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Bush and the 'Third Awakening'
More From the Interview
Lowry writes up his impressions of the meeting with Bush in his National Review column: "He exhibits a sincere, passionate, and uncompromising conviction in his principles. He is arguably losing a war in Iraq that could destroy his hopes for the Middle East and sink his party's hope in the midterm elections. But there's no wobble in Bush. If anything, the opposite.
"Basically right after 'hello,' the next words out of his mouth are: 'Let me just first tell you that I've never been more convinced that the decisions I made are the right decisions. I firmly believe -- I'm oftentimes asked about, well, you're stubborn and all this. If you believe in a strategy, in Washington, D.C. you've got to stick to that strategy, see. People want you to change. It's tactics that shift, but the strategic vision has not, and will not, shift.'"
Lowry, who as it happened had a Washington Post op-ed yesterday morning co-authored with William Kristol calling for more U.S. troops in Iraq, asked Bush to respond to that argument.
Bush: "The answer to that question is, if General Casey [Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. commander in Iraq] feels like he needs more troops, we'll send them. . . .
"I'm constantly asking General Casey that question. I've got direct contact with him through secure video.
"Q: What if he's wrong?
"BUSH: Then I picked the wrong general.
"Q: You wouldn't override his decision in any instance?
"BUSH: Well, how -- I mean -- I query him thoroughly. I'm certainly not a military expert, nor am I in Baghdad. I talk to Zal [Khalilzad, the U.S. ambassador] all the time. In other words, we get -- and I ask for data. So I know how to ask questions. I think I'm pretty good about filtering out which is real and which is not."
In one of their blog posts, Lowry and O'Beirne note that some of Bush's language got quite colorful. "Asked if generals might be inhibited in asking for more troops because it might be such a politically unwelcome request, Bush used a dismissive expletive for the notion. He expressed his conviction that his generals know he has what it takes -- briefly showing his fluidity in Spanish -- to get them the troops they need even if the politics isn't favorable."
In his column, Lowry also writes that it appears Bush is gearing up to attack Iran next.
"[H]is language suggests that the Robert Kagan thesis that the seemingly interminable Iran diplomacy is the necessary run-up to a strike on Iran has something to it. Bush says, 'It is very important for the United States to try all diplomatic means.' That's what we did in Iraq: 'I'm often asked what's the difference between Iran and Iraq. We tried all diplomatic means in Iraq.' Iran, he seems to imply, might eventually prove impervious to diplomacy, but that's something we have to find out. He says, of members of the military, 'I owe it to their loved ones and I owe it to this country to see if we can't achieve [diplomatically] the objectives which, in Iran's case, the short-term objective is no nuclear weapon. So that's what you're seeing happen.'"