Veteran anchor Walter Cronkite

says Iraq War is a "Disaster"


By Hank Plante



San Jose ó It was in 1968, when CBS Anchorman Walter Cronkite did a combat tour of Vietnam, and came back highly critical of that war.


His pronouncement that the Vietnam War was unwinnable led to such a shift in public opinion against the war that President Lyndon Johnson said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost America."


The 90-year-old Cronkite was in San Jose on Friday addressing the Commonwealth Club. In an exclusive interview with CBS 5, he weighed in on the situation in Iraq.


"We should have gotten out a long time ago. This is a mistake, this entire war there, itís a disaster. And the earlier we get out the better," Cronkite said. "It's a terrible disaster. Look at the loss of lives of our young Americans there and those who have been maimed for life, for what purpose? No purpose we can define."


What's more, he says, America will pay a future price for going into Iraq.


CBS 5 asked Cronkite if Americans were any safer because of the Iraq war?


"No, I don't think so. I think were probably less safe," he responded. "The entire Arab world has now put us down as an enemy. It's going to be a long time for us to take back any suggestion of friendship with those nations."


CBS 5 then asked if his strong words against the Iraq War would have the same impact as his words against the Vietnam War.


"Well, I think its a little late for that now," Cronkite said. "I would like to think it would be helpful in getting us out of there. Anybody who can put another match to that fire, to get us out would be, I think welcome"


Cronkite is still active at CBS, with his voice on the introduction of the "CBS Evening News With Katie Couric." He retired from the anchor desk in 1981 at the age of 65, a decision he regrets.