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Bush Defends Iraq War

Washington, 8 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President George W. Bush today described himself as "a war president" while defending his decision to invade Iraq.

In an interview with the NBC network, Bush said the Iraq war was necessary even though the threat of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was not imminent at the time he ordered the invasion last March.

"I don't think America can stand by and hope for the best from a 'madman' [former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein]," Bush said. "And I believe it is essential that when we see a threat, we deal with those threats before they become imminent. It's too late if they become imminent. It's too late in this new kind of war. And so that's why I made the decision I made."

Bush also acknowledged there is "nervousness" about the future of Iraq, saying democratizing Iraq is "not going to be easy."

Bush predicted, however, that Iraqis will not choose a hard-line Islamic government.