New York: Outgoing U.S. President George W Bush has admitted that he was “unprepared for war” when he joined Oval office and said his “biggest regret” during his eight year tenure was the “intelligence failure” on Iraq. “I think, I was unprepared for war,” Mr. Bush told ABC News in first of his farewell interviews that he plans to give to various media outlets.

“I didn’t campaign and say, ‘Please vote for me, I’ll be able to handle an attack,”’ he said. “In other words, I didn’t anticipate war. Presidents — one of the things about the modern presidency is that the unexpected will happen.”

Mr. Bush, who has been a stalwart defender of the war in Iraq and U.S. troop presence there, said a lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. “It wasn’t just people in my administration. A lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington, D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence. I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess,” said Mr. Bush, looking back at eight years of his presidency.

Despite failed intelligence and accusations of mismanaging the war, Mr. Bush said his decision not to prematurely withdraw troops from Iraq was grounded in his values. “I listened to a lot of voices, but ultimately, I listened to this voice: I’m not going to let your son die in vain,” he told ABCNews. “I believe we can win. I’m going to do what it takes to win in Iraq.”

Repudiation

Mr. Bush launched the war after a campaign focused on the charge — later proved false — that Saddam possessed weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Bush admitted that “some people voted for Barack Obama because of me”. Asked if the defeat was in any way repudiation of his administration, Mr. Bush said, “I think it was a repudiation of Republicans.” — PTI