Jimmy Carter And Human Rights: Behind The Media Myth [FAIR / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Sep. 21 1994

By Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon

…During his presidency, Carter proclaimed human rights to be “the soul of our foreign policy.” Although many journalists promoted that image, the reality was quite different.

Inaugurated 13 months after Indonesia’s December 1975 invasion of East Timor, Carter stepped up U.S. military aid to the Jakarta regime as it continued to murder Timorese civilians. By the time Carter left office, about 200,000 people had been slaughtered.

Elsewhere, despotic allies — from Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines to the Shah of Iran — received support from President Carter.

In El Salvador, the Carter administration provided key military aid to a brutal regime. In Nicaragua, contrary to myth, Carter backed dictator Anastasio Somoza almost until the end of his reign. In Guatemala — again contrary to enduring myth — major U.S. military shipments to bloody tyrants never ended.

After moving out of the White House in early 1981, Carter developed a reputation as an ex-president with a conscience. He set about building homes for the poor. And when he traveled to hot spots abroad, news media often depicted Carter as a skillful negotiator on behalf of human rights.

But a decade after Carter left the Oval Office, scholar James Petras assessed the ex-president’s actions overseas — and found that Carter’s image as “a peace mediator, impartial electoral observer and promoter of democratic values…clashes with the experiences of several democratic Third World leaders struggling against dictatorships and pro-U.S. clients.”

From Latin America to East Africa, Petras wrote, Carter functioned as “a hard-nosed defender of repressive state apparatuses, a willing consort to electoral frauds, an accomplice to U.S. Embassy efforts to abort popular democratic outcomes and a one-sided mediator.”

Observing the 1990 election in the Dominican Republic, Carter ignored fraud that resulted in the paper-thin victory margin of incumbent president Joaquin Balaguer. Announcing that Balaguer’s bogus win was valid, Carter used his prestige to give international legitimacy to the stolen election — and set the stage for a rerun this past spring, when Balaguer again used fraud to win re-election.

In December 1990, Carter traveled to Haiti, where he labored to undercut Jean-Bertrand Aristide during the final days of the presidential race. According to a top Aristide aide, Carter predicted that Aristide would lose, and urged him to concede defeat. (He ended up winning 67 percent of the vote…)

…Petras described Carter as routinely engaging in “a double discourse. One discourse is for the public, which is his moral politics, and the other is the second track that he operates on, which is a very cynical realpolitik that plays ball with very right-wing politicians and economic forces…”

Excerpted; full article link: http://fair.org/media-beat-column/jimmy-carter-and-human-rights-behind-the-media-myth/

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