KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A U.S. invasion of Iraq would destroy the United Nations, former CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite says.
While in town Friday to support his cousin, Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes, in her bid for re-election, Cronkite said a U.S. invasion would plunge this country into financial chaos. He agreed that Saddam Hussein is dangerous, but said American diplomacy has been poor.
"We have shown arrogance, almost an egotism, in our conduct of foreign policy so that we have alienated most of our former allies in the world ... ," Cronkite said.
The 86-year-old Cronkite, who was the anchor of the CBS Evening News from 1962-81, asked why American troops could not remain on Iraq's doorstep. They would be ready to respond instantly if Hussein showed evidence of atomic, biological or chemical weapons, he said.
Cronkite also warned that the cost of the war and its aftermath, coupled with Bush's proposed tax cuts, would leave a national debt "that our grandchildren's grandchildren will be paying for. That's a terrible legacy for any generation to leave."
Cronkite, a St. Joseph native, began his career as a 9-year-old newsboy hawking The Kansas City Star and reached its pinnacle at the anchor desk for CBS, where over nearly two decades he earned the nickname, "the most trusted man in America."
Cronkite said the biggest problem he sees facing Kansas City is the deterioration of its downtown, which he remembers for its vibrancy and its department stores.
"I'm so delighted and proud of what Kay has done in beginning to restore downtown and make it again the draw to tourists and commerce that it was many, many years ago," Cronkite said.
Barnes faces Stanford Glazer, a political newcomer and retired businessman best-known as the founder of the Stanford and Sons comedy club, in the March 25 election.