Transcript: The President's Interview with Print Media Columnists
They were asking me today, put out benchmarks. Well, it's a sovereign government. You just don't put out benchmarks. You work with the sovereign government to develop a way forward that's got enough pressure on them to move, but at the same time, they're comfortable with. Look, if we wanted to, we could put so much pressure on the Maliki government to topple it. What good would that do? We could put so many demands on them, it might satisfy people in the short-term, but it would defeat the purpose for victory in Iraq.
So one thing, Larry, is precisely that. The problem is that if you're a bubba like him, he's a blood and guts guy, he doesn't want oil that's beyond his scope.
Q: No, I'd take oil that would be big progress, sir, be big progress. Look, the three elections were huge benchmarks of victory
THE PRESIDENT: We need benchmarks, and we're developing them with the Iraqi government. And they are practical things such as using oil. The governing structure we've had a lot of people out there saying, split up the country. That's not going to work. But there are ways to achieve a more balanced federalism from what some people think is going to happen to them. There could be more like Texas, we always want less federal, more state. And that's the way this balance can be achieved through negotiations. That's what they're trying to do.
Look, Maliki called these religious leaders in; they went to Mecca. They came out the Sunnis and Shias came out with fatwahs and proclamations saying violence against Muslims is unacceptable. I mean, there is a process going forward. Tribal leaders are negotiating. It's a reconciliation process.
But, Larry, reconciliation takes a while when you've lived under the thumb of a tyrant who caused people to hate to begin with. People are revengeful anyway.
Q: is showing the propaganda
THE PRESIDENT: I'm getting your drift there, but
Q: You said Larry was a blood and guts guy.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I've known him for a while, so I was actually trying to pay him a compliment. (Laughter. )
Q: But there's quite a lot of those guys out there. The Canadians released this thing saying because 20 or 30 of their guys have been killed in Afghanistan and it turned out in one encounter they killed hundreds of bad guys. And these are Canadians who aren't even supposed to kill people, that's not what they do. (Laughter. )And wouldn't it, to be as I understand it from guys out there, every time American troops encounter the enemy, the enemy die in large numbers. Why can't the American people hear that end of it?
THE PRESIDENT: You know, we didn't think about it we thought about it, and I'm relying on the military. I am.
Q: If I could follow
THE PRESIDENT: Hold on, Michael. But I'm look, I understand completely where you both are coming from. You don't have to tell me people are out there looking for something. I'm from Texas. My buddies are saying, are you doing enough, not, are you doing too little. They want to know, are we winning. They want to know, this mighty country, are we putting it are we doing what it takes to win? That's my question to General Casey.