US President George W Bush on Monday cited his popularity in India to reject criticism that the US had lost moral authority during his presidency.
Addressing his final press conference at the White House a week before he hands over the presidency to Barack Obama on January 20,Bush said he might not be popular in his country or parts of Europe or among some of the elite,but feels he is popular in countries like India or African nations.
Responding to remarks from a correspondent that the incoming Administration often said there is a need to restore Americas moral standing in the world,Bush said: I strongly disagree with the assessment that our moral standing has been damaged.
Bush said: It may be damaged amongst some of the elite. But people still understand America stands for freedom; that America is a country that provides such great hope.
The President said: You go to Africa. You ask Africans about Americans generosity and compassion. Go to India and ask about,you know,Americas their view of America. Go to China and ask.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after his summit talks with the president here last September had said that the whole of India loves Bush,a remark that triggered an outcry from the Left parties. A recent survey had revealed that Bush is most popular in India.
… parts of Europe have said that we shouldnt have gone to war in Iraq without a mandate,but those are few countries, the US President said.
Bush said: Ive… I listened,Ive told people,Yes,you can try to be popular. In certain quarters in Europe,you can be popular by blaming every Middle Eastern problem on Israel. Or you can be popular by joining the International Criminal Court. I guess I could have been popular by accepting Kyoto,which I felt was a flawed treaty,and proposed something different and more constructive.
I disagree with this assessment that,you know,people view America in a dim light. I just dont agree with that, he said.
In terms of the decisions that he had made to protect the homeland,Bush said keeping Americans safe had been more important to him that personal popularity.
What I would worry about is the Constitution of the United States and putting plans in place that makes it easier to find out what the enemy is thinking, he said.
Bush sad the most urgent threat that Barack Obama will face is the potential for an attack on our homeland.
He says the President-elect will be facing an enemy that would like to inflict damage on Americans. He says that will be the major threat facing Obama and those who follow him.
Bush was asked how a ceasefire might be brought about to end the violence that has been running rampant in Gaza Strip. He replied that a sustainable cease-fire can only be possible if Hamas retreats in its efforts to launch attacks on Israel. Bush said that Israel has a right to defend herself.
Bush also said he is not certain whether democracy will survive in Iraq. He told the news conference he did the right thing in sending an additional 30,000 American troops there to lower the level of daily violence and to stabilise life in the war-torn country.