Bush: 'Bring 'em on' was big mistake
Updated: 2006-05-26 10:09
US President George W. Bush admitted on Thursday that his bellicose "bring
'em on" taunt to Iraqi insurgents was a big mistake, as he and British Prime
Minister Tony Blair carefully avoided setting a timetable for removing troops
U.S. President George W. Bush (L) welcomes
British Prime Minister Tony Blair to the White House in Washington May 25,
2006. Bush and Blair were unlikely to set a timetable to withdraw troops
from Iraq when they meet at the White House on Thursday to discuss the
next steps in bringing order to the country, the White House said.
Meeting at a time when a new Iraqi
unity government offers the promise of a way out of an unpopular war that has
damaged their standings at home, Bush and Blair were remarkably reflective on
some of the grievous mistakes that critics say has intensified anti-American
sentiment in the Middle East.
Back in July 2003, the tough-talking Texan
responded to a question about the emerging Iraqi insurgency by saying "bring 'em
At a joint news conference with Blair, after three years of war
that has killed more than 2,400 Americans and thousands of Iraqis, Bush said
that remark was "kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong message to
"I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a
little more sophisticated manner, you know. "Wanted, dead or alive"; that kind
of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted," he said.
He also cited the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal as "the biggest
mistake that's happened so far, at least from our country's involvement in Iraq
... We've been paying for that for a long period of time," he said.
Blair said the effort to rid Iraq's army of members of Saddam Hussein's
Baathists -- a process called "de-Baathification -- could have been done better.
"I think it's easy to go back over mistakes that we may have made. But
the biggest reason why Iraq has been difficult is the determination by our
opponents to defeat us. And I don't think we should be surprised at that," Blair