Interviewed Wednesday by Larry King, former US President Jimmy Carter made some fascinating comments. Here are some excerpts:
The importance of negotiation
"...one of the worst things that any human being can do, any government can do is to address one of the most serious problems in the world in a person's human life and say this is my position. If you don't agree with me completely, I'm going to go in a closet and pout. I'm not going to talk to you. I'm not going to consider your concerns. And I'm not going to have any communication with you directly."
"And that's what we're doing now in North Korea. And that's what we're doing with the government of Syria. That's what we're doing with the government of Iran. That's what we're doing with the government of the Palestinians. We're saying, 'you don't agree with us;' therefore, we're not going to have any direct talks with you or keep direct communications with you."
Middle East peace efforts
"..The biggest problem (in the Middle East) has been caused by the total lack of any effort in the last five years to have a comprehensive negotiation between the Palestinians on the one hand and Israel on the other supported by the United States as a fairly objective mediator. This is a radical departure from the effort of all previous presidents since Israel has had an altercation with its neighbors and that included George Bush, Sr. It included me and all the others."
"But this administration has made no serious effort at all to bring the disputing parties together to act as a trusted mediator and to bring a comprehensive solution to the Mid-East situation, which obviously involves a two state solution with Israel living in its own borders, with the Palestinians living in their borders and supported by the international community under the aegis of the international quartet and based on the roadmap plans. That's what needs to be done. The United States I think is a major culprit in not orchestrating such peace efforts."
Dick Cheney's 'untrue statements'
King asked Carter for his reaction to Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that criticism of the Iraq War emboldens United States enemies and makes allies doubt American resolve.
"Well, the vice president unfortunately has been consistently very careless with the truth. He still maintains some preposterous comments and attitudes toward the origins of the Iraqi war, the circumstances in Iraq now and he's had a policy in my opinion of deliberately trying to mislead the American people by making untrue statements and there's no reason to give any credence to his ridiculous claims that you've just described."
King asked Carter if he was questioning Cheney's motives. "Do you think he doesn't really agree with what we're doing?"
"I really don't know what his real policies or beliefs are but I do know that he's been most consistent since the very origin of the Iraqi war in deliberately misleading the American people by making false statements, statements that I'm sure he knew were not true."
"And this is a very serious thing for a highly placed official in America to do and even now he still will not admit, for instance, that Saddam Hussein was not at least partially possible for the 9/11 attacks, when the president himself has said that's a false statement."
"And to constantly say that anybody that criticizes any aspect of our misguided policies in Iraq are unpatriotic and imply our condoning of terrorist attacks is completely ridiculous and ought to be refuted forcefully by everybody."
"We've alienated the almost unanimous support that we had around the world for our policy in fighting terrorism as we shifted out of Afghanistan and let Osama bin Laden go free. All of these emphases have been mistaken. And when any Democrat or any citizen who doesn't have any political orientation says that we've made a mistake it seems that the vice president says "Well you are unpatriotic if you disagree with anything we've done."
Read the full transcript of the interview here.