Thursday, February 02, 2006

President Carter: We did not need to go into Iraq. We went in there under false pretenses

CNN -- Larry King Live - Interview with President Carter

KING: Do you support the Iraq war?

CARTER: No, I haven't supported it from the very beginning. In fact, I wrote a major, I thought it was a major editorial in "The New York Times" a few months before we invaded Iraq pointing out that it was an unnecessary and unjust war and the editorial was repeated on full page ads in a lot of other newspapers.

So, I've always been against the war. But once we got there, obviously we need to give our young men and women our absolute and full support, so I'm not in favor of an immediate withdrawal. I think we ought to decide as a nation that we will turn over as quickly as possible not only the military responsibilities to the Iraqi people but also let them manage their own economic affairs.

I don't think we have any idea now of turning over their oil supplies and let them handle who gets to manage the oil, like even France and Russia and I hope we'll back off and let them run their own political affairs.

But, what I believe is that there are people in Washington now, some of our top leaders, who never intend to withdraw military forces from Iraq and they're looking for ten, 20, 50 years in the future...

KING: Why?

CARTER: ...having major American military board -- well, because that was the reason that we went into Iraq was to establish a permanent military base in the Gulf region and I have never heard any of our leaders say that they would commit themselves to the Iraqi people that ten years from now there will be no military bases of the United States in Iraq.

I would like to hear that. But that's one of the things that concerns Iraqi people. And when I meet with Arab leaders around the world they all have noticed this. They're the ones that have brought it to my attention and I think it's an accurate statement.

KING: Do you believe that's the intent of the administration to keep the -- when you say high officials do you mean the Bush administration wants to keep troops in Iraq ad infinitum?

CARTER: Yes, I do and I hope I'm wrong. I don't think there's any doubt that we did not need to go into Iraq. We went in there under false pretenses, either inadvertent misunderstanding of intelligence or maybe deliberate. I'm not saying it was deliberate. I don't think President Bush was deliberately misleading us, maybe some of his subordinates.

But, I think it was a mistake to go in and I think that the United States has got to make sure that the Iraqi people know and the surrounding neighbors know we're willing to get our troops out of Iraq when and if a government is established and I hope that will be soon and the Iraqis are able to maintain order.

And, I think a lot of the violence that takes place now in the streets of Iraq are caused by the fact that American troops are still there. I think that will in itself that change will automatically reduce the terrorism considerably.

I was with Bob Woodruff by the way. He was with me in Palestine the night of the election and he interviewed me, he and his cameraman and after that he immediately left immediately and went to Iraq and unfortunately was seriously injured and I pray that he'll be OK.


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