Jimmy Carter can be called many things, but shy isn't one of them. The former president has been pasting the Bush administration for its foreign policy blunders for years, and Mr. Carter remains firmly convinced that Bush's policies -- most notably Iraq -- have seriously damaged America's standing around the world, weakened our moral authority, and left us more, not less, vulnerable to terrorism. Worse, Carter believes that Bush squandered the oppourtunities created during his administration, and nurtured by subsequent presidents Bush I and Clinton, to bring closure to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. On all those points, Carter is dead on, in my opinion.
But who thought the man could be so gangsta???
Carter did two big interviews this past week. The first, with the Arkansas Post-Gazette, covered Bush's assorted foreign policy sins. Said Carter
"I think as far as the adverse impact on the nation around the world, this administration has been the worst in history." ...
... "The overt reversal of America's basic values as expressed by previous administrations, including those of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon and others, has been the most disturbing to me."
Next, Carter did an interview with the BBC, in which he spread the lack of love to retiring Prime Minister Tony Blar. Asked to desribe Blair, Carter's answer was blunt and to the point
, as reported by the BBC's Barney Porter:
JIMMY CARTER: The war was unjustified, unnecessary and has worked a tragedy on the Iraqi people, on the American people, on some of the British people and has caused deep schisms on a global basis.
BARNEY PORTER: But President Carter hasn't stopped there. He has also commented on British Prime Minister Tony Blair's unconditional support for President Bush.
JIMMY 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.
BARNEY PORTER: He also says Mr Blair could have exerted greater influence over President Bush, and made it tougher for Washington to shrug off critics. Instead, he says Britain's strong support has been crucial in bolstering the administration's position.
JIMMY CARTER: Okay, 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.
Carter has gone after Blair before, including calling him "subservient
" to Bush. And Carter has savaged the Iraq war itself, telling the anti-war UK Independent
back in 2004 that it was both unnecessary, and based on lies
. But the comments from a former president about a sitting president (and about a departing ally) are being called "unprecedented," and presidential historian Douglas Brinkley is calling them "fighting words." Maybe that's why Carter is walking back from his tough statements today, as criticism mounts, including from the White House, which had this to say
In response, White House spokesman Tony Fratto on Sunday said: "I think he is proving to be increasingly irrelevant with these kinds of comments."
Well, the White House's ire may finally have gotten to Carter, who began the walk back
from his comments today.
This all comes as the Bushies are worried that Blair's successor, Gordon Brown, will reverse Britain's all-in support
for Bush's policies in Iraq, something that Brown's people presently deny.
It also comes at a time that some analysts are predicting that the Bushies may see the answer to their problems in Iraq in a familiar thing: regime change, once again in Iraq, whre Mr. Maliki's days may be numberd
, and possibly even in Iran.
Labels: Bush administration, George W. Bush, Iraq, Iraq war, Jimmy Carter