Chimpy graciously accepted a few questions after his photo-op with Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi this morning.
Compare and conmtrast the two world leader’s responses to this question regarding the civil war in Iraq and the possibility of withdrawing military forces.
Q Mr. President, there was some more sectarian violence today in Iraq. There have been hundreds, maybe thousands, killed since the bombing of the mosque. Do you fear an all-out civil war? And will the events of Iraq of the last few days affect prospects for a U.S. draw-down?
And to the Prime Minister, do you still want to withdraw Italian troops by the end of the year?
The Bush Response: Blame the Iraqis if there is chaos.
PRESIDENT BUSH: The United States strongly condemns the bombing of holy sites. We believe people should be allowed to worship freely. Obviously, there are some who are trying to sow the seeds of sectarian violence. They destroy in order to create chaos. And now the people of Iraq and their leaders must make a choice. The choice is chaos or unity. The choice is a free society, or a society dictated by the — by evil people who will kill innocents.
This weekend I spoke to seven of the Iraqi leaders. They understood the seriousness of the moment. They have made their choice, which is to work toward a unity government. The Iraqi people made their choice. Since last December, 11 million people, in defiance of the terrorists and the killers, went to the polls and said, we want to be free.
The Berlusconi Response: We’re outta here!
PRIME MINISTER BERLUSCONI: (As translated.) We have announced a plan to progressively withdraw our troops, which should be completed — we have to be completed by the end of this year. And this plan has been agreed upon also together with our allies, and with the Iraqi government. Because this what is going to be possible — (in English) — why this will be possible.
Then on the question of Chimpy’s swetheart deal with the UAE, watch as Chimpy gets steamed and demands that the question should not be translated in to Italian as the topic if none of Berlusconi’s business.
Q Mr. President, since you’re the final arbiter of the Dubai Ports deal, are you still inclined to approve it? And do you stand by your veto threat?
PRESIDENT BUSH: My position hasn’t changed to my message to the Congress. And I appreciate the fact that the companies concerned have asked the Congress for a review of all the security implications.
Let me just make something clear to the American people. If there was any doubt in my mind, or people in my administration’s mind that our ports would be less secure and the American people endangered, this deal wouldn’t go forward. And I can understand people’s consternation because the first thing they heard was that a foreign company would be in charge of our port security, when, in fact, the Coast Guard and Customs are in charge of our port security. Our duty is to protect America, and we will protect America.
On the other hand, this company is buying a British company that manages the ports. And by the way, there are a lot of foreign companies managing U.S. ports. And so my question to the members of Congress as they review this matter is, one, please look at the facts. And two, what kind of signal does it send throughout the world if it’s okay for a British company to manage the ports, but not a company that has been secure — been cleared for security purposes from the Arab world? So I look forward to a good, consistent review. You don’t need to interpret. That’s a U.S. question.
One at a time.