They call themselves the “Elders,” a group of self-described "wise men and women" that former South African President Nelson Mandela launched last week on the occasion of his 89th birthday. Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan and Mary Robinson (former Irish President and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights) are joining Mandela and a bevy of other has-beens to offer their services as roaming freelance diplomats. They are being financed in part by British tycoon Richard Branson and Ted Turner’s UN Foundation.
“The Elders won’t get involved delivering bed nets for malaria prevention,” said Jimmy Carter. “The issue is to fill vacuums – to address major issues that aren’t being adequately addressed.”
Translated, this means that the Elders won’t be doing anything useful for suffering human beings. Instead, they will continue their legacy of wrong-headed solutions to problems they do not understand. Individually, they were bad enough. Together, they have formed a club that no clear-thinking person would want to join or consult.
Jimmy Carter himself is the most glaring example of a walking vacuum, bereft of any sensible ideas or understanding of what is at stake in our fight against global terrorism. His fellow “Elders” are no improvement.
Carter’s presidency was the antithesis of effective world leadership. During his watch, Iran’s terror-sponsoring theocracy took power and brazenly held Americans hostage for more than a year without paying any price. Islamic terrorists were watching. The Soviet Union expanded its empire by force culminating in its invasion of Afghanistan, which led in turn to the birth of Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization. Carter did nothing except administer a slap on the wrist by keeping our athletes away from the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Since his sound defeat by Ronald Reagan, Carter has continued to make a fool of himself and embarrass his country. Learning nothing from his fruitless attempts to negotiate the release of the hostages when he was President, Carter now demands that we enter into fruitless negotiations with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who has vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. This madman reportedly participated in the 1979 taking of American hostages and has now presided over the recent arbitrary imprisonment of Iranian-American citizens while they were visiting Iran.
Carter has never had an unkind word to say about Ahmadinejad, Saddam Hussein, Castro, Hugo Chavez, or any other dictator. Their atrocious human rights records have not attracted any attention from this self-described human rights advocate. They can all be reasoned with, Carter believes.
Likewise, Carter is an apologist for terrorists. He has gone out of his way to praise the Iranian-armed terrorist group Hamas and said recently that it was “criminal” for the U.S., Israel, the European Union, and the Arab League to shun these murderers of their own people who continue to vow the destruction of Israel.
Of course, Carter has no interest in the survival of the only true democracy in the Middle East. Indeed, his recent inflammatory book, Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid, compared Israel with apartheid era South Africa. Carter the Elder wrote a worthy sequel to the notorious “Protocol of the Elders of Zion.”
Fourteen officials of his own Carter Center resigned in protest against the lies and distortions in Carter’s propaganda screed. In a joint letter to Carter they declared, “We can no longer endorse your strident and uncompromising position. This is not the Carter Center or the Jimmy Carter we came to respect and support.” One Carter Center board member went even further, stating that Carter has “abandoned his traditional position of honest broker and mediator,” and “goes so far as to condone terrorism until such a time a Palestinian state is achieved.”
Actually, Jimmy Carter has not changed at all – unfortunately it took some of his supporters more than twenty years to see what was there all along. The late Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan understood. He put it best when he described Carter this way back in 1980: "Unable to distinguish between our friends and our enemies, he has adopted our enemies' view of the world."
Then there is Carter’s fellow-Elder, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. During his tenure, Annan appeased some of the world’s worst dictators and state sponsors of terrorism. He conferred what he called the UN’s “unique legitimacy” on them in order to show how ‘even-handed’ he was.
For example, Annan declared that Saddam Hussein was someone “I think I can do business with” (which, in a sense, the UN did via the looting of the Oil-for-Food program in which Annan’s staff participated). And he referred to the Islamic-fascist regime in Iran as a “partner” in negotiations. Annan preferred shaking hands and being photographed with Iran’s thugs rather than standing up to them in the name of human rights. Back in 2003, during one of his visits to Iran, student dissidents criticized Annan for being “deaf to the screams of the demonstrators down the street while elements of the regime, brandishing clubs and chains, were smashing the bones of Iranian workers, mothers and students.”
Annan’s “partner” in negotiations, Iran, is also a state sponsor of terrorist organizations. Iran’s leaders have outsourced the killing of innocent people to Hamas and Hezbollah. Denying all sense of reality, the United Nations under Kofi Annan refused to acknowledge even that Hamas or Hezbollah were part of a dangerous global terrorist network whose common denominator is Islamic fascism, let alone Iran’s connection to them.
Here is a revealing exchange with Kofi Annan’s press spokesperson at a daily press briefing in January 2006 regarding Hamas:
Question: Does the Secretary-General consider Hamas to be a terrorist organization?
Spokesman: The Secretary-General has denounced in clear terms every time any organization has done a terrorist act, including when those acts were claimed by Hamas.
Question: But that doesn’t answer my question.
Spokesman: There is no United Nations label that I know of, of a terrorist organization.
During last year’s war between Israel and Hezbollah, which Hezbollah precipitated, Kofi Annan focused his criticism on Israel. He falsely proclaimed to the world that Israel was guilty of “apparently deliberate targeting” of a UN observation post, killing four observers. Even after it came to light that the Hezbollah terrorists had positioned themselves all around the UN observation post and drew fire on it, which led to the tragic accidental deaths of the UN observers, Kofi Annan did not apologize for his rash accusations against Israel.
Mary Robinson, another of the ‘distinguished’ Elders, was Kofi Annan’s choice as the United Nation's High Commissioner for Human Rights. Like Annan and Carter, she indulged dictators while condemning Western democracies.
For example, Robinson presided over the "World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance" that turned into a non-stop hatefest against Jews and Israel. She remained silent while her commission was deciding to condone suicide bombings as a legitimate means to establish Palestinian statehood. She has since lamented that the U.S. was not continuing to embrace Jimmy Carter’s failed foreign policy and criticized our wise decision to oppose the new UN Human Rights Council travesty.
Nelson Mandela, the leading “Elder,” has squandered any moral authority that he had garnered while ushering in South Africa’s post-apartheid pluralistic democracy. He has voiced strong support for such dictators as Fidel Castro, and Libya's Moammar Qaddafi, while declaring that “[I]f there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America.”
Mandela accused both President Bush and Tony Blair of undermining the United Nations during Kofi Annan’s tenure, asking rhetorically whether this is “because the secretary general of the United Nations [Ghanaian Kofi Annan] is now a black man? They never did that when secretary generals were white.”
Mandela has remained strangely silent on the brutality occurring daily on his own continent against black Africans. For example, he has chosen not to condemn the Mugabe dictatorship in Zimbabwe for the suffering that it has caused its own people and has opposed any sanctions against Mugabe. Adotei Akwei, Africa advocacy director of Amnesty International USA, was quoted as saying about the silence of Mandela that "[I]f Mandela would speak out that would be a big breakthrough. But in addition to his disinclination to attack Mugabe, the 'liberator' of Zimbabwe, in the past, Mandela is a very loyal person, and he has known Mugabe a long time.”
In other words, Mandela’s blind loyalty to a brutal dictator trumps speaking out against the horrible violations of human rights taking place today in Mandela’s own backyard. This is not a legacy to be proud of. He certainly has no business telling us how to behave in the world.
Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Mary Robinson, and their club of fools all share one fundamental flaw. Each of them demonstrated time and again a willingness to accommodate the enemies of freedom at all cost in order to pursue an illusory peace. It is time for these “Elders” to disband before they can do even more harm in unison.