Pony Blow Sets Helen Straight
MR. SNOW: Helen, to answer your question from this morning, the President met this morning by secure video teleconference with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki and two members of the Presidency Council, Vice President Tariq Hashimi and Vice President Adel Mahdi. It’s the first time the President has met this group, the Prime Minister plus the Presidency Council, via secure teleconference.
Q Length —
MR. SNOW: It was about 40 minutes.
Q Did they discuss an exit strategy?
MR. SNOW: No. There was gratitude for America’s continued support.
Q Did they talk about the five British citizens who were —
MR. SNOW: No.
Q And do you have anything more on that?
MR. SNOW: No.
The Fifty Year War
Q Tony, on Iraq, for the gaggle you were asked about U.S. troops and just how long the presence would be there, the vision. And you compared it to the Korean model. Can you explain that?
MR. SNOW: Yes. It was actually a question that Helen raised and Helen used to create an analogy, but the President has used it before.
MS. THOMAS: Thank you. (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: That is Helen Thomas, front row veteran. (Laughter.)
Q Spell it right. (Laughter.)
MR. SNOW: Here is — what the President means by that is that at some point you want to get to a situation in which the Iraqis have the capability to go ahead and handle the fundamental matters of security. You have the United States there in what has been described as an over-the-horizon support role so that if you need the ability to react quickly to major challenges or crises, you can be there, but the Iraqis are conducting the lion’s share of the business — as we have in South Korea, where for many years there have been American forces stationed there as a way of maintaining stability and assurance on the part of the South Korean people against a North Korean neighbor that is a menace.
Q For 50 years?
Q Now, the Korean model, you’ve got thousands of U.S. troops there for some 50 years. I mean, how is that comparison and vision in that —
MR. SNOW: Wendell just asked the same question. I don’t think — again, that’s not strictly comparable because what you have is a North Korea that continues to be a threat, I mean as we’ve seen with the development of nuclear weapons. We’re hoping that the Iraqis, in fact, are going to have the kind of security and stability they need so that what you’re really dealing with is the internal security of Iraq, rather than trying to provide reassurance against an external foe.
Q So you’re not suggesting that U.S. troops would be there for over 50 years in a —
MR. SNOW: No, no, I’m not. I don’t know. It is an unanswerable question, but I’m not making that suggestion.
Q You’re not suggesting that there’s a parallel between the Korean model today and the Iraqi model today in terms of U.S. force posture?
MR. SNOW: No, what I’m saying is you get to a point in the future where you want it to be a purely support role. But, no, of course, we’re in active combat.
Q Tony, while there’s no way of telling whether we’ll be there 50 years, or not, but isn’t there planning going on for a significant number of troops to be there for a long time? I mean, do you still consider this a long war?
MR. SNOW: Well, the war on terror is a long war.
Mission? What Mission?
Q Tony, I’m sorry, but when you look at a mission, when you say, I don’t know whether we’ll be in Iraq or not — I mean, how do they know what their mission is if you —
MR. SNOW: What their mission is, is to go —
Q — can’t even articulate —
MR. SNOW: What do you mean? We know what the mission is, which is —
Q Is it a long war mission? Is it a short mission? Is it results right now? What is it?
MR. SNOW: The mission is to build capability so that you have the ability to have a stable, functioning Iraqi democracy where the Iraqis are assuming the primary responsibility for security and every other aspect of their government and their development. I mean, that’s been the key from the start.
Paging Mr. Godwin. WIll Mr. Mike Godwin Please Pick Up The White Discourtesy Phone.
Q The President’s meeting with Vladimir Putin July 1st and 2nd, it follows some particularly harsh criticism on the part of the Russian President. You’ve got analysts saying that U.S.-Russian relations are at the worst they’ve been since the Soviet era. Do you disagree?
MR. SNOW: Look, we’re — the fact is, look, there are some areas where we disagree, where we’ve had open disagreements. And one of the interesting things about the President and President Putin is that they are not afraid to ventilate them and they’re brutally honest with one another. The President has always made the point that when he is talking with President Putin, President Putin has never lied to him, and they have certainly been free to express themselves fully about their concerns.
Q The tensions are what I want to get to. I mean, you have Putin making comments that appear to compare President Bush’s policies with those of the Third Reich.
MR. SNOW: Well, as you know, the following day the Foreign Minister said, no, that, in fact, was an incorrect reading of the statement.
Q The quote is “disrespect for human life, claims that global exclusiveness have dictate, just as it was in the time of the Third Reich.” Will the President discuss this with Mr. Putin in Kennebunkport?
MR. SNOW: You know what, I’m not going to try to prejudge what the President will discuss. And the fact is, what you work on, Wendell — again, I would invite you to go back and look at the Russian government’s official statements about that reported comment and let that stand as the final word on it. What I would suggest is that when two leaders get together, they spend less time talking about rhetoric than action. And that is the way it works.
Q Is this the kind of rhetoric you expect from an ally?
MR. SNOW: Again, look at what the Russian government has said subsequently.
Les Is Not Just Irrelevant, He’s Disingenuous Today As Robert Mugabe Did Not Become A Dicator Until The Late 1980s
Q Thank you, Tony. Two questions. While Jimmy Carter was President, he invited to the White House Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe, whom he saluted as, “A notable world leader, exemplifying the finest aspects of humanity in achieving liberty and justice based on freedom and decency, and a result which thrills the whole world.” And my question, what is the President’s reaction to this as a measure of Mr. Carter’s standard of presidential goodness?
MR. SNOW: Rather than bringing out an old quote from Jimmy Carter, our position is pretty clear on the importance of democracy in Zimbabwe and the record of President Mugabe. Whether Jimmy Carter still shares that old opinion, I do not know.