held by then, that their stability and that they’re on their way to, you know, a nation that’s free; that’s when we will start bringing our troops home. But I know putting artificial deadlines won’t work.
Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Allocated $7 billion over months for reconstruction efforts

BUSH: We’re training Iraqi soldiers so they can do the hard work. And it’s not only just America, but NATO is now helping, Jordan’s helping train police, UAE is helping train police. We’ve allocated $7 billion over the next months for reconstruction efforts. There’s going to be a summit of the Arab nations. Japan will be hosting a summit.

KERRY: You can’t tell me that that we have a genuine coalition when the most troops any other country has on the ground is Great Britain, with 8,300, and below that the four others are below 4,000, and below that, there isn’t anybody out of the hundreds. You can’t tell me that on the day that we went into that war and it started - it was principally the US, Great Britain and one or two others. That’s it. Today, we are 90% of the casualties and 90% of the costs. Meanwhile, North Korea has got nuclear weapons. Talk about mixed messages. Bush is the one that said, “We can’t allow countries to get nuclear weapons.” They have. I’ll change that.

Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Request of $25 billion for war just the beginning

The White House asked Congress for an additional $25 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. “While we do not know the precise costs for operations next year, recent developments on the ground and increased demands on our troops indicate the need to plan for contingencies. We must make sure there is no disruption in funding and resources for our troops.” The White House conceded yesterday that the $25 billion it is seeking is likely to be only the first installment.
Source: Jonathan Weisman, Washington Post on 2004 election May 10, 2004

US could not maintain Iraq inspection regime indefinitely

“How long does [UN Inspector Hans Blix] think I can do this [maintain a limited US military presence]?” Bush asked. “A year? I can’t. The United States can’t stay in this position while Saddam plays games with the inspectors.”

“You have to follow through on your threat,” Condoleezza Rice said. “If you’re going to carry out coercive diplomacy, you have to live with that decision.”

“He’s getting more confident, not less,” Bush said of Saddam Hussein. “He can manipulate the international system again. We’re not winning.

“Time is not on our side here,” Bush told Rice. “Probably going to have to, we’re going to have to go to war.”

In Rice’s mind, this was the moment the president decided the United States would go to war with Iraq. Military planning had been underway for more than a year even as Bush sought a diplomatic solution through the United Nations. He would continue those efforts, at least publicly, for 10 more weeks, but he had reached a point of no return.

Source: Plan of Attack, by Bob Woodward, adapted in Washington Post Apr 18, 2004

We’ve already internationalized the war in Iraq

Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalized. This particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Spain, and the [27] other countries that have committed troops to Iraq. We must never ignore the vital contributions of our international partners or dismiss their sacrifices. From the beginning, America has sought international support for our operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we have gained much support.
Source: 2004 State of the Union address to joint session of Congress Jan 20, 2004

France, Germany, Russia excluded from Iraq contracts

President Bush stood firm in the face of the international furor that began with the publication of a Pentagon memo that included France, Germany, Russia, and Canada on a list of countries ineligible to bid on prime Iraqi reconstruction contracts. [Bush said,] “Men and women from the US and other countries, in a broad coalition, risked their lives to free Iraq. And the expenditure of US dollars will reflect the fact that US troops and other troops risked their life.” The president suggested that those countries might be able to change their status by joining the coalition, saying, “We want to work with all countries. We welcome contributions, we welcome people’s willingness to participate in this difficult, yet important job of rebuilding Iraq.” Bush responded to a question of whether troop deployments or forgiveness of debt would be qualifications for participation by saying, “It would be a significant contribution, for which we would be very grateful.”
Source: Jeff Gannon, Talon News, on Dec 15, 2003

Seeking $87B and UN Aid for Iraqi War Effort

President Bush said he would ask Congress for an additional $87 billion in emergency spending for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that Iraq had now become “the central front” in the campaign against terrorism. Bush left open-ended how long US troops would remain in Iraq and how much the conflict and occupation would ultimately cost. “We will do what is necessary, we will spend what is necessary, to achieve this essential victory in the war on terror, to promote freedom, and to make our own nation more secure,“ Bush said.

The president also said he would ask the United Nations for additional international troops for Iraq. Bush’s appeal was a recognition that the administration cannot unilaterally maintain its current level of 181,000 American troops in both Iraq and neighboring Kuwait.

The $87 billion request for the next fiscal year would add to the amount that Congress approved in a $79 billion bill last spring to pay the war costs.

Source: Elisabeth Bumiller, NY Times on 2004 election Sep 7, 2003

Defeating terrorists in Iraq will require time and sacrifice

In a nationally televised address, Bush said defeating terrorists in Iraq “will take time, and require sacrifice.” Bush continued, “Our strategy in Iraq has 3 objectives: destroying the terrorists, enlisting the support of other nations, & helping Iraqis assume responsibility for their own defense.”

In his 18-minute speech, Bush did not mention Osama bin Laden, who has eluded capture in Afghanistan. He also did not mention the failure to find any unconventional weapons in Iraq, the major stated reason that the US went to war. Nor did Bush dwell on the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, which he predicted would abate if Saddam Hussein was ousted from power. That conflict has worsened.

This was Bush’s first extended address about Iraq since he declared an end to major combat operations on May 1. He was more triumphal then, asserting that “the US and our allies have prevailed.” But 149 Americans have died in Iraq since then, compared with the 138 in the invasion itself.

Source: Elisabeth Bumiller, NY Times on 2004 election Sep 7, 2003

Seeking $87B and UN Aid for War Effort

President Bush said that he would ask Congress for $87 billion in emergency spending for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that Iraq had now become “the central front” in the campaign against terrorism. Bush said defeating terrorists in Iraq “will take time, and require sacrifice,” but he left open-ended how long US troops would remain in Iraq and how much the conflict and occupation would ultimately cost. The president also said he would ask the UN for additional international troops for Iraq.

In his 18-minute speech, Mr. Bush did not mention Osama bin Laden, who has so far eluded American capture in Afghanistan. He also did not mention the failure so far to find any unconventional weapons in Iraq, the major stated reason that the US went to war. Nor did Bush dwell on the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, which he once predicted would abate if Saddam Hussein was ousted from power in Iraq. That conflict has worsened.

Source: Elisabeth Bumiller, NY Times on 2004 election Sep 7, 2003

2003: No WMD, but it was not a major point against Saddam

In the summer of 2003, our troops in Iraq had not found the weapons of mass destruction we all expected, and the media's scramble for a scapegoat had commenced. In my 2003 State of the Union address, I had cited a British intelligence report that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger. The single sentence in my 5000-word speech was not a major point in the case against Saddam. The British stood by the intelligence (In 2004, the nonpartisan Butler Report concluded that the statement was "well-founded.") Yet those sixteen words became a political controversy and a massive distraction.

In July 2003, former ambassador Joseph Wilson wrote a New York Times column alleging that the administration had ignored his skeptical findings when he traveled to Africa to investigate the Iraq-Niger connection. There were serious questions about the accuracy and thoroughness of Wilson's report, but his charge became a prime talking point for critics of the war.

Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.102-103 Nov 9, 2010

2008: Iraq occupation could last 10 years

"I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that."
--Donald Rumsfeld, November 14, 2002
"It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months"
-- Donald Rumsfeld, February 7, 2003
"I think it will go relatively quickly. Weeks rather than months."
-- Dick Cheney, March 16, 2003
"No one is talking about occupying Iraq for five to ten years."
-- Richard Perle, March 9, 2003
"It could be that, absolutely."
-- George W. Bush, when asked of the United States would have troops in Iraq for the next ten years, January 11, 2008
Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 40-41 Oct 1, 2008

Adviser resigned after revealing Iraq might cost $200B

The Wall Street Journal ran a story quoting Bush's chief economic adviser, Larry Lindsey, offering an analytical opinion as to the cost of a possible war with Iraq: somewhere between $100 and $200 billion.

Looking at those numbers from today's perspective, with the Iraq war having lasted five years and counting, they look comfortably low (though Lindsey assumed the costs would be for a war of shorter duration). But at the time, when many--especially within the administration--expected a relatively quick & easy war, followed by a smooth transition funded largely by Iraqi oil, they seemed high.

But Lindsey's biggest mistake wasn't the size of the figures he chose to cite. It was citing any figures at all. Talking about the projected cost of a potential war wasn't part of the script. In fact, none of the possible unpleasant consequences of war--casualties, economic effect, geopolitical risks, diplomatic repercussions--were part of the message. [Lindsey ended up resigning as a result]

Source: What Happened, by Scott McClellan, p.121-123 May 28, 2008

2002 NIE said Saddam making nukes by 2007; Bush said 2002

Bush was to give a speech on Oct. 7 2002 spelling out the case against Saddam. The CIA kept tabs on what Bush was going to say, and at one point realized that Bush planned to nake an alarming claim about a potential Saddam nuclear program, by charging that Iraq had been caught trying to buy uranium oxide in Africa.

“You need to take this sentence out because we don’t believe it,” CIA Directot Geroge Tenet said to Bush’s aide. The speech was edited to say “Many people have asked how close Saddam is to developing a nuclear weapon. We don’t know exactly, and that’s the problem.“ It was a modest claim that accurately reflected the National Intelligence Estimate. The to psecret NIE said that ”Iraq does not have a nuclear weapon but is likely to have a weapon by 2007 to 2009.“

But instead of saying that a nuclear Iraq was 5 years off, Bush warned, ”Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof--the smoking gun--that would come in the form of a mushroom cloud.“

Source: State of Denial, by Bob Woodward, p. 97 Oct 1, 2006

President, not Congress, decides on Iraq investigations

Since taking office in 2001, President Bush has issued signing statements on more than 750 new laws, declaring that he has the power to set aside the laws when they conflict with his legal interpretation of the Constitution. The federal government is instructed to follow the statements when it enforces the laws. Here is an example:

Law passed by Congress on Nov. 6, 2003: US officials in Iraq cannot prevent an inspector general for the Coalition Provisional Authority from carrying out any investigation. The inspector general must tell Congress if officials refuse to cooperate with his inquiries.

Signing statement: The inspector general ‘’shall refrain“ from investigating anything involving sensitive plans, intelligence, national security, or anything already being investigated by the Pentagon. The inspector cannot tell Congress anything if the president decides that disclosing the information would impair foreign relations, national security, or executive branch operations.

Source: Boston Globe, analysis of presidential signing statements Apr 30, 2006

FactCheck: Iraq reconstruction money is not flowing

BUSH: (Referring to Iraq) There will be elections in January. We’re spending reconstruction money. And our alliance is strong.

FACT-CHECK: Bush gave a rosy picture of progress in Iraq, glossing over significant problems with reconstruction contracts and training of Iraqi security forces. Bush cited as a sign of progress in Iraq that the US is “spending reconstruction money,” when in fact the slow pace of spending has become a major problem for US officials. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage testified to a House Appropriations subcommittee Sept. 24 that only $1.2 billion in reconstruction money had actually been spent so far, out of the total of $18 billion that was appropriated almost a year earlier in “emergency” funds for Iraq and Afghanistan.

Source: Analysis of first Bush-Kerry debate (FactCheck 2004) Oct 1, 2004

FactCheck: “100,000 trained” are mostly 3-week police course

BUSH: The best way for Iraq to be safe and secure is for Iraqi citizens to be trained to do the job. And that’s what we’re doing. There are 100,000 troops trained, police, guard, special units, border patrol. There’s going to be 125,000 trained by the en of this year. Yes, we’re getting the job done. It’s hard work.

FACT-CHECK: Bush’s “100,000 troops” trained to date is the official figure, but the President failed to mention that many trainees have received nothing more than a 3-week course in police procedures-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage clarified in House testimony:

ARMITAGE: It’s 100,000 total security forces, and I don’t want anyone to make the mistake that security force equals soldier-could be the 8-week trained policemen, of which there are a little over 8,000, or it could be what I refer to as the shake-and-bake 3-week police force, which are previous policemen who are now given a 3-weeks course. So it’s a mixed bag , but there are about 100,000 total security forces.

Source: Analysis of first Bush-Kerry debate (FactCheck 2004) Oct 1, 2004

The UK and Poland are our allies that must not be denigrated

KERRY: What need a president who understands how to bring these other countries together to recognize their stakes in this. The Arab countries have a stake in not having a civil war. The European countries have a stake in not having total disorder on their doorstep. Bush hasn’t even held the kind of statesman-like summits that pull people together and get them to invest in those states. He’s done the opposite. He pushed them away. To save for Halliburton the spoils of the war, they actually issued a memorandum from the Defense Department saying, If you weren’t with us in the war, don’t bother applying for any construction.

BUSH: The UN was invited in. And we support the UN efforts there. They pulled out after Sergio de Mello got killed. But they’re now back in helping with elections. What’s he say to Tony Blair and Alexander Kwasniewski of Poland? You can’t expect to build an alliance when you denigrate the contributions of those who are serving side by side with American troops in Iraq.

Source: [Xref Kerry] First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

There are summits being held-world won’t follow “wrong war”

BUSH: I sit down with the world leaders frequently and talk to them on the phone frequently. They’re not going to follow somebody who says this is the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time. They’re not going to follow somebody whose core convictions keep changing because of politics in America. There are summits being held. Japan is going to have a summit for the donors; $14 billion pledged; the Prime Minister is going to call countries to account, to get them to contribute. And there’s going to be an Arab summit, of the neighborhood countries. And Colin Powell helped set up that summit.

KERRY: The UN and Kofi Annan offered help after Baghdad fell. We never took him up on that and did what was necessary to transfer authority and to transfer reconstruction. It was always American-run. Secondly, when we went in, there were three countries: Great Britain, Australia and the US. That’s not a grand coalition. We can do better.

BUSH: He forgot Poland. And now there’s 30 nations involved

Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Kerry voted to give me the authority to invade Iraq

KERRY: A fresh start, new credibility, a president who can understand what we have to do to reach out to the Muslim world to make it clear that this is not, you know - Osama bin Laden uses the invasion of Iraq in order to go out to people and say that America has declared war on Islam. We need to be smarter about now we wage a war on terror. We need to deny them the recruits. We need to deny them the safe havens. We need to rebuild our alliances.

BUSH: Kerry said Osama bin Laden uses the invasion of Iraq as an excuse to spread hatred for America. Osama bin Laden isn’t going to determine how we defend ourselves. I decided the right action was in Iraq. He said I misled on Iraq. I don’t think he was misleading when he called Iraq a grave threat in the fall of 2002. I don’t think he was misleading when he said that it was right to disarm Iraq in the spring of 2003.What is misleading is to say you can lead and succeed in Iraq if you keep changing your positions on this war. And he has.

Source: [Xref Kerry] First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Kerry agreed that Saddam Hussein was a grave threat

BUSH: Saddam Hussein was a grave threat. I don’t hold it against him that Kerry said grave threat. I’m not going to go around the country saying he didn’t tell the truth, when he looked at the same intelligence I did.

KERRY: It was a threat. That’s not the issue. The issue is what you do about it. Bush said he was going to build a true coalition, exhaust the remedies of the UN and go to war as a last resort. Those words really have to mean something. And, unfortunately, he didn’t go to war as a last resort. Now we have this incredible mess in Iraq-$200 billion. It’s not what the American people thought they were getting when they voted.

Source: First Bush-Kerry debate, Miami FL Sep 30, 2004

Kerry flip-flopping again on war

On the Iraq war, the Bush campaign has been pressuring Kerry to say whether he would have still voted for the war given the fact that no weapons of mass destruction were found. Bush maintains the world is still better off without Saddam Hussein in power. Kerry on Monday said he would have voted to give the president authorization to use force against Iraq “but I would have used that authority effectively.”

Bush and his aides said that was evidence of Kerry flip-flopping from an anti-war stance. “Now, almost two years after he voted for the war in Iraq, and almost 220 days after switching positions to declare himself the anti-war candidate, my opponent has found a new nuance. He now agrees it was the right decision to go into Iraq.“

Kerry’s campaign national security adviser responded, ”The issue has never been whether we were right to hold Saddam accountable, the issue is that we went to war without our allies, without properly equipping our troops and without a plan to win the peace.“

Source: Steve Holland, Reuters Aug 10, 2004

Clarke: CIA and FBI intelligence failures allowed 9/11

Somewhere in CIA there was information that two known al Qaeda terrorists had come into the US. Somewhere in FBI there was information that strange things had been going on at flight schools in the US. Could we have stopped the September 11 attack? It would be facile to say yes. What is clear is that there were failures in the organizations that we trusted to protect us, failures to get information to the right place at the right time, earlier failures to act boldly to reduce or eliminate the threat.
Source: Against All Enemies, by Richard Clarke, p.236-8 Mar 23, 2004

OpEd: Conflicted about going to UN vs. hitting Iraq earlier

[At a meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Cheney, and Bush], Bush said he'd decided to go to the UN and put down a new UNSCR {Security Council Resolution], challenge the UN to deal with the problems for its own sake. He could not stand by. He would say OK, what will you do?

Blair felt that his job was to sell the case for the UN route to Cheney. Cheney looked very sour throughout, and after dinner, when Blair and Bush walked alone to the chopper, Bush was open with him that Cheney was in a different position. Earlier, when we had said that the international community was pressing for some direction but that in the US there would be people saying 'Why are you going to the UN, why aren't you doing it now?' Cheney smiled across the table, making it pretty clear that was where he was.

Source: The Blair Years, by Alastair Campbell, p.634-635 Sep 7, 2002

Bomb Iraq routinely to enforce no-fly zone

Q: What is the message that you want to send with the new bombing of Iraq?

A: The US is engaged in the Middle East and Persian Gulf. We will remain so. Since 1991, our country has been enforcing what’s called a no-fly zone. A routine mission was conducted to enforce the no-fly zone. And it is a mission about which I was informed and I authorized. But, I repeat, it is a routine mission, and we will continue to enforce the no-fly zone until the world is told otherwise.

Q: Does this signal a hardening of the US position towards Iraq?

A: Saddam Hussein has got to understand that we expect him to conform to the agreement that he signed after Desert Storm. We will enforce the no-fly zone, both south and north. Our intention is to make sure that the world is as peaceful as possible. And we’re going to watch very carefully as to whether or not he develops weapons of mass destruction, and if we catch him doing so we’ll take the appropriate action.

Source: Press Conference, San Cristobal, Mexico Feb 16, 2001

$4M for Iraqi opposition to work inside Iraq

The Bush administration has given Iraqi opposition groups permission to resume their activities inside Iraq with American funding, marking the first substantial move by Bush to confront Saddam Hussein. By giving the go-ahead this week to a program with the benign-sounding purpose of “collection of informational materials in Iraq,” Bush officials moved beyond the policy of the Clinton administration, which harbored deep reservations about the Iraqi opposition.

The decision allows the Iraqi National Congress, an umbrella organization for groups opposed to Hussein’s government, to draw from $4 million set aside by Congress for gathering information relating to Iraqi war crimes, military operations and other internal developments. Some of the money has already been used by the INC for logistics and training outside Iraq. But this week’s decision frees up funding for opposition operations inside the country for the first time since the US cut off similar financial support five years ago

Source: Alan Sipress, Washington Post, p. A1, on Bush Cabinet Feb 2, 2001

Arafat should limit protests; terrorists should pay a price

On the renewed flare up of Arab-Israeli violence in the West Bank and Gaza, Bush said, “It’s time for our nation to speak with one voice.” Bush told reporters he “appreciates” efforts made by the Clinton administration to mediate the conflict. Bush also said that it is time for Arafat “to be a statesman” and convince Palestinian protesters to “put down their rocks.” For the most part, Bush avoided attacks on Gore. Campaign aides described the situation confronting the United States as extremely tense, and that it would be unwise for them to throw fuel on the fire.

On the USS Cole attack, Bush said, “I am saddened and angered by the cowardly attack on this naval vessel in Yemen. First, our prayers go to the families. It is a constant reminder that people wearing uniforms make sacrifices.” Bush said the Clinton administration must “find out the facts” so that the U.S. can take appropriate steps. “There must be a consequence,” Bush said.

Source: New York Times on 2000 election Oct 15, 2000

Iraq: Rebuild coalition to pressure Saddam

GORE: We have to keep a weather eye toward Saddam Hussein because he’s taking advantage of this situation [in Israel] to once again make threats and he needs to understand that he’s not only dealing with Israel, he is dealing with us.

BUSH: The coalition against Saddam has fallen apart or it’s unraveling, let’s put it that way. The sanctions are being violated. We don’t know whether he’s developing weapons of mass destruction. He better not be or there’s going to be a consequence, should I be the president.

Q: You could get him out of there?

BUSH: I’d like to, of course. But it’s going to be important to rebuild that coalition to keep the pressure on him.

Q: You feel that as a failure of the Clinton administration?

BUSH: I do.

GORE: We have maintained the sanctions. I want to go further. I want to give robust support to the groups that are trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein. Some say they’re too weak to do it. But that’s what they said about those opposing Milosevic in Serbia.

Source: (X-ref Gore) Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 2000

Reach out to moderate Arab nations

It’s important to reach out to moderate Arab nations, like Jordan and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It’s important to be friends with people when you don’t need each other so that when you do there’s a strong bond of friendship. And that’s going to be particular important in dealing not only with situations such as now occurring in Israel,. It’s important to have credibility and credibility is formed by being strong with your friends and resolute in your determination.
Source: Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 2000

Israel’s capital should be in Jerusalem

Bush addressed the annual convention of B’nai B’rith International in Washington and renewed his support for moving the U.S. Embassy from outside Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, “the city Israel has chosen as its capital.”
Source: Kelley Shannon (AP), NY Times on 2000 election Aug 28, 2000

Pressure Saudis to keep oil prices low

Q: What pressures should be brought on OPEC nations to lift oil production? A: It’s important for the president to explain in clear terms what high energy prices will not only do to our economy, but what high energy prices will do to the world economy. It is in the Saudis’ best interests for the price of oil to mellow out. It’s not only in our country’s best interest; It needs to be explained to them it’s in their best interests. And I will do so.
Source: GOP Debate in Manchester NH Jan 26, 2000

Other candidates on War & Peace: George W. Bush on other issues:
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George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
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Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
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George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
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