Hard Kwestions

From Holden:

The White House today posted a transcript of ITV’s June 29 interview of your president. No turkee for interviewer Trevor McDonald who needled Chimpy about global warming…

Q Do you accept that climate change is manmade, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: To a certain extent it is, obviously. I mean, if fossil fuels create greenhouse gases, we’re burning fossil fuel, as is a lot of other countries.

Miserly aid to Africa…

Q But what about that kind of aid which is linked to the buying of American goods and services? You say you give aid on the condition that people buy American goods and services. That’s not very generous, is it?

THE PRESIDENT: I’m not exactly sure what you’re talking about there. [snip]

American support for tyrants…

Q But what about a country like Uzbekistan, Mr. President, with a shocking, appalling record of human rights getting tens of billions of dollars of American aid because you have American bases there?

THE PRESIDENT: Again, I’m not exactly sure of the numbers you’re throwing out there, but no question we have an American base there. They’ve been very helpful in helping fight the war on terror. [snip]

And “free” trade…

Q Mr. President, on the question of trade, how can it be morally justified for the world’s richest country to subsidize its farmers so that they can sell their goods cheaper than farmers in the third world, and, as a result, put those farmers in the third world out of business?

THE PRESIDENT: That’s precisely the question we’ve been talking to the EU about. There are tremendous agricultural subsidies in the EU. We —

Q Yes, but, I put those questions to the EU, if I were talking to somebody in the EU, but —

THE PRESIDENT: No, let me — let me finish, let me finish. I was about to say, we’ve got agricultural subsidies, not nearly to the extent that our friends in the EU have, and therefore, we went to Doha round, WTO — Doha round of the WTO and said, let’s get rid of all our subsidies together.

Before grilling him over the fires of Iraq.

Q Mr. President, if I can move on to the question of Iraq, when we last spoke before the Iraq war, I asked you about Saddam Hussein and you said this, and I quote: “He harbors and develops weapons of mass destruction, make no mistake about it.”

Well, today, no WMD, the war has cost 1,700 American lives, many more Iraqi civilians killed, hundreds of billions of dollars in cost to your country. Can you understand why some people in your country are now beginning to wonder whether it was really worth it?

THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely. I mean, when you turn on your TV set every day and see this incredible violence and the havoc that is wreaked as a result of these killers, I’m sure why people are getting discouraged. And that’s why I spoke to the nation last night and reminded people that this is a — Iraq is a part of this global war on terror. And the reason why foreign fighters are flocking into Iraq is because they want to drive us out of the region.

See, these folks represent an ideology that is based upon hate and kind of a narrow vision of mankind — women don’t have rights. And I believe this is an ideological movement. And I know that they want to use suicide bombers and assassinations and attacks on the World Trade Center, and the attacks in Madrid to try to shake our will and to achieve an objective, which is to topple governments. And the best way to defeat an ideology is with a better ideology. And I believe democracy is a better ideology, to provide hope for people and — but yes, it’s tough. But we’ve done tough things before in America. And we’ve got a great ally in Great Britain. But it’s not only Great Britain. As Gerhard Schr der said in the Oval Office, a democratic Iraq is important not only to Germany, but to Europe, and he’s right.

Q You talk about terrorism in Iraq, but when we spoke before the war, there was no terrorism in Iraq. And you’re now making Iraq the front line of the war on terrorism. But the terrorists have only recently arrived there, arrived since the war on Iraq.

THE PRESIDENT: No, I beg your pardon. Zarqawi, Mr. Zarqawi, who is leading the terrorist effort in Iraq now, was in Iraq prior to our discussion.

Q No al Qaeda in Iraq before the war, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: No, Zarqawi, Mr. Zarqawi was, absolutely. He was.

Q So you’ve justified in making Iraq the front line now in the war on terror?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I haven’t justified that. I’m just giving you a fact, that foreign fighters are traveling into Iraq to make it a front line in the war on terror. And I would rather defeat them there than face them in our own country.

Q Have you still — do you still think that you may have mismanaged, or do you think you may have mismanaged public expectations about a quick victory and a decisive ending to this war? You’ve talked in optimistic terms. But now, as you say, the carnage on the screens night after night seems — tell a different story.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, certainly that’s a very powerful weapon for the terrorists, is to kill innocent men, women and children, and try to shake our will and conscience. And on the other hand, there is progress being made in Iraq.

Remember, it wasn’t all that long ago that 8 million people went to the polls to vote. And you might remember the discussions prior to the vote. I had a lot of people saying, well, they don’t know what they’re doing, the people don’t want to be free, certain people can’t — they’re not going to — what makes you think they want democracy? And all of a sudden, when given the chance, 8 million people voted. And now the political process is moving in parallel with the security process. And our strategy is to help the Iraqis stand up a viable government, to encourage them to get their constitution written, and to have the elections, to ratify the constitution, as well as a government under the constitution, and, at the same time, train Iraqis so they can fight. That’s our strategy. And we’re making good progress.

Q Is the administration at sixes and sevens about the insurgency in Iraq? The Vice President said that we’re in the last throes, or seeing the last throes of the insurgency. Donald Rumsfeld comes up and says we could be there for five, eight, 10, 12 years. Which is it? Which do you believe?

THE PRESIDENT: I believe — I believe that we will succeed in Iraq, because, one, the Iraqis want to live in a free society.

Q But how long will it take, Mr. President?

THE PRESIDENT: And, two, that the Iraqis want to take the fight to the enemy. And people want me to put a time table on things; that’s a huge mistake. Putting a time table on this — on our stay there in Iraq simply emboldens the enemy and discourages our friends. And so, therefore, my answer is just, quickly as possible, and we are making progress.

Q Do you ever, in one of those dark souls of the night, do you ever think — do you ever think maybe this was not such a good idea?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I’m actually confident it’s the right thing to do.

Q You have never had any doubts at all about it?

THE PRESIDENT: I am absolutely confident that we made the right decision. And not only that, I’m absolutely confident that the actions we took in Iraq are influencing reformers and freedom lovers in the greater Middle East. And I believe that you’re going to see the rise of democracy in many countries in the broader Middle East, which will lay the foundation for peace.