WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday denounced Vice President Dick Cheney as a “disaster” for the country and a “militant” who has had an excessive influence in setting foreign policy.
Cheney has been on the wrong side of the debate on many issues, including an internal White House discussion over Syria in which the vice president is thought to be pushing a tough approach, Carter said.
“He’s a militant who avoided any service of his own in the military and he has been most forceful in the last 10 years or more in fulfilling some of his more ancient commitments that the United States has a right to inject its power through military means in other parts of the world,” Carter told the BBC World News America in an interview to air later on Wednesday.
“You know he’s been a disaster for our country,” Carter said. “I think he’s been overly persuasive on President George Bush and quite often he’s prevailed.”
Asked to comment on Carter’s remarks, Megan Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the Republican vice president, said, “We’re not going to engage in this type of rhetoric.”
Carter, a Democrat who was president from 1977 to 1981 and won the 2002 Nobel Peace prize for his charitable work, is a strong critic of the Iraq war and has often been outspoken in his criticism of President George W. Bush.
In a newspaper interview in May, Carter called the Bush administration the “worst in history” in international relations.
Carter did have kind words in the BBC interview for U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
“I’m filled with admiration for Condoleezza Rice in standing up to (Cheney) which she did even when she was in the White House under President George W. Bush,” Carter said, referring to Rice’s former role as White House national security adviser.
“Now secretary of state, her influence is obviously greater than it was then and I hope she prevails,” Carter added.