Wednesday, 23 October 2002

Carter's Less-Known Legacy

With all the liberal columnists singing the praises of Jimmy Carter in honor of his winning the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, I’d like to contribute a somewhat dissident note. Only somewhat, however. I am very pleased Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize and believe it is well deserved. I also enjoyed the subtle send-up by the Nobel committee and the not-so-subtle criticism by the committee’s chairman in contrasting this former American president with the current American president.

However, though criticism of Carter’s presidency has often centered upon his alleged weak governing, the sad truth was that his administration was a disaster when it came to the areas for which he is now best known: peace, international law and human rights.

President Carter, who came to office in early 1977, not long after Indonesia invaded and annexed the tiny island nation of East Timor, increased military aid to the Indonesian dictatorship by 80%. This equipment including OV-10 Bronco counter-insurgency aircraft that was crucial in the rounding up of much of the country’s civilian population into concentration camps. Most of the 200,000 East Timorese deaths as a result of Indonesia’s occupation took place during the Carter Administration, in large part as a result of this military aid.

Carter also dramatically increased military aid to the Moroccan government of King Hassan II, whose forces invaded its southern neighbor, the desert nation of Western Sahara, barely a year before the former Georgia governor assumed office. Carter fought Congress to restore military aid to Turkey that had been suspended after their armed forces seized the northern third of the Republic of Cyprus in 1974. Carter promised that the resumption of aid would give Turkey the flexibility to withdraw. Turkish occupation forces remain there to this day.

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