Former President Jimmy Carter said last week that the Bush administration has not made the case for war and was obsessed with Iraq.

“Despite … a virtual declaration of war in the State of the Union message, our government has not made a case for a preemptive military strike against Iraq, either at home or in Europe,” said Carter in a strongly worded, two-page statement on Friday.

“There is no longer any mention of Osama bin Laden, and the concentration of public statements on his international terrorist network is mostly limited to still-unproven allegations about its connection with Iraq,” Carter said. “The worldwide commitment and top priority of fighting terrorism that was generated after September 11th has been attenuated as Iraq has become the preeminent obsession of political leaders.”

Carter referenced a Web site poll by the European edition of TIME magazine showing that 84 percent of those casting votes said that the United States “poses the greatest danger to world peace in 2003,” compared to 8 percent for Iraq and 7 percent for North Korea.

“This is a gross distortion of our national character,” said Carter, an active Baptist church member. “It is sobering to realize how much doubt and consternation has been raised about our motives for war in the absence of convincing proof of a genuine threat from Iraq.”

Carter said that even if Secretary of State Colin Powell successfully makes the case on Wednesday at the United Nations that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, “this will not indicate any real or proximate threat by Iraq to the United States or to our allies.”

Moving beyond criticism of the Bush administration, the Nobel Peace Prize winner argued for steps to improve America’s global leadership and avoid war.

With an expanded military presence in the Persian Gulf and a larger UN inspection team, Carter said that Saddam Hussein could not threaten his neighbors or the United States with prohibited weapons.

“The cost of an on-site inspection team would be minuscule compared to war,” Carter said.

Carter also said that dealing with the “festering cancer” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would resolve much of the anti-American sentiment around the world.

Click here to read Carter’s statement.

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