Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Pres. Bush on "60 Minutes"


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I didn't have a chance to comment on the 60 Minutes interview with Pres. Bush until now; and I don't have that much to say, really. I'll give the man this: He certainly knows how to present himself as the thoughtful, intelligent, compassionate statesman when he wants to. But he gave the game away when Scott Pelley asked him if he felt he owed the Iraqi people an apology. The mask of kindliness vanished and his expression turned hard. He asked Pelley if he hadn't meant that the Iraqi people should apologize to us (for not cleaning up the mess we made to our expectations, one presumes). Pelley said no, and repeated his question: Did Bush think the U.S. owed the Iraqis an apology (for the catastrophic conditions in their country)? "No, I don't," Bush replied, ice in his voice. "I think the Iraqi people owe us a debt of gratitude" for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Unsurprisingly, Pelley did not ask the president if, in addition to overthrowing Saddam Hussein, Iraqis owed the U.S. a debt of gratitude for the arrogance and incompetence after Saddam was gone that created the insurgency and led to the civil war Iraq is engulfed in now. Do Iraqis owe the U.S. a debt of gratitude for up to 600,000 civilian deaths directly attributable to the war? Do Iraqis owe the U.S. a debt of gratitude for close to 3 million Iraqis become refugees -- almost 2 million of those having fled the country?

How much heartbreak, terror, and misery does Saddam's demise cancel out?

UPDATE: CNN has an article on the 60 Minutes interview. Here are some choice quotes:

He said Iraqis should be thankful for all the United States has done for them since the invasion nearly four years ago.

"I think I am proud of the efforts we did," Bush said.

"We liberated that country from a tyrant. I think the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude. That's the problem here in America: They wonder whether or not there is a gratitude level that's significant enough in Iraq."
Bush allowed that low troop levels "could have been a mistake," that led to a widespread breakdown in law and order after the March 2003 invasion. The president also cited other mistakes, including the abuse of inmates at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison -- where pictures of U.S. troops mistreating prisoners led to international condemnation -- and his use of "bad language" like his July 2003 challenge to the then-budding insurgency: "Bring 'em on."

"I think history is going to look back and see a lot of ways we could have done things better. No question about it," he said. But despite the mistakes, he said he did not feel he owes the Iraqi people an apology.

"Not at all," he told CBS.

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