Saint Jimmy’s Dark Side

President Carter was not "The Human Rights President" – none were

Molotov cocktail’s the local drink
And all she wants to do is dance, dance
They mix ’em up right
In the kitchen sink
And all she wants to do is dance

— “All She Wants to do is Dance,” written by Danny Kortchmar, and recorded by Don Henley on his Building the Perfect Beast album, 1985

Of all the modern presidents, Jimmy Carter is probably the most popular among Americans for his post-presidency.  A recent poll shows this.  Indeed, Carter said so himself when he told NBC News in 2010 that “my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents.”

The reason for his popularity among liberals is obvious.  The man had the courage to accuse Israel of apartheid, even as the entire establishment appears to exist to overlook Israel’s horrible human rights record.

Jimmy’s work with Habitat for Humanity, building homes for those who can’t afford one, is also exemplary as a liberal bona fide.

Abroad, Carter has worked to nearly wipe out Guinea worm disease in Africa, a problem afflicting millions for centuries.

His most famous post-presidency work has been in the area of human rights, led by his Carter Center.  Some have gone so far as to call him the Human Rights President.  He once said:

Human rights is the soul of our foreign policy, because human rights is the very soul of our sense of nationhood.

But when we examine his presidency, we find that most of his standing up for human rights was done selectively.  Jimmy most often condemned the USSR, with human rights violations being overlooked in nations that were sympathetic toward rapacious capitalism, as with all modern US presidents.

For example, we now know that Jimmy’s State Department had a bug in the room when Salvadoran oligarchs  drew straws to see who would murder archbishop Oscar Romero for stirring up democracy and opposing death squads and other horrors.  Romero was a Latin American champion for human rights, and should have been defended by any “Human Rights President.”

But Carter never warned Romero, and allowed him to be murdered, in keeping with a long tradition of US policy of supporting any barbaric administration that subordinates its economy to American corporate greed at any cost.

Just sticking to Latin America, one recalls the overthrow of the brutal Somoza regime in Nicaragua by the Sandinistas should have been cause for a “Human Rights President” to stand with the Nicaraguan people.  Instead, it was Jimmy Carter who formed the terrorist “Contras,” who became famous for raping thousands, torturing thousands and murdering thousands of people in Central America in eventually restoring a corporate-capitalist-friendly government that would do the bidding of the Empire (though not until Reagan/Bush took the White House, employing the same terrorists).

In Afghanistan, Carter created a band of terrorists then called Mujahadeen, with which to overthrow the socialist government.  This began the religious fanaticism which led to al Qaeda (the CIA came up with the name, then applied to its Mujahadeen) eventually morphing into the Taliban.  They invited fanatics from all over the Muslim world to join in, including Osama bin Laden.  This marked the start of the blowback we later called the War on Terrorism, which now appears to be without end.

With cancer having spread to his brain, President Carter will probably soon no longer be with us, and his liberal supporters will declare that The Human Rights President has died.  At that time it will be difficult to tell the truth about his horrible human rights record.

Although much of his work for human rights since his presidency is admirable, one wonders why he couldn’t have taken this approach when he had the power of the White House behind him.

There is a lot to admire about Jimmy, but none of our modern presidents should be seen as human rights supporters whenever there is conflict with the goals of the corporate capitalist empire which will accept any global tyrant as long as that person serves the plutocrats and oligarchs who rule the planet like a private plantation of theirs.

Jack Balkwill is an activist in Virginia. He can be reached at Read other articles by Jack.