Jimmy Carter: Hillary Took 'Very Little Action' for Peace

Image: Jimmy Carter: Hillary Took 'Very Little Action' for Peace

Friday, 11 Apr 2014 10:57 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Former President Jimmy Carter says former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was notable for her ineffectiveness in improving relations in the Middle East during her tenure in the Obama administration.

In an interview with Time magazine, Carter also gave his views on President Barack Obama's handling of relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and talked about his regular discussions with Secretary of State John Kerry.

Reflecting on progress made by the United States toward peace in the Middle East, Carter's criticism of Clinton was balanced by praise for Kerry's performance.

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"I think [Kerry's efforts] are notable, and I have a great admiration for him. I stay in touch with him fairly often by email. I send him messages and tell him what my thoughts might be, and he has responded very graciously."

Carter said Kerry has been left to operate largely on his own, putting him in a difficult position.

"I know from experience that the best way to have the United States be a mediator is for the president himself to be deeply involved," he said.

"In this occasion, when Secretary Clinton was Secretary of State, she took very little action to bring about peace. It was only John Kerry's coming into office that re-initiated all these very important crucial issues."

Carter said he has urged Kerry not to deviate from longstanding international law or reverse any of the basic United Nations agreements shared by the United States, its allies, Israel, and the Arab countries.

Meanwhile, Carter said he could identify with the difficulties Obama has had in dealing with Russia, but indicated that his tough approach during his time in office to threats by the Soviets to invade Afghanistan were ultimately a main factor in preventing it.

"I had the same thing happen to me when I was president," Carter said.

"I took action there just like the United States is doing now after Russia has taken over Crimea. I couldn't undo what was already done," he said.

"But I said to [Soviet leader Leonid] Brezhnev, as stern as possible measures, I withdrew my adviser, I broke diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union, I formulated a boycott of a shipping grain and so forth, a trade boycott, and I notified Brezhnev publicly that if he went any further with military action, that we would respond militarily, and I wouldn't withhold any weapons that we had at our disposal."

Carter suggested that because the warning was "very stern and very heartfelt, and sincere" the threat of an invasion never materialized.

Carter also elaborated on a statement he made during a speech last week when he said that the United States is the "No. 1 warmonger on earth."

"Yes, it is. It has been. You can look at the record: Ever since the United Nations was formed after the Second World War, the United States has almost constantly been at war somewhere. There are about 30 countries where we have initiated armed conflict," he said.

Carter, a hobbyist painter for more than two decades, also told Time that he was impressed with former President George W. Bush's paintings. Most recently, Bush released a series of paintings of world leaders earlier this month that attracted much interest in the United States and abroad.

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"He does very interesting work," Carter said.

"I have been very interested and intrigued and congratulatory toward President Bush and his paintings," he said, though he doubted there would be a joint Carter-Bush gallery showing anytime soon, Time reported.

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