SAN FRANCISCO – Former US president George W. Bush has bashed WikiLeaks in a wide-ranging chat streamed live online at Facebook as part of a promotion tour for his memoir "Decision Points."
Bush touched on topics ranging from war in Iraq and relations with China to moments with Russian leader Vladimir Putin and his beloved Texas baseball team being trounced by San Francisco in a recent US championship series.
The 64-year-old former US president was interviewed by Facebook's young founder Mark Zuckerberg and Bush administration attorney Ted Ullyot, now general counsel at the world's top online social networking service.
"I've got over 600,000 friends on my Facebook page and I've watched your company grow," Bush said of his reason for visiting the firm's headquarters in Northern California to appear on the Facebook Live streaming channel.
"I love entrepreneurship... Plus, the truth of the matter is, I'm shamelessly marketing. I hope people read my book."
Bush repeatedly plugged his memoir while sharing anecdotes from the book, playfully teasing Zuckerberg for not finishing college, and fielding questions submitted in messages from people watching on the Internet.
When asked his reaction to whistle-blower website WikiLeaks releasing an avalanche of diplomatic memos during the weekend, Bush condemned the move.
"Leaks are very damaging and people who leak ought to be prosecuted," Bush said. "I was frustrated to know that there are people who did not honor their agreement with the government not to talk about secrets."
Leaks that expose behind-the-scenes comments or conversations sabotage trust that is essential for national leaders to work together, he added.
"When you have a conversation with a foreign leader and it ends up in the newspapers they are not going to like it," Bush said. "I didn't like it."
Bush said he has happily avoided the spotlight since his departure from the White House but needed to step back into the public eye to promote his memoir.
The Republican has shunned efforts by members of his party to take swings at Democratic President Barack Obama.
"I don't want to," Bush said, contending that such sniping is bad for the country. "I didn't like it when former presidents criticized me and I'm not going to do it to President Obama or whoever succeeds him."
Bush commended the Democratic administration for beefing up US military efforts in Afghanistan and for making education a priority at home.
"You didn't even graduate from college," Bush teased before smiling and giving the 26-year-old self-made billionaire a fist 'bump.'
Bush advised Zuckerberg to ignore destructive criticism and to stand firm on decisions he believes in.
"And no whining," the former president added. "If a leader of an organization goes into a fetal position because of criticism, it is going to be a pretty tough signal to the ranks."
"What you are saying rings true," Zuckerberg responded. "One of the things I always admired about you was when things happened you had a vision and stuck to it."
The former president said he has become "an iPad person" but that he prefers hearing birds to listening to his iPod MP3 player.
Anecdotes in the book include Bush introducing Putin to his small dog only to find the Russian leader unimpressed with the "awesome little guy," Bush said.
A few years later the men were together again and Putin introduced Bush to his dog, a hound that Putin commented was "bigger, faster, stronger" than the Bush canine.
"It really said a lot about US-Russia relations at that time," Bush said. "I shared the story with Stephen Harper, the prime minister of Canada, and he said 'At least he only showed you his dog.'"
Bush predicted that women will be the leaders of the freedom movement, particularly in the Middle East, and that trade with China will drive change in China.
"This book is my way of letting you in on my life as president," he said. "I am not trying to shape my legacy.
"If you see me at an airport you don't have to wave with all five fingers," he added. "And if you don't, you won't be the first."