NEW YORK - The U.S. invasion of Iraq was among
the "dumbest moves of all time" that ranks with the Japanese
bombing of Pearl Harbor and the German invasion of Russia,
billionaire philanthropist Ted Turner said on Tuesday.
The founder of CNN and unabashed internationalist also
defended the right of Iran to have nuclear weapons and the
effectiveness of the United Nations and, in a jocular mood,
advocated banning men from elective office worldwide in a
Reuters Newsmaker appearance.
Alternately combative and humorous, Turner spoke nine years
after his pledge to donate $1 billion to the United Nations
over 10 years and on the same day President Bush addressed the
U.N. General Assembly a mile away.
The U.S. invasion of Iraq has caused "incalculable damage"
that will take 20 years to overcome "if we just act reasonably
"It will go down in history, it is already being seen in
history, as one of the dumbest moves that was ever made by
anybody. A couple of others that come to mind were the Japanese
bombing of Pearl Harbor and the German invasion of Russia,"
Turner told the forum.
"It literally broke my heart. You don't start wars just
because you don't like somebody. ... I wouldn't even start a
war with Rupert Murdoch," Turner said, referring to his onetime
cable network rival.
Often contrarian, Turner called it a "joke" that Bush
demanded that Iran abandon any ambitions for nuclear weapons
while at the same time hoping to ban all such bombs.
"They're a sovereign state," Turner said of Iran. "We have
28,000. Why can't they have 10? We don't say anything about
Israel -- they've got 100 of them approximately -- or India or
Pakistan or Russia. And really, nobody should have them.
"They aren't usable by any sane person."
POWER TO THE WOMEN
One way to reduce such dangers in the world would be to
leave women in charge, said the former husband of Jane Fonda.
"Men should be barred from public office for 100 years in
every part of the world. ... It would be a much kinder,
gentler, more intelligently run world. The men have had
millions of years where we've been running things. We've
screwed it up hopelessly. Let's give it to the women."
In the meantime, the United Nations represents the best
hope, Turner said.
While the world body is ridiculed as ineffective and
irrelevant by its harshest critics and often criticized by its
strongest advocates, Turner offered what was then one-third of
his net worth to the world body nine years ago.
"I am absolutely certain we would not have made it through
the Cold War without the U.N.," Turner said. "When Khrushchev
at the U.N. took his shoe off and hit podium he was so mad, but
he had a place to let off steam. If the U.N. hadn't been there,
that would have been war right then."
When a questioner from the audience challenged Turner on
the United Nations's value, Turner shot back.
"The war between Lebanon and Israel and Hizbollah would
still be going on if it hadn't been for the U.N., and that's
only in the last two weeks, Bubba."
© Reuters 2006