Transcript: The President's Interview with Print Media Columnists
Let's see here. Interesting dynamic in the Middle East just so you know the main worry now from most of the leaders I've talked to is Iran. People in our country should find it illustrative that as Olmert began to reach out Olmert campaigns on a platform: "Vote for me, I'll withdraw from the West Bank. "I am a two-state solution person. I don't believe Israel could possibly survive in the long-term unless there's a democracy on her border. I don't see how she retains her Jewish state if there's not a place for Palestinians to go to. That's why, on the right of return issue, I was pretty clear about changing the dynamics, for the first time in Middle Easter peace talks.
Olmert believes in the same thing. His attitude is, if I don't have a partner, I'm going to withdraw anyway. That's what he campaigned on. My attitude is, give him a chance to participate with you in the process, to make it lasting. He said, fine. He starts to reach out to the Palestinians, the Jordanians, and others, and Hamas strikes; then Hezbollah strikes. This is a group of extremists who can't stand the thought of democracy.
The reason I bring that up, it all fits together. These are people that are bound together by a common desire to spread their vision, a vision that at some point will clash beginning to clash. Now the extremists and radicals have found great comfort with each other. But people are now beginning to really see the true culprit as Iran.
Iran empowered Hezbollah, Hezbollah takes the attack, and which creates an interesting dynamic, and it gives us an opportunity to fashion kind of an alliance of reasonable people headed toward a clash all kinds of different ways, by the way with extremists and radicals. I'm not necessarily speaking military. It makes it easier for us to isolate Iran in that the dynamics have changed. Hopefully, it will make it easier for us to be able to convince Syria to change, and/or isolate Syria.
My only point to you is, is that I view this Iraq conflict as obviously incredibly vital for our immediate security, but I also understand this kind of battle that's taking place in Iraq as a part of a larger struggle that we're just going to have to deal with. And if we don't deal with it, the rest of the world won't deal with it. It's really important for the United States to stay in the lead and to be able to explain to the American people the stakes and the consequences.
My attitude about our look, I'm into campaigning out there: People want to know, can you win? That's what they want to know. I mean, there's look, there's some 25 percent or so that want us to get out, shouldn't have been out there in the first place and that's fine. They're wrong. But you can understand why they feel that way. They just don't believe in war, and at any cost. I believe when you get attacked and somebody declares war on you, you fight back. And that's what we're doing.