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Bill Clinton is the former president of the United States. Ronald Brownstein conducted this interview for Global Viewpoint on Sunday. The Democratic National Convention takes place this week in Boston.

GV: What is your view now of Bush's Iraq war policy?

Clinton: The Bush administration believed Iraq was far and away the biggest security problem for the country, despite the fact that there was more support for al-Qaida within Pakistan and, now we know, more contacts with Iran. There were other responsible people who had different views.

GV: Where does the doctrine of pre-emptive war stand now?

Clinton: It's a very tricky, slippery slope. You have to be under an imminent threat to justify any kind of pre-emptive attack. First of all, it was never realistic (as a policy beyond Iraq) because we are not going to go to war with Iran or North Korea. And it's hard to even think of another case.

GV: What wrong turns has Bush taken in the war on terrorism?

Clinton: We have an overstressed military, and we have committed far more resources to Iraq than to al-Qaida. I don't think every American president would have made that decision.

I would have let the U.N. inspectors finish their work, and then I would have decided (whether to invade). But the factors in my thinking would have been how well we were doing in Afghanistan stabilizing the entire country, and what our reasonable prospects of getting Osama bin Laden were. I still think he is the biggest threat to the country.

GV: What is the choice Americans are facing in the coming election between John Kerry and George Bush?

Clinton: On balance, Bush's domestic policy is to cut taxes no matter what it does to the deficit and to concentrate wealth and power in the hands of people who share his values and economic interests. Abroad, his policy is to act alone whenever we can and cooperate whenever we have to.

Kerry's policy at home is to have a government that has more fiscal responsibility and takes more initiative in education and health care, changes the energy policy of the country, combats global warming and generates jobs. Abroad, he thinks we should cooperate whenever we can and act alone whenever we need to.

GV: At this point in time, what do you think the outcome of the American election will be?

Clinton: The president may still be re-elected, because he is a great politician, but if he is not it will be because of the response he decided to take after 9/11. We all wanted to follow the leader and be united as a country. The Republican right . . . which dominates policy at the White House, took our patriotism to be weakness and tried to push the country to the right and push the world around, and there was a predictable reaction.

For now, a slight majority seems to have decided they would like a new president. Kerry just has to close the deal.

?(C) 2004, Global Viewpoint. Distributed by Tribune Media Services International.
For immediate release (Distributed 7/26/04)