Bush: The Guy Making History

Drudge has a preview of TIME’s cover story on President Bush.

Bush thinks the war on terrorism, “is a long-lasting ideological struggle” and that “it ought to be called the struggle of a totalitarian point of view that uses terror as a tool to intimidate the free.” He reflects on his role in the war on terrorism, “I’m not the historian. I’m the guy making history.” “I’m a two-month man right now. [Laughter.] I don’t know. We’re dealing in a part of the world where our policy was, O.K., we’ll kind of tolerate the lack of liberty for other reasons and just hope it gets better. And sure enough, it didn’t.”

TIME’s exclusive interview with the President at his Prairie Chapel Ranch in Texas with TIME’s John F. Dickerson and Nancy Gibbs is featured in this week’s Republican Convention preview issue. The coverline is “The World According to George Bush.” The lead story, “Inside the Mind of George Bush,” concludes his task is to show “his strength comes from not a six-gun temperament but from judgment that has matured through three years of hard testing.” TIME assesses Bush’s character and presidency “By Bush’s math, you can change your tactics, but you pay a price for changing your principles, and can gain capital by toughing out a fight even if you lose,” Dickerson and Gibbs write.

At a press conference last April, Dickerson asked Bush what he thought was his biggest mistake and the President didn’t have an answer then. Bush responds to the same question in this TIME interview, “When you asked that question, I was convinced you were trying to force me to say it was a mistake to go into Iraq, which I wasn’t going to do. As sure as I’m sitting here, the right decision was to remove Saddam Hussein from power. The tactics going into Iraq were based upon a certain set of assumptions, like refugee flows, hunger, oil destruction. Had we had to do it over again, we would look at the consequences of catastrophic success—being so successful so fast that an enemy that should have surrendered or been done in escaped and lived to fight another day. I couldn’t have sat down and said to you, By the way, we’re going to be so victorious so quickly that we’ll end up having to fight another third of the Baathists over the next year in order to bring liberty to the country. There’s an idea that you can chew on. “

“Maybe I will [pray for Saddam], now that you’ve asked the question,” President George W. Bush tells TIME, “Do I pray for him? No, I haven’t.” And on his thoughts on Iraq’s progress toward democracy, Bush tells TIME, “If the United States is willing to lead and never waver in our belief that liberty can change the habits of people, never blink, be kind and compassionate, generous with our money—which we are—but resolute in our belief in liberty, Iraq will end up being a free country. It doesn’t have to look like America, by the way. That’s one of the great myths—that all of a sudden, these countries must look like America. Quite the contrary.”

Interesting. This is the case that the GOP convention needs to make this week.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2004
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. bryan says:

    Now I’m confused. Is this “exclusive” somehow different from the Monday morning “exclusive” that Matt Lauer will have on NBC? I thought exclusive meant, well, exclusive.

  2. Tim says:

    “Catastrophic success” – are you kidding me?

  3. Joseph Marshall says:

    Well, James, I think I’d have to say the George has created more history than we can consume locally, and much of it is starting to spoil.