Jimmy Carter - Too good to be true

Seminar Paper, 2000

21 Pages, Grade: 2,0

Free online reading

Table of contents

1. Introduction

1.1. Jimmy Carter's attitudes and style of leadership

2. Failures and achievements during the presidency - and the consequences
2.1. Failures
2.1.1. Energy crisis and malaise speech
2.1.2. Scandals
2.1.3. Press relations
2.1.4. Foreign Affairs
2.1.5. Iran hostage crisis
2.1.6. Misjudgment of Carter
2.2. Achievements
2.2.1. Camp David
2.2.2. Panama Treaty
2.2.3. China
2.2.4. Relations with the Soviet Union

3. After the Presidency
3.1. The Carter Center
3.2. Travelling ambassador
3.2.1. Korea
3.2.2. Haiti
3.3. Habitat for Humanity

4. Late honors

1. Introduction

During the term of the class - after intensive reading of Jimmy Carter's work - some people said, that they could not believe what Jimmy Carter had written about his life. They said that it sounded too perfect, too smooth, just too good to be true.

And this wasn't the first time, this question was asked. Is Jimmy Carter really the person he wrote about? Is it really true what he has written about his life and his attitudes - or did he just want to draw a pretty picture of himself? Is he somebody that wants to put himself into a better light, or is he really the person he presents to us?

Nobody can answer this question better than Jimmy Carter himself. When he was asked why people still had trouble figuring him out, Carter just said: "I don't know. Sometimes I think people look too hard. They're looking for something that isn't there. I don't really think I'm that complex. I'm pretty much what I seem to be."1

But this is still no proof for the people who didn't believe him. The best way to find out the truth is to investigate the things he had done, and not just the things he had said or written.

It is useful to look at post-residential careers, because if they can't change our judgement of a presidency they can certainly deepen our understanding of it. Away from the constrictions of office, undistorted by the powers he wielded and was buffeted by, a President's character and personal qualities may emerge in stronger relief once he is back in private life. We can see which of the qualities he projected as President were authentic and which were fake, which of his strengths and weaknesses were inherent in his character and which were products of chance and circumstance.

This essay starts with an introduction that gives general information of the Carter Presidency, of Jimmy Carter's attitudes and believes in order to give a better understanding of the things he did during his time in the White House.

Chapter 2 deals with Jimmy Carter's failures and achievements during the presidency. It presents some of his most important decisions, not do describe what problems he had to face, but how his solutions and decisions were influenced by his personal and moral attitudes.

The third Chapter deals with the former President Carter. It investigates the activities of the ex-President to get a better insight of his "real" character. The main purpose is to show that he really was - or is the person he always claimed to be.

Chapter 4 summarizes and concludes this essay. It gives an overview of how the picture of Jimmy Carter has changed, and how he has made his place in history - not as a President that was unable to face and solve the nation's problems, but as a man that put everything he had on the line, to fulfill his task as good and as devoted as even possible.

It is the aim of this essay to solve the question: Was Jimmy Carter really the person he seems to be - or was he just somebody that had an exaggerated opinion of himself. In order to achieve this aim this essay contrasts Jimmy Carter's actions with interviews, memoirs and statements of contemporaries. It also contrasts his actions with his own words in order to find out, if he really did what had said he would.

1.1. Jimmy Carter's attitudes and style of leadership

Carter's style of leadership was and is more religious than political in nature. He was and is a moral leader more than a political leader. And this helps not only to explain some of his successes as President but also some of his failures.

He was not really well known when he decided to run for presidency in 1976, but he organized a brilliant campaign to let the Americans know who he was. His opponent was Gerald Ford Ford, a very unfortunate President who had to clean up the Watergate-mess which Richard Nixon had left behind. After Ford's administration (and his pardon to R. Nixon) the American people still did not feel secure and because Carter emphasized the moral aspect of politics, it was no surprise that the American people chose him in 1976.

The American economy was in a deep recession when Carter was inaugurated in January 1977. In his inaugural speech he was showing the Americans where they stood in the world and at that moment they were not to be envied. Carter complained of "a crisis of confidence" which had struck "at the very heart and soul of our national will." The Americans did not like this kind of representation of their county, but this was only the beginning.

When Carter started his presidency he boasted about being an outsider in Washington but after four years this did not work in his advantage. A lot of goals he had set were impracticable and some were never achieved. Examples of this were the arms race, in which the amount of weapons increased instead of decreased, and the human rights actions, which caused a lot of resentment towards America from other countries. Carter was an idealist who in the end was not capable of restoring the confidence which the American people needed.

As a political outsider in Washington plus being from the South he was given no chance at all by political insiders, but this man knew something that the so-called experts didn't: America wanted an outsider. An unknown, untainted leader, who could help Americans heal from the wounds of distrust and scandal. The country was recovering from a series of unprecedented blows: the war in Vietnam, the oil crisis, Watergate. The people were looking for moral leadership. In this case Jimmy Carter's status as an outsider worked for him, but in cases with ties to congress it didn't work to his advantage.

Past interpretations label Carter as an executive failure, caught in domestic toils like inflation, energy scarcity, the boycott of the 1980 Olympic games in Moscow and the Iranian hostage crisis. But a closer examination reveals a much different image than the on put "on trial" during the 1980 election.

Being completely unknown on the national stage (Jimmy Carter had never served in any capital larger than Atlanta) became the advantage in the aftermath of Nixon's Watergate scandal. A newcomer to national politics, he promised to restore faith and trust to government. He would never, he said, lie to the American people. Nor would he make any secret of his Christian beliefs, having written of his "born-again" experience in his campaign autobiography, Why Not the Best?

Upon arrival in the White House, Carter chose to maintain his outsider status and failed to establish close ties with Congress. Despite the fact that Congress was controlled by members of his own party, Carter discovered that his violation of Washington protocol would limit his legislative success. In his memoirs he wrote, "...there was no party loyalty...Each legislator had to be wooed and won individually. It was every member for himself..."2

In Tip O`Neill's autobiography Man of the House, O'Neill wrote an anecdote abut Carter during the energy crisis of the late 1970's. In 1979, Carter had just addressed the American people with regard to the most recent energy crisis. "Energy will be the immediate test of our ability to unite this nation," Carter said. "It can also be the standard around which we rally. On the battlefield of energy we can win for our nation a new confidence and we can seize control again for our common destiny."

Following the speech, O'Neill, the later former speaker of the House, approached the president and complimented him on his speech, which seemed to rally the American people. O'Neill then proceeded to give Carter al list of Congressmen who were integral in passing his energy initiative. Carter naively replied that no lobbying was necessary. The American people knew what was right and they would pressure their representatives into voting for an energy bill. Jimmy Carter had no passion for this legislation, he was unable to do this kind of pleading and begging.

A former governor of Georgia, Carter had a difficult time making the transition from Georgia state politics to the pariah of the Washington power struggle. Carter could no longer trust in the system to work itself out, and its officials to be under his thumb.

This, among other things (Iran hostage crisis, failure to control economic conditions at home) weakened him politically and made him vulnerable to a Republican challenge. Events like Iran or the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan seemed to overwhelm him during the last two years of his administration and conveyed, for some, an impression of American weakness. At the time Carter left office with the reputation of an idealistic small-town politician, and somewhat of an intellectual light-weight.

Jimmy Carter aspired to make Government "competent and compassionate,"3 responsive to the American people and their expectations. His achievements were notable, but in an era of rising energy costs, mounting inflation, and continuing tensions, it was impossible for his administration to meet these high expectations.

He thought political leadership should function for the common good, not to please a set of organized constituencies. He intended to act with honesty and candor, leading people by setting an example, and by asking them to reach a higher moral plan. "...the affirmation of our Nation' s continuing moral strength and our belief in an undiminished, ever-expanding American dream."4

2. Failures and achievements during the presidency - and the consequences

His one term presidency is remembered for the events that overwhelmed it - inflation, energy crisis, war in Afghanistan, and hostages in Iran. After one term in office, voters strongly rejected Jimmy Carter's honest outlook in favor of Ronald Reagan's optimism. Image mattered more than outcomes, Reagan understood intuitively what the modern American presidency demanded, and it wasn't facts and figures. The public preferred a little pomp to the sight of a president toting his own luggage down Pennsylvania Avenue. Where Carter stood at the podium dryly preaching austerity, Reagan bounded onstage waving the American flag.

But Carter, despite a lack of experience, confronted several huge problems with steadiness, courage, and idealism. He was elected in the backwash of a moral crisis, but the biggest problems he faced as President, especially in the domestic arena, were not primarily moral problems. They were primarily managerial, technical problems, involving tremendous vested interests and offering few political rewards.

Carter, unlike any of the other Democratic presidents in the 20th century, did keep the United States out of any foreign wars, and he substantially increased the percentage of minorities and women in high-level bureaucratic and judicial position. Opinion polls regularly showed that the public liked Carter as a person but lacked faith in his leadership abilities.

In the eyes of the American people, he put too much emphasis on foreign affairs and too less on domestic affairs. A good example of his emphasis on foreign affairs can also be found in his post-presidential work: the Atlanta Project. Although the Carter Center had been established in 1982 the first program inside the U.S. was established in 1991. .Jimmy Carter: "..we realized that here in Atlanta - and in every major city in the United States - there are ghetto areas where people are suffering just as much5 (as people in the developing world)."

2.1. Failures

Jimmy Carter failed to tell the nation what a reformed society would look like. He didn't have a unifying vision or a sweeping program like Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, Truman's Fair Deal, John F. Kennedy's New Frontier, or Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society, Carter was judged inept and uninspiring in the 1980 elections.

He had entered the White House believing that the failures of Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon had been moral one, and that he had been elected to re-establish a government "as good and honest and decent and compassionate and filled with love as are the American people."6

Jimmy Carter was judged as having a lack of vision as he showed from the beginning on. His topic was talking morals and not facts. This can already be seen in his inaugural address where he said: " I have no new dream to set forth today " He failed to understand that

making policies was just the beginning - then he had to sell them to the American people,

which had always been a problem for him as he described it in his poem "On Using Words".

"Now when I seek efficient words

to say what I believe is true

or have a dream I want to share the vagueness is still there."

He saw himself as a person that was above party allegiance who had been elected to serve the people directly. He prided himself on having little to do with the Wall Street, Washington, which he regarded as elitist private clubs for the rich.

But in the end, being the outsider proved fatal. Tip O'Neill writes in his memoirs: "When it came to the politics of Washington, D.C., he never really understood how the system worked, and although this was out of character for Jimmy Carter he didn't want to learn about it either." Jimmy Carter really believed his 1976 outsider campaign.

2.1.1. Energy crisis and malaise speech

Carter's main achievement involved energy policy, though he would receive little credit for it during his term. During his time this program was considered to be a failure. But his program did work. Consumption in foreign oil did go down, from 48 percent when Carter took office to 40 percent in 1980, with a reduction of 1.8 million barrels a day. His goal of reducing U.S. dependency on foreign sources succeeded.

But Carter was given little credit for these accomplishments. The energy program was complex and people did not really understand what was going on. But energy prices and taxes were going up, and that was easily understandable. Carter worsened the problem by giving the so-called "malaise" speech, in which he described a lack of confidence in America's purpose and its future. This was definitely not a thing the American people wanted to hear. Again he had a major problem in exactly stating what he intended to do.

Jimmy Carter.: "What I pointed out was that our nation had been faced in years leading up to that time with severe challenges and blows - the loss of the war in Vietnam, the assassinations of President Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King jr., the Watergate scandals, where a president had to resign in disgrace, the revelation that the CIA had deliberately plotted murder. These were blows to our country. But... I thought the resilience of our nation was sufficient to overcome that kind of difficulty, and that we needed to look at ourselves and see the strength of our country...

I said that we are faced with an energy crisis, we are becoming increasingly dependent on foreign oil; our nation's security is in danger. It's not a politically popular thing to do something about this - to save energy, to conserve. But I believed that our country was strong enough to do it:"7

And this wasn't only lip-service, in order to reduce the waste of oil, he turned down every radiator in the White House. As Rosalynn Carter described in her memoirs, she had to wear really warm clothes inside the White House because it was freezing cold there.

Carter knew that this topic was quite unpopular, but followed the footsteps of Harry Truman about whom he wrote in his autobiography: "He (Truman) was willing to be unpopular if believed this actions were best for the country."

2.1.2. Scandals

During his campaign, Carter had presented himself as a man of honesty. Americans for the most part believed in their president, but some of his key members in the administration were not as honest as he was. e. g. his budget director had to be fired a year into the administration when he was connected to unsavory banking practices in Georgia.

The president's chief of staff was accused of using cocaine in the White House. This charge was shown to be false, but the damage to Carter's own reputation for honesty remained.

2.1.3. Press relations

Even without the scandals, Carter would not have had good press relations. He seemed aloof and condescending, stiff and impersonal with reporters. They chafed at his moralistic attitudes, and portrayed him either as a cynical and manipulative politician or an amateurish incompetent.

On one vacation trip, photographers were asked to tag along to get some good photos of Carter relaxing. What they shot (and what the networks covered that evening) was Carter trying to beat off a rabbit from a canoeing expedition - and almost tipping over his boat. If any president can be said to have had bad luck in dealing with the media, it was Carter.

2.1.4. Foreign Affairs

In foreign policy, Carter's moral ideology was a clearer guide to action. He could pursue his vision relatively unhampered by the built-in frustrations and roadblocks that hobble the political system in the domestic arena. Carter believed in peace - in preventing war - and in human rights. These two values were the lodestars by which he guided his conduct of foreign affairs. And again, these values were expressions of his sense of religious and moral duty.

Since his presidency, Carter has demonstrated that he is undoubtedly an extraordinary person in his ceaseless contributions to the world.

Jimmy Carter: "There is tremendous fear of the United States as a dominant superpower that's always been too ready to send U.S. troops into their nations to act as superior, arrogant oppressors, under the guise of protecting liberty. We invaded Panama recently with what most Americans looked on as a glorious victory. We killed one thousand Panamanians unnecessarily, primarily to arrest the leader of Panama, who had been in bed with our own government - at least with the CIA - up until shortly before that. And to us it was a great victory. We defeated Panama. But to the Panamanians, the people who died, it wasn't. So I see now much more clearly how you can accomplish goals - not through military action - but through the promotion of peace.8

In his foreign policy, President Carter stunned many diplomats by announcing that United States relation with other nations would be based on a concern for the rights of humans. The policy brought charges of interference in internal affairs of other nations from some governments, but was well received by the majority of world leaders.

2.1.5. Iran Hostage Crisis

The real crisis with Iran began when militants in Iran seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in November 1979 and took some 60 Americans as hostages. The administration tried everything it could think of to end the standoff: suspending oil imports, freezing Iranian assets, expelling Iranian diplomats, imposing economic sanction, even conduction clandestine negotiations. But the U.S.A. had to deal with the Ayatollah, a fundamentalist fanatic.

Unable to persuade Iran to release the hostages, President Carter made the most unfortunate decision of his presidency by ordering a military rescue mission. The mission failed, resulting in the deaths of eight American servicemen when their aircraft collided in the Iranian desert. Finally the president agreed to recall the rest of the rescue team. The Carter administration looked more confused and ineffective every day more those fiftytwo American remained hostage. For nearly a year the crisis handcuffed the administration and Americans grew more and more impatient with the seemingly ineffective president who could not win the hostage's release.

Carter's failure to secure the hostages' freedom, after a year in captivity, was considered by political scientists a factor in his defeat in the 1980 presidential elections.

Carter continually worked on negotiating and finally, on the inauguration day of Ronald Reagan, the hostages were released. We can see is that he was really interested in the lives of the hostages (and to some extend in his own reputation). He could have left this whole situation to the new administration, but during the very last moments of his own presidency he came to end this situation which had blocked his administration for such a long time.

It would have been easy for him to just bomb Tehran, which would have made him appear as a strong leader, but he refused to do it. A deeply ethical man full of good intentions, Carter could have done so, but his Christian belief in the sanctity of life wouldn't let him.

2.1.6. Misjudgment of Carter

In fact, although his critics saw him as self-righteous, Carter was one of the most principled American presidents, and nowhere was his morality on clearer display than in his insistence that human rights be a cardinal principle of global governance. "Because we are all free, we can never be indifferent to the fate of freedom elsewhere...Our commitment to human rights must be absolute," Carter declared in his inaugural address. And there weren't just pretty words; human rights became the hallmark of his administration, or as he put it, "the soul of our foreign policy."

Ronald Reagan was able to appeal to many people by taking advantage of resentment against the decline of U.S. power overseas, the problems of the economy, and the decay of traditional moral attitudes. Although a large body of voters (according to public-opinion polls) were concerned about Reagan's reputation for an aggressively anti-Soviet foreign policy, Carter's attempt to make arms control the main issue of the campaign failed. The main issue of the campaign was Carter himself and what many people considered to be his record of failure.

2.2. Achievements

Despite the problems that overshadowed his presidency, Jimmy Carter can look back on a long list of achievements. In the area of domestic affairs he dealt with the energy crisis by establishing a national energy policy and by decontrolling domestic petroleum prices to stimulate production. He sought to improve the environment. His expansion of the national park system included protection of 103 million acres of Alaskan lands. To increase human and social services, he created the Department of Education, bolstered the Social Security system, and appointed record numbers of women, blacks, and Hispanics to Government jobs.

But most of the respect he gained as a politician was for his achievements in the area of foreign affairs.

2.2.1. Camp David

The Camp David Accords in 1978 may possibly rank as one of the greatest mediation achievements in history. The accords would lead to a peace treaty in 1979, formally ending the 31-year war between Israel and Egypt. After Carter's defeat, it would take the United States another 10 years to pick up where the Carter Administration left off.

His role in resolving disputes between Israel and Egypt, despite their long history of antagonism, shows Carter's deep commitment to a more peaceful and better wold. One of his most notable accomplishments was his position as mediator during the Camp David Accords of 1978. Hoping to mitigate and ultimately put an end to the Arab/Israeli conflict in the Middle East, Carter initiated a set of peace talks, the Camp David Accords, between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Ultimately, the Camp David Accords of 1978 created a landmark framework for peace which resulted in a formal treaty signed by Egypt and Israel in 1979.

What is so remarkable about the Camp David Accords is how Carter recognized the pain and the suffering occurring within the Middle East and used his powerful position to influence the future. Even in the Middle East, a region so divided in ideologies, religions, and history, Carter proved that careful intervention and peaceful negotiation are the most logical and effective means of resolving hostilities.

What made Carter so different from the others in this case. He wasn't thinking in term of selfishness and egos, he was thinking of the people who were suffering from war.

Jimmy Carter: "It's the political leaders who are the obstacles because that are too inflexible, and they are looking at their own sometimes very narrow political constituency to give them restraints which they can't break. Someday though, there will be leaders there like Sadat and Begin, who will truly represent their desire of their people for peace, and then we will have success."9

In his acceptance speech of the Fulbright award, Jimmy Carter explained this position explicitly: " we (the Carter Center) are, most of the time, deliberately trying to avoid publicity or credit for ourselves, because it's much easier to achieve a goal if the leader of a small country in Africa or South America can take credit for progress made in the fields of health, or education, or human rights, or democracy. or food production."10

2.2.2. Panama Treaty

Although this treaty wasn't very popular, Carter signed it. The original Panama Treaty was never fair to the Panamanians and President Johnson gave his word of honor to the Panamanians:" We will have an new treaty." So did the Presidents Nixon and Ford. But it was Carter to push the contract to a conclusion, which didn't make him more popular. Jimmy Carter: "I never go through a week of my like now that I don't get letters from people condemning the Panama Canal Treaties."11

President Carter did what not only he himself believed to be right and was afterwards heavily attacked by Republicans who considered him to be weak. They blamed him for "giving away" the Panama Canal.

The Panama Canal treaty is another outstanding example of putting moral over ego. Carter left the American ego outside, he did the right thing, not for the ego of his country but for the betterment of the relationships between the two countries and for the rights of the people of Panama.

2.2.3. China

Following Nixon's lead, Carter fortified positive relation with China in 1979. The U.S. formally recognized Peking as the legitimate government in China, and Deputy Premier Teng Hsiao-ping became the first Chinese Communist leader to visit the U.S. Despite heavy controversies in America (Republicans challenged the President in the federal courts), President Carter granted the communist regime formal diplomatic recognition. Carter's recognition of China significantly reduced tensions in East Asia. Trade relations were established between China and the U.S.

2.2.4. Relations with the Soviet Union

After seven years of negotiation and talks of strategic arms limitations with the Soviet Union he and the Soviet chairman finally signed the SALT II treaty, only to have the treaty later defeated by Senate conservatives. When Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan, Carter withdrew the treaty, but Washington and Moscow agreed to abide by its terms, even though neither side ratified it.

Jimmy Carter also took the lead in condemning the Soviet atrocities in Afghanistan. He built a global coalition in protesting the 1979 invasion. In 1980, the U.S. suspended all high- technology and grain sales to the Soviet Union.

The Carter administration made human rights the cornerstone of its dominion. After signing the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union in 1979, Carter not only denounced the trials of Soviet dissidents, but also spoke out for the rights of Eastern Europeans. The Carter administration was also a progenitor of condemnation of the racism in South Africa, as well as a critic of the violent regimes of Fidel Castro in Cuba and Idi Amin in Uganda.

Although heavily criticized by historians and political observers at that time, Jimmy Carter had a heavy impact on the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. He was the first president during the Cold War to challenge publicly the legitimacy of Soviet rule at home. Carter's policy challenged the moral authority of the Soviet government and gave American sanction and support to those resisting the Soviet government.

This is the real historical legacy of Jimmy Carter as one of the men who won the Cold War - not by threatening the Soviets with nuclear weapons but with his moral approach. And these two examples (his dealing with two communist countries) prove again that Jimmy Carter wasn't afraid of criticism, he was just led by moral and integrity, following the approach of Harry Truman.

3. After the Presidency

Jimmy Carter's true legacy as diplomat and statesman began after his presidency.

He was a far better ex-president than he was a president. He put his post-presidential

ambitions this way in the opening sentence of his farewell address from the Oval Office. He

said "In a few days I will lay down my official duties in this office, to take up once more the only title in our democracy superior to that of President, the title of citizen."

Carter has continually worked for world peace since his defeat. He did not go after post- presidential perquisites, by way of a books and speaking engagements or golf. Unlike his predecessors and those that followed, Carter left with his integrity intact. He did not leave bitter.

Jimmy Carter: "Another thing I have as a former president is almost total freedom... I can pick and choose the things that have a particular interest to me, where I think that my contribution can be uniquely beneficial. I don't have to worry about the administrative duties of a major job. This makes it not only more fruitful, but also more enjoyable I can immerse myself much more deeply in an individual subject, once I take it on, than I ever could have when I had the multitudinous responsibilities of budgets and dealing with members of Congress and things in the White House."12

Jimmy Carter had realized that he could do more for his country (and the world) he wasn't the president of the U.S. any more, as a free, ordinary citizen, but with the power of a former president.

Jimmy Carter: "People underestimate the potential of a former president. The access that I have to world leaders is unlimited. I don't mean just political and military leaders, but leaders in the field of education or health or agriculture, food production or environment There is also the influence we have in bringing together people who have a common goal, like immunizing children or planting trees... where thy all are working at the same target, but in different ways, and create a team effort that can be enormously more successful than any of them can be working independently. and I have some ability as a former president to dramatize a particular problem, and to reach the news media, and therefore reach the consciousness of people."13

His passion for the maintenance and advancement of worldwide peach is most evident in his creation of the Carter Center.

3.1. The Carter Center

Founded in 1982 by the former President and his wife, Rosalynn, the Carter Center's central principle is the "Everyone on earth should be able to live in peace." Rather than simply retire and isolate himself from the public eye and the political arena, Carter instead now uses his access to world leaders and forms partnerships with other institutions to achieve larger goals.

The Carter Center, since its origin, has succeeded in aiding those areas of conflict and suffering which governments and news media often fail to address. One of the motto's of the Carter Center is the following:

"The Center...is guided as a commitment to human rights, wages peace by bringing warring parties to the negotiating table, monitoring elections, safeguarding human rights, and building strong democracies through economic development The goal is to help create a world where every man, woman, and child has the opportunity to enjoy good health and live in peace."14

The Carter Center promotes peace and human rights worldwide. It has initiated projects in lots of countries to resolve conflicts, improve health, prevent human rights abuses, build democracy and revitalize urban areas.


Jimmy Carter: "I would say the main thing is that I didn't know the complexity of the global problems...I went to two African countries while I was president, and I didn't know the potential of that continent, nor the challenges that faced those people. Now I do to a much grater extend. I didn't understand the widespread problems in our own country, form a personal point of view...I was dealing with billions of dollars that would be allocated for education or health or welfare or housing or whatever, but I didn't know from a personal point of view the people that actually were in need or that were the recipients of those quite often inadequate and ill-designed programs."15

One product of the Carter Center's quest for global peace is the Global Development Initiative (GDI), a program that promotes economic development. GDI strives to expose the growing economic inequities and offers solutions to these economic crisis.

The Human Rights Program, another branch of the Carter Center, draws attention to "victims of human rights abuses, non-governmental organizations, intergovernmental agencies, and governments struggling to build institutions to protect human rights."16 Using his status as a former president, Jimmy Carter has personally spoken on behalf of those suffering from human rights abuses in an effort to put an end to violations. Carter also chairs the International Human Rights Council, comprised of 28 leaders from around the world, which attempts to prevent human rights violations before they occur.

The Carter Center proves that Jimmy Carter is not only the "official" head of the Carter Center, it is really his project, he is engaging himself and not just giving his name for it. Through the Carter Center, Jimmy Carter is also assisting in the fight against disease in Africa, and addressing child labor issues in Pakistan.

Since his inauguration, Jimmy Carter has taken courageous strides in working towards a more just and peaceful world. Jimmy Carter is an remarkable example of someone who continues to use his past position of power to produce global changes. He has not stopped fighting for greater democratization, protection of human rights, and health care on a global scale.

He became the senior statesman Richard Nixon always wanted to be.

3.2. Travelling ambassador

Following his four years in office Jimmy Carter has become a travelling ambassador of peace, going to hot spots around the world to open dialogue between adversaries.

One of Carter's visible successes as peace leader was during the crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Former President Carter and President Bill Clinton went to Bosnia and formulated a four month cease-fire and a guarantee from all parties to restart peace talks at a future date.

Carter's vision of peace also emerged when he addressed the U.S. Senate and Armed Services Committee in an attempt to help with negotiations after fighting resumed in the former Yugoslavia. This ultimately led to the Dayton Accords of 1995 in which the U.S. hosted peace talks between the warring groups - the Bosnians, Serbs, and Croats.

Liberia, another area in need of assistance following a brutal civil war, requested Carter's presence and insight during their peace talks in the early 1990's.

3.2.1. Korea

One of Carter's successes was in North Korea in 1995. A product of Carter's meeting with North Korea's President, Kim II-Sung, was the neutralization of North Korea's nuclear program in exchange for the commencement of dialogue with the U.S., the first in 40 years. He brought peaceful resolution within the realm of possibility.

Carter had put the two adversaries at the portal of stability and may force Americans to re- examine his place within presidential history. He had done what no one else had been able to do. He brought the north Koreans to the bargaining table. He was the man to break the ice, North Korea even agreed on freezing all of its nuclear programs while negotiating with the U.S., something which before had been unthinkable.

3.2.2. Haiti

His trip to Haiti in September 1994 is probably the best known example of Carter the ex- president at work. Carter's interference - combined, of course, with President Clinton's determination to use force if necessary - turned what would have been a bloody invasion with casualties and bitterness on all sides into a peaceful and apparently quite successful occupation.

Carter was roundly attacked for his efforts, and some of the attacks seemed valid on the surface. A lot of people were upset that Carter treated Haiti's military strongman, Lieutenant Raoul Cedras, with respect and called him a man of honor. A lot of people were upset that Cedras and his followers were permitted to remain in Haiti. A lot of people were upset that at one point Carter said he was ashamed of his country for the way it had treated Haiti over the years. And, of course, a lot of people were upset that Carter kept talking about how slender and attractive Mrs. Cedras was, which arose memories of his ill-advised Playboy-Interview.

But besides all the criticism Jimmy Carter had to face, the facts told another story: There was no bloodshed. The elected, legitimate president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was restored, the killings and human rights violations were stopped.

3.3. Habitat for Humanity

And all these activities are not enough for President Carter. As his wife portrays him in her memoirs he was a man that always wanted to do more than he already did.

Rosalynn Carter: "I asked him: "Can't you ever be satisfied? Can't we relax and leave well enough alone for a while?" But is has never been in his nature to relax, not when there's something else that can be done, and there's always something else that can be done."

Jimmy Carter heavily supports the organization Habitat for Humanity. His involvement began in 1984 when the former president led a work group to New York City to help renovate a building together with families in need. He puts in name in front of this particular project because he wants to make it popular (quite different from using his name for the Carter Center, where he doesn't want to see his name in the headlines). He also had a guest appearance on the TV-Show "Home Improvement" where he promoted the work of Habitat for Humanity.

Jimmy Carter: "I get a lot more recognition for building houses in partnership with people than I ever got for the Camp David Accord or for SALT II I can walk down aisles of airplanes talking with people and invariably the number one thing that everybody says is, "Tell me about Habitat.""17

And his does even more than just talking than just talking about the project. Even at the age of 76 he is still active, he and his wife, Rosalynn spend one week of their time each year on active work for and with Habitat for Humanity. They work side by side with volunteers to build the house for the not so well off people.

This also proves that he always meant what he said, that his concern about poor people was honest, not just one of the things one has to say, or to do, or to engage oneself for, in order to make a good impression on the people. Jimmy Carter now does what he had always believed in. He is still engaging himself for the things he considers to be important

All this active participation in projects like the Carter Center, the Atlanta Project, and Habitat for Humanity prove that he is just as committed to helping the poor and disenfranchised in the

U. S. as he is to advancing the cause of global unity. You can find him building a house for a family in the inner-city, in the company of the most powerful leaders in the world, or back home teaching Sunday school at the Maranatha Baptist Church.

The man from Plains, Georgia is still providing the moral leadership he promised more than two decades ago. He hasn't just talked about housing the homeless, he has built houses for them with his own hands and has inspired and organized others to do likewise. He hasn't just talked about comforting the afflicted, he has mounted a little known program through the Carter Center that is well on its way to eradication Guinea worm disease, a painful, crippling parasite that has inflicted suffering on millions of Africans.

He hasn't just talked about extending democracy, he has put his reputation and sometimes his very life on the line in country after country often with little or no publicity, to promote free election and expose rigged ones.

And, of course, he hasn't just talked about peace, he has made peace, or made peace possible, by using his moral prestige and his willingness to take risks and his persistence and his patience and his stubbornness to bring hostile parties together.

4. Late honors

On October 1, 1994 Jimmy Carter was awarded with the J. William Fulbright Prize for International Understanding. He finally received the recognition for his life-long achievements and lines up with persons like Nelson Mandela, the recipient of the 1993 Fulbright price.

President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton wrote a letter, in which they expressed what Jimmy Carter means to democracy.

Bill Clinton:

"We can't think of no one more deserving of this singular honor. Like Bill Fulbright...and

South African President Nelson Mandela...you have selflessly devoted the better part of your life to bringing peoples in conflict around the world together. Often at great risk to your own health and safety, you have traveled to troubled areas The recent progress toward peace in the Middle East would not have been possible without the foundation you laid in the Camp David Accords, which has been one example of the far-reaching effects of your effort."18

In his acceptance speech former President Carter proved his sense of humor by saying: "I'm pleased to be here this morning to accept this award for international understanding. And our next task is to work a little bit harder on domestic understanding."19

Thus proving that he exactly knows which problems he had during his presidency, but he also shows that he doesn't have any bad feelings or regrets. This short passage proves that Jimmy Carter did what he could, to solve domestic problems, but that is was mainly a problem of presenting his ideas to the people, of making them understand was he was intending to do.

After the close examination of Jimmy Carter one truly has to admit that Jimmy Carter really is what he had always said he was: A deeply honest man - and president.

As president he fulfilled his promise never to lie to the American people, which not many U.S. Presidents can say about themselves.

And what he told us about self-sacrifice, he proved with a sacrificial life. Jimmy Carter is a shining example of someone who uses power not to achieve personal gain, but for the betterment of the entire world.


1 Man of the Year, TIME Magazine; Jan. 3, 1977; p. 2

2 Jimmy Carter. Keeping Faith; p. 80

3 Inaugural Address

4 Inaugural Address

5 http://www.cartercenter.org/SPEECHES/pcintvw.html

6 Inaugural Address

7 Interview, Oct. 25, 1991, p. 8

8 Interview, Oct. 25, 1991, p. 10

9 Interview, Oct. 25, 1991, p. 7

10 http://www.cartercenter.org/SPEECHES/gulbrite.html

11 http://www.achievemeent.org/autodoc/page/carOint-1

12 Interview Oct. 25, 1991, p. 5

13 Interview Oct. 25, 1991 p. 5

14 http://www.cartercenter.org/

15 http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/carOint-1, p 9

16 http://www.cartercenter.org/cr.html

17 http://www.habitat.org/

18 http://www.cartercenter.org/SPEECHES/fulbrite.html

19 same

20 of 21 pages


Jimmy Carter - Too good to be true
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Jimmy, Carter
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Katrin Dietrich (Author), 2000, Jimmy Carter - Too good to be true, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/97509


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