[R-G] Carter savages Blair and Bush: 'Their war was based on lies'
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Sun Mar 21 19:44:47 MST 2004
22 March 2004
The Independent (UK)
Carter savages Blair and Bush: 'Their war was based on lies'
Andrew Buncombe in Atlanta
Jimmy Carter, the former US president, has strongly criticised George Bush
and Tony Blair for waging an unnecessary war to oust Saddam Hussein based on
"lies or misinterpretations". The 2002 Nobel peace prize winner said Mr
Blair had allowed his better judgement to be swayed by Mr Bush's desire to
finish a war that his father had started.
In an interview with The Independent on the first anniversary of the
American and British invasion of Iraq, Mr Carter, who was president from
1977 to 1981, said the two leaders probably knew that many of the claims
being made about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction were based on
He said: "There was no reason for us to become involved in Iraq recently.
That was a war based on lies and misinterpretations from London and from
Washington, claiming falsely that Saddam Hussein was responsible for [the]
9/11 attacks, claiming falsely that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
And I think that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair probably knew that
many of the allegations were based on uncertain intelligence ... a decision
was made to go to war [then people said] 'Let's find a reason to do so'."
Before the war Mr Carter made clear his opposition to a unilateral attack
and said the US did not have the authority to create a "Pax Americana".
During his Nobel prize acceptance speech in December 2002 he warned of the
danger of "uncontrollable violence" if countries sought to resolve problems
without United Nations input.
His latest comments, made during an interview at the Carter Centre in
Atlanta, are notable for their condemnation of the two serving leaders. It
is extremely rare for a former US president to criticise an incumbent, or a
British prime minister. Mr Carter's comments will add to the mounting
pressure on Mr Bush and Mr Blair.
Mr Carter said he believed the momentum for the invasion came from
Washington and that many of Mr Bush's senior advisers had long ago signalled
their desire to remove Saddam by force. Once a decision had been taken to go
to war, every effort was made to find a reason for doing do, he said.
"I think the basic reason was made not in London but in Washington. I think
that Bush Jnr was inclined to finish a war that his father had precipitated
against Iraq. I think it was that commitment of Bush that prevailed over, I
think, the better judgement of Tony Blair and Tony Blair became an
enthusiastic supporter of the Bush policy".
Mr Carter's criticisms coincided with damaging claims yesterday from a
former White House anti-terrorism co-ordinator. Richard Clarke said that
President Bush ignored the threat from al-Qai'da before 11 September but in
the immediate aftermath sought to hold Iraq responsible, in defiance of
senior intelligence advisers who told him that Saddam had nothing to do with
With an eye to November's presidential elections, Mr Bush sought on Friday
to use the anniversary of the Iraq invasion to say that differences between
the US and opponents of the war belonged "to the past".
Speaking at the White House, he told about 80 foreign ambassadors: "There is
no neutral ground in the fight between civilisation and terror. There can be
no separate peace with the terrorist enemy."
But in the US and Britain, and elsewhere, there is growing anger among
people who believe the war in Iraq was at best a deadly distraction and at
worst an impediment to the war against al-Qa'ida - diverting resources and
energy from countering those groups responsible for attacks such as the
train bombings in Madrid.
Over the weekend millions of anti-war protesters poured on to the streets of
cities around the world to call for the withdrawal of US-led troops from
Iraq. It was estimated that in Rome - which saw the biggest crowds - up to
one million turned out.
Mr Carter, 79, has recently published a novel. The Hornet's Nest is centred
on America's revolutionary war against the British. That period had many
lessons for the present day, Mr Carter said.
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