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by J. F. Kelly, Jr. 4/30/08
Jimmy Carter is remembered by many Americans as a kindly but ineffective president. His single term was noted mainly for the botched attempt at rescuing the American hostages in Iran, his belated recognition of Russian intentions and actions in Afghanistan and his extremely low approval ratings. As a former president, he earned some affection for his efforts on behalf of the poor and in the pursuit of peace that won him the Nobel Peace Price.
Mr. Carter is the darling of the peace-at-any-price crowd and is venerated at those centers for peace, love and justice that seem to be springing up at universities everywhere, dedicated to the notion that peace can be achieved if we just talk enough about it. As a senior statesman, however, he is something of a liability. His unsolicited, self-appointed mission to Syria to meet with the leader of Hamas, the terrorist mastermind of a terrorist organization was a naïve and futile attempt to advance the so-called peace process. It was worse than futile; it was counterproductive and a profound embarrassment to the United States and its elected government.
J.F. Kelly, Jr.
Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive
who writes on current events and military subjects.
He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]
It was damaging to U.S. interests because it lent legitimacy to a regime dedicated to the destruction of our ally, Israel, and the annihilation of its citizens. Hamas has sponsored terrorist suicide attacks against innocent civilians and is responsible for daily rocket attacks against Israeli towns from Gaza which it controls. It is classified as a terrorist organization by the United States which properly refuses to negotiate with it until it renounces its intentions to destroy Israel and recognizes its right to exist.
It requires a superabundance of ego and self-righteousness to defy the official position and policy of one’s country by inserting one’s self into a complex peace process and sitting down to negotiate with a terrorist leader. It would be bad enough if Mr. Carter was a private citizen but as a former president, he still feeds from the public trough and travels with aides and secret security protection at public expense. His status as a former president conveys a sense of legitimacy to those he chooses to negotiate with and they may infer, incorrectly, that he speaks with some actual authority. His recent writings, moreover, suggest that he is hardly objective regarding Israel.
Carter returned home, crowing that Hamas is open to peace. Only one as gullible as Jimmy Carter could actually believe that. Hamas has made such declarations in the past with no intentions of keeping them. Even if believable, Hamas’ declaration is of little value. It would accept a decision by the Palestinian people to permit Israel to live in peace if it returned to its pre-1967 borders but any agreement must include the right of Palestinians living in exile (who voluntarily left Israel in the first place) to return to Israel. Because of the current size and fertility of this group, that would soon spell the end of the Jewish state and is obviously unacceptable to Israel.
With respect to a return to its pre-1967 borders, Israel has already offered to do so in a land-for-peace offering. Yassar Arafat refused this offer and instead launched a deadly intifada. Arafat could have given his people an independent state long ago. Instead, he guaranteed them decades of continued misery because of his implacable hatred of the Jews.
The Israeli offer to return to 1967 borders was unprecedented. The West Bank, Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Sinai were occupied by Israel after it was attacked by its Arab neighbors in 1967. Israel had every right under international precedent to retain these lands, at least as long as a threat to its security continued. Instead, it returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in return for a peace treaty and offered most of the rest for the creation of a Palestinian state. Would the United States, do you suppose, consider returning to Mexico the land that it took as result of the war with Mexico or return to Spain the territory we seized as a result of the Spanish-American War? Yet Israel, smaller in area than New Jersey, is urged to give up the lands it obtained in a war it did not start to create another potentially hostile Arab state on its borders. Oh, by the way, Hamas made it clear that no “agreement” would include recognition of Israel.
Mr. Carter’s decision to meet with a terrorist leader was a disservice to his country and an affront to Israel. It may have undercut legitimate efforts by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and the Bush Administration to get some sort of agreement before Mr. Bush leaves office. If Mr. Carter wants to continue his service to his country, he might try supporting its legitimate policies. Better yet, he should just stay out of international diplomacy altogether and leave it to those actually qualified and authorized to speak for the government. CRO
2008 J. F. Kelly, Jr.