President Bush has admitted to The Times that his gun-slinging rhetoric made the world believe that he was a â€œguy really anxious for warâ€ in Iraq. He said that his aim now was to leave his successor a legacy of international diplomacy for tackling Iran.
In an exclusive interview, he expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how his country had been misunderstood. â€œI think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.â€
Phrases such as â€œbring them onâ€ or â€œdead or aliveâ€, he said, â€œindicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peaceâ€. He said that he found it very painful â€œto put youngsters in harmâ€™s wayâ€. He added: â€œI 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.â€
The unilateralism that marked his first White House term has been replaced by an enthusiasm for tough multilateralism. He 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 â€œleave behind a series of structures that makes it easier for the next presidentâ€.