That '70s Show
By James Taranto
Wall Street Journal
October 11, 2007
Jimmy Carter is promoting another new book, this one described by Publisher's Weekly as "less a memoir than an extended brochure for his nonprofit institution, the Carter Center." For the second time in a year, he's been doing the media rounds, and he's given some revealing interviews, in which he's gotten attention less for promoting the Carter Center and his book than for bitterly second-guessing the policies of the current administration.
Lots of people carp about the government--some of us even get paid to do it--but most of us are in no position to answer "yes" to the question: Could you do any better? Carter is unusual in that he has actually done the top job himself, so one can compare. In an interview with Ed Walsh of Boston's WBZ-AM (listen here or download here), Carter faults the Bush administration for the way it is dealing with Iran. No joke:
This column agrees that in most situations appeasement and diplomacy are better than war. For example, we wouldn't advocate a military strike, or even the threat of such a strike, against Canada to resolve the current dispute over access to the Northwest Passage.
But when you're dealing with a real enemy as opposed to a friendly adversary like Canada, you sometimes do need to go to war--or, short of that, to use the threat of war to give muscle to your diplomatic effort. The crucial question about the course Carter proposes is: Would it work?
Carter's failure to learn from his own experience is really quite stunning. He proudly cites the taking of "my hostages" (a very odd turn of phrase) at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran as evidence that America had diplomatic relations with Iran. Excuse us, but was that fact ever in dispute? The real point--and this is not so subtle that anyone can be excused for missing it--is that diplomacy with Iran didn't work back then, as evidenced by the Iranians' having taken our diplomats hostage!
Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin of Examiner.com report on another Carter interview:
Now and then even we forget just how public-spirited Jimmy Carter really is.
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