The US would wage war again, and alone if necessary, to ensure the long-term safety of the world, President George W. Bush said in an interview published yesterday.
Bush told Britain's leading tabloid newspaper, the Sun, on the eve of a state visit that he felt compelled to act following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington.
"I was at Ground Zero after the attacks," he said. "I remember this haze and the smells and the death and destruction. I'll always remember that.
"I made up my mind right then. We were at war and we were going to win the war. And I still feel that determination today."
The paper quoted Bush as saying US forces and their coalition allies had ended the tyranny of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, smashed the grip of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan and forced the UN to stop turning its back on terror.
The mass-selling Sun newspaper, best known for its semi-naked Page Three girls, is owned by tycoon Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, the most influential media empire in Britain.
Bush's choice to grant it an interview raised eyebrows among American journalists, who questioned its suitability for a president who has publicly embraced evangelical Protestantism.
"After coming to office with a vow to restore dignity to the White House, the president ... granted an exclusive interview to a British tabloid that features daily photographs of nude women," The Washington Post said in an article on its Web site.
Bush, unpopular in Britain following the US-led war on Iraq, arrives today for a visit that includes meetings with Queen Elizabeth and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, his closest wartime ally.
In another interview with a British newspaper, influential Pentagon adviser Richard Perle echoed Bush's comments, saying the possibility of future conflicts could not be ruled out.
"Of course he [Bush] is going to stick with that principle, because it is fundamental to fighting and winning the war against terror," Perle, one of the architects of the US invasion of Iraq, told the Daily Telegraph.
"So, does this entail a risk we will find ourselves in conflict ... with other governments? Sure, it does."
Blair's ratings have plunged since the Iraq war and the failure to find weapons of mass destruction but Bush said the decision to go to war should not be judged on short-term results.
"I set big goals," he said. "I know what we're doing is going to have a positive effect on this world."