Transcript: The President's Interview with Print Media Columnists
MR. BOLTEN: Mr. President.
Q: Isn't the big problem with the Iraqis that they're so into brinksmanship, that the political breakthroughs we have are when we force deadlines on them, and that they let the deadlines pass and they wait until the train is about to hit them
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q: and when you say that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, they know you're not going to abandon the central front in the war on terror, so they think, okay, well, we'll wait a while.
THE PRESIDENT: That's that arc that Casey talks about, about how fast do you push, push them out without us, but if you push too fast, does it not achieve our objective. First of all, part of this is a brand new experience for these guys. I was with the man from the Dominican Republic, President Fernandez, and we were talking about Cuba. And he said, just remember it takes a while for democracy to take hold. And I said, yes, okay, no kidding. We're used to it. But we are really we are working through a lot of serious issues, kind of psychological issues with these folks, as well as what it means to actually build consensus. So it's a relatively new experience for them. The Maliki government has been in office for five months. And one of the troubles I have to deal with is the Kudlow impatience factor. Seriously not just you, Kuds
but it is a world that is like, instant, things have to happen.
Q: You've also got your own term problems.
THE PRESIDENT: Believe me, I understand. Two years is a long time. Last year was a long year. (Laughter. )Believe me, it's a long time.
But let me finish here. Part of the benchmark is precisely to create that sense of purpose for this government to have something to aim for. There's nothing worse than to watch the government formation we thought we had the government in like March, wasn't it? And then we got it in June. And it was just an agonizing period. I'm sure you head bangers were just unbelievably frustrated with what's going on, where are you.
And I understand that. And old Zal is a great ambassador because he's patient in the sense that he understands there this dance that they go through. But I believe they're getting more crisp in their decision-making. That's one of the interesting things about Maliki, he appears to be a decision-maker. He doesn't like it when he's pushed too hard. You see blowbacks occasionally. Today he didn't like it when there was an action taking place in the Sadr City. He didn't like it because it caught him by surprise. Presidents don't like surprises. But he appears to be a crisper decision-maker and a follow-through guy. That's the whole purpose of the benchmarks, is to have okay, you said, you're going to do this now, let's start getting some decisions made. So, precisely, you picked up the whole purpose of it.