In a “60 Minutes” interview, the president dismissed the suggestion that America owes Iraq an apology for not securing the country after the invasion, saying instead that Iraqis owe America “a huge debt of gratitude” for our efforts.
Partial transcript from CBS News:
In his speech, the president mentioned that mistakes had been made. Asked what mistakes he was talking about, Bush tells Pelley, “Abu Ghraib was a mistake. Using bad language like, you know, ‘Bring them on’ was a mistake. I think history is gonna look back and see a lot of ways we could have done things better. No question about it.”
“The troop levels…,” Pelley remarks.
“Could have been a mistake. I…,” the president replies.
“Were not—could have been a mistake?” Pelley asks.
“Yeah. And the reason I brought up the mistakes is, one, that’s the job of the commander-in-chief; and, two, I don’t want people blaming our military. We got a bunch of good military people out there doing what we’ve asked them to do. And the temptation is gonna be to find scapegoats. Well, if the people want a scapegoat, they got one right here in me ‘cause it’s my decisions,” Bush says.
“Fair to say there were not enough American troops on the ground to provide security for Iraq?” Pelley asks.
“There’s not enough troops on the ground right now to provide security for Iraq. And that’s why I made the decision I made,” Bush replies.
Asked if he thinks he owes the Iraqi people an apology for not doing a better job, Bush says, “Well I don’t, that we didn’t do a better job or they didn’t do a better job?”
“Well, that the United States did not do a better job in providing security after the invasion?” Pelley clarifies.
“Not at all. I think I am proud of the efforts we did. 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 replies.