Bush says he regrets tone on Iraq

In an interview, the president says some of his remarks on the war "indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace."

Published June 11, 2008 1:30PM (EDT)

Apparently, something about the British just puts President Bush in a confessional mood. In a recent interview with the Times of London, Bush admitted that he has some regrets about the prosecution of the war in Iraq; specifically, he says, he regrets some of the things he said about it.

"I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric," Bush said. Pointing to phrases like "bring them on" and "dead or alive," he said that these "indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace."

In the twilight of his presidency, Bush -- like those who've gone before him -- is concerned about his legacy. The Times reports that Bush "said that his aim now was to leave his successor a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran."

Bush has said something similar about his regrets before. During a joint press conference he gave with then British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2006, a reporter asked the two heads of state, "Mr. President, you spoke about missteps and mistakes in Iraq. Could I ask both of you which missteps and mistakes of your own you most regret?" Bush responded:

Saying "bring it on," kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people. I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner -- you know, "wanted dead or alive," that kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted, and so I learned from that.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

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George W. Bush Iraq Iraq War Middle East War Room