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Former U.S. President George W. Bush Defends Legacy In New Book

  • RFE/RL

"Decision Points" recounts the circumstances of 14 key decisions in Bush's presidency.

"Decision Points" recounts the circumstances of 14 key decisions in Bush's presidency.

George W. Bush has been almost invisible since he left the White House nearly two years ago, living a quiet life at his home in Texas. But recently he's back in the media spotlight to promote his new book, "Decision Points."

The hefty, 500-page book recounts the circumstances of 14 key decisions of the Bush presidency, most primarily the decision to go to war with Iraq.

In an interview with NBC television, Bush said he felt sick every time he thinks about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- the existence of which was the justification for invading the country in 2003. NBC asked Bush whether he considered apologizing for the war. Bush said he would not apologize, as that "would basically say the decision was a wrong decision, and I don't believe it was the wrong decision."

In his book, he reiterates that the war rid the world of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and opened the way for freedom for 25 million Iraqis.

Bush also defends the use of harsh interrogation techniques on terror suspects, including waterboarding -- or simulated drowning -- saying they had prevented planned terrorist attacks.

"And so I said to our team, 'Are the techniques legal?' And a legal team says, 'Yes, they are.' And I said, 'Use them,'" Bush said, recounting his decision. "I will tell you this: using those techniques saved lives."

Little-Known Foreign Policies

The book also confirms that Bush ordered the Pentagon to draw up plans for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. The United States and other govenments suspect Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, something which Tehran denies.

The British daily "The Guardian" says it has an advance copy of the memoir, and that Bush explains that his national security advisers were split on the wisdom of attacking Iran, some saying it would help the Iranian opposition, and others saying it would feed Iranian nationalism.

Bush also reveals that he turned down, after serious consideration, an Israeli request to bomb or otherwise destroy a suspected Syrian nuclear facility. The Israelis subsequently destroyed it in an air raid themselves.

Domestic Regrets

On the domestic front, Bush acknowledges that he made a "huge mistake" in flying over the flood devastation caused to New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, instead of personally visiting the area.

In the fallout after Katrina, rapper Kanye West publicly accused Bush of being a racist, which, Bush says, "was one of the most disgusting moments of my presidency."

On the U.S. economy, the former president sad he misjudged the severity of the slump during his final months in office and was still hopeful of avoiding a recession just as "the house of cards was about to come tumbling down."

The publishers of Bush's book are expecting big sales, as the initial print run is 1.5 million copies.

It will be joined on the bookshelves in the next few months by volumes written by two controversial heavyweights of the Bush era, namely former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

written by Breffni O'Rourke with agency reports
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