[lbo-talk] Bush presidency worst in history, says Carter

Russell Grinker grinker at mweb.co.za
Mon May 21 01:53:05 PDT 2007

Bush presidency worst in history, says Carter

21 May 2007 07:22

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

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

In a newspaper interview, 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, Carter criticised Blair, who leaves office next month, for his close relations with Bush, particularly concerning the Iraq war.

"Abominable. Loyal, blind, apparently subservient," Carter said when asked how he would characterise the British prime minister's relationship with 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 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 on Sunday, a spokesperson 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.

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 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," Carter said.

He also accused 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." - Guardian Unlimited C Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

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