WASHINGTON – Voters in America re-elected President Bush in spite of troubles in Iraq because they understand the American objective to establish democracy around the world, Bush told FOX News on Tuesday.
Bush said that brave Iraqis are "fighting off these thugs who want to stop the elections" and they need the support of the coalition. He said with that support forthcoming, Iraqis will be able to build on the security training they are getting and become prepared to fight for themselves.
"And when a democracy emerges — a democracy, by the way, that reflects the cultures and habits of the Iraqi people — the dynamics in the world will change. Think about the influence a free society in Iraq will have on Iran," Bush said in a pre-inauguration interview with FOX News' Jim Angle.
Bush said that even though investigators never found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (search) was a tyrant whose dictatorial grip led other nations to believe that he had weapons.
The president said that while Iraq becomes democratic, the United States will continue to apply standards of free nations. That means that even though terrorists are not protected by the Geneva Conventions (search), the United States will adhere to that treaty's principles when handling terrorist prisoners.
"It's very important for Americans to [appreciate the] rules of law and compassion and to adhere to principles," Bush said.
He added that as a nation, the United States has condemned others for torture and won't appear hypocritical.
"We shouldn't torture and we won't," he said.
Bush also said he thinks Americans voted for him because they wanted a leader who believes in the country and can work with others to "achieve big things" for it.
"I told the American people that we're a great country; that working together we can achieve big things; that I have a specific agenda to make America a better place, that my philosphy is one that says we trust people to make decisions for their lives; that I firmly believe that the values of this country are strong and necessary for a peaceful world; and the main value is that we love freedom and we believe in freedom and we believe that people yearn to be free. We have an obligation to help people be free."
Bush said he enters his second term with a greater ability to anticipate the unexpected. He added that he hopes that because he is a lame duck, and "no longer a threat politically," that people from both parties will work with him. However, he knows that he has asked Congress to take on a real challenge in modernizing Social Security.
"I fully understand some are risk-averse and don't think we need to do anything. I believe we need to because I see a problem, if not solved, will lead to a crisis for younger Americans," Bush said, adding that despite the political capital that he will use, he believes it's his duty to lead on tough issues and get ahead of them before they grow.
"I believe that somebody who's been given responsibility to lead must do so and when you see a problem address it no matter what the political consequences may be. I happen to also believe, firmly, that taking on a big problem, the American people will say, 'Well we appreciate that.'"
In the interview, Bush said part of the reason he is willing to touch what was once dubbed the "third rail" of politics, is the support that young people have for changing a system. Most young Americans, Bush asserted, don't think they will get any Social Security payments unless the system is changed.
Click in the box near the top of the story to watch the interview of President Bush by FOX News' Jim Angle.