He also puts a lot of value on truthfulness as being essential to leadership; Both between our leaders and we citizens, and in Americas leadership role among nations. Interestingly, Pope Benedict also recently gave an address about the need for leaders of nations to be truthful.
Carter wrote the book because he could see, keenly, that none of these traditional values enjoy a high priority today under our current leadership.
And, like many of us, he cannot bear it.
Jimmy Carter, like former senator and presidential candidate George McGovern, 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, as did the Prince of Peace, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Reinhold Niebuhr, whom he quotes in his book, that A country will have authority and influence because of moral factors, not its military strength.
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 worlds spending on weapons, the United States has increased its military budget every year.
Carter also believes, as Eisenhower said, that spending on superfluous weaponry is a theft from those who hunger and are not fed.
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.
Carter was president when Iran the terrorist nation Reagan/Bush later sold weapons to illegally took American students hostage. A Republican Colonel assured me, if the United States had gone to war with Iran because of the American hostages held there during that time, the first casualties of that war would have been the hostages. But, thanks to Carters restraint, all the hostages came home alive. When he left office a cabinet member gave him a plaque with a quote from Thomas Jefferson. I have the consolation to reflect that during the period of my administration not a drop of the blood of a single citizen was shed by the sword of war.
Carter argues, as our allies and key members of our own intelligence agencies argued, that after the years of sanctions and inspections and our overwhelming military superiority, there was never any credible danger to the United States from Iraq. He writes that if Hussein had actually possessed arsenals of chemical, or biological weapons, military leaders would have prepared for that possibility to spare tens of thousands of troop casualties that might have resulted from such weapons. There is no evidence, he says, that the military did that. Therefore, they could not have seriously believed that Hussein actually had such weapons.
He believed the war in Iraq was counterproductive. As it has proven to be.
During Carters 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 Americas 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.
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