'It Is Very Important for America to Be Humble': Bush on Dealing with China, Russia and Global Hot Spots
As he prepared for a major foreign-policy speech this week, George W. Bush met with NEWSWEEK's Howard Fineman at the governor's mansion in Austin, Texas, to discuss the campaign and the world beyond. Excerpts:
FINEMAN: Why do you think John McCain is drawing such a good response in New Hampshire?
BUSH: Well, I think John is a good man. I do think his story is compelling, and I think people become interested in a man who has served as a POW. He's a straight talker. The way I'm going to campaign in the primaries is, I'm going to treat John with respect.
Can you win the nomination if you lose New Hampshire?
The answer is, I don't intend to lose it. You're trying to get me to admit I could lose it and, you know, I'm a positive guy.
But given history, it can be done.
I think the candidates can stumble in early primary states somewhere and still recover. But I intend to give it my best shot in each state.
Would you concede that there is some validity in the concern that people have about your knowledge of foreign policy?
I would think it's very important for me to enunciate the principles by which I'll be making decisions in foreign policy.
What leaders in history do you respect?
Winston Churchill. He was visionary, he was tough, he was principled and he had a great sense of humor. Harry Truman [promoted] a world where America's strength and values helped lay the groundwork for peace. George H.W. Bush: his compassion earned respect so that when the moment arose, people were willing to respond. Ronald Reagan had a clear vision, then he held his ground.
Is there another epoch that reminds you of today's world, where U.S. power predominates? Britain in the 19th century?
There's one right there, and the reason [was because] it was an overextended empire. It is very important for America to be humble in its leadership.
What do you mean by that?
If we expect to lead the world to peace and if we expect to build reliable alliances to help keep the peace, then it is important for our nation to be humble in our approach and respectful of others.
That means, I assume, you think international organizations are important.
They're important to a limited extent. They're not important to win wars. They're important for humanitarian reasons. If you're referring to the United Nations, we should never submit our troops to U. …