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THE BERTRAND RUSSELL PEACE FOUNDATION

DOSSIER

2007 Number 25

 

 

PRESIDENT CARTER Ė ĎABOMINABLEí BLAIR

 

On 19 May, James Naughtie interviewed former US President Jimmy Carter on Radio 4ís Today programme. These excerpts are taken from the interview.

 

BBC: How do you judge these days Mr Blairís support for Mr Bush?

 

Carter: Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient. And 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.

 

BBC: This is an interesting question because the implication behind what you say is that if Mr Blair at some point, say in the year in the run up to war, had taken a step back, had moved away from Mr Bush, it wouldíve made an important difference inside the United States. Is that what you believe?

 

Carter: I believe so. I canít say it would have made the definitive difference. But it would certainly have assuaged the problems that have arose lately. And so one of the defences of the Bush administration, in the American public and on a worldwide basis (it hasnít been successful in my opinion) has been that we must be more correct in our actions than the world thinks because Great Britain is backing us. And so I think the combination of Bush and Blair giving their support to this tragedy in Iraq has strengthened the effort and has made opposition less effective and has prolonged the war and increased the tragedy that has resulted.

 

BBC: You sound quite sad as you say that.

 

Carter: Yes I am sad about it because the war was unjustified, unnecessary and has wrought a tragedy on the Iraqi people, on the American people, on some of the British people, and has caused deep chasms on a global basis.

 

BBC: How important is it that the new Prime Minister, and weíll have one by the end of next month in this country as you know, whose support of the war, who always supported it, who paid for it as Chancellor of the Exchequer, changes policy. Is that what you hope will happen?

 

Carter: I would hope that that combination of less enthusiasm from Great Britain would be a factor and the rising animosity toward the war within the American public and within the United States Congress ó those factors together, I hope, will expedite the exodus of the occupying forces primarily of the United States and Great Britain.

 

BBC: One of the interesting things thatís happened in your country, as you know, in the last quarter of a century is that a kind of religious fervour has entered into politics. Now, some people probably forget that when you came into politics as President in the mid-seventies you were a man of conviction and of faith from the south and that was controversial in its time. And yet you now find yourself arguing against those who say that faith is essential to politics. Itís an odd position for you to be in, isnít it?

 

Carter: No I donít think so. It was clear that I was a religious person, still am. But  I was very meticulous in completely separating my religious faith from any element of politics of governance in the White House. I believed in what Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers, said that we should build a wall between church and state and I adhere to that premise.

 

BBC: Itís a wall that has been chipped away at in your country, hasnít it?

 

Carter: It has been in the last six years in particular. Yes.

 

BBC: Do you want to see that change?

 

Carter: Yes, I do and I hope it will be. I believe it will be. The current trends and public opinion polls and the results of the election last year, I think, have shown that the political influence of the fundamentalist religious believers on the one side in the White House and in Congress is dissipating.

 

BBC: I think you once said that you worshipped a Prince of Peace not a Prince of something else.

 

Carter: Not a Prince of Pre-emptive war. Yes.

 

BBC: Look back finally, President Carter, over the last 30 years, during which you have been performing functions from the very highest in your country, to that of an ex-president wielding all the influence that you can. Are you still an optimist, or are you sad that we are where we are?

 

Carter: No, I am still an optimist. I think in most ways weíve reached the death of international approbation of friendship toward our country. I think the only change that is going to be likely in the future is to improve that situation. The situation in the Middle East couldnít get much worse unless an all out war erupts. I believe that future changes will be beneficial and I think that it is inevitable that within the next few months, or certainly less than a few years, weíll see an exodus of the occupying forces from Iraq. So these kinds of things I believe are almost inevitably going to improve the global situation that we now suffer. So, I am optimistic about that. And I donít give up hope on the premise that the Middle East peace process is still viable, and if we can capitalise on future opportunities, I believe that we can have success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Independent News Collective

 

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