Ted Turner: FNC to Blame for Iraq, US Nukes Worse Than Iran Nukes

During an interview by "GQ" magazine's Wil Hylton posted on the magazine's blog on September 20, CNN founder Ted Turner blamed Fox News for pushing America into the Iraq war, tagging the conflict as "Rupert's war," and contended that he is more afraid of America's possession of nuclear weapons than he is of rogue states like Iran obtaining such weapons. Turner: "I'm much more worried about our nuclear arsenal than theirs. Iran, at best, can get a few nuclear weapons. We have tens of thousands. We have to get rid of them." The CNN founder, who has a history of defending North Korea, ignoring the country's problem of starvation, complimented its "thin" citizens as "healthy," and suggested the despotic regime is of no more danger to America than Cleveland, Ohio. Turner: "They were nice to me. There weren't a lot of fat people walking around. They were all thin. And being thin is healthier than being fat. ... Their economy is not as big as Cleveland, Ohio! Does Cleveland, Ohio, pose a threat to the U.S.?" (Transcript follows)

The environment was a topic early on in the interview, as Turner contended that overpopulation "is the cause of terrorism." He also branded Republican Senator James Inhofe an "idiot" for believing that the more liberal view on global warming is a "hoax," and labeled those who disagree with the CNN founder on the issue as "dumb." Turner: "There are some people who still think the world is flat. You know, you can't let a few nuts set your policy. We've got to get smart guys to set the policy. The question is, are the Smarts going to prevail over the Dumbs? We can't afford to make any more big dumb moves."

After Turner expressed his view that "the odds are against us," regarding the environment, and his fear of its implications for humanity's safety, Hylton brought up terrorism and rogue states, giving the CNN founder the chance to express his view that he is more afraid of America than Iran.

QUESTION: Are you worried about more conventional threats, like Al Qaeda, North Korea, Iran?

TURNER: No. I'm much more worried about our nuclear arsenal than theirs. Iran, at best, can get a few nuclear weapons. We have tens of thousands. We have to get rid of them.

The subject soon moved to Iraq, and Turner's view that Fox News "helped fan the flames of this war."

QUESTION: You're also opposed to the Iraq war.

TURNER: I've become very antiwar. I don't think the way to accomplish things is to bomb people. All that does is make them angry. That causes insurgent movements and so forth. It's easy to start wars, hard to stop them.

QUESTION: I know that you think Fox News helped fan the flames of this war.

TURNER: Well, they did. This is Rupert's war.

When asked if America can win in Iraq, ignoring the fact that the presence of American troops helps provide security for Iraqis, he suggested that America is an "empire" and contended that Iraqis "have an incentive to get us out," comparing the situation to an occupation of Washington, D.C., or of Britain's past "exploitation" of India. Turner: "If the Iraqis were in Washington, we'd be fighting. We'd have an incentive to get them out, just like they have an incentive to get us out. The days of empire are over. India sat there for fifty or a hundred years and let the British exploit them. Not anymore!"

When asked if America was an "empire," Turner continued on that theme, even dismissing the wisdom of having American troops in South Korea to deter an attack from North Korea. Turner: "We are an empire. And it's very unpopular. We've got military troops in some sixty countries around the world. What for? It's crazy! It's costing us a fortune, and most of them are just sitting there doing nothing, like our 18,000 troops in South Korea."

After complimenting Germany for being "way ahead of us" on global warming and for being "as smart as whips" because they have no troops in Iraq, he quipped that Christians are at a disadvantage in fighting Muslims because Muslims are promised "lots of sex" after death while Christians are only promised "lots of hymns" in heaven. Turner: "They believe if they die in warfare, they get forty virgins in heaven. The Christians don't get that! We have more incentive to live, because we don't know what we're getting, you know? Our idea of heaven is lots of hymns, and theirs is lots of sex! The risk-reward thing is skewed the wrong way."

Hylton brought up North Korea again, giving the CNN founder a chance to contend that North Koreans have a "healthier" lifestyle, and to dismiss the possibility of the country being dangerous, comparing it to Cleveland, Ohio. He also argued that America does not have "enemies" in the world, claiming that "our enemy would be a mistake or an accident, something that would cause the United States or Russia to launch their nuclear arsenal."

QUESTION: What was North Korea like?

TURNER: I had a great time there! I was there last year. They were nice to me. There weren't a lot of fat people walking around. They were all thin. And being thin is healthier than being fat.

...

QUESTION: You don't see North Korea as a threat?

TURNER: Awwh! Their economy is not as big as Cleveland, Ohio! Does Cleveland, Ohio, pose a threat to the U.S.?

QUESTION: "Who's our biggest threat, then? Do we have any foreign enemies?"

TURNER: "We don't have enemies. Our enemy would be a mistake or an accident. Something that would cause the United States or Russia to launch their nuclear arsenal. Which would result in the immediate launching of the other's."

The complete text of the interview was posted on September 20 on "GQ" magazine's blog and can be found here. Below is a transcript of some of the more significant portions of the interview:

QUESTION: First question: How has America changed in the past fifty years?

TURNER: There have been huge changes. Probably more than all the rest of history combined. You have a world population that's more than doubled, with all the inherent stresses on the environment. That's the root cause of the continuing conflict in Gaza, Israel, Lebanon, Iraq. It's the case all over the world. Two billion people all over the world live on less than $2 a day, in absolute, abject poverty, and the overcrowding and overpopulation leads to desperation. That's the cause of terrorism. So we have a whole new set of challenges caused by depleting our environmental capital.

QUESTION: How do you think America is responding to those challenges?

TURNER: Terrible. And I've been caught up in it, too. It's fun having whole-house air-conditioning, and three or four cars, and the good life. It's fun taking a 4,000-pound car to take a 180-pound person to get a quarter-pound hamburger. It's kind of crazy when you think about it, but that's the American lifestyle. Totally unsustainable. But we can still have a good life by being more environmentally friendly. You can be just as happy driving a Toyota Prius hybrid.

...

QUESTION: We still have some senators who say global warming isn't a problem at all. That it's "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."

TURNER: That's Inhofe? The idiot who doesn't think it's real?

QUESTION: Yeah. And he was the head of the environment committee.

TURNER: Hey, there are some people who still think the world is flat. You know, you can't let a few nuts set your policy. We've got to get smart guys to set the policy. The question is, are the Smarts going to prevail over the Dumbs? We can't afford to make any more big dumb moves.

...

QUESTION: Are you worried about more conventional threats, like Al Qaeda, North Korea, Iran?

TURNER: No. I'm much more worried about our nuclear arsenal than theirs. Iran, at best, can get a few nuclear weapons. We have tens of thousands. We have to get rid of them.

QUESTION: Do you really think we'd be safer without nuclear weapons?

TURNER: Absolutely. That's what I'm working on. You know, Reagan and Gorbachev came close at Reykjavík. They shook hands on it, and then the generals talked them out of it.

...

QUESTION: You're also opposed to the Iraq war.

TURNER: I've become very antiwar. I don't think the way to accomplish things is to bomb people. All that does is make them angry. That causes insurgent movements and so forth. It's easy to start wars, hard to stop them.

QUESTION: I know that you think Fox News helped fan the flames of this war.

TURNER: Well, they did. This is Rupert's war.

...

QUESTION: Do you think we can win in Iraq?

TURNER: No. Because we're gonna want to go home. We already want to go home, and it's only been four years. In Vietnam we stayed eighteen years, but we've never been in a situation like that. Usually, wars don't last but four years. The First World War, the Second World War, the Civil War. After four years, everybody's sick of it and wants to go home. They're sick of fighting. And we're not the only ones. The same thing happened to Russia in Afghanistan. Because the guys with the home-court advantage win. If the Iraqis were in Washington, we'd be fighting. We'd have an incentive to get them out, just like they have an incentive to get us out. The days of empire are over. India sat there for fifty or a hundred years and let the British exploit them. Not anymore!

QUESTION: Do you think we're becoming an empire?

TURNER: We are an empire. And it's very unpopular. We've got military troops in some sixty countries around the world. What for? It's crazy! It's costing us a fortune, and most of them are just sitting there doing nothing, like our 18,000 troops in South Korea.

QUESTION: We've got a lot of guys in Germany, too.

TURNER: Yeah! For what? Is Germany about to rebel? Germany's way ahead of us! They're ahead of us on global warming. I don't think they have any troops in Iraq, do they? I mean, they're smart as whips. They learned their lesson in World War II, that war is not the way to go. You know, the superpowers of tomorrow are not going to be the military powers of today. They're going to be the countries that have invested the most in education, in health care, in science and technology. We're going to be sitting here with these aircraft carriers, we just sent an extra one over to the Gulf to intimidate the Iranians! The Iranians don't intimidate! They're like the Vietnamese and the Iraqis. You want to start a war with them? They'll still be fighting in fifty years! They believe if they die in warfare, they get forty virgins in heaven. The Christians don't get that! We have more incentive to live, because we don't know what we're getting, you know? Our idea of heaven is lots of hymns, and theirs is lots of sex! The risk-reward thing is skewed the wrong way.

...

QUESTION: What was North Korea like?

TURNER: I had a great time there! I was there last year. They were nice to me. There weren't a lot of fat people walking around. They were all thin. And being thin is healthier than being fat.

...

QUESTION: You don't see North Korea as a threat?

TURNER: Awwh! Their economy is not as big as Cleveland, Ohio! Does Cleveland, Ohio, pose a threat to the U.S.?

QUESTION: Who's our biggest threat, then? Do we have any foreign enemies?

TURNER: We don't have enemies. Our enemy would be a mistake or an accident. Something that would cause the United States or Russia to launch their nuclear arsenal. Which would result in the immediate launching of the other's.