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Welcome to "Ask the White House" -- an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Administration officials and friends of the White House. Visit the "Ask the White House" archives to read other discussions with White House officials.

President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
President of the United States

January 16, 2008

George W. Bush
It's been a long trip and a successful trip. I had a chance to advance three major themes: first, that the United States is committed to helping Israel and the Palestinians achieve peace. Second, that in order for there to be peace, it's important for nations in the neighborhood to support both the Palestinians and the Israelis. And finally, I renewed our strong commitment to the security of the Gulf countries.

David, from Bethesda, MD writes:
Thank you for taking questions, Mr. President. I followed your trip via and the Trip Notes blog. Given that brokering peace in the Middle East has been the goal of many U.S. presidents, what makes you think that your efforts will yield different results? Also, in your opinion, what was the highlight of your trip?

George W. Bush
Dear David, there is no question that peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis is a difficult task. And you're right, many Presidents have tried, but have not achieved the desired results. The reason I believe we have a chance to succeed this time is for the following reasons: First, the leaders of Israel and the Palestinians -- Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas -- are committed to a two-state solution, two democracies living side by side in peace. This is the first time that leaders of both sides are committed to the same goal. They do so because it's in Israel's security interests and it's in the interests of the Palestinian people to have a state of their own.

Secondly, nations in the neighborhood are committed to the process. This is important because it boosts confidence necessary so both sides can make the hard decisions. Thirdly, the average citizens are tired of violence and want something better.

My trip had many highlights: the meetings in Ramallah and Jerusalem; going to holy sites; the trip to the Gulf region; having dinner in the desert in Abu Dhabi with the Crown Prince; traveling to Dubai; seeing the sword dance in Bahrain; meeting with women activists in Kuwait; spending the night on His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia's farm; and having a wonderful lunch in Sharm el-Sheikh. Thank you for sending in a question.

Clay, from Los Angeles, CA writes:
Dear Mr. President,In your opinion, what strategy can the United States of America pursue in order to maintain close ties with the Middle East to promote peace, liberty, and democracy, while maintaining a strong foothold on the fight against terror?

In deep gratitude for your service to this great nation,

Clay Los Angeles, CA

George W. Bush
Dear Clay, promoting liberty in the Middle East will create a strong foothold against extremists. We are engaged in an idealistic struggle. The extremists embrace an ideology based upon hate and intolerance, as opposed to an ideology based on liberty, which promotes hope and tolerance and respect. The advance of freedom and justice will marginalize the extremists. As we promote liberty we can also make it clear to our friends and allies that it's in their interests to fight off the extremists who would like to disrupt their societies and, in some cases, topple their governments. Thank you for your question.

Gioia, from California writes:
Mr. President, A silly question, but who picks your attire for all the important events you attend? Love your ties

George W. Bush
Dear Gioia, I pick my own suits and my own ties. Thank you for the compliment about the ties, and thank you for your question.

Dan, from Bethpage, NY writes:
Mr. President,I applaud your trip to the Middle East and yearn for peace as much as you do. In order to understand the people of the Middle East can you tell us what similarities you have noticed between the people of the United States and the People of the Middle East Countries?

George W. Bush
Dear Dan, perhaps the greatest similarity between peoples in the United States and the Middle East is the desire for people to live in peace. I like to remind our fellow citizens that a Muslim mom wants the same thing that an American mom wants -- that is for her child to grow up in a hopeful, peaceful world. That desire for security and peace provides the basis for our strategy with the nations in the Middle East to defeat extremists and terrorists who use murder as a weapon to achieve their political objectives. Thank you for your question.

Max, from Freeport, ME writes:
Dear President Bush,I would like to know why the government doesnt invest in research to try to create some kind of big battery that would replace the use of oil. That battery would pollute significantly less and would get rid of our dependency to Middle Eastern oil. In such a case, energy costs wouldn't vary subsequently to geopolitical issues. Moreover, we wouldnt have to constantly ask for the OPEC to lower its prices. It would also have a very positive effect on our economy.

Thank you for taking time to read this message and may God bless America

George W. Bush
Dear Max, our government is spending money on battery technologies that would enable automobiles to drive the first 20 to 40 miles using electricity. This, coupled with ethanol, is the main thrust of our initiative to become less dependent on oil. I appreciate you for sending in your question.

Patrick, from California writes:
Mr. President, During your tour of the ruins of Capernaum, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, could you describe any thoughts of personal reflection.

thank you for your service to our country.

George W. Bush
Dear Patrick, our trip to the Sea of Galilee was magnificent. I had the opportunity at the Church of the Beatitudes, which sits at a high point, to gaze out on the Sea of Galilee. As I reflected on the view, at that moment I was reminded of the…New Testament story of the calm in the rough seas, which then reminded me of the power of prayer to bring calm in a person's life. Thank you for your question.

LeRoy, from Beirut, Lebanon writes:
Dear Mr. President, Lebanon seems conspicuously absent from your itinerary this week. Doubtless, security concerns had something to do with this, but what can you say to assure us that Lebanon is still on the American agenda? What will friendlier U.S. ties with the Gulf, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, mean for Lebanon? Both the US and France seem eager to broker a variety of business deals with the Gulf states apparently there is even a French plan to build a nuclear power plant for these oil-rich states but, when will Lebanon see any substantial foreign direct investment from its western allies?

Best regards, LeRoy

George W. Bush
Let me assure you I am committed to democracy in Lebanon. Syria, however, continues to try to subvert the outcome of the Lebanese political process from the outside. We support the Siniora government and the efforts of the March 14th group to come together to elect a President, pursuant to their constitution. I did not want to distract from the delicate political process that is now moving forward, and therefore on my trip I spent time with the leaders of the Middle East, strategizing on how best to help the Lebanese solve their problem of Syrian involvement and secure their own democracy.

As for the U.S. doing business in the Gulf states, I support open and fair trade and investment. I also understand why the Gulf states would want to develop civilian nuclear power, it is a much more cost effective way to desalinate the water. After all, water is a precious commodity for these countries. Thanks for your question.

George W. Bush
Thank you for your questions. It's been my honor to answer some of them. No question we've had a great trip -- but it's also no question I'm happy to get home. I'm looking forward to seeing Laura and Barney and Beazley and the Kitty. After all, there's no better place to lay your head than in your own bed with people you love.