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February 23, 2010

Carter Reconsidered
Posted by Michael Cohen

Over the years Jimmy Carter has become something of a punchline to jokes about weak and ineffectual presidents, particularly on foreign policy. And to be honest, not knowing the extent of Carter's success (only focusing on his failure vis-a-vis Iran) i've tended to agree. But over at Foreign Policy, Carter himself and his former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski - in response to a somewhat interesting article last month from Walter Russell Mead - make a pretty compelling case on behalf Carter's foreign policy legacy. Here's Brzezinski's take on Carter:

  • He reconnected the United States with the quest for human rights in both the communist states and those under right-wing dictatorships, in sharp contrast to his predecessor.
  • Confronting an initially hostile Congress, he pushed through the treaties that resolved the Panama Canal issue, which was threatening to poison U.S. relations with Latin America.
  • He tackled the Middle Eastern conundrum, personally achieving the first peace treaty ever between Israel and an Arab neighbor.
  • He not only managed to normalize relations with China, but in the process fashioned a quiet partnership against the Soviet Union.
  • He actively supported the Solidarity movement in Poland and secretly assisted the national aspirations of the non-Russian peoples of the Soviet Union.
  • He promoted the modernization of U.S. strategic forces and approved the deployment of the MX missile and the development of the Rapid Deployment Force.
  • He initiated a command and a support structure for a U.S. military capability in the Persian Gulf.
  • Through prolonged but determined negotiations, he reached the SALT II agreement with the Soviet Union (subsequently not submitted for congressional ratification because of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan).
  • Following that invasion, under his leadership the United States took the initiative in organizing a cooperative effort of a number of leading European, Middle Eastern, and East Asian states in providing military aid to the Afghan resistance, and that resistance contributed to the internal crisis that eventually broke up the Soviet Union.


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    The biggest failure of the Carter presidency was on the issue of arms control. It was Carter, who approved of the basing of Pershing IIs in Western Europe which only led to the heating up of the Cold War. Moreover Carter did not show enough determination to get START II passed through the Senate. Contrary to popular opinion,Carter was too much of a hawk and not enough of a dove at least when it came to arms control.

    I admit to voting for Jimmy Carter. I fell for his "coat hanger, plastic bag luggage".
    It was the first opportunity I had to vote after becoming a U.S. Citizen, and boy, did I blow it! I looked upon him as a David versus Goliath, the real American Spirit, and what I got was NOT a peanut farmer, just a NUT.
    In my opinion, he was the worst United States President ever, now it would appear that Jimmy's odious record is simply not in grave danger of being broken, instead it's going to be smashed to smithereens by Barack Hussein Obama.

    Carter saw himself as a trustee of the public good, willing to do and say things that reduced him politically; he wasn't concerned enough with the process by which things get done, and squandered his unsure mandate....

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    I admit to voting for Jimmy Carter. I fell for his "coat hanger, plastic bag luggage".
    It was the first opportunity I had to vote after becoming a U.S. Citizen, and boy, did I blow it! I looked upon him as a David versus Goliath, the real American Spirit, and what I got was NOT a peanut farmer, just a NUT.
    In my opinion, he was the worst United States President ever, now it would appear that Jimmy's odious record is simply not in grave danger of being broken, instead it's going to be smashed to smithereens by Barack Hussein Obama.
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