Jimmy Carter's pathetic need for political rehabilitation following
a presidency widely regarded as one of the worst in American history is
once again making news. He reportedly will meet this week with Khaled
Mashaal, Syrian-based leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian
arm, Hamas — an internationally recognized terrorist organization.
Carter maintains this is no big deal since he has met with Hamas
officials before. Indeed, in keeping with his Carter Center's
self-appointed status as global election monitor, the former president
did officiate in January 2006 when the Brotherhood's terrorists
defeated those of Fatah led by Yasser Arafat's longtime crony, Mahmoud
In point of fact, it seems there is scarcely a serious
bad actor on the planet with whom Jimmy Carter has not met. He is a
serial tyrant-enabler, the very personification of Rodney King's
risible appeal, "Can't we all get along?" Mr. Carter has come to
epitomize the notion that "dialogue" is always in order, no matter how
odious or dangerous the interlocutor — or the extent to which they or
their agendas will benefit from such interactions.
Obama (whom Mr. Carter has all but endorsed) is as wedded as the former
president to the idea of condition-free dialogue with tyrants, it is
worth reflecting on just a few of the many example's of how this
Carteresque practice has produced disastrous results:
1979, then-President Carter undermined the shah of Iran and made
possible the Ayatollah Khomeini's return to Iran and subsequent Islamic
revolution. However, the uber-mullah returned the favor with the
sacking of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and seizure of its personnel that
assured Mr. Carter's would be a one-term presidency. The regime thus
born has ever since been a blight on its own people and a state-sponsor
of terror and nuclear wannabe that represents an ever-growing menace to
its region and the world.
• In 1994, Citizen Carter made a
mission to Pyongyang when then-President Bill Clinton was first
confronting evidence of North Korea's illegal pursuit of nuclear
weapons. The former president's intervention gave rise to a deal that
lent invaluable prestige to the regime, perpetuated its hold on power
and utterly failed to preclude the North's acquisition of a nuclear
• In 2004, Mr. Carter ignored abundant evidence of
official vote-rigging and election fraud in a Venezuelan referendum,
handing victory to Hugo Chavez and clearing the way for the Western
Hemisphere's most destabilizing accretion of power since Fidel Castro's
communist revolution in Cuba — a model and inspiration for Mr. Chavez.
short, thanks in no small measure to Jimmy Carter's proclivities and
meddling, the world is a considerably more dangerous place. Following
his lead now will make it more so, for three reasons:
(1) First and foremost, "talking" to tyrants legitimates them.
Dictators go to great lengths to conjure up the perception of authority
and permanence. They are particularly anxious to do so for domestic
consumption, to ensure their continued rule. To the extent outsiders
recognize, to say nothing of embrace, them, it enhances their stature
at home and validates their misconduct on the world stage.
Such efforts generally have the effect of emboldening these thugs.
After all, they are being rewarded for bad behavior. The result is
predictable: even worse behavior. That can mean redoubled efforts to
acquire nuclear weapons, destabilize their neighbors, raise the price
of oil and engage in other activities inimical to U.S. interests.
It is ironic but true that even as Carter-style enabling of tyrants
makes matters worse it typically encourages in this country the
impression that vexing problems with those regimes have been made more
tractable. Diplomatic placebos reduce the perceived need and popular
support for more effective, albeit more difficult, alternatives.
is instructive that even an Israeli government known for appeasing
terrorists has finally had it with Jimmy Carter. Israel's ceremonial
head of state, President Shimon Peres, met with him Sunday for the
purpose of publicly denouncing Mr. Carter's "activities over the last
few years [that have] caused great damage to Israel and the peace
process." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his foreign and defense
ministers have declined Mr. Carter's requests to meet with them.
one possible upside of the latest instance of tyrant-enabling by Jimmy
Carter is that it puts in sharp relief an issue that should feature
prominently in the 2008 U.S. elections: Do we want to entrust the job
of commander in chief to someone who believes, as Mr. Carter does, that
dialogue with our sworn enemies — notably, Iran, and its vassal, Syria
— is a good and necessary step?
This is, of course, the
oft-repeated position of Sen. Barack Obama and other Democratic
opponents of the effort to secure victory in Iraq. Is it the view
though of what the former condescendingly calls "ordinary" Americans,
people who have generally shown more common sense than the likes of
Messrs. Carter and Obama?
In the final analysis, Jimmy Carter
will be best remembered by history as a man whose time in and out of
high public office was almost unblemished by success. Notwithstanding a
Nobel Peace Prize (given by an awards committee avowedly anxious to
rebuke President Bush) and assorted good works on behalf of Habitat for
Humanity, his role as a tyrant-enabler will be an object of scorn and
derision rather than the vindication he so transparently, and