The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom at Camp David, Maryland
President Bush. Welcome. Thank you. It's good to have you here. So everybody is wondering whether or not the Prime Minister and I were able to find common ground, to get along, to have a meaningful discussion. And the answer is, absolutely. You know, he probably wasn't sure what to expect from me, and I kind of had a sense that—of the kind of person I'd be dealing with. I would describe Gordon Brown as a principled man who really wants to get something done. In other words, in my discussions with him last night, we spent about 2 hours over dinner and—just alone. We dismissed the rest of the delegations to the bowling alley, I think. [Laughter] And as Josh Bolten said, it's the Ryder Cup of bowling. I think the trophy was left for Great Britain, if I'm not mistaken.
But we had a really casual and good discussion, and we'd be glad to share—I'll be glad to share some of the insights here and then—but the notion of America and Britain sharing values is very important— and that we have an obligation, it seems to me, to work for freedom and justice around the world. And I found a person who shares that vision and who understands the call. After all, we're writing the initial chapters of what I believe is a great ideological struggle between those of us who do believe in freedom and justice and human rights and human dignity and cold-blooded killers who will kill innocent people to achieve their objectives.
One of the great calling that we have here in the beginning of the 21st century is to protect our own people. And so we spent a fair amount of time making sure that our systems are properly aligned so as we can share information to protect our citizens from this kind of brutal group of people who really would like to see us driven from parts of the world so they can impose their ideology. And I do congratulate the Prime Minister for his steady and quick response in the face of a significant threat to the homeland. You've proved your worthiness as a leader, and I thank you for that.
We also recognize that if you're involved with an ideological struggle, then you defeat that one ideology with a more hopeful ideology, and that's why it's very important for us to defend and stand with these young democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq. I appreciate very much the British commitment in Afghanistan and Iraq. I appreciate the bravery of the soldiers. Obviously, I mourn the loss of any life. I think it's very important for us to make it clear to those who are in harm's way that these missions will be driven not by local politics but by conditions on the ground, because success in Afghanistan and Iraq will be an integral part of defeating an enemy and helping people realize the great blessings of liberty as the alternative to an ideology of darkness that spreads its murder to achieve its objectives.
We talked about the tyranny of poverty, the tyranny of lack of education. And I appreciate the Prime Minister's strong commitment to press forward on working together dealing with disease, whether it be HIV/AIDS or malaria. He's got a strong commitment to helping people realize the blessings of education. I thank you very much for that vision.
He also understands what I know, that if we're really interested in eradicating poverty, it's important for us to be successful in the Doha round. Gordon Brown brought some interesting suggestions on the way forward. He is optimistic that we can conclude the Doha round, as am I. And I want to thank you for strategizing as to how to get that done in a way that is beneficial for all of us.
We talked about the Holy Land. We talked about Darfur. We had a good discussion as to how to keep this world engaged in the atrocities—I've called it a genocide— taking place in Darfur, and I want to thank you for your leadership on that issue.
And so we had a good, relaxed, meaningful discussion over dinner and then picked it up at breakfast. And I'm pleased you're here, and I'm pleased to report that this relationship will be a constructive and strategic relationship for the good of our peoples.
Prime Minister Brown. Thank you very much. Well, can I say, Mr. President, it's a great honor for me to come, within a few weeks of becoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, here to Camp David, to have been invited by you to have the discussions that we've just concluded, and to be able to affirm and to celebrate the historic partnership of shared purpose between our two countries. And I believe it's a partnership that's founded on more than common interests and more than just a common history; it's a partnership founded and driven forward by our shared values— what Winston Churchill, who was the first British Prime Minister to visit Camp David, called the joint inheritance of liberty, a belief in opportunity for all, a belief in the dignity of every human being.
And I've told President Bush that it's in Britain's national interest that with all our energies we work together to address all the great challenges that we face also together: nuclear proliferation, climate change, global poverty and prosperity, the Middle East peace process, which we've discussed, and most immediately, international terrorism. Terrorism is not a cause; it is a crime, and it is a crime against humanity. And there should be no safe haven and no hiding place for those who practice terrorist violence or preach terrorist extremism.
Ladies and gentlemen, in Iraq, we have duties to discharge and responsibilities to keep in support of the democratically elected Government and in support of the explicit will of the international community, expressed most recently through U.N. Resolution 1723.
Our aim, like the United States, is, step by step, to move control to the Iraqi authorities, to the Iraqi Government, and to its security forces as progress is made. And we've moved from combat to overwatch in three of the four Provinces for which we the British have security responsibility. We intend to move to overwatch in the fourth Province, and that decision will be made on the military advice of our commanders on the ground. Whatever happens, we will make a full statement to Parliament when it returns.
Our aim, as is the aim of the United States Government, is threefold: security for the Iraqi people, political reconciliation, and that the Iraqis have a stake in the future. And I can say also that I have proposed to the Iraqi Government the offer of new finance that—for Basra and the surrounding areas where we have responsibility, that we invite the Iraqis to set up, with our support, a Basra economic development agency, so that there are jobs, businesses, the chance of prosperity, and economic hope.
I strongly support President Bush's initiative, a bold initiative to make early progress in the Middle East peace process. Afghanistan is the frontline against terrorism, and as we have done twice in the last year, where there are more forces needed to back up the coalition and NATO effort, they have been provided by the United Kingdom.
On Iran, we are in agreement that sanctions are working. And the next stage we are ready to move towards is to toughen the sanctions with a further U.N. resolution.
Darfur is the greatest humanitarian disaster the world faces today, and I've agreed with the President that we step up our pressure to end the violence that has displaced 2 million people, made 4 million hungry and reliant on food aid, and murdered 200,000 people. We have agreed on expediting the U.N. resolution for a joint U.N.-African Union peace force. We're agreed on encouragement for early peace talks, a call to cease violence on the ground, an end to aerial bombing of civilians, and support for economic development if this happens and further sanctions if this does not happen.
Across developing countries, 30,000 children die needlessly every day, and we support the President's pathbreaking initiatives on HIV/AIDS and on malaria. And we are agreed to support a new partnership that brings together public and private sectors, faith groups and civil society to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
In a world trade agreement lies the difference between progress to a more open global trading economy and a retreat into protectionism. In recent days, I've been able to talk to Chancellor Merkel, President Barroso, Prime Minister Socrates, President Lula, President Mbeki, and Prime Minister Singh, as well as the Trade Negotiator, Pascal Lamy. And the President and I are one in seeking an early conclusion to a trade agreement. We agreed that contact between leaders will be stepped up so that we are ready to quickly finalize an agreement in the near future.
We also agreed on the importance of the issue of climate change, which needs to be tackled in the context of sustainable development and in the context of energy security. We support the framework of meetings over the coming months to address this issue and move forward the agenda agreed at this year's G-8 in Germany.
Mr. President, we have had full and frank discussions. We've had the capacity and the ability to meet yesterday evening for 2 hours to discuss, person to person, some of the great issues of our time. You were kind enough also to arrange talks this morning where we continued the discussion on the issues that I've just talked about, and I'm very grateful to you for your hospitality and for the chance for our two countries, with our great shared histories, to continue to work together on these great issues.
I think we're agreed that all challenges can best be met when together the United Kingdom and the United States work in a partnership that I believe will strengthen in the years to come. And I thank you for both your invitation and for the chance to talk about these great issues. Thank you, Mr. President.
President Bush. Thank you, sir. Two questions a side. Ben [Ben Feller, Associated Press].
Progress in Iraq
Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Your own military commander suggests that in Iraq, the Iraqi forces are not nearly ready to take over security for their own country, and that U.S. troops will need to stay in the region for many months if not years. Are you prepared to pass on the fate of the war to the next President?
And, Mr. Prime Minister, if I may, what do you see as the biggest mistakes in the management of the war, and what do you propose to do to correct them?
President Bush. David Petraeus, the general on the ground, will be bringing his recommendations back to the Congress on or about September the 15th. And I think it's going to be very important for all of us to wait for him to report. And the reason it's important is, is that I believe that the decisions on the way forward in Iraq must be made with a military recommendation as an integral part of it. And therefore, I don't want to prejudge what David is going to say.
I have said this is going to take a long time, just like this ideological—in Iraq, just like the ideological struggle is going to take a long time. And so I look forward to David's report, and then we'll respond accordingly. There has been some notable progress, Anbar Province being such a place where there's bottom-up reconciliation, where people are rejecting this Al Qaida vision of the world and saying, there's a better way forward.
There's still setbacks, obviously. We've got these suiciders that are trying to foment sectarian violence. But, Ben, I would ask you and the Congress to wait, to do what I'm doing, which is wait until David to come back and make his report. And I think you'll find it will be considered and based upon the evidence there on the ground.
Prime Minister Brown. You asked about the difficulties we've faced, and a lot has happened over the last period of time. I think the difficulties include the—getting political reconciliation within Iraq itself, moving forward the reconstruction and the time it has taken to do so.
But I think the one thing that I'm pleased about is that Iraq is now building up its own security forces, it's now building up its own military, and it's now building up its own police. So we've got to a situation where there are perhaps 300,000 people who are in the Iraqi security and policing forces.
In Basra and in the four Provinces that we're dealing with, security forces have built up over the last few years now to around 30,000 people. It's in that context where we can then achieve what we want to do, which is to pass security over to the Iraqi people themselves, to pass it over to the elected Iraqi Government, and of course, to local Provincial control.
And one of the encouraging things that's happened over the last few months, indeed the last year and more, is that we've been able to pass the control of the three of the four Provinces for which we've got responsibility back to Iraqi hands. And of course, the issue in Basra, which is the largest Province, is the point at which we can do what we want to do, which is to have local people and local army and local police in charge of the security there.
So that is the challenge that we face over this next period of time: that Iraq itself becomes more responsible for its own security; that we are able to pass control of the Province both to elected politicians and to the security services; and we're able to combine that with the people of Iraq themselves having a stake in the future.
So yes, there have been problems, but, yes, also, when you look at the four Provinces for which we've got responsibility, we can see that we're able to move control back to the Iraqi people in three. And there's a chance of being able to do that in the fourth as a result of the buildup of the security forces.
Nick [Nick Robinson, BBC News].
President Bush. Gosh, still hanging around. [Laughter]
Q. Good afternoon, Mr. President. [Laughter] It's very nice to be back.
President Bush. Yes, it is.
United Kingdom-U.S. Relations on Iraq
Q. Mr. President, you trusted Tony Blair not, in your phrase, to cut and run from Iraq. After your talks, do you believe you can trust Gordon Brown in the same way?
And, Prime Minister, you talked of Afghanistan being the frontline in the struggle against terror, not Iraq. Do you believe that British troops in Iraq are part of the struggle against terrorism or, as many people now believe, making that harder, not easier, to win?
Prime Minister Brown. Well, perhaps I should deal with it first and then pass on to you, President.
In Iraq, you're dealing with Sunni-Shi'a violence, you're dealing with the involvement of Iran, but you're certainly dealing with a large number of Al Qaida terrorists. And I think I described Afghanistan as the first line in the battle against the Taliban, and of course, the Taliban in Afghanistan is what we are dealing with in the Provinces for which we've got responsibility, and doing so with some success.
There is no doubt, therefore, that Al Qaida is operating in Iraq. There is no doubt that we've had to take very strong measures against them, and there is no doubt that the Iraqi security forces have got to be strong enough to be able to withstand not just the violence that has been between the Sunni and the Shi'a population and the Sunni insurgency but also Al Qaida itself.
So one of the tests that the military commanders will have on the ground, in the Province for which we've got direct responsibility now and before we move from combat to overwatch, is whether we are strong enough and they are strong enough to enable them to stand up against that threat.
President Bush. There's no doubt in my mind that Gordon Brown understands that failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the security of our own countries; that failure in Iraq would embolden extremist movements throughout the Middle East; that failure in Iraq would basically say to people sitting on the fence around the region that Al Qaida is powerful enough to drive great countries like Great Britain and America out of Iraq before the mission is done. He understands that violence could spill out across the region, that a country like Iran would become emboldened.
So there's no doubt in my mind, he understands the stakes of the struggle. And there's no doubt in my mind that he will keep me abreast of his military commanders' recommendations based upon conditions on the ground. As he accurately noted, the Brits have been involved in four of the Provinces; transfer has taken place in three of the four. Why? Because progress was made. This is a results-oriented world, and the results are—were such that Great Britain was able to transfer responsibility. That's what we want to do. We want to be able to be in a position where we can achieve results on the ground so that we can be in a different posture.
The problem was, last fall, we weren't going to be able to transfer because conditions on the ground were getting out of control. And so I made the decision to send more troops in, understanding the consequences of failure if we did not do so. In other words, I said, I think if we don't send troops, it's more likely we'll fail. And the consequences of failure would be disaster for Great Britain and the United States, something this Prime Minister understands.
The idea of somehow achieving results, and therefore, this is a change of attitude, just simply doesn't—I just don't agree with that. I find him to be resolved and firm and understanding about the stakes in this series of initial struggles in this war against extremists and radicals. And the challenge for Gordon and me is to write a chapter, the first chapter in this struggle that will lead to success, and that's exactly what we're determined to do.
Rutenberg [Jim Rutenberg, New York Times], today's your birthday? How old are you?
Prime Minister Brown. My goodness.
President Bush. Here you are—amazing country, Gordon. The guy is under 40 years old, asking me and you questions. It's a beautiful sight. [Laughter]
Q. Forty is the new 30, Mr. President.
President Bush. It's a beautiful sight. [Laughter]
Prime Minister Brown. Six in my cabinet are under 40.
President Bush. Are they? [Laughter]
Prime Minister Brown. Yes.
Q. Or 40 is the new 20.
President Bush. You must be feeling damn old then?
Prime Minister Brown. Absolutely. [Laughter]
President Bush. Yes, Jim.
War on Terror
Q. Mr. President, the Prime Minister has referred to terrorism as, quote, "a crime," and he's referred to it in part as a law enforcement issue. So for you, I'm wondering, does that underscore any sort of philosophical difference when your 2004 campaign took issue with somewhat similar descriptions from John Kerry?
And, Mr. Prime Minister, I've heard a lot about how your approach to the United States will be the same as that of your predecessor, but how will it differ?
President Bush. Yes. Look, people who kill innocent men, women, and children to achieve political objectives are evil; that's what I think. I don't think there's any need to negotiate with them. I don't think there's any need to hope that they'll change. They are coldblooded killers, and we better be clear eyed when we're dealing with them.
And this Prime Minister, right in the beginning of his office, got a taste of what it means to be in a world with these people that would come and attempt to kill innocent civilians of his country. And he handled it well.
But we're dealing with a variety of methodologies to deal with them: One is intelligence; one is law enforcement; and one is military. We got to use all assets at disposal to find them and bring them to justice before they hurt our people again.
In the long run, the way to defeat these people is through a competing ideology, see. And what's interesting about this struggle—and this is what I was paying very careful attention to when Gordon was speaking—is, does he understand it's an ideological struggle? And he does.
As he said to me, "It's akin to the cold war." And it is; except the difference this time is, we have an enemy using asymmetrical warfare to try to affect our vision, to try to shake our will. They'll kill innocent women and children so it gets on the TV screens, so that we say it's not worth it; let's just back off. The death they cause is—makes it—maybe we just ought to let them have their way. And that's the great danger facing the world in which we live, and he gets it.
Now, he can answer his own—your question. What's the second half? I talked too long for——
Q. How would your approach differ from that of your predecessor? And while we're on the subject, also——
President Bush. Wait a minute—[laughter]—it doesn't work that way.
Q. It's his birthday.
President Bush. Yes, Mr. Birthday Boy is taking latitude here. [Laughter]
United Kingdom-U.S. Relations/War on Terror
Q. Do you have the same philosophy as the President in terms of terrorism? So it's a two-pronged.
Prime Minister Brown. Absolutely.
President Bush. What do you expect the answer to be——
Prime Minister Brown. Absolutely.
President Bush. ——Rutenberg? Come on, man.
Prime Minister Brown. And let me just stress that we're in a generation-long battle against terrorism, against Al Qaida-inspired terrorism, and this is a battle for which we can give no quarter. It's a battle that's got to be fought in military, diplomatic, intelligence, security, policing, and ideological terms. And we have to face groups of terrorists operating in Britain. And other countries around the world have seen—perhaps, in 17 countries—terrorist attacks over the last few years. When we in Britain have faced 15 of our own since September of 2001 and, of course, when America itself faced in September 2001 and showed such bravery, resilience, and courage in standing up against terrorism, then we know we are in a common struggle. And we know we have to work together, and we know we've got to use all means to deal with it.
So we are at one in fighting the battle against terrorism. And that struggle is one that we will fight with determination and with resilience, and—right across the world.
You asked about the new Government in the United Kingdom. What I would say is this: Every generation faces new challenges, and the challenges that we face in 2007 are not the same as the challenges that we faced as a Government when Tony Blair started in 1997. Then the challenges in Britain were about stability, about employment, about public services. Then the challenges around the world were not seen at that point as the challenges against international terrorism.
Today, in 2007, we see the challenges are radically different from what they were 10 years ago. We have the climate change challenge we've just been discussing, which wasn't one that was seen in exactly the same way a few years ago. And that will lead to the work that we've got to do together—and involving China and India in particular—to deal with the energy issues and including issues of energy security that we face.
We have the challenge of security and terrorism. We have the challenge that we now know in Africa, Darfur, a challenge that we've got to meet immediately to make sure that famine does not afflict millions of people in that part of Africa. And of course, we have the challenge that we can see now, where there are opportunities as well as difficulties, in the Middle East peace process. And that, of course, is a challenge that Secretary of State Rice is— and I'm glad she is here today and has joined our discussions—is going on only today to the Middle East to take up.
So the challenges are different. We will deal with them by being a government of opportunity and security for all. But the challenges, of course, are new as we face the next decade. And these are challenges that we will face and, I believe, America will face with exactly the same resilience, courage, and professionalism.
Adam [Adam Boulton, Sky News].
United Kingdom-U.S. Relations
Q. Thank you. A question from Sky News. Mr. Brown's new formulation for what we used to call the special relationship is Britain's single most important bilateral relationship. I wonder if I could ask him what precisely that means, whether it works the other way for the United States, in terms of their bilateral relationships. And also, Mr. President, what you think has actually changed with the arrival of Gordon Brown instead of Tony Blair?
President Bush. Besides toothpaste? [Laughter] Do you want to—I'll start. Look, I think any time you share values the way we share values, it makes it easy to have strategic conversations; it makes it easy to be able to have common ground on which to deal with these problems. You just listed off a lot of problems. I happen to view them as great opportunities to begin to put conditions in place so that the world looks fundamentally different 50 years from now.
But I would say that the relationship between Great Britain and America is our most important bilateral relationship, for a lot of reasons: trade. Great Britain has been attacked; we've been attacked, which caused us to lash up our intelligence services like never before. We have common interests throughout the world.
But it's an important relationship primarily because we think the same. We believe in freedom and justice as fundamentals of life. There's no doubt in my mind that freedom is universal, that freedom is a gift to each man, woman, and child on the face of the Earth, and that with freedom comes peace. And there's no doubt in my mind, those of us who live under the free societies have an obligation to work together to promote it.
And the man I listened to shares that same sense of morality and that same sense of obligation, not to free others, but to create the conditions so others can realize the blessings of freedom. We can't impose freedom, but we can eliminate roadblocks to freedom and to allow free societies to develop. And it's really hard work, you know? There's a lot of cynics saying, "How dare they; how dare they impose U.S. or Great British values." And what I found was a man who understands that these aren't Great British and U.S. values; these are universal values.
And so what was your question? [Laughter]
United Kingdom-U.S. Relations
Q. What's changed?
President Bush. Oh, what's changed? He's a Scotsman, kind of a—he's not the dour Scotsman that you described him, or the awkward Scotsman. He's actually the humorous Scotsman, the guy that—we actually were able to relax and to share some thoughts. I was very interested in his family life. He's a man who has suffered unspeakable tragedy, and instead of that weakening his soul, strengthened his soul.
I was impressed, and I am confident that we'll be able to keep our relationship strong, healthy, vibrant, and that there will be constant communications as we deal with these problems. As I said, he's a problem-solver. And that's what we need as partners. I mean, we've got a lot of problems we're dealing with, and we can reach solutions. He's a glass-half-full man, not a glass-half-empty guy, you know? Some of these world leaders say, "Oh, the problems are so significant; let us retreat; let us not take them on; they're too tough." That's not Gordon Brown. His attitude is, I see a problem; let's work together to solve it. And for that, I'm grateful.
Prime Minister Brown. What President Bush has said is both very compassionate and reflects the conversation we had about a whole series of issues that we can deal with together.
I think your understanding, if I may say so, of Scotland was enhanced by the fact that you went to Scotland, you told me, at the age of 14, and had to sit through very long Presbyterian Church services— [laughter]—in which you didn't understand a word of what the minister was actually saying. [Laughter] So I think you came to a better understanding of the Scottish contribution to the United Kingdom from that.
Adam, you asked about the single most important bilateral relationship for Britain, and I think President Bush has answered that, that that is the view of the United States as well. Call it the special relationship; call it, as Churchill did, the joint inheritance; call it when we meet as a form of homecoming, as President Reagan did— then you see the strength of this relationship, as I've said, is not just built on the shared problems that we have to deal with together or on the shared history that is built, as President Bush has just said, on shared values. And these are values that he rightly says are universal. They're the belief in the dignity of the individual, the freedom and liberty that we can bring to the world, and a belief that everyone—everyone—should have the chance of opportunity.
And I do see this relationship strengthening in the years to come, because it is the values that we believe in that I think will have the most impact as we try to solve the problems that we face right across the world. And in a sense, the battle that we are facing with international terrorism is a battle between our values, which stress the dignity of every individual, and those who would maim and murder, irrespective of faith, indifferent to human life, often simply for propaganda effect, and of course, with devastating effects, both on the communities that they claim to represent and the whole world.
So I want to stress the values that we hold in common, not in an abstract way, but in a very positive and concrete way, because I think the more we debate these issues about how the world would be organized to face international terrorism, the more we come back to the values that unite decent, hard-working people right across the world, whatever their faith, whatever their country, whatever their continent.
And it's been a privilege to be able to have these discussions with the President about how we can deal with all these challenges by applying not just our values, but applying the strength that comes from the strong relationship that exists between our two countries.
President Bush. Good job. Thank you.
Prime Minister Brown. Thank you very much.
President Bush. Glad you all are here. You'd better cover up your bald head. Getting hot out here. [Laughter]
NOTE: The President's news conference began at 11:46 a.m. In his remarks, he referred to Gen. David H. Petraeus, USA, commanding general, Multi-National Force—Iraq. Prime Minister Brown referred to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany; President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso of the European Commission; Prime Minister Jose Socrates of Portugal; President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva of Brazil; President Thabo Mvuyelwa Mbeki of South Africa; Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India; Director-General Pascal Lamy of the World Trade Organization; and former Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom.
George W. Bush, The President's News Conference With Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom at Camp David, Maryland Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/275945