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Bill O'Reilly's Exclusive Interview with President Bush

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," October 16, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL O'REILLY, HOST: FOX News military analysts say Iran now is behind the insurgency in Iraq to a large extent. The war has morphed, it has shifted and that U.S. forces are now fighting an insurgency fueled by Iran. Is that true?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the enemy is more complex than that. We are concerned about some Iranian involvement. Particularly in the delivery of certain kind of weapons. But the violence that the American people see on their screens is some sectarianism, some criminal activity and Al Qaeda.

And we're dealing with all three. And the strategy in Iraq — or the tactics in Iraq is changing constantly. So obviously, if we see more Iranian involvement, we'll adjust our tactics to meet that threat.

O'REILLY: This month, very bloody month for U.S. troops.

BUSH: Yeah.

O'REILLY: Can any country stop people from killing people from each other, Shiites, Sunnis? Can any country stop that?

BUSH: If the definition of success is no violence, hardly any society would be able to meet that. We believe, however — our goal, by the way, is an Iraq that can defend itself, sustain itself, govern itself and is an ally on the War on Terror. And that that goal is achievable with a combination of both tough security measures by the U.S., coalition and Iraqi forces and a political process that recognizes that 15 million people want a unity government.

O'REILLY: But, if you continue to have insurgents blowing up buildings and kidnapping people, you can't police that insurgency. It's impossible. You have to get the insurgents to stop.

BUSH: No question about it. And that's why there needs to be a political process that says, Sunni and Shia will participate in a new government, in a new country.

O'REILLY: But why should we be after three and a half years encouraged that will happen?

BUSH: Because it was about six months ago we had elections where 12 million people said they want it to happen.

O'REILLY: Just because they want it doesn't mean it is going to happen.

BUSH: Well, it can happen if we continue — Look, the alternative is to say it's not worth it, let's leave. In other words, ignore the fact that 12 million people voted, ignore the fact that they have a constitution, ignore the fact that they've got a unity government and say we leave. And that's not going to work.

O'REILLY: How about dividing it into three? Kurds autonomous region, Sunni autonomous, Shia autonomous and pay them oil revenues to stop killing each other?

BUSH: I strongly — I don't think that's the right way to go. I think that will increase sectarian violence. I think that will make it more dangerous — and so does Prime Minister Maliki with whom I spoke today. I had an interesting conversation with him.

I said, we expect you to make tough political decisions to move forward. And he assured me he would continue to make tough political decisions necessary to move forward. One of those tough decisions is what do you do with the oil revenues. I happen to believe the oil belongs to the people and to the extent that they understand that it will help unify the country.

Prime Minister Maliki also debunked this notion that he's not going to go after the criminal elements and/or militias that are killing innocent people. He knows he has got to provide the security necessary for this country to move forward.

O'REILLY: It's just a matter of whether you can do it.

BUSH: Well, that's right. He also said — look, ultimately, a success in Iraq is going to depend upon the Iraqi people's willingness to do the hard work. And they have shown amazing resilience in the face of unspeakable violence.

But to answer — on the point you brought up about dividing the country in three, he rejected that strongly. He thought that was a bad idea, and I agree with him. I think — federalism is one thing, in other words, giving a balance between regional government and central government, but dividing is basically saying there will be three autonomous regions will create, Bill, a situation where Sunnis and Sunni nations and Sunni radicals will be competing against Shia radicals and the Kurds will then create problems for Turkey and Syria and you have got a bigger mess than we have at this point in time which I believe is going to be solved.

O'REILLY: Sixty percent of Americans are now against the Iraq War. Why?

BUSH: Because they want us to win. They believe — they are wondering whether or not we have the plans in place to win. They want to know whether or not we have the flexibility on the ground to constantly meet the enemy.

And I can understand why there's frustration, because the enemy knows that killing innocent people will create a sense of frustration and they know that they know America. They know we are a conscience-driven people that value life. And the more people they destroy and the more innocent lives that are destroyed, the more likely it is we will retreat in their way of thinking.

This is what Usama bin Laden and Zawahiri had plainly stated, that it is just a matter of time that America loses her nerve and leaves.

O'REILLY: Is one of the reasons they've turned against the war in Iraq is that the anti-Bush press pounds day in and day out in newspapers, on the network news, in books like Bob Woodward's, that you don't know what you're doing there. You have no have a strategy. You don't listen to dissent. You've got this thing in your mind and you're stubborn and you just can't win it.

BUSH: Well, I'm disappointed that people would propagandize to that effect because the stakes are too high for that kind of illogical behavior. We have got a plan — first of all a stated goal.

And I have said to our commanders on the ground, you achieve that goal and we'll give you the tools necessary to do it. I have faith in John Abizaid with whom I have constant — he is the head of CENTCOM — and George Casey who is the general on the ground. We have got fine people there, all who are working with a sovereign government in Iraq to achieve a common objective which is a country which can govern itself and sustain itself. A country which will serve as a huge defeat for a group of extremists and radicals who have made it clear that they want to establish a caliphate, a governing structure, a point of view that is opposite our point of view all throughout the Middle East.

Here's the stakes, as far as I'm concerned. It is conceivable that within decades, the Middle East will be a place where moderate governments have been toppled, extremists and radicals will have gained control of oil resources and then will use to create a blackmail situation against the West and Iran will have a nuclear weapon, to complicate the mix.

And 20 or 30 years from now if that is the case, people will say what happened to them? How come you couldn't see the threat as a generation of Americans are dealing with something much more violent than we are seeing today?

And so to the critics who say we don't listen, of course we listen. I listen to the most important people of all, the people on the ground who are actually in Baghdad making the difficult decisions necessary to help this government succeed.

O'REILLY: Why doesn't Russia, France, China see it your way? If they would help the United States, particularly with Iran, and if they would help inside Iraq we would win this thing very quickly. France, Russia and China do not help here. Why not?

BUSH: I think they will help with Iran, in terms of the Iranians ending up with a nuclear weapon.

O'REILLY: Tough, though. It's not easy. It's not like they want to help. They are jumping on that...

BUSH: I think I actually would give them more credit than you are, from my perspective. I had a good talk with Vladimir Putin the other day about the Iranian issue and he knows full well that Iran cannot have a nuclear weapon. Those weapons can fly west or they can fly north. And he is fully aware of the threat of ...

O'REILLY: So why are they selling them all kinds of weaponry? They are killing our people in Iraq. They are sending the weapons over. They are sending bombs over to Iraq. And Putin is arming them. Why is Putin arming them?

BUSH: Well, I don't think he is arming Iran to the point where they are using a lot of Russian weapons in the theater. There were a lot of Russian weapons in Iraq before we even got there. And of course that would concern me if there is a lot of evidence that he's doing that.

I'm concerned — I do believe, however, that he understands the strategic importance of making sure Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapon. Let me say this: To the extent that we find anybody helping the enemy inside of Iraq we bring our concerns forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: More with President Bush in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'REILLY: Continuing now, my interview with President Bush recorded this morning at the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

Why won't the United States talk to North Korea one-on-one?

BUSH: We tried that and didn't work.

O'REILLY: Talking about the Clinton stuff?

BUSH: What I'm saying is there was kind of a good faith effort made to engage North Korea and try to convince them in a bilateral way to give up their weapons programs. There was an agreement made and they didn't honor the agreement.

And so I decided since that didn't work, we ought to try another way forward in order to solve this problem peacefully and this is to have China at the table and South Korea at the table and Japan at the table and Russia at the table.

My attitude is real simple on this: More voices saying the same thing to North Korea makes it more likely that we will be able to solve this issue peacefully.

O'REILLY: One of the negotiators in the '94 agreement, the Bill Clinton, President Clinton agreement with North Korea that you just referred to they didn't live up to. I just want to make clear that's what you're referring to...

BUSH: Yes I am.

O'REILLY: Was Jimmy Carter and Jimmy Carter last week in The New York Times says, Bush administration is screwing up because they won't talk to them one-on-one.

BUSH: I just disagree with him. I think it is a much more effective policy to have China using her leverage, South Korea using its leverage, Japan using its leverage to say to the North Koreans give up your weapons programs. As a matter of fact, I'm confident that this is the way to go to solve this issue peacefully.

O'REILLY: China says they aren't going to inspect. You have got the U.N. mandate and everybody was happy for about 10 minutes and then China says, OK, we're on board with the mandate, but we are not going to inspect.

BUSH: Condi Rice is going out to the...

O'REILLY: But why would they do that?

BUSH: Well, I haven't seen the comments. Sometimes there are different levels of government saying things. Bill, I'm sure they look at the United States government here...

O'REILLY: You are saying they are not "no spin" guys over there in China?

BUSH: I think there may be some spin guys over there in China. As I understand it and I am going to learn more about exactly what their complaints are. First of all, I usually don't react to the first comments coming out of a government source. I do know that the Chinese are deeply concerned about North Korea having a nuclear weapon. I know they're concerned about the statement that came out of Japan today that said Japan is now rethinking its position on nuclear weapons.

O'REILLY: Of course the — Japan and China historically hate each other. But here's — maybe I'm wrong on this, but it looks like in Iran and North Korea, both Russia and China want the USA to be weakened.

BUSH: I don't think so. I strongly disagree with that. I think you're wrong on that. And as a matter of fact, I'm pretty confident you're wrong. China and the United States share the same objective and they understand the stakes of North Korea having a nuclear weapon. They are worried about nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. They are deeply concerned about countries in the neighborhood deciding to arm up in order to protect themselves against North Korea. They understand the consequences of an arms race in the Far East.

O'REILLY: Ever think about this North Korean leader? Is he just insane?

BUSH: We will see. We will see as he reaches more decisions.

O'REILLY: Have you ever spoken with him?

BUSH: No, I haven't.

O'REILLY: Any of your crew ever spoken with him?

BUSH: No, sir.

O'REILLY: How about the personality profile the CIA gives you? Is this a guy that has any connection to reality? Because why I am asking this question, if he is, as some people as said, unbalanced...

BUSH: Well, he's going to have some choices to make. There is a better way forward for his country. I'm deeply concerned about the starvation inside of North Korea. I'm worried about concentration camps inside North Korea. I'm worried about the human condition inside North Korea. And we are now making it clear, not just the United States, but other nations are making it very clear to North Korea there is a better way forward. And so we will be better able to judge his intentions and his motives as time goes on.

O'REILLY: Are you confident that China is going to help you?

BUSH: Yes, I am.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'REILLY: All right. A reminder. President Bush will sign the terrorist detainee bill tomorrow and we will talk with him about those captured Muslims.

Click here to read Part 2 of Bill O'Reilly's Exclusive Interview with President Bush

Click here to read Part 3 of Bill O'Reilly's Exclusive Interview with President Bush

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