LONDON (AP) – Britain’s support for the war in Iraq was a “major tragedy” for the world, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Saturday, as he criticized Tony Blair’s unwavering support for George W. Bush.
Asked how he would judge the British prime minister’s support of Bush, Carter said: “Abominable. Loyal. Blind. Apparently subservient.”
“And I think 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,” Carter told British Broadcasting Corp. radio.
Blair was in Baghdad on Saturday morning for what will be his last trip to Iraq as British prime minister. Last week, Blair announced that he would step down June 27, making way for Treasury chief Gordon Brown.
The war in Iraq has been the defining foreign policy issue of Blair’s premiership, and the decision to join the U.S.-led invasion was an unpopular one at home. So far, nearly 150 British service personnel have died in Iraq.
Carter said Britain’s support made it more difficult for critics of the war, and that things could have been different if Britain had spoken out against the 2003 invasion.
“I can’t say it would have made a definitive difference, but it would certainly have assuaged the problems that arose lately,” said Carter, who was U.S. president from 1977 to 1981 and has been a critic of the war.
“One of the defenses of the Bush administration, in the American public and on a worldwide basis, and it’s not been successful in my opinion, has been that, OK, 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.”
It was not the first time Carter has criticized Britain. Last year, he said he was disappointed with “the apparent subservience” of the British government to Washington on issues such as Iraq and last summer’s Israel-Hezbollah conflict.