You know, what's interesting -- and surely hasn't crept into your writing or reporting -- but, you know, for a while there was a period that people said, "It's an impossible mission to have freedom take hold. I mean, what's he doing? How can he possibly think that these people can possibly accept democracy?" I don't know if you remember that period of reporting or not. I vaguely do.
And then look what's happening. And that's why I can say that, you know, I'd like to see more progress because progress is being made.
John Negroponte appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he was named ambassador to Iraq.
(Larry Downing - Reuters File Photo)
BUSH: You know, Afghanistan elections were a remarkable achievement in the march of history.
The elections that John was involved in Iraq -- and it must have been fantastic to be there. You know, to think of the millions who defied the terrorists -- and you remember the reporting that went on.
First of all, democracy may not be the kind of system that people agree to Iraq -- it's kind of a foreign concept to them -- and coupled with the fact there's a lot of terrorists there who were getting ready to blow up anybody up that goes and votes. And, yet, millions -- I think it's over 8 million I think we've calculated -- went to the polls.
And what's interesting to me in Iraq is to see the posturing that's going on, the positioning. It's not exactly like the Social Security debate, but it's posturing, it's politics, you know? It's -- people are jockeying for position.
And I say it is not like Social Security because, obviously, their democracy isn't as advanced as ours, but nevertheless, there's -- people are making moves here and there. And you hear about the conferences and the discussions.
BUSH: To me that's healthy. It's inspiring to see a fledgling democracy begin to take wing right here in the 21st century in a part of the world where people didn't think there could be progress. I think there can be progress, and we'll continue to work that progress.
Part of my reason I'm going to Europe is to share my sense of optimism and enthusiasm about what's taking place and remind people that those values of human rights, human dignity and freedom are the core of our very being as nations.
And it's going to be a great experience to go there.
QUESTION: Have you, by any chance, received any, sort of, interim or preliminary report from the Robb Commission that's investigating intelligence failures? And did you seek the commission's counsel on the scope of the duties for the new intelligence director?
BUSH: No, I have not had an interim report. Maybe the national security people have or not. Hadley said he hadn't either.
Our people have gone to talk to the Robb-Silberman Commission when asked, but I've got great confidence in both those leaders to bring forth a very, you know, solid report.
BUSH: And so we haven't been involved in the process other than when asked to share opinion.
QUESTION: When might they report back?
BUSH: Don't know yet.
Do we have any idea?
STEPHEN HADLEY, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Sometime next month.
BUSH: Yes, Hadley said, "Try to work me in the press conference," and I did.
"Sometime next month," he said.
It's an important report, and it's a relevant question today because of the announcement of Ambassador Negroponte. He will take, and I will take, the findings of the Robb-Silberman Commission very seriously. And look forward to their conclusions, and look forward to working with the leaders and the commission members to not only deal with the conclusions, but to address whatever conclusions they have in concrete action. And appreciate the work.
But in terms -- no, and then I did not consult with either person and/or members as to whether or not, you know -- the nature of the pick; did it independently from the commission.
QUESTION: If, as you say, the development of nuclear weapons is unacceptable and if the administration's concern for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, which proved out to be unfounded, drove an invasion to seek regime change, how concerned should Americans and, for that matter, the world be that the true identification of weapons in Iran or North Korea might not lead to the same sort of attack?
BUSH: Well, first, Iran is different from Iraq, very different. The international community was convinced that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction -- not just the United States, but the international community -- and had passed some 16 resolutions. So, in other words, diplomacy had -- they'd tried diplomacy over and over and over again.
John was at the United Nations during this period.
And finally the world, in 1441, U.N. Resolution 1441, said disclose, disarm or face serious consequences. This was not a declaration by the United States of America. It was a declaration by the United Nations Security Council, and a 15-to-nothing vote, as I recall.
And we took that resolution very seriously.
BUSH: As you know, the Iranian issue hasn't even gotten to the Security Council yet. And so there's more diplomacy, in my judgment, to be done. And we'll work very closely with our European friends and other nations.
As I mentioned before, we're an active member of the IAEA board, which will give us an opportunity to continue to say to the Iranians, "You've got to be transparent with your program and adhere to protocols that you have signed."
Remember, this all started when they -- we found them enriching uranium in an undeclared fashion. And it happened because somebody told on them. It was an Iranian group that brought forth the information. And it was clear that they were enriching, and yet they hadn't told anybody, which leaves you to wonder why they hadn't told anybody. And so you can understand our suspicions.
And we'll work with nations.
In terms of Korea, North Korea, again, it's not Iraq. It's a different situation. But I remember being with Jiang Zemin in Crawford, and as a result of that meeting, we issued a joint declaration that said that the Korean Peninsula should be nuclear weapons-free.
BUSH: Since then, that policy has been confirmed by President Hu Jintao.
And the other day, the leader of North Korea declared they had a nuclear weapon, which obviously means that, if he's correct, that the peninsula is not nuclear weapons-free.
So now is the time for us to work with friends and allies who have agreed to be part of the process to determine what we're jointly going to do about it. And that's where we are in the process right now.
I thank you all very much for your attention and questions. Appreciate it.