Posted on Tuesday 28 November 2006

BLITZER: It doesn’t sound like he’s moving away from that neo-conservative ideology from earlier, does it?
CARTER: No, but one of the most ridiculous and humorous things that I’ve seen lately is the neo-conservatives moving away from George Bush —
BLITZER: Well, a lot of them have (UNINTELLIGIBLE).
CARTER: … when they were the orchestrators and the supporters and the originators of the Iraqi adventure. And now that it’s gone bad, they’ve said we didn’t have anything to do with it. Bush has just really fouled up himself, and his associates, if they’re still there. So I think that’s a really funny thing to see. But I think there’s no doubt that the neo-conservative inclination is still prevalent, both, maybe, in the White House and also among some of those that have abandoned President Bush.
BLITZER: I assume you believe that the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the removal of Saddam Hussein, was a huge — with hindsight, was a huge blunder.
CARTER: Well, when you throw in the removal of Saddam Hussein, I don’t include that. But I think that the original invasion of Iraq, and all of its consequences, yes, were a blunder, including what happened with the leadership.
BLITZER: In the scheme of things, how big of a blunder was it in terms of foreign policy blunders that American presidents h made?
CARTER: One of the — it’s going to prove, I believe, to be one of the greatest blunders that American presidents have ever made.
BLITZER: Bigger than Vietnam?
CARTER: I think it’s going to be a close call, but perhaps much more vividly known by the rest of the world than Vietnam was. And, of course, my answer is predicated on not knowing what’s going to happen in the future. I think that President Bush could still salvage out of Iraq a conclusion that he could identify as victory if he would agree that this international conference would come in and help Iraq and if there could be an orderly withdrawal of American troops and Iraq could be sustained, with the support of the rest of the world, as a viable democracy. Then he could say, in retrospect, this was a success. And I think that’s what he would like to see as an ultimate indication of a victory.
Was it a blunder? A blunder is a thoughtless mistake. They thought about this one a lot. It wasn’t a mistake. They knew exactly what they were doing. Maybe it’s semantics, but a blunder is something you do thinking you will have one outcome, and you end up having another. I don’t think they thought about the outcome at all, not in the way it’s being implied today.

I think it was something more than that. I think it was an American act of aggression against the Middle East, premeditated, with malice of forethought. The Administration thought they could hide it behind 9/11, or say we were looking for Weapons of Mass Destruction, but they didn’t get away with it. I’m not even sure it was really in the service of National Defense.

We declared an unprovoked war on Iraq – a thinly disguised war of conquest. And we’ve lost that war. I think it’s hard for Americans to realize that our leaders were actually out to conquer Iraq and gain a foothold in the Middle East. When Al Qaeda bombed America, they saw an opening and jumped through it.

I’d even bet that it was hatched way back in the Reagan Administration as the U.S.S.R. fell, but George H.W. Bush wisely backed down in the first Gulf War.  The neocons keep talking about Reagan’s policies in a way that’s unfamiliar to me. Maybe there were some less than public policies. When Clinton beat Bush, they were stymied and retreated to their think-tanks, emerging in 2000 with plans in hand. It’s the only thing that fully explains their secretive, dishonest, and seemingly "blundering" behavior.

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