Published on Tuesday, October 7, 2003 by the Associated Press
Gorbachev Calls Bush Decision to Invade Iraq 'Mistake'
by Richard Pyle
NEW YORK -- Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said he believes President Bush made "a mistake" by invading Iraq and has been less than forthright in explaining his reasons for the attack.
Speaking through his longtime interpreter, Pavel Palazhchenko, Gorbachev said he had declared soon after the Iraq invasion last March that Bush had been wrong.
He said he never had any doubt that the United States would prevail in the war. "But the question is what do you do with that victory," he said. "We are seeing the results of that."
The current Russian president, Vladimir Putin, also opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq. He has warned that the United States faces the possibility of a prolonged and futile war there similar to the one that the Soviets fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Since the fall of Baghdad in April, the United States has faced strong resistance to its efforts to bring order and stability to the country.
U.S. military officials have estimated that between three and six American soldiers are killed and another 40 wounded every week in Iraq by an enemy that is becoming more lethal and sophisticated. Soldiers face between 15 and 20 attacks a day, including roadside bombs.
Gorbachev, who heads Green Cross International, an environmental group dedicated to preserving fresh water and eliminating weapons of mass destruction, criticized the U.S. action as based on a "new national strategy" that calls for acting unilaterally against perceived threats.
"The right way to go was what we did against Iraq's aggression against Kuwait," he said. "We all united and worked together."
The former Soviet leader said Bush's assault on Iraq "looked very differently" and as a result "there is real concern about the divisions within the world community."
Gorbachev said that it is "most important" to get rid of weapons of mass destruction, adding that 90 percent of them are in Russia and the United States.
As for the U.S. failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he said, "We have to get to the bottom of it _ whether they actually existed in Iraq and also the question of the quality of intelligence. ... Whether it (the failure to find the weapons) was the result of faulty intelligence."
In the visit marking the 10th anniversary of Green Cross International and its U.S. affiliate, Global Green USA, Gorbachev said the world's priorities must include elimination of chemical and nuclear weapons and shortages of fresh water that in turn affect climate change.
He criticized both Bush and Putin for having rejected the Kyoto protocol on global warming, but noted that Putin apparently has reversed position, telling The New York Times in a recent interview that Moscow would ratify the pact.
Gorbachev said he expected Putin to fulfill that pledge, but added, "as President Reagan used to say, `trust but verify."' That phrase was a favorite of Reagan's in discussing Soviet compliance with nuclear treaties.
On the Net:
Green Cross International: http://www.gci.ch
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