Bush in 2000 on the Use of Force
From the October 3, 2000, Bush-Gore presidential debate:
MODERATOR: New question. How would you go about as president deciding when it was in the national interest to use U.S. force, generally?
BUSH: Well, if it’s in our vital national interest, and that means whether our territory is threatened or people could be harmed, whether or not the alliances are — our defense alliances are threatened, whether or not our friends in the Middle East are threatened. That would be a time to seriously consider the use of force. Secondly, whether or not the mission was clear. Whether or not it was a clear understanding as to what the mission would be. Thirdly, whether or not we were prepared and trained to win. Whether or not our forces were of high morale and high standing and well-equipped. And finally, whether or not there was an exit strategy. I would take the use of force very seriously. I would be guarded in my approach. I don’t think we can be all things to all people in the world. I think we’ve got to be very careful when we commit our troops. The vice president [Gore] and I have a disagreement about the use of troops. He believes in nation building. I would be very careful about using our troops as nation builders. I believe the role of the military is to fight and win war and therefore prevent war from happening in the first place. So I would take my responsibility seriously. And it starts with making sure we rebuild our military power. . .