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Former President Bush: 'I hate Saddam'

Former President Bush on Saddam Hussein:
Former President Bush on Saddam Hussein: "His word is no good and he's a brute."  

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Former President George Bush says he has "nothing but hatred" for Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but he has "no regrets" the coalition forces during the 1991 Gulf War did not go to Baghdad to get him.

"I know what would have happened. I know that the coalition would have shattered," Bush told CNN's Paula Zahn in an exclusive interview. "My only regret is that I was wrong, as was every other leader, in thinking that Saddam Hussein would be gone."

He said military commanders were given a specific objective to liberate Kuwait of Iraqi forces and that they carried out that mission.

"We told our military commanders, 'Here's your objective.' They saluted from halfway around the world and said, 'Mission complete, sir.' And that's the way it was, and that's the way it should have been.

CNN's Paula Zahn talks to former President Bush about his experiences as a Navy pilot in World War II when he was shot down in the South Pacific. (September 18)

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"Now, am I happy Saddam Hussein is there? Absolutely not. But am I going to be moved by the Monday morning critics who now say we should have done it differently [when they] were totally silent back then? No."

Bush conducted the interview about 500 miles off the mainland of Japan near an island where he was shot down as a Navy pilot during World War II. Bush spoke candidly about how that war experience helped shape his presidency -- and most openly about his disgust for the Iraqi leader.

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"I hate Saddam Hussein," the former president told Zahn. "I don't hate a lot of people. I don't hate easily, but I think he's, as I say, his word is no good and he's a brute. He's used poison gas on his own people. So, there's nothing redeeming about this man."

He added: "I have nothing but hatred in my heart for him. But he's got a lot of problems, but immortality isn't one of them."

As for what the country should do with the Iraqi leader now, he said, "That's the problem facing the president of the United States of America, not me."

That president is his oldest son, George W. Bush. However, the father would not discuss what kind of advice he has given his son and he would not talk about policy issues.


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