BUSH: ... if that's the definition of success or failure, the number of casualties, then you're right. But that's what the enemy knows. See, they try to define success or failure.
I define success or failure as to whether or not the Iraqis will be able to defend themselves. I define success or failure as whether the unity government's making difficult -- the difficult decisions necessary to unite the country.
I define success or failure as whether schools are being built, or hospitals are being opened. I define success or failure as whether we're seeing a democracy grow in the heart of the Middle East.
Because a democracy in the Middle East, a society based upon liberty, will be a defeat for the terrorists, who have clearly said they want a safe haven from which to launch attacks against America, a safe haven from which to topple moderate governments in the Middle East, a safe haven from which to spread their jihadist point of view, which is that there are no freedoms in the world; we will dictate to you how you think.
I know some Americans don't think that is a threat. I view it as a threat because -- and the reason it's a threat is I can conceivably see a world in which radicals and extremists control oil. And they would say to the West: You either abandon Israel, for example, or we're going to run the price of oil up. Or withdraw...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Aren't some of the (inaudible) in the Iraqi government right now, Muqtada al-Sadr?
BUSH: The people voted for a government. And this government is going to have to perform to the will of the people. And that stands in stark contrast to the tyrant that preceded them and to the vision of those who would like to change the governments all throughout the Middle East.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is the government format to your standards right now?
BUSH: The government is -- look, I think the guy's been in office for about four months, Maliki. In my judgment, Maliki has got what it takes to lead a unity government.
But what you're seeing is a new form of government actually beginning to evolve after years of tyranny.
I'm patient. I'm not patient forever. And I'm not patient with dawdling. But I recognize the degree of difficulty of the task, and therefore, say to the American people, we won't cut and run.
On the other hand, we'll constantly adjust our strategy to...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Exactly what I wanted to ask you about, because James Baker said that he's looking for something between cut and run...
BUSH: Cut and run and.
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... and stay the course.
BUSH: Well, listen, we've never been stay the course, George. We have been -- we will complete the mission, we will do our job and help achieve the goal, but we're constantly adjusting the tactics, constantly.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Here's what I don't get.
STEPHANOPOULOS: James Baker's a smart guy. He's got a solid group of people on that study group. But what can he come up with that you and your military commanders haven't already thought of?
BUSH: Well, why don't we wait and see? I don't -- you know, we're not in collaboration with the Baker-Hamilton committee. I think this is a good idea, to get people outside to come and take a look.
That's an interesting question. I'm looking forward to seeing the answer.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, a lot of people think we shouldn't wait, and that if a change of strategy is needed it shouldn't come after the elections, it should come now.