Jimmy Carter, A President Whose god Was Not Greed
Jimmy Carter... is considered by the chicken hawk right to have been a “weak” president because, unlike the current resident of the White House, his first response to any problem was not to go to war. He believed we need a strong military. But he also believed... that “A country will have authority and influence because of moral factors, not its military strength.”Indeed. We could certainly use a president with Carter's character now.
He believes, as Eisenhower said, that “total, unilateral, disarmament is the imperative of our time.” He notes that while there had been a “sharp downward trend” in the world’s spending on weapons, the United States has increased its military budget every year.
Now, however, as we increase our weapons arsenal, other nations are beginning to follow our lead and rearm.
When 9/11 happened we had more weapons than any other nation – almost as many as all other nations combined. Our weapons did not prevent the attacks of that day, but they very well may have been a factor in provoking them. And now, as Father Roy Bourgeois says, “We have never had more weapons, and we have never felt less safe.”
Eisenhower said, “There is no way in which a country can satisfy the craving for absolute security, but it can bankrupt itself morally and economically in attempting to reach that illusory goal through arms alone.”
The Bush administration is doing just that.
During Carter’s presidency, when the United States was perceived as the leader among nations in the fight for justice and the rule of law, world leaders came to the White House to have their grievances addressed. The cause of world peace was advanced. That would be unthinkable today when world leaders neither respect nor trust America’s leaders, and believe that America is fast becoming a “rogue nation.” He calls it “embarrassing” that America, long seen as a champion of human rights is now condemned as a nation that tortures.
Also, unlike our current leaders, Carter... served during wartime... in the Navy and would have liked to make a career of the military, but duty called, and when his father died he went home to take over the family peanut farm.
But, also unlike the current administration, Carter believed in war as a “last resort.” The deep thinkers who have experienced war know as General McArthur did that “Its destructiveness on both friend and foe have rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes.” As General Zinni, former Head of Central Command for U.S. Forces in the Middle East said “It’s pretty interesting that all the generals see it the same way, and all the others who have never fired a shot, and are hot to go to war, see it another…We are about to do something that will ignite a fuse in this region that we will rue the day we ever started…”
Also, while Bush, Cheney, and everyone around them avoided Vietnam, and none of their children are fighting in the current wars, Carter’s oldest son volunteered to serve in that war.
In response to the gasoline shortage that occurred during his term of office, Carter had solar panels installed at the White House. He also mandated higher fuel efficiency standards for all automobiles. The first thing Reagan did when he came into office was get rid of the solar panels. He also did away with the mandatory fuel efficiency standards for cars. Perhaps, if Carter’s initiatives had been followed and expanded, American kids, now, would not be dying to ensure oil companies profits.
Carter’s book is [also] a condemnation of the increasing mix of church and state, and the push by the religious right to make America a Theocracy. Fundamentalism, he believes, divides rather than unites us.
Carter... notes that In 2002 in America, 47% of women with unintended pregnancies resorted to abortion. The most prevailing common factor was poverty. During the 1990’s (Clinton years when poverty decreased) abortion fell to a 24 year low of sixteen per thousand women of childbearing age. There are fewer abortions in nations with access to contraceptives, the assurance that they and their babies will have good health care and enough income to meet basic needs... Perhaps, if the Christian right truly desires to end abortion, they should concentrate on raising the minimum wage, eradicating poverty, and fighting for universal health care.
Now that religious fundamentalists have taken over both the churches and the government, vengeance and punishment rather than rehabilitation is the rule of the day. Seven in a thousand citizens are now in prison, the highest incarceration rate in the world, most for non-violent crimes. And, as far as the death penalty being a deterrent is concerned, the murder rate in America is five times that in advanced European countries, none of which have the death penalty. Southern states carry out over 80% of the executions, but have a higher murder rate than any other region. Texas has the most executions but also the highest homicide rate – twice that of Wisconsin, the first state to abolish the death penalty.
Unlike many past presidents, Jimmy Carter has not concentrated on piling up money for himself and his family since he left office, he has “gone about doing good.” He decries the greed that is a linchpin of the current administration as well as the Congress. He writes: “Narrowly defined theological beliefs have been adopted as the rigid agenda of a political party. Powerful lobbyists… have distorted an admirable belief in the free enterprise system into the right of extremely rich citizens to accumulate and retain more and more wealth and pass it on to descendants. Profits from stock trading and income from dividends are being given privileged tax status compared to the wages earned by schoolteachers and firemen… The new economic philosophy in Washington is that a rising tide raises all yachts.” He believes government exists now not to help those who cannot help themselves but to subsidize the rich.
Carter’s foundation has accomplished amazing work in fighting Guinea worm, river blindness, and trachoma in millions of people in Africa with modest sums of money. His work with Habitat for Humanity is well-known.
The entire Bush family, on the other hand, has proven that it will do anything to make a buck. There does not appear to be anyone they will not shill for. They have made millions of dollars traveling with and shilling for (Bush, Sr., Barbara, and now Neil) Sun Myung Moon who claims to be the “true Messiah,” and who bought 12 submarines and gave them to North Korean Dictator Kim Jung Il.
Words matter not at all. “By their works shall ye know them.” Christ said it. Jimmy Carter has lived up to it. He is truly one of the great among the “Greatest Generation.”