ABCNEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT MARTHA RADDAT: Mr. President, let's start back in 2006 and talk about the surge. At what point in 2006 did you really fear that things were falling apart?
PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: You know, the violence spike --- and I'm trying to get the -- you know, get the calendar right here. The violence started to spike late spring, if I'm not mistaken.
I remember thinking that, after the Samarra bombing, the Iraqi society took a look and decided, "Well, we don't want to have serious civil strife." And then, all of a sudden, civil strife started, and it kind of slowly began to build up. Throughout the summer, there was unspeakable violence.
And I had a choice, obviously, as to whether or not to kind of pull back and hope for the best or move in and try to change the conditions. And, you know, I made the choice to move in and change conditions and started the surge.
Watch Martha Raddatz's interview with Bush tonight on "World News With Charles Gibson" at 6:30 ET.
RADDATZ: But during that period -- during that period, how worried were you?
BUSH: I was worried. Look, I'm worried any time it looks like we're going to fail in Iraq. I'm driven by a lot of things. One is strategic concerns about Iraq. I mean, if Iraq fails, it's going to affect the security of the country, and it's going to create great turmoil in the Middle East. It will embolden Al Qaeda.
I'm also concerned about leaving our soldiers behind -- in other words, having the deaths and the sacrifice they made go in vain. I see parents all the time of, you know , people are mourning the loss of a loved one.
And they want to know whether or not the president is going to make the decisions necessary to accomplish this mission. And so I'm driven by a lot of concerns, but those are the two main ones.
RADDATZ: You said you worried any time you think it will fail. Did you think it would fail?
BUSH: I thought it was failing, yes, I did, and that's why -- and I listened to a lot of opinions. And as you remember, there were like all kinds of opinions.
There was the pull back and, you know, let Baghdad take care of itself, and guard the borders, and there was the -- there's all kinds. And obviously, one opinion that was brought forth by people inside the administration and in the Pentagon was to send 30,000 more troops -- or more troops, and 30,000 was the number they arrived at.
RADDATZ: And that was the surge. Who would you credit with the surge?
BUSH: Well, if it's a failure, people will credit me. If it's a success, people will credit all kinds of people, I guess. I don't know. I mean, I think it was a good team effort.
It was certainly an effort -- a recommendation of Secretary Gates. It was a recommendation of the Joint Chiefs. Pete Pace was the chairman at the time. It was definitely a recommendation of some inside the administration.
And you know, (National Security Advisor) Stephen Hadley gets a lot of credit because he was the one who shepherded the process -- you know, to get it to my desk in such a way that I could make a decision. And I was presented with some pretty stark choices.
RADDATZ: All during that period -- April, May, June, July -- when things were really going downhill, people were talking about there being civil war.