Former President George W. Bush says he was a “dissenting voice” on the decision to invade Iraq because he “didn’t want to use force” but ran out of options.
“I was a dissenting voice. I didn’t want to use force,” Bush told NBC’s Matt Lauer in his first interview promoting his new memoir, “Decision Points.”
“I mean force is the last option for a President,” he continued, according to an NBC News transcript e-mailed to Raw Story. “And I think it’s clear in the book that I gave diplomacy every chance to work. And I will also tell you the world’s better off without somehow in power. And so are 25 million Iraqis.”
The Iraq war was sold by the Bush White House on the notion that dictator Saddam Hussein was an immediate threat to the United States, that he had weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al-Qaeda. Both were proven false.
The Bush administration invaded before the United Nations completed its weapons inspection, raising the question of whether the president really did exhaust all diplomatic options.
Bush declined to say whether he would have made a different decision if he knew all the facts.
“You just don’t have the luxury when you’re President. That’s a very hypothetical question. I will say definitely the world is better off without Saddam in power, as are 25 million people who now have a chance to live in freedom.”
The ongoing war, which began March 20, 2003, resulted in the deaths of thousands of American soldiers, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians, and inflamed anti-American sentiment in the region.
Nearly 6 in 10 Americans now consider the war a mistake, according to polls.
A variety of Bush administration officials — including his top counter-terrorism adviser and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs — said the war was based on lies.
The interview is scheduled to air Nov. 8 on NBC’s “Matt Lauer Reports.”