Comment on Carter

2003-3-17 06:07:00

I thought I would comment on this posted speech by Jimmy Carter.

Since his Presidency, Carter has garnered a reputation as an all around nice guy who is just trying to help the world. Indeed he has always been a man of good intentions, but many of us who lived through his administration and were affected by it have a different view of the man. Well meaning he was, but common sense he had none.

It was during the Carter administration that I first went into real estate. The interest rate was around 7.5%. I started out making good money and it looked like I was off to a great start. Then thanks to price controls and other insane measures, the interest rate soon went up to 20%, making it extremely difficult to make a living. I had to close down my business and sell encyclopedias.

A short time later, I started traveling and selling signs to small businesses. At that time the cost of gas more than doubled. Imagine if the current gas price shot up to $4.00 a gallon in a few months. That was the situation back then.

In addition to high prices, there were shortages and often there were long angry lines of consumers and then there were times there was no gas at all. Because I had to travel, I had a mechanic put an extra tank on my car so I could go about 500 miles between refills.

Fortunately, when I was having some service work done another mechanic noticed that the extra tank was about to fall off and I would have blown myself to bits if this hadn't been discovered.

Then Carter exacerbated the problem by declaring that the world was going to run out of oil by 1990. This only created additional panic.

His price controls not only had a bad effect on the economy, but on oil production itself.

By 1980 when Cater left office, domestic oil production decreased from 11 to 9 million barrels per day.

Meanwhile domestic consumption increased from 15-19 million barrels a day.

Oil imports increased during his administration from 4.5 to 8.5 million barrels a day.

Meanwhile, Washington ordered us to keep our thermostats at 65 or below in the winter and 80 degrees or higher in the summer.

During the last year of his administration I visited many cities in numerous states and called on thousands of small business people. Almost without exception each one of them had a sense of doom hanging over their head and many were expecting a depression worse than the Great Depression. Some of the areas I visited had an unemployment rate of 20% and the people had little hope for a bright future. Many were predicting the end of the world.

The time of the Carter administration was the time of the irritated people. We hadn't lost enough freedom to be called oppressed but every decision that came out of Washington just seemed to be a cause of irritation for millions of people, especially if you did not work in a bureaucracy.

I always thought he was somewhat disconnected from reality for none of his predictions ever seemed close to coming true, but my opinion was solidified on election night November 1979. Like every politician he predicted victory, even though the polls were against him. With most politicians this is hype, but Carter was a true believer. As I watched the election results through the night, even though the media declared that Reagan was the projected winner, Carter actually seemed to actually believe that things would turn around and he would win. He had a mindset that the people loved him, that he would win and that was that. He just kept hanging on delaying a concession refusing to believe that he was being voted out of office.

And voted out he was. The electoral vote was 489 for Reagan and only 49 for Carter, an amazing loss for an incumbent.

When the undeniable hour of truth came, he seemed absolutely flabbergasted that he lost. He just couldn't understand why the American people not only rejected him, but by a landslide.

That said I will comment on his speech.

Just War - or a Just War? March 9, 2003 By JIMMY CARTER

ATLANTA - Profound changes have been taking place in American foreign policy, reversing consistent bipartisan commitments that for more than two centuries have earned our nation greatness. These commitments have been predicated on basic religious principles, respect for international law, and alliances that resulted in wise decisions and mutual restraint. Our apparent determination to launch a war against Iraq, without international support, is a violation of these premises.

Even though we had unanimous U.N. Support for the first Gulf War, Carter was against it, supporting the false prediction that we would need 50,000 body bags and it would be another Vietnam.

BUT then when fellow democrat Bill Clinton invaded Haiti, Bosnia, bombed Afghanistan, and sent 450 cruise missiles to bomb Iraq - all without U.N. approval we didn't hear a peep out of him.

Now Bush comes along and gets resolution 1441 passed in November 2002 by all 15 members of the Security Council which gives us power to use force on Iraq if it does not cooperate. This is much more support than Clinton ever received.

Is Carter's real goal to get international support or just to use war as a means of attaching a political opponent? The latter seems to be true.

As a Christian and as a President who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards. This is an almost universal conviction of religious leaders, with the most notable exception of a few spokesmen of the Southern Baptist Convention who are greatly influenced by their commitment to Israel based on eschatological, or final days, theology.

For a war to be just, it must meet several clearly defined criteria.

The war can be waged only as a last resort, with all nonviolent options exhausted. In the case of Iraq, it is obvious that clear alternatives to war exist. These options - previously proposed by our own leaders and approved by the United Nations - were outlined again by the Security Council on Friday. But now, with our own national security not directly threatened and despite the overwhelming opposition of most people and governments in the world, the United States seems determined to carry out military and diplomatic action that is almost unprecedented in the history of civilized nations. The first stage of our widely publicized war plan is to launch 3,000 bombs and missiles on a relatively defenseless Iraqi population within the first few hours of an invasion, with the purpose of so damaging and demoralizing the people that they will change their obnoxious leader, who will most likely be hidden and safe during the bombardment.

I don't know which standards he is referring to but the fact is that the war with Iraq began because it attacked Kuwait with the intention of further expansion. The world community justly responded to stop this Nazi type aggression and made war against him and drove him out of Kuwait. After this, the war was not declared over but a cease fire was arranged through U.N. resolution 687. The deal that Saddam signed on to in order to enact a cease fire and save his skin was that he would destroy all his weapons of mass destruction and not build any more. He also agreed to honor the civil rights of his people.

The deal was that if Saddam did not live up to his agreement then the cease fire could end and the war would resume. No time limit was placed on this.

Now, Bush wants to enforce resolution 687 as well as the new one that was unanimously passed last November, he is accused of initiating a new war. It is not a new war, but an old one that will be legally resumed. France, Germany, Russia, and China have oil contracts to Saddam that will only be honored if he survives and they do not want to enforce the rules for which they previously voted. If Bush and Blair resume war with Iraq then they are merely enforcing U.N. rules that others do not wish to honor because of self interest.

The war's weapons must discriminate between combatants and noncombatants. Extensive aerial bombardment, even with precise accuracy, inevitably results in "collateral damage." Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of American forces in the Persian Gulf, has expressed concern about many of the military targets being near hospitals, schools, mosques and private homes.

We will be as careful as possible but the hard fact is that innocent people are always injured in any war. Is it worth it to risk the injury of a few innocents to liberate a nation of millions? If I were living under a tyrant I would be happy to take a little risk to obtain freedom.

Look at the boat people that have come here from Cuba. Many of them risked a 50-50 chance of death to breathe the free air in the United States. The risk of the nonmilitary Iraqis will be more like one in a thousand, a small risk for freedom. Even one in ten would be a small risk in my opinion.

Its violence must be proportional to the injury we have suffered.

This is a most outlandish philosophy coming from one who has achieved the Presidency.

When we entered World War II and declared war on Germany, we had suffered very little from this country. It was Japan who attacked us, not Hitler. Hitler wanted to save us for last and wasn't anxious to get us into the war. We declared war on Germany because they were a threat to the security of the world, not to repay them for what they did to us.

The same holds true for the First World War. Here again we declared war on Germany because of the threat to us, not what they did to us.

Despite Saddam Hussein's other serious crimes, American efforts to tie Iraq to the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been unconvincing.

The link to the past 911 is not the reason for the war. The link to a future 911 is.

The attackers must have legitimate authority sanctioned by the society they profess to represent. The unanimous vote of approval in the Security Council to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction can still be honored, but our announced goals are now to achieve regime change and to establish a Pax Americana in the region, perhaps occupying the ethnically divided country for as long as a decade. For these objectives, we do not have international authority. Other members of the Security Council have so far resisted the enormous economic and political influence that is being exerted from Washington, and we are faced with the possibility of either a failure to get the necessary votes or else a veto from Russia, France and China. Although Turkey may still be enticed into helping us by enormous financial rewards and partial future control of the Kurds and oil in northern Iraq, its democratic Parliament has at least added its voice to the worldwide expressions of concern.

Carter is against regime change without universal support yet, almost to a man, those of his political persuasion criticize Bush Sr. for not going after a regime change during the first Gulf War.

At this point in time any goal short of regime change in Iraq would be an insane use of energy.

The peace it establishes must be a clear improvement over what exists.

Removal of Saddam will create a definite improvement.

Although there are visions of peace and democracy in Iraq, it is quite possible that the aftermath of a military invasion will destabilize the region and prompt terrorists to further jeopardize our security at home. Also, by defying overwhelming world opposition, the United States will undermine the United Nations as a viable institution for world peace.

The U.N. is undermining itself by not enforcing resolutions 687 and 1441 and using force to make Saddam disarm according to specifications. Terrorists are already destabilized and already will do all in their power to hurt us no matter what we do.

A victory in Iraq would diminish terrorism and definitely diminish their source of terrible weapons.

What about America's world standing if we don't go to war after such a great deployment of military forces in the region? The heartfelt sympathy and friendship offered to America after the 9/11 attacks, even from formerly antagonistic regimes, has been largely dissipated; increasingly unilateral and domineering policies have brought international trust in our country to its lowest level in memory. American stature will surely decline further if we launch a war in clear defiance of the United Nations. But to use the presence and threat of our military power to force Iraq's compliance with all United Nations resolutions - with war as a final option - will enhance our status as a champion of peace and justice.

At least this is a logical concern, but one with a simple solution. The fact is that when we dispose Saddam, even many of the nations who opposed us will breathe a sigh of relief. I just heard a person on TV tonight, who had talked with a number of opposing U.N. representatives, who privately expressed such sentiments.

If we invite other nations to come into Iraq after the war and help to police it and guide it toward democracy then friendships can be restored. We invited such participation in Afghanistan and it has worked well there.

I just heard an amusing story on the news that some Iraqi soldiers are crossing into Kuwait wanting to surrender before the war even begins. They have been told to return home and wait a week or so.