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Jimmy Carter on George Bush and Tony Blair


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http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,,2084310,00.html

Ed Pilkington in New York

Monday May 21, 2007

The Guardian

Former US president Jimmy Carter unleashed a torrent of criticism against George Bush and Tony Blair over the weekend, in which he accused the Bush presidency of being the "worst in history" and said Mr Blair's support had been abominable and subservient.

Even for a former politician with a reputation for plain talking, Mr Carter's blazing criticism took observers by surprise and had the Republican leadership responding in equally harsh measure. The White House spokesman yesterday called Mr Carter "increasingly irrelevant", adding that his "reckless personal criticism is out there".

In a newspaper interview, Mr Carter said of the Bush years: "I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history." And speaking on BBC Radio 4, Mr Carter criticised Mr Blair, who leaves office next month, for his close relations with Mr Bush, particularly concerning the Iraq war.

"Abominable. Loyal, blind, apparently subservient," Mr Carter said when asked how he would characterise the British prime minister's relationship with Mr Bush. "I think that the almost undeviating support by Great Britain for the ill-advised policies of President Bush in Iraq have been a major tragedy for the world."

He told the BBC that if Mr Blair had opposed the invasion he could have made it tougher for Washington to shrug off critics. "One of the defences of the Bush administration in America and worldwide ... has been, 'OK, we must be more correct in our actions than the world thinks because Great Britain is backing us'."

The White House is waiting to see whether the change in British leadership will bring a policy shift, particularly on Iraq. But yesterday, a spokesman for Gordon Brown said the chancellor did not plan to change tack, taking into account an existing commitment to reduce the number of troops in the country.

Mr Carter, who was president from 1977 to 1981 before being ousted by Ronald Reagan, was an outspoken opponent of the invasion of Iraq before it began in 2003.

He told one newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, over the weekend that Mr Bush had taken a "radical departure from all previous administration policies" with the war. "We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered," Mr Carter said.

He also accused Mr Bush of breaking with the time-honoured policy of maintaining a separation between church and state by funding faith-based initiatives with federal money. "I've always believed in separation of church and state and honoured that premise when I was president, and so have all other presidents, I might say, except this one."

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Guest Gary Loughran

And the White House response from BBC World News

The White House has dismissed former US President Jimmy Carter as "increasingly irrelevant", following his sharp criticism of President George W Bush.

Mr Carter on Saturday said the administration's impact on the world had made it "the worst in history".

A White House spokesman responded by saying that Mr Carter had engaged in "reckless personal criticism".

Such bitter exchanges are rare between an incumbent US president and one of his predecessors, analysts say.

Mr Carter made his latest comment on President Bush in an interview with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette newspaper.

"The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including (those of) George HW Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me," Mr Carter said.

Gloves off

In response, White House spokesman Tony Fratto on Sunday said: "I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments."

Mr Carter has been an outspoken critic of the Iraq war - but the administration had so far largely refrained from attacking him in return.

Correspondents say the response marks a departure from the deference that sitting presidents traditionally have shown their predecessors.

Earlier, in an interview with the BBC, Mr Carter condemned British PM Tony Blair for his "blind" support of the Iraq war.

When asked to characterise the close relationship between the US and British leaders, the former Democratic president said: "Abominable, loyal, blind, apparently subservient."

Mr Carter was US president from 1977 to 1981. He won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for what presenters cited as decades of work towards peace and economic justice.

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"He told one newspaper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, over the weekend that Mr Bush had taken a "radical departure from all previous administration policies" with the war. "We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered," Mr Carter said.

He also accused Mr Bush of breaking with the time-honoured policy of maintaining a separation between church and state by funding faith-based initiatives with federal money. "I've always believed in separation of church and state and honoured that premise when I was president, and so have all other presidents, I might say, except this one." "

I remember Carter as a rather benign good hearted person. Winning the Nobel Peace price is not a little thing. Here he comes across as aggressive. But look just a the content of his words. He is speaking the truth. "endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war" is one of the worst aspects of the Iraq war. What about when other countries take this que. Bush's and Blairs reckless actions set a precedent that endangers the future.

Bush appears to be a millinealist, or book of revelation adherent and 'on a mission from god'. What a perversion. Even more so attacking a former President for highlighting this issue. Again, Bush legitimises Jihad. Whos side IS he on.

Perhaps a look at the origins of the Bush dynasties wealth in selling minerals to the Nazis that were later used to kill US soldiers would not go amiss.

This guy is mad and bad. Thank you Mr Carter for speaking out!

Edited by John Dolva
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