Transcript: The President's Interview with Print Media Columnists
And so what I'm telling you is my last thought before I answer your questions is we'll win this. It's going to be hard, but it will take some perseverance and patience and courage.
All right, any questions? Yes.
QIf the Baker Commission comes back, recommending reaching out to Syria and Iran, would you be at all suspicious that that might not be a path to victory?
THE PRESIDENT: I am going to I'll answer that question after the Baker Commission comes back with their recommendation. (Laughter. )
Q: Nice try.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q: Let me ask one other follow-up.
THE PRESIDENT: Okay.
Q: In your previous press conference, I noticed that twice you mentioned Jimmy Baker. Was that a I interpreted it, probably over-interpreted it that you were being respectful, but not deferential to
THE PRESIDENT: No, I don't know. It's interesting you said that. It's just what I call him. I mean, it's like I've never heard anybody call him, James. And you know, we just I've known him forever. This is a guy who was my dad's campaign manager in one of his first congressional races, you know, and so he's always been known no, don't read anything into it.
I like him. Listen, the guy is a skilled guy. He is a very, very confident person, as you know. And this is a useful exercise. And I'm looking forward to their ideas and interests. If I didn't think it would lead to victory, I won't do it. I'm interested in one thing: I'm interested in winning.
The President spends a lot of time convincing the American people it's worthwhile. This war is on the TV screen every night. And I'm wise enough not to blame media for anything, but I also understand it's created quite a headwind the TV screens do. I reminded them today at this press conference that, obviously, it's on my mind. But, you know, 90 percent of the action is in five provinces out of 17. And it's a 30-mile circle around Baghdad. In other words, there's a lot of territory there that they're beginning to recover. And there are ways to measure that. You know, agricultural production is up. Things are happening. It's an entrepreneurial group of people.
And I certainly don't be writing don't write me down as hopelessly naive and trying to always put lipstick on the pig, but I understand there's got to be you know, life is moving. People are living their lives, schools are opening. And it and yet, this is a war that you don't measure platoons storming hills. You measure evidently, the measurement is violence. Well, if the absence of violence is victory, no one will ever win, because all that means is you've empowered a bunch of suiciders and thugs to kill.
Here's the way I view the enemy there: al Qaeda is lethal as hell scratch the "hell" it's lethal. The suiciders tend to be al Qaeda. The VBIEDs tend to be al Qaeda. The spectacular killings tend to be al Qaeda. We can't measure solely measure how many Shia killings are al Qaeda that then caused the Sunni reprisal. But you've got to know some are. A lot of the bloodshed these days, of course, is the revenge killings Sunni on Shia it's obvious. There is a criminal element in Iraq, as well, that the government is going to have to deal with. There is a vacuum, and into vacuum moved criminals.