President Bush, in an interview with the Times of London, acknowledged that using gun-slinging rhetoric in the past made the world see him as a "guy really anxious for war" in Iraq, and he aims to leave a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran.
In the interview, he expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how the United States had been misunderstood.
"I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric," he said. Phrases such as "bring them on" or "dead or alive," he said, "indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace."
He also told the Times he found it very painful "to put youngsters in harm’s way," adding "I try to meet with as many of the families as I can. And I have an obligation to comfort and console as best as I possibly can. I also have an obligation to make sure that those lives were not lost in vain."
Bush said that his focus for his final six months in office was to secure agreement on issues such as establishing a Palestinian state and to "leave behind a series of structures that makes it easier for the next president."
He is concerned that Barack Obama, if he is elected president, might open cracks in the West’s united front towards Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. And he is convinced that when his successor arrives and assesses "what will work or what won’t work in dealing with Iran," the new president will stick with the current policy.
Bush's comments echo those made The interview comments follow comments Bush made in May to the Israeli Knesset that were interpreted by some as an attack on Obama's willingness to meeting with leader of Iran and others. Bush criticized politicians who would negotiate with "terrorists and radicals" and compared that approach to the appeasement of the Nazis prior to World War II.