Ralph Nader said his 2000 presidential candidacy -- which some say siphoned off votes that could have meant a Democratic victory -- is not to blame for President Bush or his war.
The war in Iraq developed instead, he said, from ``a messianic militaristic determination turned by a closed mind, facilitated by a cowering Congress and opposition Democrat Party and undeterred by a `probing' press.''
Bush is acting ``in effect as a selected dictator,'' Nader told the Mercury News in an interview Friday. The president has not listened to any of the many retired admirals, generals and foreign-policy experts who have warned against the war, Nader said. And the stated reasons for going to war ``have either been disproved or greatly distorted,'' he said.
The greatest danger will come, Nader said, after the war has been won. Bush, whom he called ``a hit-and-run president,'' will not stick with the difficult, protracted process of rebuilding Iraq and making it democratic, he said.
The warring factions Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has held at bay will dissolve into Shiite Muslims against Sunni Muslims against secular Baath Party loyalists, and Kurds fighting invading Turks, he said.
``For a cheap political advantage, the administration will destroy freedoms and civil rights, undermine our economy and destroy the position of the United States in the world,'' Nader said.
But it's not his fault, he said. In fact, people could just as easily blame David McReynolds, the Socialist Party candidate in 2000, for giving the key state of Florida to Bush, he noted. McReynolds polled 622 votes in the state, and Democratic Vice President Al Gore lost by 537 votes. Nader, who ran as the Green Party candidate, got 97,488 votes.
``When people ask me this, I say, `What would you have me do?' '' Nader said. ``Everybody has a right to run for office.''
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