WASHINGTON (AFP) Sept. 19, 2005 — Former US president Bill Clinton sharply criticised George W. Bush for the Iraq War, the handling of Hurricane Katrina, and voiced alarm at the swelling US budget deficit.
Breaking with tradition under which US presidents mute criticisms of their successors, Clinton said the Bush administration had decided to invade Iraq “virtually alone and before UN inspections were completed, with no real urgency, no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction”.
The Iraq war diverted US attention from the war on terrorism “and undermined the support that we might have had,” Clinton said in an interview with an ABC’s “This Week” program.
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Clinton said there had been a “heroic but so far unsuccessful” effort to put together a constitution that would be universally supported in Iraq. The US strategy of trying to develop the Iraqi military and police so that they can cope without US support “I think is the best strategy. The problem is we may not have, in the short run, enough troops to do that,” said Clinton.
On Hurricane Katrina, Clinton faulted the authorities’ failure to evacuate New Orleans ahead of the storm’s strike on August 29. People with cars were able to heed the evacuation order, but many of those who were poor, disabled or elderly were left behind.
The CGI is aimed at wiping out poverty, ending conflict, rolling back climate change and promoting better governance worldwide. With more than 170 heads of state and government gathered in New York for the UN summit, former U.S. President Bill Clinton opened the inaugural meeting.
“We have an opportunity we cannot afford to pass up — in just three days, we can begin to make a world of difference,” says Clinton’s mission statement on the CGI website.
If the CGI’s stated aims seem somewhat grandiose, Clinton has the formidable personal contacts to mute the sceptics. The three-day confab’s participants include US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and media magnate Rupert Murdoch.