Thursday, January 17, 2008

Interview with the Decider, Part II (JM)

VAN SUSTEREN: The president spoke about Iran and the threat of their nuclear program.


VAN SUSTEREN: We have not had diplomatic relations with Iran since 1979, since the incident at the American embassy there. Is there any vision of speaking to them? We speak to them indirectly through the Swiss, I guess, and through our allies here, but is diplomacy a possibility?

BUSH: What I have just described is diplomacy.

A. You haven’t described anything. B. Even if you did it almost certainly isn’t diplomacy.

VAN SUSTEREN: But not directly with them, with the Iranians.

BUSH: We have said if you want to have discussions with the United States and other nations that are now in the process of isolating you, verifiably suspend your program.

The reason why it is important to seek a verifiable suspension is, one, the key ingredient for them is order to have a nuclear weapons program is to learn to enrich. And, therefore, getting them to not enrich would, basically, disable their nuclear weapons program. And we want it verifiable because in the past they have not been fully transparent.

For example, our NIE said they had a program. They suspended their program, but they have yet to admit they've had a program.

The object, frankly, should not be for me to have to defend our NIE, it ought to be for them to tell the world the nature of their program, to be fully transparent, like they're so supposed to be under the NAEA and the NPT — these are all initials for agreement that they signed onto to protect the world from proliferation.

The NIE is a documents, the NAEA is an agency and the NPT, while an agreement is an agreement with many many loopholes. But congrats on recognizing that they are all “initials”… though some might have chosen the word acronym. Thanks for not talking down to us Mr. President.

And so the trip has been successful from this perspective of saying we take this threat seriously and we will keep the pressure on.

The “success” of the trip has been repeating what we’ve been saying. Other “successes”: flying in airplane, George’s first trip to Israel, getting some really awesome bling (see Maureen Dowd for a compelling discussion of this) and enlightening the American people with this awesome interview.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think the January 6 incident in the Straits of Hormuz, was that sort of a gesture toward you, do you think, by the Iranian speedboats coming on our Navy?

BUSH: I do not know what their intention might have been, but it was provocative, and it was dangerous. And they should not do that.

Mr. President, this could have been very critical incident, one that was avoided by excellent restraint on the part of the Naval officers involved. What did the heads of state you spoke to have to say about this incident?

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. President, it is gorgeous out here in front of the Persian Gulf. In addition to your speech here in the Middle East about democracy, you visited many religious places in Israel.

Yay journalism!

BUSH: Well, they were moving experiences for me. I am a Christian, a practicing Christian. And to walk the steps of our savior is profound. It was profound for our whole delegation.

We know.

It was just a reminder about how complicated the Middle East can be, because we think that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, yet the Middle East is also the birthplace of our Christian religion. I really had a good experience in Israel.

I just want you all to remember, in the end this all Christian territory, so don’t get too comfortable.

VAN SUSTEREN: You have high hopes and high expectations that we can do something in the next 12 months.

BUSH: Absolutely.

That seems a bit optimistic.

VAN SUSTEREN: You are optimistic.


BUSH: I'm not only optimistic, I am realistic, because I know the players, I know the leaders, I know their attitudes. I know the sense of urgency they feel.

And I am not saying it is easy, but I am saying it can be done. And they believe that, too, that is the most important thing. And I feel good about it, I really do.

Mission: Soon to Be Accomplished

VAN SUSTEREN: You met with a bunch of sailors and soldiers?

Greta learned to ask the tough questions while achieving a degree in Econ with honors at U of Wisconsin and went on to get a J.D. at Georgetown. She was a highly regarded legal journalist and, in fact, received the American Bar Association’s award for excellence in legal journalism. I point all this out because she just asked the President of the United States in he “met with a bunch of sailors and soldiers”.

BUSH: I did. Anytime I have a chance I like to thank our military for their service. I am always inspired when I am with members of the U.S. military. These are selfless folks who are courageous and skilled. I met with some in Kuwait and I met with some in Bahrain.

Perhaps they were particularly happy because they were in Kuwait and Bahrain.

VAN SUSTEREN: I really thought it was interesting, that encounter with the Iranian speed boats, that they held their fire(ph), especially in light of the USS Cole.

I’m Greta Van Susteren, I actually exist on a temporal plane different from the rest of you mere mortals. Trust me, I actually asked this question when were discussing this topic earlier. It’s not a non-sequitur because I am traveling at the speed of light and time dilates in such a way it only seems like that to, dear reader, who exists only in four dimensions.

BUSH: I talked to the admiral in charge of the fifth fleet, and he described the procedures in place and the professionalism of his captains. But he also said these leaders had to make some split decisions. And that is why I called the Iranian speedboat incident a provocation.

And they had better be very careful, because our boats will defend themselves.

It’s cute, he calls them boats, like he’s 10. Why do I have a feeling if Capt. G.W. Bush had been commanding this fleet we’d be at war now? He was probably really pissed at the fleet commander for blowing his chances.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you get called when this happens, right as it happens? When do you hear about it?

Why in the world would we ever want our president to know something like this.

BUSH: No. I would get called if they were firing.

But, listen, these are professionals. Our Navy is very well-trained, very well-schooled. They're very thoughtful people.

And there are instances all around the world with our military. And our commanders can handle it. Obviously, if the Iranians had made a decision other than to pull back and attack our ships, I would know about it. And we would have done something about it.

In all fairness, this is a really silly policy that worked out well for the whole world here, don’t you think? Really, perhaps we can a different sort of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy with our Commander-in-Chief until January 2009.

VAN SUSTEREN: You said that you speak, you also speak to the Iranian people when you're here. Do you have a message for the Iranian people if they are watching?

Uh oh.

BUSH: I do, and that is the president of the United States respects you. More importantly, the American people respect you. We respect your heritage, respect your history, and we want to have better relations.

That’s thoughtful and diplomatic, a bit odd, but good job…

But it is your government that is preventing the Iranian people, you, from having as positive and economic environment that you could conceivably have and better relations with the best of the world. It is not just the United States from which Iran is isolated, it is the world, with the notable exception of a few countries.


First of all, “having a positive and economic environment that you could conceivable have” is the virtual equivalent of waterboarding the English language. Second of all, what the hell is an economic environment? Will there will be supply and demand curves running around, having little marginal utility babies? Third, I really hope “best of the world” is a typo… actually no, I really hope he encouraged them to have relations with the “best of the world”.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. President, thank you, sir. Thank you very much, it is always nice to see you, sir. Thank you.

BUSH: Thank you, Greta.

Why yes, thank you both…

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