Turner: KGB 'Honorable,' Iraq 'Naked Aggression' Like Soviets in Afghanistan

“The KGB, I think, was an honorable place to work” with “worthwhile” achievements, CNN founder Ted Turner contended in an interview aired on Sunday's Meet the Press in which he blamed the U.S. for starting the battles with Vladimir Putin “by putting the Star Wars system in Czechoslovakia and Poland” and, when host Tom Brokaw recalled that Leonid Brezhnev reacted to Jimmy Carter's outreach by invading Afghanistan, Turner retorted with moral equivalence: “Well, we invaded Afghanistan, too, and it's a lot further -- at least it's on the border of the Soviet Union.” Brokaw called it “naked aggression on the part of the Russians at the time,” prompting Turner to charge: “Well, going into Iraq was naked aggression on the part of the United States.”

Turner, who did the sit-down as part of the media tour for his new book, Call Me Ted, defended Putin's KGB background by comparing it to someone who worked for the FBI:
We have an FBI and, and, and, and, and we're not prejudiced against somebody who's worked at the FBI. It's an honorable place to work. And the KGB, I think, was an honorable place to work. And it, it gave people in the former Soviet Union, a communist country, an opportunity to do something important and worthwhile.

Yeah, like oppressing people in captured nations and running gulags to suppress political dissent.

And Czechoslovakia is no more.

Seven months ago, Turner similarly applied moral equivalence in describing Iraqi insurgents as “patriots” who simply “don't like us because we've invaded their country” and “if the Iraqis were in Washington, D.C., we'd be doing the same thing.”

In that same interview on PBS, Turner predicted global warming will soon lead to cannibalism. My April 2 NewsBusters item, “Turner: Iraqi Insurgents 'Patriots,' Warming Inaction: Cannibalism,” recounted with video:

Interviewed Tuesday for Charlie Rose's PBS show, CNN founder Ted Turner argued that inaction on global warming "will be catastrophic" and those who don't die "will be cannibals." He also applied moral equivalence in describing Iraqi insurgents as "patriots" who simply "don't like us because we've invaded their country" and so "if the Iraqis were in Washington, D.C., we'd be doing the same thing." On not taking drastic action to correct global warming: "Not doing it will be catastrophic. We'll be eight degrees hotter in ten, not ten but 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals."
From the pre-recorded interview run on the Sunday, November 30 Meet the Press:
TOM BROKAW: You met Vladimir Putin when he was just an aide to the mayor of St. Petersburg. He picked up you and Jane Fonda, to whom you were married at the time. But as you have watched him since then, most people see not in his eyes a soulful person, but the eyes -- three letters, as someone has put it: KGB. That he is-

TED TURNER: Well, he had that background. But you know, we have an FBI and, and, and, and, and we're not prejudiced against somebody who's worked at the FBI. It's an honorable place to work. And the KGB, I think, was an honorable place to work. And it, it gave people in the former Soviet Union, a communist country, an opportunity to do something important and worthwhile.

BROKAW: But in the meantime, it appears that he's very much more interested in just causing difficulty for the United States, getting in our face in a manner of speaking.

TURNER: Well, wait. We're the ones -- in my opinion, we're the ones that started that. We're the ones that started by putting the Star Wars system in Czechoslovakia and Poland when they wanted to be part of it. We've said that that system is only to protect us from Iran or protect Europe from Iranian missiles. So why didn't we cooperate with the Russians? Why have we constantly been pushing, we've been pushing on the Russians all the time.

BROKAW: Your friend, Jimmy Carter, tried to be friendly with Leonid Brezhnev, and for his friendliness what did Brezhnev do?

TURNER: Hell, I don't remember. It was before I got involved.

BROKAW: He invaded Afghanistan. He invaded Afghanistan.

TURNER: Well, we invaded Afghanistan, too, and it's a lot further -- at least it's on the border of the Soviet Union or the former Soviet Union or Russia. A lot of these countries have changed names several times.

BROKAW: But, Ted, don't try to go there in terms of justifying that. I mean, it is, the fact is that the Russians, it was a naked aggression-

TURNER: Why can't I try and justify it?

BROKAW: It was naked aggression on the part of the Russians at the time.

TURNER: Well, going into Iraq was naked aggression on the part of the United States.

BROKAW: Yeah, but big power politics and changing big power politics requires everyone to come to the table, and that includes the Russians, not just the United States.

TURNER: They'll come if we invite them, I'm sure.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center