President Carter: "We did not need to go into
Iraq. We went in there under false pretenses"
-- -- Larry King Live - Interview with President Carter
KING: Do you support the Iraq war?
CARTER: No, I haven't supported it from the very beginning. In
fact, I wrote a major, I thought it was a major editorial in
"The New York Times" a few months before we invaded Iraq
pointing out that it was an unnecessary and unjust war and the
editorial was repeated on full page ads in a lot of other
So, I've always been against the war. But once we got there,
obviously we need to give our young men and women our absolute
and full support, so I'm not in favor of an immediate
withdrawal. I think we ought to decide as a nation that we will
turn over as quickly as possible not only the military
responsibilities to the Iraqi people but also let them manage
their own economic affairs.
I don't think we have any idea now of turning over their oil
supplies and let them handle who gets to manage the oil, like
even France and Russia and I hope we'll back off and let them
run their own political affairs.
But, what I believe is that there are people in Washington now,
some of our top leaders, who never intend to withdraw military
forces from Iraq and they're looking for ten, 20, 50 years in
CARTER: ...having major American military board -- well, because
that was the reason that we went into Iraq was to establish a
permanent military base in the Gulf region and I have never
heard any of our leaders say that they would commit themselves
to the Iraqi people that ten years from now there will be no
military bases of the United States in Iraq.
I would like to hear that. But that's one of the things that
concerns Iraqi people. And when I meet with Arab leaders around
the world they all have noticed this. They're the ones that have
brought it to my attention and I think it's an accurate
KING: Do you believe that's the intent of the administration to
keep the -- when you say high officials do you mean the Bush
administration wants to keep troops in Iraq ad infinitum?
CARTER: Yes, I do and I hope I'm wrong. I don't think there's
any doubt that we did not need to go into Iraq. We went in there
under false pretenses, either inadvertent misunderstanding of
intelligence or maybe deliberate. I'm not saying it was
deliberate. I don't think President Bush was deliberately
misleading us, maybe some of his subordinates.
But, I think it was a mistake to go in and I think that the
United States has got to make sure that the Iraqi people know
and the surrounding neighbors know we're willing to get our
troops out of Iraq when and if a government is established and I
hope that will be soon and the Iraqis are able to maintain
And, I think a lot of the violence that takes place now in the
streets of Iraq are caused by the fact that American troops are
still there. I think that will in itself that change will
automatically reduce the terrorism considerably.
I was with Bob Woodruff by the way. He was with me in Palestine
the night of the election and he interviewed me, he and his
cameraman and after that he immediately left immediately and
went to Iraq and unfortunately was seriously injured and I pray
that he'll be OK.
KING: We'll be right back with more of President Jimmy Carter.
And, again, this auction takes place over the weekend and you
can get online now and make bids at www.cartercenter.org. Don't
Transcript in full -
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