Approaching his 90th birthday and out of Washington for nearly 34 years, former President Jimmy Carter can’t figure out why President Barack Obama hasn’t solicited his advice on a range of foreign policy issues. Perhaps the one-term Democratic president wants Obama to ask his advice on what happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370. Out of the loop on national security and foreign policy for years, Carter can’t figure out why Obama hasn’t been calling him for advice. With the Ukrainian crisis competing –and losing—for top spot in global headlines, Carter would like to offer his two cents to Obama on a host of foreign policy issues, especially his specialty Mideast diplomacy. Winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, Carter brokered the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel in 1978, pressuring Israel to give back the Sinai Peninsula in 1979. While getting Israel a peace treaty with Egypt, it also returned terrorism to the Sinai.
Since Sept. 11, Carter’s position on Mideast peacemaking has been obsolete, built around 1967 U.N. Resolution 242 of Israel giving back spoils of the 1967 “Six Day War” in exchange for peace. Carter’s formula didn’t work for former President George W. Bush operating in a post-Sept. 11 world, where U.S.-Israeli relations were a linchpin to fighting global terrorism. Watching Palestinians dance in the streets after Sept. 11 forever changed U.S. foreign policy toward Mideast peacemaking. Carter’s approach to Mideast peacemaking fingered Israel as the aggressor, seeking concessions to satisfy Palestinian demands. Carter’s 2007 book “Peace Not Apartheid” blamed Israel of bullying Palestinians, when, in reality, Palestinians align themselves with al-Qaida and other Mideast terror groups. Now Carter has his 89-year-old ego offended by the Obama administration bypassing his advice. Carter’s new book, “Call for Action,” discusses women’s rights.
Faced with few good choices in Ukraine, Carter believes Obama should take a harder line on Russian President Vladimir Putin. No Western leader has acknowledged the Feb. 22 U.S. and EU-backed coup in Kiev that toppled the duly elected government of Ukraine. U.S. and EU officials have no answer for Putin why he should accept an anti-Russian post-revolutionary government that toppled the democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovich. “There has to be an international effort against Putin going any further,” Carter told Andrea Mitchell on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Like other Western leaders, especially Obama and U.K Prime Minister David Cameron, Carter doesn’t want to talk about the U.S.-backed coup that upended a legally elected government. Carter’s Atlanta-based center monitors democratic elections in foreign countries, including the one that put U.S.-educated Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi June 24, 2012 in power in Cairo.
Carter said nothing about the Egyptian government when the U.S.-backed military deposed and incarcerated Morsi July 3, 2013, only a year after inaugurated June 30, 2012 as Egypt’s first democratically elected president. Mitchell asked Carter whether or not he’s been consulted by the Obama White House. “Unfortunately, the answer is no. President Obama doesn’t, but previous presidents have called on me,” said Carter, puzzled by the snub. While there’s something to said for listening to one’s elders, Carter’s shown a kind of one-track mind when it comes to the Mideast. “My own communications are probably monitored,” Carter told Mitchell, referring to recent revelations about National Security Agency spying. White House officials have no obligation to consult former presidents simply because they need attention. Carter’s been out-of-the loop for years about pressing foreign policy challenges confronting the Obama administration.
White House officials have enough problems dealing with current foreign policy challenges than managing the ego of former presidents. Telling Obama he needs to ratchet up sanctions on Putin with NATO partners doesn’t begin to deal with the complexity of Ukraine, Syria, Iran, North Korea or Mideast. Obama hasn’t acknowledged that Putin’s moves in Crimea directly relate to the unlawful revolution that toppled a duly elected government. If Carter wanted to be helpful to Obama, he’d talk about the need to respect democratically elected governments. Failing to acknowledge that once the revolution occurred Putin had a right to protect Russian interests against a new, pro-Western, anti-Russian government. U.S. officials can’t have it both ways: Invading countries when it suits U.S foreign policy but blasting countries that do the same. U.S. officials have to acknowledge the inconsistency and rethink what to do with Moscow.
Acting miffed about getting snubbed by the White House, Carter has nothing to offer Obama about what to do in the Ukraine. He urges an international effort to deal with Putin, without taking a position about the unlawful revolution that toppled the democratically elected government of Russian-backed Viktor Yanukovich. Carter has one answer for dealing with Mideast peace: Pressure Israel into giving back more land, without any assurance of peace. Judging by what’s happened in the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza, both areas have become terrorist hotbeds. Admitting that he doesn’t email foreign leaders lest he get monitored, Carter showed he’s got some issues in his advanced age. No one at the NSA or any other agency is concerned about what the near 90-year-old has to say to foreign leaders. Instead of admitting to personal quirks or showing sour grapes on national TV, Carter should stick to a tight script to avoid embarrassing himself.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary about national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma