Former President Jimmy Carter criticized the war in Iraq on Wednesday, urging a troop drawdown as the United States enters its fourth year of conflict in Iraq.

"It was a completely unnecessary war. It was an unjust war," said Carter, the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner. "It was initiated on the basis of false pretenses. All of those are true, but we can't just pre-emptively withdraw."

He urged the Bush administration to bring home as many troops as possible within the next 12 months.

"The violence is increasing monthly," Carter said. "My prayer is we'll see some kind of democracy eventually evolve."

His comments came at a news conference before a building dedication at the University of Washington.

Carter was the keynote speaker at the dedication of the university's new Genome Sciences and Bioengineering Building in honor of William H. Foege. Foege directed the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during Carter's presidency and later headed The Carter Center, which promotes peace and health programs around the world.

Carter credited Foege with saving the lives of millions of people through his efforts to eradicate smallpox, Guinea worm and river blindness, and by encouraging childhood immunization.

Foege works with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which contributed $50 million for the building.