Former President Jimmy Carter believes there is a moral crisis in America. He suggests that the mixing of religion and politics is causing a huge divide, and writes about it in a new book called "Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis."
And he staunchly defends Democrats forcing a this week in an effort to prioritize a probe of the reasons President Bush took the United States into a war.
"I think it's about time that a thorough and complete and public explanation be given for the reasons that we went to war in Iraq," he tells Syler. "And for the last 18 months, the Republicans have been concealing these facts and refusing to go forward with an investigation which they promised the Democrats in the intelligence committee a long time ago.
"So, I think it's completely justified for the Democrats to insist that the investigation be pursued, that it be completed, and that the results be made known not only to the Senate, but also to the public in America.
"We need to understand what this administration has done, why we went to war in Iraq, when obviously all the reasons they gave were false, and let the people understand — was it a deliberate distortion of the facts as they knew them? Or were they mistakes made honestly? Who was culpable, if anyone?"
"Going into Iraq was ill-advised and unjust and unnecessary, which makes it even more heroic for the young men and women to go over there and serve our country," he says. "Last month in October, we had 92 of our young people killed in Iraq.
"It would be inadvisable at this moment just to withdraw all of a sudden, but this administration has never said that even 50 years from now or 10 years from now, whatever, that we are gonna dismantle all our military emplacements in Iraq.
Mr. Carter says the decision to go was made long before 9/11.
"I think it was made long before President Bush was elected president," he says, "and the people that believed that America should be the dominant force in the world, unilaterally, acting militarily if necessary, is another basic change in the principles that have always guided our country and made us great.
"So, going to war without our county being directly threatened is a new policy that's radically changed the basic moral values and ethical standards of the United States of America."
In "Our Endangered Values," Mr. Carter offers what his book's publisher, Simon and Schuster calls "a personal consideration of 'moral values' as they relate to the important issues of the day. He puts forward a passionate defense of separation of church and state, and a strong warning of where the country is heading as the lines between politics and rigid religious fundamentalism are blurred."
Among the issues discussed in the book are women's rights, terrorism, civil liberties, homosexuality, abortion, the death penalty, science and religion, environmental degradation, nuclear arsenals, America's global image, and fundamentalism.
Mr. Carter will talk more about the book on The Early Show next week.
To read an excerpt, click here.
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