Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has described the US-led war in Iraq as a "great mistake" that increased the risk of terrorist attacks.
Invading Iraq was a "great mistake that led to more terrorism and not the prevention of this scourge," Gorbachev said at a conference on threats to peace hosted by Anahuac University on the outskirts of Mexico City.
The United States on Friday marked the first anniversary of the war, which it launched arguing it was part of its "war on terror."
US-LED WAR ON IRAQ 'A GREAT MISTAKE'
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev (R), seen here with Mexico's president Vincente Fox, has described the US-led war in Iraq as a 'great mistake' that increased the risk of terrorist attacks. He was speaking in Mexico City(AFP/Gustavo Benitz)
But the war has brought "severe consequences," said Gorbachev, who led the Soviet Union from March 1985 to December 1991, when the 15-republic Communist superpower was dissolved.
"Every day we witness the consequences of the erroneous invasion of Iraq," he said to the applause of 5,000 people at the university.
Democracy cannot be achieved by military force, he added.
"Democracy is not imposed with tanks and missiles, but with respect of other peoples and international law," Gorbachev said.
The war has also wounded US relations with traditional allies, the former Soviet leader said.
"Nobody doubts the economic, military and democratic power of the United States," he said. "We recognize this and that (Washington) can be a world leader. But we do not believe in leadership through domination."
"There is no other path than through the respect of international law and cooperation," he continued. "Anything else would be a great danger to the rest of the world."
© 2004 AFP