Thursday, October 18, 2007
Billybobjoe: Bu$hitler, Iran, and Russia
From the White House press conference Oct. 17, 2007
Q There's a report today from Israel Army Radio indicating that the Syrians have confirmed that the Israelis struck a nuclear site in their country. You wouldn't comment on that before, and I'm wondering if now, on the general question, you think it's appropriate for Israel to take such action if it feels that there is mortal danger being posed to the state?
THE PRESIDENT: David, my position hadn't changed. You can ask me another question.
Q Can I ask you whether -- did you support Israel's strike in 1981 on the Iraqi reactor outside Baghdad?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, Dave, I don't remember what I was doing in 1980 -- let's see, I was living in Midland, Texas; I don't remember my reaction that far back.
Q Well, but as you look at it as President now --
THE PRESIDENT: -- private citizen back there in 1981 in Midland, Texas, trying to make a living for my family and --
Q But you're a careful -- someone who studies history --
THE PRESIDENT: Student of history? I do, yes. No, I don't remember my reaction, to be frank with you.
Q But I'm asking you now, as you look back at it, do you think it was the right action for Israel to take?
THE PRESIDENT: David, I'm not going to comment on the subject that you're trying to get me to comment on.
Q Why won't you? But isn't it a fair question to say, is it -- given all the talk about Iran and the potential threat, whether it would be appropriate for Israel to act --
THE PRESIDENT: Hey, Dave -- Dave --
Q -- in self-defense --
THE PRESIDENT: I understand --
Q -- if Iran were to --
THE PRESIDENT: -- I understand where you're trying to take --
Q -- develop nuclear weapons?
THE PRESIDENT: I understand where you're trying to take. It's a clever ruse to get me to comment on it, but I'm not going to. Thank you.
Q Well, I'm just wondering why you think it's not appropriate to make that judgment, when it's a -- it is a real-world scenario, as we know, since they apparently took this action against Syria --
THE PRESIDENT: Dave. Welcome back. (Laughter.)
Q Good morning, Mr. President, thank you. I don't know if you saw the picture on the front page of one of the papers this morning of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Vladimir Putin.
THE PRESIDENT: I did.
Q It looked like they were getting along pretty well. And they are among --
THE PRESIDENT: Surprised they weren't kind of fighting each other on the front page of the paper? No, man, come on.
Q It looked like they were enjoying each other's company. And I'm wondering, since they were leaders of five Caspian Sea region nations that have now declared each country will not be used as a base to attack the other, A, what do you make of their growing relationship? B, does it complicate what the United States can do in the region? And C, would you characterize that arrangement as some sort of Caspian Sea Truman Doctrine or something like that?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, I -- I think it's hard to judge how their conversations went from a picture. Generally leaders don't like to be photographed scowling at each other or making bad gestures at each other. So I'm not surprised that there was a nice picture of them walking along. I try to make sure that when I'm with foreign leaders, there's a pretty picture of the two of us walking down the colonnades, or something like that, to send a good message.
Q Are you saying it's not so warm?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don't know yet. What I'm about to tell you is, is that I'm looking forward to getting President Putin's readout from the meeting. I think one of the -- the thing I'm interested in is whether or not he continues to harbor the same concerns that I do. And I say "continues" because when we were in Australia, he reconfirmed to me that it is -- he recognized it's not in the world's interest for Iran to have the capacity to make a nuclear weapon. And they have been very supportive in the United Nations. And we're working with them on a potential third resolution.
So that's where my concerns -- I don't worry about the pictures. I understand why they meet. I am -- will continue to work with Russia, as well as other nations, to keep a focused effort on sending Iran a message that you will remain isolated if you continue your nuclear weapons ambitions.
Q But this declaration doesn't speak to that, Mr. President. This declaration doesn't suggest isolation for Iran. Just the opposite, that Russia and Iran are going to do business.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, we'll find out, see. You're trying to get me to interpret the meeting based upon a news story or a picture. I'd rather spend some time with Vladimir Putin finding out exactly what went on. Thank you.