CNN founder Ted Turner rued on Friday’s Late Show with David Letterman that “we paid $400 billion to find a nut in a fox hole” and declared that the Iraqi people “were better off without us.” He also charged that “we violated international law by going to war without a clear mandate from the security council.” Though the 9/11 terrorists were hardly poor, Turner contended: “You don't stop terrorism with tanks, you stop it with giving people hope so they won't want to blow themselves up.” To that end, he proposed giving the UN $62 billion a year to alleviate poverty. As for the UN’s oil-for-food scandal, “there was money siphoned off at Enron and a lot of American corporations during the last few years, but we didn’t close down American business as result of it.” But Enron is no longer around.
Excerpts of Turner’s comments follow.
Some of Turner’s more colorful comments during his appearance on the September 16 Late Show with David Letterman on CBS:
> “I was against the war. First of all I'm anti-war. I’m a man of peace and I believe that we should be following the leadership of Gandhi and Martin Luther King with using nonviolent ways of achieving our goals. And I don't believe in violence. And certainly not unless you’re attacked. And Iraq did not attack us. They didn't have a single airplane to put in the air when we started bombing them. I mean it was a joke. I mean we paid $400 billion to find a nut in a fox hole and he really was a nut. And we should have known that. I mean he didn't, (applause) there were no weapons with of mass destruction. All there was was he was building palaces with the money that he had. I mean, you know. I mean like building real estate. Crazy. I mean and we just really -- to have such bad information and to go to war on such faulty information, we're now, you know, so many of our boys are dying needlessly and a lot of Iraqis are dying too needlessly. They were better off without us -- without us there even though it was a mess. I mean basically, you know, if we want to try and straighten someplace out, why don't we go back and try on Haiti. It costs a lot less, it's closer by and we've already given them a democracy once with Aristide. You know, you can't impose democracy on other countries. Basically they've got to earn it themselves the way we did here.”
> “We violated international law by going to war without a clear mandate from the security council.”
> After explaining how Lester Brown of the Worldwatch Institute’s estimated it would take $62 billion a year to resolve the world’s ten biggest problems, such as hunger and education:
“The U.S. military budget is close to $500 billion now, so it’s a little, about 12 percent of the U.S. military budget. The global military budget is, of course, a trillion, double the U.S. military budget. And so it’s only six percent of the global military budget and I would say that spending that $62 billion, cutting the military budgets back by 10 percent and using that money to basically solve the real, the real serious poverty problems in the world would be a much better investment in fighting terrorism than, you don't stop terrorism with tanks, you stop it with giving people hope so they won't want to blow themselves up.”
> “The UN could administer it. Would there be some corruption, would there be some money siphoned off? Of course there would. But there was money siphoned off at Enron and a lot of American corporations during the last few years, but we didn’t close down American business as result of it. We just try and reform and that’s just what you try and do.”