By Kate Phillips
In what might be considered one of the first exit interviews, President Bush told ABC News’s Charles Gibson that during the eight years of his administration, the thing he was most “unprepared” for was the war in Iraq after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But he also said that he felt he would have been compromising his principles if he later on had ordered a pull-out of troops from the country.
From the transcript:
Mr. Gibson: What were you most unprepared for?
Mr. Bush: Well, I think I was unprepared for war. In other words, I didn’t campaign and say, “Please vote for me, I’ll be able to handle an attack.” In other words, I didn’t anticipate war. Presidents — one of the things about the modern presidency is that the unexpected will happen.
Mr. Gibson: You said you were not going to be in the business of nation-building. And so much of what you had to do was nation-building.
Mr. Bush: Well, what I said was, in the course of a debate, I said the military shouldn’t be used to build nations. In this case, it turns out the military, in my judgment, was needed to remove threats to our security, and after that removal, the military, as well as our diplomatic corps, needed to help rebuild after tyrannical situations.